1-22. Still heading south south east


Logs ( 23 )

1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 28, 2005 - 0530hrs UTC

0530hrs 28 Sep 2005 UTC 17’20”S 026’48”W Ref 390

The night started dark and overcast – gloomy and drizzly and very empty. We haven’t seen any sign of other humans since Pete saw a distant ship near the CapeVerdes nearly 2000 miles behind us – and I stood out in the cockpit a few hours ago and had a little crisis of confidence. We really are a long way from anywhere with an even longer way to go. Keeping it all together for another 72 days and half way around the world is a bit daunting. That’s a few hours longer than it took Dame Ellen to break the record. Circumnavigating at walking pace is not for the squeamish. Or the sensible.

And then the sky cleared, with the astonishing speed that the weather does change here and there are stars and distant Universal time out there and it doesn’t seem so long after all. But there’s very little to report. I think we will reach Trindade in the next couple of days, passing about 100 miles to the east. We will start to feel the high and its attendant uncertainties from about there and it will govern just how far south we will have to go before we can really turn to the east. For the meteorologically challenged, high pressure systems in the southern hemisphere rotate anticlockwise and the wind moves out from the centre, so to get around the South Atlantic high we must go with the wind down its western side and then turn east as the wind flows around its southern side. The trick will be to avoid the calm patch in the Horse latitudes along the southern edge of the high. As I look at the grib files, it seems to me that around 32 S will be decision time.

In the last couple of days we have pulled the insides of the boat apart, delved for buried gin and cider, found clean clothes and soon to be required thermals, repacked emptying ready use food boxes, inspected the remaining supply of The Doctor and found it to be in excellent condition and repacked it along with the remaining Smoothies. Spraying the cans with WD40 seems to work, but keeping them dry is probably the real secret. We have raised the storm gear from the bottom of the heap in the forepeak and generally transmogrified things. We have calculated that we will run out of tonic before we run out of gin, probably with at least a month to go, so we are preserving a litre of lemon squash, just in case, and moving into an alternate day regime – G&T on odd days and cider on even days – to eke out the supply. There just wasn’t room to cram in anything else. We have some bacon and eggs left and we will set about despatching these fairly quickly to make sure that we don’t have to chuck them. Berri seems to be in good nick and, as far as we can see, everything is working. I am never sure from day to day whether I will be able to keep resurrecting the USB link, but so far so good.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 28, 2005 – 0930hrs UTC

0930hrs 28 Sep 2005 UTC 17’36”S 026’50”W Ref 391

DB: 113, 9002 (gps 116) day 39/71.

If we have the plan worked out correctly, this is the equivalent point to our departure fromPort Stanley. It took us 71 days to get toFalmouth. We’re in a soft spot, #2, full main, bright sunshine, tracking 200M and for the first time for days, no water over the deck so we can open a hatch and blow away some of the greenish gases. We are now significantly south of the sun and it is definitely getting cooler. Woohoo.

We have started to open some of the Ryvita biscuits we brought fromSydney- they have been given a huge bashing, even in their big plastic bins, and some of the packets have chafed and let in moisture. Big plastic bins are fine when the store room isn’t moving, but they crack and split very easily when subjected to any lateral stress (of which they get heaps) or twisting. So they are all damaged – but much better than nothing. If we’d had time – and knew better – an individual ziplock bag for each packet would have been the go – are you listening, Brian and Jen??

Propagation improving – You will get this via sailmailChileorAfrica. Another milestone.Chileis CEV773,Africais RC01.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 29, 2005 – 0445hrs UTC │Henry Knight: Key explanation

0445hrs 29 Sep 2005 UTC 19’01”S 026’52”W Ref 392

Mal – I think half way down the Atlantic was just north of the equator. By my calculations, we have sailed about 4400 miles from Falmouth and we have 2700 to go to a point south of Cape Town. And 9000 to Tasmania, or about 80 days at current rather doddly progress. We’ll catch up once we get down past 35 S.

Here at 19 S, just past Townsville and closing on the Tropic of Capricorn and Rockhampton, it’s a moonless night with the apparently permanent light haze that filters the deepest background out of our universe and brings in the bowl of night so that it does not seem to reach the same black infinity as it did in the southern ocean. As the sun sets, Venus dominates the sky to the west at about 30 degrees, Rigel Kentaurus and Hadar, the two pointers to the Southern Cross, are prominent directly ahead but the Cross itself is still in the haze layer just above the horizon. Venus is so bright that it has its own sparkling reflected trail on the water. Orion is at about 30 deg in the east as I write, at 0430 UTC and there’s a bright reddish object north of Orion that must be Mars, which I have never seen so clearly. Saturn is hidden in the haze low in the east and the Great Bear and Polaris have gone.

We haven’t seen a bird for days – wonder how our friendly Cattle Egret fared on its way back to Africa – and the phosphorescence has gone except for individual twinkles. It’s fun watching these when pumping the toilet at night too – not the most romantic image, but definitely fun. No dolphins, although I think I saw flying fish a day or so ago.

Malcom has been sending us details of the voyages of the Viking longships – I had always imagined, rather stupidly, that they had a very long passage from Greenland to Newfoundland, but not so – the longest island hop from Norway all the way across was about 500nm, relatively easily covered with the right amount of luck with the weather and the accumulated knowledge of those that managed to get home again over the years. But even 500 miles in a longship in North Atlantic weather would have been a touch trying. The economic incentive to make the trip was cod – which they dried and traded. The Basques got in on the act not very much later and it would be interesting to know whether they found the Grand Banks for themselves or whether they stole the Norsemen’s Baedecker.

