2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


Logs ( 112 )

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Quick, mini update -

Massive couple of days packing the boat and absolutely knackered! Silly old fart. We are planning to leave tomorrow at 0500ish UTC. Wish us luck and happy christmas to all y'all out there. We will hang out the decorations and Consult briefly – of course – with the reindeer and the other old fart.

I hope the next one will be from the boat.

Love yez all!

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Seals and dolphins

Quickie to say that we left the Royal Cape YC at 0510 this morning and we're heading down towards the Cape of Good Hope. So far so good and if this goes too, then all systems including AIS seem to be working. Keep em crossed!

Seals and dolphins in cavort mode as we left the harbour. Noice. And I spilt half my first Consultative medicament on to the cockpit floor – unintentionally – so I'm living with the consequences of that woolly sock moment and I hope the Bearded One with trident is feeling libated even though it was processed via the cockpit drain.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Murph – the other one – and the Examiner

Serves me right on 2 counts – one, for feeding the old bearded bastard with the trident a drink through the cockpit drain – no doubt he was miffed and two, for not following my own rule and testing everything before going to sea on one of these gigs.

Udo fixed the very nearly dead electric autopilot and gave it new innards but as he had already tested it, I assumed it would work when we plugged it into the boat. Murphy and the Examiner contrived to jam it and as we were still so close to CT it would have been very silly old fart behaviour to keep going without it. Kevvo does not work when we are motoring unless there is a significant apparent wind not created solely by our movement through the water so having no electric thingy would mean hours – maybe days of hand steering, especially if other things had already assumed pearshapedness.

Udo has now taken it away for surgery – I hope not autopsy – and he will do his best to get us away again tomorrow. We will also set up the toy version of the autopilot that I have as backup so that it will work rather more easily than it is set up to do now (now needs alligator clips on to the battery – instead of the much easier cigarette lighter plug).

All I can say is watch this space. I will try to get copies of pics of 0500 departure for later blog if we are still here tonight.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Fixed and away again

0630 position 24thDec 3442 01848 trip 79nm Will start some DMG's tomorrow.

Yesterday, around 1500
So Far So Good. First blue screen of death. SPBF. We set off again 9 hours after our first try, autopilot re-engineered with new motor and operational and toy spare set up to work as emergency backup. Thanks Udo, for the fix and the sponsorship!

'orrible joggly sea, big SW swell, wind waves from everywhere and not enough wind to sail through it so engine idling to give us a bit of forward speed down as far as Duiker Point where Lion's Head finally tucked itself behind the softly reddish bulk of Duiker as the sun set. On past the Cape of Good Hope – the Cape of Storms – 'Can you tell me where the toilets are?' Car or walk sir? walk. Well, there's a path behind the Cape of Good Hope that will take you right there…And I know why the Portuguese sailors tried to avoid this bit of ocean and called it the graveyard of ships.

Lots of ships and a joy to have AIS working. As I write, Adriatica Graeca, cargo ship, and Rainbow, tanker, are crossing astern of us heading east, the former to Xinsha and the latter to Durban.

Alan, thanks for the chart and advice – doubly useful as it turned out!
Huge thanks to Manuel, Dicky and Laurens for putting up with us and for all the fixes and to Felix for his offer all that time ago in Hamble.

Now for some Christmas decorations…

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Happys from 30 miles WSW of Cape Agulhas

Sparkling day – wind has come and gone and returned, lots of ships turning the corner, including an amazing contraption called Shen Hua 27. Never thought we'd be becalmed just here but we were for a bit. Big fire on the coast just west of the Cape.

Berri is decorated, stockings are hung and Lily the Pinkbok is pretending to be a fairy. Carol, your card just caught up with us and is part of the display, Hilary and Steve (and anyone else who might have sent us goodies) your parcels did not, unfortunately – really is snail mail into Cape Town – so will be waiting for us in Sydney as Felix has promised to forward them.

Wedecided that Christmas in New Zealand was the signal for a small Con – are you there, Brian and Jen? – and we will probably call it a day when the sun sets in Dutch Harbour and Nome. That way we can remember all our mates out there.

Happys to you all and all the very best for 2010.

And thanks for being there.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Christmas albatrosses

There was one in the gloom during the night and now two soaring around the stern. Identification to follow but lovely and way better than scrofulous reindeer that were faffing around during the night. Hoof marks and crud all over the deck. Santa couldn't find the chimney so consternation all round.

Chrissy 0630 position 3540 01923, trip 89 and we also cracked 8000 miles from Falmouth, DMG 58.

We had to change consultants in CT – Dr Murphy's supply ship was overdue and the man from Dublin had his in port so we've just had small Con with the Doc from Dublin along with bacon and tabasco sando. CT bacon is like bacon used to be before someone worked out how to sell water with it. Toasted all y'all and planning a few more toasts as the sun moves around.

Not much wind but at least it's now taking us south. Westerly at the top of low due tomorrow and we should be far enough down to jump into it.

Stockings and presents to follow.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


Now there are about 20 albatrosses and a bunch of assorted dark petrels. The albatrosses are – I think – Grey headed and/or Salvins in various stages of maturity with perhaps a young yellow nosed or two. The petrels are very difficult to identify except for at least one Cape aka Pintado petrel, unmistakable because of the white flashes on top of its wings. Got heaps of photos but there’s always a better one just after the camera gets put away. Easy to spend all day out there. I wonder whether one of them is Bartholomeu Dias, or even Speedy, making sure we behave. And Tommy Melville is out here somewhere too.

Back in warm waters of the Agulhas current. Temperature leaving CT was 17, now 24. Portuguese men of war everywhere.

Jeanne, thanks for photos! I’ll tell the albatrosses to wait for you.

Time to ring K & E – I wonder what Cook and Dias and Anson and Magellan and Pinzon and Flinders and Drake and Henry Knight senior and all the others would have done with an Iridium phone. I guess the talking clock would have been somewhere in the phone book for those that lived before Harrison. Would Nelson have phoned Merton? It might have meant that many of the wonderful letters and diaries would not have been written – Nelson’s last letters especially, perhaps.

Now midnight in Nome – con occurring to coincide with their day and we’ll call Pat later. I think Berri’s christmas will wrap around midnight tonight in Nome or Cape Prince of Wales so we have a few hours left if medicinal support is required after cleaning the Augean deck left by departing reindeer.

Carol – plastic bottle primed and ready for action later.

Fair winds and safe passage to everyone heading to Hobart in about 15 hours.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Christmas Albatross : Thalassarche salvini

We’ll be a bit short of images here for a while. So here’s a Salvin’s
Albatross or Mollymawk, possibly what Alex has just seen. The photo is
in the public domain courtesy of photographer Mark Jobling – to whom
thanks. More on the bird here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvin’s_Albatross
Posted by Iz in the UK

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


0630 position 26th December 3646 02026 trip 105 DMG 84 and at almost exactly 0200 this morning, just as the Hobart race was starting, we crossed from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.

We are tooling along at the southern end of the Agulhas tongue in a 30 kt westerly with wind waves over the predominant SW swell of the southern ocean so rolling uncomfortably but all seems ok so far, says he grabbing the nearest bit of wood. Single small headsail poled out to port and about half furled and doing 5-6 knots.

I have broken out my TPS dry suit and hope tyo dispense with all the other clobber necessary to keep warm and dry, but will try living in it for the next couple of days before I put the other stuff away. Reminds me of the immersion suits we used to wear flying over the sea – pee tube and all.

Lots of albatrosses and dark petrels – albatrosses I think grey headed or salvins again but really difficult to identify – there are hundreds of small variations in colour, shape, plumage etc – jizz – and each species has different variations as they mature.

I think – and hope – we are south of the ships.

Hope youse all had the best christmas – we had a fairly gentle one – and thanks to everyone who sent us messages. Too many to list.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Not having fun

Or enter the Examiner, stage left. We got ourselves down into the top of the low at about 35 south – nice easy 30 knots from the west and tracked south east – but down here at 3650 02047 it's a bit different. 40 – 45 knots, big breaking waves and we have decided that Berri's furler arrangement can't cope with these conditions. The poles are a bit too long and the small jib is too badly stretched to set properly as a de facto storm jib so we are bare poled and easing our way north east again. We've just had a 50 knot whiteout rainsquall with a front and a couple of cockpit fillers. We have a backup outer forestay on to which we can hank a storm jib or a small staysail but we'll try that in more benign conditions first.

