1-16. Lymington


Logs ( 19 )

1-16. Lymington

Jul 05, 2005 - 0800hrs UTC │Falmouth

0800hrs 05 Jul 2005 UTC Falmouth

G’day from a wet and cold and miserable Falmouth. Looks as if the rollercoaster might be on its way again – the plan is to leave about midday tomorrow for the Solent, hoping to get to Portland Bill at low tide so we get the benefit of the flood all the way to Lymington from there. But the best laid plans…

I’d forgotten how difficult it is to be completely dependent on the tide (about a 4+ metre range here) – and how easy it is in Sydney where there are floating pontoons and available power- we cant go alongside a pontoon anywhere here without paying a wheelbarrow load of money to whoever the operating authority is and we can’t dry out beside a wall because Berri’s keel shape wont allow her to sit vertically.

The HF radio still isn’t working properly and the laptop is misbehaving again with unstable links to the USB devices it needs to talk to – desperately frustrating because anyone who understands these things could probably fix most of the problems in 10 minutes. I have a step-through instruction set from Simon at Digiboat – thanks Simon – which may get us through the USB stuff but the radio will now have to wait for the ICOM expert in Lymington. I think it is major – a new tuner, perhaps, but we can’t isolate the problem here – no-one seems to know enough about the radio. It just isn’t transmitting or receiving although it makes all the right noises and the right lights flash.

And there is a crack in a spreader bracket that the riggers found yesterday – definitely not a showstopper (I think it has been there for a long time) but should be

fixed before we leave for Oz – means we have to lift the mast for a 10 minute welding job – I rather wish they had picked it up 3 weeks ago. Lifting the mast requires a bit of co-ordination – theres a one hour window at high tide when we can get across the sill into the lifting berth, lift the mast and get out over the sill again – no opportunity for getting it wrong and we can’t afford to get stuck in the berth when it dries out – and we have to book in, arrange the crane driver and the riggers have to get the bracket off and get it to the welder and all to arrive at the right time and be ready to fix overnight…And then come back the next day and repeat the process in reverse. Now due to happen when we get back after the Fastnet. Everyone has been very helpful but we have run out of time to do it before we go to Lymington.

Might be easier to do there.

The rest of the rig has been fixed – we settled for replacing all the lower swages with sta-locks which are re-usable and self fixable if we need to do it ourselves – just need a length of wire. About $2kAUD instead of 10k or so for a complete rerig.

Sorry no photos – just can’t get this caff pc to accept and send – will try from Lymington.

Now off to stock up with medicinal compounds for the trip up the channel – may be an update tomorrow but probably not till about Friday.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 06, 2005 - 0915hrs UTC │ex Falmouth

0915hrs 06 Jul 2005 UTC ex Falmouth

[ed: relayed by phone via Malcolm] 10:15 (presumably 9:15 UTC) departedFalmouth for Lymington. 9:40 abeam St Anthony’s Head. Isabella and Graham up on the point taking photos. Wind 25-30kt NW, going nicely with a couple of reefs. Hope to be in Lymington tomorrow night but depends on catching the tide. Really loving being under sail again!

[ed: from Alex via sitcom an hour later] a quick update to check that satcom c is working – still no sailmail – we’re abut 10 miles east of fmth heading for start point, then portland. 30 kt nw wind so going fast – still getting used to the tides – lots of other boats around. berri seems to be working well – so far so good.  both a bit seedy after farewells last night.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 06, 2005 - 1445hrs UTC │off Eddystone Lighthouse

5 miles south of the eddystone light – one of englands earliest lighthouses just off plymouth- last seen in 1962, going the other way. it has really got throught to me that we are acctually here – in berrimilla in the english channel. astonishing. sort of wow.

kevvo steering, new bearings and tight rudder both seem to work. start point just visible ahead, long line of ships going west along the southern horizon in the separation zone. haven’t planned this trip – top of head stuff, very slack – we hope to make the fairway buoy at the w end of ther needles channel at low water tomorrow afternoon – so we can go into the solent on a flood tide. may have to finesse it a bit..