Doug, thanks for the Knight diary extract and for allowing us to post it with your email. Like you, I find it desperately sad and we’ll certainly say G’day to young Henry in a week or so. I think we will pass quite close to him.

[ed: the extract…]

I have absolutely no problem with you repeating or posting my little thing with my ancestor Henry Knight and his poor son. I cannot read the following aloud without breaking up – it is a very tough image. Here is what Henry wrote in his diary the day his son, young Henry died. He was buried the next day.

Doug M

5th February 1853

5Fine day very Hot Calm Henry very/ Ill could not take but very little Susan A little better betwixed 8 and 9 O’Clock/ Henry went down stair’s took A Counterpane down with him that he had/ been laying on all day previous to this he had been to the Closet but once all day/ as soon as he got down to our Berth he started to the Closet I followed after him was/ in the Closet with him we talked together a good bit I then went up on the upper/ Deck same time Henry went down I stayed a short time up on Deck because my/ wife was washing the children and she could do better with the little Girl when I was/ out of sight as she used to cry after me, mean time Henry had gone to the Closet/ again and for the last time he was heard to groan but no one it appears Knew what/ it was or who it was he had fasten himself in the Closet with the Hasp as was the / way of most of the Emigrants and therefore could not be got at under 15 or/ 20 Minutes no one had suspected a death had taken place untill the Door was opened/ but so it was poor fellow he was quite dead sitting on the seat & perhaps my/ friends can be a better judge what my feelings were than I can express I took/ George to see him after he had been carried into the Hospital which was the place/ where all the Dead were taken poor fellow he wept over him most bitterly nor/ was he the only one that wept for none of us expected/ all this


I don’t think I have written about this in this log, only to Ron at the Adastra website, but Doug’s mention of the Mitchell Library reminded me. In about 1981, wearing a completely different hat, I carried out a stack survey in the NSW State Library. The stack is an amazing place – it goes down about 6 levels below the street and there are hundreds of kilometres of shelves of books, artefacts, paintings, maps and newspapers. I was wandering through it one day when I saw, on a shelf, a line of the big nine inch film cans that held the 240ft rolls of film we used to use in the massive Wild aerial survey cameras in the Adastra aircraft. And – most surprisingly – the surgical tape we labelled them with had my own handwriting on it. There were about 30 of them and they were the partial record of a survey we carried out in Timor for an Indonesian oil company. We were based in Kupang with the DC3 and we had to fly the exposed film to Baucau in what was then Portugese East Timor to put them on the Ansett aircraft to Sydney. They are now out in a repository somewhere, as one of the last remaining traces of Adastra.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 29, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 29 Sep 2005 UTC 19’18”S 026’46”W Ref 393

DB 105, 8897, gps 101 40/70 and still inching eastwards. In the middle of huge re-invention of our space – jerry cans going, external tank inside, empty cockpit etc. stuff everywhere while the wind allows – so must keep this short.

From Paul R, Brunei

 Hello from a Pom at 04 35′ N 114 15’E. I’m yet another who has been introduced to you via my YM subscription. I have been delighted to read your very readable log and follow your progress. “”Who’d sail in the tropics?”” you wrote a few days ago. There are a small group of us here in Brunei who do so on a regular basis. We have an aged Hood 38 which belongs to Brunei Shell which we use at weekends to sail round the oil platforms. That’s about as exciting as it gets (apart from the thunderstorms). Fortunately, even though we live in a dry country, the Sultan allows us to attend a special clinic where we can find doctors from England and Ireland plus of course the Singapore doctor (but he has been known to do more harm than good!). There are lots of your fellow countrymen here, in fact it’s a little home from home for them. The local supermarket sells Arnotts biscuits, Coons cheese, Vegemite and we even drink Australian milk!

 Reading your logs has caused me to ponder on how our paths cross as we wander through life. I realized that without knowing about you both, or Berrimilla until a few days ago, our paths have crossed twice in less than a year, separated by huge distances. The first was when I watched the start of the S2H from Shark Point in 2004 when I was on holiday with the family (hired motorhome, down the coast as far as Jervis Bay), and I found the second when browsing through your pics. I spotted Buckler’s Hard, I had never been there myself until as a tourist in my own country in August, I missed you by a couple of weeks! I had a memorable pint outside in the sunshine on that very bench!

 So here’s to you both as I consult with the Manchester doctor, Dr Boddington, (who now apparently comes from Luton), you’re an inspiration to myself a mere youngster of 53 who would leap at the chance to sail back to blighty from here one day. Grounded at the moment, non-sailing wife, teenage kids etc. but I’m with you all the way, and I’ll raise a glass as you pass Perth (almost due south from here) in a few weeks time!

G’day Paul R – we’ll wave fromPerth- I’ve been to one of those clinics too – I needed a medical certificate before the Consultation took place! Just up the road from you inLabuan.

Nice one, JG.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 29, 2005 - 1500hrs UTC │ About Berrimilla's Sails

1500hrs 29 Sep 2005 UTC 19’39”S 026’39”W Ref 394

When I bought Berrimilla in 1993, a year before the 50thSydney-Hobart, she came with about 20 sails all pretty much way past their use-by dates. We sailed around a bit and tried them all out to see what worked and decided that a new main and #1 would be the go.

