1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco


Logs ( 30 )

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 14, 2005 - 1045hrs UTC

1045hrs 14 Aug 2005 UTC 50’14”N 004’26”W

We left Plymouth a couple of hours ago – a bit sad in lots of ways – I was thinking about my Dad as we passed the breakwater and wondering how many times he’d done the same thing, in war and peace – and we passed Cawsand and the house we lived in for a few months when he was stationed in Devonport and I was about 10 – I could see the sea wall and the ruins of old fortifications we used to play in. And all those nice RORC and Rolex people who looked after us so well. Hope we will see most of them again inSydney real soon now.

The last boat, Pickle, finished around midnight last night – 8 NHS medical people hired the boat from one of the Very Big outfits that hire boats having checked it out and done their qualifier in it only to find the spinnaker in two pieces when they hoisted it after the start. Not a happy event. I’d sue the Very Big outfit for my money back.

Dont know whether Bekens of Cowes – have a website [ed: they do http://www.beken.co.uk/ but no Berri results in the search just yet] but we asked them to take photos of us and they did in theSolent after the start. They will send Proofs to Jeanne so there will eventually be real pics for the website, if copyright allows.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 14, 2005 – 1540hrs UTC

1540hrs 14 Aug 2005 UTC Falmouth

The original back of an envelope planning inSydneysuggested that we should be back inFalmouthon Aug 14. So here we are – I’m still astonished that we’re getting it done – and the Fastnet result was a huge bonus – never in the calculations. We must try to get out of here by the 21st at the latest…

The to do list this time is much shorter – mostly sorting  what we need to freight back, packing it and getting it on a ship, then packing the boat with the rest, doing the food shopping, arranging the medicine cabinet for serial Consultation and departing.

May try to fit in one trip toLondonso Pete can visit RORC – if we seem to be on top of the list.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 17, 2005 - 1400hrs UTC

1400hrs 17 Aug 2005 UTC Falmouth

In haste – doing humungous shopping and just called into the dreaded caff to do update.

It’s BIG thank you time  – we’d never have got this far without vastly out of the ordinary help from lots of people – our families, Stephen, Malcolm, Isabella and Graham, Fenwick and his team, Jeremy, John B, Peter Bruce, Tom and Vicky Jackson, the Patagonian Cruisenetters, Diana at Petitbateau, The cookie crumbler in Stanley, John M-B, Mike H, all the RORC team, Hugh M and many many more. Thanks everyone and we’ll try to keep up this manic communication.

I bet you all thought the odd little blip on the website was a photo of the Fastnet light – but it’s really the streetlight next to our bus shelter

If all goes well, we’re out of here on Friday. Big effort to load the boat – we’re parked alongside the public jetty next to The Chain Locker pub {photo to follow if I remember) and we have to get from tthe car park through the passage under the pub, down a short street, down a big ramp onto the pontoon and then hike out about 200 metres to the boat – carrying shopping bags, slabs and slabs of Medicinal Potion, and all the bulky stuff we took off the boat to go racing. A grind.

Hoping to have a contemplative Consultation with all our local mates on Friday at the Greenbank before we leave. Haven’t even looked at the weather yet. Then about 120 days to Sydney.

Forgot to tell you – I had a text message from a friend, Andy Bird (no relation as far as we know) who was 2 handing a J105 a few miles ahead of us in the Celtic sea and who had a visit from what must  have been the same little bird, hitching a ride to Ireland – or New York – who knows. There’s an indistinct photo on the website and we have a much better print.

Ed: the latest set of tiny pictures

Mal’s new boat here:

and a great one with the Trophy here:

The lady presenting the trophy is Janet Grosvenor, Director of Sailing at RORC

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 18, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC Falmouth

0900hrs 18 Aug 2005 UTC Falmouth

This might be the final update from the caff. Berri is about half loaded, shopping in 80% done, still have washing, sorting the freight details, fixing VAT refunds (absolute nightmare – Customs have been completely closed down on the south coast and there’s only one person in the whole of the south of england who seems to know what to do – thanks Neil – but They are not going to beat me – we need everything we can squeeze back), reconnecting the Ampair, lots of goodbyes and we should be off sometime late tomorrow DV & WP, with no real attention to WP. Knackered from carrying stuff up long and winding steps, around pubs, up and down ramps…

Malcom, tried to find a Southern Ocean bird book – or anything that might do, but no luck. Also finally decided that going off to Taunton in search of isochrones was likely to be a wasted journey, so we’ll seat of the pants it. Pity – was an interesting idea.

It’s stick my neck out time again – ETA in either Sydney (or Hobart if we decide to round the final Cape) December 11th. Unlikely to be as accurate as the Falklands – UK version, but we’ll see.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 19, 2005 – 1100hrs UTC Falmouth

1100hrs 19 Aug 2005 UTC Falmouth

Very quick one – we’ve assembeld everything at the boat – big effort – and Pete is packing it it – internet caff has gone belly up – so using a friends pc – plan is to leave at 1000 local tomoz from the harbourmaster’s jetty having had a Consultation with anyone who cares to turn up.

Parcel arrived Laura – thanks – will save for Pete’s 60th.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 20, 2005 - 0800hrs UTC Falmouth

0800hrs 20 Aug 2005 UTC Falmouth

From Isabella, Alex’s sister:

We arrived in Falmouth this morning to watch departure to find that Pete had gone to buy Tesco’s while Alex twiddled with bits of rope, stowed various things and waited to refuel. By the time Pete returned with the entire supermarket (what do they do with all that Kitchen Towel??) Berri was full of gas, the leaving party was assembling and The Dublin Doctor proffered copious advice. We watched them cast off and motor out of the harbour, and several of us zoomed off to Pendennis Point in our cars to see Berri leave. We created an unpleasantly modern-sounding Rhapsody for Car Horn and Barking Dog as they passed beneath us but the poor old boys are so deaf these days they didn’t even look up. Maybe they prefer the classics. Berri’s sails looked smaller and smaller, the sea larger and larger and all the various emotive cliches can be imagined but will not be written by me here..

