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Sitrep: 1100hrs 16 Apr
2005 UTC 2610S 03948W Map Ref 168 2065nm (1729nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1130hrs 15 Apr
2005 UTC 2640S 04104W Map Ref 167 1991nm (1787nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 2215hrs 14 Apr
2005 UTC 2653S 04204W Map Ref 166 1935nm (1825nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 2330hrs 13 Apr
2005 UTC 2749S 04254W Map Ref 165 1864nm (1896nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1010hrs 13 Apr
2005 UTC 2828S 04341W Map Ref 164 1807nm (1951nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1500hrs 12 Apr
2005 UTC 2919S 04439W Map Ref 163 1735nm (2021nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1530hrs 11 Apr
2005 UTC 2954S 04558W Map Ref 162 1658nm (2088nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1900hrs 10 Apr
2005 UTC 3104S 04537W Map Ref 161 1586nm (2136nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 0430hrs 10 Apr
2005 UTC 3208S 04558W Map Ref 160 1519nm (2200nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1900hrs 09 Apr
2005 UTC 3243S 04630W Map Ref 159 1475nm (2244nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 2030hrs 08 Apr
2005 UTC 3358S 04711W Map Ref 158 1393nm (2326nm to Equator)
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2005 UTC 3400S 04713W Map Ref 157 1390nm (2328nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1200hrs 08 Apr
2005 UTC 3427S 04726W Map Ref 156 1361nm (2357nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1830hrs 07 Apr
2005 UTC 3450S 04738W Map Ref 155 1336nm (2381nm to Equator)
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2005 UTC 3448S 04731W Map Ref 154 1330nm (2377nm to Equator)
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2005 UTC 3457S 04640W Map Ref 153 1287nm (2362nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1130hrs 06 Apr
2005 UTC 3544S 04514W Map Ref 152 1203nm (2367nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 0515hrs 06 Apr
2005 UTC 3606S 04508W Map Ref 151 1180nm (2384nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 2214hrs 05 Apr
2005 UTC 3639S 04511W Map Ref 150 1147nm (2414nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1230hrs 05 Apr
2005 UTC 3720S 04527W Map Ref 149 1104nm (2456nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 2300hrs 04 Apr
2005 UTC 3805S 04548W Map Ref 148 1056nm (2504nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1430hrs 04 Apr
2005 UTC 3843S 04623W Map Ref 147 1009nm (2550nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 0530hrs 04 Apr
2005 UTC 3931S 04649W Map Ref 146 957nm (2602nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 0345hrs 04 Apr
2005 UTC 3938S 04648W Map Ref 145 950nm (2608nm to Equator)
Sitrep: 1100hrs 03 Apr
2005 UTC 4006S 04740W Map Ref 144 901nm (2652nm to Equator)
1100hrs 03 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 144
We've just been through the eye of the storm - the relatively
calm patch in the middle of a revolving low pressure system. I went into the
cockpit around midnight local and it was black dark with just the faintest glow
around the eastern horizon. 40+knots and low scudding overcast, sensed rather
than visible. The eastern glow suddenly became a hazy quarter moon bright,
pale, silver -its brightness darkening the surrounding clouds to black massy
depth except for the moonlight reflected and filtered around the fluffy edges.
Those who have been along for most of this ride will have read my earlier
respect for Turner's ability to capture the effect - no colour - black, silver,
shades of grey, all reflected off the faces of some poor person in strife
below. Me, in this case. And the wind abated and there were stars overhead with
the Southern Cross almost hooked by the wildly gyrating masthead. lack
silhouette of the storm jib against the glow ahead. About an hour of this and
the low scud was back and the wind back to 40+ and the moon almost abruptly
This storm seems to have all the same numbers as the last one
but - so far - it doesn't seem so bad. The sun is out, small cumulus hooning
across the sky from the west but apparently relatively clear behind, whence we were
expecting much nastiness. Bright orange dayglo storm jib against blue sky and
cloud. Fingers firmly crossed and clench in place - still significant
apprehension -Michelle, that's part of the complex answer still to come - how
to deal with it.
Very hard to interpret grib weather files - they are
predictions, at least a day old when we get them and putting ourselves into the
picture they present is not all cakes and ale. I thought at first we were below
this low but I now think the low is further south that the grib predicts so
we're now in the upper western quadrant waiting for the wind to back to the
south and increase. If it does, we're still looking at very big numbers - the
low is squeezed eastwards and intensified by a high over S
America and guess who's in the middle of the sandwich.
Unlikely all y'all will get to read this for some time - still
major problem with sailmail chile and can only contact them for a few minutes
on 5mhz during the night. And desperately slow transmissions - tens of bytes
per minute, rather than thousands so some anguished times waiting for grib
files and your mail. Please keep it coming, even if we're having difficult
Sitrep: 0345hrs 04 Apr 2005 UTC Map
We spoke to Leroy [ed: Commander of the International Space
Station freaky, huh?] tonight and let off a flare for him - it was very
cloudy, with big thunder clouds all around which he could see and we could
feel, but he did not see the flare. Sad, but he's happy to have another go on a
better night, so I will keep sending you a midnight GMT prediction. He said
he'd try to call us in advance as he did tonight. And he said he would pass on
our phone number to the ISS 11 crew in case they would like to give us a wave
Sitrep: 0530hrs 04 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 146
frustrating few days, mostly spent watching Montevideo not going past. And for
all you members of the great unwashed, our silence is perhaps covered by my
alltime favourite song title - "When the phone don't ring, babe, you'll
know it's me!"
Windwise, sort of
reverse Ogden Nash's Ode on Tomato Sauce (catsup, for those using
spellcheck...) "Shake the bottle - none'll come, then a lottl". The
second storm duly arrived, no way as bad as the first, and Leroy called in the
middle of it to set up a lightshow on a later pass. We watched big cumulo
nimbus clouds building up all around us and lots of lightning but there was a
starry hole to the north so it seemed worth chancing a flare. He called back to
say he did not see it, so we will try again on a clear night if there is one.
Brittany, I'll send you a prediction later when we have some idea what is
behind the cu nims.
Just been out on the
wildly rolling and pitching foredeck with the very bright spreader lights on in
otherwise submarine blackness and wow does it make you aware of frames of
reference! (Gerry - take note for SSSC!) All that is visible is white deck,
shrouds, a lot of white water around the edges - no horizon, no sea surface, no
sky - nowt - just black. So everything you can see is moving very rapidly in
completely unpredictable directions but you can't see the movement and there
are no visual clues whatever. Something of a fairground ride and it behoves one
to be tethered and holding on with prehensile eyelashes.