I had heard from a friend about this guy out at Brookvale called Brian Shilland who made good workmanlike sails at the right price and I went out to talk to him. I discovered that he already had a full sail plan for a Brolga – an incredibly tattered old blueprint with a lot of superimposed shapes on it. Pure coincidence – he was making sails for the only other Brolga out there racing competitively, Take Time (which, at about that time, won the CYC Blue Water Points Score with Brian’s sails). We talked about sails and sailplans and agreed on a fully battened main, triple reefed and with a bit more roach (curve along the trailing edge of the sail to give it a bit more area) plus a couple of headsails, a #1 and #2, all in bog basic Dacron.

That main and those two headsails are with us today, 12 years later – the main sailed 8 Hobarts and 4 or 5 Lord Howes, winning PHS in one of each and the headsails went about half as far. A third headsail, the lightweight #1 is the much modified ‘cutdown’ I mention every now and again when we are twin poled. The heavy #1 is pulling us along as I write. Likewise the main, which has about 30 patches in it and added rainwater gutters but it still has shape and works well. I reckon that’s value for money and they owe me nothing.

Since then, Brian has made all our sails, including a series of experiments – the splendid assymetric kite, unlike any other, which we designed together and a staysail and a cheater and a big exotic #1. There have been 4 other kites, two #3’s, a 4 and a 5, a very sexy orange storm jib and a new main, exactly like the first. At a guess, the lot probably cost me less than a new exotic main for aSydney38 and the Fastnet result shows we can still be competitive with it. Occasionally!

Brian has become a good friend. He moved out of his loft after a rent hike and into his big garage at Curl Curl and it’s always a pleasure to go out there to see him and talk about the next job. Very much the craftsman and he has always produced the goods, on time and in budget. The only sails in the wardrobe that he hasn’t made are the trisail and the old sto

1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 29, 2005 - 2200hrs UTC

2200hrs 29 Sep 2005 UTC 20’14”S 026’26”W Ref 395

To the Cookie Crumbler – buckle on those angel’s wings and get over here with the kit, kiddo – I haven’t had a haircut since the one you gave me way back when. It’s not a pretty sight. We are about 2500 miles north east of you and about as close as we will get – with a bit of luck. Please pass on our congratulations and best wishes to C & H if you can, and greetings to Suzanna. Did you ever find out who lives under the table?

 From David McK

How have you found the performance of Sailmail? Do the time constraints limit your access to Grib files etc? Are you using the satellite systems at all at  the moment? Which Satcom C hardware do you have. My quick research into this area suggested a terminal would be around $13,000-00 without installation. (Gulp)

David M – sailmail is fantastic as long as you understand its limitations and have the patience to work within them. It is cheap (once you’ve bought the radio and the modem and the laptop) and it works. As you can see, we can feed a website with it from anywhere in the world and that’s only half the traffic – Steve sends us a couple of downloads of your mail each day and I get a new grib file every couple of days – about a 4k download each time and that’s our weather. You do need a bit of practice with interpreting grib – mostly to do with matching scale and speed and reading the movement between each snapshot. For SatCom C, I have a Thrane & Thrane TT 3022-D Capsat which was supplied by Telstra as a Sydney Hobart tracking device about 10 years ago and then offered to us at a reduced price. I’m sure there are second hand ones at a couple of thousand dollars or less if you ask – try calling Marty Andersen at RPA, 02 9979 6160 who did our Sailmail installation – he had one in his hovel up there at the time, about june last year. It is very expensive to use for email – a cent per keystroke – so we only use it as backup, but it is fantastic for free weather forecasts and safety messages all over the world. It is important that you get hold of charts of Met areas in the places you plan to go and you register and log on with the Land Earth Station (LES) etc. Talk to Electrotech inMelbourneabout this – 03 9646 0555 was their number some years ago. Technically, you need to get your operators’ certificate endorsed before you can use it, but as there are no courses available, this seems to be applied mostly in the breach. You will need an account with Xantic – a Telstra outfit – to use it for email plus an application called Easymail (Electrotech again) and you have to pay for the messages you receive as well so you must nominate email addresses that are authorised to send to you. Alternatively, anyone who has a Xantic or other account can use that.  I hope that answers your questions – but check it out for yourself.

From Trev, Ireland

have just discovered about you both,have sailed 40 yrs, but nothing like what you boys are doing, i think its utterly amazing what you are doing, my total admiration and deepest and most sincere wishes to you both, wishing you fair winds, keep at it, if you ever get to ireland call in and it will be my privilage to the home of the doctor and give you a very long consultation with him.

Trev inIreland, great to hear from you and we’ll come a’knockin next time we’re close.

From Ross McD

I hope Peter is going to try out for the Olympic swimming team. They may have a new event, the flick dive & 50 metre spint with an underwater start. How is Berri holding up? Does she creak and groan more or has she weathered the journey well.

Ross – Berri is developing some new squeaks and creaks but holding up really well. The next bout with the southern ocean will be the real test, in a month or so. Still can’t see the Southern Cross because of the cloud.

From Malcom C.

 You guys are nautical giants relative to Chris Columbus.  In Chris’s first trip of discovery he left Spain on 3 August 1492 stopped at the Canaries for a few weeks (I guess that is when R&R was invented), left the Canaries on 6 September and arrived at Bahamas on 12 October.  Hence longest leg was 36 days, shorter than summer holidays in Germany.