Isabella’s pictures here

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 20, 2005 - 0925hrs UTC │Leaving Falmouth

0925hrs 20 Aug 2005 UTC leaving Falmouth Ref 299

Phone call to Mal from Alex:

“Just leaving Falmouth, should be on webcam now”

From his (very brief) description, I’ve picked the most likely candidates from the webcam images: here and here

The times on the webcam images don’t seem to correspond to the actual time – look to be out by about 30 minutes

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 20, 2005 – 1300hrs UTC

1300hrs 20 Aug 2005 UTC 49’47”N 005’24”W Ref 300

And here beginneth Act 5. Sad to leave our friends on the Falmouth fuel wharf – after suitably medicinal farewells – and really nice to see the numbers in the GPS winding down again. We haver to average 120 miles per day to make my ETA – so at 1000 each day, I’ll do a distance travelled to see how we’re going. We’re a bit ahead just for the mo doing 7.8 knots and throwinhg huge quantities of water aside as Berri lumbers through the waves with about 3 tons of extra weight on board.

The Lizard and Tater Du fading into the misty horizon – Synney here we come. More reflective piece may follow when I’m off watch.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 20, 2005 - 2330hrs UTC

2330hrs 20 Aug 2005 UTC 49’00”N 006’27”W Ref 301

Most of the way through the second of about 440 watches. Daunting prospect. This one has been rather long and slow – lots of ships around and a yacht passed close under our stern – I’m sure she approached without lights because I only saw her when she was very close. Bright clear moon, only the first magnitude stars visible and about 10 kts of breeze – we’re wallowing in the swell and it’s not comfortable – just not enough to keep the sails filled and the boat moving. Sails flogging – not good for them.

I’ve been thinking about the highlights so far – Cape Horn, obviously; our weekend with Leroy and Karen and them out back of Tater Du; rounding the Fastnet and finally finishing one are probably the stand-outs. And getting so many nice emails from all y’all. And we’re on the way home – woohooo.

People have asked what the trophy was for – we didn’t rate anything for our actual result – it was for the crew that had sailed the furthest to take part in the race – I think they invented it for us. The lady presenting it is Janet Grosvenor, Director of Sailing at RORC.

There’s an article about us in both next month’s Yachting Monthly and Yachting World – both out around Sept 8 in UK – I’ve seen the YM version and they’ve done us proud. Thanks Hugh.

From Martin, Barbados

Hello Berrimillas,

Thank you for a most wonderful website and stories about your sailing adventures! I had seen you mentioned on BBC News on-line, and then my pal Hugh in Lymington sent me an email re how he had been shanghaiied by YM to write a story about you, as youze were ‘of similar age and also a bit wrong in the head’….

I shall be staying with Hugh for a few days next month, when Southampton boat show is on, and am looking forward to hearing more about the Berrimillas from his perspective – and reading the article as well!

I can just imagine Hugh’s living room piled high with the Berri’s cruising kit – no wonder you flew in the Fastnet! I guess you had to get a Transit van or summat so to get it all down to Falmouth afterwards.

I did the Fastnet on Stormy Weather in ’93 – a F7 on the nose going out to the rock, and a F8 on the beam coming back – we were underwater most of the way…..

And you are now on passage and bound for lower latitudes and tradewinds fairly soon….. if you are bored one day and fancy a radio sked with a difference, tune in to the Transatlantic Maritime Mobile net – it is on the ham frequencies, run by my Mum Trudi (8P6QM) on 21.400 at 1300 UTC every day, with a weather forecast (from Radio France) for the North Atlantic at 1330. But Hugh has probably told you about her already – he chatted to her for years before he finally set off across the Atlantic on Tacit, on his (slightly more leisurely!) world cruise.

I had better not make this too long – your webmaster is probably already cursing me, and deleting stuff furiously with his red cyber pen…….

So, fair winds, and reasonably calm seas, with sunny days and happy times ahead on your voyage home – and good luck from the Windies in the Sydney – Hobart!

Hi Martyn – listened for your Mum on 21400 but no joy  my radio has 21402 as a set frequency, so will try bothas we get further south.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 21, 2005 – 0515hrs UTC

0515hrs 21 Aug 2005 UTC 48’49”N 006’47”W Ref 302

The first of many dawns, from cherry pink to fiery gold to silver grey and then the clouds to the west change from brooding shadows to snowy peaks that turn pink as the rising sun catches them… But anyone who sees romance in this hasn’t done it too often – experienced the gravel under the eyelids, the damp and condensation, the fickle wind – blah blah

We are 70 miles WNW of Ushant (L’Ile de Ouessant for the Bretons) in a slow rolling swell that would be glassy if it had abated a bit – no wind – not just a faint breeze, no wind. We are burning some precious diesel just to keep the average going and the boat reasonably comfortable but only getting 2.6 over the ground for an indicated 4.2 thro the water on the log. GPS distance 107 miles so still 13 to go before 0900 (start time yesterday was 1010 local). We’re starting to wind in our bit of string from the way up – Orion rose in the east a few hours ago and the Azores are out there somewhere in front.

A fishing vessel away on our starboard quarter, has been there for hours, occasionally shines a very bright light.

The grib  says more of this for the rest of the day then it will fill in again from the N or NW for a couple of days. This agrees with the EGC forecast from SatComC.

And, 70 miles out to sea, with the gradient (non)wind from the NW, we were visited by an insect – about 2 cm long – that flew around the stern in the silver light – what language would it speak? Breton? Gaelic? Icelandic? Inuit? Canadian?

Will wake Pete in half an hour and have a Berri breakfast – for the uninitiated, a Consultation while holding a bacon sando laced with a gallon or so of Tabasco. Then I’ve got to sort through the mess and find my bags of clothes and find beanies and neckies – it’s cold out there, but getting warmer.

