Monday, 30 June 2008

5606 16702

131 miles for the 24 hours. SFSG and a bit better than take 1. Bleak Bering morning, 15 - 20 kts SE and we're hooning. Lizzie whizzing - bright star, or more likely planet that was astern in a hole in the cloud at an elev of about 15 deg has faded and the sun will (probably!)rise soon but we ain't going to see it.

Later - we did, briefly, and the moon. Odd being at sea again after about 3 weeks ashore - back on the job and the focus returns but its sometimes not easy.

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5454 16649 - towards the business end

I think we are about where we got to last time - I didn't log the position at the time but it was about 60 miles north of Dutch. Every mile from here, AGW, gets us closer to what Churchill called the end of the beginning. I hope that if we get to Nome in the 5 or 6 days it ought to take, we won't need to stop there for very long. Barrow is beginning to break up and we will have to go and have a look.

Everything at Barrow is off the beach for us - no jetty and we draw too much to get over the bar into the lagoon, so if we need diesel or anything else, it will be interesting. Will also depend on how much ice remains stuck to the beach - we can get Berri in to within about 50 feet of the beach...

A photo from Pascal yesterday shows Beechey Island still iced in - but signs of break up. Tuk is open and I have spoken to the RCMP there to advise them that we expect to transit through Canadian waters and will check in with them. Also to the Deputy Harbourmaster at Nome - who is also the local Reporter...

Kimbra is cooking dinner - McQ asleep - Con has occurred - still balmy calm for the Bering tho a bit lumpy by Sydney Harbour standards - 25 knots from the SE forecast in 24 hours or so. Engine - and gearbox - running all day so far. Wood is being touched...

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Sunday, 29 June 2008

We interrupt this broadcast..............

Will the man in the sharp suit and the smile blazing with insincerity, gazing out from the home page of SLEEKHOST.COM remove his jacket and get down to the engine room and sort out the server now. Because by the time you've read this, so will another 20,000 people..............
Marketing - don't you just love it..............
Bookmark this page everyone. Google, can probably cope.

Love, Speedy ( better in health than temper)

Test: Nome, Take 2 - 5417 16635

Just an iridium test - departed small boat harbour 0630, waved off and photographed by Steve and Kelly - thanks, you two!

Calm day on the Bering - unusual! - cloudbase about 1000' so mountain tops hidden - I still haven't seen the top of a volcano up here.

Speeds, please bleep on the old satphone number if you send. I have message for H but will wait till later to see whether we can still get sailmaiol


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McQ: Message for Gonzales...and cheerio to Dutch!!!

For Gonzales: There is a house in Venice that has this enormously wide spiral staircase up to is an apartment on the top floor and it is a very very old apartment. The man who built it yonks and yonks ago loved his horse so much and had nowhere to keep his horse outside so built the big wide spiral staircase up to it so he could take his horse up there everynight and so the horse could stay warm and dry and happy in the living room.
Since you appear to be in Europe maybe this should be on your list of landmarks to visit with The Burro??????
For everyone else: all is well in Berriland. And this is just a quick one to say 'hi' and 'bye'- we are heading off for Nome (take 2) at first light tomorrow. Forecast looks good for the next couple of days- SE or S 20 to 25 knots- excellent really!!!
So off home for last of the packing and an early night as first light is about 5am here!!!
And then, how exciting!!!! back to sea!!! I can't wait!!!!
Lots of love to everyone...
ps thanks so so very much to Steve and Kelly (and Chico the wonderdog) for their amazing and fabulous hospitality and for introducing us to 'Ruk-Shuk' my new fave game... and most of all for generously giving us their own set of little rocks!!!! Awesome!!! Thank you!!!

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Life's Big Adventures

Today is a perfect day. The sun is shining, the boat is packed and ready, the wind's blowing from the right direction and we're
planning on heading off at daybreak tomorrow towards Nome. Usually that would be enough to make me jump around like a
jack-in-the-box with excitement.

But today I'm bubbling with happiness for a completely different and far more exciting reason.

Last night I found out that all the way back home in Tasmania, my brother & sister in law - Matt & Caroline - have just had a
beautiful little baby girl called Amelia. So today, the little people in my head are jumping up and down and doing summersaults
for them instead.

Today the scale of the big adventure awaiting Matt & Caroline makes ours pale into insignificance.


Saturday, 28 June 2008

Contact stuff

Gearbox and picture cd's and small dvd in the mail, boat more or less
loaded - McQ and K off somewhere having lunch - seems we're about
ready to set off again. It's been an interesting and instructive stay
- I now know why diesel engineers never turn up and - if they do -
they charge dockyard job money.

Huge thanks, once again, to Dave Boisseau for going way beyond the
reasonable to help us out - enjoy your 4th of July, Dave, and come
sailing in Oz. And to Steve and Sue and all those people who have
offered to help, lend us stuff, drive us around, feed us - it's been
special. Now I hope we can make it stick and do what we came up here
to do.

Pascal in Resolute - the cavalry is coming. Maybe!

From here on, contact via the website Gustbook or the contact page. Our
iridium phone will be the international prefix plus 881631653278.
Ignore any messages if it rings out - do not leave a voice message,
just redial and keep doing so until someone answers. We will not
receive voice messages but you can send sms messages to the phone from

I will try to keep this phone for voice and the other one for data but
this may change. I have a third SIM for emergencies as well.

I hope the next one from me is a sailmail message. Appendages once again please!

Notoriety strikes...and a link to the future in the past

For anyone that's interested, there's a link in it to the archive of
the LSU symposium with Pete's and my presentation that led to this
silliness. We were the final act on the Thursday, I think. It's a bit
tedious getting started, unless it's been edited since I last looked
at it before we left, and you even get to see Leroy wearing a suit
that wasn't made in Russia! The other presentations are even more
worth a look and you also get to see Pascal, whose mapping skills got
us here.

A tinge of sadness...

Usually, I start one of these full of ideas. Not this morning - no
idea what will be in it. Arrived on the bike at the GA very early this
morning before breakfast to find the evidence of what must have been a
biggish night even by DH standards - pools and splashes and trails of
technicolour yawn everywhere outside the front door and along the
footpaths. A coupled of hours later, after going back to Berri and
packing and repackinbg the spare laptops and electrical gear behind
the nav station and Eric and the troops have had the fire hoses out
and hosed it all away.

As Steve says in the gustbook, we had a wonderful evening at his house
- mountains of crab, lots of wine and laughter - Whitters completely
knackered after sorting the gearbox as you can see in Steve's pics,

And I'm honoured, Steve, to have my own little spot in your blog.
Maybe I saw the eagle, but it was my nice piece of glass (as Speedy
calls the nik lens) that focussed it and a very clever camera.that
recorded it. I will today post another cd of mostly Ballyhoo pics to
Speeds plus a somewhat used gearbox to John in Sydney.

And Steve gave us his magic silver dollar - which he carried all
around the USA on his motor bike - it's now on Berri's magic wall - He
said we are to buy ourselves a beer when we get to England, but not
before. Thanks Steve. Lovely gift!

Other nice things keep happening - I woke yesterday to find a little
packet of smoked salmon and some dig bosketty things in the cockpit -
no note - but I later found a note floating next to the boat - Thanks
Sue! Dig boskets to be eaten with jam and a cold chisel - chuck the
boskets, jam on the chisel and eat that instead!

Meeting Dave at the boat soon to give him back all the gear he lent us
- I'll keep the bike until this evening if possible for all the
inevitable last minute errands - and we will move Berri to the outside
of the jetty so that we don't get caught by the very low tide tomorrow
morning and can leave at first light. The weather looks good for a few
days but that's now! It changes almost hourly and any forecast more
than a couple of days ahead is largely conjecture.

I'll send this because gmail in basic html (all this link will manage)
tends to drop drafts - there may be another one later.

Friday, 27 June 2008

SFSG - Big A at the Grand A

All a bit boring, but it's been my life for the last three days...

Forgot to mention that the shaft coupling bolts worked twice. I had to
take it all apart again because an electrical wire had snuck under the
shaft where it would have died extreeemely quickly if not sorted.

Filled the gearbox with dexron 3 and started the thing. Water leaking
around the exhaust, both ends of the new tube. Also from inlet hose.
Stop engine, tighten the hose clips and add another one at the top of
the exhaust. Seemed ok so put it into gear and heard satisfactory
clunk. First box ticked. Opened the throttle gently and Berri started
to strain against the springs and stern line and seaweed was streaming
past. Opened the throttle wide for a few seconds and all ok. Repeated
process in reverse. All boxes ticked. Phew!