 On the return he left Hispaniola on 16 January sighted the Azores and arrived Lisbon on 4 March, a mere 47 days at sea.  A walk in the park!

 The durations of your port to port legs leaves young Chris for dead.  Also a GPS unit would have been no use to him because there were no satellites until 500 centuries later.  Likewise sat phone, VHF, UHF are useless if no one else has one.

 Take heart oldtimers you are more hardy then the great navigators.

Malcom – interesting. But 35 days in theSanta Mariawould not have been a pleasant outing, I suspect.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 30, 2005 - 0330hrs 30 UTC

0330hrs 30 Sep 2005 UTC 20’36”S 026’17”W Ref 396

We passed east of Trindade a couple of hours ago at 2624 W. Another black, moonless, porridgey sort of night. The darkness has texture and substance, the wind comes and goes but we’re still moving east. We are in the area marked in all the literature with the word ‘Variables’ and they have a point.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 30, 2005 – 0915hrs UTC

0915hrs 30 Sep 2005 UTC 20’57”S 026’18”W Ref 397

DB 102, 8795 GPS108, 41/69

Bleeaah! Raining, bleak, cold, wind comes and goes from 5kt to 25. Water temp 22 deg. Have to get out there and hand steer at the low end – big swells from at least three directions and poor Kevvo gets the yips. More or less heading for a waypoint at 30 S, 23 W which seems to be where it may all start to happen. That’s 600 miles or about a week away and everything could change. But we’re moving and we will pass quite close to young Henry in about 5 days time. Looking forward to saying G’day.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 30, 2005 – 1130hrs UTC

1130hrs 30 Sep 2005 UTC 21’07”S 026’12”W Ref 398

Hi Amanda! Are you guys following us on the website? If you are, we’ll send you greetings every now and again from strange places. Like, maybe the Kerguelens or the Crozets.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 30, 2005 - 1400hrs UTC

1400hrs 30 Sep 2005 UTC 21’20”S 026’09”W Ref 399

First, a quiz question for the geniuses at Belmore South. I expect you all know that the sun sets in the west. This means that if you stand on a beach anywhere except in one place on the entire east coast of Australia, you will see the sun setting over land. It goes down behind trees or sand dunes or houses or cliffs. To be on the beach and see the sun setting red over water, you need at least 20 km of water to the west of you and there is one place where this happens. One of my friends has been there and he says it’s true. I don’t mean right at the north end of Cape York, which isn’t really the east coast and even there, I think Horn Island gets in the way. So where is it? No prizes, but you might be interested in having a look.

It has been a transformation week – the boat now has more space, all the remaining fuel is inside and low down where it ought to be, we’ve traced a leak that was giving us something to think about and we’re getting ready for the sleigh ride in a couple of weeks time. We’ve been on the port tack since the Cape Verdes and I’ve been cutting barnacles off the hull under the starboard quarter with a long knife. There are hundreds, all about 3 cm long and growing fast. The topsides at that end are already covered in green slime.

Half way in days on our schedule happens on October 14, but I think we will have a bit of distance to catch up. On the way there, we will pass quite close to young Henry Knight and we will leave him some chocolate and a jelly snake – a century and a half too late, but I think his father and mother might have felt some tiny comfort if they had known that someone would pass by and remember him.

I think it’s most unlikely that any of us will be remembered in 150 years – Henry’s memory has survived because his story was written on paper. The noise the human race is making now, mostly digital, radio and optical, will, I think, be unstorable and unreadable but not necessarily irrelevant in a much shorter period. Which reminds me of a lovely SF short story by, I think, Robert Heinlein called ‘Beep’. Heinlein’s mind picture was that every radio and optical transmission ever made from the earth fills a sort of expanding cone with a hemispherical base, racing out into the universe at the speed of light and the speed of the earth’s passage around the sun and through space. ‘Beep’ was the idea that at some future time it could be harnessed into a single ‘beep’ and if you had the right equipment, you could delve into it. There’s a lovely line about a cry for help from the captain of some lost space freighter out on the edge of the known universe – I’ll have to find it and read it again.

Harrumph. Bring on the goat.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 30, 2005 - 2330hrs UTC │It’s Woolly Black

2330hrs 30 Sep 2005 UTC 21’10”S 026’05”W Ref 400

It’s woolly black. It’s raining. There’s nowhere to sit inside the boat on the port tack so out in the cockpit, crouched under the dodger. Berri and I move through the night together – there’s no outside world,  just the glow from the instrument lights reflected back from the cockpit sides and the shiny bits of Kevvo and the pushpit and the backstay and the eerie shadow of our Oz ensign flapping on the tiny afterdeck in the light from the sternlight at the masthead. Rhythmic thumping as the  waterlogged RANSA burgee flaps against a shroud in the 25 knot breeze. The occasional crash as we hit a wave and the spray flashes back over the dodger and I cringe back even further underneath its friendly but very limited shelter. The shudder as the forestay shakes after the impact of the wave. If I pull my hood tight around my face and risk peering over the top for long enough for my eyes to fill with rain and accustom themselves to real darkness, I know that I will be able to – just – make out the dimmest, faintest silhouette of the #3 against the background of the cloud which seems to wrap the horizon very close all around us. The surge of water around the hull and the brilliant gleam of the masthead light reflected by the glowing white of the spray and froth as it bustles past us and occasionally a few sparkles of phosphorescence. Lovely. Uncomfortable, dank, miserable but lovely. Wouldn’t be anywhere else. I wish I could film it so that I could replay it some time in the noisy city and remember how I feel and how at the same time, perversely, I long for dry clothes and a comfortable bed and more that a couple of hours sleep. About 68 days to go.

