Log Updates

Sitrep: 0655hrs 15 Mar 2005 UTC 5141S 05749W Map Ref 123

Sitrep: 1400hrs 14 Mar 2005 UTC 5238S 05917W Map Ref 122 6671nm

Sitrep: 2000hrs 13 Mar 2005 UTC 5349S 06112W Map Ref 121 6572nm

Sitrep: 1500hrs 13 Mar 2005 UTC 5401S 06148W Map Ref 120 6548nm

Sitrep: 0900hrs 13 Mar 2005 UTC 5428S 06233W Map Ref 119 6510nm

Sitrep: 1825hrs 12 Mar 2005 UTC 5508S 06339W Map Ref 118 6455nm

Sitrep: 0803hrs 12 Mar 2005 UTC 5541S 06524W Map Ref 117 6387nm

Sitrep: 2309hrs 11 Mar 2005 UTC 5554S 06643W Map Ref 116 6341nm

Sitrep: 2042hrs 11 Mar 2005 UTC 5600S 06715W Map Ref 115 6322nm

Sitrep: 0715hrs 11 Mar 2005 UTC 5608S 06945W Map Ref 114 6238nm*

Sitrep: 1315hrs 10 Mar 2005 UTC 5549S 07230W Map Ref 113 6144nm

Sitrep: 0730hrs 10 Mar 2005 UTC 5554S 07256W Map Ref 112 6128nm

Sitrep: 2115hrs 09 Mar 2005 UTC 5547S 07406W Map Ref 111 6088nm

Sitrep: 1330hrs 09 Mar 2005 UTC 5535S 07517W Map Ref 110 6046nm

Sitrep: 0815hrs 09 Mar 2005 UTC 5526S 07559W Map Ref 109 6021nm

Sitrep: 1945hrs 08 Mar 2005 UTC 5518S 07743W Map Ref 108 5961nm

Sitrep: 1830hrs 08 Mar 2005 UTC 5514S 07753W Map Ref 107 5954nm

Sitrep: 1245hrs 08 Mar 2005 UTC 5458S 07843W Map Ref 106 5922nm

*The Horn entry

Sitrep: 1245hrs 08 Mar 2005 UTC 5458S 07843W Map Ref 106

The GPS has a facility (ETE) that calculates estimated time en route to a waypoint, but ours only calculates up to 100 hours. It recalculates every few seconds so the estimate changes drastically sometimes over those seconds, depending on which part of a wave the boat is on and similar factors. Consequently,it's not a good thing to watch or even become conscious of. For the last month or so, we've had Cape Horn as the next waypoint and we've watched the distance come down from about three and a half thousand miles to, right now, 412 miles. There has been a blank space in the ETE field for all that time.

No longer.

ETE now hovers around 60 - 90 hours so ETA Horn probably sometime on Friday, UTC. Wishful thinking but a definite milestone. For all of you out there, the next three or four days are - I suppose - the tedious fabric of a normal working week. Kim, no doubt, will stare at the side fence, beer in hand, volatilising a lot and wishing it was Saturday so he could have a beer and stop staring at the fence and life will go on as normal. For us, though, it will be a nailbiter as we watch the grib, the actual weather, the horizon, Berrimilla's little needs and comforts and the beer supply as the ETE counts down, desperately slowly and we look out for the first snowy mountain top. The forecast is promising - but no chickens anywhere in sight yet. We have just crossed 54 51 S so we are now further south that we have ever been. Also past 80 W and in a couple of hours should be under 400 to go. 3 reasons for mild celebration. Just shared the last three snakes, but we found a bag with TimTams, Shapes AND McVities - only one packet of each but wooohooo!

 

The scale of things down here is surprising. I have never really though about how big Tierra del Fuego might be, or the Straits of Magellan, but the two together, with all the amazingly rugged islands around the edges seem to be about half as big as the state of Victoria. They now take up a big chunk of the laptop screen in SOB mode. We'll be looking for Slarty's signature when we get closer. Love to have time to cruise it all - the Beagle Channel is supposed to have the best glaciers in the world.

 

Kris - Cognac sounds nice. I know its old sailors stuff, but don't ever again think of that housebrick hanging from your collar as an albatross - one of the most breathtakingly lovely sights in the world is a big albatross flowing towards you at about 30 knots wingtips millimetres above the water, huge curved wings quivering as it surfs its own bow wave, serene, majestic, arrogantly in charge of its element. Instead, go find one - real or metaphorical - discard the brick and the point will be pretty clear.

Ann, it's a well known fact that The Right Stuff doesn't volatilise, so space shuttles must be atmospherically pristine. All the submariners I've known are very much The Wrong Stuff and they fart as well. You and Kim should swap sporulating Actinomyce stories by the fence over that beer.

 

Sitrep: 1830hrs 08 Mar 2005 UTC 5514S 07753W Map Ref 107

Here we go. The grib says we should be getting 30-35, we're in sustained NW 45- 50 gusting to 65. Big - no, huge waves, often breaking around and over us. Sustained howl in the rig. We started with twin poles in 25, now we've just got the storm jib and we're more or less running with the wind on the port quarter, 5 - 7knots on 115M so still broadly the right direction - horn bears 082. Berri taking it well so far but clearly not liking it. And this is just the start. Grib says 45 knots on thursday. Mostly don't have an ETE on the GPS any more - told you always to ignore it! Just saw 70 kt gust.

 

hi Bill and the Delta Wings. Enjoy this from afar guys. And you, Kees.