On the strength of which, I went way out to Alaska Ship Supply to
collect sump oil and 100 litres worth of plastic jerries. Lucky I did
not need to change the oil in the Pacific - the stuff we brought a
quarter of the way around the world was definitely not the good oil -
SAE 30, not 15. Changed the oil and the filter and will change the
coolant when the engine is cold tomoz.PMcQ - decided the situation
demanded a smally Con from The McQueen. Noice.Soothing for the

And tomorrow, I'll take Berri out into the harbour and give the box a
bit of a workout to make sure it all seems to be stuck together
properly. And post the old one back to Sydney for a refund, perhaps.
Then maybe a day off to climb Ballyhoo or whatever. Will try to take
some video. Wx indeterminate but we won't wait too long.

mjc - feels like the 1760's this far out. Carla - Right on, kiddo!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Pause - and an amazing event on the way to somewhere or other

in the middle of huge day. Started connecting it all up at first light
-ish this morning. Cold! First asess the job, sort the tools and clean
the threads of the 4 shaft coupling bolts and the engine mounts.
Wriggle past the side of the donk, clothes and ribs getting snaggerd
on the pointy bits, bolts and socket driver in hand it lined up?
Some preliminary fiddling at full and contorted stretch and - totally
amazing - the first bolt engaged followed by the other three. So -
engine came out, jiggled around a lot, new gearbox attached, jiggled
around some more and remounted and exactly lined up with the shaft.
That sort of thing never happens to me! The gods must be preparing me
for something nasty. Everything else seemed to attach more or less how
it came off, although getting the gear cable and the throttle cable
attached and lined up and clamped was interesting and may still not be
quite right.

Am now in the hall of the GI warming my hands while I ring JW to check
that ATF Dexron 3 will do instead of 2 - nobody sells 2 here. Then off
to get some and back to fill the gearbox and take heart in mouth and
try to start the thing...

Dinner with Steve Tomkins tonight. Will try to report before we go.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Ballyhoo Pics - the evidence

G'day again. It seems that the pics I'm sending are arriving in e-space with some reliability, so here's a few more from
Sunday's climb up Ballyhoo.

First you will see Corrie climbing up a nice grassy slope. This was taken near the start of the trip - you can tell because
Corrie is still smiling. (Today she is still hobbling around with sore legs two days after the event. A previously undiscovered
form of altitude sickness perhaps??).

And then there's a view of Ballyhoo summit, with a very benign looking Bering Sea in the background. The Bering doesn't
seem to have any real horizon. Just a merging of two different hazy shades of bluey-grey in a vaguely horizontal
arrangement. I'm sure the earth is more steeply curve up here. It felt like we could have seen the signpost marking the north
pole if only the day had been a little clearer.

And finally, a pic of some of the old WW2 ruins out on the headland. Like the ocean, it all seemed very benign and peaceful
when we were wandering through, although I'm sure it was anything but that at the time. I don't even want to imagine how
bitter the conditions were in winter. Nasty stuff.


Men at Work

Alex and the legendry Dave Boisseau peering through Berri's companionway at the engine suspend and chocked into workable
position in the middle of the cabin floor.

Sunset Pics

A long, long time ago, in fact the day I arrived in Dutch Harbour, the weather cleared for long enough to see some sunshine. So
I climbed a hill to see what was on the other side. And what was on the other side was this fantastic sunset, somewhere just
after midnight local time.

So here they are Jack - sunset pics as promised!!

New Pics!

Lots of pics arrived and to save time I've put some of them in a separate gallery, which you can view by clicking on 'New Pics' on the home page. The gallery opens in a separate window. so you can close it when you want to go back to the site.

Life as an intergalactic tomato sauce breather...

Imagine if you will that you have evolved to live and breathe in an
atmosphere of tomato sauce and bayleaves. That your home is in a
covered bowl of fettucine napolitana. That you live outside it for a
lot of the day in an alien environment that covers you in muddy sand
and grot. That when you get home at night, it's raining. You have to
climb on to the rim of the bowl, shed your party gear plus about a
kilo of S & G and get self and PG into bowl proper leaving as much S &
G on the rim as possible. Then it starts to get difficult - remove
doorway, get head and torso under lid over bowl and then one leg
across first strands of fetticine, about a 3 foot drop into bowl, so
lots of upper body tension as you hang off a handle under the lid,
ease down into bowl avoiding chunks of capsicum, disentangle
appendages from more fett., balance precariously while negotiating
second leg between tomato and onion, transfer vital goodies, weighing
about as much as a small elephant - laptop & camera in back-pack,
phone etc - across arms length distance and more fett. - fall face
first - recover - remove boots one by one, reach across for interior
Beijing slippers, balance precariously while wriggling feet in turn
into slippers, replace covering and rain guard over entrance, place
first leg across more fett and around capsicum across bowl, balance
precariously while transferring backpack etc across and around strands
- fall face first - reach small space between strands and chunks -
remove outer clothing and collapse into bunk. Remember that you have
forgotten to clean teeth - reverse collapse....etc.

MJC - I spent about 6 months in Cooktown back in the '60s and climbed
the hill Cook climbed to try to see a way through the reef after
careening Endeavour. Without looking at chart, I think Point Barrow is
around 71N so we have a chance to emulate the numbers, but certainly
not the achievement.

Today, I will do the tomato sauce routine again with the gearbox and
try to hang it off the back of the donk. If that works, we'll try to
put the whole shebang back on its mounts and then its back to rib
damage while I connect it all up again. Readjust all cables and test
gear function with engine stopped. Iff that works, one more check to
make sure it's all there, then bleed, prime, take heart in mouth and
turn the key. That is probably at least 48 hours away.

The weather looks awful for about a week so there is no immediate need
to push - time to take it slowly and get it right.

Appendages please!

Incredible day

Bloody awful day but we got the gearbox and I've converted it to Berri
config. Grey thick sandy mud and I've ridden about 40 k in it - I
think my new Henri pants have been sandpaperd to total uselessness -
SPBF - I'm sweaty, totally knackered but happy we seem to be a step
forward. Dave rang to say gbox arrived so I rode out there again to
check it - was not intending to do any more so did not take backpack
with notebook, phone numbers, laptop etc.

Sitting in Dave's office and security guy arrives with mobile -
Fishing boat skipper trying to call Dave to say that he had received
email from RCC Australia (AMSA) saying they had rec'd an emergency
call from him. He unable to communicate by email only satphone. I
offered to call AMSA as I know most of the people, but no backpack so
did not have number immediately handy and things conspired and by the
time Dave was ready, the Harbourmaster was on the phone saying plane
launched from Kodiak etc....Anyway, all eventually sorted - Fishing
boat's SatC defective - I suggested better to turn it off until fixed.

Then spent the next 2 hours converting gearbox in Dave's office and
conference room. Tomorrow is another day. A Consultation is called for
then I'm going to crawl back into Berri, trying to leave mud and sand
outside, and collapse.

See you tomoz.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008


Speeds tells me that people are sending us contributions - thanks -
hard to say properly in a public blog but I've asked him to be
seriously effusive in private. This little banana act isn't sponsored
and my funeral fund is carrying the production, so I'm hugely

I have spent a fascinating morning out in Dave's office in the fishery
sitting in on his daily decisions - I spent a lot of my office time
over the years dealing with uncertainty and he has lots of the same
issues. But the numbers are mind boggling - I get into anguish about
whether we can squeeze another 20 litres of diesel somewhere into
Berri's tiny insides, but the fishing boats deal in thousands of
gallons (USG, so about 3.8 ltrs/gall) and the plant deals in millions
of gallons - and the price goes up every day. Now over $US 4.00/gall,
which is still cheap by Oz standards but big money. And thousands of
tons of fish...and the constant equation - distance, fuel, freshness
of the catch when it gets to the line, dock space under the pumps,
plus the regular need to stop the process to clean the machinery - all
must be factored into just about every decision.

And then there are the really difficult issues related to a
multicultural workforce working around the clock.

Still raining - and muddy. This fine, cold, misty cloudbase rain is
heavy rain here, I'm told. It seems to penetrate everything and it's
not pleasant.

No gearbox yet...

Making New Friends in Unalaska

I have absolutely no idea if this will work. But if it does, you should see a pic of me and Kevin the Snowman on Ballyhoo. Just to
show that we did manage to climb the hill today. If it doesn't work, hello anyway...

McQ: A Successful Ballyhoo Summit Attempt!!!

The intrepid climbers (Kimbra and myself) set off this morning towards Ballyhoo. No rain, a little cloud at the top and lots of mud on the road out to the foot of the hill.  And up we went, higher and higher, slower and slower in my case and using various excuses, such as Dubarry's not being suitable for such climbs, for the fact that my legs haven't climbed mountains in some time- 55 days on wee Berri, where you don't really make your legs go for more than a few metres is not the best training for the Ballyhoo Summit attempt!!! But we made it to the top just in time for the sun to come out and the views across the island and North out into the Bering sea, were awesome!! The sea was the most fabulous turquoise in places from up there and looked so calm and inviting from such a height!!! It was incredible to have eagles soaring beneath us, and what's more, we saw lots of other wildlife and flora too… curious little black bird with a red head, a ptarmigan we think and some little white birds that inevitable scattered when the eagles appeared!! Lots little yellow and purple arctic flowers everywhere!!

