Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Yamba says it all and another Seagull

A message from someone who understands how it feels over here sometimes!

Just been for a drive from Brisbane down to Coffs over a few days.
You may be interested to know that the local paper in Yamba is called "The Daily Examiner"
Tough task master on a regular basis?

Thanks Nev.

The engine parts should be delivered today so now to the painful bit - getting it all disconnected and lifted out. Appendages everywhere in the crossed position please, and Consultations at the ready, vibes teleported and all that jazz. We'll keep ya posted.

The Seagull in the photo gets an honourable mention - I spotted it from the battlements of the Castelo San Jorge about half a mile away and the full length of the Nik's telephoto just brought it in. I went looking for the statue afterwards but the Seagull had done its work and moved elsewhere so no close up. The statue is of Dom Joao 1, King of Portugal, fully armour plated and heroically poised to do battle.

Roight - to the business of the day...

Monday, 28 September 2009

Missing ship

On matters gnasherous, the oxycodone ibuprofen recipe sorted the pain in one dose - remarkable - so I now have a very swollen face and a dull ache but am  reasonably confident that it will all work - Wednesday will be the cruncher, so to speak.

We hope to get the wind generator re-installed to day and the first box ticked. But not looking frward to the engine job - I know just what a pita it is.

Sue - got all your stuff - erk! - will reply shortly. Z ok.

A few pics from Pete

 In order from the top

The mighty Victory - Intergalactic workboat champion.
One of many ships that passed very close
Jellyblobber for the moon
A Lymington Scow exactly like the one I learned to sail in, probably built in Christchurch - this one was in the Institutiao Navale at Belem and had been used by the Portugese Navy for sail training. I'd love to take her sailing...
Farewell deputation - l-r - Pauline & Paul Harry, Gordon Howells, David Carne, Isabella W, Huw Fernie and Graham Barrett.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

The hard stuff made easy

Once upon a time in what seems like another life altogether, I was delivering a Safety and Sea Survival course with Gerry Fitz. One of the students was a medical Doctor who was working in the casualty department of one of Sydney's busiest inner city hospitals. I asked her if she would review the standard list of contents for a first aid kit in the light of new drugs and develping techniques. She agreed - bravely, I thought, given the liability issues involved and the increasingly litigious bent of the yachting mob. She gave us a table of suggested contents based on the absolute requirements of the IRC regulations for Category 0 and 1 yacht races plus her own suggested additions and a table of the sorts of problem your average yacht crew might meet while doing what they do. She and Donna then worked it so that the table is set out with a column for the problem - say Severe Pain - another for the appropriate treatment, then the brand names of a list of drugs to administer - Oxycodone, Endone etc , followed by likely side effects and any other useful information. It's all set out so that it can be laminated and put in the first aid kit or kept in the boat's information file. All very sensible and really easy to use under pressure.

My little burst of prescience about the pain getting really really bad in yesterday's blog came true with knobs on - I won't bore you with descriptions but the rhinocerous pills (paracetamol, 1g) coupled with Pete's special Aubergine painkillers (ditto but with codeine dihydrate, I think) didn't even begin to dent it. So in the depths of the night, I dug out the boat's box of goodies looking for a magic bullet. Oxycodone seemed the thing but I was also full of paracetamol and codeine and was not sure whether I could drop oxycodone on top of all that. So to the table and there it says, loud and clear for oxycodone - administer with paracetamol and/or ibrupofen - yay! exactly what I needed to know.

My profound thanks, Dr. G (the human version) and Donna for an elegant and effective reference kit. The recipe is working and now I will start cutting back on the dose...

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Eeyore again

The spares have arrived at Lisbon airport but - isn't there alway a but? - Customs are on strike till Monday and then they start on the backlog.

That's just what WOULD happen, said Eeyore.


I have found a kind man in an engineering shop on the waterfront who will lend us his (huge!) chainhoist so now we wait for the parts to arrive, then unpack Berri's interior to make room for the engine, disconnect the engine from fuel, water, shaft, battery and controls (job for jockey sized contortionist...), attach chainhoist to the boom and lift - not easy as the hoist must negotiate the back of the coachroof so not a direct lift - then turn the engine around in the cabin, remove the gearbox and bellhousing and follow John's instructions. A relatively simple job in ideal conditions but a touch on the tricky side here.

And I think I need a dentist - one of those times when local knowledge is useful. We have been offered local help by a generous relative of one of our long time followers and I think this might be the time to invoke it.

Our friend the jellyblobber has even greater ambitions - he's now trying to reach the moon but, I fear, his stage 1 lacks the thrust of a Saturn rocket and he's just able to get his blunt end to break the surface. A different version, perhaps, of the more athletic Cowi in the nursery rhyme.

Meantime, I'm going on a seagull hunt - the place is full of statues of the great and the gormless...


Thursday, 17 September 2009


Just passing Ponta da Lage at the mouth of the Tejo - lovely day - berth arranged at the Doca d'Alcantera. More when we know.