I think it all means that we will have to stay up around 35 S all the way across and just work the systems. Which rather puts paid to Kerguelen at 49 S. We will have a better idea when we get clear of the Agulhas effect with wind against current and shelving ocean bottom but it doesn't look hopeful. Gloooom.

Wind now down to 35 again but there's more to come. Poor Berri in rather violent motion still. All has a deja vu feel to it – last time we were here, but further south we got savagely bashed too.

TPS suits work well.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

NHF part 2

Sitting at a pleasant dinner table in Cape Town, you tend to forget or at least suppress just how bloody awful it can get out here. We have a steady 35 – 40 kt wind howling in the rig, gusting over 50 in the squalls, violent breaking seas, acres of white and milky blue broken water and glimpses of swimming pool blue as solid water goes past the windows, Berri rolling and crashing all over the place, closed right down with just Kevvo and the wind generator operating. I'm once again wedged under the nav table with my knees, everything sliding around, trying not to get thrown out with every breaking wave and not to look at the wind speed. And this is a relatively mild one – just a little gale – but with every effect magnified by the southern ocean swell and the Agulhas current. The grib said (and doesn't that become a mantra of hope against reality?) 30 knots but as we learned last time, you really have to double it here. So we creep north east and sit it out, hoping that any ships around have AIS and good radar because for us a proper lookout is really a sea level squizz out of the windows around the boat. Not very effective.

Udo, thanks for your message – all the bits seem to be working still, touch wood.

All that was many hours ago – I don't remember when I started this one, decrepit old git that I am. We've been creeping NNE bare poled and wildly uncomfortable and it's now 1800 utc and the wind has abated, now 25 – 30, waves still big and breaking over the boat and nothing really to do except sit it out until we can head east again safely. We are about 60 miles south of the main shipping lane so should be ok during the night but we'll have to be careful. We will turn east again as soon as the seas get a bit easier but right now we have to keep the boat relatively slow so that we don't take off from a breaking wave and broach and get clobbered. Poo.

Later still – I've just got into party gear and gybed us, still bare poled and now we are tracking closer to east. Still very big waves but they are only breaking occasionally and it will soon be time to unroll a bit of headsail. We have been caught before by the wave train that arrives out of nowhere after the gale has abated and fills the cockpit or, as near Dunedin, almost rolled us in 2005. Just before I went up, sure enough – huge breaker crashed over the boat – seemed from the inside to have come from astern and thumped against the stormboards and sent little spears of water through the breaks in the seals and onto me and my book.

Good fun.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Quick position report

Position 0700 27th 3608 02159 trip 100, DMG 43 – lots of effort for not much gain. Wind now down to 12 kts, twin poled with red sail on hanks and small furler. Trickling along in the right direction. Still very lumpy – Berri dry inside. When we get clear of Africa, we'll have a better idea of what we can achieve.

More later

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Quick position report

Position 0700 27th 3608 02159 trip 100, DMG 43 – lots of effort for not much gain. Wind now down to 12 kts, twin poled with red sail on hanks and small furler. Trickling along in the right direction. Still very lumpy – Berri dry inside. When we get clear of Africa, we'll have a better idea of what we can achieve.

More later

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Small Update from UK

I’ve just spoken to Alex on the satphone. There appear to have been
some odd delays in the way Berri e mails have been sending out, hence
the double entry for today. All is OK and although Berri is rolling
about all over the place, it is now very much calmer out there. So
much so that a Consultation was in progress involving Dr Gordon and
his helpful sidekick Herr Schweppes. From Iz in UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Things near yet distant…

Middle watch – brilliant sky with black silhouetted fluffies. Yesterday a day of torpid indolence in a butter churn. For most of the day there was just enough wind to fill the twin poled headsails, the stretched and much repaired Love and War staysail and the shiny new red one now hanked to the replaced outer forestay. Now there isn't and we are bare poled again but for the opposite reason.

In most bits of ocean, when the wind dies, the sea subsides. I have to report that that ain't the case here – almost 36 hours after the wind dropped from the stratospheric to the merely (and here the three neurones went on strike in an alzheimeric reminder – I can't remember the single word for the lower atmosphere…) we've been in a violent steep wind wave over SW swell that seems to have only marginally subsided. The butter churn that is our little fibreglass home is still in busy, though no longer vicious corkscrew mode.

And the water temperature is 31 degrees and feels like a tepid bath. And we are on the eastern edge of the Agulhas bank where the sea bottom dives from 200 to 5000 metres. Abandoned oil drilling well heads everywhere, but submerged way down. The Agulhas current has real attitude and, like the East Australian current, cannot be ignored. Here's the warning from the chart:

Information: ORIENTATION: 237 DEG

We are parked at 3550 02245 with the engine idling to give us the pooptillionth of a knot necessary to provide steerage way and keep Berri from going round in gut knotting circles. From the gorblimey to the sublime and back again – 'The GRIB says' there should be another 25 knot + blow starting soon. We are now far enough north, I hope, to miss the worst of its effect. It will be noice to get clear of Africa!

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Once more…

Position 0645 28th 3547 02256, trip 50, DMG 29 – lots of crashing around for not a lot of gain but way better than nothing. Now back in the beginning of the next system and tooling along eastwards with just the jib unrolled at about 3.5 knots (would be more without the Agulhas current setting us back). Looks like a line of frontal cloud to the west. TGS (The GRIB Says…) that this one will be milder, at least this far north, than the last one. Here's hoping! Cross 'em please.

Almost permanent company of albatrosses and petrels and I forgot to mention the most exquisite tiny storm petrel in the gale a couple of days ago – 20 second glimpse but possibly European or Wilsons. I think the smallest I have ever seen. Wonderful example of adaptation to apparently overwhelmingly adverse conditions and these birds only seem to appear when it is seriously pearshaped. Where do they go?

I assume the drag race to Hobart is now over and the press have gone home but my brief look at a grib indicated the possibility of a little boats' race. Hope so!

There's a problem with one of the servers in the Africa sailmail station which sometimes delays these posts – don't fuss if you don't get one as regularly as usual. If it gets really bad, I will revert to Iridium.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Cape Town departure photos

Photos of Berri leaving Cape Town, with thanks to Jeanne of “Nereida” RCYC. Their website is www.svnereida.com .

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

Remember you can enlarge these images by double-clicking on them

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

‘orrible and hindifferent…

Steves x 2, thanks for msgs. Last time we saw Leopard was off Lands End on her way to Plymouth and line honours in the Fastnet. At that stage she was about 240 miles ahead of us and we had about 280 to go. Sigh!

Two weary old geezers out here. Blowing 35+ and big waves but nowhere near as savage as the last one. We are in deeper water for a start and the wind has been steady rather that blasting through in 50 knot squalls. Having said which, massive wave just hit and broke over starboard side. I think we both wish we did not still have nearly 6000 miles to go. It's been pretty relentless. Even the Cape Town stop was full on and no real break. Time for the old fart's dither – why is the floor moving? Sailing? Are we really sailing? – how interesting! – now where did I put my glasses and my cup of tea…

Almost as soon as I had written that paragraph – imaginary glasses and cup of tea dashed from my quivering old hand by – yep – a 50 knot rain squall. Had to leg it outside and roll in all but last couple of feet of headsail – I wish I could find the words to write about the power and the sheer bloody indifference of these conditions – predominant SW swell – big but not huge, great planes of grey breaking water, dull reflection of cloud covered moonlight, Berri, all seven tons or so of her, just tossed around as if she were weightless, water often knee deep across the decks and filling the cockpit. And the noise – wind roaring and howling in the rig, water crashing and thumping against the hull and with a sustained deep rasp like a truck tipping gravel, boring across the decks. And this is just a little one – hardly even a severe gale and no way a storm. The severity of it all is the Agulhas effect – cold wind against warm current shortening, steepening and hollowing the wind waves superimposed on the swell over a steeply shelving sea bottom. I really think I'd rather be somewhere else – anyone for Scylla? Can I tempt you to a little whirl with Charybdis perhaps? Roll up! Roll up!

I think I have written about this before – the anticipation, the waiting, the curdling knowledge that it really can happen to us after our 2 rolls, the rather corrosive anxiety that goes with it all gets worse the more you do, the more experience you have. Well, it does for me anyway.

We are thinking hard about Kerguelen. The decision will evolve, but it's still a bit too early to write it off – after all, we nearly got there last time.

Just had a near miss with a cargo ship. AIS saved the day – more tomoz.