After a little pause at the top for cookies we carried on along the ridge and began our descent at the other end. After getting stumped by some pretty steep bits- sprained ankles not wise at this stage in the big scheme of things, we backtracked and worked our way round and down in the side- definitely a mountainside suited to haggis, which I had to explain had two legs shorter than the others so they can walk round mountain sides level.  In exchange she tried to find me some trees that might have had drop bears living in them. I didn't actually think she was going mad until she kept seeing what we have come to believe are lemmings, out of the corner of her eye!!! 

Further down, a big patch of snow was covered with little worms that had frozen- bizarre, how nature works and the grass around these snow patches looked slick and slimy but were in fact bone dry and crackly.

I took charge of being official photographer while Kimbra built a snowman, complete with dead worm dreads!!!!

We then headed right out to the very edge of the next hill that was once the scene of a big military operation  in WW2, lots of rusty bits of metal and dilapidated buildings and ruins of bomb shelters and lookouts and gun positions and such.  Fascinating to consider what each individual pile of wood might have housed and been a building for at some stage. Hopefully we will get to the WW2 museum in a couple of days to get some more information about it all….

And now, tonight, I fully think we deserve to be assisting the Cape Cheerful bar and Amelias with their profits!!!

Lots of love



Ps no gearbox arrived yet!!

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Monday, 23 June 2008


There are photos of Berri with strop and heath robinson kit on Steve's
website here

Doesn't seem to be raining so must have been taken acouple of days ago.

More trivia

What makes it all the more unreal and generates the trepidates is that
we still have to get the gearbox back on and ourselves and Berri way
further north and across the top if this gig is to proceed according
to plan.

Comparisons are invidious but these pauses are a sort of soft version
of the short leave between tours that the WW2 aircrew used to get. I
visited the WW2 memorial here yesterday, in the mud and rain - the
imagination - even mine! - strains to get around what it must have
been like here for both the Americans and the Japanese in winter and,
as an ex aviator, my mind almost cannot grasp the difficulty faced by
kids as young as 17, with 8 hours flying experience, sent up here in
winter to fly out over the sea, alone, DR, no navaids, no landmarks,
cloudbase 200 feet, freezing cold (-85 degtrees outside the cockpit at
altitude) and experienced Japanese pilots looking for them. We used to
navigate over the sea at sea level in shocking weather, mostly by DR,
but it just doesn't compute. I dips me lid - I couldn't have done it.

Of the entire Japanese force of about 6000 in the islands only 28
surrendered. And they tied down massive US resources for nearly 2
years. An American trained Japanese doctor, coopted into the Japanese
Army, grenaded his patients in strict accordance with protocol, before
taking part in the final hopeless Banzai assault where he was killed
with most of his companions. The doctor's diary still exists, with the
final entry the night before he died. You might not accept the
ideology but it's awesome nevertheless.

Back to the present - no word yet on the gearbox. To do list will
start with posting USB's with pics to Speeds and H.

Trivial - and not so trivial

Up early this morning - lay in my tiny cocoon for most of the night
listening to the wind howl and Lizzie whizz and the rain spatter on my
ever so lightweight jacket tied over the top of the open companion
way, now blocked by the chain hoist. NPR on the radio - Vale George
Carlin. I hear already the roar of 'George WHO??' GC was a comedian
who used his considerable intelligence and wonderful irony to take
apart pomposity, hypocrisy and market speak out beyond the accepted
line in the sand - here's his most famous routine - you may be one of
those who is offended by it...
I'm a bit surprised that tits got up instead of - for instance -
nigger or kike - but then it was back in the 60's. A wonderful
wordsmith - you can read his books and, I think, buy recordings of his
routines and soliloquies.

Also on NPR - Leroy Chiao, the first person to vote from space in a
presidential election, talking about his experience which was at about
the same time as Pete and I were talking to him. And I reflected on
unreality - the surreal - ephemeral concepts of permanence and
solidity - There I was, warm under my fleecy rugs and the searug in
atrocious conditions, muddy daks spread to dry, bits of engine all
around - brown fisho's boots standing grey and splattered just inside
- in Berrimilla in Alaska. How could this be? I can't really be here!
A bit like talking to Leroy on the satphone when we were under that
awful storm in the South Atlantic. And today, I regard the man as a
friend - weird, but wonderful! Hi Leroy, if you're reading this and
not on a plane to Burrumbuttock or WoopWoop. Sometimes life seems to
be suspended and, perhaps like A Midsummer Night's Dream, family, home
and the rest are just misty context for the play within the play.

Amelia's for coffee (...?) and toast at 0530 and then across the muddy
road with the Nik to take photos of fog and pale and grey harbour and

And the Pontiac has returned to its rightful spot.

Speeds - And H - I will today post USB sticks with pics to date -
Speedy, you've already got most of them - if there's room on the
stick, I'll send the raw files, else just small jpegs.

More detailed bits and pieces today - might make it up Ballyhoo with
McQ & K but not if the gearbox is here.

McQ: 1+1=2 or maybe it's 3 or 5 today????

Mind is boggled with numbers today; we have spent some time, quite a bit of time really, more than is perhaps necessary in these electronic-chart-times, pouring over the paper charts for the next few stages of the journey. We have marked out waypoints and worked out distances the old fashioned way with plotter and dividers. There is, however, something romantic and great about paper charts- much like reading a real book or newspaper, or writing a handwritten letter is far more satisfying than trying to read online or send emails: There is something wonderful about pouring over the various place names and considering their connotations to voyages of yonks ago and those explorers and adventurers trying to discover routes through the ice and islands, Cambridge Bay, Lady Franklin Island, Edinburgh Island, M'Clintock Channel, Victoria Island, Rickets Bay, Prince William Island, Tasmanian Islands, to name but a few. Edinburgh Island and Tasmanian Islands, of course, being the most important waypoints for Kimbra and myself!!!! We even added distances up in our heads (one might expect the creative mental arithmetic of two engineers to be a more agreeable exercise than it turned out!!!! Perhaps at the stage of adding various distances of 100's of miles and the low level of correlation between K and  my results should have spurred us on to open a spreadsheet and get Mr A Mac to add for us) We persisted though and are fairly confident, if a little brain frazzled that things are now accurate!!! I will need to leave some time before adding 1+1  again though…

Yesterday saw the engine being moved- as I am sure Big A will have reported. The day before was a variety of little productive jobs: up the mast on the new genoa halyard: I can report that it definitely needed stretching. Poor Kimbra has one wonky arm now having wound me all the way up!!!! Sails have been stitched, I tried my best to partake in this little job (painful chore???) and managed to only have one tantrum!!!! A first for me when it comes to sewing sails, but relative to the fact that the length of sail I was sewing was about 6 inches long it was a big grumpety-grump!!!

Kimbra and I planned to climb Mount Ballyhoo today but it was pretty cloudy up at the top this morning, so after a long Sunday brunch to let the cloud burn off we looked out of the window again, by which time, of course, it was pouring with rain- typical!!! We shall check the weather tonight and if there is no sign of the gearbox tomorrow morning we will reconsider out summit attempt… we may even be able to pursuade Big A to take some time out from all the jobs he keeps pottering on with and have a full Berri outing, vertically!!!!

That's about it for now

Lots of love to everyone



Ps. Gems, you crazy loon, how did the 55mile hike go???

Pps: Gonzales, metho sub is indeed a working metho sub!!!

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Summer in Unalaska - bleak, cold misty rain, low cloud, legendary mud
and no place for a bloke on a pushbike. Where I've been for most of
the day, assembling bits and pieces for The Great Rebuild. US post
Office closed on Sundays, so no chance of new gearbox till at least
tomorrow and big to do list once it arrives.

Spoke to JW to ask all the necessary questions and he reminded me that
you can't post flammable liquids through the mail, so the box will
arrive dry (no oil in it...) that would have been embarrassing!
And I need to discuss with the local experts things like oil
specification for the donk sump and whether to put antifreeze in the
heat exchange tank.

But we shall prevail...

I'm living - well, sleeping really - in the boat. Even less
comfortable and more cluttered than usual with the engine in what was
the only usable space. Now back in the lobby of the G I getting this
on line, then it's into the Cape Cheerful bar where it's 'Build your
own Bloody Mary' day - you get a shot of vodka in a glass and proceed
to a table covered in in stuff to add to it. There's even TJ
somewhere. I shall follow procedure and sit there and do the to-do
list for tomoz.

McQ and K working off a 4 hour breakfast sorting and cataloguing
charts. They were going to climb Ballyhoo but in these conditions it
would have constituted penance for a lifetime of sin.

David W - there was a bloke peering under the bonnet of the Pontiac
yest. I had a look - erk! All about 6" deep in mud and gunk. But it
seems he got it started because it's now on the other side of the pub
- no doubt having shed a few rust flakes on the way.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

And up it came, like a daisy through a cowpat...

