1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil


Logs ( 26 )

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 16, 2005 – 1100hrs UTC

1100hrs 16 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 168

Via Satphone: 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 while.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 16, 2005 – 1330hrs UTC

1330hrs 16 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 169

And still here. Conditions awful – 35-40 kt NE, short steep sea, 10 – 20 metre wavelength, boat rolling wildly and pitching thro perhaps 40degrees. Cant sit, cant relax, every muscle group in action, dreadful sore backside from salt and pressure.  Everything wet, sun burning down, hands white, nails starting to peel off. Fun. Bloody south atlantic- cant wait to get out of here. Motoring @ 2 kt just to keep bow @ 45 degrees to wind and swell. Proper answer perhaps the trisail as steadier, but too difficult to get it up at the mo. Wonderful seaboat she is but Berri just too small for this stuff. Only other option is to heave to and lose meagre gains from yesterday. Shit. Time to call for The Doctor.

Sorry, no chatty updates till this goes – forecast another two days. Will try to stay in touch with short ones.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 16, 2005 – 1700hrs UTC

1700hrs 16 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 170Map Ref 170

Here we still are, part IV or whatever. Not a lot has changed except that the wind has dropped to 25 and we’ve got some sail up again. General conditions much the same but at least the boat is a bit steadier. Trickling ENE with the #5 and 3 reefs and expecting some sort of change tomorrow that may free us. Still hot, violent and wet and uncomfortable. Had a refreshing draught of the Archer’s Tool to recover from hard yakka putting sails up again.

News: Saw big ship on collision course last night – we were the give way vessel (even tho a sailing vessel, not likely he would have known or cared) so we altered course to starboard (as the rules prescribe) and called him and told him where we were and what we’d done. I suspect he had not seen us – he was then about 4 miles away – but he also altered and we passed down his port side about half a mile apart. Looked like an empty tanker probably en route Cape Town to Rio. Can’t relax at all out here – a radar alarm might help. Jenna – you asked about calling ships – Channel 16 VHF is the international distress frequency and until recently, all vessels above (I think) 300 tons, had to keep watch on 16. It is also the frequency on which to contact other vessels and if your message is long, or there are lots of other vessels around in range, then you go to another frequency. In our case last night, I simply called ‘Vessel at 25 south, 38 west, this is Berrimilla 2 on i6′ and he answered. They don’t always, especially as the rules have changed and a lot of this stuff is automated and a lot of this stuff is automated.

Kim, didn’t actually need to use supaglue on foot – seems that the duct tape and compression have worked. Not sure what will happen if we get really pearshaped again and I have to introduce the boot ferals to a still sticky wound – we shall see.

Arlette – boiled eggs for breakfast – beautifully cooked, but tricky without the cattle dog. Pete was wearing his suit.

I mentioned fingernails in the last one – they are going white underneath and separating from the finger. Interesting – I’ve seen it happen but not to me.

Gotta go – there’s a reasonable ISS pass tonight and must make the arrangements.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 17, 2005 - 0615hrs UTC │Surviving the Bus Shelter

0615hrs 17 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 171

Imagine you are sitting on the long metal or plastic bench in a bus shelter. I know this may be a difficult concept for some of you, but indulge me. In front of you, about a metre away, is a similar bench parallel to yours, just far enough away so that you can brace your back against the wall of the shelter and your feet against the opposite bench. Your arms are spread as wide as possible away from your sides so that the heel of each hand is braced against the edge of your bench. Imagine that the wall of the bus shelter is cut off at the height of the middle of your back and the left hand wall (as you sit) is just high enough to duck your head behind. It has a little canvas awning (called a dodger) you can just get your head under. This is a rough approximation of Berrimilla’s cockpit.

Comfortable? Close your eyes and imagine that the whole contraption is moving at a fast walking pace from your right to your left. There is a wind blowing from your left front into your face. Someone is throwing buckets of water up into this wind and you have to duck behind the dodger to stay dry.

Now for the fun part. Count slowly to six and fix this period in your mind. During this time, the cockpit moves vertically up and down about three metres, sometimes with abrupt changes of direction and there is a longer period – about half a minute – during which there is a background lift and drop of perhaps six metres behind the shorter motion. At the same time, in the six second period, the cockpit is rolling around the length of your bench, perhaps 20 degrees each way, so your legs and back have to keep you in place as your face alternately looks up at the stars and down at the water. The points where your backside and back are in contact with bench and wall are subject to changing pressure and the force of gravity which tries to slide you off the bench and back on. And the really fun part is that the cockpit is also pitching in time with both periods, quite violently over the short one, so the ends of your bench are lifted and dropped over perhaps 40 degrees, often with severe and abrupt stops as the left hand end pitches downwards. As it stops, you get an extra bucket of water directly in the face unless you duck…

Bracing against the pitch is very difficult and tiring and your backside and back tend to get very sore and battered, and the salt water is squeezed into your skin unless you have waterproof pants on and it’s really too warm for them – each cheek of your backside in turn takes the pressure and tries to slide forwards, sideways or backwards – your skin stays locked to the bench, but your pelvic bones move inside it against the muscles of your backside. Same effect with your back – the spine moves against the big muscles going up your back and they move against your skin.

It’s all very tiring and difficult. Going to windward in these conditions for long periods is always like that in small boats but it wasn’t in the brochure for this tour. I hope it stops soon…

Enjoy your breakfast!

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 17, 2005 – 1436hrs UTC

1436hrs 17 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 172

Change of scenery. Massive frontal system passed over us about 4 hours ago – big line squall at the front, rolling into the cu-nims behind – black, low, bulging with attitude. Gerry, if you’re reading this, could you please email my pic of the hurricane isabelle storm with the tanker’s bows in front to Malcolm – just to give everyone the flavour. Dropped all sail, put the headsail away, rolled the main out out of the track so we could use trisail if needed, took the windvane off and waited. Drizzle, darkness, low roll cloud moving in, lightning, thunder, crashing rain, even darker – too dark to read down below. We decided too good to miss so took turns naked in the cockpit with soap and stinging, cold rain. Wonderful feeling, tho a bit scary as lightning still around. Wind so strong, and so much rain, that we seemed to be floating in frothy milk with a bluish tinge. No horizon, no difference between water and sky except grey blue waves shadowy visible beside us. Eventually abated, front passed to the NE and we are now motoring slowly behind it to charge the battery and wait till the lull turns into something we can use. Filmed the front, but couldn’t get the frothy milk effect – just too much water moving more or less horizontally. Later – looks as if there will be more thunderstorms behind – may miss us to the west but I don’t suppose we’ve earned any remission yet.