Thanks for all your messages and imagingesIz. Keep em coming please.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

This morning’s mid con quickie

Position 0630 29th 3633 02406 trip 66 DMG 42
Depressing night. I think the most ornery bit of ocean I've ever been in – sea utterly confused, big, maybe 4 metre wind waves over big SW swells breaking from all sides, current setting north – north!- it even confused the instruments to the extent that the only way to set the boat up was the old primitive wind on the cheek. It still works!

Scary tho ultimately safe near meeting with big cargo ship during the night. More later.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Close encounter

We are south of the main shipping channel around southern Africa but in the direct path of ships sailing between Asia and South America. Last night we received AIS data from a Santos bound cargo ship that shall remain nameless but who appeared to be heading straight for us at a range of about 15 miles. No luck calling on channel 16 – perhaps out of range in those seas. So I sent him a direct call on the DSC system (it's a bit like a mobile phone system between ships) and received an automatic acknowledgement but no VHF call on the designated channel as protocol requires. I tried calling him, no response so made a couple more DSC attempts but this time with no acknowledgement – instant thought bugger, he's switched it off because the noise was annoying him.

Tried again at about 8 miles on ch 16 and – phew! – he answered. Gave him our position, told him restricted in ability to manoeuvre and he said he could see our port nav light. I told him to pass whichever side was easiest for him. The AIS was giving closest point of approach of about 20 metres and he did not appear to alter course, 10 minutes to go. Pete went into the cockpit in party gear with our powerful lantern and I got the engine ready to start. Still no alteration, called him again and said he appeared to be heading straight for us. OK, he said, I can see you…We started the engine at about a mile and got out of there. I looked at the plot later and I think he would have missed us by about 300 metres – fine in calm waters and good visibility and ok for him last night with radar and other gizmology, but very scary for us in the conditions – it's really difficult to get the perspective right at night and when you can only see eachother when you are on top of a wave and have anyway very little steerage way, almost impossible to judge with that degree of accuracy. And a 250 metre long ship is a non-trivial object.

The wind has abated to a mere 25 knots and the seas have subsided a bit. We are right over the edge of the shelf and heading SE under reefed main and full headsail being set norh still by the current. I would really really like to be clear of this bit of ocean – easy to see why the early Portuguese sailors hated it too.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position

This Latest Position incorporates Alex’s correction for 29.12.09 and
is posted by I & G in the UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Morning quickie, rather late.

0745 position Dec 30th 3609 02430 trip 74 DMG 38 – very slow but we do seem to be moving.

I think yesterday's position should have read 3533 02406, not 3633…sorry.

Thought we'd never get clear of Agulhas and we're not out yet but looking just a bit promising.

Sue – Pinkaraj has always been a bit experimental and enjoyed the experience. A favour please as you seem to be doing it anyway – over the next couple of weeks, could you please monitor the pattern of lows passing Kerguelen and give me a rough interval and the trend in windspeed at 49 south? Not too much detail needed. Tks.

Richard P at Fastnet – separate note follows but if you are reading this, thanks and could you please just send the annual premium from the quote – use the direct sailmail address if you still have it, else berrimilla2 – many thanks.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Bottom to top

It really does seem that we may have escaped the clutches of the Agulhas Tongue. And its gullet. Tracking more or less south @ 5 knots having crossed the edge of the main shelf and just north of a big trench – spectacular (ocean!)bottom features on the chart – the bottom of the trench is at about 6700 metres below the surface and 60 miles or so north is a peak or seamount rising to 1800 metres, so a 5000 metre drop. And more of the same all around. Not sure but I think the highest peak base to apex in the world is the island of Hawaii which, taken from the ocean floor is much higher than Chomolungma – but then if you measure from the floor of the Mariana Trench to the top of Chomolungma you get a really big number – roughly 12+ 9 = 21000 metres. A vertical half marathon. All ballpark and idle nonsense because I'm conscious of the fact that I'm beginning to repeat myself in these bursts of baloney.
The plan: keep going south and east till we reach 3730 – 3800S and then turn left and follow the latitude across to within range of the 900 mile dive to Kerguelen, by which time we should have a feel for the conditions and Berri's state of mind to say nothing of the geriatrics in charge. This is really easy, pleasant sailing at the mo – almost makes up for the last week. I seem to remember that once clear of Africa, the lows tend to move south and if I'm right, we can move with them.

Things that work – our Airbreeze wind generator. Nice gear but with a design fault (in my opinion) for the marine version that makes it almost impossible to adjust. There's a tiny screw on the side that adjusts voltage cut in and cut out settings via a potentiometer but it's so tiny and the adjustments so fine and the device so high above the deck that it's pot luck what you get. It ought not be necessary to adjust of course, but in our case and I'm sure lots of others', murphy strikes. A big knob or better still having the adjustment screw set up in the on/off switch box inside the boat – far less dangerous (no need to cling to the tripod on tiptoes on the pushpit bars unable to focus on the screw at arms length in reading glasses and can't even see it without) and more effective. I shall write to them when we get home.

Doug – just about to get into your envelope of Kerguelen goodies – had lots of prelim looks but no serious reads yet.
Malcom, I still have a MMSI for Dufresne in the VHF. Any chance you could try to get us a phone number for someone in charge of the anchorage – even M.le Maire soi-meme? CT was so busy I never got near a French official. Tks.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Last one for 2009

Position 0630 31st 3716 02535 trip 93 DMG 92! Yay! But now in wallow and drift mode again.
Last position report for 2009 and tonight is the blue moon…

The word I wanted a few days ago was troposphere. Thanks Sue.

Have just started reading Doug's extracts from the early explorers' logs and diaries about Kerguelen – the islands and the man. I had no idea there had been so many French aristocrats down here looking for the great south land. Dagelet's paper to the French academy is in French and there are some term that I don't know but he was an interesting man – and thoroughly disillusioned with Kerguelen, his Commander in Chief. Amongst many other observations, Dagelet climbed Table Mountain with a mercury barometer to try to measure its height, noting the difference between the sea level and summit readings – not an easy day's outing! And he noted the phosphorescence around Ile Kerguelen and observed that it was not as brilliant as in the tropics. Captain Clerke of the Discovery, with Cook also in Cape Town, noted the fierce south east winds, so full of sand as to render their observatory instruments useless within minutes. Plus ca change! We still have the stuff everywhere.

Huge flocks of smallish birds – I think they are Prions which are very difficult to identify accurately but my best guess is Antarctic Prions. They fly around us for a bit in big swirls and disappear – just ignoring us completely.

Gordy – tks for msg – recalcitrant of me should have said Hi earlier.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

HNY everyone!

Happy New Year all y'all. We have decided to celebrate in stages. Sydney/Melbourne NY has just passed – quick sip of Dr G's potion and out to put in a reef so while you lot were carousing at the fireworks, we were at work. Next will be Freo (Hi JG and S! Kimbra, I know you are in Hobart – just dug out the tea cosy you made for me in Nome – nice warm ears!) then Cape Town, then our own at midnight UTC, then perhaps Houston and then Nome to close off the day.

Heading east, at last, in what should be a steady 15 – 20 for a day or so.

Katherine C – HNY, happy new boat! Will be an interesting way to learn – go fer it! Text to our satphone doesn't seem to work but you can always call us – it will go into voicemail before we can get to it but don't leave a messsage, (I can't collect it anyway – forgotten the password) just keep ringing back till someone answers. Call costs depend on telstra but not cheap.
Val and Jill – amazed and humbled – what do you two do when you aren't reading our nonsense and where are you? I wonder how many others picked us up from the macca gigs.
Sue – I think we get the message, and thanks. No need for any more, just enjoy the Amazon and take care! Have pink post-it notes in front of me as I write. Pinkaraj still being a fairy on the mast.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


The first dawn of 2010 – velvet grey, drizzle, lumpy sea, soft dying breeze and the shadows of birds. Water running off the boom and trying its best to go on down my neck.

10 years ago, Pete and I, and Yahya, Caro, JG and Gordon were holed up in Skeleton Bay on the east coast of Tasmania sheltering from the weather, drying out the boat and getting some sleep before finishing the race. We drank some rum and slept through the arrival of Y2K. I had a badly broken face from a meeting with the highfield lever earlier in the race and we were all hung over when we departed at dawn. We finished the race around 0300 on Jan 2 with no-one awake in Constitution Dock except some backpackers who shared their fish and chips with us.