Michelle - what do we
do when it gets rough? The simple answer is hang on tight to whatever is
nearest and try to brace ourselves against invisible movement. The more complex
answer - my version anyway, Pete will give you his - depends on how rough. Yes,
of course we hang on, bounce around a bit in bunks that have high restraining
lee cloths to stop one rolling out (except in a knockdown, where they are
useless and you and everything not strapped down inside them goes flying) and strap
ourselves to the kitchen stove to perpetrate the great teamaking disasters of
the century. For normal rough - Bass Strait in a Hobart race for instance,
that's it. Life goes on, you sometimes have to clean up other peoples' vomit
and unblock toilets while it's all happening - always when it's rough, the
toilet blocks, usually cos someone who is seasick can't hang around long enough
to pump it out properly. For Rough rough
- approaching Cape Horn or the storm we had a few days ago, it's a whole
different ballgame. If you've been reading this stuff from wayback, you may
remember my waffling on about the grammar and syntax of the noises a boat makes
in happy or stressful times. Astonishingly informative if you are sensitive to
it and understand it and know your boat - the more intimately the better. Rough
rough for me is about becoming so acutely conscious of this boat talk, data
stream, whatever, that it overrides everything else - sleep, eating, reading,
music - the lot. It happens in ordinary rough too but it's not leavened by fear
as it is in R/r. Approaching and in R/r, I do all the normal stuff on autopilot
while my brain cell analyses the change in pitch of a particular howl, or tries
to find a rational explanation for that sinister clunk that penetrates the
other noises at irregular intervals but with attitude and insistence. So, in a
way, I become part of the boat - a rather frightened and apprehensive part with
adrenal glands working overtime and the sphincter in clench overdrive. It's
essential to manage fear, but the more you know, the more you can be frightened
and the harder it gets each time. And all that becomes part of your answer. I
hope I never ever have to go through another 80 knot storm like the last one
but if I do, then I guess I'm just a bit more educated and scared. Hope all
that makes sense - it's probably more than you asked for but without it, the
picture's not complete.
Sitrep: 1430hrs 04 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 147
It feels good to be moving again - we've just cracked 1000
miles from Stanley and back on schedule so the Guinness will be out shortly.
Sitrep: 2300hrs 04 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 148
More idle nonsense. How many of you set off on a journey to
somewhere new knowing exactly how to get there? Say from Randwick to Liverpool
(in Sydney, for our foreign guest...) or from Chatswood to Burrumbuttock? (Look
it up...) I was thinking about mud maps - mental plots - when I was describing
our track for NASA to pass on to Leroy. He's an astronaut and a pilot and it's
really very easy to do - we're tracking parallel to the South American coast
about five hundred miles out at about 5 knots, starting from Stanley on
Saturday at noon. If there's no need for precision, that's all he will ever
need. An instant mental map shimmies into the subconscious and at any time it
would be possible to put a 20 mile circle around us as long as we keep to the
plan. When I was a bit more mentally agile, I had to keep a mental plot of my
aircraft moving any old where over the sea at 600 knots and again, the mud map
oozes out between the mental toes both in advance and as one goes along. There
are simple rules that help cut corners with mental arithmetic, but the trick
all the time is to stay ahead of the aeroplane on the mental map. Same in a boat,
but more slowly. Similarly, with my track description and some fairly basic
geographical knowledge - say a simple Mercator projection of the world, I
should be able to get from here to almost anywhere else without putting pencil
to paper. Huge margin for error but conceptually at least, it is easy and it
has been done. Obviously a very silly idea, but it illustrates the point.
So back to Chatswood. Do you make a plan - look at the street
directory and the road atlas before you set off and work out the route and tick
it off in your head as you go? Do you just assume that you can follow the
signposts? Do you more or less ignore street names and just head south west? Or
do you drive a Beemer with one of those dreadful GPS thingies that talks to you
in lugubrious Californian dialect so you end up somewhere not knowing where
you've been or how to get back? Or a combination of all of them? Or just get a
taxi? Then transfer the whole exercise to a strange country and ask the same
What the hell's this got to do with passing Montevideo, do I
hear you ask? Well everything actually. The planning for the actual navigation
on this one was basically Times Atlas (currents, weather patterns etc on a very
large scale), Admiralty Pilot, World Pilot Charts, Virtual Passage Planner (a
software package that Mal is also using to create the website maps) to check
great circle distances and the back of a smallish envelope. Depends on scale
and distance - the shorter and more precise the journey the more detail that is
required. For this one, the back of an envelope was fine - no major constraints
or show stoppers at this time of year, about 27000 miles give or take a few at
an average of 5 knots (That's the hardest bit) gives so many hours of sailing.
Will it fit into the time available? Seems it will, with a lot of luck - so
it's a goer. What do we need to do to do it? And that's where the really hard
bit starts. A lot of that stuff is on the website, particularly if you read
between the lines. The navigational detail then just fills in the empty spaces
more or less as we go.
But I'd hate to be without my 5 GPS's and Software on Board and
the chunky laptop. Of all the people who might read this, the one who travels
fastest and furthest is Leroy and - as far as I know, anyway, he doesn't have
to think about it at all - it's mostly done on the ground and fed into the ISS
computers and he gets to enjoy the ride. He told me tonight that they are about
350 km above the earth and I know they are traveling at about 5 miles per
second. During my, for me, sluggardly marathon in Stanley, they travelled about
84,600 miles to my 26. At the time, my mudddy brain couldn't handle the zeros
in the calculation so I cheated with a calculator later. And it was me that was
Sitrep: 1230hrs 05 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 149
The last one, about mental plots, was a bit of a disaster - I
was very tired and should have kept it till later for a re-read instead of
sending it. I think what I was getting at is really two ideas: planning is very
important but don't overdo it or you may never get started and it's very
important - or just more efficient - to have a mental picture of the journey
before you start. And a mud map is not a mental plot - it's a metaphor for a
way of communicating one by drawing it in the mud with a stick.
Brittany - I don't have today's passes yet, but Leroy said he
would call us each evening to check cloud cover and set up a time, so I think
it is under control. Mal, that may save you some time ott - Thanks Leroy.
Today will be a day of improvisation - and it will test my
preparation. There are a couple of fittings on Kevvo, the self steering gear,
which are under significant pressure all the time but in these heavy beam sea
conditions they get really worked hard and we have to get the pressure off them
and at the same time if possible, fix a slight alignment problem. I have a selection of shackles, snatch blocks
(pulley blocks that can be opened up and put over a line without undoing its
ends) and other bits and pieces and there are other things we can cannibalise,
like shock cord off a cockpit awning. My mental plan for the fix includes a
couple of shackles, two small snatch blocks and some shock cord but I have not
yet looked in the spares box to see whether all the bits will fit together.
Waiting for daylight.
