Sunday, 31 May 2009

Wrong poster

Sorry - don't know how that one got in instead of the finished one. It has typos and wrong venue. Proper one says 1930 June 11th in the Shipwrights Bar at the Chain Locker.

Butterflies don't cut it and other trivia

Nothing yet from Moscow and the horrors are getting to me - I'm sure people reading this will recognise that rather corrosive feeling of not quite dread but much more than mere butterflies that scours the innards while one waits for a storm or anything that has the makings of gaping way out beyond the comfort zone. Definitely good for the character.

Meantime, Berri is emerging slowly from the winter grime. Still a couple of weeks more stripping the decks before I can feel comfortable with a paint brush. And I have to spend at least a couple of days wrestling with powerpoint cobbling together a new presentation - see the attached poster and, for the Falmouth wise, note the venue. Huge, massive thanks to Paul ( - have a look!) for doing the poster and staying up most of last night converting all my video clips to work in the new tweaked version of ppoint.

And Patrick gave me back the sails yesterday so at last I can go somewhere - wasn't game to go far with untried engine and no other way of getting home. Early start tomorrow because the big boat inside Berri is leaving at 0500 for the Scillies and then round Britain.

The other picture is Martlet, one of the original Morgan Giles RN College Dartmouth yachts. She has an aluminium mast but otherwise much the same.  I sailed my first Fastnet in 1961 in her sister Leopard - also still around, I think on the Hamble.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Banging around on the visitors' pontoons in Falmouth...

I've been horsewhipped for being recalcitrant, so here's a bit of a blast from the recent past. More very soon.

Pete Goss very generously gave Berri a spot on his blog. I went down to Williamstown to hear his talk and at the end he gave me back the ensign - by then probably the only ensign in this version of the universe that has circumnavigated the world via the North West Passage and the Cape of Good Hope and certainly the only one in two such magnificent boats. Pete was raising money for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, so we signed the ensign and auctioned it. Numbers are perhaps not important, but Carmen won it for a sgnificant bid and here are the photos.

Thanks Carmen and thanks Pete.

Thursday, 14 May 2009


Not quite STS 125 but it has its own significance. Only snag so far seems to be a boken throttle cable - improvised for the trip down to the visitors' jetty with string.

Thanks ti Is'n'G for the photos. I'll try to post some video later.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Progress report

We launch next Thursday. Pics show Gordon and John hard at work while the old fart shirks with the camera. Also featuring the mighty Nijinsky.

Inside is still just as messy as ever - I have just started lifting some of the heaps to see how bad it really is and it's mostly superficial. What is interesting is that 6 months or so of sitting on her keel has flexed Berri's hull slightly - some drawers don't slide properly and there are little stress marks where some of the woodwork has been glassed on to the hull. And that's on a boat with half an inch of laid glass and resin in the hull - doesn't bear thinking about what happens to some of the other boats around the place.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Just a post..

Tha papers have gone - more on this later - and we launch probably next Thursday. Rather a lot to do in the meantime! Here's a peek at the ecosystem.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Alone and palely loitering...

Falmouth dawn breaking and I'm having a Keats attack...comparisons are invidious and I'm no knight-at-arms, tho perhaps a wretched wight. Just that the palely loitering image fits the mood. Final tweak to the papers today and they will be off into the wilderness with DHL. And I shall loiter while the sedge withers and no birds sing and the might of the Russian bureaucracy (Tourism, Defence, FSB and Northern Sea Route Administration in Murmansk) decides whether all that work was worth the effort. Don't think I've ever felt quite so small and puny. The paperwork is just the first tiny step.

Berri's insides are an interesting collection of spores, moulds, green hairy things, fibreglass dust and piles of heaven knows what. I think about two weeks work inside and another week, perhaps in parallel on the decks then we can launch and see whether the engine will start - the sexy new blue one with green bits from the old and faithful original. Nice to know that other bits of the original were salvaged and are probably by now in use on a Falmouth workboat. Then there's the electrics.

Given the world financial crisis, I'm is serious conservation mode too - no car, but I have a tiny folding bike that gets me from elfin grot to green and hairy ecosystem rather faster than just walking but.. but... as someone normally used to riding real bikes, this one's a bit on the derisory side. 16" wheels, 6 gears, flimsy chainwheel that flexes and drops the chain in 6th - but effective if properly humoured. Needs a name - Nijinsky perhaps, in the present context and with appropriate irony.Fine dining with Tesco half price end-of-the-day specials to keep wolves away and small doses of the Doctor's potion from his surgery in the Chain Locker are the order of the day.

One of my mates is getting his legs organised to run the Edinburgh marathon in a couple of weeks - so perhaps there will be company to run with for a few days. Severely tempted to go run it with him but I think I have learned my lesson on that one - we'll see. He promised me it's almost flat...

Photos this evening. I will try to post some video too if I can work out how to do it.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Of shoes and ships and Apostilles, of ribbons green and seals...

Monday morning at the Notary - when someone says to you 'We've been here for 40 years and we know what we are doing' but very clearly doesn't, there is the making of early disaster .Sergei, my friendly translator, who knew exactly what was required, was polite, precise and ultimately abused by the front office staff and we left - not without dudgeon - never even getting to speak to the Notary. An astonishing experience.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), on the other hand, our next stop, were competent, efficient, friendly and helpful despite there being only one official dealing with a big queue and complex issues - and several languages. The necessary Apostille was applied and ready by special request at 0830 on Tuesday.

Later on Tuesday morning getting the documents stamped by the Russians became another interesting lesson in perseverance, patience, politeness and persistence. A huge misunderstanding nearly clobbered the whole venture without even the tiniest box ticked - the difference between 'certification' (impossible without paying $40 per page for translating 60 odd pages of what is already translated...) and 'legalisation' - a simple matter of running down the street to the bank to get not insignificant cash to pay the fee and then waiting while the DFAT Apostille was 'legalised' with appropriate stamps and green ribbons. And a delighted and happy smile - which made my day - from the official who first misunderstood but listened and it became possible.

I watched a couple of other Australians - young and arrogantly assertive - pass through the same room and leave, abusive, in anger and frustration because they had not done their homework and expected the officials to do it for them.

The photos show the application - supporting letter in Russian and English, the full English texts and the Russian translations with 5 copies of each - one for me and the rest for Moscow - and some of the seals, the DFAT Apostille and Russian legalising stamps. About 2 month's work and lots of thanks to RORC and everyone else who helped, especially Sergei, who translated with meticulous attention to the precise meaning of the technical bits and Ian here in Okehampton who did the copying this morning with enormous care.

That seems to be the first box ticked. Now to get it all to Moscow and wait. And wait some more. A courageous bet might be even money from here.

Meanwhile, there is Berrimilla's internal ecosystem to be harvested and removed and the rest of the list to be sorted before we can launch.

I'll keep y'all posted.