With Heath Robinson and Dave B as chief advisers, we tilted the boom
so that the mast would take some of the weight, added preventers, a
bit of an old washing machine as a scotchman, huge borrowed strop and
chainhoist, disconnected everything except the electrics, cut some
wooden blocks and shims, added block and tackle from mast inside cabin
to pull forwards - trial lift seemed to work - small adjustment of
strops on top of engine - go for it and up she rose, moved forwards
about a foot and down again on the blocks with the inside tackle
holding the back up. Even then, impossible to get socket on the
Offending Member but got it started with an open spanner and lo! a
bolt in the hand...knife blade hammered between flange and engine,
followed by succession of screwdrivers to break the sealant seal and
off it came.
Woooohooo! Huge thanks to Dave B for loan of bits and pieces and his
immensely valuable time away from the factory.

Now we await the vagaries of the US postal serv ice, meantime
opportunity to clean out engine bay, clean primer pump valves,
troothbrush all the nuts and bolts and engine mounts and do an
inventory of all appendages to ensure that all are properly crossed
that it all goes back together again.

The first step...

Wouldn't you know!

One step at a time Mick - and a bit of trial and error and I
discovered that there's one bolt on the gearbox flange that I can't
no-how get a spanner on. I've curled myself into the tiny space around
the side of the donk, squeezed over the top, borrowed extensions from
Dave, and in one particularly contorted position I can just feel the
socket and the bolt into contact but there's no way that I can get
them to engage - and even if I could, getting it done up again would
be one of those things that might end up with crossed threads and the
beginning of disaster.

And I'm one big bruise where pointy bits of the donk engage with my
ribs -- a long and often frustrating day for me, but McQ and Kimbra
found some silicone spray and McQ went up the mast and sorted the
track and they are getting the 30 or so paper charts we will need for
the NWP in order. And they cooked dinner on the boat, using some of
our perishable broccoli and other goodies, with some boxed hamburger
bits left over from a meal at ther Grand.

So - today is lifting the engine and movfing it forwards into the
cabin. Dave B is going to help and lend us a chain hoist and we will
use the boom as a crane, properly stabilised. We can't rest the engine
on its sump because it has a valve under it, so we will organise
blocks to stand it on. I think I have worked out what else has to be
disconnected, but we'll work it out as we go. IFF it all works, and we
get the box off, we then have to dismantle the various levers and the
flywheel flange to put back on the new one when it arrives. So all
hands to the pumps this morning.

And then - and then we have to put it all back together.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Ice cover prediction

Big section on NPR - national public radio - on likelihood of record
low ice covferage this year - N pole maybe completely ice free in
summer in 5 years. Sad - if the Canadian govt doesn't get in on the
act real soon, all the sacred sites - Inuit, Franklin, de Loos and the
rest - will have cruise ship hot dog stalls and live entertainment.
Appalling thought that the places where people died of starvation and
cold after eating their dead friends could one day be exploited and
desecrated but I bet it happens. Just look down south...

Today is getting the old gearbox off - if I can manage it. Very tight
squeeze and very difficult to get spanners on some of the bolts. Also
now cold, miserable rain, drab muddy dirt roads so bike riding no fun
and cold hands.

Will report this evening.


After a couple of phone calls to JW in Oz and then to Zee F in
Seattle, then to Norm at Marine Engine Repairs, also in Seattle - who
took my credit card number - there's a ZF10M 2.72-1 gearbox in the
mail to S/V Berrimilla in Dutch Harbour. If we don't get fogged in, it
should be here in about 4 days - just time to get the old one off and
in the mail back to JW in Oz - where it should still be in warranty.
Might just cover the cost of postage. Over to you, Examiner!

Now for a small Consultation with Adam ther Diver - if he's not under
a fishing boat somewhere.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

McQ: Something happened to something…

(Written Wednesday 18th on return to Dutch)

At about 2200 last night something happened to something… now this is definitely one of the more worrisome problems there could be- when you don't know what is wrong with what!!!


The wind had died and it was time to engage Ernie the Engine, we turned him on, he choked and spluttered- I think we woke him from a deep sleep- into action, put some revs on and we just didn't seem to get going as quick as we should have. Back in to neutral and tried again and there was a funny screeching metal sound and things just weren't right, seemed like maybe the prop wasn't opening and working properly, maybe… could it be kelp??? Barnacles?? Ernie just been stubborn???


We made the decision to head back the 14 hours to Dutch where we have made some friends and contacts who may be able to help- Nome being un an unknown quantity at this stage.  And, furthermore, if we couldn't get our not-sure-exactly-what-the-problem-is problem solved there it would be daft to go any further North with an engine/ prop problem, and we might be daft but not that daft!!!


So we are now back in Dutch- who knows, maybe I am destined to stay here forever and become a king crab fishergirl after all!!! Big A spoke to John who installed Ernie in Oz and he thinks it is almost (almost) certainly the  gearbox and we have a diver organised first thing to make sure that all is well with the prop and wee B's bott in general… so things should become clearer tomorrow about organising a new gearbox etc etc and time-wise how long that might take.


All in all its definitely been the right call to come back- we know our way around and where to get bits and pieces from here and its even better to have a likely solution!!! We have a great spot in the small boat harbour and there is always plenty of things on the jobs list- and we might get a chance to send Kimbra to the museum too now!!!


The Bering Sea, itself, wasn't too mean to us for the past 28 hours, bit bumpy round good old Cape Cheerful, but otherwise bit grey, then a bit sunny and a bit greyer and colder and back to Cape C this morning and fogtastic again!!!  And then it drizzled all day on our way back, today was definitely not a day to choose to go out sailing!!!


I guess, being on land for a bit is good news for anyone reading as they will get lots of daily wordage from us!! In the meantime, that's it!!!

Lots of love



Ps I have the best new socks – they are knee length and stripey and have multicoloured and have toes too!!!

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From Kimbra: What a difference a day makes! (Or Plan B, Part 1)

Well, you've probably already read Alex's blog on what's happened with the donk. We're back in Dutch with another to-do list, crossed-fingers, a big blue wheelbarrow carting stuff back and forth, and hot showers all 'round.

The journey so far…

13 hours out: rather sinister grey hazy skies, beam-winds, several albatrosses & petrels, packs of puffins, a head cold, mild seasickness for me and warm toasty dry feet.

13 hours back: rather sinister grey skies with rain falling from them, winds on the nose, a seal, a fleet of dolphins, seasickness gone, still got the head cold and warm toasty dry feet.

Looks like we may be here for a while, so if anyone from Lonely Planet is reading this, we're volunteering to write a new chapter on Dutch Harbour for the cost of our hotel room…

Love to all,


PS: a random note on puffins. Every other bird I've seen so far up this way is very sleek and serious looking in shades of black or grey or white or brown, big serious powerful wings and "I'm tougher than you" stare. After all, survival is a serious business. And then along comes a comical little puffin bird that has to flap its wings at a million beats per minute to stay airborn and has this huge comical beak that looks better suited to a tropical parrot. Maybe it got lost somewhere along the way??

And another strange looking bird. Corrie has emerged from the shower wearing t-shirt, bright pink hot pants and stripy Alaska knee socks with toes in them. (My new fluffy Alaska socks are bright pink with mooses on them). Can't keep a girl away from some the retail therapy can you?? 

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The state of play

Adam the Diver came down this morning and reported that all looks fine
under water. No Inquisitorial Stockwhip or other unmentionables
tangled round the prop, feathering prop fully functional, no damage,
anode still ok, rudder bearings ok. Grand - that eliminates one of the
variables and it just about has to be the gearbox, so I will start to
dismantle the old one this afternoon or tomorrow to get an idea of
trhe task ahead. Some organisation required with John Witchard to get
the new one here through US customs but in now way a showstopper.

I hope I can exchange boxes without lifting and shifting the engine,
but we have been offered help every which way by so many people that
I'm sure we will be able to build a tripod and shift it if necessary.
The place is organised for 300 tons and up trawlers and big commercial
vessels and the toy meccano stuff we need just doesn'r exist here.
There's a floating dry dock for big ships and a huge slip in the old
submarine base, but no travel lift anywhere closer than Anchorage. So
we'll work it out from first principles and get on with it.

I'll keep posting these updates as we go and McQ and Kimbra no doubt
will do the same. It's good to have a real opportunity to get things
sorted and relax a bit.

The Hall of the Grand Illusion

Therer seems to be a pattern to Berri's long trips - at least one use
of the trisail in anger, at least one unscheduled stop, communication

Diagnosis - I have arrenged for a diver to look at Berri's prop and to
check for any evidence of other damage, but I think it is unlikely he
will find anything, unless it is evidence of attachment and
entanglement with diaphanous Inquisitorial underwear or, more likely,

The real cause of our problem seems to be a set of worn shims in the
gearbox - perhaps from aforesaid possible entanglement - and John
Witchard has started the rather difficult process oif building us
another gearbox and getting it here. I think it would be irresponsible
to try to wing it with the current one, even though it works fine most
of the time, so I think we will be here for a few more days at least,
probably a couple of weeks. Ther boxes can be exchanged without
lifting the boat or the engine, but it will be a squeeze. But once
again, Onya John. Amazing service and an astonishingly reliable little

And we need to reassess - perhaps bypass Nome altogether and go
straight to Barrow - certainly no sign of a showstopper yet, but all
depends on what we can do while we are here.