 

Will see if we are still in contact. If so, will try to do series of short updates over next 48 hours.

 

Keep talking to us - shorties please.[ed: that means a couple of lines, thanks]

 

Sitrep: 1945hrs 08 Mar 2005 UTC 5518S 07743W Map Ref 108

Well the last one seems to be on it's way to all you Cats out there so I'll try to bring yez up to date in a bit more detail. Just made a pot of coffee - deelishus - with my regulation 2 discs of Mr McVitie's finest. So first,you need to know that we are keeping up the standards down here in what seems to be a BOG standard Cape Horn bashing. Extract from the BOG Manual of Etiquette for Adverse Situations:

Ritual Biscuit Dunking:

On being handed ones mug of coffee, or, where staff shortages require one to make or collect it oneself, on attaining suitable braced position, gently test biscuit diameter across diameter of mug. The Very Best Biscuits will not fit into the mug. If the biscuit just reaches the surface of the coffee, allow it to soak for a few moments to attain preferred consistency under the local sludge factor which should be applied using the Mercator Spherical Projection Method. (If biscuit does nor reach surface, chew off short chord from edge and proceed as follows). On removing biscuit. gently chew off small dunked chord, leaving a short straight edge. Savour flavour and reapply sludge factor if necessary. Rotate biscuit so that straight edge is parallel with side of mug and dunk to a level of 3 - 4 millimetres for required time and remove. Chew off newly dunked segment, leaving two straight edges at right right angles. Savour for several seconds. Rotate biscuit so that shortest edge is presented to surface and dunk. Chew off small dunked segment and continue procedure until remaining segment is no longer large enough to dunk without wetting fingers. One is then faced with The Dunker's Dilemma: should one eat the remaining segment or drop it in the mug to be slurped later? The very best authorities say that either course is acceptable but the latter is recommended. Dunk on, BOG's 'n Cats.

So, end of nonsense. Here we are, sometimes roaring along at 8+ knots off the tops of waves with white water everywhere and sometimes wallowing in the troughs with the generator turbine not even turning. Occasional big breaker crashes in from the port beam - somewhat scary. Continuous noise of wind and rushing water. I won't pretend it's fun but I think it is survivable. Next move, if it gets worse, will be to drop the storm jib and bare pole it. I think we are better off running with the sail for the mo. Steady 50+ most of the time, driving rain, quite cold, barometer falling but not too rapidly for comfort. Still have VMG's for the Horn - around 4 kts and 360 to go. This course will take us a fair way south of the Horn if the wind is sustained for the duration, so we should have plenty of sea room as it backs to the west and increases by Thursday.

39 k for the runners - cramping, brain mushy, out of focus - you know the drill. But you can feel the line approaching.

Six Footers take note - you've got a mere 4 - 8 hours of it so go for it - and good luck.

 

Sitrep: 0815hrs 09 Mar 2005 UTC 5526S 07559W Map Ref 109

I think it is easing and abating. The wind has backed as expected, although to the SW instead of W and is now steady at about 40 kt. No more gusts of 60-70 thankfully. I am doing my midnight to three UTC penance and I've just been outside to gybe the boat back towards the Horn after waiting to be sure the wind change is fully established. You are probably all a bit full of descriptions of the difficulties of transition from troglodyte to water nymph (me?) but at the risk once again of being tedious, the jibe took maybe two minutes plus a bit of acclimatisation beforehand and some checking and monitoring and tweaking afterwards. Getting into full party gear - beanie, headlight,neck warmer, sock liners, waterproof sox, WWG pants(still dripping wet from last time), WWG jacket (ditto, and clammy wet inside too - yerk), harness, tether, inner and outer gloves - takes about 15 minutes of severe physical exertion as Berri cavorts around. Then another 15 minutes on return. No wonder the tendency is to procrastinate. But well worth the doing - Berri now heading direct for the Horn again and ETE's on the GPS.

 

And we've just been hit by another 60 kt gust followed by 10 kt surge off a wave. Poo. Glad I'm back inside. Back to constant 50 - 65 knots. All happened very quickly. Pete still sleeping the sleep of the innocent.

 

Memorable meals - in the midst of the earlier fuss, Pete mixed a couple of cans of meat and vegies with left over pasta from yesterday and heated it all up and dogbowled it and it was hot and lumpy and better than almost anything else I could have asked for. At times like these...

 

Back up to 70 again...really glad I gybed when I did. Might not be possible right now.

 

About 4 hours later - Pete gave me an extra hour - nice - and the barometer has risen from 989 to 994. Encouraging, but wind still peaking around 50. Seems fairly gentle! 300 miles to the Horn and the nearest bit of Chile is only 115 miles away - an island at 54 30 27 S 073 05 59 W. VMG hovering around 4 knots - slow but steady and safe. Daylight in about 3 hours and we can decide whether more sail is possible.

 

Sitrep: 1330hrs 09 Mar 2005 UTC 5535S 07517W Map Ref 110

Here we still are, daylight, steady 40 - 50 going up to 70 under some of the blackest and nastiest rain squalls I've ever seen. Just tried to film one. Still just the storm jib and no real question of more - we thought about twin storm jibs but abandoned the idea.

