1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin


Logs ( 37 )

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 22, 2005

Today’s the day that Caroline goes to the RORC Awards Dinner to receive our Seamanship award. I’ve been thinking a lot about that award and, it seems to me, special recognition by one’s peers in a very hard school in a difficult discipline is about as good as it can possibly get. I’m not in any position to make comparisons, but for quiet enjoyment of a small place in the cobwebs of history, I think that for me it beats an Olympic medal hands down, when once I thought that an Olympic medal was all there was. I have a sneaky feeling that Pete is out here on the same twig. I might perhaps predict that the Examiner, great expositor of the truth that she is, will give us a Credit or skinny Distinction for planning and an HD for execution. We’ll see. We still have to make that start line. I’ve got a lot of time for the Examiner – she’s been fair, exacting, astonishingly tough and, in the end, just a bit forgiving. Onya, Ma’am. What University gave you the hot pink hood? And for what?

If all y’all who are doing your RORCus stuff tonight get to read this first, you can bet London to a brick that the two of us are going to be hanging out with the satphone in cotton wool waiting for Caro’s post-award phone call at 2300. We will have Dave’s RANSA Bundy at the ready for a very special celebration.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 22, 2005 – 0300hrs UTC

0300hrs 22 Nov 2005 UTC 45’18”S 084’59”E Ref 574

we are just passing 85e – half way between cape agulhas and secepe and i have my celebratory wendy in my hand. thanks, wendy, your specials and your tin of chocolates have sustained us mightily along this rather difficult first half.  it has taken us 27 days – seems like a century – and we have the same distance to go. 27 days would be just within schedule for tasman island, but i hope – fervently, voraciously – that we’ll do this half a bit faster.

we’re in the top right corner of a nasty tight little low and it’s 40 kts ish and rough and violent. but today is a special day – if i can send this, could anyone at rorc please tell janet, peter or caro that we’ll plug the phone into the boat at 2230 and keep listening until midnight. it is likely to be pretty nasty here, so connection might be spotty – if it drops out, try again immediately and keep trying until 2330. after that i will call caro’s mobile a couple of times. have a grand party and if you hear strange noises, it’s probably us muttering in the wings.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 22, 2005 – 1023hrs UTC

1023hrs 22 Nov 2005 UTC 45’06”S 085’54”E Ref 575

db: dmg 129, gps 137 distance to sec 2572 margin 491+9=500, day 94, 35 to start, 26 to ti. definitely still in the game – watch this space.

sad moment during the night – doing a sailchange with the spreader lights on, lots of crash and bother, and an albatross flew into the forestay and flopped into the water beside the boat looking very cross – must have been blinded by the light – i do hope it wasn’t hurt.

Passing the time so that the pain of each metre is muffled by little achievements and the buoyancy of expectation is a fine art. Some marathon runners can just absorb the experience and grind away – Zen and the Art of Marathon Running, perhaps. I can only do that in short bursts, so I need to substitute distractions. The athletics coach at my old school, who I think was a closet Zen Master, taught me to concentrate – fiercely, to the exclusion of everything else, but without tension – on the tip of my nose. Having got that far, just imagine that it has fallen off and is floating down like a falling leaf. If you can get to the necessary stage of relaxed concentration, you will feel your face muscles, then your neck, upper body, torso and legs relaxing and feeling the lightness and the rhythm. It sounds silly – but it isn’t. It works like magic, but the trick is to remember to do it when the brain is turning to mush at 36k. Like now – which feels like about 32 k – and it is really a short term technique, which I’m trying to develop into something that works over longer periods. Today’s little distractions – we passed half way across the pond and we arrived on a weather system plotting chart which starts at 85E and extends to NZ so I’ve plotted each day’s run at 120/day = 21 days to SE Cape and every day we get an extra 10 miles saves us 2 hours.

There’s a gale warning for the Western area – us. So what’s new!

We’ve just about run out of snacky stuff – little cans of fish, savoury crackers, cans of beans and all the rest, so I’m making bread every three days or so and eking out the chocolate and remaining biscuits. We are being very careful with our remaining metho – line ball on that one. We will run out of McVities digestive dunkers about a week out, I think,  but by then just about any deprivation will be tolerable. Passing half way also frees up our carefully hoarded stash of gin – wooohooo! – and we get a Bundy tonight to celebrate the RORC award. We’re going to get Berri snugged down so that we won’t need to do any sail changes from 2100 – 0000 and we can take Caro’s phone call in relative peace, but then it’s all on again. It’s not too bad at the mo – 40ish but the seas are not threatening. We are broad reaching with just the #5 at anywhere between 5 and 8 knots on the GPS. No other instruments, satcom is switched on to get the EGC weather and Malcolm’s sked.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 23, 2005 – 0250hrs UTC

0250hrs 23 Nov 2005 UTC 45’04”S 087’48”E Ref 576

DB: dmg 120, gps 134, dtg  2452, margin 500, day 95, 34 to start, 25 to TI.(Shld be last sentence in this message)

How much better can it get? We are hooooning downwind twinned at 7 – 8 kts, huge breaking following sea, intermittent sunlight and sparkle, Berri rolling and skewing like crazy – and – get this – the dolphins are back, cavorting all around us in the chaos. Wonderful. And we have had a lovely series of garbled phone calls from Drapers Hall, London, and the RORC awards. We spoke to Caro, Janet, Chris (yes! He does exist, unless it was another dero in the next bus shelter along!!) Laura, Roger, John and at least one other person whose name got lost in the noise. Sorry. There will be emails and photos. Thanks to everyone at RORC – huge honour and deeply appreciated and thanks to Caro for deputising and for phone calls. We finished Dave’s RANSA Bundy on the strength of all of that. One largish tot each was all there was. Roger, (PB not CYC) if you are reading this, PB could have a go along the lines you suggested, but way too late for this year, I think.