Daylight come an' I wanna go home...It seems to have worked but
I noticed while doing the fix that Kevvo's main bearings are getting more than
a bit worn - he's done over 10000 miles, so not surprising but I hope they hold
out for another couple of months. Life will be a lot harder without him as we
will have to hand steer whenever the going gets too rough for the electric
Kevin - we will need a new set of bearings when we get to
England - I can't find your diagram but
we need the two bearings around the fore and aft horizontal shaft that support
the paddle assembly. There is one either side of the vertical tube supporting
the windvane. They appear to be different types of bearing - the forward one
seems to be just a sleeve. I will send you forwarding details. Would you please
confirm that you have seen and understand this with an email via the website?
And we've just had a serious consultation with the Doctor to
celebrate what is really only a minor fix. And that we're now north of Green
Cape again. And more than 1000 miles from Stanley. Slow going though and I hope
we can crank it up a bit.
Sunny and warm - wooohooo!
Sitrep: 2214hrs 05 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 150
We finally cracked part of the rendezvous - we saw the ISS high
and clear about 10 minutes ago for the first time since all this started - huge
thrill - but we'd already decided it was too chancy with cloud moving over to
risk wasting a flare so we didn't in case no one was watching. But we waved
with wild abandon. As one does...yeeeha! Brittany, would you please tell Leroy?
This bit was written as we waited, so it doesn't really follow,
but y'all may as well have it.
We've been sailing for about 10 days with no sign of another
human being except these emails and Leroy Chiao's evening check in. But a huge
empty ocean it isn't - for me it's a place of ghosts - not the moaning blobs of
Hollywood protoplasm but the shades and memories of all the people who have
been here before us and left no mark except perhaps their stories lost in some
vault somewhere. The man, for instance, who in a very early expedition to find
a way to the Pacific was hit by a severe storm this side of the Horn and saved
his ship and crew by beaching it on one of the islands near the Horn and
wintering there before sailing back to - I think - Portugal, where his name has
been lost but his report still exists. A man I would have liked to have known.
And Magellan, Drake, Hawkins and many many known and unknown Portugese and
Spanish explorers in tiny ships with superstitious and mutinous crews who came
this way - mostly along the Brazilian coast and not this far out - plus the
migrants, the tea clippers, the treasure galleons from central America and the
north coast of South America, the whalers, the fishermen, the German and
British battle fleets of the first and second world wars and the British task
force in 1982, some of whom were friends of mine - and all the dead who remained
behind, in the ocean and on the battlefields and in the settlements and,
particularly poignant for me, the Argentine Army dead who are still in the
Falklands. And Tommy Melville, with whom I first set out for Rio in 1982. And all the unknown and forgotten people who
have been lost trying to find the way to other lives. And the original Tierra
del Fuegans who survived down there in the harshest conditions at least until
Europeans arrived - they're all here in my imagination. Without them all and their
endeavours and their history, I might not have been here myself. And perhaps I
will one day exist in some other memory.
Arlette - good to hear from you and glad nothing's changed -
give our regards to Jen and all - we're still dunkin that shortbread.
And John F, thanks for the newspaper article - we cant get the
internet out here, so we won't get to read it until we get to the UK unless you
have a soft copy you could send us via the website if it's not too long. Good
to meet you too and the storm is just a nasty blur now. I'm wearing the
trousers you last saw me in as I sat on the big tractor tyre trying to keep
Berri from getting smashed on the East jetty all covered in black rubber marks.
Sitrep: 0515hrs 06 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 151
We are nearly level with Sydney again - (just passing
Wollongong, for the initiated - a standing Berri joke about having a beer off
Wollngong on the return trip from Hobart and how Wollongong seems to move
further south each year) - the Southern Cross is back, comfortingly, in its
proper place just south of top dead centre instead of to the north of us. The
water is 21+ degrees - warmer than Sydney, Pete says, but that's bad news
because it means we are in a southerly current. I'm really going to miss the
night sky when we get off this ocean too. It's a warm, balmy night - what a
contrast from a few nights ago - and such a pleasure not to have to spend 15
minutes getting into wet and clammy cold party gear to go out on deck. We have
the top half of the stable door open and I sit out in the cockpit at night with
my headlight and a book. This week, it's been 'Riding the Iron Rooster' by Paul
Theroux, about travelling by train around China in 1987. I found it interesting
because Katherine has travelled on a lot of the trains he talks about and it
adds a bit of perspective to her laconic reports.
We are gradually being headed by the wind and we are now
pointing at the coast south west of Rio. As the wind continues to back, we'll tack
out again to the north east. We have the sheets cracked a bit to keep things
fast and comfortable and not spill the consultative plastic chalice.
1130hrs 06 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 152
Big Hi from the boot
ferals, who are slowly getting used to sunshine. Fast breeders, lots of
mutations, I guess. Other wildlife - a brownish black seabird, about a metre
span, white beak, white ring around its eyes. Sits on the water and watches us
and looks a bit like a waterhen when doing so. And small fish are washing up on
deck at night. I know that's at least ambi-ambiguous - take it any way you
fancy - they seem to be baby flying fish - grey blue with two large fins either
side, only about 4cm long.
This leg is going to be a long hard hack, I think. Quite slow
progress - almost exactly my recent marathon pace, in fact, and about a third
of the world's best time. Paula's best time about twice as fast. Niggly things
starting to go a bit awry - Kevvo's bearings, noisy rudder bearings with some
shaft movement, nothing really serious but enough to occupy the mind of a
boatminder like me - all made somewhat harder because proximity to S.Am. coast
makes it all seem so slow. At least in the open Pacific, there wasn't that
constant reminder. Keep those emails coming, please - brightens each day no
0530hrs 07 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 153
I have a problem - well several actually - the which I will try
to digitise for all y'all. For those people who don't do irony and
understatement, I will try to add helpful footnotes.
The problem(s) can be summarised in one word - Fenwick. Fenwick
thinks he has friends, us included, who love and cherish him and who exist for
his exclusive entertainment. He thinks he knows a bit about sailing, just
because he went round Cape Horn once as a kid in nappies and, like all such big
noters, he is happy to criticise others from deep within an armchair surrounded
by a tacky pile of mouldy tissues, peanut shells, decaying pizza boxes and
empty beer cans (VB of course - he has no taste either). He doesn't shave and
his armpits smell.
Helpful footnote - we kinda like this guy.
As all y'all know, we are sitting in a pretend cardboard and
old corrugated iron mock up boat in Fox Studios in Sydney churning out this
nonsense about gut wrenching storms and albatross aerodynamics as we guzzle
copious quantities of The Doctor (we, at least, do have some taste) and dream
up ever more outrageous stories for your breakfast fixes of drama and irony.
And Leroy Chiao, NASA and the International Space Station are - just like the
Moon landings - figments of all this outrageousness and just another mock up in
a warehouse in a Hollywood studio. None of this stuff is real -just a fake sms
message in the fabric of the universe to be flicked past the bored and
atrophied brain cell shared by our two readers out there. At the end of it all,
we don't want you to clap, just throw money - lots of it.
Helpful footnote - so far, it's been a bit of a headbang and
it's a real thrill to be involved with the ISS.