 

Some feedback please - We have been asked by a well known sailing world website to allow them to publish what I assume would be edited excerpts from these logs on a daily basis, the incentive being that instead of the paltry 8000 hits we've had in the six or so weeks we've been out here, we'd get that many in the first hour of the first morning. I told them, politely, via Steve, to go away - we are not interested in hits as such. This website was set up to talk with you, our families and our friends and anyone else who wants to come along for the ride. My recent lament was about the shallowness of the marketing and sponsorship spectaculars and I refuse to be drawn into the soundbite game for other people's commercial ends. Nor am I happy to give up control of my own words to an editor who is not out here with us. These updates are part of a unique stream of collective consciousness and each one is linked to incidents and emotions and your comments and responses and I don't want that integrity tampered with. I invited the website to put up a link to this one on theirs and publicise it if they feel that there is genuine interest for what we are doing amongst their world wide breakfast hitters. Interesting to see what they do.

But what do all y'all think? Is this simply another dinosaur refusing to become extinct or am I right? I concede that there might be clear benefits from publicity but I don't like the downside.

 

More on waves - these ones have a wavelength of about 150 - 200 metres and they are probably about 15 metres trough to crest. The waves themselves stretch for ever, but thankfully aren't breaking along their full length. Quite steep, but Berri just rides up over them as they come in from the starboard quarter. If one happens to be breaking or breaks as a result of Berri's presence, we get surrounded by about an acre of furious white water rushing away to the sides and ahead and the foamy wind streaks tail away and up over the front of the next one in line. Spectacular and exhilarating to sit in the cockpit amongst it all. Occasional bursts of sunlight add sparkle and deep colour to the water.

 

Tim, we feel really enormously encouraged by your helpful observation. Couldn't possibly cope with being warm, as you say.

 

Sitrep: 2115hrs 09 Mar 2005 UTC 5547S 07406W Map Ref 111

Clench time Malcolm. Pretty much as predicted by the grib modified by the Berrimilla fudge factor - we're now in constant W 50 going on 60 gusting 70 and I saw a 75. Howl becoming a scream. BIG waves - at least mast height, some breaking. Bare poling directly downwind at about 5 knots and apparently reasonably comfortable. All gone very dark as rain squall dumps horizontal rain and an extra gust for good measure. We had two storm jibs twin poled in a lull that we thought was a change but clearly wasn't. Lasted about half an hour. Managed a bit of film of that but not as exciting as now. Still heading towards the Horn, which is nice. And we just have to be patient and sit it out and hope it starts to abate. Shades of Southern NZ - successive rain squalls, big wind increases under them and unremitting. The Doctor is assisting us with tranquilising draughts. What else can I say - seems to be standard fare down here and it's not as if we weren't expecting it. Horn still late Friday UTC if we can keep around 5 knots on the clock. 232 to go.

For the runners, probably about 40k. Some of you will know that around here it either gets very much worse as you realise there's still two and a bit k to go or the proximity of the finish unlocks a reserve supply of energy and spirit and you can actually speed up. Some interesting research out there on that one, to do with fooling the body's self preservation mechanism into thinking it isn't so hard after all. We're very much in uplift mode but that could change very easily.

So, all yez all, be patient and sit it out with us and well try to keep you posted. May be a bit low on power because speed rather slow for generator.

Pete has been doing some calculations and he says that a double brew of 60 bottles of Coopers seems to last at least three times as long when his daughters cant get their hands on it. Suits me!

 

Sitrep: 0730hrs 10 Mar 2005 UTC 5554S 07256W Map Ref 112

Would all y'all join us both in wishing Ben and Georgina all the very best for their wedding on Saturday in Oz and for the future. The have been part of the Berrimilla extended family ever since Ben jumped off the comforts of New Endeavour into a particularly nasty trip back from Hobart to Sydney about 10 years ago and then raced down with us the following year. The less said the better about other boats he's been on since then, though - guttersnipe! This will be the first time they will miss the annual Berrimilla Bash and, but for Pete and myself setting a precedent and missing it too, I would feel it necessary to chastise them for getting their priorities wrong.

 

Still pretty violent down here but it does seem as if the wind has backed a little and is easing. Berrimilla is being thrown off the sides of waves and rolls quite ferociously every now and again and it's quite hard to brace oneself. Banging in these keystrokes takes some serious concentration and exercises all sorts of odd muscles. Essential to keep the forearms locked to the edge of the nav table while everything else moves 40 - 50 feet sideways and around the barrel. Teamaking now especially hazardous. We'll wait until daylight and then put some sail up again - it does seem that the sustained 60 -70 knot gusts have diminished and the sea is subsiding. It is the sea, not so much the strong wind, that makes it dangerous to keep the boat moving at much more than steerage way because even bare poled on top of one of these crests in a 70 knot gust, Berri takes off sometimes at more than 10 knots in streamers of bluish white foam. Add boat speed to that and there's a potentially sticky sideways arrival in breaking water at the bottom of the heap. So we're doing it very slowly and rounding now looks like Saturday rather than tomoz. Maybe close to wedding time - we'll have a rum in their honour when we get to open the bottle.

 

In an earlier update from mid Pacific, I waffled on about our being pretty isolated and the crew of the International Space Station being the nearest humans to us several times a day. Malcolm emailed NASA and they are going to try to talk to us if they can manage it technically. And they wished us luck. Thanks NASA - something rather special for an old workhorse.

 

And thanks everyone for your feedback on whether we should hand over this nonsense to a commercial website. Seems you are all emphatically on my side and I'm pleased. If we're that interesting, it seems to me, then any website that purports to inform should do just that and provide the link.

 

Keeping these short cos we're down on power. Onya Ben and Georgina.