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Lisbon it is

We're 39 miles north west of the entrance and we'll enter the Tagus at about 0800 UTC tomorrow. More when we know more - but I've always wanted to go to Lisbon so there's serendipity out here somewhere. If they will let us in, of course. We're pretty scruffy.

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Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Looks as if Lisbon might be a better option than Gib as there is an AirX generator agent there but not in Gib. We are now about 14 hours away from Lisbon if we can make contact via I & G and iridium. We'll keep you posted. Will hang around until daylight if we decide to go in.

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Finger trouble

Or clammy mushy brain - averaging nearly 140 miles/day...

Huge container ship passing us at half a mile.

First attempt at video of waves a disaster - need more practice. Matt, all cameras and this laptop on UTC

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4025N 01002W 674 miles

What a night! gusty 30 - 35 kts and big following sea. About 15 ships overtook us, some very close indeed. Big waves seem to come in groups of about 5 or 6 very closely spaced very steep faced 5ish metre waves with the first one breaking and the next about to break. Because we are going much more slowly than the waves, Berri rides up them, in effect, backwards and they tower above her stern and then she slides over the top, more or less straight and meets the second. If the second one breaks, it's the one that usually makes things difficult and slews the stern around and confuses poor old Kevvo with a false apparent wind. There's a long express train roar and the cockpit is obliterated by rushing crashing water - and so it goes for the rest of the wave train. But at night, with phosphorescence it's magnificent - and scary - it's like surfing down the face of a giant living boiling neon tube. Sometimes with an incandescent rooster tail from the bow to the cockpit. All under a lovely clear sky with the waning crescent moon and Venus at about 15 deg on the E horizon, Orion high above Sirius to the S and the Great Bear and the Pole to the N. For the first time I can remember, I watched the Great Bear turn its half circle and end up upside down...

We're averaging nearly 170 miles a day - huge for Berri but when you consider that the 24 hr record is now about 900 miles, rather ordinary by world standards! Wind due to ease a bit today so perhaps 2 days to C. St Vincent and 2 more to Gib

Impossible to keep the inside dry in these conditions - we have the storm boards in, but at every watch change we bring in litres of water on our gear and B is so small there's nowhere to isolate this from the rest of the boat. So everything is clammy. Erk!

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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The Examiner getting back into practice

4133N 01009W

Hoofing it down the coast, ships everywhere and the waves are so big you often don't see the ships until they are only a mile or so away, by which time we fervently hope they have seen us on radar - I bought the best reflector I could afford...

Steady 25+ knots. Waves building for 36 hours - mostly ok but every 100th or so wave we get a train of four or five massive steepies very closely together. Heady rolled in to half storm jib size and still surfing at 6+ with several of the biggies breaking into the cockpit and half filling it. Trying to keep everything dry below.

Due for at least another 18 hours of this. Prob 5 or 6 days to Gib all going well.

Pete on watch in the cockpit - has to be someone there all the time for the ships - I've just done double egg and bacon and tomato sandos with a pre prandial Discussion with Mr Gydrin. Noice.

Time for a couple of hours ensac.

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Sunday, 13 September 2009

The plan - such as it is

We're at 4602N 00944W with 325 miles behind us. 30 knots forecast for tomorrow and the next 2 days to the south of us. We will try to run south along a line just west of 10 W to about 36 N and then turn East for Gibraltar. In the meantime, I hope we will find out whether we can get the generator fixed in Gib - or, as an extreme option, one of us could fly to the UK with it. If all goes well we should be in Gib in about a week to ten days. Anne H in Falmouth - if you'd be so kind as to email the OCC Port Officer in Gib, we'd be very grateful.

Not having it working is not s true showstopper but it does make things much more difficult and this early in the trip and so close to potential help, I think it is sensible to try for the fix.

There seem to be echoes of that first voyage all through this - the unplanned stop in NZ and generator problems later.

Anyway - POO!

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Pearshaped again

Our wind generator has died. Again. It did not seem to be working properly from the start as it was not switching off when the battery was charged but instead winding up to 16+ volts. Battery frying stuff. Now it is in both Charge and Brake mode and doing neither. We've dismantled the 3 way switch and bypassed it but no go so it's internal somewhere. We are thinking of going into Gibraltar. G or I, could you possibly ring Keith or Nigel at Greenham Regis at Shamrock Quay Southampton and ask if they would be able to send us a new one to Gib plus a new 3 way switch and the wiring? Don't need blades. If they can, it seems to be the best option. We probably have enough diesel to charge, make water etc to Cape Town but not really sensible. Shades of the Falklands last time.

Or we could turn around and slog back into wind. 'orrible idea.

I'll try to get the satphone cranked up and call you in a couple of days but please also email to the sailmail address.