[ed: Gerry’s photo is here]

We will soon cross the Tropic of Capricorn – level with Rockhampton, still just south of Rio. We will probably not go as far east as 30 W until we get north of Africa, but we have now done the miles for half way round the world, even if we haven’t yet covered the longitude (30 W would be half way as Sydney is at 150 E). Some cause for celebration. But we are a few days behind schedule after all this windward nonsense and the storms further south. Mid June is looking more likely for Falmouth.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 18, 2005 - 11hrs UTC

1100hrs 18 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 173

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose…Still in our shed in Fox Studios, Malcom – there’s a bus shelter just outside the gate – and I forgot to add yaw into the gyrating cockpit – up to 60 degrees either side of intended course, perhaps, over the shorter period. To humour the unbelievers, we’re now off the Disneyland Space Mountain roller coaster and Pirates of the Caribbean rides and on a slowly rolling calm sea with no wind, lightning to the south, lovely moon. Chatty updates back on the agenda.

Another why is it so? question perhaps for the physicists: this evening the sun set behind a small cloud bank just above the horizon. All the usual spectacular colours plus radiating spokes of alternating shadow and light caused, presumably by the irregular shape of the cloudbank. Not uncommon, although these were vivid pink and orange. The odd thing was that these spokes did not continue to diverge as they passed overhead as you might expect, but seemed to converge to a point opposite the setting sun on the eastern horizon. I wasn’t able to follow individual bars continuously from setting sun to eastern horizon because they were not visible directly overhead but the effect to the east was a series of alternating white and grey spokes converging to a point. How does this happen? Is it some sort of refraction or just an illusion?

12 hours later – still oily calm – hot – water 28 degrees and really does feel like a warm bath. We’re burning a bit of diesel to try to get up into the bottom of the trades. No seabirds, one very big container ship yesterday, Dinos in brilliant phosphorescent splendour last night in the calm. Flying fish around, not yet sacrificially motivated – give em time. Found a ziplok bag with 6 minties in it today, from some bygone age. They are soft to almost runny and I’m having a happy time unrolling the papers and scraping off the sticky mess. The new Berri taste sensation.

Newsless out here – unless we get it from all y’all – but assume that the ISS 11 crew are now up with ISS 10 in their aggregation of tin cans and chicken wire apartment block – with Italian cheese too (thanks Ben -good to hear you’re back in residence)- lucky buggers. We’ve still got kilos of Old Bitey from Hobart. And we still have some Hobart bacon – it has lasted way beyond expectations.

We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn last night. WOOOHOOO. Progress is happening, but sooo slowly. Now sending some of these updates through Nova Scotia – XJN714, range about 4300 miles – just a little closer than Falmouth.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 18, 2005 – 2245hrs UTC

2245hrs 18 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 174

This will be a difficult one to write. It is half formed in my head and I’ll try and stumble through it and bring y’all along for the ride. Perhaps the old marathon analogy to start with: a marathon course is a 42.2 km stretch of (usually) roadway. No more, no less, especially if Steve Jackson measured it. What you then make of it depends on experience, training, attitude, planning and what you had for breakfast – in no special order. It is indifferent and intolerant – you start, you finish or you don’t. Whether you start is another decision and one that needs some bottle to make, occasionally. I’ve run (I think) 26 marathons and I have never started one convinced that I will finish it, but in each of them there has come a moment when I have known for certain that I will. It usually comes at around 30k but never ever before half way (ignore, for the purpose of this analogy, the Whitworth dictum that half way comes at 36k – that’s a mental rather than a metric concept).

So ever since about June last year, when I knew that my job was finished, this voyage has been in my mind. All the time – as a series of lists, of hurdles to clear (like registering the boat), jobs to do, planning, fixing and the thousands of little details any one of which could have been a showstopper before we started and still could be out here. It has been something that I have carried all the way, with a lot of help from Hilary, Pete, Stephen Jackson, Malcolm Robinson and many many others who have contributed with generosity and skill. But at no time have I ever dared to think about arriving in Falmouth. Rounding the Horn, arriving in the Falklands – milestones, but the job was still ahead. As it turned out, a reasonable position to take – any examination of our track and the logs from Stanley to here would show how hard it has been to get this far. We weren’t expecting 80 knots once, let alone twice, after Stanley and every stage of the trip from Hobart has tended to confound my expectations in some way. Research failure perhaps, but I imagine every experience of the journey would be different anyway.

All that changed this morning. The grib file forecast that the wind would go from zero to something, and the something would be from the east somewhere. And that’s what happened. We are in a SE breeze, just as forecast, making 6+ knots, faster in the right direction than at any time since the Horn – and the forecast says it’s with us at least as far as the equator. There’s lots of work to do, but I’m now convinced we will get to Falmouth barring the container ship in the night, which should be entirely avoidable. It’s a good feeling – the weight is really off and we can relax a bit for the first time since Sydney. So relax with us, eat your cornflakes and off to work, all y’all and have a beer with us later. And thanks for coming along this far – I don’t know how long you’ll have to hang on till Falmouth but watch this space. If anyone wants to register ETA predictions with Malcolm, I’ll shout the owner of the closest guess a six pack of Dr Coopers. All predictions to be in before we get to the Azores and the earliest best guess gets the goodies. No discussion will be entertained.

[ed: you can use the competition page to submit your estimates]

Thanks for the article, Stephen – Malcolm has OCR’d it and will send it to us. We cant receive anything but plain text.

Kim – I think they probably did tell it as it was for them – they had 37 (KC) to nearly 60 (FC, AR) ft boats with room to sit reasonably comfortably below without bracing and probably hadn’t had to cut up their cockpit cushions to make padding for a recalcitrant fuel tank. We have only the floor (cushionless) or our bunks to sit on/in below decks – this is a tiny boat by comparison. Generally, the bigger the boat, the easier the motion and we’re just the wrong length for the seas we’ve been pretending to get recently, hence our Fox Studios mock up bus shelter effort. Must have convinced some of you.

Must go and check for container ships out there in the studio.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 19, 2005 – 0400hrs UTC

0400hrs 19 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 175
[ed: brief admin update – posted the position because I thought it might help with your estimates of when they get to Falmouth]

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 20, 2005 - 1100hrs UTC

1100hrs 20 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 176

It’s bite the bullet time out here for these little black ducks. We’re in the bottom of the trades, but way too far west – say 300 miles – as a result of the bashing we got further south. The SE trades become NE trades this close to S America so once again, we are hard on the wind. No way we can clear the NE corner and even if we could, it would not be easy once round. We can do just a bit better that Cook in the Endeavour in these conditions – perhaps 45 degrees off the wind – so we’re off on a losing tack just south of east towards Isla Martin Vaz to get us far enough out to pick up the true S Easterlies and give us some leverage. A bit frustrating but that’s the ball game. We’re looking at about two days of it, I think. Belt of huge rainstorms during the night didn’t help, with wind from all over the place and a very big ship looming out of the murk and losing itself again behind sheets of water. Cant ever assume they have seen us so we just get out of the way.