 

Sitrep: 1315hrs 10 Mar 2005 UTC 5549S 07230W Map Ref 113

Daylight, sailing again, 7.5 knots directly towards the Horn. fingers, toes, ears, eyelashes and bootferals all firmly crossed. Pete has a long update, so I'll jump - see yez. Nearest bit of Chile now about 60 miles away. Woo0ohooo.

 

Pete: Hello out there

I'm sitting tightly harnessed to the galley bench having a cup of tea its about 3am local time. We are sailing downwind under bare poles - we have had no sail up for about the last 15 hours. Yesterday we spent most of the night and morning under storm jib. Later with a drop in the wind and an easing of the rain squalls we decided to square away and head for the Horn. We set 2 storm jibs poled out as twin sails. Excellent, good speed with perfect direction.

Went below, settled down for about half an hour then a squall hit and we were sliding down the face of a wave very fast. Up on deck again, get rid of one storm jib and the boat was travelling ok again. Whilst tidying up the deck, putting poles away etc we were hit again by a squall. We both looked at eachother and in seconds the other storm jib was down and we have been under bare poles since.

With no sail we are safe but uncomfortable. No sail means no lateral stability so when we get hit by a wave, the boat rolls violently from side to side. If hit by another and the roll is in phase with this then the roll increases in amplitude, if the roll is out of phase then the boat and the wavy collide with a crash arresting the roll but hurling untethered bodies into the side of the boat.

This is getting a bit technical but i need to explain why I'm sitting here with a full cup of hot tea trying to keep the level of the tea in phase with the roll of the boat and hoping not to be hit by an out of phase wave which will immediately cover me in hot tea. If requested, I'll include an appendix on simple harmonic motion.

A word about food. We have managed to have a hot evening meal together every evening since leaving Hobart. Some have been really good, others not so exciting. In passing, I've noticed that the after dinner conversation is rather dull since the red wine left the table.

Early in the trip variety was easy with all the fresh vegies etc from Hobart and Dunedin but since then it's been dried and canned food except for alex's vegie garden which produces fresh cress and mung beans. When in Dunedin, we restocked the boat. All canned food was lumped together then randomly separated into 5 large heavy plastic bags (Kathmandhu pack liners). When I say randomly I mean not to fill one bag with say various tins of canned fruit while missing essentials like braised steak and veg. Each of these bags was put in an under-bunk locker and the lid firmly screwed down. We have used 2 of these bags since Dunedin. Some of these tins have prduced some good results. The sauerkraut went really well with rice corn kernels onion and garlic with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing. A can of beetroot went into aq rice salad later it produced a kiddies party type of dish, a very attractive bright fluro pink. I thought it very iffy but alex seemed to enjoy the final result.

Alex has made bread when conditions have allowed and it's been great.

I'm now at the end of the second bag. Tins that were'nt used in ther first are still with us, such as sardines in rich tomato sauce, sliced cling peaches in syrup, creamed corn, spinach etc. Perhaps sardines a la peche it sauerkraut.

Some tins should be avoided though. On a recent morning I woke and noticed my sleeping bag had assumed thge form of a scale model Hindenberg. Not thinking, i unzipped the seal around my neck. I was immediately assaulted by a gale force blast of the nocturnal pneumatics. Fortunately the early morning air was very cold and instantly condensed this vile volatile vapour (alliteration?). I escaped with only severe stinging of the eyes. Bugger. I must remember never to add a can of chilli beans to the pasta sauce ever again.

 

It's now about 8 am local - we have set the #4 and the main with 1 reef. A little overpowered at the moment as we reach for thew Horn at about 7.5 kts. with less that 180 to go so if this keeps up we will be there tomorrow morning. The wind, though,is expected to drop.

To all those mates out there sending us news and encouragement, many thanks and keep up the flow. Too hard to list you all but we're glad you're there. Brian and Jen, Bert and Sandra and Kevin from Dunedin, are you still with us?

To Bob and Eugenie, I'll ave a large drink to your health as we pass the Horn. Noel, good luck with the new hip -you must feel like the Tin Man now. To Steve, many thanks for all your work and G9d speed along the "Six Foot Track tomorrow.

Cheers for now Pete.

Sitrep: 0715hrs 11 Mar 2005 UTC 5608S 06945W Map Ref 114

86 miles to go and - touch wood - the stage seems to be set. Cold, slightly hazy night, gerzillions of stars up there but just a bit fuzzy, series of little rain squalls chasing us as always but without the ferocity of a couple of days ago. Poled out #4 and full main, heading straight for Cabo de Hornos. Islas Diego Ramirez about 50 miles on the starboard bow. Wind west at 15 - 20 kts.

 

Just been overtaken by what looked like very large ship to the North. Bearings changed rapidly from 330 through north to 030 so safe - tried calling on Ch 16 and heard something some minutes later but indistinct. White flares and big torches and hand held VHF in the cockpit and I stick my head up every 10 minutes to have a look around. First sign of other humans since Sarau passed us before the Antipodes Islands about a month ago.

 

Heard again from NASA - the crew of the Intl. Space Station would like to talk to us. Something of an honour although would have been more interesting mid-ocean when they were the closest humans to us. We will probably be in the Falklands by their suggested dates - Steve is co-ordinating. Berrimilla's 15 minutes of fame!

 

Must stick head up...ship has disappeared ahead, horizon clear. Have to spend a few minutes up there each time, to let eyes adjust and to make sure that we have been on top of enough of these big swells to see anything that may be distant and hidden behind one of them.