Australia has appeared on the GPS screen too – only the bottom left hand corner but we’re almost home. I think the odds have shifted our way – start line here we come.

For all y’all out there, this is a good moment for the deros in the bus shelter. Thanks in wheelbarrow loads for your interest and support and enthusiasm. It has been and is an extraordinary experience. If any of you feel the need for a challenge, Steve and I intend to get ourselves on to the start line of the 2007 London Marathon with as many of you as want to come along. Else, we’re going to miss you. Let us know. There might be a book launch at about the same time.

The next little milestone will be in the propagation engine in the sailmail package on the laptop. Africa is at 3026 miles, Firefly NSW at 3043. in about 7 miles, they will change places at the top of the stations list. WOOOHOOO. Then we will get to hear Derek on the long range Penta sked and we’ll know we’re almost back with a tick in the box.

Much too early to think about a coming home party yet, but get the idea at least pencilled into the relevant bit of the cortex and come along – it may be at very short notice.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 23, 2005 – 0545hrs UTC

0545hrs 23 Nov 2005 UTC 45’02”S 088’14”E Ref 577

the propagation engine has done it’s changeover and Firefly is now the nearest sailmail station. Still 3200 miles away but feels as i we are all but home! On larger matters, we should pass about 600 miles south of Cape Leeuwin, the fourth Cape, in about 10 days. Present progress would get us to SE Cape, the fifth and last, on Dec 11th. That would be close to a Houdini special.

Sal at the Key – tks for yr note – looking forward to seeing +16 at the heads. If no see, onya re the Cape Town/Salvador and all the best. Watch those lows!

John McK and Phil W, thanks for notes and encouragement. The Albatrosses will be pleased too.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 23, 2005 - 1930hrs UTC

1930hrs 23 Nov 2005 UTC 44’59”S 089’59”E Ref 578

for the last few days we have been running the line between the tight low pressure systems to the south and the ridging high to the north west and getting some loverly westerlies. the wind has swung to the sw and dropped to about 20 kts, so it seems the high is taking over. we have the #2 and the main up and we’re squeezing south to see whether we can pick up a bit more wind. i am now getting good clear weather faxes from the oz bom and so we can see what’s behind us and we can wiggle around a bit to try to keep the pressure on. we are a couple of miles short of 90 e – six hours ahead of gmt – and western australia is now a biggish chunk in the corner of the gps screen. the water t is 8.8 degrees. ssailmail via firefly is getting better and we’re still very much in the game. wooohooo.

for those of you that use them or intend to, you may not know that watermakers slow right down once the t gets below 10 degrees. worth remembering when you are calculating power and water needs. ours now gives about 2.5 ltrs/hour instead of the 4.5 in warmer water. this is a bit of a problem as we are so short of power – we run the watermaker whenever the engine is running and whenever the solar panel is getting a bit of sun and we seem to be holding our reserve. we need about 15 more days of watermaker and we can then start using the reserve.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 24, 2005 – 0300hrs UTC

0300hrs 24 Nov 2005 UTC 45’07”S 090’26”E Ref 579

how the mood changes. 24 huors ago, just after caro’s phone call i thought we were perfectly placed to ride the weather systems all the way home and it was all joyous optimism. now, it seems the developing high has taken over the whole australian bight and way out west past us. we have almost no wind – the most ephemeral of silky zephyrs – and we’re back in mega-wallow and the great slough of despond. the latest wx fax shows no prospect of change for at least 2 days, but possibly much longer. this will completely erode our 4 day margin as well as having other implications relating to supply of metho and other alcoholic substances. essentially, we seem to be about 100 miles too far north with no real prospect of relief. we are using any movement we can get to send us south, but it’s desperate stuff. we’re about to put the #1 up to catch what there is, and we’ll look carefully for the assy if it looks like helping. keep biting those nails.

perhaps the examiner has the one last stern question – take away their margin, slap a deficit on them and see what they are really made of. i don’t even know that myself.

at least xantic have come back to us – difficult problem, may take days to solve but here’s a work-around  – which, if you get this, is working.  we have configured the equipment to talk through a different land earth station.

[Ed: an hour later]

crank up the imagination into infinite improbability and try this one – two old farts in their sugar plum fairy kits tippy toeing across the stage on points from the bus shelter to the loo trying to stay behind the examiner’s back, avoid the pigeons and the dogs and keep the breeze… there’s just a tiny puff… poled out 1, full main… da da da da dada dah dada dah dada dah……

it’s not over yet

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 24, 2005 - 0715hrs UTC

0715hrs 24 Nov 2005 UTC 45’14”S 090’15”E Ref 580
sometimes it:’s absolutely bloody marvellous to be wrong. our rather gruesome tippy toe south across the stage seems to have done the trick. vmg back up to 6.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 24, 2005 – 0930hrs UTC

0930hrs 24 Nov 2005 UTC 45’20”S 091’10”E Ref 581
DB: dmg 104 gps 108 DTG 2348 margin 500-16= 486 day 96, 33 to start, 24 to TI. Still in front!