More tomrrow after thre diver. I've seldom ever been so knackered and
I'm off back to Berri for a couple more hours zizzery.

Supreme moments - 535235.4 1663302.2

Back in Dutch. The world about you is TU - AOT - SNAFU - the universe - the pangalactic gargleflimsy - the Boot Room, the Bus Shelter, the Vortex, the lot. Vogons are clamouring to read you their poems, you're hard aground in the position indicated, sitting in the cockpit in your wet wellies and your survival party gear in cold greasy rain (basalt lumps, sand, years of dumped crab pots, old fishing gear) - with a big g & t in your hand and Kimbra cooking you a bacon sandwich - life is good. And McQ found my Chelsea K hat - life is better still. Then a boat goes by out in the channel making wash and poor Berri bumps hard on the bottom and life isn't so good. But it means she's floating again, so can move the last 30 ft into the berth.

But where to from here? We have a diver organised to come and look at the prop to see whether we wound something less diaphanous than the Examiner's panty hose around it. We have booked ourselves into a room with a shower - I'll sleep in the boat, we can use the room as a staging bin if we really do need to lift the donk - small to-do list arising from stuff we learned after leaving - frinstance, whitters needs fleecy pants, being unable to wear thermals next to tender, seabattered bot. Cold and wet in the Bering. Was too knackered to fetch the Nik and anyway much too wet, but the cloudbase was about 200 ft coming back in and all that you could see of the island was the base and the spit. Lots of phone calls to make. Also need to unpack port q'berth to find filing box with instruction manuals - did I bring KIWIprop stuff?? 10 points if I did, and 10 points deducted if I did as well - silly additional weight...

Got back to the small boat harbour at dead low water and we're parked, on the putty (luckily - it's not basalt lumps) trying to get back to our old berth. The Harbourmaster rubbing hands and looking up my credit card number again, to keep the state of Alaska solvent at least in moorage fees (that's what they call them).If we can find the problem and fix it, we're off again - if not, a punt will be considered - no doubt in Consultation with many expert advisers.

Meantime - DON'T PANIC. We shall prevail.

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Wednesday, 18 June 2008

5441 16642 The bastards are at it aqain.

Well, I told you this little banana was a finely balanced act. Seems that Murphy and Herself the Examiner are in collusion again. 60 miles north, we started the donk as the wind died and things didn't seem right. McQ heard a noise, and I knew that the prop was not delivering power. We tried all the usual stuff - no vibration, so hasn't shed a blade, reverse to unwind the Examiner's errant stocking, ahead again and it seemed to be ok. Then not ok. Stern gland leaking a lot of water. Still nothing obvious, but there did seem to be some extra vibration. Anyway, no choice really - we're heading back to Dutch, dead into wind in cold misty rain at a bout 3 knots so 16 hours or so to go.

You're all the first to know. Could be a big one, could be just a bit of kelp round the prop - just don't know, but not a little dispiriting. Happiness not in great abound. As the Great Man said, it's all gone tits up and I need a G & T.

More as we discover...

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Berrimilla departs DH - from Dave Boisseau

McQ - Alex - Kimbra
The Berrimilla departed Dutch this morning approx. 8:00 am. Course 340 deg, 6.6 knots, headed for the western tip of Nunivak Is., approx. 390 miles, then on to Nome. Weather this week looks good for sailing, W and SW 15's. Attached is a photo of Alex and crew, with Berri in the background, taken night before departure. Very fine and enjoyable folks. Kiwi boat the "Berserker" (much larger) also headed to Nome, so the Berri may have some company along the way.

5437 16641 The fridge door...

D- pse blip the satphone if you send us anything - just like old times.

Off again - 0745 departure - rolling fog just lifting and sunlight in patches on the island and around the harbour. Stunning. Bering sea not being too unreasonable - started snarly but has abated. Discovered that you can't buy silicone spray in the supermarkets - or if you can, it's disguised - and we're having real difficulty getting the main up and down and reefed because the slides are sticking in the track. We have a tiny splash of good old Oz H4000 spray and I'll go up the mast with it perhaps tomorrow when we're a bit more settled in. Berri packet to the eyeballs - food for 3 for 90 days plus 3 sets of (reduced ) gear + 400 odd litres of fuel. Russian fuel, we discovered, mostly bought in Adak.

Th Plan - heading for the western end of Nunivak island then to Nome where we will wait for the ice to do whatever it wants to do around Barrow and make the next decision there. I listened to a bit of a doomsayer yesterday who confirmed my own feeling that the really critical bit of all this will be getting out safely if we get as far as Devon Island. And some Norwegians who wintered their boat in Nome arrived in town and were really helpful. Spanish boat Amodina following us in about a week. Different approach - big boat, massive water and diesel tanks, no watermaker...

Huge thanks to everyone in Dutch - especially Dave B - and his fishing boat skippers who are all somewhere ahead of us near the Pribilofs. We do a couple of skeds with Dave and the boats each day.

We have crossed the busy shipping lane west of Akutan pass - new AIS box working well but the tendency is to rely on it instead of keeping a lookout..

Comms - will try to stay with sailmail - this laptop won't log in to the sailmail telnet system using iridium - dont know why - gets all the way to the server - so have two laptops going at the mo. Will try sailmail for this one.

Boring blog - sorry - but at least you get one.

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Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Limited comms to/from Berri

Had a call from Alex, to say that there is no Sailmail signal available at present. Comms from the boat will be via Iridium and limited by cost and bandwidth. So if we experience a lack of blogs and/or messages there is no need to be concerned. All other systems aboard are working normally. More when news arrives.


McQ: I secretly want to be a King Crab Fishergirl!!!

Hello everybody!!!
I have been a bit distracted by, well, land really, so there is lots to tell and probably too much for one blog!!!
Where to start?? I think I have recovered from my bump on the head- thanks for everyone's messages, I feel no more or less normal so I think I should be ok!!!

Dutch Harbour has been brilliant- the most crazy place. It is like how you would imagine a proper frontier town to be like!!! And its the start of the pollock fishing season so the bar is full of people working in the fishing industry here and its quite mad. We have learn so many facts that are difficult to contemplate, like, this is the BIGGEST fishing processing town in the world. It really is just crazy!!!

Yes, indeed it was me who was too hungover to make it to the tour of the plant but judging by the stories it wasn't the place for anyone with a sniff of a hangover to be!! The dinner we had the night before at Sue and Dans house (2 brilliant people who seem to bring waifs and strays like us into their home often!!!) was just fantastic. Lots of very exciting and interesting people, I made up for it yesterday though, Kimbra and I were unloading some fresh fruit and veggies on to the boat and the guys parked behind us were going out to check their crab pots so we went out too...It was incredible!!!!! They are humungous and it was an awesome afternoon. One of the crabs we caught was almost as big as one of the guys on the boat!!! A really amazing thing to watch, and I got stuck in and helped pull the pots in and haul them back into the water and bait them too- it was only when I got given a king crab to hold that I went into full girly-giggling mode- hilarious!!!

Everyone here has been fabulous- super friendly and helpful and this is a great place.

Gonzales did a wonderful job, thank you Big G!!! Arrived with a fully laden packhorse and left with one too!!!! He even hired a burro so that made the food shopping so much more manageable!!!! Kimbra kept calling him Speedy, though, as in Speedy Gonzales, which is more confusing than calling them both Dave!!!

Incidentally, everyone here seems to be Dave, or Dan or Darren!!! Must be a pre-requisite of living here!!!

We have AIS!!!! arrived this arvo and all fitted so a bit or stacking and stowing and stashing and squishing of other stuff onto wee B and then we should be off to Nome early tomorrow morning (our time!!!)

So, quiet night tonight, a Norwegian boat has just arrived from Nome, having sailed the North West Passage last year and wintered in Nome, so we shall try and find them in the bar and pick their brains about the trip- shame not to have longer to talk to them, but it will be good to get going again. It should start off a pretty nice run with S or SW winds- woo hoo!!!!

Thats about it for now,
Thanks to everyone and their kindness, hospitality and generosity here in Dutch, most of all Dave B!!!!

Lots of love
(It's been so long since I wrote I nearly forgot my name there) McQ
ps no sign of your parcel C- boo-hoo!

The birthplace of the wind

Otherwise known as Adak - so we have been told. Lovely idea and pretty accurate.

AIS box installed and we hope to leave around 0700 tomoz. Berri a
disaster area, but I'll be sleeping aboard tonight and will do some
tidying up.