0532 Just stuck my head up to look for ships – the sun has just risen and the clouds to the west are coppery coloured and reflecting on the water – odd – never seen that before. How sweet to be a cloud, floating in the blue…Tiddley pom. But I havent got Pooh’s balloon.

My life in review – I think this has been my 9th Channel crossing by boat of some sort.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 21, 2005 – 1020hrs UTC

1020hrs 21 Aug 2005 UTC 48’28”N 007’00”W Ref 303

First day’s progress: GPS log 122 nm, boat’s log (through the water) 129 nm so we might have had a net adverse tide – the boat’s log probably over reads too, so not necessarily accurate. Net result +2 for the day qnd overall.

Since which, we have probably lost it all and some more.

Small change to my predicted ETA – I said Dec 11 in either Sydney or Hobart – it would have made more sense to have said either Gabo Island or the Iron Pot in Hobart. Either of these would complete a circumnavigation and Sydney would be about 4 or 7 days later respectively. So that’s what we’ll stick with. Peter D, you may amend your prediction accordingly, as may anyone else so rash as to have had a go this far out.

The insect returned, briefly. It looks like a rather delicate wasp.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 21, 2005 - 1800hrs UTC

1800hrs 21 Aug 2005 UTC 47’59”N 007’15”W Ref 304

Just been overtaken by a big grey bulk carrier called Te Ho – couldn’t reads the port of registration but looked like Taipei – if that’s a port. No one visible anywhere on deck or on the bridge – probably watching reality TV in the backblocks somewhere.

We have been given a set of CD’s of John le Carre reading ‘The Constant Gardener’. Wonderful stuff – I’m glad he decided to be a spook and then an author rather than an actor because we may not have got the books. Gielgud, Burton, Conti, Finney, Fiennes, Sellers, Neddy Seagoon – all in there – and I bet he read in in one take. Having had a go at something similar with my 90 seconds of fame on the Beeb, I know how difficult that is. Bastard! I’m rationing myself to one CD per week – there are six – and will mix them with Kerouac, Potter (just to see what the fuss is all about – so far, not hugely impressed) and lots of others. Keycorp’s cd player – thanks everyone. And this time, I’ve got some Guardian weekly crosswords – forwarded from the Falklands after being sent in error to the West Indies.

Pete has cooked a stew with fresh meat and spuds to weigh down the G&T we’re sharing with my Mum in virtual reality. And we’ve got bladders full of plonk from Oz and Chile to help it down. There’s an old doggerel song from somewhere or other called ‘Life gets Teejus don’t it’ Well it do.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 22, 2005 - 0920hrs UTC

0920hrs 22 Aug 2005 UTC 46’42”N 007’56”W Ref 305

GPS 242, log 256, 24 hr GPS dist travelled 100, total 242, = +2 DTG about 12000.

The flea has started its journey beck down the elephants rump towards its belly. Slow and steady, patience, persistence perseverance and pigheadedness. If a flea can be said to be pigheaded. And very much one day at a time – very hard indeed to stay calm and cheerful thinking about what’s in front as a big block of days. Just have to concentrate on today and perhaps visualise the feeling as we sail back in through Sydney Heads. 42182 metres in a marathon, ground out one at a time.

About half way across grey drizzly Biscay, just inside the direct line between the separation zones at Ouessant and Finisterre. We’re out beyond the shelf in deep water again – having seen how the bay shelves, it’s not hard to see why it is so dangerous in westerly gales. Some nasty weather due further north in the Channel – (later) we’ve just had a front pass through with a big, expected wind change round to the north so we’re poled out and doing 7.5

Time to plan ahead – invitations for the S2H crew: the shore support team – Stephen? Malcolm? Fenwick? (let me know…), Katherine ditto, and James as first reserve ditto – sorry James, you’ll definitely get a second go if you don’t get on this time.


[ed: a later PS]

From Malcom C.

“”Berri is ready for the ocean wide,
We’ve taken leave of kin,
The tide doth ebb, the sails are set,
We sail with a keg of gin.””

He emails her with his flaky prose,
“”There was a yacht,”” wrote he.
“”Hold off. don’t spam me, grey beard loon!””
Eftsoon his link dropped out.

Isabel tuned in on VHF,
She cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed mariner.

The yacht was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily they dropped,
Below the kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.

The sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he!
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.

Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon –
‘It’s consultation time.at last, at last,
It never is too soon””

With sloping mast and dipping prow,
With spinnaker ready to go
The yacht drove fast, the Azores were past,
And southward aye they fled.

End of first part.

From Martin, Barbados

Thank you for the kind words in your latest log entry – I am pleased to see that my note reached you OK! My Mum (Trudi, 8P6QM) saw it this evening and as a result of having appalling radio conditions recently, sent me the following comment :

“”Actually, they won’t be able to hear me on their way south, propagation is too bad, but they might hear Jack (AA3GZ in the USA) of course, and probably Gerard (ON6BG,  in Belgium). But if they want weather info, I could send them some of that by E-mail every day, if necessary. For example the forecast from Radio France International, the position of the ITCZ etc. But maybe they can get all that from somewhere else?””

I guess you must have an abundance of wx info coming your way from a variety of sources, but if you are not receiving any RFI wx or ITCZ (later on!) and would like to receive a daily update, please do advise (via your log would be fine).

Maybe tomorrow Mum will give you a shout on 21.402 and see if you can hear her there. Strictly speaking she is only allowed to talk to licensed amateur radio operators, but she has been known to bend the rules very slightly on one-off occasions……..

We shall look forward to following your progress on your Long Way home. My sister and her family live in Oz (in Mooloolah, Qld) and they will also be tuning in to the Berrinews.  

Best wishes for fair winds, fine sailing, calmish seas and happy consulting!

