1-25. Blowing a (super) gale


Logs ( 27 )

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 19, 2005 - 0350hrs UTC

0350hrs 19 Oct 2005 UTC 40’44”S 008’02”E Ref 455


Here’s a warts and all sail change. If you’re enjoying your breakfast, perhaps you should leave it till later. It’s about 8 pm and I’ve just laid me head on the pile of old socks and fleece jackets that constitutes my pillow or so it seems  when I’m awake again because Berri is beefing about the wind strength and the #2 we have up. The rather nice bowl of Nathan’s Chefsway dried bow tie pasta (my favourite) I’d had about an hour previously was down there in it’s little bucket of acid doing whatever stomachs do and not comfortable.  So wriggle shimmy and glide and into – today anyway – lovely dry party gear and really stir the pasta. Pete says it’s cold and drizzling so put extra fleecy waistcoat underneath jacket and wear balaclava under hood. Michelin man and sweaty already. Up we go and it’s just as the man said – cold driving drizzle, nasty. Drop the 2, run the sheets, tie them onto the inner forestay, Pete goes to get pliers for recalcitrant hank while I sit feeling bilious on the pitching foredeck. Help with hank, lying across wet sail and holding spray can while Pete works hank with pliers. Take can and pliers back to cockpit down the obstacle course along the lee side and return to foredeck while Pete finishes rolling up the 2. Eventually fight the 2 into its bag and into the hatch, tie the sheets on to the 4 and P hanks on while I go back to the halyard. Pull it up, tummy by now boiling with anger, make it all fast and wind on the sheet. Serious hard work and abdominal muscles in full stride bracing the shoulders and arms. Really sweating under all the gear, even in cold and rain, and feeling dreadful. Go below to resume sleep – just manage to get gear off before expiring with the heat and now I’m sitting here feeling puky, sleep impossible and about to be back on watch. It’s quite often like this, I expect for Pete as well, but we can’t choose the time to change sail. Usually better to cool down on deck before coming down but too dank and dismold tonight. Should have anyway. Bleah! A cup of mouse strength tea, perhaps, to subdue the collywobbles.

Decided to forego the tea and I’m having it now. With 3 McVities dunkers. Noice. Everything changes so fast here – we go from 40kt astern to 0 to 25 from the NE to NW to W in a few hours and to make real progress, someone has to be dressed and ready to go on deck at any time and at least adjust the sails and keep Berri heading roughly East. My estimate of 42 days to Freo is likely to be wildly out based as it was on a daily run of 120 miles E. Not going to happen – I think we will be snaking along at about 5 knots average but all over the place. Todays run at 0900 will be interesting. More likely to be 50+ days. Gloom – but We Shall Overcome.

Just been up making a 60 degree course change. Cold. Fluffy cu overcast. very low, with gaps. Sunrise an hour or so away on the starboard bow, silvery blue grey sky silhouetting hard grey edge of cloud to starboard, moon setting on port quarter – orange yellow glow behind mottled wispy cloud. Just wish we could point at the sun! Black shapes of birds all around. wind still backing – may have to gybe and put the pole on the 4.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 19, 2005 - 1010hrs UTC │Clench-Inducing Sequences V

1010hrs 19 Oct 2005 UTC 40’41”S 008’38”E Ref 457

0845 – went to bed and couldn’t sleep and the nasties went through pussy cat like and we’re back in the sun for a bit. no sleep for the wicked – we put the poles on and now we’re twinned with the 4 + 5.

i don’t intend this to become a litany of difficult and ultimately boring sail changes – i’m trying to put together a typical day for yez all. at 0900, i do the daily fix and work out the days run so here goes – water temp below 10 degrees.

db 105, 5126 freo, 6157 secape, gps 114 so we wiggled around a bit as expected, day 60, 50 to sec. sunrise now around 0430 utc which is a good sign. generator still going – it seems not to work any more below about 5 knots – friction i suppose.

birds all around – not as many, but two or three medium sized albatrosses. i think we are too far north for the wonderful wanderers but we may get lucky. lets see whether africa is out there…it wasn’t – will have to wait till this evening.

here we go again. wind back to 35, ssw, 4 + 5 off and stowed, 2 storm jibs poled out. big swell from sw with cross swell – cant pick it. rain squalls, intermittent sunshine, alternate diamonds and dirty washing in the machine.

1100 – wind now steady 40+ kt – big seas building behind – berri behaving but quite a wild scary ride – have a 3 minute film of it – hope it works. can feel big surging rushes as we take off down waves. spume and froth racing past the kitchen window – must be back in the bus shelter. still no usable contact today with africa sailmail – very very frustrating – i know there are 10 messages waiting for us – will satcom this if no go tonight. back to mushroom soup and vera brittain – sitting wedged on the cabin floor in a piece of foam.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 19, 2005 - 1400hrs UTC │Clench-Inducing Sequences VI

1400hrs 19 Oct 2005 UTC 40’37”S 009’05”E Ref 458

steady 50+ – gusting 60 – just taken both poles and one jib off in huge breaking waves – dangerous work – berri sliding haphazardly off the sides – survival mode for the time being. shit i wish i could talk to africa sailmail. i don’t think it’s us but i can’t be sure and no one else is in range till tonight if we are lucky. warm and reasonably calm and quiet inside.
big slashing surges and rolls outside – making 8+ knots at times – storm jib gybes with some rolls – kevvo struggles it back. making a cup of tea – we’re both up and half partied in case we have to go out again. doesn’t seem to be easing and there’s another one behind it.

50 days of this will be a barrel of laughs.

my cup of tea tastes of mushroom soup. erk. just had the cockpit filled by a big roller. no sign of ease – should go thro very fast at this wind speed.