And that's really where all this silly gallivanting began. I could not get the face sorted in Hobart over the NY holiday and there was a big southerly blowing so on Jan 4th Pete and I had an eerie last supper at John Sutherland's in our wet weather gear and John put us on the boat and we sailed down the Derwent at night and out past Tasman Island into the guts of the southerly and roared up the coast past the derelict and abandoned Innkeeper which we passed some time in the second night and we got back to Sydney in record time. Then the cranio-maxillary surgeon opened up my face and filled it with chicken wire and screws and I've been a bit lopsided and daft ever since but we had realised that we could handle Berri double handed with no difficulty and this thing took some ethereal shape.

And here we are, 10 years later, a few more Hobarts, a million lists, a couple of Fastnets, Cape Horn, the North West Passage, the International Space Station, Baton Rouge and one and three quarter circumnavigations on the score card. If we make it back to Sydney, we will have achieved at least a couple of firsts and made a lot of interesting friends.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

2010 and reminiscences part 2

Position for NYD 0630 3736 02736 trip 103 DMG 96 – getting there! We need some 130 mile days to catch up but just a bit too far north still.

Following on from the last one – to have got this far has been thanks to the help and support of lots of people many of whom have just jumped aboard when they have seen we needed help – Leif Hagen, Dave Boisseau, Pat Hahn, Cory Dimitruk, Peter Semotiuk, Felix and Manuel, Udo, Dave Carne, Gordy, Jeremy Burnett and many many more. Thanks! Then there have been the regulars, headbanging for us day after day – Steve Jackson, Malcolm Robinson, Speedy, Steve Withnall, for help way beyond the call of duty, Thanks! plus John Witchard, Simon Blundell, John Blundell, Marc Robinson, suppliers of technology and always on hand with advice. The RORC team, Janet and Ian in particular, Crosshaven RNLI, Peter Bruce – the NASA people, Leroy Chiao whose name should be writ in diamonds, Pascal Lee the great mapmaker, Carla Guzzardo, Keith Cowing and the Everest Dag – the whole lot of you out there reading this stuff and talking to us, kicking the Iridium tin and all, without whom this would not have been remotely possible. Lists are so dicey! I'm sure there are many more who should be included and my apologies. There were Yacht Clubs, met people, the Patagonian Cruise net, Falkland islanders, Malcom for sea surface altimetry when we needed it and I'll keep remembering more and more.

Plus a very special personal thank you to Corrie McQueen who jumped aboard at the last minute for the drag up the Pacific and the NW Passage and Kimbra Lindus who came too and both of whom suffered my moods during some of the really tricky bits.

And our extended families, Izz'n 'G and the rest, for putting up with all this nonsense.

The notion of an unasssisted circumnavigation is an interesting one! Were all of you not there? We did the boat bit but not in any sense without assistance. Thanks everyone, especially those who are not listed but were there when we needed you.

And we ain't home yet so please all of you stick around.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position: New Year's Day 2010

Posted by I & G in the UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


Position 0630 2nd 3845 02932 trip 128 DMG 118 and we're poddling along with the full small headsail poled out, no main. Conservative but it looked modestly hairy earlier and it was time for the breakfast con and this report. We have put 3 reefs in the main so it's a piecrust to get it up if it stays soft. TGS soft today, WSW backing NW then a front and SW for another day. All good.

In the last post, I was having idle thoughts about 'assistance' in the context of circumnavigations. Most 'unassisted' circumnavigators today are supported by a small army of routers, meteorologists, motivators, sleep pattern experts, medical advisors, talk you through changing a channel on the radio experts and all the rest. Not too many true Corinthians still around but I was reminded of Les Powles who we met in Lymington 5 years ago. He's the only true Corinthian I've ever met,
the only man I've heard of in recent times who in my opinion has done it all on his own and he's done it three times in an old battered boat under extreme conditions, no radio and no intention of seeking help. He had almost no money and he did it all without telling anyone although he did write a book (great title as well – 'Two Hands Open' I think, as in surrendering to the indifference of the sea)to try to make some money for repairs. I think he was made yachtsman of the year after someone found out about the second one and he nearly died of starvation on the third. When we met him in Lymington he was planning his 4th. Daft old fart. I don't know whether he actually set off but I'm inclined to doubt it – he seemed to have lost the enthusiasm for it and I'm not surprised. But a real nice guy and a true successor to Slocum and Dumas. Buy his book if you can find it. Send him money if you can find him.

Carol G – Kerguelen has very interesting history – discovered by French explorer Kerguelen who went home and made some exaggerated claims, was sent back to finish the job, wimped out and was gaoled on return for various interesting reasons and was then freed by the revolutionary committee as a victim of the aristocracy. He was one of the lucky ones. The islands were visited by Cook a few years later, same spot as Kerguelen's ship's boat landed, then succession of expeditions including Ross and Crozier in Erebus & Terror in 1840 before joining Franklin for NW Passage disaster and whaling, coal mining attempt, sheep farming etc. Now has French scientific base and satellite tracking station. As part of the history, if you can get it, there's a book by Raymond Rallier du Baty called '15000 miles in a ketch' which is, I think, the English translation of his French original called 'Aventure sur Kerguelen' or something similar. Written in 1909ish. Long out of print. Heard about it in Cape Town and have read more in the stuff Doug sent me. The SW peninsula of Kerguelen is named after him.

Val and Jill – glad you like this stuff – makes it all worth while somehow. I hope that we will not need to call in to Freo on the way home but you will certainly know if we do – come and visit the boat. Several Berri crew members from times past live close to you. You can put comments on the blog at the end of each post but you can only send us emails via the berriilla2@gmail address and they get forwarded to us – this is to keep spammers away from our radio inbox.

Deb and Andrew – HNY to you too! Make sure you anchor that rock properly – I want to be able to find it again. The bastards allowed NZ to drift last time we were over there and we had to start a square search. The secret was to listen for sheep bleating in the night.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Postscript on Les

Pete has the signed copy of Les Powles' book at home and says that he built his boat himself. It was certainly rugged and even more agricultural than Berri. No sponsors, no packdrill. He also heard that Les did set off for Australia after we met him and got into trouble in the Bay of Biscay. He was eventually found and guided into harbour somewhere and wrote a heartfelt letter to one of the yachting mags apologising for putting so many people to so much trouble and admitting that perhaps he was getting too old for that kind of thing. He must be in his eighties. Sad to hear, but Onya Les! Respect from those who understand.

Trivia: Ferals – great excitement amongst the Boot colonies, now evolved through many generations both in the boat and in Jeremy's shed where they would certainly have added new genetic material – there were signs the other day that socks and boots were to be deployed but cries of disappointment when the TPS gear came out (Thermal Protection Survival, Carol. google Guy Cotten) but what they don't know is that the TPS suits will rapidly develop interesting colonies of their own – even more humid and hothouse.

Albatrosses – we were visited by our first big one, a Southern Royal and there have been several Yellow Noses hanging around. Also lots of dark petrels – I think White Chinned, Kerguelen and Soft Plumage but not easy to differentiate. Jill, they park on the water – even the Albatrosses – and talk amongst themselves and then catch us up or just do their own thing – they tend to ignore ships but I think some of them are used to fishing boats and a free feed so they hang around us.

Things that work: M&Ms; and the South African version of a Mars bar, called Bar One, in very similar wrapper but has more toffee and less creamy stuff. Still a massive sugar hit. Feeling smugly nauseous.

Anne and Jim, Juddy, Jeremy and Adrie, Fiona, Gerry & Donna, the RANSA mob, Paul & Pauline, the Chain Locker crew, Jeanne and Nereida, HNY all y'all and thanks for your good wishes.

Back in wallow mode but should not last – I think we'll pottle down to 40S soonish and work the systems as much as Berri's geriatric pace will allow. Kergers, here we come.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Still stuck in Africa

More ferals – there are a couple of Prions displaying around us – small shining white greyish speckled and gracefully acrobatic. And a glimpse of a Storm Petrel, small one. In case anyone is interested in seeing what I'm seeing, the book I'm using to try to put names on them all is Onley, Derek and Paul Scofield, Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters of the World, Princeton Field Guides, Princeton U.P., Princeton, N.J., 2007 sent to me by Carla via Amazon – thanks C! Wonderful book.

Sue – just checking that all those wind speeds are kmh not knots. If so, manageable. Have chart will travel. If we can anchor in Baie de l'Oiseau, which Cook named Christmas Harbour, and follow in the wake of Ross and Crozier and all the the rest, my year will be made. They all had to warp up the bay – square riggers don't point – but we might even sail in. Does ambition have no fetters?

Becalmed at nearly 40 S – not expected! Still in the clutches of the current and going north at 2.5 knots. Frustratious but a glorious night.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Backwards to christmas

Position 0630 3rd 3843 03037 trip 52 DMG 45 – another day of going sideways. We shall overcome!