1-16. Lymington

Jul 07, 2005 – 0630hrs UTC

0630hrs 07 Jul 2005 UTC 54’33”N 001’49”E

sunrise over the needles – or would have been if i could have seen them – we’re just passing anvil point, needles fairway buoy dead ahead at 10 miles and the tide is flooding – woohoo – but all arse, no class. completely unplanned, very fast riip. all going well, should be in lymington by the time the pubs open. gobsmacking – just can’t believe we’re really here.

having said which, since we’ve been ashore in the fmth fleshpots and now baack at sea, i’m confronted with gentle dread about just how flimsy and fragile this little unit really is and how much of the venture is still ahead. but i still have my towel, so i won’t panic.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 10, 2005 - 0730hrs UTC

0730hrs 10 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

Big weekend – Katherine and my brother David arrived and we took Berri to the Royal southampton Yacht Club on the Beaulieu River on Friday and rafted up with some of the boats that were there for the regatta – then up river yesterday morning past Gilbury where I grew up and learned to sail, to Bucklers Hard where there was a shipbuilding yard that built many of the ships used by Nelson and the Navy in the 17th and 18th centuries. Gilbury much changed after 40 years and Bucklers Hard now a commercial tourist venture. A short stay on the pontoon cost us £11.50 or about $30 and it didn’t get any better. But the beer in the Master Builder’s Hotel was still ok.

We sailed over to Cowes on the Isle of Wight to have a look at the place again and find the Fastnet start line and then to Yarmouth where we intended to stay the night only to find the harbour full and a huge messy queue trying to get in – so we went back to Lymington. Sailing here is not the same as inAustralia- it is so crowded and expensive that I don’t think I’d like to live here any more.

Some photos if I can get this to send them – Pete in the pilot’s seat and the coal hole of a Sea Vixen, the Needles (in their way almost as significant for us as Cape Horn – they mark some sort of arrival at the half way point), Gilbury, our braced rig in the Atlantic.

[ed: some relevant piccies ]

1-16. Lymington

Jul 11, 2005 - 1400hrs UTC │Lymington

1400hrs 11 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

For the runners and walkers – I was shamed this morning by an email from the editor of the Sydney Striders Blister magazine asking for a contribution. ‘Nothing to say – not running much’ was about all I could think of.  [Ed: http://www.sydneystriders.org.au/ ]

So climbed into the sweaty gear and took off around the Salterns – lovely run from the yacht haven around the dykes to Keyhaven.  And back down the shady lanes – it was very hot indeed – never thought I’d need Oz marathon runners’ techniques here – run in the shade, find the headwind, wear a hat…shady lanes a bit of a relief, but lots of nettles along the edges.  About 12k as a rough estimate and it took me about 75 minutes – handicapper please note. Fat – corpulent even and very unfit.

The Salterns are a bit of feudal history – they are salt pans formed from ancient gravel pits with dykes and sluices and they were used to evaporate sea water and collect salt. But – big but – the water, the land and the salt belonged to the King so the collectors were taxed and had to front at the Exchequer to pay their taxes. The exchequer is now a very nice pub called Chequers which can be fallen into if dehydration gets too severe.

And Keyhaven was where I had my first and for a very long time my only sailing race win in a serious race – possibly even until 1998. In a Mirror dinghy with Margaret and Judi – wonder where they are now. Ahh – nostalgia!

The to do list is about to be revised and I will start a pre-Fastnet diary for the countdown – it’s a month away from Yesterday.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 15, 2005 - 0700hrs UTC │Lymington

0700hrs 15 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

The countdown begins. In three weeks from today, we must move Berri closer to the start line so that we can get to the briefing inCoweson the evening of Aug 6, the day before the start. We will probably go toSouthamptonand go over on the ferry that evening just for the briefing.Coweswill be a real shambles with over 1000 boats there at the end ofCowesweek and there ain’t no hope of finding anywhere to park overnight.

The HF radio has gone back to ICOM – major fault, as yet undiagnosed, and awaiting cost-to-fix estimate with some trepidation. To-do list otherwise manageable, I hope. Mostly trivia but we are also intending to upgrade the VHF if we can afford it so that the big ships can see us and we can see them – the new AIS system.

Will do a new list after the weekend – this is a few days of family time – Hilary and Katherine are here and we are expecting Pete’s niece with 100 of her friends tonight to go for a jolly sail around theSolent.