Later still…
this feels like cape horn all over. still hitting 60, savage short breaking seas, at least half mast height. very nasty. not in the brochure. grab bag prepared with epirb, satphone, gps, medicinal potions. grey knuckles in evidence. and there’s anther one to come. we’re trying to climb north to get a bit further away from the next one but v. slow. will try to gett sailmail msgs tonight, if unable, pse satcom anything important.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 19, 2005 - 1630hrs UTC

1630hrs 19 Oct 2005 UTC 40’28”S 009’15”E Ref 459

almost time for daily consultation with dr gordon. wooohooo. easing slightly outside – 45 – 50 have managed to pull in a grib and 2 mailcalls – absolutely amazed at the generosity of all y’all who have sent us donations – have no words – me yet. thank you all . we will put it towards the  satcomc account and try to stay in touch all the way.. i’m assuming that you would rather not have your names in lights  on the website but i’m sure steve can organise a list if needed. am also in touch with sailmailafricaby satcom and we are trying to find the problem.

as for the rest – i think that we should be able to keep the batteries charged all the way, with or without the generator, which is still giving some charge. we would prefer to go tohobartif possible and that remains the principal aim.

From Malcom C

 Bit of info.  The radio call sign for V/I Marion Dufresne is FNIN, the ship’s MMSI number (whatever that is) is 227235000.  This comes courtesy of P&O Marine Services, Hobart, who supply icegoing supply and oceanographic ships on contract to the Oz Govt.  Turns out David Vaudrey their Safety and Operations Manager was at CSIRO at same time as I was in the late 1970s, thought I recognised the name.  David also met you, Alex, a couple of years ago at the end of a S2H.  Still working on other info re Ile Amsterdam.

malcom, thanks for c/s and mmsi – i know how to use it – all to do with new ais systems. ours is 503039300.

timj – thnks for ct info – we hope to avoid it but really useful if things go pearshaped. kind thought. diana, yer a gem.  terry and susie – fancy freckles it is kids – just where the sun shines..

and hi to everyone else who wrote – you have no idea how it helps to get your messages in this sort of nastiness.

it does have its compensations. have just spent half an hour wedged at galley eating cheese and ryvita and hilary’s mum’s wonderful chutney and watching the waves crashing past – all rolling forwards at least twice as fast as us – but the birds – wow – the black topped guy with the splodges in particular – he’d come down close, facing into wind, wings spread just outside our niagara of a wash and run along the surface – little feet whirring, wings curved down, rounded face looking down. and the storm petrels look like little balls of black and white fluff as they jing and swerve and just flollop. the bigger petrels fly down the wavefronts into wind and do spectacular wingovers and race down the backs of the waves.

time to wake pete – he’d even sleep through a consultation. we’re planning a special one for trafalgar day.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 19, 2005 – 2130hrs UTC

2130hrs 19 Oct 2005 UTC 40’05”S 009’30”E Ref 460

Now easing but still some big waves amplifying across the swell and smiting us might blows upon our tender sides. There should now be up to a day of relative calm then it’s on again bigtime from the north, backingnorth west. We have climbed to the north and will continue to do so and try to get as far from the hard stuff as we can. The Examiner seems to be on the road again in boots and leathers.

Limited contact with Sailmail but will continue to use when possible.

Hot meal earlier – can of Asda chunky chicken in indeterminate cream sauce with can of corn and can of spuds absolute magic. That Pete is a genius.

Will send this while we have contact.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 19, 2005 - 2359hrs UTC

2359hrs 19 Oct 2005 UTC 39’54”S 009’34”E Ref 461

From Jez Rowles, Essex, UK

Every day continues to amaze me, and I wanted to let you know the pleasure it is to get home and log onto the berri site to follow the happenings in your world.  Your adventures are being shared with my kids aged 3, 2 and 8 months and have replaced their more usual bed time stories over the last 2 weeks.  With the exception of Joe (my 2 year old) who has started mumbling “”kevvo”” as he drifts off to sleep, they seem none the worse for the experience !

Given the power problems you have currently, I have taken steps to wean the kids off of tales from the southern ocean and tonight we have read “”Across the Nullabor””.  A lovely little kids book that my wife brought back from some Australian travels.  It’s not quite the same but at least the accent I am assuming is consistent.  I hope you can keep up with the words and the regular updates to the log but rest assured that this corner of Essex (a long, long way from berri ) will be thinking of you and willing you on.  A few more references to Pirates and Princesses in the text of your log may be useful in keeping the interest of the family until Boxing day, but if you can’t manage that I’ll just keep adding them on the semi-random basis that I have been using until now.  

Keep pushing on.


To Lizzie, Joe and Harvey Rowles – our youngest fans ever, average age about three – Hello! I expect you are all tucked up in snozzy warm pyjams with  – who?? Do you have Teddies? An old sock? I used to have a brown bear but I can’t remember his name. We’re in a little boat in a VERY BIG ocean and it is wet and windy where we are – and cold too. I sometimes go to bed with my gloves and beanie on! And my smelly socks. My bed moves up and down and sideways all night – does yours? Look after your dad and tell him a nice bedtime story! We hope you can come and see us one day. Alex and Pete.