We must still cross 45 degrees of longitude to passCape Town. FromCape TowntoTasmaniais another 130 degrees, so 175 in all, just under half way around. FromSydneyto Cape Horn was about 140 degrees, plus another 70 toGreenwich. 175 against 210 – definitely on the way home. The log says we’ve sailed 21,800 miles since leavingSydney. Probably a slight over-read, but we have also lost some miles when it failed just after leavingHobart, so near enough. And about 8500 to go to Hobart and another 600 back toSydney, so it’s looking like about 31,000 if we finish the job properly. That will be a reasonable year’s work for a battered old boat. The wind has just pounded in at 35+ knots – must go and sort.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 01, 2005 – 0930hrs UTC

0930hrs 01 Oct 2005 UTC 23’00”S 025’58”W Ref 401

DB:127, 8568 gps 127 42/68

Following my last note, it got worse. And worse. 3 very wet, gyrating sailchanges from the 3 to the 4 to the 5 with a reef each then drop the main altogether. We have just put it back up with three reefs. The wind went to 40 kts and stayed there, with 4 metre swells from everywhere -really confused lumpy sea, Berri really crashing about, impossible to do anything like cook, read, chop the dried fruit – raining hard and I haven’t slept for 24 hours because I feel every crash and shudder. Wind back to 35 + but manageable. This wasn’t in the guide book or on the last grib I pulled in, but it is getting us south and east. About another ten days before we can catch a downwind ride, perhaps three down to Henry.

And three more hours before I get to try to sleep again. The boat feels much better – for the moment. This has been changing so fast that we could get anything or nothing in the next couple of hours.

Laura,Marietta, Flop and Conor – did you get my email about the RORC dinner? I’ll assume you did not or are not interested if I don’t hear from you in the next week. Please at least acknowledge the email if you got it – I don’t know nothing out here.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 01, 2005 – 1200hrs UTC

1200hrs 01 Oct 2005 UTC 23’11”S 025’56”W Ref 402

[Ed: wow – navigating around the world seems easier that instructions from Alex to me to collect the RORC trophy!]

Stephen – to get to RORC, go to Green Pk U/G station, leave by the Piccadilly South Side exit, which puts you at the NE corner of the park. Go round the news stand into the park and walk south down the big walkway to the left of the grass for about 200 metres. There are houses and gardens on your left until you get to a very narrow alleyway with high fences between two gardens that actually goes under a house at the far end. Walk through and turn left in the street you come to. RORC is the building facing you with the flags. Ring the doorbell…   If you pick your time, the bar might be open.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 01, 2005 - 2230hrs UTC

2230hrs 01 Oct 2005 UTC 23’50”S 025’41”W Ref 403

Out of the Tropics and south of Rockhampton.

The last few days of nastiness have led to my renewing acquaintance with the boot ferals, who have been isolated and alone since before the Fastnet. Those of you who have come to know and love them will be pleased to hear that they are alive and thriving. Fiercely so, in fact and as they have been evolving in separate communities, each with a festering sock, there are now distinct Left and Right variations, like Darwin’s Finches. There is even  a set of different dialects and it will be interesting to monitor developments as cross trading via the sock exchange (ugh!) resumes over the next few weeks.

Tonight has a soft and gentle overcast and there is a horizon with glimpses of stars – last night’s suffocating viscous blackness has gone and the spiteful mix of wind waves and cross swells has halved. Berri is on the wind in about 20 knots pointing at Tristan da Cunha.

We’ve become used to setbacks and now take nothing for granted, but it does seem that we may have started on the long curve around towards a point at 40 S belowCape Town. There is a tight front forming to the south with a low behind it and I think we are just inside the top edge. If we are really lucky and can stay in it for a few days it will boost us across – but I think we are too slow and the following high will catch us and force us back to the south and around behind it.

Still no Southern Cross – continuously cloudy to the south, No people, no birds, no dolphins no nuffin. Just smelly old us, feeling distinctly battered after the last couple of days of sail changing.

From Malcom C.

While things are still fresh in yr mind, it’s timely to be thinking about the book.  It came to mind this morning while poking around my bookshelves.  Came across a book I won at school way back in 1962:  “”The Voyage of the Golden Lotus””.  It was about three kiwi country blokes in their early 20’s, two of whom were junior officers with the Union Steamship Company.  In 1960 they decided to have a traditional Chinese junk built for them in Hong Kong, in the traditional way, except for a small 8.5hp Lister diesel, and sail it from Hong Kong to New Zealand (8,500 NM) via Christmas Island (Indian Ocean, Timor, PNG, Cooktown etc). which they did in 6 months from December 1961.  The junk had been launched in November 1961

 Once back in NZ, they commissioned a co-author who often wrote about sailing, and the 220 page book with piccies was published in late 1962.  Each copy of the first edition had a 4 square inch piece of the junk’s mainsail attached inside the cover (which I still have).

 This book and the book “”Endurance”” about Shackleton probably helped me end up as an oceanographer and many years before the mast, or on the bridge.