I spent an hour hand steering under wonderful clear moonlit sky last night – boat heading 210, speed 1.5ish kts through the water, course over the ground 010 @ 1.1 kts. Better to be going backwards at 1 knot that 2! Us daggy old australians from Sydney don't expect that sort of thing. No surprise to a Pom or anyone from a tidal area. Or, I suppose, those of us who sail boats back from Hobart after the race.

Much fixing of fiddly stuff in the calms – frinstance Pete has dismantled the sink, swapped taps, waterproofed joints and will resika the sink shortly. We've always had wet feet when standing next to it – salt water pump has always leaked. Cheap and nasty temporary fix from Dunedin after roll that became semi permanent because too low on the list.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Here comes the Examiner

Progress again, 5+kts SE, now at 3855 03103. There's a big front with attitude due late this evening and we're putting stuff away and tying things down. Looks like more 50+ knot squalls and will be an interesting test of how it might feel further south towards Kerguelen. The water here is deeper and the current more favourable so, fingers and all appendages crossed, it ought to be a bit less savage that the last big one.
We'll keep you posted.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Gentle menace.

Hot, grey-blue hazy day. The sea has changed colour from deep iridescent blue to glassy jade green – not the deep bottle green of the Bering sea but almost milky as the light reflects off the tiny organisms that live here. I wonder whether cold water, generally, is greener than warm. The temperature is now 21 deg, way down from not too long ago.

Soft line of cloud low all along the western horizon – puffy and gentle, still reflecting sunlight. When the sun gets behind it, it will have real menace – black lowering and almost solid. It's the beginning of the frontal system – perhaps 8 hours away, so when most of you in Australia read this, it will be with us and past. But for us, it's always the waiting that gets under the skin and corrodes the shiny bits (three highly polished and overused neurons…).

As it approaches, we will put in the second and third reefs (I've just done the first, to balance the boat and help Kevvo keep her straight) and eventually drop the main, lash it to the boom, preventers either side to lock it all in place, slightly to leeward and sloping downwards towards the stern to let the water run off and out of it. Then we'll roll in the headsail progressively and maybe even end up bare poled. Experience says double the forecast GRIB wind speed to get an accurate fix on the likely maximum gust speeds. We're looking at 60+.

So there ya go.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Middle of the night

Actually about 2 hours to sunrise here. I think the main front has gone through – max gust Pete saw was 47 kts and now steady 35 – 40. Bare poled, heading NE at 5+, Berri all snugged down, stern tube closed and I'm monitoring the sitch from inside, dry suit at the ready to wriggle into if there seems to be a bit of the embryonic pearshaped out there. Uncomfortable roll, knees once again pressed up under the nav table, wrists locked against the near edge as I prod the keyboard. Wind has varying and varied conversations – not really slanging matches – with the rig and it does seem to be abating just a poopytill. Nice and dry inside, relatively speaking, after Pete's excellent work in Cape Town bogging the chainplates. Berri being Tarago sized, it's impossible not to bring a bucket or so of water down into the boat on the wet weather gear every time we venture outside and return so everything damp.

Sea building – just been visited by a big one from out of left field. Like being caressed by a steam hammer. It will continue to build all day or at least until the wind abates significantly – TGS about another 5 hours or so. There goes another of the bastards Keep em crossed. Little storm petrel in the black gloom earlier, before the blast – sensed, not seen, as a fluttering shadow.

Carla, will send separate note later but use the sailmail address if you still have it.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Early position

Position 0600 4th 3849 03225 trip 96 DMG 77. Looks as if we will have to zigzag our way along the 39th parallel and suss out the dive to Kerguelen when we get a bit further across. Tedious. We really need a 5 day gap between lows when they are this nasty to get down there safely and it's not looking too good.

Been bare poling all night and I've just climbed out of zoot suit after unrolling a bit of headsail and bringing Berri around from tracking NE to roughly E. The great circle to Hobart via Kerguelen would be about 150 deg T. Thr rhumb line with zigzags will be about 600 miles further. SPBF.

3 neurons too tired to indulge in fancy stuff – but bottle green sea, bright and luminous in the patches of sunlight, several Yellow Noses soaring around the boat – wonderful to watch the aerodynamics of those wings and the use of the body as a counterweight – sometimes the feet extend as airbrakes. And a couple or four smaller Prions, I think. Fione, yep, I know about the other sort.

Bloody hell – still some big waves – often happens as a storm is abating.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


Variations on a theme of Prufrock. When I was camping out in the bloodhouse on the corner of the main drag in Nome in July 2008, in those uncertain days while we waited for Point Barrow ice to break and melt, I needed to make coffee and I bought a small electric water boiler which came with a little blue plastic funnel and a pack of 100 one cup filter papers. I left the heater with Pat when we departed, but I still have the funnel and 15 of those 100 filters left – that's 85 cups of coffee for the NW passage, the Atlantic across the top and then down to Agulhas and the Indian to here. A silly statistic – rough guess 13000 miles, so a cup every 150 miles or so. Must have drunk a lot in the NWP because almost none from Falmouth to here.

And the not so trivial – as you read this you are probably sitting at your computer, surrounded by all the usual paraphernalia – books, papers, pencils, coffee cups, photos of the cat, the cat itself and all the rest. Imagine if you will what would happen if your house was turned on its side and a bit past the horizontal. All sorts of chaos…That's what has just happened to us – quite a severe knockdown, as usual after the wind had abated considerably and we'd thought it safe to set some sail and get going again. I was perhaps too ambitious with the wind angle, putting it more on the beam than the quarter. Pete was here behind the cone of silence and I'd just got up for a pee and was looking directly through the big starboard galley window and saw it coming. The boat rose and rolled to port and everything not properly stowed in the galley and quarter berth shelves launched itself across the boat and into the cone – tubs of margerine, apples, some kilkenny – chaos. We must have rolled through about 110 degrees – a tub of margerine that started below the waterline in a quarterberth bin made a big splat of yellow goo right at the top of the cone (heavy plastic curtain protecting the nav table and the electronics – it has saved our bacon countless times) and was still going up. Then it and several others fell to the floor and – of course – ended upside down on our bit of hairy matting. Careful stowage looked after the rest of the (heavy) gear around the boat but a timely reminder of our vulnerability. Cockpit a disaster zone but no apparent damage and now all sorted and cleaned up. Pete asleep, I'm on watch and the big waves are still out there. Poo! Makes Kerguelen look very iffy indeed.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Freaks in the frame?

First Macca, now perhaps Sailing Anarchy. Can this be fame? Notoriety? Just the result of being seen as freaks? Ho hum. Happy New Year to all you anarchists out there if you do get to read this nonsense.

This is a savage bit of ocean, even in summer. The early Portuguese explorers called it the graveyard of ships and no bloody wonder. There’s a lot of them still here including Bartholomeu Diaz, one of my heroes. It seems to have even more bite that last time we were here. Hoping that once we get clear of the influence of the african continent, it will come to its senses.

SteveJ asked what happens after a big knockdown – does Berri just spring back as if it was always intended to have a bit of fun. Yep – that’s what happens – well, it is what has always happened so far! – her angle of vanishing stability is 146 degrees – she will roll to 146 degrees and still have righting moment so is immensely stiff by modern standards and she just flips back once the wave has past. Different story if the mast goes into the water though as we found when we were rolled right over and dismasted off Gabo Island 3 years ago this week. There’s a 2mb pdf of that story here: Dismasted pdf (SJ, if it’s gone, could you pse add one to the blog? Ta! ed: link to pdf added

Udo – my apologies – I made a mistake with one of the posts and left the footer on the message, dozy old fart that I am. I don’t actually send these from the berrimilla2 address but from our sailmail address. The B2 address is put on the post to stop people just hitting the reply button and sending 10 pages of message strings, caveats and other garbage with their 3 line note and also, the idea is to keep the spammers at arms length and to keep their crap out of our inbox. We’re off the air immediately if that happens – this is a radio link and very tenuous. Thanks for your NY message!

Malcom, thanks for advice – if we do make the dive, we will head for Christmas Harbour (Baie de L’Oiseau, NE corner) first and then go the northern route to Port au Francais. However, given yesterday’s little drama, the dive is looking iffy. We’ll monitor the conditions but no point in risking the boat and ourselves if it stays savage.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Of pointy bits and whoopee cushions

Position 0700 5th 3853 03442 trip 126 DMG 97 so still zigging and zagging but improving.