Not much to report immediately. It’s been a long day and we’re still rolling wildly but the wind is back to about 25. We are heading NNE with just the storm jib and will probably climb to about 3930 before turning east again. That should ease the pain of

things to come just a little – we hope! A superb Turner night – moon behind ridged craggy cloud with glowing edges, storm jib and rig and Izzo’s tell tales (what’s left of them after Henry’s bit and the wind) are silhouetted against the mottled glow. Enough moonlight to reflect off the waves and the breaking tops.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 20, 2005 - 0530hrs UTC

0530hrs 20 Oct 2005 UTC 39’37”S 009’47”E Ref 462

Yesterday was a long and fairly grim day, so it seems to have been a good one to have tried to describe more or less as it happened. They are not all like that, although there is often a fair amount of underlying tension – in me anyway – when the wind is up around 40 kt. I won’t bore you with the same detail today – we’ve climbed nearly 70 miles to the north and at sunrise I gybed the boat – easy with just the storm jib – and pulled up the main with its first reef already set. Always a bit of a struggle solo because it usually has to come up with the wind holding it against the shrouds and invariably something gets caught at the cockpit end so have to tie off the halyard, go back and sort and return – sometimes several times. Today, the big fourth batten got itself twisted around in a loop of reefing line. Much backing and slewing. But it’s up and working, we’re heading east again and for the mo, all’s right with the world. I’ve just changed Kevvo’s windvane from small to large. There’s a big residual swell running – the principal one from the SW, with another from the south and maybe a third from the NW.

We expect the wind to soften and then come in again at 40+ from the NW and back to the west at the top of the next low some time tomorrow morning. Being a bit further north may take some of the biff out of it.

Hallo Lizzie, Joe and Harvey. What are you having for breakfast? I had some biscuits dipped in a cup of tea for mine. I think you have heard about our metal friend called Kevvo – he’s a sort of robot who steers the boat when we need both hands and sometimes both feet as well to do other things. We don’t think there are any pirates out here but he looks out for them too. He’s steering now and I expect he’s hoping a metal princess will appear one day out of the misty sea so he can run away and live happily ever after – I hope not because we need him! Your dad says he is reading you a book about the Nullabor – I’d like to read that! – soon, I hope, we will be sailing along past the Nullabor across the bottom of Australia.

From Allan C.

Two handed Watch-Keeping systems.

On a recent trip coming back from the Azores on ‘Morgan le Fay’, (eight days from Ponta Delgada to Bayonna and five days from Ria Muros to Dartmouth) we tried a new watch keeping system that had been recommended to us. We would now firmly pass on the recommendation to others to try it for themselves.

 For the short handed crew of two the problems of the well used ‘3 on/3 off’ or ‘4 on/4 off’ and their dog-watch variants are that during the off-watch period one invariably concentrates upon catching up on sleep with usually little time remaining to cook, read, converse and enjoy the trip.

 At first glance the new system seemed a little daunting with its longer spells on watch, but even after just the first two days we found it to be the best system that either of us had used.

We found that it gave us each plenty of sleep and relaxed time for the off-watch activities, whilst importantly being wide-awake on-watch even during the night hours. We both commented that not once did we have that “”oh no, not another two hours to go””, nor was there the depressing struggle for another ten minutes sleep before one’s turn. At the end of each trip there was no tiredness.

The alternating watches are self-rotating:
0000 to 0400   
0400 to 0800
0800 to 1300
1300 to 1900
1900 to 2400

If it worked for us, it should work for you.

Allan C, thanks for watchkeeping system – we’re pretty much stuck in a routine after nearly ten months at sea but we’ll think about it. It certainly looks sensible and if it works for you… May we post your note on the website please – I think all the sailors should see it.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 20, 2005 - 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 20 Oct 2005 UTC 39’34”S 010’06”E Ref 463

These logs seem to be rather Alex centred – because, I suppose, they more or less follow the gyrations of my undisciplined mind – but Pete is out there too – as i write, he is on the foredeck taking down the storm jib and setting the 4. When he’s ready, I will go up and work the halyard for him and then I’ll go to bed for a bit. Pete is writing a teriffic journal which he reads me bits of. We will get it transcribed when we get back and integrate it with these logs for The Book. Steve has everything date stamped including your emails so it will be a week or three of sitting at a terminal and two columns of files on a big screen and integrating entry by entry. Tedious but, I think, ultimately worthwhile. Thanks to the person who told us about the authors’ website – was it Caro? The madding crowd becomes a blur when I’m a bit knackered – still amazed by it all and your generosity with both money and personal thoughts and ideas. I think we will have to have two coming home parties – one in Oz and perhaps one in the UK so that we can meet as many of youse as possible and say thanks personally. Would that work? If so, where and how do we communicate? Worth thinking about?

Pete has just worked the halyard all by himself. Stalwart fellow. Makes a big difference – the boat is now balanced and Kevvo isn’t sweating in the yoke quite so much. So I can go to sleep for a bit. Will continue this with the 0900 fix.

3934 01006 20/0900 61/49

DB 100 gps 120; 6133 SEC, 5089 Freo, Not a good day for progress – we are only 24 miles closer to SEC. Mostly the climb to the north. Now have full main and 2. Almost no wind, as expected.

More fame: UK Yachting World 19th Oct: Berrimilla faces communication issue

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 20, 2005 – 1115hrs UTC

1115hrs 20 Oct 2005 UTC 39’32”S 010’13”E Ref 464

We’re in mega-wallow with no wind and huge SW swell with the others across it. Seemed a good time to use a litre of precious diesel to charge the battery fully and move us forward a few miles. Expect some wind this afternoon from the NW.

It is about to be Trafalgar Day in Tonga, NZ Oz and points west as the day progresses. At some time we will dust off Nelson’s portrait, now getting a bit tatty at the edges – and broach the rum bottle in his memory and of all those who died that day.

Will try to give Cape Town Radio a courtesy call later as well – we are about 500 miles SW of them. Still 450 to the barn door, but the next few days’ westerlies should fix that. The satcom forecast for the area says 25 – 45 so we’re on again, as expected.