 Think of the influence a book about your voyage might have on any number of kids if pitched at the right level.

Malcom, I’ve forwarded your suggestion to a couple of people – perhaps the book and the cd? Thanks for the Red Lief saga.

Geoff C, g’day – I last saw you up onMoretonBay- how did you go? I hope you got your ticket.

From Isabella Whitworth

As you didn’t reject my suggestion that yr next major voyage in 10 years or so should be north south via NW passage I assume silence implies consent.  Good news was that I didn’t realise that Amundsen did it between 1903 and 1905 in a small ketch, wintered over twice, knocked up a couple of inuit women (seems the thing for Norse explorers to do a 1000 years apart) but got through E-W and returned.  Slow pace was due to stuff called ice in winter.  Greenhouse effect should make the voyage across the top of Canada in this century much easier.  Just this past hour there has been a neat doco on ABC TV (which if you have forgotten is radio with moving pictures).  Seems while wintering over Amundsen learnt a few tricks form the inuit that he used when he went to the south pole in 1911.  Gentlemen start your planning.

Is, did you know that there’s a book about the discovery of the graves of two of the early victims of the Franklin Exped’s lead poisoning. They were buried deep in the permafrost and almost perfectly preserved. I don’t remember the title or the author but it was fascinating and tissue analysis supported the lead poisoning theory. Each had been autopsied before burial- also interesting.

Setbacks – is there no constancy? The clammy darkness is back and it’s raining again. Tedious. I’ve just hand steered through a calm patch, sitting under the boom because I can’t see the wind indicator from the other side – anyone who has been there will know about the masochism involved. The mainsail gathers gallons of rainwater, which flows along the boom and off the end, arriving in a waterfall just where neck, hood, collar and face interact. Yerk!


And yet another sail change – in my sleep time, as usual – and we’ve got 35 knots again.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 02, 2005 – 0550hrs UTC

0550hrs 02 Oct 2005 UTC 24’21”S 025’31”W Ref 404

40 kts – #4 & 3 reefs. Series of squalls with rain – may last 10 minutes, maybe 10 hours. Painful.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 02, 2005 – 0710hrs UTC

0710hrs 02 Oct 2005 UTC 24’17”S 025’29”W Ref 405

Down to no main, #4 fk, big swells. Dawn – wet. bedraggled, tired.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 02,2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 02 Oct 2005 UTC 24’35”S 025’26”W Ref 406

DB: 128,8440 gps 102! This will be hard to write – Berri moving so violently – rolling, pitching gyrating – braced at nav table but precarious and likely to be thrown out any time. Steady 35 kt from east, trivial in most circumstances but huge confused swell, #4 only no main, #5 would be better but coping – just. Moving about massive effort – have to brace with both hands & feet, find balance, transfer one grip at a time and hold on during the worst rolls. Several more days likely. Will pass fairly close to Henry. Feeling every crash and judder and shake and groan. Awful. Berri unhappy too.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 02, 2005 - 1500hrs UTC

1500hrs 02 Oct 2005 UTC 25’03”S 025’20”W Ref 407

Still creeping east despite the conditions. I’ve been trying to read the swell – the dominant one seems to be from the east or just north of east at about 5 metres, with a similar one from further south, but on top of that it is complete confusion with the occasionally amplified freak monster that has several waves from all over coinciding and contributing. Looking down from the top of one of these is a bit like looking down from about the fourth floor – but without nice solid walls to sustain the confidence. These are the nasties, coming from anywhere and throwing and rolling Berri all over the place and, if we hit them at the wrong angle, dumping tons of water on deck and horizontally into the cockpit. The dodger is just big enough to cower under if one is unlucky enough to get caught out there but it’s not much fun, especially when it is raining as well. If one is inside, the boat lurches and gyrates and yaws and rolls and stuff jumps in the air and you hear this shuddering crash from the bows as they slam into the wall. The rig quakes and the forestay shakes and then there is the sound of rushing water and you can see it flowing blue and frothy past the windows. Everything is damp if not outright wet that is not double wrapped in plastic and ziplocks. We are in a bit of a lull with the sun showing occasionally, but I can see more rainclouds and squalls away to the east so I’m not going to shake a reef. The cone of silence is permanently down now but at least it is cooler and I’m no longer drenched in sweat behind it. Noice to be out of the tropics.

My interpretation of our latest grib file says we will get two more days of this, with the possibility of a lift on the second day. That file is now three days old and I’ve sent for another which should come it when I try to send this.

We are in contact with the Chile and Africa sailmail stations and get reasonable coverage here although propagation is still woeful. If it goes this afternoon, this email will reach you via Africa, RC01. We can just hear, but not read, the Patagonian cruise net operating on 8164 mc out of Ushuiaia. I hope we can speak to them as we go past but I now think that is unlikely. A great bunch of people. If anyone is going down there, the regular sked is at 1200 UTC.

I’ve lost touch with all the new gusts – I lose the plot and fail dismally to say g’day to you all but thanks for signing on and for your hugely inspiring words and good wishes. Stephen sends an update every now and again and it’s inspiring to know that we also inspire. Thanks.

From Danny P.

Read the article in YM … Love your web site and all the pics …Very new to the sport … Totally blown away with the spirit of adventure you guys must install in people, particularly in these days when every one looks for the easy option in life…An inspiration to us all !!! … Was born in NZ (Hope you do not hold that against me) 42 years ago and moved shortly after, dream one day of sailing back there to see family… Look forward to reading your logs … Thanks

Danny P, you have to make these things happen! If you want to sail home, then somewhere there is a first step.