Dawn this morning – 0230 ish UTC, two big albatrosses and the usual gaggle of Yellow Noses. The big ones were probably New Zealand but possibly Snowy – the plumage is very similar and proper identification requires a good look at the bill. Breathtakingly gorgeous – and in the golden dawn as they banked away, their white underparts had a golden sheen for the few seconds they reflected the sun directly. If they hang around till the evening, they will be pink in the dying sunset. Drool all y'all at your desks in the big smoke!

In the interests of science and education – ain't we always striving to add to the great store of knowledge? – an experiment that seems to be working. As some of you will know, the best part of a cornflakes packet and of some production boats that arrive by ship in plastic cocoons is the packaging. I have the bits of the soft plastic strip that once wrapped a Beneteau mast doing good things all over the boat. Those of you who have followed this saga from its early days will also know of the awful problem of lacerated bum caused by the pointy bits of your pelvis trying to bore their way out through the glutes as you sit on the hard surfaces and Berri pirouettes and corkscrews around you. Inescapable and Awful! But in a moment of inspiration yesterday, I cut a piece of the plastic strip about 40cm by 20 and then cut two 120mm holes in it at the correct distance to accommodate the arse bones and behold – it seems to work. A two holer version of a piles pad, I think!

So have a noice day. We are about to crack 9000 miles by GPS from Falmouth.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Slowly slowly…

Position 0700 6th 3845 03638 trip 93 DMG 77. Disappointingly slow progress but we're moving in the right direction. Another front behind us – they all seem to be further north than last time and rather more vicious. The Examiner won't let us off the hook if that's not a mixed metaphor.

Talking of which, I'm told Sailing Anarchy has done us proud but do I sense a touch of the oxymoronic? The Anarchists have an Editor – indeed, more than one, as there is an Exalted Person called a Senior Editor. Snake oil in the sky with diamonds!Anyway, thanks Al and we'll try to keep all y'all amused for the next 50 days or so.

Ferals: Yellow Nosed albatrosses arrive alone or in groups – they are not solitary – whereas the bigger ones seem to be solitary or paired only. The Yellow Noses often fly in close formation with another YN and often also with a White Chinned Petrel. I've just seen 3 YNs parked on the water with two more circling – soaring – around them. On the water they are often joined by petrels. Two White Chins together keep up a continuous chirruping amongst themselves. Roughly the equivalent, perhaps of the old formation flying patter.

H – we should be about 3000 miles due south of you some time on Thursday We'll wave!

And today the decorations come down.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Not in the brochure

It's bloody 'orrible. Big SW swell, N wind @ 25-30, blowing for several hours to build 3m wind waves against swell. Tiny bit of headsail unrolled, almost bare poled and wind on stbd. qtr to try to keep the boat from getting airborne. 5 knots. Bleeeah! I want my mummy. Sadly, out here in the southern ocean there's no Scotty to beam us up, no Marvin to take over the controls as the spacecraft dives into the sun. Not even a Tardis. It's lump it or lump it. Chocolate fix called for. Grib says another 12 hours or so. The systems seem to be more compacted and variable than last time and the whole lot further north. Not the gentle ride the brochures promised.

Neurons battered and recalcitrant. Poesy unforthcoming – perhaps with position report later. Boot ferals excited.

Sue, thanks in advance for data. Y'all enjoy the Amazon!
Deborah, thanks for John Grunsfeld news. I was wondering what he was going to do for an encore.
Chris H in Eden, thanks for kind words. I think the loo is an entirely appropriate place for this stuff! And yes, I do know your boat – watched her being built over the years…You got a good one, I think. And thanks for kind offer – there is a digit missing from the mobile number you sent us but we will certainly be in touch next time we are in town.

Happy Christmas Hilary 3000 miles to the north. We're waving and we shall breakfast in your direction.

Talking of breakfast – Marcus, are you still out there in the restaurant? I had hoped to visit and have a Berri breakfast with you but never quite happened. Sorry!

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Poesy orf for ther mo.

Position 0630 7th 3913 03906 trip 115 DMG 116! YAY! Progress and maybe even a smidge of current. Cook arrived at Christmas Harbour, Kerguelen, 25 days out from Cape Town. He did not know until much later that the French had already named it Baie de L'Oiseau after Kerguelen's frigate which got there first. Would be interesting to look at his track – he would have had less difficulty with 50 knot squalls and following seas. The quickest we could do it would be around 29 days if we decide to go.

Queer goings on abroad – there were distinct thick muddy brown streaks in the green ocean at 3906S 03847E. Thought at first I was hallucinating. They were a couple of metres wide, maybe 20 – 30 metres long, parallel, in line with our course of roughly east (T) and several metres apart and seemed to be shallow. No oily spectrum but the water was smoother. No solid matter that I could see. Hard to tell how far they extended. Don't know where they started but I noticed them through the window and went up to have a look. From when I first saw them, perhaps 500 metres till they stopped. Faint smell of something but could not identify. No AIS contacts but could be fishing boat emptying bilge perhaps?

About to pull in the next grib when I send this. The first of the critical ones that will inform the decision about the dive south to Kerguelen.

Christmas Day in Addis. Happys up there!

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position and An Overview

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

HTTG and other trash

Glassy calm – in the southern ocean yet! – Dagelet's 'luminous sea' and, as he wrote, it's not as bright as in the tropics but it is heartwrenchingly beautiful – we have the engine at idle to keep the old barge pointing SE and not flogging her guts out and she just folds the water around her stem enough to make little greeny blue ripples and there's a long glowing trail stretching out astern with diamond sparkles. The sky is clear, the stars so bright you could touch them, Higgs fields notwithstanding! I've been reading more of Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos – wish I could write like he does – lovely taut use of metaphor and a smashingly gentle line in dry irony. I guess you all know from the HGTTG that the universe is really really big but did you know that scientists have now calculated on the basis of observed data that it is stretching so fast that light shining from an object at its outer edge (not a real place but conceptually useful) will never reach us? The outer edge is beyond our horizon for ever. His metaphor for size – if you reduce the universe to the size of the earth, the bit of it that we can see and observe would be smaller than a grain of sand. Really really small. Our little speck of dust will follow the second law of thermodynamics into a state of higher entropy real soon now in spacetime so eat yer porridge and enjoy it while you can!

There was a clever revisionist piece in, I think, the Guardian before we left the UK reviewing the 30 years since the first appearance of the HGTTG. Way oversimplified but as I remember, it seems that those of us who know, love and understand the jokes are just a bunch of smug yuppies. Ah well! I've been called names before. The sixth book in the trilogy, written by another smug yuppie, Eoin Colfer?, is on the stalls and my copy is now chasing me from Cape Town in the Heart of Gold. Infinitely improbable but it will one day overcome the stretching of spacetime and reach me. Perhaps it already has in another universe.

Dawn just breaking. Yesterday as the cold, drizzly grey front clammily wrapped us, there were Storm Petrels all around the boat. They aren't usually with us in groups and almost never when it's calm enough to look at them closely. Usually, just a spray wreathed glimpse of a tiny apparently fragile dancer in the storm. These were Wilson's Storm Petrels jittering and flopping and bumping the waves and running along the surface, wings stretched to provide just enough lift for a skyhook – and scooping for food. Tried to film them but the camera couldn't cope. Please, whoever designs these things, bring back the viewfinder! Screens are useless especially on video cameras.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Giant shoulders

Position 0630 8th. 3934 04106 trip 95, DMG 91, Day 17 from CT, about 1300 miles to Baie de L'Oiseau.
Pete has done some analysis of the wind data – we know average wind for Port au Francais is 35kph, which agrees with data we have received. Pattern seems to be 3 days around 50 – 60 kmh with two or three softer days in between. 50kmh = 27 knots. Manageable. The plan is to keep heading that way and park or bale out if it gets really pearshaped on the way. We'll get there if we can – too special to pass by from this close. Will need to clear the debris from the anchors and make sure all is accessible.

Baie de L'Oiseau was named by Kerguelen after his frigate Oiseau commanded by Lt. Charles de Rosnevet whose boat, under Lt. Rochegude first landed there on Jan 6th 1774 and took possession for France. This was in fact the second time it had been claimed as Kerguelen had already done so two years earlier on the southern coast of the island. They left a bottle suspended by wire with a latin message which Cook's men found in 1776 and Cook added to the message and returned the bottle. Cook named the place Christmas Harbour, not at the time knowing of the earlier name. It now appears on the chart as Baie de L'Oiseau.