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Saturday, 12 September 2009

A pretty red prawn net

An interesting 36 hours, in the Chinese sense. As some of you will know, Pete is taking things a bit easy for a few days - resting, one might say, on his rather colourful laurel and Muggins is the bod in charge of Doing Stuff. Three reefs and the pole more or less routine, though knackering but I've just spent the last couple of hours trying to get the new sail set up to twin pole. There are 6 bits of string coming out the front of Berri's mast and 4 from the back. Then there are sheets and downhauls to control the pole and each sail. All of these must be sorted so that when it goes up, the sail is not fouled around any of them and it flies free with its sheet, halyard, downhaul and topping lift correctly led. There is so much power in even a small sail like this that the consequences of one foul lead can be very messy. I started from scratch on a heaving deck with water washing across and trying to manage a harness and tether at the same time (for you lot at Crosshaven, as per promise!) Anyone who has tried it will know just how complicated, frustrating and difficult this can be.

Long story - so I got it all sorted which took about an hour of very intense endeavour and brought up the sail (modified, David C, as you suggested - how good is that!). Got it all connected to its bits of string and its pole, set up the boat to run downwind on the other poled out sail to cut down the apparent wind and - gulp - hoisted it. Foolishly, I hoisted from the mast because when, inevitably, it got away from me and unrolled itself, I had no control over it cos no turn on a winch. Boat doing 5 knots, sail pretending to be a thrashing prawn net in the water, Muggins cursing and pulling it in bit by bit and re-bagging it, but no longer neatly rolled so no chance of an immediate second go.

At this point, after clearing away pole and attendant clobber, engaged in Long Consultation with Wendy's Friend from the Liffey and reconsidered. First, the sail must be woolled just like a kite but second - why ever did I try to put it up with the pole and all the clobber already rigged? Upped the complication by a power of 10. Should have just thrown it up and got it properly tensioned and then set up the clobber and unfurled it.

A rest and another go and I'll get it right. Immensely useful but frustrating - you really learn when you have to do it yourself and get it right first time.

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Friday, 11 September 2009

4903N 00546W

About 70 miles down the track, just north of the separation zone. 2 reefs and poled out headsail and lumpy.

I got to Falmouth in early May and Gordy and other mates and I did huminomungous work on the old barge, startring with clearing the grass and dead leaves out of the cockpit and we launched her a week or so later to find all the other fixes that were needed - including the gearbox and the generator and the nav lights - all very expensive but essential. And Crosshaven and the Fastnet interspersed with weeks in Falmouth's rather grimy harbour gathering slime and grot.
which leads me to the surge of joy Berri and I and probably Pete feel now that we're actually off and the slime and grot is washing off and the old barge is alive again. About 2 tons heavier than for the Fastnet and every nook packed with stuff. My joy tempered with a bit of quease and some well polished apprehension - the more I do, the more polish it gets. Interesting. More on this later - seems it's quite common. But I need a GRIB

And I wish, oh I wish that I understood what regulators regulate and how they do it.

PS Already USB gadget is misbehaving. Just tried to send and Airmailk crashed. I shall have to resurrect all those Ps - patience, perseverance...

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Past The Manacles

We left as intended at 0630 UTC with lovely send off. Out into lumpy wind against tide English channel with the new sail up for the first bit. Pics from Isabella in due course. Good NE breeze and we're heading west of the Ushant separation zone. Berri very heavy and sluggish but we're still making 7+ knots. Boat a bit of a mess while we get things sorted - I'll try to send this then big sort out.

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Thursday, 10 September 2009

Not today after all

Small hitch and we decided to postpone departure for a day. ETD now 0630 UTC  tomorrow, September 11th. Isabella and Graham are planning to be on Pendennis Point under Henry's castle so there will be some 'there they go' photos on these blogs shortly, just to prove it really happened. We will perhaps be able to fly the new red sail for the record. Sorry we couldn't get you to make it, Brian - just a bridge too far.

Pete says thanks for all the Gustbook birthday wishes

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Happy Birthday Pete and other stuff

Tomorrow is Pete's burf. Happys, boyo!

And we are go for departure on Thursday morning barring the absolutely pearshaped. We've got a new experimental (for Berri anyway) downwind furling headsail - put it up today and it just might work. Photos when Caroline downloads - Thanks Carol and huge that you came all that way with a hot water bottle and your favourite plastic Dr G's bottle for us.

Thanks for  your messages all y'all. TellyKelly, good to have you in the mosh pit with the rest of the mob. K, L and the DD - watch for our red sail and madly waving old farts in imaginary dreamboat.

From tomorrow we'll be back to the idiosyncrasies of HF radio and sailmail so these posts will arrive whenever...

We love youse all.

Monday, 7 September 2009

How it used to be done

Couldn't resist this - don't know what it's called but a sort of coracle - wooden frame with leather or fabric skin, thole pins and rough oars and a shrimp net (made of nylon...) to feed the family.

Friday, 4 September 2009


This website might go into hibernation at any time - sadly, we don't have control over it any more. While it is still alive, the gustbook will still work and Steve in Sydney will forward messages.

However, if you want to follow Berrimilla home, please bookmark the new blogspot if  - it's here


There is no gustbook on the new blog,  but  you can send us messages via berrimilla2@gmail.com. These will be forwarded to us every couple of days or so by Steve using Sailmail. If it's really really urgent, we have the satphone and Steve has our number.

I'll keep posting to both sites while I can.

Pot of gold?