 

Here's hoping the wind holds

 

Sitrep: 2042hrs 11 Mar 2005 UTC 5600S 06715W Map Ref 115

Abeam Cape Horn with dolphins not far away. A unique and special moment in anyone's life and we feel hugely privileged to be able to experience it. Our love and thanks to Jeanne and Hilary and our kids, Eleanor, Luke, Sarah, Eve, Tessa and Katherine without whose staunch, unhesitating and continuous support and lack of fuss over the last year or so, it would not have been possible. To Peter Joubert, who seems to know something about seaworthy boats (would someone tell him please because he won't be reading this) and to Tommy Melville, whose ghost has surely been out here looking after us and to all y'all hitting the website or helping in other ways, for your interest and support and encouragement especially in times of adversity. And a word for Kurtsy - good to have known you and All's Fair down here too. And onya Steve and Malcolm and wonderful old Berrimilla with a 2. We loves youse all and RANSA's rum is doing the honours.

Pete and Alex.

 

Sitrep: 2309hrs 11 Mar 2005 UTC 5554S 06643W Map Ref 116

Ok - that was the formal one - took the first couple of doses of RANSA elixir to compose. Left hand down a bit has now occurred and we are now torpid and dozy. The storms are over there - somewhere else.

Now we're headed direct for the Falklands, leaving Staten Island to port - sad, but we got some local advice and decided that Le Maire Strait is too tricky for a couple of first timers. Various things to say - huge relief in actually getting round before the next set of nasties, the water is now grey, the wind has eased as we are now behind some biggish rocks and if it all holds together, we should be in Stanley in 4 days. We spoke to the Chilean Navy at Cape Horn and we think we will be called by the Argentine Navy sometime soon. Do wish I could speak Spanish. RANSA burgee flying along with minuscule Chilean flag, to be exchanged soon for similarly miniscule Argentine flag. Slarty's signature clearly visible on the side of the Horn. A true artist - pity he's been asleep for so long.

I'm told there are too many in-jokes in this stuff. Not really - if anyone wants to follow them up, there's plenty of information for Googling. There are some personal ones, directly addressed, to bludgers like Fenwick, but you wouldn't want to know about those anyway.

 

Sensational clouds looking back to the Horn. Black rain squalls now in the way with sunlight spearing down in mist and radiating light but no detail. Silhouette of the Cape in angled rays. I hope Pete's photos work cos I'm here and he's up there. He's muttering about colours you don't see in Sidney - clear blue skies, greys and pinks. Just had a look - woohoo fiery pinky orange clouds and digital cameras bloody miss it. Horn fading into a Turner sunset.

 

Simon, really sorry to hear the news from Hilary. We had a contemplative consultation.

 

As for the rest of you, go have a drink of something and celebrate for us.

 

Should we come back? For me, only if i could do it with Hilary. There are other things to do.

 

Sitrep: 0803hrs 12 Mar 2005 UTC 5541S 06524W Map Ref 117

Soooo nice to be going North - and in almost flat calm water, dead downwind, 5 knots and the water is going around the hull so quietly that all you can hear is the occasional bubble forming around the skeg. Bliss - and from here it gets warmer.

We are heading directly towards Sea Lion Islands off the southern corner of East Falkland, 299 miles away. This takes us east and clear of Isla de los Estadas or Staten Island and across the Birdwood Bank. Should take us about two days, and perhaps another day from there into Port Stanley. Stage two put to bed - but no predictions, Whitworth - remember the last ten or so ETA's for the Horn.

Took lots of photos and film as we passed. We took Gerry's advice and went by at about a mile offshore to enjoy the view. Just another craggy headland except for the myth and legend - but an emotional and moving hour or so. One little bit of unfinished business cleared up as well. Surrounded by rain squalls but glances of sunlight reflecting off the Horn itself and the rock faces and scrubby bits of the islands to the North. Almost perfectly timed as it turned out. And all the tension has evaporated - it's done, we got moderately bashed, Berri's fine and the crew is beginning to notice that they smell. Unclench, Malcolm! I'll do some stats for the trip for the next update.

 

And Malcolm, how did you go? Ditto Steve - we're busting to get the news.

 

Sitrep: 1825hrs 12 Mar 2005 UTC 5508S 06339W Map Ref 118

We're hard on the wind - unusual and probably for the first time since the Hobart race. Gentle, easy sailing. We'd forgotten what if feels like and the sun is out as well, so everything drying out. Staten Island along the horizon to the north east, with some big hills - all cloud covered. The tropics start here! But the wind is dropping so all previous estimates are off...

Some stats to the Horn. We left Hobart on Jan 10, passed the Horn on March 11 so 60 days elapsed. Dunedin was a 9 day diversion so say 51 days sailing and 44 since Dunedin. The GPS trip log read 5357nm from Dunedin and with a bit of guesstimation 6707 from Sydney. These numbers are only ballpark, as we had all systems off for a time and other little crashes along the way. The instrument log, measuring through the water distance, read 7611nm from Sydney. Same caveat applies, but we certainly did not sail the straightest course.

Possible average of three sail changes per day. About 50 ltrs diesel used including long motor out of Dunedin. We made enough desalinated water to keep us going for about half our needs. After we replumb the intake so that it works in all conditions,we should be able to exist just on dsesalinated as long as we have adequate power. The Ampair generator is working but at reduced output, and the solar panel gives us about 4 amps in full sunlight.

I have - I hope - saved all the track data from the Software on Board application so we should be able to recreate some of the good, the bad and the ugly bits on a cd or paper chart. Not as many photos as we would have liked and relatively little video because the conditions most of the time were way outside the dry and cosy.