We have just witnessed a Convocation of Albatrosses – there are about 10 of them around us, medium sized, dark grey on top of the wings white tails and heads, lighter grey under wings, white belly. Yellow beaks, I think, with a line back from the eyes. The bigger ones have a light brown chinstrap. They all decided to settle on the water 30 metres astern – I tried to film them but without much success – there’s too much wallow going on. But they are superb to watch and they hoon in just over the stern telling us to chuck them some fish.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 20, 2005 - 1800hrs UTC

1800hrs 20 Oct 2005 UTC 39’25”S 010’47”E Ref 465

We had a small Trafalgar-Day-on-the-Dateline rum for the dead on both sides and we’re due for another in our own timezone tomoz. Would a’ been nice to have been in Port Stanley – JMB, hope you have a good one.

And we’ve just had our evening G&T as the sun set almost directly astern behind some formless soft grey cloud that gradually emerged into ridges and layers as the sun gave it some backlight. Not a lot of attitude there  – we were expecting – and I think will still get – some more serious biff out of it but it may have slowed down a bit. Still a huge swell and 40 kts for a couple of days over the top of it will be something straight from the Examiner.

There’s a new Albatross – lighter coloured, with a white head and beak, light grey wings with white slashes about a third of the way out and dark tips under the wings. Maybe 2.5metre span – about as big in the body as a small goose.

Fenwick – your erudition constantly amazes – where have you been hiding it? Is this a manifestation of The Cringe? Perhaps if you were to shave once a week or so and wash occasionally, people would give you the respect your obvious talents deserve. Say G’day from us at the Lord Howe briefing – the first we’ve missed for a long time – and Hi to Campbell and Craig and Clive and all on the Island. Good luck with the shirt auction.

Mark – thanks for port info – I’d forgotten about Albany but that’s clearly the way to go if we do need to call in. Steve will forward your info as we get closer. Thanks re the Ampair – we’ve got all the bits – wind kit, towing frame etc – all we really need is the actual generator body. Ours is still putting out some charge and every day gets us closer. I think that with careful conservation, we will make it across, even using sailmail and the HF and might manage direct to Hobart. Far too far out to speculate. We’ve yet to pass Africa.

From Jez R. Essex, UK

Kids and father thrilled by news of Pirates and Princesses from the southern ocean.  Bedtime a major success here, kids sleeping soundly and I’m about to take a consultation of my own. 

Keep the miles and the words coming, and I’ll keep L, J & H up to date with your adventures.

Lizzie, Joe and HarveyKevvo says Hi – in his tinny and rather squeaky voice. He’d wave as well except that his hands are holding the tiller lines really tight so he doesn’t let go. No princesses yet, though a big seabird called an albatross nearly pooed on him yesterday.

20/2200 and the wind is coming in – 25 – 30 now and we’ve dropped the main and set the 4 in anticipation of quite a bit more. But we’re heading east, 400 to the barn door and the I.O.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 20, 2005 – 2300hrs UTC

2300hrs 20 Oct 2005 UTC 39’30”S 011’17”E Ref 466

Another salute – a week early because I want it out there before Steve leaves for the UK. This one is to a couple of guys without whom all this could never have happened. Stephen Jackson in Sydney and Malcolm Robinson in Hobart take it in turns to run the website – it owes its entire existence to these guys. They are berri@berrimilla.com and anyone who has sent us an email via the website has talked to one of them. You can join me in my roar of applause by sending them smileys at berri@…Thanks also to Tricia and Megan for accepting with the equanimity that they do, the disruption that all this must cause.

Malcolm: He turned up on the jetty a few years ago at the Royal YC of Tasmania and asked if we knew of anyone who needed a crew. A likely lad we thought – jump on, mate. Since then he’s done umpteen Hobarts, and Lord Howes and we’ve learned to love him dearly. He’s a sailor’s sailor – great downwind helmsman, not as good as me ;-) upwind in Berri but in his own boat probably about 10 % better. Courage is not about blind leaps but about calculated risk and facing known – or unknown – fears with ones eyes open. I remember a wild kite ride on one of the Hobarts – I bet Mal does too –  where we had the assy up in about 35 knots right, right out on the edge – swell building, Mal steering, averaging about 7 knots, catching waves and scared absolutely fartless. So was I. I could see his grey knuckles and was trying not to interfere cos I knew he was doing better than I could ever hope to do. He was cold and wet and – at last at one level, enjoying himself despite the shivers. We had a near wipeout with a bigger wave and a simultaneous gust and I pulled the plug – kite down and a relieved Mal – but he’d have stayed there if I’d asked him to. I think that was the ride that lifted us into third place that year. He’s a bit of a whizz with nerdery and he is responsible for the tracking charts and the photo albums on the website along with lots of enormously helpful advice. Thanks Mate, for heaps  and good luck with the new boat.

Stephen: what can I say. A perfectionist for a start – he is an accredited Olympic measurer and measured the Sydney olympic marathon course for SOCOG to within a few nanometres – double checked by another guy from the UK. Also stark raving bonkers. He’s skydived out of a Russian Antonov cargo plane onto the North Pole, climbed various mountains in Nepal and South America, has run 42 marathons with a best time of 2:32:17 (BASTARD! mine’s 2:41.49, so he’d have been 2k ahead of me), raced cars and motor bikes and push bikes, is a nerd with an MBA from AGSM, working towards a PhD. and has worked all over the world in various IT jobs. He sailed in the ’03 Hobart with us – that’s him on the website in the big white hat, (Mal is behind him in a harness, I think) he is our beloved El Pres in the Sydney Striders, is married, has 3 kids and is off to the UK on Nov 22 to marry one of them off and, incidentally, to collect our RORC award from Janet and Caro and bring it back. If anyone wants to buy him a beer while he’s over there, berri@berrimilla.com will find him until he leaves. I suggest an inaugural Convocation of UK Berri Webbers at Shepherd’s Tavern in Shepherd’s Market off Curzon St in London one day in November. In his spare time, he spends 24 hours a day running the website for us and keeping all y’all up with the news. Steve, I dips me lid bigtime. Some debts of gratitude go way beyond words. Thanks.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 21, 2005 – 0350hrs UTC

0350hrs 21 Oct 2005 UTC 39’28”S 011’48”E Ref 467

Local Trafalgar day. We are feeling a bit embarrassed by all your continuing generosity. It is wonderful and we are grateful beyond words but, all the same, unexpected and rather special. Thank you all. It seems we may need to use the SatCom C to stay in touch rather more than I had hoped and I will use your donations exclusively to fund that expense. If there is anything left when we get home, we’ll put it on the bar at the coming home party(s?).