Much planning still to do for the race – waiting for Peter Bruce to get back from his cruise to hold my hand as we work through it. Much more difficult that aHobartbecause of the tides and headlands.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 16, 2005 - 1400hrs UTC │Lymington

1400hrs 16 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

Some more pics from last w/e on theBeaulieuRiver.

There’s been a small drift towards the pear shaped. ICOM have found that the main processor in the HF transceiver has failed – and they don’t have a spare in theUK- and it takes a month to get one fromJapan. Mildly outrageous – they are trying to find one in Europe and if they can’t I’m going to get serious and ask for a new radio because it is still under warranty and – as both the 30 amp and the 6 amp fuses were intact – I don’t see how it could be anything but a fault in the processor rather than something we have done to it. Otherwise, it’s a real showstopper. I have also spoken to Marc inSydneyin case we need to try to get one from there in a hurry. I’m kicking myself for not making a bigger effort inFalmouthto find an ICOM expert, but that’s life.

Not much else to report – it is as hot as a summer’s day in Sydney and all the Poms are out with lots of bare red skin and the roofs of their convertibles down. We are so used to the message in Oz that it comes as a bit of a shock – as does the number of people who smoke and those who have dogs. More than the sheep in NZ!  Pete has taken Siobhan and about 100 of her friends out toAlumBaynear the Needles (where the coloured sands come from) for a jolly in Berri and we’re all meeting this evening to go to Chequers – see previous sitrep.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 10, 2005 - 0515hrs UTC Frome

0515hrs 20 Jul 2005 UTC Frome
Sorry to be such a lousy correspondent – I’ve been driving around the south of England with Hilary and Katherine visiting relatives and trying to stay in touch with Icom in both Melbourne and UK as well as other people who may be involved in fixing the HF. There are no spare parts is the UK or Europe nor any new transceivers that could be cannibalised and it seems the manufacturers in Japan can’t get parts here in less than a month – apparently they containerise everything. I wonder how they stay in business. So the fallback is that Icom Melbourne is in contact with Icom UK and as of yesterday were indentifying the parts needed and will then send them to Icom UK. I hope they have them in stock, else we have a real problem. Final fallback option is that a friend who is flying over next Monday will bring them if it can be coordinated.

But it’s all cutting it very fine, so fingers firmly crossed. While we can start the Fastnet without it, it would mean no grib weather and no email and no long distance communication. Not really what I would have liked.

Caro – where are you? Glad you’re wet again. Peter D – as far as I know we haven’t heard from you re your prize – do you want a signed shirt? If so, will have to wait till the coming home party! Looking forward to that.
John C, postcard half written – you know what it’s like…

1-16. Lymington

Jul 21, 2005 - 1300hrs UTC │Lymington

1300hrs 21 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

Things may be looking up – Icom UK have agreed to swap out the PCB in their only demo M802 HF and put it in ours – should be happening as I write and should be back here tomoz and installed.

Slight drop in tension! But won’t go away until it’s in and sending emails again. Then we can Consult properly. The Doctor comes in two forms here – cold or ordinary. A pint of ordinary is a good medicinal consultation.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 23, 2005 – 0700hrs UTC │Lymington

0700hrs 23 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

The radio is back, reportedly fixed and tested, but too late to fit yesterday, so it will go in on monday. If it works and everything else still works the monday update will come via sailmail – keep your fingers crossed for us and hold your collective breath.

Dave and Carmen Giddings from RANSA turned up yesterday and we had a short Consultation on board with them – noice to see them and to hear other people speaking roight. And we were able to gloat quietly about the cricket.

Into the small to do stuff now – except the radio and the spreader, which we will look at with the local rigger on Monday. Then some spinnaker practice…

We got a small mention in the August Yachting World and there will be a full article in Yachting Monthly in – we think – September, complete with photos. The photographer was on board yesterday taking lots of pics – he’s a sailor too and took stuff that interested him as well so it will be educative to see what the editor goes with. Youse all will see it before we do if all is going well.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 25, 2005 - 1930hrs UTC │Lymington

1930hrs 25 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

Mildly pear shaped we still are – no radio until tomoz because everyone is too busy with important stuff to install it.