Enter Fenwick, who can't read, (so one of those two readers has
to move his lips and make noises as he reads), demanding yet more
outrageousness from the depths of his armchair. 80 knots - pish, gimme 120 -
albatrosses shmalbatrosses, where are the mermaids? - why haven't you been
smashed up by a container ship? - what's all this crap about sunshine,
Sunshine? I want storm and tempest, spouting hurricanoes, scurvy, all that
stuff. And another VB. What's the pizza delivery number?
Helpful footnote - we think he kinda likes us
So, dearest all y'all, you better hadn't believe anything you
read here. It's all the result of late night drinking sessions and the
spaghettied imaginations of a couple of spruikers on acid.
Helpful footnote - you'd better bloody believe it...else I'll
burst into tears and flounce off, centre left.
So to the actual problem - It's relatively easy to churn out
this stuff when things are hard and getting worse. I was most eagerly looking forward to the challenge of
that knot of tight little lows near the Horn so as the challenge developed, the
words just flowed. In the next few weeks, it may not be so squeezy but I'll do
Helpful footnote - growing fear promotes verbal diarrhoea, as
it recedes, the stream dries up, so to speak.
So - I've asked all y'all before - is there a question, like
Michelle's, that you've always wanted to ask...no promises, of course.
[ed: Sat phone call from Alex
at 1100hrs 07 2005 UTC]
Have been having problems with self-steering gear but advice from
manufacturer sounds like it will work.
Currently tracking WNW with wind of 40 knots from NNE.
Their forecast indicates deepening low to the south so they are
aiming to get away from the worst of the weather.
1636hrs 07 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 154
Well here we go again. Another 50+ blast and increasing. We've
been waiting for it for a couple of days and it's just as unpleasant and nasty
as I expected. The only difference from previous ones is that this one isn't
building on an existing swell so it's not - yet - as vicious. Seems the cycle
is two days of balmy sunshine followed by at least three of truly foul
nastiness. And it's the waiting that gets to me every time - we just have to
sit them out, cant do anything except fret and watch the boat going backwards
eating up great chunks of our previous gains. I havent got any feel for the
scaleto these things yet in meteorological terms and I cant apply any of the
usual rules. And I feel personally every crash and shudder and blast. We've
worked down thro the sails and are now running abeam wiyth the storm jib at
about 4 kts SW. SPBF.
I thought the RYA were stern examiners (you out there anywhere,
Simon and Cloughy? Say G'day if you are, please - it all helps) but whoever has set us this
little test is a pure sadist. Looking at the grib, it seems this one is centred
about 300 miles south just where we copped the really nasty one a week or so
ago - its all a blur - and the centre is getting an AVERAGE 50+ so work that
I feel a Consultation coming on, then Pete wants a go.
1830hrs 07 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 155
Just sitting it out down here as the waves get bigger and our
insulation gradually peels off the inside of the boat. Too warm and sticky for
the glue. At least 12 hours more, as far as I can see, before things will ease.
Cant even get pissed as an anaesthetic - too dodgy if we get pearshaped. But
things could be worse.
Kim - we can talk to Leroy on the satphone - he has an IP phone
up there in his shiny tin can and I don't know at this stage who is paying the
bills. But its a heap of fun. As for 5 GPS's I have one feeding into the laptop
and a backup, both on the boat's 12v system, a couple of toy handhelds and a
USB version that will plug into the laptop if I need to take it on deck and can
get the laptop to find the right comm port to talk to it. somewhat haphazard.
James - we don't get many emails - about 4 or 5 a day and from
the same group of regulars with the occasional oncer and some nice surprises
too. Very happy to get more, specially in conditions like these. 'Orrible!
Don - you're absolutely right about the marathon - only a fool
etc. But if a headbanger such as I is presented with an opportunity like that
it is axiomatic that heads will be banged. Can't receive photos, unfortunately
but thanks - it was described to me. As far as I know, rhe new ISS crew, ISS
11, join the ISS in about ten days on a Russian rocket and Leroy and Salizhan
return on April 25. No mention of Shuttle - perhaps a cargo trip. What's an NDE
issue? [ed: Don advises that its a
Croo - good luck with the parsley - I've go a crop of cress
under way. Growing much faster than down south in the cold.
Ian N and the Pendo mob - g'day. Good to hear from you.
1200hrs 08 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 156
Another awful night and it's still not over - I don't remember
a longer, blacker,h busier night. You nay have got the feel from the short
update at the beginning of it. The 50+ blew for hours, howling in the rig and
building a short very steep really uncomfortable sea wit Berri rolling and
pitching so violently that I'm covered in bruises, sleepless and very tired.
The wind eventually dropped to about 30 but we were then in the biggest,
scariest thunderstorms ever - mostly sheet lightning in the 500ft overcast
lighting the whole world with eerie grey green flickering light but some big
strikes into the sea quite close to us. Actual visibility about 500 metres in
crashing rain for most of the time. Eventually dispersed and there was a ship
close to us, unable to contact but seemed to be aware of us and standing by.
Followed by more wind from dead ahead that has gradually backed to astern.
We're motoring at just above idle to
keep us moving through the slop - big effort to get out of this area and up
north before the next one inevitably rolls in.
Now daylight, grey, heavily overcast,humid, barometer creeping
up and we've got the 5 and the storm jib poled out for about 5 kts normal 7 in
the gusts. Really glad that night is past - I know real sailors don't ever get
scared, but this one was - that sort of howl in the rig induces a kind of numb
inability to focus beyond the moment along with a churning stomach and the
lightning was something else again. I sat out in the cockpit in the rain
monitoring the vital signs as it were, and the ship, and the power of the
thunderstorm was just a bit overwhelming and up close for my sensitive nature.
Like the Vortex - and JJ referred to me as Ford Prefect the other day, so at
least there's someone out there who understands why I look after my towel so
carefully. A settling and calming Consultation has been scheduled for after
Anyway, really need some sleep. See yez later
Later still - slept and Consulted - propagation not good so will try again to
send this now.
2000hrs 08 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 157
Sorry, not everybody's here, but I'm working on it. Fenwick,
glad you've learned a bit of humility at last. Tell Gorde he doesn't get his
name in lights until e writes to us himself. Pass him the chivas.
Hugh and the Swordfish mob - g'day and thanks for kind
words. Really chuffing to know that
there are people out there who actually take us seriously - seems the corrugated mock up we drink in to
get inspiration out at Fox is a good investment! Glad to know you did the
Tassie trip - where next? I've lost Swordfish amongst all the other stuff that
clogs my memory cell - please remind me.
WJR&J - have a great holiday - and a toasted mozzarella and
mushroom sando for me. And we'd love to hear from Debra - one of my other most
favourite people - take over from His Eminence please and keep the fires lit.