Sue – hope you got to Gatwick. I'm old enough to remember 1947, when there was snow 4 ft deep on the sea front at Lee on Solent. No stress if updates difficult and expensive. We're now close enough to do it from the Gribs. Pinkaraj tenterhooky. Have a Piranha free ball, y'all and report on return.
Carol – missed your 75th – but a grand total. Belated happys.
Thanks to Heggie, Tom and Philip for funnies.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

An afternoon at the zoo.

Ferals – a whale! I saw what I thought might have been a spout about 500 metres away, 3-4 metre swell, 10 kts breeze. Waited and definitely saw the next one and the next with glimpses of body between swells. The spouts were flattish and seemed to be angled – could not establish direction of travel and so possible slant angle of spout. Then it sounded – away from us – spout angle could have been leftwards indicating sperm whale but flukes were rounded at the tips, unlike pictures in the handbook so some doubt.

And a big albatross soared serenely past – and they always seem just a bit scornful – one glimpse only and possibly one of the Royals. Waited for ever with the Nik at the high port but it didn't come back. Groups of Prions in the offing.

Little gaggles of dancing Storm Petrels (Wilson's again and probably Black Bellied) – so fragile yet so wonderfully adapted.

Scrofulous old farts smelling quietly amongst themselves as they await cleansing visit and Consultation with Dr G. Iodine, quinine and vitamin C plus psychological uplift all in the one – well, maybe 2 – medications. OF A has just put pole on – taken it off again – gybed and monitoring correct point for Kerguelen. Sweaty business. Grib has been remarkably accurate for last few days.

Water distinctly greenish. VoA noticeably increasing – water temperature now 17 deg.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

A change of direction

Tooling along this afternoon watching the barometer fall and thinking 'odd, that's all a bit quick – grib says much less better watch it' Closed the stern tube valve as a precaution – a good move. Seemed we were much closer to the centre of the system than the grib predicts and so it turned out. Just finished dinner, Black clouds, menacing and grim, already 2 reefed, and wham – 35 – 40 Berri surfing downwind wildly, up to 50, far too much sail – no time to get into party gear, just a lifejacket and harness and out there. Roll in the headsail still on its pole, bring her up beam on and drop the main – thrashing around but controllable, just. Kevvo kept his head and looked after us, as usual. Spray blasting across Pete at the mast, me in the cockpit, all ghostly in the spreader lights, the spray cascading diamonds, Berri rolling wildly but now sorted, everything made fast and back inside – absobloodylutely soaked. the howl has subsided, Berri steady on her feet again, from tracking SE before, now barepoled on NE @ 4 kts wind 35 and dropping. A lot of effort but essential. We'll stay like this until daylight in about 8 hours then sort the rather messy deck we left behind. Barometer up 2hp already. Now to do the washing up.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Quickie position

Position 0630 9th 3953 04257 trip 96, DMG 86. Last night's little bit of drama slowed us down considerably. Sea now abating but still big. No longer pointed semi breaking but still very steep and close together. Heady unrolled, main still lashed to the boom, mess tidied up and just waiting till it seems ok to get some of it up again.

Rather tatty looking Southern Royal albatross pottering around, landed next to the end of our safety line. I could almost feel his disappointment when it discovered there was no fish on the end of it. Must be used to following long liners. Further report later.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Southern Royal Albatross

The Southern Royal Albatross, Diomedea epomophora, has an average wingspan of an amazing 3 m (9.8 ft). This image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons and photographer Mila Zinkova. Posted by I & G in the snowbound UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

of mice and men

At this rate, we are about 9 days from Kerguelen which equates to about 3 major changes in the weather system. There's no stability in it – the wind goes from north to south via west on a daily basis with little localised nasties arriving unannounced by the grib. Tricky. The plan: we will work our way SE to 45 S – about the same latitude as Tasman Island and with broadly similar conditions and have a look over our shoulders to see what's coming and make a decision to continue or bale out. Kerguelen starts at 48 south. It's all manageable but we do need to be careful. Would be a huge shame to go past but the boat comes before tourism!

It's been a slow day. rolling and pirouetting violently – water warm again and blue – what's happening? We crossed 40 S this afternoon – the Roaring Forties.

I've just started to read, for the severalth time, Gerald Durrell's 'My Family and Other Animals'- lovely book that works for me but perhaps not for everyone. His opening quotation from 'As You Like It':

It is a melancholy of mine own, compounded
of many simples, extracted from many objects,
and indeed the sundry contemplation of my
travels, which, by often rumination wraps
me in a most humorous sadness.


The tatty old albatross is still with us. Caught up with it earlier sitting on the water working at a big semi submerged plastic bag and not having much luck. It lumbered into the air and quite by luck I got it on video. Couldn't see the screen and no idea where the thing was pointing. But probably out of focus. They look so dumpy on the water and almost lopsided with their huge beaks and much smaller than in their soaring magnificence.

Thinking about some kind of gunsight viewfinder for the video cam. Screen absolutely useless in daylight – do the people who design these things ever actually use them?

Carol G – remind me – I've got a little artifact from B1 for your collection.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

The Slough of Despond?

The middle watch, from midnight to 0300 in Berrimilla. That time when, for most humans, the circadian rhythms are expecting to be restoring a sleeping body. That time when, for one who is awake, doubts, uncertainty, foreboding, dread, guilt – all those corrosive and negative feelings and emotions boil and fester at the edge of consciousness. That time of loneliness and exposure when the neurons are most finely tuned to the unusual – and prepared to interpret the worst from it. That time when the moaning howl of the wind in the rig coalesces with the knowledge that it's cold, wet and raining outside and the mind flinches and tries to hide. That time when the magnitude of the task ahead seems too big to manage, too unending, too frighteningly loaded against our weary decrepitude.

The wind in the rig this watch is a low, tuneful moaning hum – reminds me occasionally of bits of the humming chorus from Nabucco. It's a steady 25-30 knots, way ahead of the grib prediction and my middle watch conditioned mind thinks it's seriously unfair. We've just had a couple of big waves, knockdown size, break over us. They come in threes usually – trains of waves with much more attitude, more bite that the rest. Mostly too, when you think the time has past and things are on the improve. Scary and you can never relax.

The sea state is the result of conditions to the south – big rolling swells with confused wind waves on top, some pointy and breaking as they are affected by the local wind. Berri rolling wildly – difficult to make, let alone drink a cuppa and dunk the restorative McVities. You know you are alive and you wonder, perhaps, why you have chosen to realise it just this way. And we've got about 48 days to go, more if we go via Kerguelen. Here, it's dawn – we are 3 hours ahead of Greenwich. The sea is grey and roiling white and the wind is blowing spray from the tops of breaking waves.

Pete gently snoring.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Yet another quickie

Position 0630 10th 4036 04501 trip 106, DMG 105 Yay – another ton at last. I think we might be finally clear of Africa. It's been a bleak and very uncomfortable few days and still is but we are moving again.

SW – welcome back!

Malcom, yep! The Nik is a D70s digital SLR with a long lens but it's no way waterproof or salt proof so I can only really get it out of its wrapper when the sun is shining. Then it's fantastic. The vid is a Sanyo Xacti waterproof digital and works fine – except that I can't tell what I'm filming most of the time when outside in daylight – either reflection or not enough backlight in the viewfinder screen.

Sue, fingers crossed for you – no need for further wx updates thanks – enjoy the trip!

All seems very quite out there. Fingers too cold to prod keyboards in England perhaps and all down at the beach or the pub in Oz.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Neither Tryffid nor Jackal

The day of the albatross. Several Yellow Noses wheeling and soaring, often in formation and with petrels. Lots of petrels, mostly white chinned, some smaller. Occasionally a Storm Petrel.

A completely black or dark brown bird, albatross sized, massive white beak, not in the book. Possibly a giant petrel.

Another really big one, perhaps a snowy or southern royal – white underparts, dark white speckled top, white patches, flesh pink beak with orange tip, distinctive pinky orange neck band. Neck band not like anything in the book.

And what I think is one of the rarest of all – an Amsterdam – breeds only on Isle Amsterdam 1500 miles away and only 120 thought to exist according to the book. There were at least 2 of them.

Another, not immediately identifiable – dark all over except for head and neck, mottled/speckled brown with brown 'mohican' yellowish beak, darker end. Possibly a variant Amsterdam.

I have photos of all but the black one. Entirely possible they are all maturity or seasonal variants of distinct species.

I hope there's someone out there who is interested. If anyone can offer clues as to correct ID, please do!

Typical convergence zone conditions. Humid, low overcast, occasional drizzle, not much wind. Wallow and flop and roll. Poo!