Yesterday morning in Falmouth - looking East from Berri's cockpit and still raining and blowing about 25 kts. Lots of interesting detail - pick the 'man' overboard, complete with run for life medal, the square rigger, the old workboat, the Fosters logo and heaps more. Gerry, if you're out there, the Pilot boat, which is usually in the berth across the jetty, has a permanently rigged MOB system - a small crane with a winch and a scoop which looks like a very wide roll-up ladder with closely spaced rungs.  Hence the 'man'.

Berri now almost loaded - she's about 2 tons heavier than for the Fastnet judging by the new  waterline. We did a huge shopping trip this morning and that all needs to be packed into all the little odd shaped spaces and wedged in.  But the weather in Biscay is still iffy http://www.passageweather.com/ but is predicted to improve mightily next week so, unless things change we intend to leave on Sept 10, which happens to be the day after Pete's birthday and the 4th anniversary of a little swim in the Atlantic off the Cape Verdes.

We are looking seriously at the possibility of going home via South Georgia - a must-visit-once-in-a-lifetime place. Will depend on the weather patterns when we hit the southern hemisphere, but if we do get down that far, it also puts the Kerguelens more or less in range if the Examiner is sloppy.

Tomorrow I will be handing on all my NW/NE passage data, Admiralty Pilots etc to an old friend from way way back who is thinking of having a go. I'll get 'em back if we decide ever to try again with the Russians.

Sue, Z is cool - enjoy the cruise. Naramas - go well. STS 128 yay!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Barnacle baffle

We lifted Berri in the slings for an hour this morning in the drizzle and bleah. 'Orrible! Stuck a venturi onto each of the cockpit drain outlets - the originals had all fallen off and they really do make a difference. And a clamp around the anode. And put some antifoul under the counter - whole new look, not noticeable when Berri launched again unless you look closely but obvious and a bit daunting - I hope - to the relatives of all the barnacles we took to Hobart from here last time. That's the top pic.

And it's all winding up. I'm off to Hamble tomoz to collect the (I hope) repaired wind generator and all the other stuff we left there to lighten Berri for the Fastnet and then we start sorting and loading all the gear in Jeremy's shed and Anne's lockup (150 cans of Murphys and a modicum of medicinal potion from a certain Cork distillery of Dry liquids).

And collect the Cape Town charts...

And buy lots of diesel and almost all of Tesco's and Asda...

And we'll go - perhaps 10 days or so to get it all done.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Greetings from Mrs. Janet Samuel,

Greetings from Mrs. Janet Samuel,
I am Mrs. Janet Samuel from Ivory Coast. I am married to Mr. Samuel Kwuwa who worked with Ivory Coast embassy in Kuwait for nine years before he died in the year 2005.We were married for nineteen years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.
Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of US$9.5million dollars in a Bank here in Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire. Presently, this money is still in bank.
Recently, my Doctor told me that I would not last for the next Eight months due to cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness. Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a person or organization that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want this fund to be use for orphanages, widows, schools and propagating the message of love to all mankind.
I took this decision because I don't have any child that will inherit this money, I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul. My husband relatives are selfish, they refuse to distribute to charity organization some amount of money which my late husband gave to them for charity on the second day of his illness, and I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision.
I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that God will fight my case and I shall hold my peace. I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband's relatives around me always. I don't want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible.
As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the Bank here in Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire. I will also issue you an authority letter that will prove you the present beneficiary of this fund. I want you to always pray for me. My happiness is that I lived a life worthy of emulation.
Please always be prayerful all through your life. Contact me as soon as you receive this e mail, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another person or organization for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein.
 I hope to receive your reply.
God bless you
Mrs. Janet Samuel.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Some hair gel for Drake?

Seagull poo, for the biologically challenged, consists almost entirely of Araldite and cornflakes. Just try getting it off your decks. Sir Francis will need more than a haircut.

Back in Falmouth getting ready for the off. It was four years ago today that we set off last time, but then we had a pretty fierce deadline. This time, we are aiming to leave by September 7th at the latest. That should give us heaps of time. Berri is being lifted out of the water for a few hours on Saturday morning to attach a missing venturi to a cockpit drain and to apply copious antifoul under her counter to deter the Falmouth barnacles.

Then I have to drive back to Hamble to collect the repaired wind generator and some other stuff we left there in the interests of going fast and visit a few friends on the way who have helped us. Then lots of tedious loading, shopping, last minute fixes, goodbyes and we're away. The plan is Cape Town, but that's still in very wet concrete.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Sliding down the old picket fence

Pete noticed that we have achieved a remarkable coincidence of fencepost numbers by sailing in this Fastnet gig. In 2005 in Berri, we came 11th overall. This year we were 111th overall (What a backslide - should have retired when in front...) and 11th in the 2 handed division and 11th in class 3b. Is the examiner trying to tell us something?

We are still in Plymouth trying to get the nav light problem fixed. We think it is probably a defective circuit board in the LED light fitting at the masthead but it is an early version of the fitting and the later versions are not compatible so we have to wait until the local rigger can fit in a trip up the mast with the right tools to change the fitting. Should happen today. If so, back to Falmouth tomorrow. And some discussion with Aquasignal about their circuit boards.