There was a moonbow too – lovely ghostly white arch down moon in front of a big black raincloud with just the hint of a spectrum around it. The whole internal area of the arch was ethereally white too. If there were angels up there, they’d have been blowing their trumpets sitting on the edge of it. I’ve only ever seen it once before, in a recent Hobart race and I think I wrote about it in one of the logs.

Tragedy struck yesterday – or more accurately, we discovered it – our ready use supply of The Doctor and other goodies in our stainless iceboxes have really got electrolysis and are going off fast – we had to throw a few dead ones and we now have a bucket full of corroded but still just ok cans that we have to get through real fast. Lesson for anyone listening – you have to protect them somehow if you store them in metal iceboxes for any length of time.

My ETA – guaranteed to be wrong – for Falmouth, as a guide for any punters, is June 4th @ 1200. Given our present situation, it is far too optimistic.

Malcom – that fellow Bligh who just got into Kupang – wasn’t he on TV or in the movies? There’s an old poster here in the studio. And thanks to you and the others who gave me the railway lines /parallel light rays explanation for the converging down sun effect the other evening. I’m not fully convinced – think about squirting parallel water at your dog with a hose – you dont get laminar flow around its body and the drops get scattered outwards and you can see this from the opposite side of the dog. I assumed I was seeing the reflections from the similarly cloud-scattered light but perhaps not.

Siobhan, Hi – Pete will answer your questions.

JJ, the dodger’s fine thanks – why would you want to change it? The boat is too small for a bigger one. This one deals with green water admirably too – the angle is right. And even I could run it faster!

Helga, Hi – sometimes York St has its attractions!.

Greg – glad to hear about prop (what sort of prop? how did you solve it) and mooring. We’ve been wondering how you and Firebird are faring

George, yes please – a mooring in Lymington from say mid july to Fastnet on 7 Aug would be grand – but we have very limited budget so would take whatever is available in the basement. Thanks.

Gary, well done – I dips me lid to any headbanger who can stick it out for 10 OZ Ironman races. But why? And why are we out here??

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 21, 2005 -1100hrs UTC

1100hrs 21 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 177

Our dig out to sea yesterday paid off earlier that expected – the wind freed a bit in the evening and we were able to tack back on to a course parallel to the coast and abut 200 miles out. Still holding it this morning and fingers, toes and prehensile eyelashes firmly crossed. Still not easy but ok as long as the wind stays around 20 – 22 knots and the sea stays down. About a 1kt adverse current, as expected

Jan K, thanks for warning about tropical ulcers on the bum – exactly what I’ve been afraid of since we got on to the roller coaster down by Montevideo – seen them before and terrifying for us in this situation. I already have the little red blistery bumps and I’ve been doing a lot of standing with light airy pants and no undies. We have a couple of bits of foam rubber which work as pads under the thighs to transfer the pressure when we have to sit. No way of avoiding the motion of the boat though. I’m treating mine with metho and savlon, but there may be something more effective in the medical kit. Any suggestions? Burn cream? Betadine, if we can find it? Is there a doctor in the house? Michael G, if you’re still following the saga, could you please advise?

Not much else to report. Lots of flying fish, only one seabird in about two weeks, Portuguese Men O’ War around, Dinos in full bloom at night. I looked at the water yesterday in bright sunlight to see if they are visible – there is what looks like brown dust on the surface and tiny silvery reflections just below and as far down as I could see.

Bucket of scrofulous cans going down reasonably well but there’s a sensible limit to the rate of depletion – too many big ships around for comfort. Still using Hobart bacon and cheese, Falklands spuds and eggs and onions. Arlette’s dunkin’ shortbread still going too. Mungies germinating properly in the warmer climate too, as a bit of fresh protein. On to canned and dried food mostly and soaked dried fruit and muesli for breakfast. Cup of two teabag tea in the middle of the night for me and blast off coffee first thing.

Leroy and Salizhan return to earth on Monday. Looks as if we will not crack that rendezvous now – the moon is nearly full and there’s too much ambient light, even if Leroy has time to look out of his window, which I doubt. Berrimilla weighs about the same as the capsule that will bring them home.

Hope you’ve all got your party hats for tomorrow. 39 years ago, I was packing my suitcase to emigrate to Oz – we had a big farewell birthday party at home and a couple of weeks later, I was in Perth. Then Sydney after hitch-hiking across, then Brisbane with Adastra by the end of May. If anyone is interested in that particular hat, literally, have a look at www.adastra www.adastra.adastron.com .adastron.com. Fascinating record of a bit of Australian aviation history. Another link with NASA – Wally Borman bought one of the aircraft (the Mustang) after Adastra sold it.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 22, 2005 – 1330hrs UTC │Alex’s 63rd Birthday

1330hrs 22 Apr 2005 UTC 17’41”S 035’01”W Map Ref 178

A birthday quickie. Not having much fun out here. We seem to be locked in under the NE corner of Brazil and the weather or the Gods are conspiring to keep us here. The real trades are tantalisingly just over the horizon but we can’t break out of our little pattern and get up there. Once again biting the bullet and trucking east to try and find the freeing wind. Long way still to go. Tedious. Otherwise, nice birthday = spoke to Hilary, Katherine, Isabella and my mother – satphones are very seriously wonderful gadgets. Pete and I have just knocked over the last 2 bottles of Dr Coopers, vintage November ’04 and very special they were. Good quality of sludge in the brew too. Rum butter and soaked froot to go. WOOOHOOO.

The ETA guesses so far range from May 25 to June 9. Keep ‘em coming. June 9 is looking good!

[ed: There’s been one for much later than that but maybe Alex has put it out of his mind because it’s too horrible to contemplate :-)]

Kris – go to the brewery if you get a chance – the draught there is very special.

Woc – well done Cam. May be an omen somewhere – Cam Johnston was the stroke of the MUBC world champion coxless lightweight 4 when I was still playing back in about 1975. Go Cam. Don’t ever stop racing, no matter how hopeless it seems. Pessimists sometimes get nice surprises.

David – ta – see you soon.

Alex L don’t know what to say – but she’s a good boat- just a bit small for this undertaking.

Eggburger – glad you found us. We’ll do our best – you’d better be there.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 22 2005 - 1950hrs UTC

1950hrs 22 Apr 2005 UTC

Greetings all,
I have to answer a few questions.

Siobhan in sunny London asks “are you still enjoying it out there“.
Tonight I’m enjoying it,not so last night.