Big invasion of the to-do list today – crossed off lots of trivia and some big ones. We took off all 6 windows- one working one inside and one outside to remove about 60 nuts, washers and bolts, then applying a couple of gallons of silicone plus turps, bog paper, scrapers -the works. And then reversing the process. Very thirsty by the end of that one. If we get lucky, we have fixed the leaks over both our bunks… Bliss…Still have to fix the chainplate leaks (the chainplates are the points where the shrouds are attached to the hull – from the old square rigger days when they actually used chains).

Tomoz will be bigger. The task is to brace the mast so it doesn’t fall down, loosen the shrouds and remove the lower spreaders so that we can remove the spreader collar so the cracks in the collar can be welded.. for the uninitiated, the spreaders hold the shrouds out from the mast and help to keep it upright and the collar holds the spreaders in place. If it breaks, the mast is not stable and it may decide that horizontal is closer to entropy than vertical. The plan, subject to amendment, is to rest a spinnaker pole across the boat on the boom at the gooseneck (next to the mast but behind it), lash it to the mast and then run a spinnaker halyard through each parrot beak (the big clip on the each end of the pole) and onto a genoa car and then winch the halyard tight. This will hold the mast up and allow us to loosen the shrouds, push them out of the groove in the end of the spreaders and drill out the pop rivets in the collar and take it off. We hope. And then we can take the collar to the welder.

Dave G sent us a suspicious bottle from RANSA – looks rather like Bundy. Thanks Dave – and huge thanks to everyone at RANSA who bought raffle tickets – Dave told us all about it – we still have to pay for the radio fix and the rig and all the other stuff and we’re really grateful. We will keep you informed and I’m half way through a letter to Janet for the notice board – have been for a week or so but it will be finished soon.

The RORC office has moved from London to Cowes for the start of Cowes Week next weekend – getting rather too close for comfort.

Quite strange still to be sitting in Berri in a marina with greeen muddy water and the Isle of Wight in the distance. More on this later perhaps. But we can see the IoW so it isn’t raining.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 26, 2005 - 2116hrs UTC │Lymington

2116hrs 26 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

Today was a big day – we braced the mast, Pete went up and drilled out the pop rivets from the spreader collar, I loosened the shrouds and we took off the collar, took it to the rigger who took it to the welder and it was back in about 2 hours. Gobsmacking!
And back on the mast by the end of the afternoon. Huge worry out of the way and I’ve been funking the thing until we had to do it. Clever bit of bracing – see photos, if they arrived, [ed: they did – kinda small: here and here]. Next ones will be in colour, and we should be able to send pics from inside the start line and the Fastnet rock and all that jazz. Fingers crossed.
Radio at 0915 tomoz. Big finger crossing – breath firmly bated. Watch this space.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 27, 2005 - 1245hrs UTC │Lymington

1245hrs 27 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

The radio is back in and it seems to work – several moments of near heart failure as various bits of it refused to function but huge relief when it finally came good – haven’t yet had time to test it properly – will send next update from the boat. Icom think the failure was caused by static – we weren’t around lightning when it died so I’m not so sure – would be nice to know.

Next job is to upgrade our stone age VHF set so that the ships on AIS can see us and we can see them – this will be really nice if we can get it going – Simon at digiboat has a new application in SoB that feeds the VHF signal from other ships via a black box direct into the laptop navigation software – www.digiboat.com/ if you want to check it out. Also a new grib overlay which I’m looking forward to setting up if I can get it to talk to everything else.

And there are still some relatively trivial items on the to-do list – like testing our spinnaker socks and evolving a 2 handed technique for using them. Safety inspection on Friday – not sure what to expect but they are generally less severe and more trusting here than in Sydney. There’s nothing on the list that we are likely to fail on but…

And the logistics of getting to the start line via the briefing at 1800 in Cowes the night before – very difficult unless we can get the boat onto a berth in Cowes. At the end of Cowes week there’s a smidgin of a chance and I’m working on it.