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 24, 2005 – 2053hrs UTC

2053hrs 24 Nov 2005 UTC 45’30”S 092’56”E Ref 582
hooning along – fingers and freckle at the firm clench.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 24, 2005 - 2145hrs UTC

2145hrs 24 Nov 2005 UTC 45’30”S 093’04”E Ref 583

we have our first taker for the 2007 london marathon – wooohooo – onya katherine. hope there will be lots more. i’m going to have to get my shoes back on – can’t wait for the day. not sure how we will organise this one but will discuss with steve when he gets back from london in a week or so and let all y’all know. must check out aeolus – at the moment, he’s only vaguely peripheral to my pantheon but if he’s that efficacious, we need him inimical. erk – did i really say that?

hooning along again – can’t quite believe it after this morning. 74 miles in 12 hours. very cautious optimism once again – things really do change so fast. there’s a gale warning around the cold front associated with the nasty great low to the sw, coming up behind us at 30 kts. once, the knees would have trembled a lot – no more. seems to be just what we need – bring it on. we’ve got about 30 kts up the collective chuff right now anyway. almost daylight outside – getting closer…

scott, thanks – cascade would be fine, but i think that customs might get sniffy if they find out – perhaps better to wait until we clear.

lynne mcc – welcome aboard – my last boat was a c29 – where do you and rowley keep them? we will miss this log too – the london marathon idea should keep something rolling, but it’s not quite the same.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 25, 2005 - 0720hrs UTC

0720hrs 25 Nov 2005 UTC 45’42”S 094’35”E Ref 584
lots to send but dont want to waste money on satcom if sailmail working – won’t know for about 4 hours – propagation still lousy – will satcom if contact iffy. really hooning for the mo – staying south to keep the wind – just taken off the cutdown – some hairy rooster tails at 12 knots…hi tim v, and noreen, tks for encouraging words, and ray from the rats g’day – hope you can take on an old geezer again for next year.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 25, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 25 Nov 2005 UTC 45’45”S 094’50”E Ref 585
db: dmg 153 gps 152 (?) dtg 2194, margin 484+33=517. day 91, 32 to start, 22 to ti. looking a bit better. on northern edge of gale warning, we think – good for progress. all the p’s needed from here – seems to go sooo slowly. crew details via salmail if i can get connection – propagation lousy.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

RORC Awards Report from Caro


Caro receiving the trophy – Photo from RORC website www.rorc.org

After the typical British train delays getting from Birmingham to London, I ran into the RORC with half an hour to get ready. The good news is, I can shower, dress and lightly paint my face fast and made it down to the bar with time to spare.

I joined Diane, the Commodore’s wife and a couple of other ladies in a cab from the club, in particular Anne, who was assigned to looked after me. She introduced me to a number of people but particularly John Burke, the out going Admiral who I was sitting with – lovely man. Laura was already at the table when I went into the dinning room and was getting to know the other guys on the table. I think she enjoyed the night.

After dinner the awards were handed out. Sorry I was so late calling, the awards went on longer than anticipated. As I mentioned Ellen MacCarthur wasn’t there. Nik’s award was the last given out, you were second last. The build up Janet gave you was just phenomenal. She basically explained the whole S2H, Fastnet S2H adventure, talked about the website and generally did you greater justice than I ever could. Then she introduced me with a bit of a build up as well, so I stuck by the advice I had been given to keep the speech short – particularly as the night was over running. I was specifically ask to tell everyone where you were so I opened with the 2,500 Miles to go and looking well on track to get home for S2H. I pointed out how impressed we all have been with the hospitality of the club and that I now you would have loved to have been with us. I can’t remember just how I said it but I think I spoke slowly and clearly and you got a standing ovation from much of the crowd
- well done.

Feedback from many of the people I spoke with after dinner and back at the club, everyone is just so impressed with you guys. I think the website hits might go up a bit over the next few days.

Sorry about all of the sporadic phones calls, as a few people discovered I could call you they were keen to chat – particularly the guy who wants to do the S2H light handed. I spoke to Nick Lykiardopulo briefly at the door as I we were leaving and I gave him a bit of an update on your position and he passed on his regards.

I have a couple of photos on my digital camera which I will down load at work tomorrow and send them to Mal. They aren’t that good as the guy taking the photos for me didn’t realise he could zoom in, but I do have one of Laura and I with the trophy. I’m hoping Laura has better ones.

I have asked Laura to drop you an email with her view on the evening as well.

We left Drapers Hall about 12.30 and went back to the club. As I had a meeting all day today I was heading for bed but I got hijacked at the bar and was up until 4.00 this morning. By the time I got to bed I was starting to feel like a scrathed record telling the same story over and over but they are just such a wonderful crowd, I didn’t want to be rude and brush them off. Made for a long day today.

And my apology to Hilary, I had to explain to the people who obviously weren’t listening to my introduction that I am not your wife.

All in all, I had a wonderful night, meet lots of really fab people and have a ew contacts to go sailing. Thank you soooooo much for the opportunity, it was nice to be amongst sailors again and I was so honoured to represent you. I hope I did you guys proud.

I look forward to telling you all about it face to face some day.