Brian S - check your email - I'm getting non delivery messages...And thanks everyone for your messages - it's lovely to know that there are people out there still reading this guff.

An in-joke for the initiated but there's a new chapter for the HGTTG on the Survival of a subspecies of Pachycephalosaur in draft and ready for Proofreading and Due Process by the Consultant., the Surgeon, the Examiner and the Censor. A formidable team.

PS - nav light exchanged for new version and problem fixed. Now for the discussion with Aquasignal.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Finger trouble

This is Leopard. And one looking towards the Needles in the Solent.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Fastnet wrap

Turned out a bit better than we thought - a respectable set of results and I think we only owe beer to Peggsy in Voador. Amazing ride back from the Rock - actually from Pantaenius - cracking 8's and 9's under first the flat kite and then the full blown Katherine's purple and gold kite. Bleak, Bering Sea weather with drizzle and very low vis and really difficult steering at night with no frame of reference - stars, lights etc - except the compass and the boat rolling all over the ocean in the swell. And for old farts who can't read the compass at night without glasses - just have to try to focus on a particular blob and hope its the right one. It often isn't because you also have to look around the blurry horizon every now and again and then have to re-identify your particular blob So things start to go pearshaped and it's recovery time...Tiring and a bit stressful.

The photos
Aerial shot of the Fastnet looking NW towards Clear Island at sunset, courtesy of Con Crowley, RNLI, Crosshaven - thanks Con
Looking back at the later starters in the Solent
Anchored - in interesting company - the Bristol Pilot Cutter Morwenna
A floating apartment block that visited us - not quite a Vogon yellow ship but I bet they have better poets
Leopard going for the finishabout 80 miles ahead just east of the Scillies - we had four days at least to go
Approaching the Rock from the NE under Berri's (and Katherine's) special kite
The Fastnet in Daylight - yay!
Out of focus rocks south of the Scillies near Bishop Rock light

We're in Plymouth till tomoz then back to Falmouth for last minute fixes and reloading...Much rushing around required.

Friday, 14 August 2009


Flat kite, 12 knots of breeze on the beam, boat speed and VMG 7+ knots. Noice! AGW, Bishop Rock during the prizegiving tonight and finish time lunchtimeish tomoz.

Keep em crossed, all y'all.

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Of silly old farts and sealing wax, of a cabbage for a king

So - 48 years after first trying, I have finally seen the Fastnet Rock in daylight. For me, apart from Cape Horn and perhaps Tasman Island and the Iron Pot, the only race mark worth the effort of getting there every time. And get there we did, photos to follow - not another competitor in sight and so we must by now be way, way out the back of the race. A comprehensive cock up by anyone's standards. As Eeyore might say, "That's just what WOULD happen to a couple of silly old geriatrics with ideas above their station" but at least we can play the old farts card - "Yacht race? What yacht race? How interesting! Are we really in a yacht race? Gosh - now where did I leave my woolly socks..."

More mizzly murk in the Celtic Sea, but this time with phosphorescence- all the little dinoflagellates out to play - yay! And the moon posing for Turner. Sadly, the force 7 rocket blast to get us to the finish that Valencia Radio has been warning everyone about just ain't going to happen according to my latest GRIB. We'll get a little feel of it tonight, perhaps, but the good bit wont arrive until lateish tomorrow, far too late for us. Pity - might have redeemed the cock up just a bit!

And for this pair of SOG's, the Fastnet is also the turning mark for the way home to Oz, just like last time. This time we don't have the deadline pressure of trying to get back for the Sydney - Hobart start, so we may be a bit more leisurely about it. Cape Town, South Georgia, even Kerguelen perhaps? All interesting places we had to sail past last time.

Some messages - Sarah, Pete's Pot is doing its job with panache - and to the RCC - so is the one you so kindly sent me.
Sue - consumables depleting as per flight plan - thanks! ZBD tipsy bouncer. Steves various - continued thanks. And Fenwick, decrepit sailor with Kingly aspirations - you're a silly old fart too.

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Thursday, 13 August 2009

Fastnet to Fastnet - via the world

Some time in the next couple of hours Berri will achieve a small and unique milestone - a Fastnet Rock to Fastnet Rock circumnavigation started four years ago within a day or two and including Falmouth, the Cape of Good Hope, Hobart, Sydney, the Pacific from south to north, the Aleutians and Dutch Harbour, the North West Passage, Greenland, the North Atlantic (bleah!) and Falmouth. We'll be a bit busy at the Rock, so I'm writing and sending this now. There will be a Special Consultation at some stage when the deed is done.

There is a forecast of force 6 -7 from the SW for this evening, so with a bit of luck, we'll fly back to the Lizard.

Appendages crossed please - we need a break!

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Little dramas to pass the time

Why we love 2 handing there I was, middle of the Celtic Sea, middle of the night, all alone in the cockpit. Dismal night - low indeterminate cloudbase, mizzly rain, Iguacu to leeward, no noticeable vmg towards the Fastnet. Conditions a bit like the Bering Sea but without the ethereal and utterly exhilarating glimpses of snow covered volcanoes through the murk.