We are just north of the Panzarini Seamount and west of the much bigger Schmitt-Ott seamount. The seabed here is about 4500 metres down and these seamounts rise almost vertically to around 2500 metres. This is very like the formations on which Lord Howe Island and Ball’s Pyramid are perched. I can’t pan out far enough on the laptop to see the whole formation but it looks like the remains of a massive crater – volcano or asteroid strike?

The wind is back – 35+ and, so far, not too savage. We’re running off slightly under just the #4, surfing every now and then. Grey bleak dawn, rain, amorphous cloud, low, baleful and determined. We may have a couple of days of it – I’m hoping to be able to pull in a grib when I try to send this – if not, then the Satcom forecast which is text rather than graphic so less user friendly.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 21, 2005 - 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 21 Oct 2005 UTC 39’30”S 012’26”E Ref 468

DMG 97 – day’s run 108, gps 115.

Steve I’ve turned off the satcom to conserve but will use it as necessary. Will stop messing about with numbers in the DB – in future, now that I can do a reasonable estimate, I will just give you DMG to SE Cape and the other 2 numbers to show how efficient or otherwise we have been. [62 / 48]

Lizzie, Joe and Harvey ellooo! Do you want to know why Berrimilla wanders all over the ocean instead of going in a straight line? It’s that Kevvo again, playing games with the Albatrosses which keep trying to bomb him with poo -Edit and an Albatross is a BIG bird so it’s got buckets of the stuff but it is a very clever eater so it doesn’t need to poo very often – maybe once a month – and when Kevvo sees one coming he gives one of the tiller lines a little tweak and Berrimilla gives a little wiggle, old Alby glides past and there we are – wiggling along. Albatrosses sleep while they are flying. If they didn’t, they would get very tired because they fly for days and days. If there was a very tired Alby and it wanted to lie flat on its back with its wings spread out for a snooze (which it wouldn’t, but it’s a nice idea!) then it would need a bed about twice as long as yours for each wing and another one in the middle for its body – they are very big. And talking of Alby poo – which we were, they don’t poo in browm lumps like people but in long white squirts. Penguins do the same, and because at times penguins stand around a lot you can easily tell where one has been standing because there is a big fan of long white squirts on the ground, usually all around a muddy patch where its feet were. Good fun. If that’s all too scatological, Jez, holler and I’ll tone it down.

And if anyone else want’s to know why we can’t sail in a straight line, it’s cos I had to invent a bedtime story. So there!

Can’t believe it but the wind seems to be dropping out. Definitely not in the guide book. We’re poled out with the cutdown and the 5 expecting 30+ and its sunny, gently wafting breeze, clear blue sky. Probably not for long, as we’ve learned.

Local time Trafalgar day rum about to happen. We called RANSA on the batphone to wish them a good party and to say thanks for their generosity – sorry guys, I don’t know who I spoke to because it was an awful connection but it was nice to be able to say G’day to youse all. Also Don P, but you were out.

From Liz F. Yachtmaster

I ‘m not in the habit of communicating with guys I’ve never met but as you rightly stated you need to know if you’re efforts are hitting the right spot. Well I’m impressed, Yachting Monthly ran an interesting article on you, how they kept you still long enough to get a story I don’t know. I’ve only been in sailing a few years but I get a thrill from reading about real life experiences, the more hairy the better. So far my worst nightmare has been trying to pee in a force 7 off Harwich Harbour East coast UK, when the seat broke off and my head bounced against the door I remember thinking what a struggle it must be to survive a passage in the Southern Ocean, at least I get to come home and have a hot bath.

Thank you for your web site I shall keep an eye on it.

Liz – flying loo seats are indeed a health hazard. I’ve often wondered how it might be possible to make life easier for women in boats and I thought that the women who fly in the Space Shuttle probably have special seat gadgetry attached, of course to some sort of suction – but the basic gadgetry might be adaptable to a marine toilet. Drum roll for some dreadful puns about certain boat fittings with very male specific names…. Anyway, I’ll ask the question, if the answer isn’t already on the NASA website. Mal??

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 22, 2005 – 0400hrs UTC

0400hrs 22 Oct 2005 UTC 39’39”S 014’11”E Ref 469

We’re struggling on a bit here. Back to NW 35 kts, huge following sea, storm jib only and only making SE. Should back to W later today. Bloody uncomfortable, noisy, jerky and unpleasant. It has just started to rain – another cold, bleak dawn No wonder the old sailors called this the Cape of Storms. Will we never get past Africa? We’re in warm water – 16 degrees – so must be the Agulhas current mixing with the S. Atlantic.

Malcom – tis is a big empty ocean. As far as I know, we have ‘seen’ only two ships since the Cape Verdes on AIS and we never actually saw them visually. AIS works from a vhf signal transmitted on Ch 70 – mandatory for all vessels over 300 dwt. We have a vhf aerial dedicated to it about a metre and a half above the water on the pushpit and the range would be line of sight to that aerial, so depends a bit on the transmitting aerial but not likely to be more than about 20 miles max. In the English Channel, the screen was cluttered with ships. The software tracks them and gives essential safety info – CPA etc – as well as mmsi and destination, ships name, course, speed etc if transmitted. We don’t transmit, just listen, but we can send DSC messages after receiving a hit – either general or specifically to the mmsi number to wake them up – we hope!