The same watch last night was a horror.We had lots of rain squalls, wind 5-35 kts from every direction short steep lumpy seas.The self steering couldn’t handle this so I hand steered standing in the rain.This watch starts with the moon going down and ends at dawn.In heavy cloud conditions it’s pitch black.Late in the watch I noticed the hint of a light to the left of our bow,you could only see it occasionally through the gloom.Thought it was a ship so switched on the radio ch.16.The light was steady on the bow but seemed to be moving left to right,then the light disappeared.Two things,it could in a rain squall or it could be something more sinister,a boat switching it’s lights off to avoid detection.I didn’t want to consider the second option,so altered course a little to the left and waited.Nothing on the radio and nothing sighted.After what seemed a bloody long time I had enough,I tacked the boat to port and moved 100 deg. further left. A little later it started to get light I looked astern and there emerging from the low cloud and gloom was this huge ship about a mile away. It was one of those modern box shaped slab sided grey megamonsters. The bit I enjoyed was watching him move quickly away from us. Was he aware of us I don’t know but at that distance we would definitely be a blip on his radar.

You seem concerned about other injuries and general miseries. Don’t be, all is well now ,Alex stubbed his big toe and later spent too long in the bath and ended up with grandpa fingers.

Other questions, are we worried about lightning.
Definitely but that result is in the lap of the gods. The mast and all major metal parts are earthed in the water via large earth plates. I think the boat will survive a strike,the problem is with the electronics they cannot handle a huge voltage surge we would lose gps,satphone,computer,HF radio,and all our instruments. Not a pleasant prospect but we could continue on using paper charts and celestial navigation which I have been practicing with good results. You also ask about problems now with the trade winds. In the seventies Jeanne and I were sensible and crossed the Atlantic and Pacific with the trades which blow from basically east to west behind us. We are now crossing the trades from south to north and because we are so far west now they are a headwind.

Your last question Berri’s longest voyage before this epic was about a thousand miles. Thanks Siobhan see you when we arrive.

John and Sherryl,congrats on the state title win,you deserve it. I didn’t see Sampi’s mark but those guys seem to have an uncanny knack of knowing where the ball will end up even before it’s kicked. They have a natural hand eye control perhaps this transfers in some way to a feel for the helm and what this is telling you about the boat’s speed direction etc.

Jeanne is in Perth at the moment visiting our daughter Eve who now lives there and is working on an oil rig offshore. From the emails they both love the west especially Margaret River area,Jeanne is due back in Sydney today teaching starts again Monday.

Woc when I get back I might take up rowing. Calm seas Mosman Rowers for G and T’s at sunset it all sounds good. We will definitely see you in England for a beer in July. Tell me Woc how was the sphincter performing during the three hour wait for the final result. Once again Cam congrats on a huge effort it must make all the work and pain worthwhile it’s a great honor to represent your country.

I have a question:

When is the dog watch,is it the one that finishes just before dawn. Why is it called the dog watch, is it something to do with the dog star visible in the northern latitudes?

[ed: responses are summarised here]

That’s all for now we’ll talk again later cheers Pete.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 23, 2005 - 0700hrs UTC

0700hrs 23 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 179

I’ve just crashed sailmail and lost the message I’d been working on for most of yesterday and tonight. So here goes all over:

Odd sort of birthday – from the sailing angle, no fun at all – becalmed most of the day in searing heat, boat a sweatbox, no escape. Redeemed by satphone calls from my family and the last 2 bottles of Dr Cooper’s special which we’d been cooling in our outside fridge ( a halyard bag hanging on the rail in the shade, bottles in a couple of wet socks, kept dampened, Coolgardie fashion. Works really well and cools by enough to make a big difference in yesterday’s heat). Still locked in by the wind pattern close in to the NE corner of Brazil – seems to be moving north at the same speed as we are and we just can’t break out.

We decided to park the boat last night and sleep – got her all snugged down and a little breeze came a-zephing along. Grew to about 18-20 kts and we were moving again – compass said 060, log said 6 knots. Huge pachydermatiferous lift of spirits. but only a tentative lower case wooohooo because the obsessively stern Examiner for this little headbang hasn’t let us stay happy for more that a few hours at a time.

Stunning, exhilararing night – almost full moon, right over head, some fluffy cumulus around, reflecting moonlight or etched around their edges as they passed across the moon – moon with spectral halo as the clouds passed (the night before, it had a huge misty halo, completely circular, radius perhaps 20 moon diameters – makes being out here rather special sometimes) and only first and second magnitude stars visible in the moonlight – just a wisp of the Milky Way around the Southern Cross. Light enough to read.

Later – I’ve been out there hand steering – we get little, tight local rain showers- often only 200 metres across, wind changes rapidly, Kevvo loses the plot and – usually – tacks us and needs rescuing. When the shower has passed, the wind drops to nothing for sometimes an hour or so and hand steering to keep the boat moving is the go. Gains all of a few boat lengths and I often wonder why we do it – psychologically better to be making progress, I suppose. All progress at the mo is right on the edge – hard on the wind and sometimes just heading to clear the corner of Brazil, sometimes not. The other tack is a definite loser but we may still need the bullet in the teeth later to get around. That Examiner again.

Lilian, thanks for birthday message and intercession with the Examiner – keep up the good work, we need all the help we can get!

Radio propagation abysmal, so you may not see this for some time.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 24, 2005 – 0400hrs UTC

0400hrs 24 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 180

Somewhat concerned – have not heard from Malcolm or the website for three days – hope all ok over there. Explains why we haven’t responded specifically to anything you nay have sent.

[ed: Alex satphoned this afternoon. Looks like all the stuff I’ve been sending for the last 3 days has ended up in a bit bucket somewhere. Nothing lost permanently but we need to sort the problem out before I start resending. Lot’s of good stuff in there too – including most of the birthday wishes – bugger]

Can it be that the Examiner has taken her eyes off the ball – or just decided to give us a break? Last night, today, tonight – nice breeze, still hard on but not uncomfortable, tracking to miss Brazil at Cape San Roque and meet the equator at about 28 west. In about a week. The gate seems to have cracked open enough to let us slip through. Too early to celebrate and anyway, we’re now in reduced Consultation mode here in the studio – can’t be convincing unless we’re a bit thirsty and we’re supposed to be on a Twocan per day regime. Anyone familiar with old advertising campaigns for the Doctor will appreciate the awfulness of that one…

Sunset – you have to be here to appreciate the beauty of it all – layers of cloud from high, irregular cirrus and altostratus – mot much more than mist, some tasselly mid layer clouds and a few of the usual rain bearing cumulus around the horizon with interesting shapes. Vivid iridescent silver blue background low in the west, deepening to inky grey over the top and down to the east. Flaming pink and orange and red on the clouds, orange low in the west going pink then red – and all around the northern horizon, grey silhouetted clouds low down opening into the distant universe through pink and orange haze. Quite nice really.

And the moon – one day from full – already up in the east with a halo through the haze.

Later – still clocking better than 5 kts, still heading east of 30 at the equator. wooohooo. Now have a grib file from the equator to 10 deg north – the NE trades look a bit fearsome – mostly N with very little E and about 25 – 30 knots, so at least 600 miles of hard slog when we get up there. Quite small windless belt at the equator – fingers etc. once again crossed.

One visit from a seabird – probably the same one. Greyish, a bit hawklike, white bands on outer ends of wings.