From Helen  O R.

Remeber me – Conor Mansfield’s partner (2000 S2H)…. Well can I tell you that Conor checks your progress daily. We are on hols and he still has to find an internet cafe to check your progress. So even in Italian wine territory far from the raging sea he needs his fix of Berri progress! I’ve heard of winos and alcoholics but a Berri holic is something else… Just bloody well hurry up so we can have a consultation of our own with no interruptions!!!! (I confess that I also check up on ye both occasionally…..) God speed and keep up the informative log 

And Helen O’R, of course I remember you – sad we missed Conor at the Rock. Tell him to read his work email asap – there’s a bit for him about the RORC annual dinner. If I don’t get a full house, (quite probable) and the two of you are interested, you could both go. If your pockets are long enough.

From Brian and Jennifer

Good to see things are cooling down for you. I’m not much for the heat either – hence being holed up in Dunedin. Brian and I have been diligently saving ziplock bags from our shopping adventures (and all shopping expeditions in Dunedin are an adventure) since you first mentioned their efficacy. Ours will all have Ma Higgins on one side – I don’t mind as long as they work!!

Brian and Jen – hard to believe that we were only nine days into this potboiler when we met you in Dunedin. That seems to be about as far away as the Viking voyages – how goes the boat hunt? Assuming we get this old lady back home again and finish the job, there will be a lot of gear for sale if you are interested. I think, for instance, my faithful sextant should move to someone who is more likely to need it, and we will be looking to part with the truly wonderful Kevvo and the Ampair generator and maybe the solar panel. Books, pilots, maybe a laptop. A couple of colonies of boot ferals, some foetid socks – all going for a song.

From David C.

Laura:  (Father doing fatherly things as he reads your log) – yes she did get the e-mail about the RORC and will (I say so!) answer if she hasn’t done so  already.

David C – thanks for fatherly concern. How are you both?

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 02, 2005 - 2200hrs UTC │Violent Tea Drinking

2200hrs 02 Oct 2005 UTC 25’31”S 025’13”W Ref 408

If you happen to be very very unlucky, sitting in your bus shelter on the Fox studio lot with your clackerboard and your nice mug of tea – very very unlucky – the Vogon constructor fleet will arrive and decide to chuck you about a bit. Drench you with their foul smelling bilge water. Scratch and grunt a lot and give you the full benefit of Vogon armpit though the atmosphere control vents. You, of course, will keep your cool, brace for the worst, hold your nose for as long as possible and continue sipping your tea.

You will have developed the technique over several unlucky episodes and it goes like this – first, of course, make the tea – tricky if you haven’t got past this bit before they arrive – and then sit with your toes curled around the edge of the opposite bench, heels firmly wedged underneath, non-tea hand gripping the nearest upright and shoulders wedged under the frame. It’s black darkness – so black that you can feel it.

Next bit all done by feel. Tea hand holding mug in float mode – arm half extended but kind of hanging loose, every sense twitching for the feel of the next bit of violence, arm and hand in continuous fluid motion trying to keep the surface of the tea horizontal. Now for the really tricky bit – getting the tea into the face calls for truly advanced technique – move mug towards face, senses now in overdrive, blow across top of – hopefully – horizontal tea and extend puckered lips towards rim of still moving mug.

If you get the coordination right, tea, mug, arm, lips and bus shelter will all freeze for a nanosecond while tea is transferred across the gap. Mostly, you will get it wrong and at best, mug will depart from face at warp speed leaving nothing behind. Then there are grades of disaster starting with half mug of scalding tea in mouth and over face requiring instant ejection to prevent serious burn. If mug, meanwhile, has moved – fluidly – away, then there’s nothing to eject into and clean up will be necessary once Vogon armpit and other nasties have been neutralised.

I expect you are getting the picture. No doubt you are sitting at your computers with nice square bottomed mug of tea in Newtonian conjunction with desk – well, it ain’t always so. I’ve just come in from the cockpit having managed to get about a quarter of my tea actually into my face. And there are 67 more days of this? What are we doing here?

I think that we will be in this stuff for another week or so and then it could quite possibly get worse. The fronts down south look very intense – the grib puts the average wind speed in the current one at 45 kts – so 60 – 80 knot gusts. I hope we will be able to stay north of that lot but I’m not sure how it will work out. I’m hoping we will start getting some definite westerly airflow from about 30 S but we might have to go much further. Cross your fingers and toes, all y’all – this is where we start to earn our keep. Should get a bit easier once we can turn downwind, but that may not happen almost to Cape Town.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 03, 2005 - 0830hrs UTC │ Bus shelter and Vogons

0830hrs 03 Oct 2005 UTC 26’10”S 024’58”W Ref 409

Between Double Island Point and Noosa.

Just put the main back up with 3 reefs. Pathetic really – 25 knots of breeze but we cant afford to go any faster until the seas abate – or until we know these squalls have stopped. Which they haven’t – there’s one a couple of miles to windward looking at us.

Wendy P, we’ve just Consulted with one of your medicinal potions and very effective it was – thanks. Haven’t got to the sweeties yet – they are for when things get really tough. Which they will.