Thanks Malcom – not bad. And thanks Martin – listened in today but nowt – please tell Trudi we don’t need wx info but would love to talk to her – our callsign is VZN2025. We could perhaps arrange a separate sked – I’ve got quite a good propagation application with sailmail – where is Trudi? Thanks Kevin, will do, thanks Richard, sorry we missed getting to see y’all. Was a little boat year – seems we picked something right! Just a bit late at the Rock to do any serious good.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 23, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 23 Aug 2005 UTC 44’50”N 009’52”W Ref 306

DB – the flea is rompin’

GPS 390, log 413 24hr= 148/157 = +30. No time to regard this with any auspicion – far too far to go yet, but could be worse.

Happy birthday Jeanne – we’re having our GMT Happy Birthday Con. There’s still local time to cover later as well.

We’ve just passed 45N – roughly the equivalent latitude to Maatsuyker south of Tasmania, the last of the 5 Capes if we have time to go that way (Hi Josh – we’ll certainly let you know and look out for Quetzalcoatl’s yellow flash). So – we have 5400 miles to go south and about 6000 east – depends a bit on how far south we actually go in the Indian Ocean. Do I need to talk about great circles? The shortest distance between any two points on the earth’s surface follows an arc of a great circle. A great circle is the imaginary line that would follow the edge of any plane that passes through the centre of the earth – so if you were to slice the earth into two halves through the centre, with the slice also taking in the two points (say Cape Town and Maatsuyker – and there’s only one way that it is possible to do this) the shortest distance between them would be the shorter of the two arcs of the ‘slice’. In this case, the line would go way down south past Kerguelen and into the Ice, where we ain’t going to go. The straight line along 45 south is a few hundred miles longer and will add an equivalent time to our journey. It is also likely to be much less windy, so also slower, but – with a bit of luck – much safer and more comfortable.

We will probably stay as close to 40S as we can and duck down at the end to 45, just like for Cape Horn.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 23, 2005 – 1700hrs UTC

1700hrs 23 Aug 2005 UTC 44’14”N 010’04”W Ref 307

[Ed: there has been a fair bit of bouncing emails back and forth as we have had some major problems with the laptops, versions of programs, USB ports, and sundry other pieces of technology.  All under control now with earlier versions and fingers firmly crossed]

Back in plod mode – about 85 miles NW of Cape Finisterre, long Atlantic swell rolling in from the right, almost on the beam, poled out to port in about 10 knots making about 4. Lots of seabirds all around – we just sailed through a big gaggle of them sitting on the water – they took off haphazardly each firing off a long white squitty squirt – no doubt to lighten the take-off load or readjust the trim.

More on great circles – it follows that the equator is the only line of latitude that is a great circle, but every line of longitude is. The symmetry of the calculation is messed up because the earth is not a perfect sphere (one of the few things I remember with any clarity from school geography is that it is an oblate spheroid, fatter around the equator because of its rotation) so some parts of any great circle arc are flatter than others. There are actually tables to calculate the difference in distance.

I have found a map of the French meteorological areas in Reeds Almanac. We have just passed from Pazenn into Finisterre, with Charcot to seaward and Josephine to the south west, Porto to the south followed by San Vicente. We will probably cut across the corner of Charcot, across Josephine and down to the NW corner of Madeira. Doesn’t quite have the romantic appeal of Faeroes, Viking, Cromarty, Dogger and the rest of the UK areas that we all learned almost by heart from the BBC as kids.

I’m on watch, so ducking up every few minutes to check for ships. Pete is cooking up a stew and we’re going to celebrate Jeanne’s birthday in Local Time very soon.

Farewell Raffie – a young friend who died in a car crash in St Vincent a few days ago. We’re thinking of you, Mitchie and Foster and his family.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 24, 2005 - 0430hrs UTC

0430hrs 24 Aug 2005 UTC 43’14”N 010’16”W Ref 308

Here I sit, in our tatty old bus shelter, a dusty streetlight across the road laying a grey screen across the keyboard, the laptop attached to it’s pocky extension cord snaking away into the gloom, wishing I were better oiled with Harry Pendel’s fluence.

We’re just outside the Finisterre separation zone – one of Europe’s busier corners. Lots of ships around, most of them seem to be outside the zone. The moonlight is so bright that I can see the hull of a ship to starboard under its navigation lights and I sometimes feel the illusion that the headsail, poled out to port, is a lateen sail off a dhow, such is the occasional moonshadow effect. Odd – reminds me of an incident on my first night solo during flying training when I was rigidly convinced the aircraft was inverted just after take off because the lights of a village were reflected by the canopy. Nearly killed myself flipping it over but remembered the instruments just in time – else all y’all wouldn’t be getting all this guff.

We’re ghosting along, gently rolling in the dying swell heading SSW at about 4.5 kts. Too slow, but not slow enough to need drastic action. A few dolphins around. Boot ferals coming out of aestivation and loudly comparing notes about the quality of the festering goodies they’ve woken up in. We won’t reach today’s 24 hour distance target but still just ahead of schedule. We had intended to sail down the inside of the separation zone so that we could say we had seen the Spanish coast, but there’s a SW change due and I’ve just gybed out to sea to meet it and give us some room if it comes on strong. Also a bit daft at night – there are warnings about ‘tunny nets may be set up to 7 miles out to sea…’ on the chart and I’d hate to get tangled up in one, as, I suspect, would any self respecting tuna.

Berri fat and heavy, has a different repertoire of creaks and groans – there’s an interesting creak next to my left ear as I sit at the nav table – happens when we roll to starboard and I think it may be the preventer picking up the strain. Don’t know, but it’s not serious. As we roll downwind, it seems the sails are just filled, but there’s actually a lot of power there moving about 8 tons of boat and masses of water. The preventer holds the boom forwards and prevents the worst effects of an inadvertent gybe if Kevvo were to get thrown way off line by an out of court wave. At the mo, he’s just got enough apparent wind to keep us on line.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 24, 2005 - 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 24 Aug 2005 UTC 42’59”N 010’25”W Ref 309

DB: days run 113 nm = +23nm.

Fine sunny day – very big NW swell, about 8 – 10 metres – must have been something happening up there. Light breeze here, nowt else to report.

Mal, are you the owner of Little Red Rocket yet? How does it feel?