In the news:

RORC awards honour to Berrimilla and 2004 Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner Aera (www.rolexsydneyhobart.com)

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 25, 2005 - 2315hrs UTC

2315hrs 25 Nov 2005 UTC 46’17”S 096’50”E Ref 586

we’re still having big problems with xantic and getting messages through and i’m beyond tearing out my hair. i cannot correlate what has gone out, or to whom (the satcom software has a bizarre filing system that seems to move messages around in the list and i just can’t sit down and make lists of reference numbers and correlate them across three screens – physically impossible out here.) and i have to send duplicate messages all over the place in the hope that someone will get something. if it all seems a bit staccato, my apologies, i’m working under rather trying circs. and we’re now well and truly inside the gale but moving towards se cape. two weeks today if we can maintain 6 knots. wooohooo.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 26, 2005 – 0315hrs UTC

0315hrs 26 Nov 2005 UTC 46’17”S 097’28”E Ref 587

just to give you the feel of things, i’ve just received this from weather perth via satcom egc:

gale warning for the western area

please be aware, wind gusts can be a further 40 percent stronger than the averages given here, and maximum waves may be up to twice the height.

situation at 0000utc vigorous w’ly flow over south of area. area affected south of 44s. forecast sw/nw winds 30/40 knots, very rough seas, moderate to heavy swell.

sounds a bit grim but here we are in the middle of it and it’s relatively soft compared with some of the examiners more interesting questions. and it’s shovelling us home.

really significant milestones # 47:

when you sail a great circle from, say cape town to taswegia, you set off sailing sse and then gradually curve round towards e and then ene and ne. in the old days, navigators calculated the headings along a series of chords inside the curve and sailed the curve in a series of straight lines. today, any gps will automatically give you the instant heading for your actual position – we started off on, i think, 171m and we are now supposed to be on 145m but are actually sailing anywhere between 120 and 170 as the waves toss us around the oggin. the curve we have followed has in fact been irregular and much shallower than the gc because we have tried to run east along 45s for most of the crossing – with varied success.

the r.s. milestone happens when the headings turn north of east for the first time – in other words, past half way. we crossed that imaginary point back near 85e but we were running 45s and didn’t notice. down here, we have been following a new gc from our position about 10 days ago to se cape – and we’re still just heading south, but it’s not far away. the variation here is 41w so 145m is actually 101true (variation west, compass best.) and we’re closing on e.

i don’t know how i will go sending messages from here. xantic is now bouncing messages even to itself and the radio propagation is abysmal so sailmail is very difficult to reach – if i’m lucky, i’ve got about an hour when ti might work around midday utc. i’ll do my best and if necessary will do short satphone updates to mal in hobart. i wonder if it’s possible to feed into answering m/c and do soundbite on website? that would be fun.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 26, 2005 – 2230hrs UTC

2230hrs 26 Nov 2005 UTC 46’10”S 100’28”E Ref 588

lovely sunrise after gentle remains of reflected sunset last night. crossed 100e and 2000 to go during the night so awaiting consultation with dr wendy and her special potion. a biggie – under 2000 out of about 31000 is almost on the doormat. wooohooo. but it is still nearly 2000 miles and the examiner, i’m sure, has some more stern questions.

iz – any sign of sj?

[Ed: an hour later]

a clear sunrise turned to overcast with astonishing speed – under a series of rainsqualls, perhaps 35 kts, 3-5 mtr waves close together twin poled with cutdown and 4 – hairy but interesting ride huge sternwave rolling up behind us as we cascade and roar down the wave fronts. the twin poles right out at the front pull us through – whereas a main with rthe same sail area would cause monster broach because leverage exerted from aft of the mast… cutdown is about 2 x size of 4, same luff length, cut down from old lightweight 1 and still has same foot as 1 so almost isosceles triangle and a brilliant sail for reaching and downwind. the two together are low down – about half the forestay – but very powerful. so drive is low and relatively safe.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 27, 2005 – 0354hrs UTC

0354hrs 27 Nov 2005 UTC 46’07”S 101’25”E Ref 589

we have just had a rearrangement of the order of the 4 p’s, we’ve spent the last few hours surfing down the faces of 8 – 10 metre breaking seas with 25 – 30 knots dead aft and the cutdown and the 4 twinned. great tight freckled fun, with anywhere between 8 and 12 kts for sustained bursts, berri handling it beautifully with kevvo doing his charioteer stuff down the back (hi, l, j, + h – kevvo’s got tired arms) but only needs a small consternation of the aeolian stability and it could have become very messy. so – massive attack of prudence, backed up by patience and supported by some persistence and a lot of perseverance and we went out and took down the faithful cutdown and set the 5 instead – about 30% of the sail area,  no more wild surfs, a smallish unclench – just a gentle easement of the continuously puckering freck, on song as it were, to get us past se cape. and the forecast is for another gale with embedded cold front. good egg. and we’re still getting consistent 6 – 9’s.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 27, 2005 – 0500hrs UTC

0500hrs 27 Nov 2005 UTC 46’06”S 101’37”E Ref 590

life’s fascinating moments #47: we are flolloping along down here trying to hook ourselves into the top of the gale that we hope blows all the time to the south and will help this little piggy cry whee whee whee all the way home. received the satcom egc gale warning ‘ south of 46 degrees with embedded cold front…30 – 40 kts…’ and thought, most satisfactory – we’re at 4607. should be just about right. sure enough, little line of cloud astern develops into long sharp pointed tongue with its tip a minipooptillionth to the north of us and curving away to the south and getting roily and angry and thick and ugly. the little tip of the tongue passed over us with a tiny pretend lash of wind in all of five minutes and here we are back in bright sunlight and about 25 – 30. mathematically elegant. you’d have been able to see us on the satellite image – long switchback of foamy water with a tiny blob on the end just under the northern tip of the front.

still big breaking following sea and prudence remains in the ascendant. we are passing big clumps of seaweed too – some kelpy, some more bubble leaved. must be getting close to the shelf. don’t have instruments or sob to conserve power, so can’t check.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 27, 2005 – 0716hrs UTC

0716hrs 27 Nov 2005 UTC 46’03”S 101’58”E Ref 591

1900 to go. the crew – s2h 2005 – looks like being jeanne crozier, sarah crozier, james judd, allan fenwick (see, we really do like him) allan’s teddy bear, pete and alex. joanne cackett from yachting world magazine was going to come out and write the story from the inside, but i think the need to make early decisions in the face of the uncertainty of our actually making it made for prudence and sadly, she won’t be with us. jeanne and sarah are pete’s wife and daughter, both ace sailors, james has his own brolga, has done lots of beachball sailing (sorry james, couldn’t resist it)and some serious stuff including a hobart with us and several others, fenwick has an s+s 34, umpteen hobarts and lord howes and has been around the horn as a kid with his dad, teddy has done it all everywhere but we have to keep him away from the gin. the two old farts will be along to do the sail changes. three brolgas and an s+s 34 represented.

we’re slowing down a bit – may be time for the cutdown again. mal thinks 9/12 is still possible – i think it’s a bit ambitious – we’ve been lucky cracking this system. i still think 11/12 may be doable.