Doug and Estelle - if you want to know more about that bloke
and the girl he married, you could try the Archivist in Stanley - I think her
name is Jane Cameron, very well respected and you can find her thro the FI govt
website. Interesting story, thanks. I'd love the old AGB to come swanning out
here with a case of coldies, but they'd have a problem in this swell - even
Catalinas had their limits...
Don - fascinating stuff - I knew about the foam problems but
didn't know you are working on it. Do those guys know about our dalliance with
the sharp end of the enterprise or is it just something that happens in the
wings, so to speak?
Michelle - Pete can answer that one!
Caro - good to get your news - we only do it to keep you lot
amused and fooled...
Colin B. - so glad to hear that we're doing something for you
guys - Mostly, that's why we went for the website. Next, you'll be cruising
South Georgia - to be recommended mightily, as far as we can see, at the right
time of the year. Have a look at Antarctic Oasis, Tim & Pauline Carr,
Norton, NY, 1998 - big coffee table book but gobsmacking. A future project for
me, perhaps in two projects' time...
Brian and Jen - glad you guys are still there - it means a lot
to us and it's great to get the occasional update from Dunedin. Closing for the
winter, huh? What's with you Kiwis - seems to me you should at least keep the
bar open - and Bert - how was your trip to Stewart all those weeks ago?
Kim Q - he's tough - pulls em out with the multi's. Nice pic
Croo - I suppose you'd be interested in the saga of the toenail
clippings then? Breathtaking stuff. Free the Dog!
2030hrs 08 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 158
Phew, this was what the punters wanted - a bit of biff. The ref
has had to move in now and send Fenwick and Whitworth to their neutral corners I'm
sitting ringside with some of the sporting scribes.
The consensus seems to be that maybe Whitworth went in a bit
too hard too early. He managed to land many telling jabs to Fenwicks body but
Fenwick is s seasoned bare knuckled brawler and can absorb much more punishment
than that. I noted that he had a smile on his face as he moved to his corner.
Now there's something -I see that Fenwick has had his full
reclining armchair set up in the corner - I heard him say to his seconds at the
end of the first round, 'Get rid of that pissy little stool'. He must have some
clout with the WBA if they let him bring this in - and what's more a stack of
pizza boxes and two slabs of beer have been set up alongside. I think he's on
board for the full ride. I say this is a bit upmarket too - I wonder who's
promoting this event. A rather scantily clad young lady wearing gold stiletto
heels has entered the ring and is now parading a large board with the number 3
held above her head.
I can also tell you that looks like a gold Rolex watch on her
The ref has finished marking his card and I think we're nearly
ready for round 3.
Whoo - that was close - the young lady in stilettos just tried
to exit the ring by hurdling the ropes. Unfortunately the stilettos provided a
poor launching platform and she landed in the lap of a corpulent chap with a
grey beard two seats down and he seems to be having trouble getting her back on
I'm looking at Whitworth now and I hope the recent marathon
hasn't sapped his stamina. Fenwick meanwhile is giving him a cold brutal stare.
We await the bell
1900hrs 09 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 159
Greetings fro an area with calm seas and soft warm breeze - for
To answer some questions:
Ian Nursey - why no fishing? Normally I'm the first to get a
line over the side but in the southern ocean things were different. There was a
lot of bird life and I wouldn't want to snare a young albatross. Also, you feel
extremely fragile down there, its a very hard environment, it's isolated and
you feel empathy for all other living creatures down there, but the short
answer is that I wasn't hungry and I didn't want to disturb the neighbours.
Things will probably change as we get warmer and more comfortable in the calmer
Michelle, you ask some good provocative questions. Do you get
bored - do you get annoyed with eachother? The boat is so small, how do you
cope with being so restricted?
Bored? Bloody well bored - I'm so looking forward to being
bored. I've been beaten, bruised, battered, brutalised bloodied but never
bored. In the southern ocean, we were always living on the edge. We were small
and vulnerable. A 33 foot boat is not the boat of choice for down there. But
you can make it if you are careful and make no mistake. With these parameters,
boredom doesn't exist. Since leaving Stanley, we seem to be in 3 day cycles of
good and bad weather. By the time you recover in the good times, its all on
again. Boredom will become a problem in a month's time when we are north of the
equator and the horse latitudes. I'm looking forward to it.
To the next question - of course we get annoyed with eachother
- we wouldnt be human if we didn't get annoyed in such close confinement. But
for us to complete this little adventure, we must trust and help eachother and
not be concerned with the trivial crap that sours many friendships. It's Alex's
boat - we consult about things, i have as much input as I likebut the final
call is his. We both agree on the important things that affect the safety of
the boat. we have sailed enough together and been in enough situations to have
confidence in eachother's abilities.
When oyur'e tired and exhausted, it's easy to get annoyed but
we give sufficient latitude to eachother to get over this. There have been no
arguments, no shouting matches. There have been many disagreements but at the
end of the day over perhaps a Gin and tonic, alex will agree that i was right
and i will agree that he was right. The weather must have something to do with
it - on a day like today, I don't think even alan Jones could annoy me. I'll
leave your question on close confinement till later.
Michelle is my niece - her sister Karyn has just become engaged
to her best friend Fernando. If any of you have a bottle nearby, pull the cork,
pour a tipple and wish them a long and wonderful life together. Our best wishes
go out to you both.
Mr Judd, try Noel Garnett on 9546 7229 - he is good on period
skirtings and architraves. He amy not be up and running at the moment as he recently
had a hip replaced.
I'll get out of your way now - cheers o all - Pete.
0430hrs 10 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 160
Once again in good weather - balmy and warm, water 24 degrees.
20 - 25 knots from the east and looks ok for a day or two more. Fingers
crossed. Berri now further north than she has ever been with me - we are north
of the lagoon entrance at Lord Howe Island which is about as far north as we
have been together. Another small milestone. Passing Rio will, I hope, be the
next. Then NE Brazil and the equator in about three weeks AGW. We are three
days behind schedule though, after all the storms.
On elegant solutions to intractable problems: Episode 1 (it may
turn out to be the only one)
Boats, especially little ones like Berrimilla, tend to crash
around a lot and move in 3 dimensions. Everything has to be tied down or
otherwise restrained. Every horizontal flat surface has a "fiddle"
around its edge - a little wooden wall to stop things sliding off and there are
special fittings for holding mugs and glasses. (Always plastic 'glasses' and
bottles and containers - gin, olive oil etc decanted from glass into labelled
plastic - broken glass in a boat is a dreadful health hazard and completely
avoidable). In particularly violent pitching and rolling, ordinary plates,
cups, spoons, books, spectacles laptops etc simply launch over their fiddles
and fly across the boat to crash into something on the other side like my head.