[Ed: the electronic stuff seems to be understood, if not exactly sorted.  Thanks to Marc Robinson]

From Marc Robinson

Morning Alex, sounds like you have a real SOB on board!

If this problem occurs only when the HF starts transmitting, it is most likely that RF energy is being picked up by the wiring in the boat that is connected to the particular serial port that is botching everything up. It’s probably a long cable run from a GPS receiver or the like. Do you have any spare clip-on ferrites that you could wrap the cable through a couple of times within a foot or so of the serial port?

I’ll not waste your daily email limit.
Happy sailing

Thanks Marc- this might be the answer – the usb port in question is the one that feeds converted vhf signals from other vessels’ AIS systems to the SoB system and there’s a little vhf aerial on the pushpit that picks them up and coax cable  to the AIS engine next to the nav table. I don’t have any spare ferrites and anyway don’t want to mess with something that is working so will leave it all disconnected. Interestingly, sailmail transmitted on 6 megs but when I changed to 10, the usb serial multi died. It began transmitting and failed a few seconds later, so it all adds up. I thought it was the change via the application that was going wrong.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 25, 2005 - 0920hrs UTC

0920hrs 25 Aug 2005 UTC 41’18”N 011’40”W Ref 310

DB: 24 hour run 116 = 619 total = + 19 sfsg!

The blackest of black nights – a bank of thick, low drizzly cloud rolled in from the west at dusk, took away the wind for a bit and so black that no horizon either. Most unusual, even at hight. When the moon rose, it added a gentle glow through the murk occasionally and once shone super bright like a stage floodlight through a hole away to the east, so that I could see the beam and the circle of light but not the moon. Eerie. And I can hear but not see the gulls. Also eerie. Just before dusk we sailed through a group of tiny black petrels sitting on the water and they all flopped and flapped and darted around the wavetops till we passed. Lovely sight.

Otherwise, so far,so good. Had some problems with transmitting and receiving emails – there is HF energy getting into the USB multi-serial port – but I think we can work around it. And we both seem to be needing lots of sleep – the day is a sequence of rather long and tedious watches separated by instantaneous three hour sleeps. I do the 0900 to 1200, 1500 – 1800, 2100-midnight, 0300 – 0600 sequence. We are on UTC and will stay that way.

From Brian and Jen, Dunedin, NZ

Great to know that you are on the move again, congrats on your 11th position in the fastnet race.Really looking forward to following this leg of your journey and will feast on your comments. Spring is on the way here in Dunedin, can now hear the birds as we wake in the morning.

We had a look at a beuatifully constructed Ganley 54 footer hull, only 70k for 200ks worth of construction, unfortunately the remaining work to do is beyond our finances.Will keep looking though and keep our expectations to around the 40ft mark.

Stay safe and keep them emails rolling in.

Brian and Jen, and any one else who sails shorthanded, you might like to have a look at www.petitbateau.org.uk – interesting outfit and the website is run by Diana Holder who is super helpful and looked after us very well. Thanks Diana. And we met a lot of other people through it, both before and after the Fastnet. Diana gave me a glass if wine not long after we finished, on a huge cat called Dazzle.

From Peter C.

I was talking to John K. a short while ago, and we’d like to ask if you and Peter would be available to present a talk about your circumnavigation exploits to CYCA Cruising next year. This would be at some suitable time after you’ve both settled down following the big adventure and the Hobart race. We were thinking of April or thereabouts, but it would need to be at a time that fitted in with your plans.

Wishing pleasant sailing to you both, and good fortune for the second half of Berrimilla’s voyage.

Peter C, we’d be delighted to talk to the Cruisers, but we still have to get home. Assuming that part of the operation is more or less successful, April seems about right. What do you think they’d like to hear about?

And Malcolm and Dave, Happy New Boat. We are about to carry out a long distance christening Consultation – what do you want to call her? Will be known as Little Red Rocket out here off Portugal for the time being. Reports, please, after you have taken her out a few times.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 25, 2005 – 2230hrs UTC

2230hrs 25 Aug 2005 UTC 40’21”N 012’16”W Ref 311

It’s been a bit cushy so far – haven’t done a sail change since we left. Biggest gust about 25 knots. For the sartorially inclined, I’m still wearing the same shirt I had on when we left – a rather stained blue number – and Pete changed out of his special Trum shirt into his Lord Howe polo and there we go.

Another very black night – low cloud but not as dark as last night – just possible to make out a horizon. Anyone looking down from above would see a phosphorescent arrow, our bow wave at the head, the wake trailing astern and two feathers spreading from the turbine 40 metres behind. Haven’t seen a ship for a couple of days – we are a bit far out, heading for Madeira and then outside the Cape Verdes to the equator. Almost back inside the 40 degree band – we don’t have to go outside it to get home although we will probably go south of it in the Indian ocean.

Hi Gerry and Donnaq, hi Maggie, David, Eleanor(I’ll write soon), Eve,

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 26, 2005 - 0415hrs UTC

0415hrs 26 Aug 2005 UTC 39’58”N 012’29”W Ref 312

More idle musings: I’ve been thinking about arcs and great circles and the moment, all those months ago (February?) when we passed just south of The Antipodes Islands, on the dateline SE of NZ. Hilary and Malcom sent us emails saying that they were so named because they are directly opposite Greenwich on the earth’s surface. So the shortest distance between the two would lie along either arc of an infinite number of great circles – except that I doubt whether they are exactly opposite so back to one only, and the earth’s oblatitude would favour one arc or the other. And I remember vividly a few weeks ago standing on the Greenwich meridian outside Flamsteed’s house at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, looking down through the earth at those rather bleak little islands and thinking that I’m possibly the only person this century and one of very few ever to have been in both places in the same year. Leroy and the Orbiters, world famous skiffle group, would perhaps qualify if we allow for vertical distance. Even Groucho might have had difficulty boycotting a club of which he was the only qualified member – but then, why bother anyway.