Dutch has been wonderful - even though it's raining again. Hope to be
in Nome in about a week - wx looks reasonable. We'll officially enter
the US there - local DHS is in Anchorage and has sent out papers

Daylight early departure a good idea - gets us through a very busy
shipping channel just north of here, west of Akutan pass and mayte
even through the fishing fleet, although they are having a hard time
and have moved north.

Next one from the boat, AGW.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Seems it does.

OK - direct bloggery from now on. Will need to be much more careful!
Still in the lobby of the Grand Illusion ...about to check whether the
AIS box has arrived.

Test flight

This is to test the direct link to the website. Speeds, Kimbra says
she sent you an interesting photo of a Wombat's Hansdhake and she
suggests that you use that if you need inspiration.
Katherine - lovely to talk to you - enjoy the rest of Shanghai and Beijing. xxo

Chizzo - I'll check the website to see whether works.

And at last a burble.

The world runs on fish meal! You'd better believe it. Dave Boisseau (Huge BAPTO please) our contact here has helped us enormously - really could not have done it without him. He is the manager of the Westward fish processing plant in Captains Bay, now working 24 hours/;day processing pollock. He took us around the plant this morning - those of us not too hung over, that is - more later - and the scale and complexity of the operation is stunning. Fish is pumped out of the boats at one end and fillets, surimi, fish meal, fish oil and roe come out at the other end. One small example of the complexity - fish meal contains calcium carbonate wnd it is fed to people, animals, chickens and crops. The calcium carbonate content has to be regulated so that the meal that goes to chickens is enough to ensure that the eggshells are thick enough not to break in the boxes on the supermarket shelves yet not so thick that the cook in the fast food diner at the truck stop on Highway 66 can still break eggs into a frying pan one handed without having to bang them too hard on the pan. And the unfortunate pollock is almost completely utilised - 27 to 30% as fillets and surimi and high value product and the rest as meal. Dave sifted through the tiny amount of actual waste product and pulled out a small hard yellow bead - the lens from a pollock's eye - yellow from the cooking process.
Surimi - google it - is white, tasteless paste that becomes almost anything you want it to be by adding flavour and colouring and texture
- a surimi steak is almost indistinguishable from a real one apparently. Think crab stick, if you live in Oz. And ther smell will be in my clothes for ever!

Berri progress - seems to be under control. Leif Hagen (another Huge BAPTO please) made us a couple of shrouds by email and on a handshake
- Leif Hagen Yacht Systems and Rigging, - and we fitted therm yesterday - eureka! And Dwayne at Harris has sorted the autopilot connectors, his oppo is working on the backup watermaker motor and they haved ordered a new AIS black box so we can follow the fishing boats and avoid them. McQ and Kimbra did a huge shop yesterday and we'll load tomorrow and the plan is to leave around midday on Monday 16. There seems to be enough open water to the north to get to Nome, but we might have to watch and wait a bit if it closes again.

And last night, we were invited to dinner - thanks Sue! - and met the crew of another boat going the same way as us - no publicity, home built, Juan, Luisa, Diego from Spain and Sean from Oz - so we may have company. Significant Consultation was carried out, followed, I'm told, by some even fiercer consultation back in the bar here - concoctions known as Duck Farts - kahlua at the bottom, bailey's in the middle and crown whisky on top. Erk. Not everyone made breakfast or the fishery.

PMcQ - thanks for nice bottle. And thanks to all the gustbookers and those of you that have emailed us. I don't know till we get out there how the communications will work from here, but it's almost certainly iridium or nothing. Appendages crossed on that one. And a huge thank you to Speedy, who, I'm sure, is decorating his frock for the next round.

More before we go if I can get organised. Else, see ya out there where it starts to get difficult.

In the Hall of the Aleutian Kings - actually, the lobby of the grand aleutian

The place is starting to smell of fish. I cycle past the air extractor of the Unisea processing plant several times a day and it's pushing out what feels like almost solid fishy odour. And there's a chute churning out real fish as well - I think the rejects from the line.
Yummy! And now we have rolling foggy rain and not much wind, so it hangs around.And everythin g is drab grey beige muddy

We have a few things still to do – fresh food, waiting for delivery of new AIS black box, removing barnacles – Wunderbars, I will inflate our rubber ducky and just reach under the boat and scrape them off. Cold, wet work! – and I have to try to waterproof a stanchion base that is leaking. Will be difficult if the rain doesn't stop and serves me right for leaving it till the last minute. And I have to return borrowed bike, phone, backpack and other goodies to Dave B. Don't know whether there will be departure party or photos – unlikely, I think, as David W is by now transiting Chicago or somewhere equally awful.

Have given the Rat a haircut - Swiss army knife scissors in front of the mirror - looking motheaten and scrofulous.

Much later - main food packed into boat, de-barnacled, no AIS yet, McQ and K buying the freshies and the Boot Room Rat doing all the admin things - and lookingt for a sponge and silicone spray - and gerttring grey mud spray in a strip - well, everywhere actually - over new Henri pants and Mustang jacket. And catching up with our Spanish friends and exchanging data and frequencies and other useful stuff.
Their boat is called Amodin~a with the squiggle over the n. Home built from scrap, they say. Impressive, and very experienced.

Time to go out in ther mud again.

Testing Comms

Here in the radio room, we’re getting geared up for the next stretch.


Today has been a very special one. My old friend Duncan, who, two years ago was terribly injured  by a Pains – Wessex white handflare. With the help of many friends and real stars and the sensational singers and actors from the London School of Speech & Drama, tonight, put on a show at the open air Chiltern Shakespeare Theatre. He Produced it. What a great night. This he did to raise money for the Wexham Park Hospital Ventilator Fund. A project started by his devoted  wife, Sally, who kept vigil by his bedside for 10 months (5 in intensive care). Duncan, was kept alive by one of these machines. Sally (and you don’t argue with her) decided that they needed another one. Which they do. They cost £35,000 each. And, we’re nearly there now. At the time of the accident, I was filming Duncan, demonstrating the safe use of distress signals. We were making a Yachtmaster/Day Skipper DVD for our pension funds. So captured on video was the last shot when everything went so desperately wrong.  You may well be asking yourselves, ‘what’s all this got to do with Berrimilla’? Lots. Duncan had made contact with Alex, during the first Berrimilla adventure with Pete and of course like all of us, had become a fan. After the accident, Alex, made it his business to visit Duncan, in hospital on several occasions. This, from half way across the World. Lifting his will to live by miles, well nautical miles really. Because that’s what Alex does.


I was filming tonight’s event. Under normal circs, I never use a tape twice. But that which once recorded a scene of horror has been erased with singing and joy. Free at last.

We are all of us connected.





Friday, 13 June 2008

Life in Dutch Harbor........

Hi All,
There's a really great site; 'A sense of place', which is the blog of one of our 'Gusts'. Steve, who's just posted a pic of Berri arriving in Unalaska. Really worth a visit:
Thanks Steve.


Monday, 9 June 2008

Fwd: It’s what you do. 535235.48 1663302.01

0330 9th June.
Just getting the head around being here. When you've been out of touch for so long and have a big to-do list, it's daunting to arrive somewhere like this and find that really, there's no change – you're still out on your own, have to find your way around, fit in with the local priorities, amend your plans on the basis, for instance, that the facilities just don't exist. What is wonderful is that the place is full of people who both appreciate what we have achieved and are trying to do and want to help.
We have been massively helped by Dave Boisseau, who runs the Westward Fisheries plant and is himself fiendishly busy as the Pollock fishing season opens at 10.00 tomorrow – amazing stuff and the statistics are astonishing – too much for this blog, but absolutely fascinating.
We arrived in the middle of the night, Whitters pretty knackered, having pushed the boat pretty hard for the previous few days since McQ's encounter with the boom, worked our way into the inner harbour and were met by the skipper of another Australian boat, Meridian Passage, who took our lines, gave us a couple of beers and a couple of apples and took himself off to bed – tried to thank him and he just said 'It's what you do'
The place is full of people like him. The bar at the Grand Aleutian Hotel rocks every evening with men and women here for the fishing season – frontier stuff and most of them with interesting stories. And I arrived at the boat yesterday to find 2 big bottles of Guinness in the cockpit with a note saying 'Understand you guys could use some of this. Best wishes – F/V Camille J' Wonderful! Thanks guys!
And Leif Hagen, a rigger who lives in Vashon, Washington, contacted us offering to build a new shroud for us, so that's under control – he went way out of his way to help and wants to be part of the project – thanks Leif!
My brother David – the Packhorse – arrived with lots of stuff for us put together by Duncan and Speedy and PMcQ – thanks to you all, especially Duncan.
And I spent yesterday afternoon talking to Tom, the skipper of one of Westward's fishing vessels. One of the more interesting afternoons of my life – big vessel, massively complicated equipment and electronics and Tom really on top of it all and interested and impressed by our rather trivial venture by the standards of what those guys do. He showed me where the fleet (hundreds of them!) are likely to be when we leave here, sorted me on procedures, offered me the help – and respect, which was nice – of the fleet. We'll look after you – don't hesitate! Again, it's what you do!
Berri parked in what used to be the WW2 submarine base, Whitters in the hotel next door, the old WW2 HQ building. Relics of WW2 everywhere. McQ and David up the road in the altogether more palatial Grand Aleutian, Dave B has found me a bike and today will be a day of going around and getting various other fixes under way. Boat partly unpacked, still to be cleaned out, lots of stuff to be shipped home from here. The next leg will have to be much more streamlined with 3 of us aboard – nothing that doesn't contribute to come with us, so even the sextant will be off.
Lots more over the next few days.