Time to get rid of the reef. Attach autopilot. Unroll self from cockpit seat, dodge the torrent, hook on to the jackline and start undoing the strop and the knitting. Rain down neck. Headsail backs - autopiloy beeps madly - race back to cockpit - what the hell is going on. Roll in headsail, finish the reef and try to work out what has happened. Wind down to nothing, Then a smidge - unroll heady and try to sail. Sails drenched and shapeless - no want to work. Small small movement through the water, steerage way - to the north. Even worse than before but - but - a tack would point us directly at the Fastnet. One armed paperhanger act with sheets, tweakers, recalcitrant autopilot everything dripping wet, velcro in cuffs undone by winching, water up sleeves - and Berri eventually, slowly, turns through the tack. More mayhem and trimming and - magic - we're pointing at the bottom left corner of Ireland instead of Birmingham.

Time to wake Pete...

You can probably see where it all happened on the tracker. And you may want to ask why, unlike the rest of the fleet, I expect, I did not know the change was coming and anticipate it. Good question, long story but basically relying on 3 day old weather info and then misinterpreting it...Geriatricity and technology and no excuse.

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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Falls of Iguacu and other stuff

Offshore sailors may recognise The Iguacu Effect - the best place to steer the boat from on the wind is usually the leeward cockpit seat from where you can see the whole headsail and react to telltale talk almost by instinct. However, when it's raining or when there's lots of blowing spray - now, like..., the mainsail becomes a catchment area the size of Brazil and the end of the boom, just above your head, is the source of the Iguacu torrent. Usually down inside the WWG collar and there's nowt to do but squirm away. We have a couple of very sexy helmets with visors which may cure the symptoms but in the interest of weight saving, I left them behind in Hamble. Stooopid!

The ghosts of cuppas and McQ's North West Passage coffee: we have 2 huge conical mugs bought in Falmouth first time around but, being plastic, the remnant of the contents tends to stick to the inside and the next cuppa tastes of old soup, toothpaste, general grot and nasties. I've just scoured off the brownwash - wow, you should have seen the colour and consistency of the resulting mixture. Just add tabasco?

we're not likely to get anywhere close to the Fastnet trophy cookie jar this time I'm afraid - about 10 hours anchored or going backwards and sideways in the tide at Land's end avoiding the Runnel Stone and the separation zone have fixed that. And now the wind is dead ahead...back to Crosshaven, perhaps.

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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

"with a spoonful of tabasco..."

Doesn't scan like the original but it's amazing what a guinness and bacon sando brekky with lashings of tabasco does for the morale. Plus having been lifted so we are pointing directly at the Lizard. May the Examiner be praised and the devil take the vogons.

Almost time to wake Pete. Kettle stations and fire up the frying pan for more bacon. Don't suppose he'll want a guiness but you never know.


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Monday, 10 August 2009

A pastiche

Have had trouble with propagation and transmission

Now just south of Dartmouth heqadbanging again - awful lumpy SW swell. Soup from freshly squeezed english cbannel earlier,

Now daily con with Pete & dr Gordon. Noice. Here are earlier blogs not sent - first last night, second some days ag0.

Reasonable start amongst the usual mayhem and purple and gold kite down to big hole off Yarmouth. Out almost over the Shingles, con with Dr G at 1700 and then falling breeze not enough to carry us over the incoming tide. Anchored in 125 ft of water, about 3kts of tide. Pete on anchor watch and I'm going to try to get some sleep. We drifter back 250 metres before we decided to anchor.

Maybe this will be the first from the boat. We left Falmouth at 1700 on Wednesday and now (0930 Thursday) we are about 5 miles west of the light at Portland Bill, planning to go in close and pass north of the Shambles. Will give us a look at the geography for the Fastnet...

Not enough battery power to work the HF so no send...

Now it's Saturday and we had a massive hoon to Hamble - 25 and a quarter hours jetty to jetty and we fluked the tides too. 25 knots into theNeedles Channel and 2 knots of tide under us. Lovely sailing.

Let's see whether this one goes...

Steve - getting yours - tks Hi Sue ZBD onto Dr G too. Flapjacks great tks

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Saturday, 8 August 2009

A word from the publisher

At the briefing we were asked to emphasise to both of our fans that, should Berri disappear from the tracking site during the race, it is not the end of the world, nor is it likely to be the end of Berri. Please don't ring RORC or the Coastguard or President Obama - just hang in there and we will get to the finish eventually, carrying a dud tracker. I will try to keep the blogs going but it does get a bit intense and I might just flunk occasionally.

Looks like a softish race but with some wind most of the way around. I think it will be a beat from the start to the Fastnet and a soft reach back to Plymouth. If we can finish by Friday, we are doing well.

Our start is at 1220 british summer time or 1120 UTC. We go off second, after the IMOCA 60's and in front of all the others. There's an entry list on the fastnet website with handicaps etc.

Hope we can keep it moving...