[Ed: I said ‘possible’, not ‘likely’ :-)]

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Ed: Communication Problems

There have been some communications problems of late and I am concerned that some messages from you to Berri may not have been getting through to me to be forwarded on. I have replied to all messages sent since Friday morning (25th November) confirming that I have received them. If you have sent any messages to Berri since then and have not had them acknowledged, please resend them.

If you don’t receive a response to a resent message, please contact me directly at malcolmr@bigpond.net.au

The problem is probably not as bad as it sounds but it’s important to us all that the mail gets through. That’s why I’ve decided to be a bit watchful in this case.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 27, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 27 Nov 2005 UTC 46’03”S 102’14”E Ref 592

db: dmg 156, gps 168, dtg 1889, margin 546+36+582 – nearly an extra day in hand -wooohooo. day 99, 30 to the start, 21 to ti. time for reasonable confidence, i think. yet there is still heaps of time left for the examiner to do her worst.

we have set the cutdown again – sea has gone down a bit – perhaps 4-5 metre waves, wind dead aft, 20+, sunshine, though still the same t as the inside of a fridge outside. water t 6.5 well, there was sunshine when i sat down to write this – went out to get the water t and it’s completely overcast again. these systems move at 30+ knots.

cape leeuwin about 900 miles ne – about 600 before we pass it. and we are 5 hours and 48 minutes ahead of gmt so 1700 consultation will occur at 1012 gmt. not long now – noice. the birds have all gone, except for the occasional visit by an albatross or a couple of grey petrels – sometimes even a storm petrel. no more dolphins.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 27, 2005 – 2203hrs UTC

2203hrs 27 Nov 2005 UTC 46’30”S 103’50”E Ref 593

1819 to go to se c and then three times over the s2h course to finish this six act play. about 6 hobarts to go.   have a very sore typing finger – we were adjusting fanbelt, while putting engine box back on brushed the alternator fan – ouch – saved by glove. silly mistake.. if we finish the play around january 10, it will be exactly a year since we left hobart 2 handed. about 32000 miles, 252? days sailing, 4-5 000 emails, seventeen million sail changes,…

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 27, 2005 - 2355hrs UTC

2355hrs 27 Nov 2005 UTC 46’31”S 104’06”E Ref 594

A little story of error and silliness: A couple of days ago, I noticed an area of chafe on one of the spinnaker topping lifts which are 6mm spectra. The pole was up, so couldn’t fix immediately but filed in sludgepot at back of mind to do asap – quite an important, life preserving fix – not comfortable to have  a pole drop on your head, and keeping it out of the water on the drop is a squeezy one too. We took the poles off this morning, sorted the alternator belt, burred my finger nastily in the alternator fan and Pete went to bed. Engine running, watermaker on, so bottles to monitor. Thought bubble appears in comic strip that deputises for my mind “Thinks:… fix topping lift!” so – retrieve a piece of spare 6mm spectra from bin, looks long enough, cut one end square with sharp knife, cut end of topping lift square ditto. The technique is then to sew the ends together with sailmakers twine and use the old topping lift to pull the new one through the jammer on the coachroof, the turning blocks on deck, into the mast slot, up the inside of the mast, out through the sheave near the top spreader (a bit delicate and needs a bit of care to ensure no snags) and back to the deck where the new end can be tied to the snap shackle and bob’s yer nunc. Keep old one for similar jobs. All the time monitoring water bottles, battery levels…distractions everywhere.

So… get sailmaking kit and try to thread small needle with twine. Hard enough when you don’t need glasses and the world is not gyrating…Usually what happens is that the twine fibres spread and wont go thro the eye or one of the three twisted elements gets stuck on the wrong side of the eye and bunches up – you name it, it all happened, but eventually got the thing threaded and sewed happily away – sent the line up the mast – too short – bugger. Leave it there and start all over again with much longer piece, same problem with the needle but this time a bit more cunning – smeared the end of the twine with vaseline and it worked – sort of. Sewed away happily, undid the jammer to send line up the mast – funny – nothing happening. Silly old fart sewed new line onto end of a reefing line – same colour, definitely not the topper. Once again, bob’s not yer nunc. Very cold fingers by this time – cut it all off again, found the right line, re-threaded the needle and sewed away happily and this time got it right. Planning is Everything – execution exposes the duffers to the ridicule of their peers.

Just thought you’d like to know.

Gale warning cancelled – bummer – we’ve slowed down a bit, still trying to stay south in the wind, full main and cutdown, broad reaching in heavy residual swell and about 15 kts. Now masses of kelp and other sea weed. We saw a seal basking with one square flipper up front and round one at the back. He heard us coming and rolled over and dived. Also some dolphin and the birds are back. Wonder where they go

This is my dud watch – because of the need to pull in faxes, talk to Mal and try and contact sailmail, I don’t get to bed from 0600 to 0900, and work the two watches either side – 9 hours straight – gets a bit weary making sometimes, but we do get our daily Con in the middle – now past 105E so GMT+7, so Con at 1000 gmt.