Both Bums still cause for concern but we think perhaps under control. Doing a lot of standing and awkward perching to keep the weight off the pointy bits. Boat’s motion relatively easy now, but not looking forward to NE trades.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 25, 2005 - 0000hrs UTC

0000hrs 25 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 181

We’ve been sitting on our milk crates here in the studio wondering what’s happened to the old geezer who trundles over with a trolley with printouts of all your emails to the website. He hasn’t been since the 21st, so no mail since then. But he just turned up with a few scraps of paper and we think there must have been a problem with Sailmail. There is still a lot missing, but sailmail are pretty good and nothing gets lost when the wires come down – just delayed – so we’ve heaps to look forward to.

Meantime, it really does look as if the gates are creaking open enough to let us through. The Examiner has something else up her sleeve, no doubt – perhaps the NE trades. We’re hooning along at 6-7 knots towards the equator, hot, dry, fingernails and bums coming good, hands drying out – and flaking a bit – and now on subsistence rations of Medicinal Compound. But we’re made of stern stuff here in the studio – we shall overcome! Whatever happened to Joan Baez? Sensibly retired, perhaps and no comebacks.

Lots to report, but will wait till we get another delivery from the old geezer’s trolley so we can respond if anyone has bothered to write.

Meantime, Happy Birthday to Hilary’s Aunty Gladys, who was 94 last week – sorry we missed it, Gladys – thought it was this week.

And it’s ‘Be kind to Fenwick’ week. Hi Allan – so what’s a Kreng then? We’ll try really really hard to respect your feelings and not be rude to you. Difficult, but.

And here comes the trolley man with our printouts – goody. Wooohooo – lots of mail and we may be back in business. Dog watches – thanks everyone and Patrick O’Brian surely must have been joking – even he couldn’t be serious about curtailed? Could he? I’ve never managed to get past the first couple of pages of any of his books, so not able to judge. I’ve been reading Colin Dexter (Inspector Morse) who flaunts his scholarship with such flair and humour – I love it when people with something to brag about do it so well. Some of his quotations to follow – relevant to this little excursion.

Special thanks to Michael G re tropical ulcers. We seem to be getting on top of them, so to speak, but your advice re padding etc really useful. We have 28 tabs Vibramycin and also Cephalexin (not sure what this is for – and our notes got a bit mangled in the knockdown). Unable to get Cicatrin powder any more, unfortunately – that would have fixed an elephant.

On yer bike, Ron – I cant remember what happened yesterday let alone enough for a biography. Should have got on to me before senility set in. Or was it the effects of too many Consultations?

More later – must check the proscenium for container ships, cleen ze teef and sleep for my three hours.

Quote for the day:
Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine so I may wet my mind and say something clever.
(Aristophanes, quoted in Dexter, Colin, Death is now my neighbour, Pan, London 1996)

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 25, 2005 – 1430hrs UTC

1430hrs 25 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 182

Long list of acknowledgements – Thanks to everyone who mailed us over the last few days – Ian & Maggie, Olivia, Tricia, Johnny B ((thanks for the morale booster – coming from you, dems fightin’ woids), Arlette, RichardD (Pete will write to you) Phil, Hilary, MG, K&C, TimV, – and, of course, Fenwick of the tender feelings to whom we must be ever kind. Hilary sent us some information from the Whitbread site about bum/nappy rash and ulcers – basically, keep it clean, dry and out in the sun – apparently there are some gruesome photos. Essentially, that’s what we are doing.

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data (Arthur Conan Doyle, quoted by Dexter, op.cit.). I should never speculate about the Examiner. She’s got us in a band of rain showers and low cloud – windless except under and around the showers, hot, humid, water 29+ degrees. Spent the night in party gear hand steering all over the studio floor from one squall to the next – snaking slowly north but doing it really hard. Sun may change things but not looking helpful just now. Astonishing how quickly the change came in last night – brilliant full moon, clear sky, went below for ten minutes to send message and came up to 8/8 overcast, big rain showers all around. Where does it come from??

Pete saw a pod of whales this morning. He thinks they were pilot whales. By the time I’d got on deck, they had gone.

This update will increment as the day progresses – must go on deck and sort Kevvo. He doesn’t like not having any wind – neither do I. Cloud now gone, endless blue, burning sun (hot from sunrise onwards – real tropical weather.) New grib file looks grim – no wind worth having for at least three days. Risking a bit of diesel to try to get into some wind further north. Will give it 10 hours only, then we wallow for as long as it takes.

Next hurdle for me is the equator – mental and physical – still more than 800 miles away and we’re hurtling towards it at a very slow walking pace. It’s looking to be a long process and the gate sure isn’t open yet. We still need to get 500 miles north to clear Cabo de San Roque. The Examiner’s technique seems to be alternating elation and depression to chip away at the psyche. Won’t work, kiddo.

25/1300 Just tried sailmail – no way I can send this at the mo and probably not for at least 4 hours, so I’ll save it and add as we go.

1430 – glassy calm, some more rain around, so a possibility of wind…Will try sailmail again. Sent one of these through sailmail Belgium yesterday, which must be a milestone of sorts.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 26, 2005 – 0300hrs UTC

0300hrs 26 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 183

HF radio has intermittent fault. Would not turn on earlier – will try to trace, meantime pse carry on as normal…

[ed: this message was probably meant for me but, thinking about it, I reckon it’s probably good advice for everyone!]

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 26, 2005 - 1240hrs UTC

1240hrs 26 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 184

Relevant Sunday Times crossword clue clue for all y’all, courtesy of my sister: “Howling wind that delights the shopkeeper” 7,5. A pity ours isn’t! I will post the answer if anyone is driven mad by it.

Panic last night – HF radio would not switch on – decided to leave it till daylight then check connections, fuses etc, but then it came on all by itself – no idea what is going on but now a source of tension every time I press the power button. We are in a mess without it as far as all this email goes and would have to rely in SatcomC at 1c/keystroke. Very short updates!. Reluctant to fiddle with it as long as it is still working. Anyone else out there with an ICOM M802 HF with a similar experience? Is there an overheat cut off? A surge cutoff? Will have to read the manual carefully.

We are still moving slowly more or less north, pointing now at Recife, but hoping for a lift (to the right, or east) to get us round the corner in a few days. Not looking promising. Trying really hard not to look at the GPS calculator in SoB as the equator seems to recede into the distance as we move north. Initium est dimidium facti…not! (Dexter again – wonder if that’s his real name)

SimonB, would it be possible to set up the track data as a sort of interactive CD so that people reading any subsequent book could look at relevant days and see what happened in detail? I’m renaming the track text file now every month or so and will save to gigastik – started to read the instructions!