We're rooting around in the various storage compartments to get stuff out and dry and the compartment itself dried out as much as possible. Everything was at least damp and some parts were very wet. By a superhuman devotion and rigid conformity to sock changing routine and sandal wearing and boot storage, I managed to keep my feet dry until about the beginning of the storm on the other side of the Horn, when one of my boots ended up flat on the floor and full of bilge water. The ferals had a picnic. Just getting it dried out today in the sun.

The feet themselves have survived well - no nasty bits between the toes, no blisters, but all the hard lumpy skin around the toes and balls of the feet from wearing running shoes has softened and worn off, so I've got some work to do there.

We've got about a normal sized bin full of plastic and non-bio garbage all taped up in plastic bags in the lazarette and elsewhere.

And dirty washing - I really don't want to be around when I open that particular bag. 40 day old sox and other unmentionables have been quietly festering together in a big swelling plastic pack liner - no opportunity to do any washing since Dunedin.

And now I'm going to make some bread to get us to the end of the road - I hope. Score so far, 10 loaves, no fishes. A real treat, but it takes about 4 hours and needs lots of room which, in the difficult bits, was not always practicable.

Damage minimal except for the knockdown and some very minor fittings. We lost a complete set of spare mainsail battens from inside the boom during an early storm.

And Kevvo, our Fleming self steering unit, has functioned perfectly for the whole distance, through calms, storms and the knockdown. We will take it off in Stanley and check it out and grease and clean it. Kevin Fleming, take a bow.

Finisterre fleeces too - Tom Kay, take a bow and we'll talk to you in the UK.

Gill OC IJ Ocean Racer wet weather gear has kept us dry and is fantastic to use - mostly. I would prefer to have fewer features that I find gimmicky and impractical in favour of some unfashionable but vitally useful velcro-closed patch pockets on the thighs.

 

That's enough - bread is rising.

Sitrep: 0900hrs 13 Mar 2005 UTC 5428S 06233W Map Ref 119

G'say all y'all from a dark and gently breezy South Atlantic. Still haven't quite taken it in but we're definitely here.

On reflection, having now seen Cape Horn in brilliant close up, I still think that the 10 mile stretch of coast between Tasman Island and Cape Raoul (in the south east corner of Tasmania)is the most spectacularly splendid bit of scenery I have ever seen, the more so if associated with Port Arthur, the colonial prison which is reached from the sea about half way along. For the convicts, brooding, desolate gleaming wet black rocky cliffs and the Isle of the Dead to greet them as they turned the final bend into Port Arthur must really have seemed like the very end of the world. For me, that association with the past and the massive grandeur of the volcanic formations that form that coastline are one of the reasons I still bang my head against the Hobart race.

Oddment for today: we pulled in the generator turbine to check it for chafe (stopped the boat this time...!) and found that one of the two blades had broken off about half way along its length. It seems to be a clean break and there's no obvious impact damage although the other blade seems to have been grazed by something hard and rough. The turbine trails behind the boat about half a metre below the surface and unless there's an uncharted rock just below the surface somewhere near the Horn, we haven't been in less than 100 metres of water since we last checked it about a week ago. Very mysterious. The standard yachties' insurance claim excuse of 'submerged shipping container done it' doesn't compute (the boat would have hit any floating object first, and with enough force for us to have felt it) and I just can't see what could have caused it. We will try and get it fixed or another one made in Stanley. In the meantime, we have streamed the coarse pitch turbine, but we're going much too slowly for it to be effective. But it puts in a bit and it all helps.

 

Having difficulty contacting Sailmail Chile so will keep these short for the mo.

 

Sitrep: 1500hrs 13 Mar 2005 UTC 5401S 06148W Map Ref 120

Some acknowledgements and thanks for good wishes: Rowley and Louise, wish your son all the best from Berri, Louise; David W in Hobart (new boat yet??); Gary - your plastic jars are everywhere! - Ron C (what new website?); Heggie - we can feel the diatomaceous signal from here - keeps telling us we're thirsty, Gerry W, Ann - Much much harder going east -west - against wind and current and often v. nasty. Square riggers often spent weeks trying and I seem to remember Bligh gave up and went the long way around via the Indian Ocean. We're a couple of softies really and only qualify for the earring but not pissing into wind, Kris, Barry D.; Malcom, from the salty ones, and Graham S - Brolgas are the go - we've got a BOG (Brolga Owners Group) going if you are interested - Steve can put you in touch.

We are well on the way across to East Falkland, just to the NE of the Burdwood Bank where the depth is only 100m in places. There's a little rocky island caled Beauchene Island smack in our track 117 miles ahead, so we should be there in daylight, Kelp warnings all over the chart (digital Cmap version) but haven't seen any yet. We've got about 35 kts from the NW so beam reaching at 7 -8kts, grey and overcast, water grey but glassy clear. Great sailing but cold - English Channel on a warm summer's day!

More on stats - this laptop has been on continuously since Dunedin except when the generator died. Several minor crashes, which are a real pain because of the fragility of the USB link software - I have to get the reboot in just the right order or I get the microsoft blue screen of death and have to start again. Happened about half an hour before we got to the Horn - Murphy at work, and again this morning. There are so many applications and gadgets that have to work together that it is not surprising.