Much later and 5 more sail changes – very cold again, tomorrow looks interesting with big trough from low in central Oz just ahead – SW winds, perhaps?

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 28, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 28 Nov 2005 UTC 46’24”S 105’25”E Ref 595

DMG 128 gps 149 dtg 1762 day 100! special Con – a smidgin more G in the G&T. 20 to start, 20 to TI Margin 582+8=590

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 28, 2005 - 1130hrs UTC │ Day 100

1130hrs 28 Nov 2005 UTC 46’21”S 105’48”E Ref 596

Day 100 – big day – wind all over the ocean – we’ve done about one sail change every hour to keep Berri truckin towards that corner. Hard, cold difficult work and quite tiring. We ran the engine to give the battery a boost and make water and, apart from having to fix the alternator belt and almost splattering my finger, we made four litres and topped the batt up to 98% after which it’s not worth wasting diesel and the solar was working too. Inside the engine box then becomes Pete’s drying cabinet – he doesn’t like wearing seaboots so his sox are permanently damp – he takes them to bed with him, as I do mine, and they are almost warm when it’s time to get up into the coold cooold outside – and the engine box is a great place to dry sox, gloves, trackies – the lot. We both have a pair of waterproof Sealskinz sox which make a big difference – they are always wet inside too, but they keep your feet warm like a wetsuit. Then there was the moment when a drying sock fell out of someone’s fleecy tummy area into the at the time very active pee bucket. Not a good moment. Now evening, we have just the 4 up and we hope it will last us the night. Fat chance! We’re getting about 6 vmg. Gusty 30kts from the WSW. Uncomfortable but quick.

We are a long way south – right on, David, but it is worth it for the more constant wind – despite all those sail changes. About another 1200 to go down here, I think, then we can start inching north.

David – good to hear from you and you should be justly proud of the old Leven – she’s done a magnificent job. Good luck with the charter – we’ll see you on the line and in the Customs House at the end. Lynne, nice idea for a 29 – a bit tubby and slow without the extra – ours was Tasman Blue when we bought it – had it for about 5 years. Graeme, g’day, and thanks  for the offer to come down – we’re ok, I think, for the mo.

Wendy – g’day – had a couple of Dr Wendy’s specials yesterday for <2000 to go and past 100E. Thanks.

And a real find – we’re now out of just about everything snacky or sweet – permanently a bit hungry – but Pete found some chocolate topping and some golden syrup tucked away in a bin. Syrup hard as a rock in the cold – VoA here in negative numbers – and I have it under my fleece as I write.

So nice when I can get on to sailmail – all the hassles seem to disappear.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 28, 2005 - 2327hrs UTC

2327hrs 28 Nov 2005 UTC 46’16”S 107’07”E Ref 598

most of you would recognise the bright green rather slimy seaweed that grows along the waterline of jettys and harbour walls and boats. we now have it growing on deck in all the spots where water collects. the makings, perhaps of a cricket pitch for neptune. berri’s starboard side is black with slime – same stuff that grows with the green weed. and on submarines, i expect.

a couple of smaller albatrosses with us, doing low passes over the cockpit. i remember being on the runway during lvp’s low pass over tennant creek airfield – photo on adastra website – and looking into lionel’s eyes as he went past. likewise certain unmentionable incidents in naval aircraft – and it’s a bit like that with the albatross – big wings curving down, bright white face with piercing beady eye in dark slash behind chalky yellow beak looking right into my eyes, or so it seems.

lazenbys – wind or turbine ampair? and do you intend to take good solar panel? don’t know about ampair with wind kit but will easily get you half way round on turbine. we now think correct technique (wisdom of hindsight)is to use solar during daylight = 4+ amps from our panel in dim sunlight, but must be correctly angled at rt angles to sun – and only stream turbine at night or when badly o’cast. doubles life of brgs – wld get you all the way around – and we abused ours like crazy – they don’t like skipping turbines etc but not much we could do in those conditions – so ours shorter life than design. best bet if you are concerned is to find a second hand one and take complete unit as spare – that’s what i’d do next time. also, wind or turbine cost you speed – turbine for us was 4.8 miles/day.

saw a second hand katadyn watermaker in boat shop in plymouth – about half price – but factor in cost of new membrane (you might get lucky but not worth the risk) and extra power needs – ours uses about 4.5 amps average, makes 4.5 litres/hour in water t )10 degrees.

site all your sockets for ampair, solar etc as far away from stray water as possible – get simple, easily maintainable ones if you can – they will need to be taken apart occasionally. xantrex battery monitor great tool too if can afford. gunk up everything with vaseline or other water inhibitor – then seal all junction boxes, fuses, joints and other vulnerable bits with silicone, self annealing tape, heat shrink – whatever, but do it. the inside of the solar junction box was a sight to behold – green, cheesy, powdery crud, no metal left anywhere – they don’t make them for the southern ocean.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 29, 2005 – 0725hrs UTC

0725hrs 29 Nov 2005 UTC 46’21”S 107’46”E Ref 599

very slow at the mo – have been hand steerig under flopping assy, almost no breeze – big front forecast tonight – now twinned 1 + 2, water t 10.2 and we have some current under us – perhaps 2 kt. – lots of clumps of kelp – nothing like the falklands conveyor belts but biggish. also conical bubble floaties, all covered in 2cm barnacles so out here for some time. seem to occur in patches – thousands then none.. consulted to celebrate wartm weather and the assy for first time sin ce cape verdes. noice. will lose some hard earned margin today, i think. 1658 to go, so now at 103 with 90 minutes to go. poo.