Trapped by a phalanx or two

I have just poked my nose into the RORC office to make sure we have nothing else to do bfore the start and the media were there in phalanxes. I did three interviews one after the other - tricky trying to be original, but the interviewers were good and I hope it was ok

One interview will be available on the Fastnet website and another on the Rolex Regatta News site (I think) and the third was live to Cowes Radio. And I met Carlo Borlenghi, ace photographer and Giles, ace journo, on the way out - just like old times! Google Carlo - his website is awesome.

Friday, 7 August 2009


Tonight is the last night of Cowes Week and it's all happening. There was a real Sea Vixen doing gentle aerobatics earlier and the Red Arrows have just finished. Fireworks to come.

Briefing tomoz and we're going to dinner afterwards with the Winsome mob who we met in Sydney at Christmas. Then it's into business suits and The Project. For those who don't know where to look, play around with the links here http://fastnet.rorc.org/ Looks like a big boat race this year with good winds for the first few days then going light after the big boat have finished.

Please read this! There will be Exam Questions later.

To all three of our fans out there - when Speedy joined W.O.B. in heaven, he took the passwords to this blog and the website with him and we haven't been able to crack it so we have no control over my mistakes and other peoples' hacks. We need both, so there will be a new blog address without a website this time and a public email address  instead of the gustbook for Fenwick to send us abuse and the rest of you to send nicer messages. The old website and the gustbook will still work and messages on the gustbook will get to us, but perhaps less frequently than before. I will post blogs to both blog spots until we leave for Oz and after that, just to the new one.

The new blog is here:http://www.berrimilla2.blogspot.com/   and the email address to send us messages will be berrimilla2@gmail.com

Steve Withnall will look after the blog and the email addres from Sydney - THANKS Steve! We will post directly to the blog from the boat and Steve will monitor the email address and the old gustbook and edit any messages and send them to us via sailmail.com.

We can't make our sailmail address public because if we get spammed, the whole thing falls over.

Meantime, we're in Cowes! YAY! Massive relief - the wonderful mob at Golden Arrow found us a damper plate and Mark came over to Hamble in the pouring rain  at about 1800 yesterday after a long day in Poole fixing someone else's donk and worked until late getting Berri back together again. Thanks Mark, thanks Ken both from Golden Arrow for having the right stuff and doing the job.They are at Shamrock Quay in Southampton if any of you need fixes.

My phone charger has died so no photos until I can download from Pete's camera.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Reverse assembly - again

Church packed for the memorial service. Moving occasion - coulda' been us.

Followed by an interesting cultural experience. Definitely needed my blue towel and The Guide..I think we drafted a whole new chapter.

And now we're back with the gearbox off - I've been concerned for some time about the noises coming from the back of the engine and I asked the wonderful people at Golden Arrow Marine in Swampton whether they could spare the time to come and have a listen. As I rather suspected, serious problem and disassemblement required once again - not exactly sure how it occurred but the torsional impact damper plate on the flywheel was completely stuffed. And I don't mean just a bit stuffed - bits of the rubber shock absorbent material everywhere and the two metal plates about to self destruct. So a new one ordered and might arrive today. Or might not, but it means that we can't go over to Cowes until it is fitted. Golden Arrow terriffic.

And Paul Peggs, our good mate and significant rival in the 2 Handed division arrives today so there will be serious consultation. Paul lent us his boat, Audacious, for the last Fastnet while he sailed Voador to an overall 2 handed division win. Big co-incidence - Paul sold Audacious last year and Bruno who sailed the Hobart with us a couple of years ago, is half her crew for this Fastnet.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Just an update

The countdown begins - Berri is looking good, with a new pinky mascot from Sue and surrounded by swans and cygnets and huge greasy mullet. She's never been so light and it just could be a light wind race - see www.passageweather.com - last minute electrical glitches needed sorting today and seem to be under control .Engineer coming tomoz to listen to engine and gearbox and advise. Safety stuff being checked - and over to Cowes by RIB tomorrow courtesy of a generous friend for the 1979 memorial service and the RORC party http://www.rorc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=267:1979-fastnet-race-30th-anniverary-memorial-service-a-cowes-cocktail-party&catid=36:club-news

We will take Berri across to E. Cowes Marina late Thursday or early Friday all going well. Stickers yet to go on and briefing on Saturday.

Dinner tonight with friends at the Dodgy Eater aka La Dolce Vita. Noice.

I'll try to do pics tomorrow. Berri so light that I don't even have a camera - just the phone. And we are only taking a foot of dental floss to share and recycle - that should sort any hygeine problems.  And military rations of loo paper. Berri rocks!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Heading East

Maybe this will be the first from the boat. We left Falmouth at 1700 on Wednesday and now (0930 Thursday) we are about 5 miles west of the light at Portland Bill, planning to go in close and pass north of the Shambles. Will give us a look at the geography for the Fastnet...

Not enough battery power to work the HF so no send...

Now it's Saturday and we had a massive hoon to Hamble - 25 and a quarter hours jetty to jetty and we fluked the tides too. 25 knots into theNeedles Channel and 2 knots of tide under us. Lovely sailing.