Silly blather. We’re trickling along, I think about to lose our little distance cushion over our schedule – to keep it, we must sail 39 miles in the next 5 hours and that just ain’t going to happen at 3.4 knots. Poo!

And Malcolm perhaps thinking of Wildfire (nice name). Do the S2H, Mal, and get Dave to come and meet us so you can take photos…

0500 – We’re motoring at 5 knots – almost no wind. The equation – we’ve got about 230 litres of diesel left, the tractor burns about a litre an hour and we must maximise the number of miles we get from every litre. No good starting it when we are doing 3 knots just to get the speed up to 5 – that’s only worth 2 miles/litre and so on. The finesses – use the wind to complement the tractor so minimising revs and diesel burn, keep the tractor in gear when we make water, just save the diesel for the doldrums – but that assumes that we’ll need it down there – is this a valid assumption?

From Ann G.

Subject: Solar storms


Aug 24, 2005 – Forecasters at the NOAA Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., observed an extreme-G5 on the NOAA space weather scales-geomagnetic storm, that began on August 24 at 2:12 a.m. EDT. Solar flares on August 22 produced minor to moderate radio blackouts (R1 and R2) and a moderate radiation storm (S2). Also, two large Earth-directed coronal mass ejections occurred on August 22, which resulted in today’s extreme geomagnetic storming. The most intense period of geomagnetic storming occurred between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. The storm is currently subsiding. However, additional but less intense geomagnetic storming is expected through Thursday.

Ann G, welcome back and thanks for NOAA geomagnetic storm warnings – I had noticed that propagation is not the best and it’s nice to know there’s an external reason.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 26, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 26 Aug 2005 UTC 39’34”N 012’43”W Ref 313

DB: 24 hrs:118, total 738, =+18 – still in there. The wind came back from the NW just after I sent my last. Breakfast was a toasted cheese sando and the Usual brown sauce.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 26, 2005 – 1840hrs UTC

1840hrs 26 Aug 2005 UTC 39’03”N 013’01”W Ref 314

We miscalculated a bit – now stuck in the very soft end of a ridge coming off the azores high towards northern Portugal – no wind at all and we’re motoring with the tractor just ticking over to give us 3.5 knots. The grib says there’s wind closer in towards the coast but there’s no way we’re going to get there. So we’re pottering across a big grey disc with a diameter of about 6 miles – long swell, wavelength about 150 metres, about 4 metres high. Takes about an hour to crawl to the horizon we can see ahead of us. No clouds anywhere so no real prospect of a change. Character forming.

For Gerry and anyone else who teaches safety and sea survival – and all y’all who go sailing – I’ve just conducted a small experiment. I tossed a roughly 20 cm square coloured and highly visible cardboard box (definitely biodegradeable) over the side and watched it as we moved away. Remember, bright sunlight, no wind, no wind waves, just swell and we’re doing 3.5 knots. It was clearly visible until it rose over the next wave astern, about 150 metres away about 2 minutes later and then I never saw it again, even with binoculars. Wouldn’t have sunk or drifted sideways – we just weren’t on the tops of the swells at the same time. A human head in the water would be much harder to see – a strobe might have a better chance, especially at night, but crew drills and quick action are clearly the go. A trail of floating objects would be a good start, plus the GPS MOB button.

Sleep calls – might continue this later.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 26, 2005 – 2115hrs UTC

2115hrs 26 Aug 2005 UTC 38’55”N 013’03”W Ref 315

clear night, slight haze so the universe doesn’t have the awesome depth it has from the southern ocean. Still amazing but would be better with some wind. Currently zilch.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 27, 2005 - 0950hrs UTC

0950hrs 27 Aug 2005 UTC 38’06”N 013’27”W Ref 316

DB: 24hr= 93, mostly engine, total 830/840 = -10 so the buffer is history. We need some wind and a couple of good days.

I’ve just dipped the fuel tank – not the most accurate measure- and it seems we are burning about 1 litre/hr – rather more that I’d hoped. For that we were getting about 3.5 knots so not very efficient. I will try slightly higher revs next time to see whether it is any better. Very hard to judge. An accurate fuel flowmeter would be a real bonus for a cruising boat. We have about 210 litres left.

From Rowley B.

The Blackest of Black Nights “Its been a long time since I fired-off a missive to the tatty old “”bus shelter”” (in truth not an appropriate reference to an old bird that’s exceeded all expectations!)

Belated congratulations on the magnificent performance in Fastnet.

Until I reread your update about the cloud “”rolling-in from the west”” it occurred to me that black night might partially be attributed to the fires in Northern Portugal… but then if there was any element of smoke, you will have surely smelt it. My immediate reaction was what an awful predicament to be in when close to shipping lanes… but obviously you had everything under control, as always.

I was wondering if The Berrimilla Global Empire includes a network in Capetown. The only resident yachtsmen I had the privilege of knowing in that fair (windy) city succumbed to cancer…but if need be I could dispatch a runner with a message in a fork stick to alert of Boer Mafia of your impending arrival.

This weekend I’m hoping to assist a mate sail his recently acquired Beneteau 44 from Port Stephens to its new home port in Broken Bay.

You certainly burnt up the track the other day… hope Berri gets to romp some more.

Dicky B – sorry, left you out of one of the lists – hope we don’t keep you waiting too long. And Rowley, thanks for the offer – we don’t intend to stop in Cape Town unless things get really pear shaped, but useful to know there’s a potential network.

Another almost cloudless day – about 10 kts of nothing very much from the north and nothing to report except that we have about half a knot of current going with us. Better than a poke in the eye. This is day 7, so we will be one week down out of about 16 – and I get to listen to disc 2 of le Carre reading Gardener tomorrow. Goody. Life’s little treats are important out here in the bus shelter – otherwise it’s just litter blowin’ in the wind and dogs sniffing the furniture.

Our nearest neighbours, briefly, have just been the 100 or so people on what I think was a 737 that flew almost directly over us. It was making con trails so it must have been at about 33000ft – say 5 miles above us. If it was a 737, it doesn’t have the range for a transatlantic flight, so it must be inbound from the Azores to Lisbon. With something to give some perspective and contrast through the binoculars, I could see a very thin even layer of ice crystals above it, which explains the rather fuzzy universe last night.