A normal plate or bowl is exactly the right shape to assist such a launch and
they are diverted upward by fiddles. Unpleasant and dangerous but if the plate
is full of hot food, even more so, to say nothing of the wasted effort cooking
and required later to clean up the mess. And if the plate is actually stopped
or slowed by the fiddle, the food it contains will continue on its own. Yet to
survive out here, or to remain functional in a fully crewed race over several
days, hot food is essential.
There are various ways of dealing with this - simply ignoring
the problem and grimly hanging on to plate, mug or whatever the unfortunate
cook has managed to fill is one option, but it's not easy to hold a fairly
shallow plate with one hand, moving it in harmony with the boat, and using the
other hand to hold on and eat with at the same time. Or just cooking instant
noodles in those prepacked plastic bowls works works quite well but you cant
live for ever on those.
Or consider the humble dogbowl. It is conical, usually with a
turned out lip or flange around the base. The cone contains a deep 'crater' with vertical sides
and a flat bottom. This is an inherently stable shape and if placed inside a
fiddle, it will not jump over it in any but the most severe conditions. It can
be placed on the floor in reasonable conditions without tipping, sliding or
spilling. Food in the crater is effectively contained by the vertical sides as
long as the bowl is not filled too full
Several of them can be stacked in almost the same space as one
alone and the top one can be filled by the cook without having to hold on to
the stack as with normal plates and bowls. The dogbowl is easy to hold with one
hand folded around the base and flange either palm up or, if sitting braced on
the floor or in a bunk, with the near flange resting on ones collarbone and the
thumb of one hand inside the outer part of the flange and the fingers on the
outside. This is a particularly effective way of using it because it gets the
food very close to the mouth with the bowl below to catch spillage and avoids
long travel with a spoon, spilling greasy stew on ones trousers and shirt on
the way. And they are easy to clean and stow as well.
Berrimilla has a set of 6 stainless steel dogbowls with 200mm
craters purchased from Woolworths for the 1998 S2H and invaluable ever since.
1900hrs 10 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 161
Northward, ever northward, with enough easting to leave Cabo
Frio, east of Rio, well to port. We saw a couple of fishing boats two nights
ago further out than we expected, so we're being much more systematic about keeping
a regular lookout. It would be really nice to sail close in up the Brazilian
coast, but far too much hassle avoiding other boats, probably fishing gear and
just about every big ship that comes down this way.
Don't want to bore you with dull weather reports, although they
are anything but dull for us. Classic high pressure system conditions here,
warm, humid, rain and showers, easterly wind - all indicating we are at the top
of a high with its anticlockwise circulation bringing warm moist air from further
out to sea. Getting quite close to the tropics - about 400 miles to go to
Capricorn, roughly the latitude of Rio - and lovely Rockhampton too. We can't
get any weather faxes from Brazil - they do not seem to be transmitting them -
so we rely on the grib files and what it looks like out of the window. Hoping
fervently that we are past the worst but not yet relaxed by any means.
We have been talking to people I met some years ago in Sydney -
Tom and Vicky Jackson, an English couple with a boat called Sunstone - quite
famous - try http://www.sunstonesailing.com/
if you are interested. They are following us up from Stanley where they arrived
the day after we left, unfortunately, on their way to Rio. they are about a
thousand miles behind, but their boat is bigger and faster. We will keep a
radio sked with them and stay in email contact for as long as possible.
Lots of interesting reaction to my admitting to being a scaredy
cat in the various storms - I think there is a point up to which a bit of fear
and adrenaline is helpful and evolutionarily advantageous (how about that for a
mouthful?) but I have seen people in storms way past that point - foetal
position, thumb sucking scared - and that's often a challenge for the skipper
who has to try to care for the person and run the boat shorthanded. Luckily,
Pete doesn't suck his thumb and I don't think I do either.
Now that things have eased a bit for really the first time
since leaving Hobart, I find I can sit down and read a book. Trouble is, i read
so fast, I now have to start rationing them. In Stanley, I bought almost the
entire second hand book stock from the Church store, including about 10
National Geographics - perhaps 20 books, everything except the bodice rippers.
We have some others all the way from Oz as well - perhaps another 20 - so just
might last until we get far enough north to be distracted by other things.
And to those who keep asking, Fenwick is a real person -
doddering old fart who drinks and scratches and thinks he's funny. Well, we do
laugh at him a lot. Perhaps Mal should post both sides of the conversation. But
he is allowed to piss into wind, having been around the Horn. So he does, but
he's too silly to work out why his knees suddenly get warm. Owns a famous old
Sydney Hobart veteran called Morning Tide, which he used to be able to sail
before he started drinking. An S&S 34, as anyone who knows about the
'Morning ...' boats will know. Ted Heath, ex British PM, - those of you old
enough to remember him, take a bow - won the 1965 (I think) Sydney Hobart in
his Morning Cloud. I expect Fenwick has to sail with Morning Sickness a fair
bit these days.
If I keep rambling like this I will run out of things to talk about
before we get to the equator - questions answered tomoz. See yez..
Sitrep: 1530hrs 11 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 162
like being long and gossipy. I saw a flying fish today - we must be getting
close to the tropics - its about 28 -30 degrees, humid, hazy - tough going. Not
really enough wind and heading us badly, so may still end up climbing the
Brazilian coast from Cabo Frio. The last bad storm messed up the early plan by
taking us way further inshore that we wanted to go and now we can't easily get
back out. We would have liked to be where we could meet the SE trade winds at
about 25S 30W but not to be.
We are still
hoping to rendezvous with the ISS, but they must now be very busy getting ready
for the ISS 11 crew, due up there in a week or so. Just needs a clear night and
a high pass and some accurate timing, but all together quite difficult to
We also had a
visitor today - a tiny fluffy finch-like bird - greenish brown, yellow flashes
on top of wings, short pointy beak - came aboard, rested below for a bit, made
some deposits and left again. Noice!
And we have a
big problem - the cans of The Doctor are corroding in the iceboxes and losing
their contents. Panic - we have instituted a regime of more frequent
consultations while we decide whether there is any remedy.
Leo - good to
hear from you - The Doctor is Guinness, Pete's home brew, now gone but for two
bottles, was Dr Cooper's, and we also have Smoothies and The Archers Tool. Go
went past on th horizon this morning probably towards Cape Town from somewhere
south of Rio.
Those of you
who were around west of Cape Horn may remember that we broke a blade off the
fine pitch turbine we tow to drive our auxiliary generator. It's a stainless
shaft about a metre long with a rather rough cast aluminium hub at the end with
two blades sticking out. Someone kindly welded a new bit of blade back on in
Port Stanley but the weld failed not long into the stormy bit. We have been
using the spare, coarse pitch turbine
but we're not going fast enough for it to work properly. I have
suggested a solution to the suppliers which would eliminate such hassles - we
shall see. Meantime, the BP Solar panel is pushing 4 amps into the batteries
every time the sun comes out and we are just making do. There's always diesel.
know why the latitudes close to the equator are called the Horse latitudes -
and which/where are they?