Jennifer, good to have you back, Tim, watch those vapours! Bill W, hope you had a good party, Maureen and Ralph – we look forward to meeting you.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 22, 2005 - 0530hrs UTC

0530hrs 22 Oct 2005 UTC 39’40”S 014’18”E Ref 470

It has been said – I think – that when a person dies, a library is lost. Underlying a lot of these idle ruminations – with apologies to the goat – is a desire to trawl through the library and perhaps trail some of the odder or more interesting bits before all y’all as a very non-captive audience. Without wishing to be too pretentious and without any expectations, I’d like to leave some of it as the seeds in your minds – to teach, to surprise, perhaps to annoy, maybe disgust and I hope, always to stimulate. I know Pete feels the same way and his journal does it with a lot more humour than I can, as I hope you will all see eventually.

So to receive the sort of feedback we’ve just had from Mark makes the sun shine on the bleakest of days. Like today. Thanks Mark, for taking the time to put it all down and I’m beyond belief delighted that you actually went looking for Kathleen Ferrier and, having found the record, were moved by it in the same way as I have always been. And to all of you who have hung in there for the journey, thanks as well – it is just possible that you are, by not voting with your feet (fingers?), telling us that some part of the message works for you. Or, perhaps, it’s just morbid curiosity. But you’re out there and I’m moved to write – it’s the immediacy of the experience that grabs me – an idle thought transcribed and on its way so easily – something I just can’t do in longhand. Well, easily except for the exigencies of the bloody USB thingy. I get about three crashes for ever five connects. Tedious.

This is very difficult to write. Berri is rising and falling about 20 feet over each ordinary wave and much more over the bigger ones, with the underlying swell making the whole world gyrate and tilt and roll and slew and crash. I am sort of wedged at the nav table, knees locked underneath, but my backside describes a semicircle around the seat with my knees as the pivot and my shoulders often trying to go the opposite way. My wrists are – as much as possible, the reference points, held tightly so the flesh welts against the fiddle on the nav table with fingers sometimes within range of the keys. In a fairground, you’d pay for this and probably hate it. What can I say?

Before I climbed up here, I spent a contemplative hour, midst the howl and crash and niagara noises, real green water rushing past the windows and the storm jib’s quivering, sitting on the cabin floor, back to nav table, feet braced across the boat against the locker under the sink. I had a mug of coffee and went carefully through the dunking ritual (it’s been a four biscuit morning) and, perhaps for the first time, wished I wasn’t here. There’s going to be a lot more of this in the next two months and I’m getting a bit weary, I think. But the old farts will persist, persevere, push on and overcome. Dr Cooper will soothe the savage breast in due course. Sir Malcolm Sargent thought it was music that did that and said so one year at the Proms. He didn’t know the half of it!

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 22, 2005 – 0835hrs UTC

0835hrs 22 Oct 2005 UTC 39’40”S 014’33”E Ref 471

back to 65+ knots. whole boat shuddering and shaking. wind at shriek level. halyards vibrating like machine guns in gusts. pete wedged in the bog, i’m making cajun spice potato cakes. trying to pull in a grib as well – continuous bloody crashes. spbf. fix in an hour. 5 crashes in a row – basically unable to transmit on hf. no sailmail, no grib. bugger. satcom cranking up again.

250 to the barn door if we can keep it together. all a bit tense.

going through the spice drawer for potato cake stuff – found a cat hair – hallo cascade.


1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 22, 2005 – 0920hrs UTC

0920hrs 22 Oct 2005 UTC 39’39”S 014’36”E Ref 472

db: dmg 114, gps 106 (crashes) day’s run 101 – all looks a bit fishy. 63/47 – also looking a bit pear shaped. these storms were not in the equation. short burst of unshine – wind temporarily back to 30+. managed to get the grib – three more days of this followed by a high cell. unpleasant prospect. surface of sea has huge moving white patches, massive wind lines, horizontal spray all glistening tn the sunlight. consultaation was very welcome this morning. wendy p, we’re saving your specials – cape agulhas, half way across, cape leeuwin, se cape, iron pot. will report. waves shorter and steeper than cape horn – not as high – more savage and destructive, if that’s possible.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

“Extreme adversity promotes an extraordinary intensity of living”

1340hrs 22 Oct 2005 UTC 39’32”S 014’58”E Ref 473

Ed: most messages from Berri are prefixed with some instructions / requests / advice / or just “not for publication” gnashing of teeth. The majority is for publishing, as in “for public consumption”, but not all. For example, this one came with:
Steve, i think i can go on working it at very low fx which don’t yet seem to crash the usb., so i might get connected late in the (local) day and early in the morning and i will pick up what i can. might improve after these storms have gone.

… and then we are back to into “update mode”:
vera brittain writes vividly about how extreme adversity promotes an extraordinary intensity of living. it would be crass to compare situations – she was in field hospitals witrhin range of the guns – but i know exactly what she means. we’ve had a constant 45+ ihitting 65 for about 24 hours – te seas are now massive, white, seething masses of roiling crashing water – berri rides most of it but we sometimes ger a broadside hat bodily lifts the boat and slams us against the next wave. very frightening – lucky the freckles are so well polished – the amount of clenching going on at the moment would severely damage a scruffy one. and we have at least another three days of it, during which the seas will increase and the freckles will no doubt continue their exercises. it is awful ust to have to sit it out and take whatever hits us – not an unfamiliar situation but never pleasant. so be prepared for a constant whinge from down here. if it stops, we’re in trouble..

