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 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
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 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 <>
Date: Jul 20, 2009 6:40 AM
Subject: 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.

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.

An Irish Heron visitts an Australian Brolga

Taken half an hour ago. Berri in full Irish kit.

A gale in the Celtic sea

Sounds romantic doesn't it? Robert Louis Stephenson or Joseph Conrad. Let me tell you, it ain't!
This should have been sent from Berri somewhere in the Celtic Sea but I realised that I did not have the direct addresses for the blog with me. Senility marches on...
So it is coming to you from the Crosshaven Lifeboat station. We arrived yesterday morning at about 0600 after a bit of a headbang from half way - 30+ knots, slap diggety bang on the nose and a nasty short steep sea that even berri could not bash into any better than about 60 degrees off the wind. Having a furler instead of a real sail up the front doesn't help either - as soon as it is rolled in a few turns it loses its shape completely and becomes a potato sack so it won't point and you know the rest.
Back under the stars at night - I was having a crisis of confidence based on weeks of inertia and thinking about Russia and the options for getting back to Oz - the dreads of lethargy corroding the innards. But back in harness and under the stars and it all washes away. One needs that buzz of incipient fear all the time just to stay alert and avoid the dreaded complacency, but it doesn't have to be an obsession. And the clouds - classic low pressure system and I think we were quite close to the centre - coming into the Irish coast, there were ceramic knifeblades, hard edged frisbees, dolphins and whales (really, for the imaginitive! Just like a Rorschacht - Douglas Adams would have approved), knotted twisted umbilicals, herrinbone patterned snakes and the usual high altitude mares tails in glowing gold and white under and through the woolly haze that seemed to be incandescent through it all. Wonderful!
But a great workout for Berri. We gave the engine and gearbox lots of work to do and, except from some unusual noises from, we think, the gearbox, it worked really well. I think that the extra horses in the engine will allow me to add a degree or so of pitch to the prop too, so on the Falmouth to-do list. The mast stayed up, the new radar reflector stayed attached to the mast, the radios and Sailmail worked, some glitches with the power to the GPS and - real doozy this one - I'd forgotten that the wonderful LED masthead lights we have interfere with the VHF radio. The light fitting is inches away from the VHF stub antenna - anyone got any suggestions? Our work around is to use the emergency nav lights if we need to use the VHF at night and to keep a hand held wasterproof VHF in the cockpit. Kevvo worked as expected - poor old geriatric didn't like the Celtic slop though and we used the electric autopilot as well. And alongside, we met the Irish Navy's training yacht with a crew of young professional navy people and some young trainees. The skipper gave us their spare (and for them, too small) Irish ensign for our courtesy flag, so Berri is once again properly dressed and in a new outfit.
But it took us an extra day to get here. I'm told the Lifeboat was going to meet us at the harbour entrance but without the VHF masthead antenna, we could not hear Valencia so they could not ask us for our position. Pity - would have been huge fun to be escorted into town! As it is, we are alongside the Lifeboat Station being looked after right royally. I think the crews were tickled to hear about the general Berri madness.
I have to sing for my supper at the Royal Cork YC and the Lifeboat people next Thursday - another stoush with powerpoint and microsoft to get it all to work - and we intend to leave the following day.
Pete has gone to Dublin to catch up with family and friends and I'm doing the necessary sort after a messy trip and meeting some lovely people. Photos to follow if i can download the camera.
There will be a new blog address soon unless we can get access to the old passwords for the Down Under Mars site. If it all works, you should be able to email us indirectly and have your email forwarded but there will not be a website as in the earlier voyages.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

plus ca change - encore

Berri's alternator just died - actually, I think it's been karked for some time - so we're still in Falmouth, at least until Tuesday.Nice invitation to go to Crosshaven (Cork, for the geographically challenged) next week and give a Berri voyages talk for the lifeboat crew and any other interested punters, so we do at least have a sense of purpose for a short term test flight apart from renewing our acquaintance with the medical man from Dublin, on his home turf, so to speak.

Think I'll go to Magrathea for the weekend....must be better than Falmouth on a wet Saturday.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

One for Speedy

A final tribute to David's genius. Onya mate - it was a whole lot of fun.

And then this website will - probably - go into Golgafrinchan suspense on it's journey along its wormhole back to Earth. Still there to be read but metabolism in very low gear. The passwords are up with Speedy in his celestial Speed Six and we are still trying to crack them but it's probably better to start again with a new blogspot.

So - watch this space. In the meantime, if you want to contact us, try the gustbook for the time being or

Current plan is to take Berri out into the Celtic sea perhaps on Saturday and over to SW Ireland to test the quality of the beer as well as giving the old barge a bit of a workout to remind her that there's work to do..

Then back to Falmouth to empty her out and off to the Fastnet start.

We'll keep you posted on how to be kept posted...

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Arse, class or just a black art - the snotter's lament

Right, topsail up! It's going to be tight - you've gotta get it right first time! Cruncher overhauled? Ok. Downfucker off? Ok. Alex, on the timmenoggy, Keep 'er snug. Mel on the sheet - keep 'er snug. Sam on the halyard, Leila tailing? - Right - go! Get er up! Bloody get 'er up Go! Go! Ok - cruncher on get 'er in! Go on - sweat it - get 'er in!. Take a turn on the timmenoggy and sweat the bugger. Right, make fast Sheet in hard. Get the downfucker on!  Right - bear away and we're sailing! Barber hauler on! Trim!

OK - get this bit of rotting vegetation to the finishing line as fast as it will go! Bloody concentrate you buggers! Eyes in the boat....

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Another Fastnet.

Here's Berri looking sexier than she has for years and years.

Workboat intergalactic photos here. Pete was on Moon - grey hull, sail no 58, purplish topsail with half moon and star. The boat was launched the night before the start and they came 5th - a remarkable performance. Victory is yellow with blue and yellow chevrons on the topsail and sail no 7
A burst on topsail terminology to follow.

As for the North East Passage - sadly, not this year. The Russians have been more or less positive - the FSB have sent us a message saying that Dikson and Pevek are closed to visitors but if we are prepared to go non stop from Murmansk to Providenie (east of the Bering Strait and not a problem if it's ice free) and  alter our application to reflect this change, they will consider it favourably and get back to us as soon as they can. But we must carry a Pilot (and, I think, pay the pilotage charges) which would mean that we have no  room for Pat Hahn and we really need to be on the way now to be sure of being at 105E (Cape Chelyuskin) by the end of August. The minimum time in which I can see us getting the papers translated and together and, permit in hand, approaching the Russian Embassy to get visas and all the other necessary papers is about three weeks if everything goes smoothly and we actually get a permit at the end of the process. So it's really a month too late to do it this year with a reasonable expectation of a safe passage around Cape Chelyuskin. Sad though, but now at least I know more about how the process works. Huge thanks to Vladimir in St Petersburg for being our guide through the maze and for relaying messages.

So, fallback option #1: Berri is transformed and we think we will sail to south west Ireland - Baltimore perhaps -  for a beer next week to give her a bit of a thrash to make sure everything works and then back to Falmouth to take everything off the boat except sails and work our way up to the Solent for the Fastnet start on August 9th. And back here again after that and perhaps South Georgia and Capetown. Plus ca change...

Another possible option might be to leave Berri here until next year, apply once again for NE passage permit but earlier and leave in June if we get one. To hard a decision at the mo.but probably too expensive for both of us.

Thanks to everyone who has sent us messages via the gust book. Nice to know you're out there.