[ed: David Whitworth, Alex’s brother, sent this relevant photo captioned “Might I respectfully remind my dear brother that at the fastnet start ,he may have more important things to do than take pictures and send e-mails on his new toy.” ]

1-16. Lymington

Jul 29, 2005 - 1445hrs UTC │Lymington

1445hrs 29 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

Well – the to-do list is did, done, dogsbodied. Woohoo! And we had the safety inspection today and no problems there. Somewhat less rigorous than the Sydney version – no counting safety pins in the first aid kit, for instance, and pretty straightforward. Berri is probably lighter that she’s ever been when we have raced her – Brian and David Cunneen might have had her stripped out a bit more when they were 2 handing in the ’80s but I doubt it. She echoes like a big cavern. Will be interesting to see whether we can feel and measure the difference in speed. She certainly should go faster than with 6 up in a Hobart.

Now we have to go sailing and try out the kite socks and work out how best to use them – whether, indeed, it might be as fast to use poled out headsails anyway above say 25 knots.

And I can, at last, sit down and try and write cards to people – if you don’t get one, my apologies. Brian and Jen, what’s your address?

If all goes well, this will come to you via sailmail and the sailmail station in Belgium. I sent a test to Steve a couple of days ago and this morning I spoke to Lyngby radio in Denmark on 8 megs so that bit works too. VHF still to be upgraded but not a showstopper. Sense of relief just creeping on – we ain’t through the finish line yet. The sailing instructions arrived yesterday too – some echoes of S2H and the Coroners recommendations but no radio skeds – there’s a schedule for watchkeeping on VHF. Lucky us get 0100 to 0300 and we have to report in a couple of places, such as rounding the Fastnet, if we can talk to anyone – mobile phone is ok and almost no-one has HF radio.


We have a berth in Cowes on Saturday 7th so we can get to the briefing at 1800 that day. Not easy for those not actually in Cowes.


I’ll do a couple more of these before we set off and I’ll try to send photos on the WAP toy from inside the race. If we’re not too busy. They’ll be teeny tiny ones tho.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 31, 2005 – 0655hrs UTC │Lymington

0655hrs 31 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

6 days to the briefing and then, in almost exactly a week from now, we will be leaving our mooring in Cowes to go to the start gate with trisail and storm jib set and sail number in the starboard lifelines.  Our start is at 1100 bst, so 2000 Sydney time on august 7.

The Solent this morning is windless and foggy – the breeze should kick in later. I did my rounds of the salterns again this morning, starting at 0510 – already light, low tide, water like silver plate. Yarmouth ferry, all lit up, easing down the river. Rabbits – thousands of them, curlews, lapwing, Canada geese, herons, egrets, oyster catchers, a couple of hawks hovering over the long grass near Keyhaven. And cows on the firm parts of the old salterns inside the sea wall.

We are getting ourselves medically checked tomorrow and Pete has a dental appointment – VHF gets upgraded too and that should be it – fingers in the usual firmly crossed state. Some shopping to do and the last of our non Fastnet gear to come off and into the car.

Looking at the big picture, we actually turn for home at the Fastnet Rock, our furthest point from Oz  – quite fitting really. A stop in Plymouth after we finish, then back to Falmouth where we reload all the gear, do a monster shopping exercise and set off for Sydney.

1-16. Lymington

Jul 31, 2005 – 1247hrs UTC │Lymington

1247hrs 31 Jul 2005 UTC Lymington

Sock practice. In the very best Chinese sense, an interesting morning. I think we have learned that sox are a good idea that can go wrong very easily and – if it does – it has the potential to stop the show for some time while sorting out and even repairs are arranged. Too long to describe but basically, just too many bits of string for two people and the technique must be close to faultless or the whole lot can wrap around the forestay… and so on.

We discovered that we can gybe the assymetric spinnaker by letting it fly forward of the forestay like the 18 footers do in sydney – tricky and needs careful timing and sometimes a bit of unwrapping but not that difficult. So I think we’ll go without sox, with lots of wool for the hoists and a standard drop between the mainsail and the boom. We will = probably – not use a kite very often and it isn’t worth the hassle to complicate it.

And – shame – we got a kite sheet wrapped around the prop – we were lucky to get it off, but it destroyed the sheet. Pete went over the side in his knicks to unravel it as the Cowes racing fleet of 1000 boats bore down on us. The water is 17.5 degrees, for those who care. Miore Chinese interest!. Just too many things to keep under control, particularly when we also have to steer the boat.