the font in this satcom application is tiny and half thetime i cant read what i’ve written because the boat is moving so violently so ally’all will have to interpret some of the spelling mistakes. sorry

my potato cakes were a disaster – turned out not to set properly and ended up as brown mashed potato. will try next time without oil or egg and see it that works. the sky seems to be closing in – its getting very dark out there – what will it bring. huge crash, bow lifted round about 60 degrees. wish i was an engineer and understood something about impulse loads on boats. mostly the rig isnt stressed – onle when we get slammed and iy wats to keep going. another one – and heavy rain and 70+ gust. barometer has dropped slightly. almost constantly under water – hope it olds together. heavy driving rain – vis down to yards – perhaps this is one of the fronts. there are apparently several lows around us – out of the frying pan…. suddenly it stops 40 kts only – bliss for a few moments. will keep these short and keep sending more frequently that via sailmail. luxury and hang the expense..

trying to claw north as fer as we are able. ain’t no place for wimps down here.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 22, 2005 – 1600hrs UTC

1600hrs 22 Oct 2005 UTC 39’21”S 015’03”E Ref 474

it has eased for a bit – a gentle 40 + knots – and the sun is out, low in the sky with a hard metallic light – intense blue grey sea with 100 metre seething milky trails roaring off behind the huge breaking waves. when we get caught in one, berri starts almost underwater, shakes erself off and rolls back down the frothy streak – the sound is quite different from the normal crash – more a fierce hissing bubblung surge. the sun shines through the breaking crests giving brilliant radiance – diamonds on a velvet cushion – except they are moving at about 20 knots and have enormous power. still quite violent movement but tolerable. moreto come though. we are able to climb north for a bit, so may make life easier. i think dec 11 @ se cape is now a folorn hope but we’ll keep trying.

at the very height of the storm, in the worst gusts, a solitary albatross hovered over the stern riding the fury, wingtips twitching to keep station. wonderful sight.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 23, 2005 - 0615hrs UTC

0615hrs 23 Oct 2005 UTC 38’39”S 015’52”E Ref 475

After the storm – there’s a calm peacefulness about 35 knots, flat early sunlight, metallic grey blue sky, smaller warehouses rolling in from behind and, eerily, at right angles from the side (I’ve just seen two breaking crests creaming in towards us – one from the west and one from the north and the point where they meet a steep pyramid of foamy power). Don’t know whether this is a lull or we’ve climbed over the worst of it. Anyway, we are looking at the barn door again a bit under 200 miles ahead. We have a sort of horizon on each side but the warehouses behind have their own moving sawtoothed breaking presence that is never low enough to form a horizon.

I remember sitting in the cockpit yesterday in the midst of the uproar and chaos – stomach knotted with that sort of mild foreboding – not fear – that is always corroding the vitals but revelling in the majesty and indifference of the seething blasting masses of water and wind. The storm jib was set on a one metre strop, so the solid water was going underneath most of the time but the almost solid spray was hitting the orange sail all the way up and cascading down off it and blowing horizontally away under the foot and around the leech. Marvellous – the sail was glistening even in the gery gloom and broke into triumphant sparkling glory when the sun came out  for a few seconds in a gap in the scud. Football fields of white water undulating back from the breaking crests as the waves passed under us. And noise – you always remember the noise – a roaring shriek with spray buffeting the back of my hood and the hissing surge of tons of water smashing past and over the cockpit. Halyards banging and whirring, Kevvo’s vane horizontal, quivering and shaking.and the continuous thump of the hull throwing aside vast masses of water into sheets of spray – the upwind sheet moving sideways, upwards and instantly curving back across the boat as the wind reached it.

And I remembered the single hander who was lost recently down here in one of these and was sad and the knotted foreboding felt like dread – but the spectacle was so vividly alive and enveloping that in the end it doesn’t frighten. And there was the albatross – serene in 60+ knots, – head to wind, looking down at me and laughing a lot.

It’s a lot scarier at night though.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 23, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 23 Oct 2005 UTC 38’38”S 016’13”E Ref 476

db: dmg 13, day’s run 94, gps 114, 64/46

the schedule is beginning to thicken at the hips – i reckon we are now about a week behind. generator persists in adding some charge but getting noisier. will persevere with sailmail, but i think may be constrained to lowest frequencies so only connect at local evening + dawn. usb now closes down every time i transmit on anything higher than 10 megs. have just received satcom mailcall from steve indicating satcom still working – small panic during the night when i thought it had died as well.

sparkling day  some low cloud, 30+ knots and remains of huge swell – no longer threatening but retains lots of attitude. we are occasionally surfing down the front of it with the 5 + storm jib. slewing massively from side to side, magnified here at the nav table towards the stern – very hard to stay put. typing this in sailmail so can see font, will transfer to satcom if cannot transmit. cockpit a mess at daybreak with tangled lines, crash pump awry, stowed gear displaced. there were some big ones sloshing into it during the worst part of the storm – how long has it lasted – seems we’ve been in it for days but perhaps not. kevvo magnificent.

now – big wave has just crashed across – deluge thro taped up vent over sink, they hit with an awful bang and surge and the boat heels way over. great powers fo recovery, so far. will send.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 23, 2005 – 1400hrs UTC

1400hrs 23 Oct 2005 UTC 38’49”S 016’29”E Ref 477

Ed: a satphone call at 1am Sydney time (1300UTC) to tell us that they had been knocked down twice, computer has flown across the boat, with bits flying everywhere, so comms severely limited.  As you can see, the comms have beenre-established… but still pretty ordinary out there…


just had 3rd knockdown – 7-0 -80 kty sea white vmast hi waves viciuos breaks from al directions lost glasses cant see kwbd – 4th kdown/ will just have to sit it out.. unfunny. love y’all.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 24, 2005 – 0500hrs UTC

0500hrs 24 Oct 2005 UTC 38’16”S 016’46”E Ref 478

We Are Not Amused. Full story later if this eventually blows thro. We’re still ok, minor damage. Running engin to charge. Will ring satphone approx 0900 utc for any meaasges  – if poss long range forecast ta. Bloody long night – everything soaked with condensation – didn’t have time in fmth to replace insulation. diff to keep computer dry. Satcop iffy, but will trty to keep turned on -pse send to both tfn. still huge waves, nasty breaks. Love yez all.