[ed: Responses now here]
And the big
news: last night was reasonably clear - the usual gigazz of stars - Milky Way
looks almost solid - and I saw Ursa Major for the first time - not all of it,
but we're getting there. For those who don't know, the defining constellation
in the southern hemisphere is the Southern Cross and its two pointers, Rigil
Kent and Hadar. In the Northern hemisphere, it is Ursa Major, The Great Bear,
also known as The Plough and The
Saucepan, both of which it resembles more than a bear. The two western stars in
the constellation point directly to the Pole Star above the North Pole. We
won't see the Pole Star this side of the equator and I'm not sure when we will
on the other side but it's all happening out here. And the Southern Cross is
now significantly below top dead centre too.
Devncroo - I
knew about Viking wool sails - I think they actually found one in an old ship
or a tomb, but the mind does boggle a bit about water and weight. There might
be something via google?
Brian and Jen
- oops! And Yay! for the bar - work on it.
thanks for your note - Gordo seems to be under the baleful influence of one
Fenwick and we don't hear from him any more.
[ed: Sat phone call from Alex
at 1230hrs 12 2005 UTC]
Lousy radio propagation
and lots of messages to receive. Probably wont be able to pick them up until
it improves tonight (their time) so dont panic about not hearing anything for
a while. Conditions annoying - fairly light north-easterly with choppy seas.
Sitrep: 1500hrs 12 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 163
In the horse
latitudes - looking for the Trades...
diatribe. Ever since I've been sailing, I've been aware of the dangers of
working on deck with bare feet and I've seen some nasty injuries. It was
forbidden in the boats I grew up in, before and at Dartmouth. There are two
reasons - wet waterlogged feet lose their grip before good deck shoes (perhaps
those with prehensile toes will shout at me, but it's generally true) and wet
soft skin and unprotected toes are especially vulnerable to cuts, splits and
So what does
Muggins do this morning - yup, a sail change with soft bare feet. Nice warm
water, no probs.
a bit, lost grip coming back into the cockpit and sliced open the side of my
foot near the big toe on heaven knows what. Stupid stupid stupid. I think I was
lucky - clean cut, flap still intact, lots of salt water to keep it clean, just
this side of needing stitches. Steri strips won't stick and we have a surgical
staple gun in the kit but no thanks! So to the next problem - what to do with
it. Skin soft and waterlogged, no dressing will stick, bandages absorb water.
Decided on a compromise - band aid along the length of the cut, big Primapore
dressing over the top and the whole lot compressed by a couple of turns of duct
tape all around the ball of the foot. Seems to be working and can put deck shoe
over the top. Fingers crossed. Duct tape
doesn't let air in, but the ends are open and will have to change daily.
barefoot and has survived a lifetime without injury - he's grown up that way
but I still think he's been lucky. And there are others out there with leather
feet who have done the same and will scoff at me for being a wimp. No problem -
there are exceptions but for the rest of you, it's an unnecessary risk and you
take the consequences. I'll never do it again. Those of you who have done the
safety and sea survival course will know about duty of care.
30 knot NE wind trying to get north about another 300 miles into the SE trades.
Slow, battering slog into short steep lumpy sea with no let up in sight for a
couple of days. Nice that we are on an enhanced consultation regime! Lots of
small flying fish in the scuppers all night - too small to eat but a sign that
we are nearly there. Passed a brightly lit vessel during the night - probably
fishing and may not have seen us at all through his own glare.
Nice new moon
- brilliant sky last night.
Looked at the
large scale CMap chart of the Brazilian coast from Isla Catherina past Rio -
bloody hell - there are 'fish aggregation devices', yellow special navigation
buoys and lots of other potential show stoppers all along and there's no way
we'll go close in unless we have no alternative.
Sitrep: 1010hrs 13 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 164
middle of the night and I'm sweating - send me down my silver threaded T shirt,
Noreen! - it's hot and humid, which, it seems to me, is a better reason for
sweat than the dull fear that comes in a storm at night. But I am constantly
reminded about why in Berrimilla I never go North of Lord Howe in Australia.
Tropical sailing isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be. Don't mind being
paid for teaching up there though - a bloke's got to eat.
Big thank you
to everyone who sent us information about the horse latitudes, which, I have
learned. we were in when I asked the question, but horseless and far from
becalmed. And the range of sources was surprising too. Perhaps Malcolm could
anonymise all the responses and post them as a little archive? Two interesting
details - the very sad song by Doors and the suggestion that there may have
been a derivation from the Spanish 'golfo de las yeguas mares'.
couldn't find bowditch on the laptop - must get it next time...and every sail
change and storm and hiccup shows up clearly on the log files - interesting -
would it be possible, for instance, to publish it as a cd referenced to log
thanks for article about sweaty astronauts - NASA can probably afford to experiment
with silver thread - fascinating bit of chemistry buried in there somewhere! -
but it's way beyond our micro budget. I expect, though, that like lots of other
innovations such as teflon, a bit of silver thread to subdue the armpit and
crutch ferals may well be the new trend in cool yachting underdags spun off
(ugh) the space program. Can't wait - Leroy, if you're reading this, keep me a
cast off and we'll test it in the maritime environment!
And Jenny S -
I did get your Cape Horn email and BOG details but in the euphoria of the
moment, I probably didn't do it justice. Thanks and we're both looking forward
to appearing in the first issue of The BOG Paper. Don't know anything about
Croo - I must
have read the same article about woollen Viking ship sails in New Scientist - I
remember the bit about keeping the wool sails in the church towers and finding
a fragment. Clever bit of lateral thinking there too.
Kris, you got
a separate answer, to alum address.
report: haven't seen a seabird foe a couple of days. Where do they all go, or
is it some sort of portent, like the departure of rats? Flying fish, still
small, in abundance, but Pete saw one big enough to eat. Lovely to watch them
skittering across the surface with the sun flashing off sides and 'wings'.
Sitrep: 2330hrs 13 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 165
been, like the Curate's egg, good in parts. Started in high good humour as the
wind swung round to the south east and seemed to be settling in - we thought we
had managed to hook into the SE Trades a bit early. Sadly, not so - hopes
evaporated when I pulled in the grib file and found that we are once again on
the back of another high and due to be headed again severely over the next two
days. Patience and perseverance recalled to duty and here we sit, rolling less
than wildly with the #4 and the trisail (great rig - balanced and not too
powerful for the short beam seas) galloping us ENE to get as far across as
possible before the wind starts to back and we go round with it. We are into
day 19 out of Stanley and a bout 1700 miles north, so we are about two days
behind schedule for a 70 day trip. All back of envelope stuff and we should
catch up bit once we get above this
stream of highs and headers.
and more humid every day. I'm sweating gently as I sit at the nav table at
around 8pm local time. Cant open any hatches except the top of the storm boards
as there's lots of water and spray over the decks so quite uncomfortable. We
are approaching the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) around the equator,
and the cloud cover is growing and the cloudbase descending - just like in the
southern ocean on the other side of the wall, but WARM! I hope we can cobble
together one clear night, a high pass and a bit of luck in the next week or so
to crack the R/V with the ISS. NASA sent Leroy our video last week - we haven't
seen it ourselves so I hope it was worth the effort and he found it
interesting. He is due to return to Khazakstan on April 25.