What a lovely place.......(via phone message)

Berri alongside in Dutch.

Alex, returned to Berri yesterday to find two large bottles of Guinness and a note which read:

“Hear you guys can use some of this stuff.”

From F/V Camille J.

If you read this thanks very much.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Updating & Changes

Hello All,
There’s going to be some changes to the site over the next few days.

Hopefully most will be invisible. Should things go weird, please stick with us.

Best, Speedy.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Berrimilla in safe harbour - Dutch

Alex, Corrie and Berri,
Alongside in Dutch, tied up next to a big red thing named "Lucky Island".
They're going to book into The Grand and have a quick wash and some consultations.
All facts & figures will appear over the next few days. They're also hoping to connect to wi-fi and the usual email addresses may be used to contact them.
And the toast is:
"To Mighty Berri & Her Crew"
Speedy - off watch.

5354.04 167.40 The finishing straight

McQ back in circulation - good news. Estimating C. Cheerful sometime between 2200 and m/night. Wind has turned at DH, now blowing from NW straight into Unalaska Bay. Examiner again! We'll take a look and might hide in Wide bay until daylight, tho can't possibly be as bad in there as out here.

Hard to believe we're so close! I wonder whether it's ever been done before. This will probably be the last blog until we get in. Will update Speed and Carla by satphone if my hands not too cold at Cheerful.

Love yez all and thanks for coming along for the ride.

Later - Cape Kovnzhka in sight! The finishing straight. And what a landfall! Big lumpy sea, wind dropping - 18kts or so. Misty sun, sea glowing bottle green as the sun shines through the curling wavetops and a glorious line of snowy volcanoes along the north shore of Unalaska. 6000 miles and worth every inch - distant haze, volcanic cones and snowy ridges shining through. Yeeehaaa! I think I can just see Cheerful - and isn't it!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

5345.58 16851.59 Thu 05/06/2008 17:46

Will write this in the hope that I can send it. McQ still has big headache - other signs ok, but I think she should be ashore as soon as possible.

Conditions still awful - 25 kts, dreadful sea but manageable as long as I keep going downwind. Going absolutely as fast as I dare - full small furler and trisail, just able to maintain general course towards DH. No way we could make Nikolski. May have to hand steer around Bogoslof. Will be doing sked with Dave in DH @ 0900. Earliest ETA Cape Cheerful around 2200 and will ask Dave to organise someone to meet us if possible as I'll be alone on deck and not easy to get to chart. No time for more - we'll get there. No forecast yet - hope Dave will have it and that this is easing a bit - not too much as that would slow us down.

5338.15 16927.58 Thu 05/06/2008 04:32 berritime

Amazingly, I seem to have the old computer back. Following this one are the 2 blogs that were 'lost'.

Bloody uncomfortable out here. Still blowing 20 - 25, very big seas, breaking, Berry gyrating violently. Huge fun juggling laptops, dongles, iridium stuff in the dark. Actually, because we're not on deck as we should be, I've left the spreader lights on so that anyone close can at least see us as a sailing vessel. 35 still forecast, so we're keeping our heads down.

Sked with Contact in Dutch at 0900. Unlikely we'll get in today.

5330.50 17050.38 Examiner 1, McQ 1

The story continues - after our morning sked with our friend in Dutch, we went out to put in the second reef - wind then about 15, right up the clacker, sea building so boat snaking a bit, poled out headsail, all cool but precautionary in view of forecast. We roll in the heady and bring the boat up a bit - Whitters to the mast, preventer off and the boat gybes. McQ sees it coming, ducks but still collects solid glancing blow on side of head. Conscious, in pain, cross (angry!) with herself. W secures boat, checks for bleeding, lucidity, no vomiting, pupils ok. Prognosis good, but rather her than me. Kept her up talking for an hour - she knows it's wednesday (it is here!), can focus on cryptic clues and do the simple maths that my cheesebrain can cope with. Then sent her to bed with hottie, woke her 2 hours later, signs still good so allowed her a nurofen. She wants to get up, is embarrassed, doesn't want her friends to know but I've put foot down. Alerted friends in Dutch, just in case, and checked Nikolski as potential safe haven if needed. Don't worry, Pam, she's sore but ok. Will have blue ribbon bruise tomoz.

Meantime, wind now 20+ dead astern, 6-7ft short breaking seas - dropped main, just sailing with poled out heady, still doing 5.5 - 6 kts. Berri will go like this for ever - loves it, kevvo driving, so snug, estimating dutch around 1800 tomoz. Times like this, a bloke needs a G&T. And a second forestay to twin pole. Those were the days. Will be light till midnight, then again around 0630. I'll get some short naps and keep her as flat out as seems safe. Forecast wind due to abate tomoz.

Leif - top fitting angled T piece to wire, all dimensions to follow by separate mail from David. If you can match the threaded pin at the bottom, we can use the old turnbuckles. Will need 2 copies please - no point in taking chances with the second one. Anyway, I'll call you and send you the complete shroud with all fittings as far as chainplate as soon as I can. Please send details for courier. We should be in dutch for at least 10 days, but would have to wait for you.

Carla - yay, another tin can to add to the concatenation. Sadly, we haven't seen the sky or anything much above 500 ft since Gareloi so no chance of seeing the thing - thanks Matt, anyway. Carla, tks for webcam, Where is it so we can wave? It probably updates only once every few minutes, so you might not see us...

Great to hear from everyone else - will do my best to keep y'all posted as we approach.

5336.27 17023.49 More from the Examiner

McQ still has nasty headache. 1 nurofen every 4 hours is all that I think is sensible. She's been up, had soup, but now back in bed.

We now have 30 kts dead astern, postage stamp heady, poled out, big building sea and gale warning for tomoz. Oh Whooopeee! We're doing around 5kts, some big waves, will shorten heady even further as things develop. Very cold, raining right against the back door. Poo! Both stor boards in.

Looks like a long and interesting 24 hours to come. Glad I've done a few Melbournes and I know about the last few kilometres, but not a pleasant prospect. Don't like your chances with the webcam unless the vis improves.

And there's Bogoslof Island dead ahead, which I will try to miss. Should be there in daylight tomorrow.

Love yez all. Have fun out there!

Later - fortified with soup and a rather revolting mix of baked beans, tinned slushy mushies and steak and onion, plus my last 2 snickers bars, carefully preserved for such an occasion. No weather event lasts for ever, but the examiner has placed this one very carefully. Helping us along, but at the same time the building seas are potentially a bit iffy. They're about 10 feet now and steep - I have kevvo set up so that he takes us slightly diagonally up the face and down the back of each one that he can manage - remember, they are overtaking us, probably twice the boat speed. Also hoping that same course will get us inside Bogoslof in 80 miles or so.

Will try to keep sending these but don't stress if none or v. few. Is difficult - and sometimes busy. Might set the trisail later if seems appropriate.

Summary of 2 lost blogs 5336.29 16951.12 115 to cape cheerful

First, McQ got a really nasty bang on the head this morning when we were putting in a reef - glancing blow through hood and beanie and non trivial. I checked all the signs - pupils ok, no bleeding from anywhere, lucid, but very sore and angry and badly shocked. We both think she will be ok. I kept her up and talking for an hour - cryptic clues, simple maths - all seemed to be there so sent her to bed to get warm. Woke her 2 hours later to check the signs, all seemed ok so allowed her 1 Nurofen - her painkiller of choice tho wouldn't be mine - and one every 4 hours since. Wants to get up and help but I'm insisting. Rather her than me.
Second, weather as bad as it has been - 20 kts up the clacker earlier, then 25+, big big building seas, v. uncomfortable, v difficult to manage. Down to poled out heady for a bit, then bare pole, now back to tiny heady as wind has abated to 20 again. At least 30 hours to DH at this rate but gale warning for tomoz, 35+ so may have to park for a bit. Bloody Examiner - two to her for the day.