[Ed: 10 minutes later:]

g + t @ 0948 gmt today – woohoo -about to pass 108e

hi heggie, jennifer – looking fwd to that ale somewhere soon – good luck with preps.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Ed: Communication Problems Resolved

After a fair amount of mucking around and hassling people for information (thanks Malcom C), we appear to have resolved our communications problems. Emails are now flowing smoothly to and fro between Berri and dry land.

My concern about emails to Berri being lost has been significantly allayed. It turns out that the problem only existed between 13:38 and 23:03 UTC on 26th (early Sunday Australian time) and only one person has reported that they got a ‘Message Undeliverable’ response. Because of that, I’m going to stop sending acknowledgements to emails – if you don’t get a bounce message, you can be confident that your message got through! On the other hand, if you’d like acknowledgement that I’ve received it, just put the words ‘Please acknowledge receipt’ at the top and I’ll do just that!

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 29, 2005 - 1130hrs UTC

1130hrs 29 Nov 2005 UTC 46’19”S 108’10”E Ref 600

DB: dmg 149, gps 165 DTG 2046 margin 517+29=546 – picked up half a day so far – wooohooo! – day 98, 31 to start, 22 to TI

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 30, 2005 – 0400hrs UTC

0400hrs 30 Nov 2005 UTC 46’12”S 110’09”E Ref 601

Closer, closer, now! Leeuwin about 2 days away and Cape 4 will be in the bag. We are, for the moment, doing it easy – nice northerly, #1 and full main, pointing directly at the corner at >5 vmg. Life should be so pleasant. There is a low ahead of us which will, I think, move out of the way, and a gale warning about a cold front 12 hours behind which will swing the wind round to the NW ahead of it and SW behind, 30-40kt forecast. Once again, bring it on! Will be severe and uncomfortable as usual, but not threatening. It’s all relative – very rough seas in this context is a canter compared to some of the Examiner’s little gems from the past. I expect she’s softening us up for something nasty.

Far far be it for me to stick my neck out, but Dec 11 or 12 at SE Cape is now a definite possibility. Hard to get around that idea! I find it astonishing, amazing, gobsmackingly froody that it looks as if we could complete all six Acts more or less according to the script and without use of the prompt. Act 6 will be the three trips over the S2H course as scenes 1,2 & 3. See below re eviction notice.

Two wonderful emails today – Eric and Caroline, thank you – I will try to reply personally later, but uplifting and humbling all at once to read them. Would love to use them in the book, please, anon. if you wish. Could you please let me know?

I have decided to give up on Xantic – so much to say and it’s just too stressful sitting down and putting together one of these and sending it off only to have it bounce with no credible explanation. Haven’t counted, but there must have been about 100 bounces in the last couple of weeks with all the attendant hassle. Accordingly, I will use sailmail when I can get a reasonable connection – in practice, usually in the evening local time, so they may become longer, but further apart. If I can get out on a higher frequency that 10 megs, may be more frequent, but depends on temperament of usb device.

We have just received an eviction notice from The Council – seems our little bus shelter is to be demolished on Jan 10 2006 for the construction of a fast food emporium. Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz and his constructor fleet couldn’t shift us, but Hamburger Magalopolis has more clout. Sad, really and I don’t know how we’re going to keep up the illusion. Anyone got any ideas – we’re getting lots of messages about an Impending Deprivation that some of you out there have foreseen once this gig is over? We do have a book to write and we could keep the alert list going with news of that and there’s the London Marathon for the headbangers, else, a big empty space. We have only one taker so far for the Marathon – if you are even a teeny bit interested, might be a good idea if you register that interest before the bus shelter goes, so that we can keep you advised.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 30, 2005 – 0600hrs UTC

0600hrs 30 Nov 2005 UTC 46’14”S 110’26”E Ref 602

At 11309E we will be south of the westernmost point on the Australian mainland – Steep Point in Western Australia. Less than a day at this speed! I’ve seen it many times from an Adastra Hudson. At 11508 E we will have ducked under Cape Leeuwin and Cape 4 will be in the bag. About a day and a half. We will count no chickens yet.

Fenwick – tks for update. Our best gps run so far – haven’t checked all the way back – was 176 miles for a dmg of 144. Relatively inefficient. Best DMG 156 miles, highest speed I’ve actually seen was 13.6 knots surfing off a wave near cape horn – speed from the gps, not the log, which was not accurate. Had lots over 12 since Tristan.

Chris P – look fwd to seeing you – not sure yet about Kevvo but will advise. Seems like a good idea!

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 30, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 30 Nov 2005 UTC 46’17”S 110’56”E Ref 603

DB: vdmg 129 gps 136, dtg 1523, margin 580+9=589 day 102, 27 to start, 18 to TI. Looking better – we’re still hoooning with 4 and 2 reefs waiting for the front in about 12 hours.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Nov 30, 2005 – 1950hrs UTC

1950hrs 30 Nov 2005 UTC 46’00”S 112’20”E Ref 604

[Ed: Position report and admin stuff only]

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Dec 01, 2005 - 0415hrs UTC │Salute to John Witchard

0415hrs 01 Dec 2005 UTC 45’42”S 113’33”E Ref 605

It seems that my dissertation on the extraction method of excretion has aroused some happy and some less than happy memories. Apparently, it is well known to most sailors as ‘pump as you dump’ – is there a Latin scholar out there who could translate that into a nice pithy motto to go with Titan Uranus – sort of Pumpe dumpere ut T.U. – a possible masthead for The BOG Paper, perhaps?