Malcom – I remember talking about the Baffin Island marathon, but we haven’t had an email from you which mentions it – if you sent one, it may have got lost somewhere unless I missed it somehow in the Falklands flurry. As for change in emphasis, I suppose my view of the world changes as we move north. The Horn was a huge barrier, just as is the equator but without the added dread, so Falmouth is much more the focus than is the daily routine. We still bake bread, but it gets awful hot in the cabin during the day even with everything open (not always possible) so perhaps not as often as before. And it hardly seems like news! The desalinator is on whenever the engine is running, but we have enough water to get us home without it. As for wiggly amps, the fine pitch turbine with its broken blade still puts out more power than the coarse, and BP Solar is great in full sunlight, giving about 4 amps, but not so good under cloud. We have enough with both to get by without diesel. Hard to judge exactly, but I think we have about 100 ltrs of diesel left – not really enough but we cant carry anything like enough in a boat this size. 6 jerry cans and a 45 ltr aux tank in the cockpit plus the main tank take up a lot of space.

Barry, thanks for bum stuff – we hope all now under control, but still needs care and attention.

jennifer, I’ll write to you separately, but thanks for Anzac Day note. Glad to hear Leroy, Salizhan and snails home safe. Haven’t heard from ISS 11 crew but we live in hope! They have our number. Our contact with the ISS seems to have touched the imaginations of just about everyone we have heard from – certainly grabbed ours – and there’s a kid in the Falklands who thought it was the coolest thing ever that people he knew spoke to spacemen. I hope he goes off and gets a first in physics and maths! We’re working on a longer term plan with Leroy to build on the interest and to recognise his contribution. Y’all will be the first to know if we can pull the right strings. I think your depressing ETA estimate is closer than mine, but as for the book on shipping Berri home – put your house on the negative – you obviously haven’t seen my bank balance. Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano – engagingly translated as “our aim? just a brain that’s not addled with pox, and a clean bill of health from the docs” (more Dexter) – and we’ll sail. There is a sort of integrity in the original plan which would be completely lost if we fail to try.

And for all the runners out there who swear by ASICS shoes – Anima Sana In Corpore Sano is a different version – a sound mind in a healthy body.

Here endeth patronising for the day.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 26, 2005 – 2245hrs UTC

2245hrs 26 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 185

Everything that can ever be said about the night sky has been said somewhere. I have just spent a mesmerising hour on deck, about two hours after sunset, no moon to start with, but the whole of the Great Bear – all 7 stars – low on the northern horizon, upside down of course and with the Southern Cross at about 30 degrees in the south. We were bisecting the line between them going east. Magic all on its own. Then the moon rose – huge, golden red, its deep burnish on the water on our starboard bow as if we are sailing along its edge into the light. Phosphorescence all around the boat. Bear and Cross fading as the moon rises but still visible. One of life’s great rewards. WOOOHOOO! Worth a Consultation even though we’re absteeming.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 27, 2005 – 0820hrs UTC

0820hrs 27 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 186

We are about to enter day 33 of this leg so we’ve been at sea for just over a month. Perhaps a few numbers are worth putting down. On a voyage like this, it doesn’t make much sense to talk about half way in miles or days – you can do it directly off the chart, in which case, half way is at about 2 degrees south, given that the Falklands are at about 55 south and Falmouth is at 50 north. The size of the job ahead was driven home earlier this evening as I looked with some fondness at the Great Bear – now upside down in the bottom 15 degrees or so of the northern horizon. We have to climb around the globe underneath it till it is right way up in the bottom 40 degrees or so of our then southern horizon. Imagine, if you can, being a very small flea on its daily stroll from its home in the crease at the top of an elephant’s hind leg, around the vast expanse of rump through the skin flakes, hair, dried grot  and other wild life into its sunbaking spot in the sun up above the tail. That’s us, and we haven’t yet quite reached the vertical part of the rump – we’re still ‘underneath’ the curve.

We will actually sail perhaps 30% more than the chart distance. Our GPS trip log reads 3413 miles – slightly under the actual, as the GPS was off for a few miles. The autohelm ‘through the water’ log distance travelled is 3634 miles (also slightly under – perhaps 20 miles) and we are 2740 miles from Port Stanley in a straight line. We are also 4030 from Falmouth in a straight line. Half of (2740+4030) 6770 is 3385 miles, so we are still 322 miles, roughly, from half way in straight lines. We estimated 70 days so we are a bit behind schedule but not too bad, and I hope the North Atlantic is a bit kinder that the South has been. Say another 33 days – and June 4 is looking good.

At 1209 deg. south, we are 729 miles from the equator. Still! That will put us officially half way round the world. Perhaps the Examiner will relent a little as we go north. Right now, we are heading east and just – just – holding the line and not losing ground. When we tack, in about 12 hours or when the wind heads us, we should be pointing at the equator at about 33 west. We are much too far away to predict whether we will be able to aim straight for the Azores  on a true NE wind or have to go further west with the more Northerly component of the NE trades which seems to dominate up there at the moment.

Have I bored you all glassy eyed? All this factored into the return trip to Sydney makes our enterprise look very shaky indeed. To get back in time for the Hobart race, we must average a bit under 5 knots for the return voyage – we will need a very slack Examiner and a lot of luck but it is just possible. About 0.1 probability, perhaps. Anyone care to run a book?

And, in the words of a wise old bird not far from BrisVegas, mental half way for the whole venture (Sydney to Sydney) will be at Cape Leeuwin. Seems to be at about 40k in marathon terms, so about right!

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 28, 2005 - 0000hrs UTC

0000hrs 28 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 187

On numbers, continued from the last one, I overlooked the fact that Hobart is nearly 4 degrees west of Sydney, at 147 degrees E, so we had already sailed more than 180 degrees – half way round by longitude – when we crossed 33 W and whenever we cross the equator, we are half way around in fact. Woohoo. Lower case still.

And I’ve just pulled in another grib file and iff (= if and only if) it is accurate, we’re outta here and on our bikes. We are now just the right side of the pattern and the grib predicts a big veer (clockwise change in wind direction, bringing it further behind us so making it easier to go north) tomorrow and the next day, with an increase in strength. Can’t help feeling that the Examiner hasn’t yet relented, so looking for the hidden meaning. All y’all, cross fingers, toes and eyelashes pliz.

The guest book is up, according to your suggestions – please stick your monikers therein for us. Big thanks. And thanks Malcolm for getting it together.