And third - I could weep with rage, anger, frustration and plain disappointment. My second computer crashed a couple of hours ago as I was sending original blogs. Just like last time - lost everything - digital charts, all emails, downloaded photos, track data - the whole shebang. This set up is so complicated for a non geek that if it goes wrong, I'm stuffed, completely. and, once again, it has and I don't know why. I hope there's someone in DH who can sort it. Sorry folks. Examiner 3, Berri 0

Current situation - McQ resting, Whitters trying to ensure that everything possible happening to get us through the barn door as fast and safely as possible. Tiny sail area just getting us high enough to stay more or less on track. Changed one of kevvo's steering lines, both checkstays on, everything possible tied down. Have alerted contact in DH re McQ just in case she needs xray or other inspection on arrival, checked Nikolski as possible safe haven. No weather event lasts for ever, but this one is a doozy - exquisitely placed by the Examiner and we're going to have to negotiate it to get home. Cold, wet, miserable.

And, please everyone, appendages crossed for this computer - my home laptop, not at all suitable for these conditions.

There were lots of messages and thank yous etc, but can't at this stage remember and don't have original incoming emails to check.

Can't believe it - first sun since Gareloi - tiny hole in gloop lighting my keyboard.

Love yez - hope the webcam works, but prob updated every few minutes only.

Wind back up again. Will try to send this - Don't know from minute to minute whether it will work or not.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Update from the radio room 21:50 Z

Just received call from Alex. They are hooning along (running before 20kts) on direct course for Dutch. Expect to arrive @ noon local time today (that's yesterday for most of us). Confusing, it will be. Their local is 14:50 now. So add 10 hours to zulu and that will be their noon time. Of course if you're in the USA, you may well be asleep at the time of arrival. On the other hand, if your in Oz, you'll be settling down to Neighbours at 18:00. Carla, the Oracle, has supplied us with ground zero webcam links (see gustbook). And I'm aware that at least 7000 people are sitting out there like a tree full of Owls awaiting the arrival in real time fogvision. So set your alarms and don't miss it. Should any of this not make sense, please resist the temptation to point it out. I've had enough advice for one lifetime, thank you.
PS: What he actually said was noon tomorrow - so that could be the day after. Mind you; all above calculations still apply by adding 24 hours. Going for a lie down before breakfast..........

More or less north of Amukta 5251.30 17310.37

About 50 hours to go iff it all continues to hang together. 50 hours during which you all will go to work, read the papers (what is happening out there? We've been 51 days with no news whatsoever) sit in traffic jams, polish the baby's bottom or whatever you normally fill your days doing. I'll be either dozing in my tiny, slightly angled bunk or in the cockpit in full party gear watching the water go by and wishing time was not so elastic. We have been promised 20 kts up the clacker (never thought about it before, but that must be Oz slang for cloaca)from here to Dutch so appendages once more in the supplicant position and onwards, ever onwards.

Huge to-do list for dutch. Mostly seems under control, but will be very expensive and perhaps tricky. Talking of expense, diesel in Adak was $4.10/gall and parking alongside the delicately named Refuse Barge was $80 + 3% per night. Even more expensive than Bucklers Hard! But not a real incentive to hang around.

Thanks to everyone for your messages and good wishes - lovely to pull them in this afternoon and can't wait to get to dutch and catch up with the world again.

Carla - was not aware of Discovery mission - no real comparison, but I like your idea of symmetry. What is the program? Anyone we know out there?

Doug M - have you seen the map?

El - dvd would be noice - ta. pse send email to speed with your plans - he will forward to us. will try to call from dutch.

McQ: barnacles

Imagine being a barnacle on Berri's bot!! Imagine just cruising along one day and clinging on to her, then suddenly 114 days later, everything's upside down, the sun shines, all the fish that come and hang out look a bit strange- you keep meeting sharks called 'Bruce' and so on... after getting used to this lifestyle, basking in the delightfully warm Sydney Harbour- getting a cooling once a year on the way south, you find yourself off again... hotter and hotter, you realise you are going north, then it starts to cool off- you have a vague recollection of what 'cold' feels like, hanging out with your buddies in Falmouth in the winter, but then it gets really this time there's loads of you, and you've made masses of new friends, so many that wee Berri is definitely feeling sluggish, everyone's talking in American accents but the cold water is starting to remind you of home, and you start wondering if you'll ever get back to Falmouth again??

I hope those little barnacles make it back to Falmouth one day, despite them slowing us down in the mean time (so maybe on someone elses bot)!!!

love McQ
ps: Carie, did you see FF's gust re our new neighbours??? Gust 213 i think!! hilarious!! see if you can get the lowdown?? Awesome re JH!! miss you, lots of love Bol xxx

McQ: 3rd June

Phosphorescence was out last night in full iridescent glory, would have been great big white streaks everywhere if we had been going a bit quicker but instead bubbly squiggly worms leaping about in the water we churn up- different dynamic to great big white streaks but equaloloy mesmerising and, well, nice really to have a bit of a change!!
Only 267 miles to go to our Cape Cheerful wapoint-I can't wait for C.Cheerful... and what it may bring!!!
Shower remained tantalisingly close yesterday, don't suppose another 3 days make much difference after 53!!
Congrats to Big A, Pete and Berri on the anniversary of their arrival in Falmouth in 05- It must have felt pretty special!! and this makes Berri's 2nd huge adventure in 3 years!!
The deck peanut tub has been relegated to the mists of time- even the permanent marker pen has rubbed off- no more a single trace that once it was filled with peanuts. Now replaced by the super colourful and altogether more pleasing Deck M&M's Tub...
Love McQueen xxx

5243.37 17342.08 conceptual space

Time expands and contracts to fill the conceptual space available. I must do a minimum of 2 more of these morning watches before Dutch and it seems like a century yet I have already done 54 or so of them. That finishing straight in the Melbourne marathon again, but with the pain of longing and anticipation rather than lactic acid convulsions and cramps. How on earth do I fill in that cavern of time? Can't read, can't listen to music, can't do much of this cos the vis is too bad and have to be on deck watching the water go by and looking at the few seabirds that break the monotony.

The satphone has spoken - there must be incoming from all y'all - exciting and wow does it help...

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

5234.58 17422.10 Barnacles.....

Anniversary 2005 Falmouth, Barnacles, Fishing boat, hat & gloves

This is the anniversary of Berri's arrival in Falmouth 3 years ago late in the evening - to be met Izz ang G and Dr Gordon. Would have been fitting to arrive in Dutch, but not to be. We're on track to be there on Thursday arvo AGW, which, on this gig, tends to be the exception.

Berri slow and sluggish - all the underside of both quarters above the antifoul is covered in 3" barnacles. There seems to be something affecting the prop as well. Pete, about the same as when we got to Falmouth - I wonder if they are the children of the ones that got a free 114 day ride from Falmouth to Hobart.

We were overtaken by a small trawler during the night - phosphorescence again, in iridescent cascades. And it's so nice to have warm dry hands and my old Falklands fridge bonnet which I found as soon as I dug for the errant bag.

Grey gloop continues. We're a few miles from one of what must be the most spectacular views in the world and all there is to see is the inside of a paper bag. Pity.

McQ: Advice re torches (flashlights)

Some advice re torches:
1. Make sure to locate and secure torch BEFORE it gets dark. McQ's torch MIA. Its dark.
2. Don't do what Big A is prone to do and forget that your headtorch has already been located and secured to head.
Gribbage for 24hrs blue/green. For 48hrs red and pink!! At moment reaching (not quite screeching reaching in 6kts breeze but reaching nonetheless!!) straight line for Dutch so until The Examiner restarts The Examination, which she inevitably will, its Kwik-E-Blogs with the benefit of my wisdom!!!
Love McQ xxx

5210.33 17600.05 Flopopery under Sitkin's Teapot

Photo by Fred Zeillemaker, 1982 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory).
Where on earth to begin? Adak - old US cold war naval air station, from what we could see of it, rather like Port Stanley, with a lot of ex government facilities now largely unused and falling apart. The jetties - 2 of them - once parking spots for big aircraft carriers, now have grass growing out of them. Difficult to get alongside huge fuelling wharf and even Whitters got knickers twisted first time. Met by Lacy Plummer - BAPTO please Speeds for help way beyond the call of duty of a Habourmaster. We were confined to the boat BY Order of the US Customs so Lacy organised 60 galloons of diesel and took our shopping list and bought us lots of goodies, even getting my glove size right. I now have waterproof lined rubber gloves and toasty hands. She had previously cleared our visit with USC, and also brought us the biggest bag of M&M's I've ever seen - we now have ready use tub of M&M's instead of boring peanuts in the cockpit. Got us the weather and generally fussed over us. Thanks Lacy.

Great Sitkin - whooo! Coming out of Adak, there were occasional breaks in the grey gloop and there, magnificent, gleaming, unbelievably close - near yet distant again! - the snow covered slopes of what seems to be a huge volcano. Only saw glimpses of it, unfortunately, and now it's pinching our wind as we work out way around it, way too close for the two finger rule and the wind, if there is any, goes over the top of us and up the mountain, a cosy for Teapot Rock.

Must now start keeping these short. Still working Hawaii sailmail station, but only just, so mostly iridium. Voucher dwindling fast.

David E.W. G'day! MJC, found the wharves despite google earth.