We are now south of the Australian continent. Wooohooo! And only three hours behind Sydney time. No contact yet with Derek’s dulcet tones on the long range Penta sked. I understand he will be retiring at the end of next year – huge vacuum – what will we all do? I’m really going to miss him.

Still doing it easy. The gale warning was cancelled and we lolled through the night going towards the corner at about 5 knots and that’s more or less what’s happening now but a smidgin faster. Next big milestone probably later today as we duck under Cape Leeuwin in about 70 miles. then 1000 to go in about three days, at which point we will break out two of our last four Dr Wendy’s specials. The last two we will keep for the Iron Pot. The next ten days or so will go excruciatingly slowly and yet far too fast. This is going to be a hard act to follow. There’s another gale warning around a front out past 80 E and moving at 25 kts so at least a day away.

There are three more salutes in my list – our communication problems have put me off my game a bit. The first is to John Witchard for his little gems of marine engines. John has a workshop up near Pittwater on Sydney’s northern beaches where he imports Kubota tractor engines of various sizes and marinises them with his own heat exchanger and other fittings and sells and installs them himself. He sailed in one of the early Hobarts with us and he looked at our reconditioned Bukh which was leaking oil and generally misbehaving and we talked trade-ins and the result was a WM Diesel 22hp 3 cylinder donk that we’ve had now for about 7 years and it hasn’t hiccupped or missed a beat. The engine is sealed fresh water cooled with a big Jabsco pump pushing salt water through a cupro-bronze heat exchange, so salt water never goes through the engine itself and it won’t corrode the exchange. We have fitted a truck fuel filter as the primary – it has a very efficient little priming pump in the top, so we don’t have the hassle of banging away at the lift pump after maintenance and it will almost always push any air through the system without a bleed. A real delight – always starts, easy to maintain – the water pump impeller housing, for instance, is smack in front of your face when you take the engine box off; there is a special fitting and a little pump to do an easy oil change and the bleed valves and all the filters are easily accessible. The alternator belt can be changed in a few minutes. Oh joy! There are fittings to allow the circulation of fresh water for showers etc around the heat exchanger and – best of all – if you need spares, you go to the tractor shop, not the marine retailer so you pay about half as much. We’ve never yet needed to do this. John has his own website at www.wm-marine-diesel.com. Onya Mate and a big lid dip!

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Dec 01, 2005 – 0850hrs UTC

0850hrs 01 Dec 2005 UTC 45’47”S 114’15”E Ref 606

Its been a misty, overcast day – drizzle, vis about a mile, occasional patches of sunlight, distant flocks of birds and about 15 – 20 knots pushing us towards the 4th Cape and the big corner. Lots of kelp. And we’re just going with the Vortex. It’s cold.

Bill W – thanks, looking forward to an authentic RANSA Consultation! – Fenwick, erudition strikes again and of course Teddy can navigate with his g string, as long as his rash has cleared up properly. No nasties in my seat please, young Ted. Paul, we are passing south of you as I write – Berrimilla confides that every Bodd will do his or her duty. And, indeed – thanks for all the fish – do stay in touch. Izzo in the broth, a pot pourri be upon ya and go, parsley! Barry, we’re counting on that push. Glad you’ve got some water in the catchments – we’re going to need a bit of a hose down – starting to get a bit armpit and crutchy out here and poor old Berri is looking daggy and used.

Leo, your bit of Doggerel has been a great hit – thanks! Set it to music and we can put it up there with Marshal Riley’s Army (try that one, IzzoftheGloss! Are you out there, by any chance, Dr.R?) and the Beach Boys as our Going Up The Derwent theme music.

Now 4546 11416  01/0900

DB: dmg 129 gps 139 dtg 1394 margin 589+9=518 day 103, 25 to start, 16 to TI and we’ve got nearly 5 days in hand.

1-30. To abeam Cape Leeuwin

Dec 01, 2005 – 2100hrs UTC

2100hrs 01 Dec 2005 UTC 45’33”S 115’57”E Ref 607

Leeuwin in the bag at 1510 utc – one to go. not looking good at the mo  more overcast, wind dropping out, but a nice gale warning with several fronts and the usual 30 – 40 back behind 90 w so a few hours away yet. wt is 7.5 but we seem to be in about a knot of nice current. pointing directly sat the corner from here, as long as the wind and sea permit, and 1324 to go – just over 10 days if we can keep up the average. i can sense the examiner pacing her floor and looking for something nasty…

health report – apart from aforementioned armpit and crutchitude, we seem to be in good nick, altho i can feel overall muscle atrophy – surprising really given the work we do and the amount of bracing – and a bit of geriatric arse sag – guess that would have happened anyway with the grim reaper out there in the wings somewhere. one thing i have noticed is that i can now put my fingers into a mug of really hot tea and take out the two teabags and squeeze them one by one without feeling a thing. no way could i do that even by falmouth.

have the engine running and the watermaker, which is down to 2 ltr/hr in 7.5 deg water. not enough sunlight for good solar and we’re getting low on water and diesel but should survive as long as we don’t park anywhere for too long. motoring up the derwent might be tricky though. the watermaker instructions say discard the first 5 minutes of discharge after start up because sale leaches thro the membrane when not runnning. we have found that the first mug or so of water is a bit salty, and we put it in a brown bottle and use it for cooking and soup – can’t afford to waste any and anyway, it’s drinkably salty.

gale warning now has 35-45 knots. wind no problem, but when the seas rise, it very much limits our choice of direction. we should be ok with this one. fingers crossed, freck at the ready.