Ed: 20 mins later….

Will try quick blast while can. You’ll have to interpolate aound keyboard mistakes – good glasses still missing, also one sandal – how can you lose a sandal?? First knockdown was serious – threw me through leecloth (lesson 1 – not srong enuf) across boat in welter of gear- boat a shambles but all small stuff except big heavy draAWER UNDER NAV TABLE LIFTS IF BOAT ROLOLED TO STBD AND launches. Pete ok, laptop went flying in later knockdown little darling still running! Every wave potentially lethal thro night – much anal clenching. Have stitched together a bunk using spectra, cable ties and blind faith and should be ok – just had big crash – photos if poaa later. Having berri brekky bacon sand in ryvita and Doctor to lubricate passage. bare poling @ 3 kt NE

Schedule almost certainly stuffed – damn – will keep driving as wx imporves. May try to stay further N so Malcom, poss of contact(did i say that??)

Went around deck this am at dawn – moved banging halyards, put more knitting on main – has big tear v low down near gooseneck – not showstopper. Evidence of massive wave dumping onto cockpit – mob sling stove in etc – engine recalcitrant – bled and managed to start – battery charged – cant make water on this tack in these conditions to do with geometry of seacocks etc. (lesson 2)

Waiting for seas to abate – maybe! – then will try to sail. Birds stillall around – image of albatross in storm still vivid.

still gusting 50 – last grib 3 days old indicates calm patch in hi tomoz then another storm. Will keep trying to get north.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 24, 2005 – 0845hrs UTC

0845hrs 24 Oct 2005 UTC 38’11”S 016’55”E Ref 479

Ed: a satphone call from Alex Still crappy, heading 080 magnetic at 3knts bare poling. The inside of Berri is as wet as the outside – condensation threatening the various electronics. Not fun any more, so time to go home. Now. Still blowing 50 and no sign of abating. Albie still laughing at us.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 24, 2005 - 0946hrs UTC

0946hrs 24 Oct 2005 UTC 38’09”S 016’59”E Ref 480

will someone please tell the examiner that enough is enough. she is still dishing out a steady 50 kts, gusting 70 – truly alpine waves, marching endlessly and relentlessly past. not much fun – but we’re coping. thanks to all who have written lovely to have your support in this little mess just been catapulted sideways whole boat shuddering wind intermediate shriek, scream back to howl. still cant read this font – still cant find good glasses using pair of plastic fantastics.

From Chris P.

Your updates over the last couple of days have made sensational reading.  The descriptions of the wind and waves and how Berri was coping were making me clench like mad, so goodness only knows what it must be like for you in the middle of it.  Yours is truly an epic voyage – one that will go down in the annals of seafaring (hope I got the spelling right there!).

While agreeing with you about Kathleen Ferrier and BTWS for deep impact, I would also nominate R Strauss’s ‘Four Last Songs’ as being its equal – but only if sung by Elizabeth Schwartzkopf – closely followed by parts of Mahler’s Second.  Then again, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk and Billie Holiday can be pretty profound as well.

With you in spirit

chris – p, not n, yay – mr monk in particular. chris n  nice to hear from u too.

cant sit here for too long – have to keep fighting the condensation. i think we may get a bit of a break tomoz but bloody usb wont let me transmit to get grib so no wx worth speaking about. s african cape east forecast twaddles on about 25 knots  pih, i say. and tush. wot a lot of codswallop.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 24, 2005 – 1040hrs UTC

1040hrs 24 Oct 2005 UTC 38’07”S 017’01”E Ref 481

all y’all will no doubt find this silly but the tears are streaming down my cheeks as i write. set out to backtrack the fix and discovered that my merlin calculator was part of yesterdays detritus must have come out of its plastic bag mid flight across the boat and into the awful heap of sludge that it always created by bad knockdowns.

my lovely old friend, a present from h + k + e for christmas all those years ago and cherished through numerous hobarts and it’s dead. corpsed. a thoroughly ex-calculator. i am devastated. no numbers for today, in remembrance.

did find my glasses in the same heap of grot and bilge water and burst teabags so some tiny compensation.

oh poooo. there is no real compensation. sniffle. lizzie – or joe – or harvey – please may i borrow your bear?.

as a result, have spent the last hour taking apart and reassembling starboard qberth where ready use stores are kept. disaster area – mainly because of burst bags of teabags mixed  with bilge water and other nasties. amazing what else you find.as well – mostly unrecognisable. still no let up – 60 kt gust, crashing wave next to my face, water slashing across the decks. daren’t try to film it – far too much flying water – really sad because it is absolutely magnificent as a spectacle – just bloody frightening when it really gets aggro. waves brilliant jade green-blue sparkling translucent – stunningly beautiful as they rear up to crash down on us – or just dirty grey if the sun has gone. at night, massive solid dark shapes tinged with white, sometimes flecks of phosphorescence – rearing up blotting the stars and moon. then the awful crash and shudder of solid cascading water.

1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 24, 2005 – 1400hrs UTC

1400hrs 24 Oct 2005 UTC 38’00”S 017’11”E Ref 482

070m @ 3.5kt

hi k ta  hi is hi jeanne pete asleep.

this getting worse. steady 60 blasting seas. series of driving rainsqualls.  ‘maybe short lull in hi in next day or so, then the next one looks wrse than this one. perbloodyserverence. is all we got.  and some gin.  love yez