[ed: Gust Book is here]

Another of your suggestions – from many of you -is that we should turn this into some sort of book. I’m a bit tentative, but perhaps you could think about how to do it and give us some ideas. The material available is

- these logs, mostly Alex, the raw immediacy stuff, pain, fear, elation and the up front descriptions for your breakfast tables,(really, my diary of the trip – don’t have the emotional energy to hand write one as well)

- Pete’s handwritten journal – I haven’t read it, but I suspect it’s much more introspective, analytical and generally thoughtful and has details about sail changes, wind, food etc. – perfect foil for my stuff, with a bit of luck

- The archive of weather maps, grib files (if we can reproduce them) weather faxes from west of the Horn and the global track charts all from the website

- the full GPS track data from SoftwareonBoard which we could perhaps turn into an interactive CD or just reproduce the track in very large scale for the interesting bits, like the knockdowns and storms

- your emails, or as many of them as you might allow us to print. They would fill in the background for a lot of the updates

- some photos and video – not, unfortunately, of the really bad stuff or the more interesting bits like really hairy sail changes on a heaving rolling pitching foredeck with the spreader lights and the orange storm jib adding a lairy glow to the sheets of water passing by – no opportunity to record and not really what either of us wanted to do in the storms anyway. Sad, but there it is.

- and I have a recording of our first conversation with Leroy Chiao, which we will ask him for permission to use.

I’m just waiting for the moon to rise – tonight we’re heading directly for the point where the Pole star will rise in a week or so – Great Bear across the sky to the north, Cross behind us and Orion low in the west. More magic, especially as it’s very dark still and the stars are vivid and go deeep into the universe and time.

Hi Vivian – great to hear from you – glad you liked the description. You would be looking at the Great Bear from the right side!

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 28, 2005 – 0010hrs UTC

Hello to all out there,

For us the long awaited SE trades seem to be the NE trades. We sailed east a lot of yesterday and all last night to get a better angle for the final assault to slide past the large bump on the NE corner of Brazil. It’s hard to imagine that we have passed some of the most interesting cities like Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Rio and not had a refreshment stop.  Last night I was reading some of the daily journal that I’ve been writing I’ll quote some of it now, this was written on Monday April 11   ” For the last two days whenever I’ve been looking at our position on the computer chart I’ve been amazed at how the boat seems to be pulled towards Rio. The computer produces a beautiful coloured chart of South America and the Atlantic, our position is given at the end of an arrow which points in the direction we are heading. The length of the arrow indicates the speed of the boat so this arrow surges back and forth with the changes in boat speed as we go through waves while progressing to windward. Looking at it reminds me of a dog on a leash dragging the owner to where it wants to go.  Is this like the call of the Sirens of old trying to lead us to the fleshpots of Rio.” Of course we did not stop but we could have invented a stop giving lurid details of our stay which may have entertained some of you but we must remember that we also cater to a young and impressionable audience so decorum must reign. Just as an aside I think if we had gone for the boobs bums and beaches option it would not have lasted long with our bums in such a sorry state we would have been quickly removed from the beach as a health hazard. A virtual stop would have helped to explain our slow progress   ahhh  well, I’m sure Alan Fenwick would have enjoyed a rather more racey version of this part of the journey.

We havn’t seen much wildlife recently, there has been one bird visiting us for brief periods the last few days though.  The bird is brown/grey in colour, it has white dots along the leading edge of it’s wings looks a little like aboriginal dot painting ( perhaps I have got this wrong it might have spent last night perched under another bird ).It’s larger than a seagull and smaller than a young albatross. Just before dawn a couple of days ago a pod of about 6 pilot whales casually swam across our bow then sounded. On the last voyage across the Pacific (nearly 30 years ago,time to do that again) pilot whales would swim next to the boat for hours at a time, I think this was in the area of the Galapagos Islands.

Life on board at the moment is divided by the day/night extremes. At night the sailing is beautiful, soft warm breeze, clear skies loaded with stars. Last night was special, we were sailing east and with an almost full moon above so we had this glittering silver highway to sail down. During the day things are not so good. It’s a lot hotter, water temp is now 30 deg and who knows what the air temp is, perhaps 40 maybe 50 in the sun. The wind is generally stronger than at night so boat goes faster, more water over the deck so hatches have to be closed. In these conditions almost impossible to sleep during the day so we survive on about 5 hours sleep you can manage during the two off night watches. I’m writing this at night and our course has lifted about 40 deg since sundown, this might be the wind we have been waiting for.

Many thanks for all your emails on ” dogwatch “. I still want to know about the dog star and the hot humid days in summer when it was visible were known as dog days, I’m sure this was mentioned in old Greek writings.

Richard D thanks for the letter. No I’m not the Peter Crozier you worked with at Macquarie Uni. but this leads to a little research required on the name Crozier.

Francis Crozier was in command of a ship called the Terror which along with the Erebus captained by Ross completed a British expedition to the Antarctic in the 1840’s. The Terror and Erebus had visited the Falklands so I checked the museum and archives. There was no information except some letters from Ross to officials complaining about the quality and high cost of provisions, funny how nothing really changes. Any information you could find on Crozier would be helpful.

I had best end here I’ve exceeded my limit.        Cheers Pete.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 28, 2005 – 1200hrs UTC

1200hrs 28 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 188

It’s beginning to look just a teensy bit promising – we may just be on our bikes and on the way but with this particular Examiner, ain’t nothing certain – I can sense her presence everywhere. And, I suppose by some sort of freudian association, are you out there Ma’am, reading this nonsense and, if so, please give us a blast – be good to hear how you are getting on. Otherwise, Gerry, report please – I’ll write to you separately anyway – grib is interesting and basically very accurate as long as you understand what you are looking at. Took us some time.

Writing this in the early morning, local time – sun about 15 degrees, really hot already – I’m running with sweat at the nav table and the laptop is hot to the touch. Not helped by having the Cone of Silence partly lowered to be safe. Pete trying to sleep – we have both hatches cracked open but not enough to get any real draught through the boat. There’s a bit too much spray over the deck. Means we’re moving – at about 6 kts. Woohoo.

We are now north of Australia. Sort of a lonely feeling – really out on our own. We’ve gone most of the way up the eastern coast of S. America out of sight of land, about 10 ships, all but one in the night (because of their navigation lights – they are much harder to spot during the day if more than a couple of miles away) and no other sign of teeming humanity just over the horizon. We’ve heard stories about the coast from the NE corner westwards and we intend to stay well outside the Arquipelago de Fernando de Noronha, just in case. As we track now, we’ll do it in one, but it may need another tack east later.

And we’re far enough out from the coast once again for the ISS 11 crew, John Phillips and Serguei Krikalev, to be our nearest neighbours for a few moments each day. We’re hoping to hear from them, but obviously we ought not expect anything.

Sal – best wishes to you and the Keyclowns and to Tom and Luca. How goes +16? T & L, this is worth doing one day if it grabs you, but remember that it’s mostly planning and preparation, a lot of tedium and just a few scary bits. Hombre apercebido medio combatido – Don Quixote – Dexter again.

Doug M – thanks for the historical detail -I knew about the Lightning  but not the string of associations. Perhaps you could find out a bit more about Francis Crozier for Pete. Apparently a fairly common name in Ireland – interesting to know whether there’s a connection there too.

David – aiming for the equator on your birthday – but you know how it is – could be a week late…no way we’ll be early.