A word of explanation for all those who have signed on after reading YM or YW: all this twaddle about bus shelters and Vogons goes back a long way – before we spoke to the International Space Station, somewhere in the south Pacific. I started to make fun of the conspiracy theorists who know – doesn’t everyone? – that NASA never got to the Moon, it was all done in a Hollywood studio. Likewise, we’re not really flogging ourselves through the South Atlantic – we’re in Fox studios in Sydney dreaming it all up over countless Consultations. The bus shelter was a way of explaining how the cockpit moves around in the warehouse seas down there on the other side of the Horn or it might have been this side – I don’t remember. And Vogons? Well, a bit of Hitchhiker never does any harm. Interestingly, I’ve been listening to my tiny Chinese short wave radio when the weather has allowed and there’s a station which I’m sure must be based in the southern USA on which the talkback host and his callers seem to be convinced that the US Government has the technology to influence the weather and was responsible for sending Hurricanes Katrina and Rits to the Gulf of Mexico. They get quite passionate about it. I wish – would someone ask G Dubya to fix our little spot of bother down here and send us off towards Cape Town!

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 03, 2005 - 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 03 Oct 2005 UTC 26’18”S 024’57”W Ref 410

DB: 107, 8333 GPS 107. 44 down, 66 to go and I can listen to the last le Carre Constant Gardener disc any time – I have managed one a week and it has been something to look forward to.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 03,2005 - 2130hrs UTC

2130hrs 03 Oct 2005 UTC 27’11”S 024’18”W Ref 411

A good friend of ours, who has sailed about as many miles as we have, wrote and told us that when he read “It’s woolly black. It’s raining.” a couple of days ago, he was instantly right there in the cockpit with me and he wondered how many others were squeezed in there with us, not letting on. I thought it would be interesting to ask – did that piece transport anyone else out here? And as an extension, are there favourite bits of the log for any of you? And why? The ‘why’ is the fascinating bit because it speaks about you and your experience. If anyone is brave enough, perhaps you could write a few lines about it and we could post your stories (suitably anonimised if you wish). My sister has her favourite entry stuck to the wall near her computer and I suspect that any such list would have very few duplicates.

Malcom, thanks for book details on the Franklin expedition – here they are. I may have borrowed your copy.

Re book about bodies in the permafrost in NW passage.  Book is available on Amazon.  “Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition by Owen Beattie and Geiger. Fascinating book especially if you like colour piccies of deep frozen jolly  jack tars, Beattie is an anthropologist.  The book was republished as a new edition in 2000. I guess I have an unusual book collection.

From Joanne C.

 No I don’t have a Radio Operator’s certificate or First Aid, but I do have Sea Survival and knowledge of First Aid (through bronze SLS medallion)

The boatshow was good, weather was nice – lots of new boats but not much new gear. I went to the RORC on Tues 22nd and was very happy to hear you had won the Seamanship Trophy, well done, I posted a small story on the YW website about your triumph and the fact that our boat won the RORC IRC 1 series overall so we’re pretty happy about that. I am going to the fancy ball in November, a shame you will miss it but I see you are trying to get friends to go in your place which is good.

I hope the weather has abated for you – 45kts gusting to 60-80 doesn’t sound very nice for ol’ berri.

 I didn’t see Giles Pearman at the boatshow, but sent him an email. He is looking into paying for my flight to Australia which is great so I will see what happens. But he was concerned about 1) you being able to enter the race 2) you being able to get back in time for it.

 If you could give me a rough idea about your progress then we’ll see how we go. From what I can tell you said you have 8500 miles to go which is gives you about 2 months or so?? Otherwise I may have to leave it for the next year…which may be a better idea as I do wonder whether I am ready for such a big race…though I would feel very safe with you guys of course. How much experience have your past crew members had?

I hope all is going well out there and you’re amusing yourselves by trying to drink your tea!!

Jo, thanks for your note – I’ll write to you soon.

I think we have missed the big front further south – we are just hooking into the top of it and have been lifted round onto about 150M – noice. I hope it continues to lift – it should, for a day or so. The wind and seas have abated a bit and it’s a lot more comfortable. We will pass Henry tomorrow morning, probably about 75 miles to the north east, and we will have a small ceremony for him.

I’ve just been up to look for the Southern Cross – it’s still buried in the murk layer but the pointers are bright and clearly visible. Venus is huge on our starboard quarter  with a glowing aura and Berrimilla’s wash is rippling through the reflected trail.

Special moment.

1-22. Still heading south south east

Oct 03, 2005 - 2350hrs UTC

2350hrs 03 Oct 2005 UTC 27’19”S 024’09”W Ref 412

It’s all too much. We haven’t seen any sign of life or humans for what seems like about a month – since just after the Cape Verdes, when the last of the birds left us. Today, we were joined by a black petrel, which followed us loosely as it went about its business – then a second, a third and a fourth. I think they may have got bored with us – certainly not a food source – and they have gone. And then – great excitement – I have just seen an aircraft. There may, of course, have been lots more but they are not so visible in daylight. This one was very high, flying roughly parallel to our course, perhaps a bit north, so going to Cape Town perhaps. But from where? Rio or Brasilia would be the obvious candidates.

Doug, since we were lifted earlier, I think we are now passing as close to Henry as we will get, at 129 miles to the North East. I have been out to wave and say G’day and when we are both awake early tomorrow we’ll send him some goodies. We’ll be a bit further away, but we have to do it in daylight.