And there’s a line of cloud to the NW – will it bring us some real wind or just extinguish the diaphanous zephyr wot we’ve (almost) got now? Watch this space.

Cookie crumbler – and all our other mates down there at .co.fk in the deeepest South – g’day. What news of The Baby? Please keep us posted – and JMB, does the flagpole fit? We’re going to have an ‘Abeam Trafalgar’ Consultation in a couple of days – if we ever get down there. Nelson is aboard – the highly romanticised Sir William Beechey version from the NPG in which his neck with all its decorations is longer than his head – makes him look a bit like the African women that wear rings around their necks. Nice portrait all the same. He arrived on a postcard with some rather special goodies just before we left Fmth. Thanks Laura. We’ve made an exception to the ‘no glass’ rule, but lots of compensatory bubble wrap, deep in the aft bilge. We will need to beat the rust that’s even now eating away the caps.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 27, 2005 - 1730hrs UTC

1730hrs 27 Aug 2005 UTC 37’39”N 013’57”W Ref 317

Not always possible to send these immediately – now 3739 01357 27/1730 and we have wind again – the unimaginably sexy assy is up there pulling us along and we’re eating into the deficit. More tomoz.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 28, 2005 - 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 28 Aug 2005 UTC 36’51”N 015’15”W Ref 318

DB: 24 hr 121 total 951/960 = -9 so we’ve clawed back a mile. The southerly current component was 5 miles so very nice to have. You will be getting these 0900 updates about half a day late because the propagation at 0900 is not good – and anyway, I can’t transmit with the autopilot going because it does dreadful things to our course and sometimes crashes the USB gizmo too.

Mostly assy, but now on engine again – assy great to start with then needed serious concentration as the wind died and backed – down wind with a kite in light breezes and a swell is not easy – the boat rolls all over the place and tries to overtake the kite and you have to try to keep it under and behind the kite or the kite will wrap itself around the forestay. Things can then be said to be pearshaped in the bus shelter. Today will be another big loser on schedule but we’ll catch up later.

31 miles to Trafalgar Con. Eight days down and we have measurable progress. Good feeling. About 5 weeks to 40 S at this rate, if the diesel holds out and we can go reasonably straight down the South Atlantic. I’ve got her tractoring at 4.5 knots this time – perhaps an extra knot for a proportionately smaller increment in consumption. Fingers crossed.

From Peter C.

Can’t go into any detail about what we’d like to hear – it’s more a case of “”where to stop?””.  A checklist would be all based around the experiences of you both on the voyage, and could cover:

Communications – how you did it, what worked, what didn’t, what would be better; self-steering gear; heavy weather sailing and what’s good practice on Berri; sail selection for the whole trip (what fabric? any thoughts on reefing systems? triple stitching? second track on mast so trysail can be hoisted instead of multiply-reefed main? & comments on systems for reefing/changing sail; power – electrical & motor (I haven’t seen any mention of the bike being used as a generator – was that idea abandoned?); navigation; provisioning & stowage; anecdotes from the trip – Dunedin, Falklands, Falmouth, etc; what worked well/medium/would do differently next time/would never do again; route planning & weather forecasts; various cruising weblogs & email centres; the serendipitous chats with NASA & Leroy, then meeting him; what’s boring and what’s wonderful; …….and finally: where are you planning to go for the next long trip? (obviously with Hilary as crew).

We were thinking of 90 minutes for this. And would you be available for the 2006 Heavy Weather Sailing night we run? It’d be around May/June 2006.

All the very best of good fortune.

Peter C, thanks – keep that list for me please, and yes, we’ll be available for the HWS session. Having said which, I’m going to have to get straight back to work when we get back, to try to fix the black hole in my bank account, so I might need some notice.

Have just seen an object in the water – went over to have a look as we’re motoring – it’s glassy calm but with biggish swell – and it was a small turtle about 30 cm diameter – its position, in case you want to go have a look, is just outside the bus shelter at 364316 0152118. If we manage to preserve the GPS log when we get back, it will be marked by a little circle in our track. Seemed to be asleep, but looked up at me as we departed.

I’ve been in this patch of ocean once before, must have been Dec 23/24 1963 in HMS Centaur – we’d just embarked in the squadron aircraft in in the Channel when Centaur received a mayday from the liner Lakonia, on fire near here somewhere. The engineers cranked the ship to full speed – everything shaking and rattling, huge bow wave, heat haze from the funnel, choppers ranged on deck ready to get into rescue mode. Sadly, we arrived a few hours too late – we found a gutted ship still burning, lots of people in the water but no survivors. Most of the passengers and crew had been picked up by other ships. As we were leaving, we saw a massive bow wave creaming in from the north – a Dutch tug racing in to claim salvage. It took Lakonia in tow but it sank on the way to Gibraltar. We went into Gibraltar on Christmas day to disembark the dead. Very sad Christmas. I may have written about this somewhere else in the log on the way up. [ed: the full story here].

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 28, 2005 – 2330hrs UTC

2330hrs 28 Aug 2005 UTC 35’57”N 015’48”W Ref 319

This evening we rolled 3 Celebrations into one: the almost 200th anniversary of Trafalgar, 1000 miles in the can and we’ve passed the northern version of Wollongong. Special occasion and we opened a  Boags and a Coopers from our secret supply. But this poor little flea has walked slap into a gigasplodge of dried mud and dung on our elephant’s backside – I’ve never known so much cloud to be associated with so little wind. We are still motoring and have been since about 0500. Every now and again there’s the tiniest hint of a puff against the cheek but it’s illusory – nothing happening at all. So another black black night with a misty indistinct meeting of sky and water around the horizaon – bitsd of the sky blacker than others where the cloud is thickest and the occasional glimpse of a star. But the Phosphorescence is breathtaking – as bright as I’ve ever seen it and it occurs as a solid luminous line along the crest of out tiny bow wave and then spreads and breaks into millions of sparkles as the wave rolls back. It’s as if the stars are in the water around us – brightens up the old studio no end.