Let's see whether this one goes...

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Friday, 31 July 2009

Seems we've been hacked.

Damn!. My fault. We cant do anything about it because the site passwords were Speedy's.

Watch this space for instructions for new blog site.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Con trail effects

And Berri early on a soft Crosshaven morning beside the Lifeboat Station


1. Dressed for the evening Con in dirty weather - a Guy Cotten TPS dry suit - great gear for the pearshaped.
2. Burgee swap - Mike MacCarthy, Admiral of the Royal Cork YC.  We raised about 450 euros for the RNLI - thanks everyone.
3. Alan Barton rendezvous in Mounts Bay, just south of Tater Du. He still had 140 miles to go to Cork, into the gale warning

Gale warning Sea Areas Lundy, Sole, Fastnet

Gale force winds expected soon. Looking west from Sea Area Plymouth - the leading edge of the system - already blowing in Fastnet

Saturday, 25 July 2009

This is what I sent from the boat earlier today

...to the wrong address. To be fixed

Hooning again
This will be the first one from the boat if I've got the address right. We left Crosshaven at 1115 this morning after loading sufficient medication to get us most of the way back to Oz and now we're at 51 28N 007 45W in a 20 kt S Wester and hooning along at about 7 knots towards Land's End. Crosshaven pictures from Falmouth tomorrow.

So nice to have Berri alive again after she's been a rather sad and sorry inanimate object alongside the pontoon. The trip over was a really good workout, even though it was pretty unpleasant from about half way. Now we're in a steepish quartering sea and rolling a lot but it will soon be time for the daily Con - this time with an obscure medical practitioner we found in a run down surgery in the back blocks of Falmouth. And Crosshaven was lovely. Thanks everyone for looking after us so well.

We're at the Longships Lighthouse at Land's End - about 140 miles in 23 hours. Nice little hoon. Should be in Falmouth late afternoon, AGW. Thousands of little dolphins frothing around and leaping earlier - light brown with whiteish undersides - I'll look them up when I can find the book. Jet con trails all over the sky - different people, different lives...

And here we are alongside in Falmouth - a day of amazing cloud formations ahead of some wind tonight. We even managecd a rendezvous with Alan from Crosshaven at Lands End - he was delivering a big powerboat to Cork from Southampton - we'd said goodbye to him in Crosshaven less than 24 hours earlier.

Photos when I have a better link.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Faraday part 2

LED interference with VHF radios is apparently a common problem, not foreseen by the manufacturers. Some, such as OGM, have fixed it: see http://www.ogmtechnical.blogspot.com/
Berri's nav light is an Aquasignal S32 and I have written to Aquasignal to see whether they too have a fix. Watch this space.


It has been suggested that a faraday cage over the nav lights at the masthead might fix the interference with the VHF. I've just been up the mast on the climber to wrap the nav light fitting completely in two layers of alfoil as a test run and it doesn't make any difference. Damn! And now I have to go up again to take it off but I'll take the silicone spray up with me and squirt the mainsail track on the way down.
I have also been told that LED's are on/off devices and the resulting frequency might be the problem. On to Google when I get down from the mast but if anyone has any suggestions, please toss them this way via the gust book. It must have been fixed somewhere sometime before today...

Publlicity mugshots

Thanks to John Roche - Crosshaven photographer extraordinaire - for the photos. The younger and more handsome of the old geezers in the photo is Alan Barton, Lifeboat Operations Manager of the Crosshaven Lifeboat. He has enough fascinating stories to be doing a gig of his own.
The gimlet eyed observers amongst you will notice that certain rules developed for the Port of Cork have been relaxed in Berrimilla's honour at the discretion of the Harbourmaster. We are most grateful for the indulgence. Those familiar with earlier episodes in this and the original blog www.berrimilla.com will also notice that we have changed medical practitioners. Henceforth the good Doctor from Cork, Barber Surgeon Murphy,  will be responsible for the health of Berrimilla's crew, in consultation with Emeritus Professor Dr. Gordon. I have ordered sufficient quantities of their several potions to ensure that, Vogons and Krikkit robots permitting, we are medically protected all the way back to Australia. How we get there is yet to be decided.

Monday, 20 July 2009

The sloppy worker blames his tools...

The recalcitrant computer I was using seems to have posted multiple herons but was being excessively coy about it and I kept trying. It still says they are not posted. Dial-up connectivity was only yesterday but I'd forgotten just how cumbersome it could be.

Fwd: Last try

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Alex Whitworth <alex1whit@gmail.com>
Date: Jul 20, 2009 6:40 AM
Subject: Last try
To: awberrimilla.hobart@blogger.com, smj612.berrimilla@blogger.com

This is a dial up line and kind of recalcitrant. gmail works but with about the same metabolic rate as a hibernating polar bear.

Last try

This is a dial up line and kind of recalcitrant. gmail works but with about the same metabolic rate as a hibernating polar bear.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Seems the heron did not load...

And Ian, Con and Ritchie in the Crosshaven lifeboat. Good to have them around.