My foot seems
to be healing - thanks John re superglue advice - we have some in the kit but I
had completely forgotten. The Doctor clearly slipped up during the
intended to empty out the boat in Stanley, dry it out, clean all the spaces and
then restow, but the weather and the difficult berth we were on made that
impossible. Consequently, there is stuff stashed away in wet and mouldy hollows
that's been there since Hobart. Erk! I started on one bit today and - wonder of
wonders - found the knife I lost way the other side of the Horn - must have
been thrown across the boat in some big roll and buried itself in a daggy heap
of wet plastic bags. Nice to have it back. And yesterday Pete found a bag of my
clothes - shorts particularly, that had been stowed for resurrection in
Stanley. But we cant find the half litre of Betadine, taken from the heavy kit
for Pete's hands in the pacific and carefully put somewhere so we could get it
easily...using metho as temporary antiseptic.
Sherryl, good to hear from you - State Champions hey, John! Congratulations and
well done. And don't be fooled - all the expensive gear only makes the boat go
as fast as the skills of the crew can drive it - you guys must be pretty good.
Berri training helped, we hope!
Sitrep: 2215hrs 14 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 166
Here we still
are, looking at Rio from afar. The wind is from the north east, where we want
to go, so we're doing long tacks to get around Cabo Frio, or, more precisely,
what seem to be a series of oil rigs on the edge of the continental shelf to
the east of Frio. I will be very glad indeed when we eventually get round that
corner and happier still when we get into the trades. We can see them,
tantalisingly close, on the grib, but lots of work to get there. Once we do, they
should take us most of the way to the equator. And a long way out to sea, about
700 miles from here to the north east is Martin Vaz Island - tiny inhabited
island belonging to Brazil.
night, a very large ship came out of the
east. swung around our stern and 'parked' about a mile away on our beam.
Disconcerting. I called them and discovered it was the Orient Constellation and
they were just making sure we were ok. Very short conversation - perhaps I
should have asked them more - looked like a tanker. Once we had spoken they
altered course again and disappeared very quickly.
Fiona, we did
hear about the Skiff episode from Fenwick - doesn't hurt to rub it in a bit
Arlette, keep on
truckin' and have a birthday bash for me on the 22nd. We're still dunking
shortbread and jammy thingies.
for lovely note - I'll write you a separate reply but I'll answer your
questions here - yes, it's generally heaps scarier at night - not sure why, but
it may be the haunted house effect - just another house in daylight but comes
alive at night. Also, the noise and the spray and everything seem to be
magnified and I get that numb feeling that it's all going to
happen...everything tightens up and I sit (when possible - often not) and
listen and fret. Different kind of scary when you cant see something too - the
imagination at work.
are physically just the same as beach waves except that they don't have a
sloping beach under them. They are often much bigger - in the southern ocean
they can build up over a fetch that goes right around the world, so each wave
has enormous energy but the water itself is not moving forwards - only up and
down. But when the wave gets to a sloping shore, the lower part of it is
deflected - slowed down - causing the wave form to collapse at the top and the
water starts to surge forward - this is the breaking wave on a beach. The same
breaking effect is caused by the wind actually moving the water in the tops of
ocean waves forwards, causing it to break - huge and very frightening if you
are under it. Oceanographers may quibble with this description, but it's more
or less what happens.
We don't do
any fishing although we might - and we are towing a turbine on a 40 metre line
too, which complicates things. We hope to get some flying fish on board at
night as we go north.
Wildlife - the
Dinos are back - phosphorescence all around, big sparkly flashes along with
rather misty greenish ligt in the water. And one solitary seabird - a tern
perhaps, with a split tail. The first one for several days, surprising this
close to land.
Sitrep: 1130hrs 15 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 167
here, in a very uncomfortable headbutt into a 30kt North easter which is due to
blow for at least two more days. Very frustrating. The trades are just over the
horizon to the north and we can't get there yet. Boat on the port tack, bashing
into short steep sea and I'm wedged into the nav table space, knees braced
under the table and just about every other muscle working to keep me in
keyboard contact. Not fun. May be a bit short on updates if it continues but
I'll persevere if possible.
The laptop is
on permanent charge and seems to be running quite hot - I know they generate a
lot of heat but should I be concerned? I suspect it is normal, and I just
haven't noticed in the colder south.
Not much to
report - Supplies of The Doctor are being depleted according to a corrosion
fudge factor and so far we haven't lost any more. Once the iceboxes are empty,
we can slow down again and work on the various other stashes that should be
Size of flying
fish is increasing - I saw one this morning that I first thought was a seabird.
Perhaps we'll get one for breakfast soon. No seabirds, lots of phosphorescent
dinos. Water now iridescent blue and 27+ degrees. Why was it grey further
told me that he can't photograph Cape Horn for us because it is always in
darkness when their orbit takes the over the top, and it will be so for some
weeks yet. I had not considered the trigonometry of their orbit - assuming. I
suppose, that they go so fast and orbit so often that they would see everywhere
in daylight at least every few days or so. Interesting and I will have to look
at the predictor on the internet when we get to England. (Malcolm has the URL
if anyone else is interested) [ed http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/]
. There must be big areas they
don't see for weeks at a time and it makes our rendezvous even trickier than I
imagined. Not long to go for ISS 10 - they leave for Khazakstan in 10 days. We
are hoping that John Phillips in ISS 11 will be interested in continuing the
2 more ships
last night - one very big one crossed our stern at about a mile. Called them
but no answer. Interesting course - came from the west and turned south just
behind us. The other one came from the south east and passed astern. quite a
long way off.
Croo - keep up
the patter please - sometimes hard to respond to them all but v much
appreciated. Desperately awaiting exciting news about parsley.
Jenna - I'll
get to it - maybe not today and yes, I'd like to read your article please -
send it to the website as an attachment and ask Malcolm to paste it into one or
more emails - Thanks Mal, in advance :-)
and please include Jenna's address in your next - ta.
Neptune r/v unpredictable from here but at least 16 days and no, we won't be
swimming at least until the doldrums = dangerous and difficult.
Sitrep: 1100hrs 16 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 168
Motoring into a lumpy 35 knot north-easterly trying to make some headway (or at
least not lose ground). Both Alex and Peter are fine but the conditions are
uncomfortable. [ed: I think I heard the word shitty but that may have just
been interference :-) ] Radio reception lousy so probably no updates for a
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