We’ve now burned 40 litres of diesel – one sixth of our supply, but there’s no real choice but to go on burning it – perhaps for another 48 hours. Both the SatCom EGC forecast and the grib say we should be getting force 4 – 4 from the north but we aren’t.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 29, 2005 – 1015hrs UTC

1015hrs 29 Aug 2005 UTC 35’13”N 016’06”W Ref 320

DB: 24hr = 105, total =1056/1080 so schedule = -24. All on the engine – we turned it off just before 9. Within the tolerances required by significant measurement error (or at least doubt) we are burning 1 ltr/hr @ 4 kts and we’ve burnt 54 ltrs so far, leaving us with 126 in the cans. This tallies with every other measurement I’ve done over the years with this engine, but we’re a bit heavier than usual just now.

- 24 on sched is not a showstopper by any means – we know we can easily do 120/day+ with any sort of helpful wind – we just haven’t got it right now. So we’ll catch up – if not in the Atlantic, then in the southern Indian Ocean. I reckon we’ll cross the equator west of the mid point, maybe cross almost to the Brazilian coast, then loop down to 40S under Cape Town and then run 40 – 42 most of the way, with a duck down under SE Cape at the end, finishing the 2 handed circ. at the Iron Pot. With a serious Consultation with anyone who cares to assemble. Then straight back to Synney. Well, that’s the wishful think. There’s a long way to go – perhaps 12500 miles or so if we can’t cut any corners.

For those of you who need a fix of storm and tempest and greyish knuckles with your morning coffee, my sincere apologies – you must find these figures rather boring. For us, though, they are the business end of the enterprise – looks as if we’ve established a basis for believing that we can (maybe just) be home for the start. We will do our best to provide storm and tempest later – right now, apart from the frustratingly pathetic wind, it’s nice and restful.

We have the assy up and drawing again – only 8 – 10 knots of breeze and we’re getting 4 – 5 over the ground. The assy is set fairly flat – tight luff and the clew held down but not pulled down, so that the leech holds its shape as the boat rolls. There’s just enough wind to keep it filled. Pole almost against the forestay, jockey pole prodding the elements to starboard.

Another turtle – #3 – they appear as spiky humps in the water and seem to be asleep.

H & K, I’ve just finished the first crossword and I’m into the second. Thanks for taking the time to collect them all. And Hiccy Gurgle Isso – open one of those bottles. John le Carre is in the wings, waiting to enter stage right with The Gardener. Whoopee.

29/1200 And the wind dropped out again. Another turtle – which civilisation is it that believes that the universe consists of a pyramid of turtles? We’ve been working out there in the now very hot sun for an hour trying to sail- just to save a couple of litres of diesel. But the tractor is turning again…  Opened the pickled walnuts for lunch – thanks Tom.

29/1600 We were exactly 6 hours astern of schedule when we passed 1080 miles. That’s about 4 days over the rest of the voyage if we can keep this going. We will lose quite a lot more over the next few days, I think, but we will catch up later.

29/1700 – another puff – genoa up this time. All for about 1/4 knot over the engine speed.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 30, 2005 – 0930hrs UTC

0930hrs 30 Aug 2005 UTC 33’38”N 016’59”W Ref 321

DB: 24hr = 107 total 1163/1200 = -37. All except a mile or so on the engine. I’ll do the run rate on that later. We are about 50 miles from Madeira – can’t see Porto Santo, the smaller and lower island to the NE but there’s a bank of cloud where it ought to be. Madeira looks a bit like Maria Island off Tasmania’s SE coast from here – the same double peak and ridge back.

Our first landfall out of Hobart was The Snares, south of NZ, about 8 days out, so this has taken longer.

We’re ghosting along in 11 kts from the NW, making 4.5. Engine off at 0915. Still very fluky wind, but here’s hoping. The grib predicts better the further south we go from here. Fingers crossed. Will transfer fuel from cockpit tank to main tank later and assess stocks. We left with 120 ltrs in 6 jerry cans in the saloon, a 40 ltr plastic tank in the cockpit and about 80 ltrs in the main tank, so 240 in all. 2 jerries gone and main tank probably down to about 40.

Bright sunshine and using the solar panel to keep the battery up, rather than towing the turbine in this breeze and losing a bit of speed. The panel is working really well but the Xantrex monitor has not worked since we disconnected all the electrics – we must have missed a lead somewhere because it isn’t measuring input/output any more. The GPS gives an accurate voltage reading and we can monitor the battery by watching this – the panel and its regulator are holding it at 13.9/14 volts which is fantastic.

Will try my Telstra sim card as we get close to Madeira. Should be in range during Oz daytime.

Have the assy back up, just able to lay the western end of Madeira, Ponta del Prago, at 5.5 knots. Will try to sneak this away in the propagation hole.

1-18. Betwixt Madeira and Morocco

Aug 30, 2005 – 1930hrs UTC

1930hrs 30 Aug 2005 UTC 32’55”N 017’23”W Ref 322

We are passing Ponto del Prado at the western end of Madeira. I have just dropped my mobile phone into the water, complete with Telstra SIM and about 100 phone numbers. How do I feel??

Its last call was to my Mum, which I suppose is appropriate. H, I think you are a nominated person on the account – could you please get a new SIM next time you pass a Telstra shop? They are free as far as I can remember.

Madeira looks like an interesting place and it has some history. Big volcanic plug, I think, not unlike Lord Howe, that’s been slowly eroding into the sea. Deep craggy valleys, vertical, massive cliffs into the sea, little settlements along the ridges, tiny harbour at Moniz in the NW with a big rock just off shore. Cook came here to replenish – mostly beer and wine – and most of the early Portugese explorers. All gone, but the rock remains. We’re a fragile and ephemeral presence on this planet.