And for the punters, Malcolm will put all the ETA’s on the website, unidentified. There is a very faint possibility that we may do a 24 hour pit stop (diesel and grog!) in the Azores. Not if I can help it and not if the wind and the Examiner are kind to us. I might consider adjusting he earlier guesses – or maybe not – the Examiner is frowning.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 28, 2005 - 2330hrs UTC

2330hrs 28 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 189

I will try to describe how it feels to be sailing through the night out here. No Moon, yet not dark. I’m standing in the cockpit, leaning on the dodger, 18 knots of breeze in my face and Berri moving through the water at 6+ knots, surrounded by phosphorescence with the occasional wave hitting the bows and throwing spray outwards – there isn’t quite enough wind to blow it back across the boat and we’ve, rather riskily, got the hatches open else the heat below is too much to sleep in. It feels as if I’m the only person alive, fixed in the centre of a huge black disc with a defined, yet indistinct edge just below eye level all around me. There’s a lovely line in Omar Khayyam that starts ‘Morning in the bowl of night..’ – wish I could remember it all – and it’s absolutely like that – the Bowl of Night is a pale glowing dome rising from the edge of the disc and almost solid with stars – some so densely packed that they really do seem to be touching, with the brighter ones and the constellations vivid and sparkling – seemingly in the foreground. A journey through time. The layer just above the edge of the disc is starless – there must be haze in the lower atmosphere. The Milky Way is a wavy slash of intensely packed stars and gas behind and above me, Orion low in the west, the Cross up in the Milky Way and the Great Bear every night a bit higher in the North – a measure of our progress. Stunning – exhilarating – utterly breathtaking – where are the gutsy adjectives?

That’s the high side – there is also the aching slowness of it all – technology allows me to see instantly the whole journey in pretty colours on this screen – and our daily progress as such a tiny part of it – we’re still nearly 600 miles  – almost a whole Hobart race – south of the Equator and, while in the bigger perspective that’s pretty small beer, in the reality of the moment it’s a hell of a long distance and an age away. So it isn’t all elation – it is very hard to maintain the balance between joy and – not despair, but something like listless abandonment of care. Does that make sense? Not even sure that it does to me but worth a go.

Wildlife – more stunning beauty. Today we saw three – only – huge Portuguese Men o’ War. They seemed to be about 120 mm long, not quite semicircular with one end tapering towards a point. The bubble was purple/mauve tinted and the sail the same, in glassy clear membrane. The outside rim of the sail – perhaps 15 – 20 mm wide was crinkly, frilly and brilliant cherry pink (magenta?) and seemed to have silvery flecks. Long tendrils under water, also coloured and appeared to reflect in places. The three were not close together – miles apart in fact, but wonderful to look at and very scary to be anywhere near in the water.

That’s quite enough puff for tonight.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 29, 2005 – 1100hrs UTC

1100hrs 29 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 190

A little homily.

I would normally run this whole email operation through the Chile Sailmail station – more or less just up the road and always in a reasonable propagation situation. However, Chile has been down for about a month and I’ve had to work any of about a dozen other stations around the western hemisphere, mostly at extreme range and in desperately poor propagation circumstances – Newfoundland, Mozambique, Belgium, Mexico, Panama, for instance. It can take 20 minutes to download a ten line email and it sometimes drops out right at the end. Imagine then my frustration when it eventually comes in and there are signature blocks, commercial caveats, addresses and all the guff that we really don’t need out here taking up more space than the email itself.

PLEASE don’t send emails to our sailmail address. Use the website.

And don’t get me wrong – we love getting your emails. For me the high point of every day is opening Mal’s mail calls.

After last night’s puffery, daytime out here is just awful. Berri is a little sweatbox with the hatches closed and for a lot of the day there’s no shade and we have to hand steer for the 6 hours or so that the wind drops to 5 knots – as I suspected, the Examiner still peers over our shoulders. I’m running with sweat, there’s no air and we can’t sleep either. Tropics shmopics – never again will I venture north of Lord Howe once we get back. This confirms all my worst prejudices. It’s even worse than being in an aircraft carrier in the Red Sea because of the restricted space and at least there you could have a fan. But we’re moving ever further north.

1-12. 26°S-Nose Brazil

Apr 29, 2005 - 2300hrs UTC │Hole in the Milky Way I

2300hrs 29 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 191

Thanks to Barry D., here it is in full:

Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of Omar Khaiyyam’s verse, DAWN.

Awake! For morning in the bowl of night,

Has flung the stone that puts the stars to flight:

And lo! The hunter of the east has caught,

The Sultan’s turret in a noose of light.

[ed: There’s actually been a subsequent response that includes another 5 verses here]

I think Fitzgerald was on to something there. I expect he could have knocked off a Guardian Weekly crossword in about 5 minutes too. Bastard. Makes a bloke feel about as adequate as a Golgafrinchan Telephone Sanitiser. JJ, fascinated to hear about the new HGTTG movie. Will try to find it when we get there.

We are bean reaching more or less straight up 31 west at about 7 knots in about 25 and a lumpy sea with a water temp of 29.5 degrees. Lovely to ge going north again at a good speed – thought we’d ever get going again at one stage. We’ve discovered that Berri has one huge deficiency – she doesn’t have Dorade vents. These are big scoopy ventilators that force air into the boat but keep water out. I put in hatches on the coachroof for ventilation and access – ok in Sydney but up here, in these conditions, they just scoop in all the masses of water that blows and flows over the deck and we have to keep them closed. Consequently, there’s no air movement inside and in these temperatures, it’s quite unlivable. I go below to try to sleep and I’m running with sweat in about 90 seconds – no hope of sleeping whatever. Big problem. We’ve improvised little scoops over the little plastic air vents but inadequate. I’m going to have to sleep in the cockpit for the next few weeks if this continues.

Question for the astronomers – there’s an area of darkness next to the Southern Cross that seems to have no stars and almost no light coming from it. It is between the two stars on the long side next to the pointers, roughly oval and about the size of the Cross itself. I thought it was a cloud yesterday, but it’s still there today. Looks as if there’s a hole in the Milky way – it this all it is?

El, great to hear from you and glad things are going OK – say Hi to himself.

Lovely joke Kim – really should be shared but perhaps not!

Yo the Vettery – thanks for the photo which Mal described to us – I think Titan Uranus should be our new motto. Needs a T shirt. For the uninitiated, Malcolm will post the photo.

[ed: here is the photo](broken link)

Rowley, talk to Marty Andersen at RPA – he installed our radio and modem and all the other goodies. Berri was in Coffs as Leven for a few years before I bought her.

George, didn’t know you are in the business of books – please run the idea past your contacts and see if there are any bites.

RANSA Doug, don’t get put off cruising by our experiences – we had to go to some pretty funny places to get the weather we did and we sort of deserved what we got!

Hi Kees – have a good dinner – we’ll be thinking of you.