 

Sitrep: 2000hrs 13 Mar 2005 UTC 5349S 06112W Map Ref 121

Errata & corrigenda -I don't remember the legal term but it's to do with descriptive words or lists in statutes - if a statute includes a set of words or a list to describe something, anything not so described or included in the list is considered to be excluded. So I made a list of acknowledgements in my last update and left out Roger and the crew in the Sailing Office at CYC. Dreadful mistake by the parliamentary draftsperson and much mea culpa-ing. Sorry everyone and truly chuffing to know that you're watching and you should'a been listed. I'll stop making lists - too easy to get it wrong.

 

I've just had a troll through the medium waveband on the radio and picked up the BBC World Service which could only be coming from the Falklands, now 186 miles away. There was another program as well, possibly the British Forces Broadcasting Service. Perhaps this is the modern equivalent of the early sailors' sensing land by noting the behaviour of seabirds and subtle changes in swell and cloud patterns and, of course seaweed and other flotsam. Exciting to be this close.

 

Whichever of the weather gods have their hands on the mixing levers seem not to want to let us get there the easy way though. We're back down to the #5, no main, in a really lumpy sea and 30-40 knots with about a knot and a half of adverse current. No problem except for the waves but there's no sense in crashing on just to get in a few hours early. Racing we ain't. But I think it might all be easing and I might venture out and think about putting the main back up with the 2 reefs that are already in it.

 

Later - woke Pete up and we put the third reef in and put it back up, More stable and riding the slop quite well and 7 knots in the right direction instead of 3. Important for 2 reasons - we get some battery charge from the coarse turbine at 7, and it gets us along the track to a hot shower. Perhaps 36 hours to go.

 

Later:

Moderate quantity of egg on face of RYA Instructor. With only two people on board, it's difficult to keep a permanent watch on deck, but the drill is that whoever is on watch sticks his head up every 20 minutes or so had have a squiz around the horizon and we keep the VHF on channel 16 (for the nautically challenged, 16 is for distress calls and for making initial contact with other stations before moving to another channel). It's a wet, rough and windy night and not at all pleasant out there so the tendency is to limit visits to the cockpit, but I stuck my head up half an hour ago, got drenched and saw another vessel's lights about a mile away heading towards us. Ducked back in and discovered that I had forgotten to turn the VHF back on after pulling in the Chilean wxfax on the HF an hour earlier. First splash of egg. Called up vessel at xx S xx w and received instant answer from the Falklands Island Fisheries Protection Vessel Sigma, who had been trying to call us to establish our identity. Second splash of egg. Apart from Malcolm and Hamish in Sarau, the wonderful people on the Patagonian Cruise Net and the Chilean Navy at Cape Horn, they are the first people we have spoken to on the radio since leaving Dunedin. Amongst other things, they told us the isobars are getting closer together, so the weather is not likely to improve before we arrive, but at least there should be plenty of wind to get us there.

Nice to talk to you, Sigma, in case you get to read this, and thanks for your help.

Sitrep: 1400hrs 14 Mar 2005 UTC 5238S 05917W Map Ref 122

Passed Beauchene Island about 15 miles to starboard about 2 hours ago and we are in contact with Harbour Control Stanley, with the help of a relay from Sigma. Battery was a bit low and suspect we were not transmitting at full herbs. Have caffeinated, dunked with unrestricted access to Mr McVities finest and we are now consulting the Dublin Doctor about the perils and tribulations of the last 82 miles to Cape Pembroke at the entrance to Stanley harbour. Lots of floating kelp, seabirds in abundance (can you have an abundance of seabirds?). On the lookout for Sea Lion Islands 15 miles ahead. It looks like about 15 - 16 hours to Cape Pembroke, or after nightfall. We will talk to Herbour Control later and decide whether to try to enter Stanley Harbour at night. It looks pretty easy, but a bit of local help is always wise.

Thanks by the bucketful to everyone who has written since we rounded - it's been a sustaining joy throughout the voyage to get your messages and encouragement. Must have been really lonely in the early days of this stuff.

Not sure how many more of these there will be before we get close and I have to do some real work but at least one. It's been a bellyful of laughs, a wonderful gig, and thanks all y'all for coming along for the ride. Hope you've had as much fun reading this nonsense as we have putting it together. We will keep it going while in Stanley and let you know when the next big episode is due to commence. Noreen, I hope there wont be any evictions - even the boot ferals are getting to be kind of family.

 

Tony - thanks for info - we were talking to all those boats on the way through on the Patagonian Cruise Net. I think Pelagic skipper is Steve Wilkins who I know - wish I'd known all those heavies were on board.

Richard at Fastnet, thanks - looking forward to a cold ale with you.

Judy - we'll check out the pub and report back.

Malcolm R and Chris Palmer, seems you might have been in the same boat inshore skippering over the w/e and not known of the connection. Is that a coincidence or isn't it??

 

We're surrounded by dolphins - lots of them, spearing out of the short steep waves around us.

 

[Brolga Update from Pete]

To all the Brolga owners out there.

What perception you had, what a superb choice of sailing vessel you aspired to. What volumes of yachting knowledge both practical and theoretical led you to this exquisite boat or did you - like most of us - just get lucky? Alex, I know, chose carefully, with this trip somewhere in his mind even in 1993 when he bought Berrimilla.

With less that 50 miles to go to Port Stanley I feel I can crow a little about what a good boat these are.

Berri kept us cocooned and safe through the worst seas I have ever experienced. The boat did everything right. She is extremely well balanced and well mannered. As long as we could get the sail off her in time when hit by strong rain squalls, Berri sailed beautifully in heavy weather with not much pressure on the Fleming self steering gear. Brolgas are how can I describe it? - slippery. They slide through the water easily and need very little sail to do this. At times the boat is moving so well you cannot ear the water passing the hull while down below.