1-16. Lymington

Aug 04, 2005 - 1000hrs UTC │Lymington

1000hrs 04 Aug 2005 UTC Lymington

Briefing the day after tomorrow. Very close – we leave for Cowes on Saturday morning and the briefing is at 1800.

So another phase of this saga seems to be coming to an end. We will see just how much we have got right or wrong after 1100 local on Sunday. Lots of advice about how to fumble our way around – short tacking inshore, inside or outside at Portland, go via Alderney (which is how Nicorette won a few years ago, but we dont have the speed…), but my favourite 50/50 fallback is the straight line between the Needles and Start Point with a tack in on the flood and out on the ebb. We’ll see when we get to the Needles.

Had huge problems getting the laptop to talk to the new AIS software and hardware gizmo but, thanks to David Norbury who, like all the nerds I’ve ever met, loves a snarly problem and who very generously volunteered to drive down from the very nice hotel he runs (The Woodlands Lodge Hotel) and spend the afternoon sorting out the mess and getting the thing running – thanks David – we now have all the ships automatically plotted on the laptop, with 9 digit MMSI (unique identifier) numbers, speed and direction, closest point of approach and lots of other goodies. There’s a simple work-around for the problem too – see the website below. And the VHF DSC upgrade allows us to make a digital selective call to a specific ship via its MMSI. Berri’s MMSI, for anyone who may be interested, is 503039300. And I gave you the wrong link for DigiBoat and SoB software (A freebie and very clever) in an earlier update – sorry everyone – the correct one is www.digiboat.com.au. Worth a look and you dont need expensive gear to get AIS working – just a laptop and a $200 ‘engine’ that collects the signals and converts them for the laptop. Brian and Jen – thanks for email and have a look – it’s brilliant. The DSC VHF is a nice add on and not super expensive. And I think they will soon be essential around Australia too.

We are holding our breath for the Shuttle crew – amazing how knowing Leroy makes it all very personal – and we still hope to talk to John Phillips the ISS when we set off again for Oz. Onya everyone and all the very best. We’ll be at sea on monday when the Shuttle is due to return but the BBC will be on.

Tomorrow, we are going to the 60th birthday party of a very special friend – I nearly said ‘old friend’ but I can’t get away with that any more – and then an early night, maybe an early and final run around the Salterns on Saturday morning and we’re off. Just beginning to get my running legs back – but not yet my runners feet…

Probably back to sailmail from here – please send all emails via the website. Ta.

[ed: Some little piccies here]


1-16. Lymington

Aug 05, 2005 – 1620hrs UTC │Lymington

Here we go – off to Cowes tomorrow morning, briefing in the evening and we’re away. Looks like it will be a soft one, with met people disagreeing about wind direction and timing. That will come together before the start.

Party tonight.

Conor from Cork – ex S2H Berri Crewmember from about 2000, has advised us to change our medical practitioner. He thinks we need a second opinion from the good Dr Murphy, so we’ll be Consulting with him for the Irish leg of this cruise. Report to follow.

Berri is super light – she should go well. Full fuel, but only 30 ltrs of water, food for 5 days, only essential tools, sails etc. And both anchors ready for instant use…

We will probably use the electric autopilot when we are not hand steering, but Kevvo is ready to go too. We are more likely to need to follow a course on this one, I think.

Not sure how I will cope with updates – we’re going to be very busy and increasingly knackered as the days go by. Dr Murphy will, no doubt come to the rescue.

Thanks to everyone who has sent us good wishes, messages and various bottled potions. Much appreciated and I’m sorry that I just can’t reply to everyone.  Special thanks to everyone who has bought shirts and raffle tickets. I haven’t seen the numbers yet, but it should cover at least the radio upgrade and the rig repairs.

Yachting Monthly and Yachting World are both doing articles on us, due out about Sept 8th and the RYA is giving us a plug in their magazine too. We won’t see any of it till we get back to Sydney.

So – all the best, all y’all and we’ll try to keep the updates coming, along with toy pictures [ed: like this and this] from inside the race while we are in mobile range..