Brolgas are well ballasted with a deep keel and low centre of gravity. Unlike most other boats, then look as good out of the water as in - there's a photo in the 'Preparations' doc on the website. The first time I stepped on board one, the deck didnj't move with my weight. With most 33ft boats, the gunwsale drops a few inches on boarding. When we sailed it, the tiller could be dropped to leave hands free to adjust sheets etc without the boat diverging from its course.

I was suitably impressed.

I've been sailing Brolgas for about 12 years now and a couple of years ago bought one for myself. My love of these boats has never changed in all these years.

A Brolga is a boat for life. There is no need to change. It can take you comfortably anywhere you reasonably want to go.

After last year's Hobart, I met the designer, Peter Joubert, in Hobart. I told him about Alex's plans to sail Berri to England to compete in the Fastnet race., Not much response to that information. I asked him about my boat, which is called Zoe. He said he'd never heard of it, so I went back further with names - Western Rambler was on a plate with a radio call sign and I found an old life vest with the name 'Dorothy 2' on it. His eyes immedisately lit up "Dorothy 2 - that was my physiotherapist Eddy Wall-Smith's boat - she used to race out of Sandringham, he sailed her very well." Now we had established some common ground, I was keen to move on to cockpit design but before I could, Peter wished us good luck and said he was off to see Thorry on Tilting at Windmills. He's a hard man to lock into conversation but I may have better luck next time.

 

A few people have asked us about the Brolga's cockpit and how it coped with the conditions. For all those non Brolgaphiles, some background. The Brolga does not have a b ridge deck from cockpit to cabin entry. Most boats have a cockpit well - i.e. the cockpit floor is enclosed on all sides by seats etc. modern boats sometimes have no rear side to the cockpit so that any wave that enters simply washes over the back. The downside of this is thsat you are terribly exposed in following seas when waves can simply wash in. The Brolga has a keyhole shaped cabin entry with the bottomof the entry only a few inches above the cockpit floor.' leaving a well enclosed on three sides but open on the forward side to the interior of the boat. Not a good look to have if a wave fills the cockpit. We always have the bottom washboard in which seals the cockpit to about an inch above the cockpit seats. After a long talk with Gerry Fitzgerald who sailed Spirit of Sydney from Eden to Ushuaia via the Horn, Alex and I decided Berri needed washboards that completely sealed the cabin entry. I made 2 washboards, the bottom one I've just mentioned, the top one has a hinged flap about 20cms high that can be locked o unlocked from inside or out. The flap ventilates and allows conversation, and food and rink o be passed out to the person on watch in bad conditions. I extended the width of the two washboards to enable two waterproof rubber seals to be fitted to thew outer edge, one sealed the the back of the cabin the other to the teak trim which lines the entry, so water has to get past 2 seals with a step of about an inch between them. The boards are sealed by strong wooden lugs with a tapered leading edge which pulls the board in against the seal when turned to lock the board in. There are 4 lugs and a lockwood night latch on the top board and three on the bottom and we put large grab handles inside and outside each board. These are invaluable in heavy rolling conditions while trying to quickly secure the boards. This has worked well and very little water - about half a bucket - came in during the knockdown and most of this through a taped up vent.

A lot of people would like a bridge across the cockpit entry with a sliding hatch. This is easy to get in and out of but I have no idea how you can completely seal a sliding hatch. Only when you have been in an inverted boat can you appreciate fully how all openings need to be fully sealed.

The wave that got us was a freak very hollow and right behind a large wave in front. Wrong place, wrong time. Berri lifted herself beautifully to the millions of other waves that passed under her.

We have had a huge response from people congratulating us on our efforts - many thanks for that but want to congratulate the boat. Berri has put in a huge effort - she's nearly thirty. I'm 59 and alex is 62 and we need a boat that can look after us and not demand attention. Berri is all of that. The boat does all the hard work she accepts most of the wind and waves punishment we pull the strings and point her in the right direction. To Peter Joubert, thank you for designing an immensely strong seaworthy boat, to Geoff Baker and all who worked on building Brolgas with and after him, thanks for the extra effort thats required to build a top boat.

To anyone out there thinking of doing a trip like this, as well as an excellent boat you must have prudence and patience. The southern ocean is very unforgiving and you can only do what it allows you to do, not what you want to do. Its ability to dominate a small boat lets you know quickly who runs the business out there.

Finally, to everyone who took the trouble to write, your encouragement and humour revived our spirits and eased us through the bad patches Cheers and best wishes Pete.

 

[later]

Its 0200 local and we're just sailing into Port William, the outer harbour for Stanley. Stanley opens at 0800 but we have permission to go straight in.

K, Alphonse says Hi and he wants to get off El, adversity choc survived the Horn storms but not the long days run up to here. Nice - thanks.

 

Sitrep: 0655hrs 15 Mar 2005 UTC 5141S 05749W Map Ref 123

0635 entered Narrows, Port Stanley

0655 anchored, Port Stanley Harbour 51 41 15.3 S 057 49 14.8 W Log 7980 nm ex Sydney (through the water), 5710 ex Dunedin (GPS trip log)

 

Steve and Malcolm, take a bow and thanks for your truly wonderful backup. We're going to consult, then grab a couple of hours sleep. Customs etc at 0800 local, 1100UTC. We'll be in touch as soon as we know what's happening. Doesn't seem to be a mobile phone network - will investigate tomorrow.

A & P

 

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