Seems the Africa sailmail station server is down again. No incoming and I've tried several times to post bloggery and to retrieve gribs and no go. This via Iridium. If you get the earlier posts three times on the blog, my apologies. Perhaps the omnipotent SJ will notice and delete. If so – tks!

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Golgafrincham – and a question

Position 0630 11th 4104 04720, trip 106, dmg 106 – efficiency at last! 984 to Kerguelen, 4365 by rhumb line to Maatsuyker, less if we go further south towards the great circle – ugly front due tonight then soft high pressure systems for a few days. Won't be comfortable.

Day 19 from Cape Town. A Golgafrinchan day today – we'll sanitise the telephones, dispense fragrance throughout the office, facilitate meetings, fold a pointy end into the bog roll, ask everyone how their day is going. And I will shave.

The 2 Amsterdams are still with us, as well as the orange necked 'southern'. Indian Ocean Yellow Noses abundant, Various Prions in flocks mingled with White Chinned and other petrels. Swirling masses of birds, thousands, sometimes albatrosses slow and serene – scornfully imperial – in their midst. Wish I could send you photos. Breathtaking is an overused word – there's laziness in Golgafrincham today – like people always 'crashing' out of the tennis, there always being 'gobbets' of fat in the soup, sloppy stuff. But sometimes it really does take the breath – elemental, transfixing and seared into the polished surfaces of all 3 neurons never to be erased. Paradise but for the weather!

All y'all – is there anyone out there who would like to acquire a folder (unedited) of hundreds of bird photos? Some pretty good, though mostly telephoto so some distortion and loss of sharpness. Images in both raw and .jpg basic. Freebie, but perhaps donation to Albatross Conservation Fund or Berri iridium tin? Will have to wait until we get home, if that ever happens. We may have been diverted like the Golgafrinchans. Let me know and I'll make as many copies as needed.

SJ – with glitch in Africa station, did you get my reply to Speedy query? Separate note to follow re other stuff but losing propagation with Africa as range increases so may do via iridium in next day or so.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position

Posted in the UK by I & G.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


Another quickie from OF1 as OF2 has burst into print
Position 0630 12th, 4152 04942, trip 107, DMG 118 !! We must be down in the south circumpolar current at last. VoA rising and the water really starting to feel cold when applied to the nethers.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

The other old fart..

Hi there its Pete

Yesterday I woke for the early morning watch at at 0300 UTC which is just after 6am local time. Scratched the sleep from the eyes then noticed something unusual out the back door, the sun was up. The sky was blue a few clouds about and the seas were calm. During his watch Alex had taken taken two reefs out of the main and had poled the full headsail out to port. The boat was ticking along beautifully at 4-5kts. with about 10-12kts. of breeze on the port quarter.

These rare conditions deserved some early refreshment, grabbed a couple of Guinnesses from the medicine chest, got the dogbowels out and half filled them with chips and then, see if Alex was interested. He was well into sleep, decided to leave him there and get out and enjoy the sunshine. Suitably satiated then dropped below to check the blog and came across “The Slough of Despond”. The first paragraph ended “the magnitude of the task ahead seems too unending, too frighteningly loaded against our weary decrepitude”. Well I thought you can count me out of the weary decrepit lineup this morning. I went back to the cockpit took the shirt off, fresh aired the armpits and felt the warm sun soak into my back.

I can fully understand Alex’s mood that night I’ve been through it many times before but to distract myself through these gut wrenching times I reflect on the good times, mostly things that happened when our children were young. I can remember on the last trip when we were in a storm off the bottom of Africa, we had been under bare poles for a couple of days, I was sitting on the floor legs braced against the opposite side to hold position as a procession of huge waves continually knocked the boat over and sideways down the wave. To distract my mind from the obvious I would recall time spent with the kids on a small farm up the mountain not far from Kiama south of Sydney. It all came back in full technicolour and at the end of it all I’d ask myself “what am I doing here”. That question has never been fully and honestly answered.

So lets get back to the children. Jeanne and I have four of these treasures, the eldest had a birthday just a week ago, he turned 32 and I was 32 when he was born. We arrived back at the CYC in Rushcutters Bay just 3 weeks before he was born having spent the past year sailing home from Greece via the Atlantic and Pacific Trade Wind highway, though it wasn’t a highway 32 years ago, that was well before satellite navigation. His birthday is in the first week of January which unfortunately clashes with the Sydney Hobart Race, there goes 13 of of his birthdays for which I was not around. I do remember I missed his 21st, 25th and 30th. This year at the towards the end of February, our eldest daughter turns 30 and at the end of March the youngest turns 25. I’ll make the last one but the the other looks in doubt.

Now that I’ve put this on paper it all looks decidedly slack, birthdays have become movable feasts and we have the alternative one when I’m around, but its not the same. I just thought of another thing, we were married on the 27th of October, I think (I used to remember this because it was the day the junta took control in Greece and we couldn’t marry on the 26th because of a public holiday, there used to be huge billboards everywhere celebrating this day when we were there). Unfortunately this always seemed to clash with with the Lord Howe Island Race, so as you can see none of this was my fault.

All of this reflection was probably prompted by a book given to read by Manuel whose house and family we stayed with in Cape Town. The book was “Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego Nautical Guide” an impressive and weighty tome of a couple who have spent 7 years putting together this book which contains information and hand drawn charts of the hundreds of magic anchorages in the fiords of this area, a must for anyone wanting to spend time there. One part of the book I was interested in was about the culture of the local people, one thing that struck me was their belief that when you are young your time or life is a gift from your parent, life progresses your time is yours and then you reach a stage where your time is borrowed from your children. Its fairly profound when you think about it, I think I’m there now. I’ll leave you with that to reflect on. Cheers Pete.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

The Black Dog prowls the Boonies

Seems my Pilgrim in Despond post stirred a pot or two. I was trying to put into words the sorts of weirdness and insidious despair that one sometimes has to overcome to pursue silly gigs like this. The final line was supposed to soften it but obviously didn't! I can remember when it was not acceptable to admit to emotion, when to tell it like it sometimes is was seen to be a sign of weakness – C.S.Forester's Hornblower books weave it beautifully. A reflected example, though I have a sneaking feeling that I've used the story somewhere else in these blogs but it bears repeating and does the stiff upper lip rather well – Imagine the Duke of Wellington on his horse surveying the battlefield at Waterloo during the most desperate moments of the battle, surrounded by his staff, Generals in full uniform, aides, runners, the full retinue. Shouting, screams, cannons, smoke, stinging eyes, choking breath, death and blood everywhere. One of Wellington's senior commanders had his leg taken off by a cannon ball as he sat on his horse next to Wellington – 'By Gad, my lord' he said 'I've lost me leg!' By Gad, Sir' said Wellington 'so you have!' Just about sums it up really.

Back on Iridium. Propagation and range to Africa station now makes daytime HF impractical.

The French, Cook and the later navigators wrote extensively about fog down here – lots of it, arrives suddenly. Cook in Resolution sailed 300 leagues (how long was a league – my hazy memory says about 3 miles?)in it in company with Discovery without losing contact – amazing! We were in thick misty drizzle this morning, visibility half a mile max – I think it's the mid latitude convergence zone standard murk, at least out here. We were in it for days out of NZ last time. If we get to Kerguelen, it may be different.

Alan B in Xhaven – your beanie performing mighty service cosseting the noggin. Other toys work with TPS dry suits. Noice – tks.

Norm, the best we can do is observe that each of your words is symmetrical after the first letter so can be 'wrapped' and read backwards by end for ending that letter. Is there something deeper and more mysterious?

A couple of notes from Malcom to round it off:
Last October, Japanese scientists reported that they had put small
forward-looking video cameras on albatrosses to monitor the birds'
behaviour. The results showed that the albatrosses followed pods of killer
whales and that they fed or scavenged on the detritus of whatever the whales
were killing and feeding on. Whether this behaviour evolved from the birds,
over the ages, following boats, or whether boat – following evolved from
following whales one may never know.

malcom again

AW, BTW Biggle's flew into the Kerguelens after the war in search of German
treasure in "Biggle's Second Case". As you will recall he also beat you to
Tierra del Fuego.

Blimey! Is there no end to this white anting? What was he flying? Were Algy and Ginger with him? And where did he land??

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


Cook's fog, I think. Mid latitude convergence zone conditions with cold and warmer air mixing over cold (?) water as the pressure systems swirl and merge and coriolis exerts its magic.

We're in it now – today it seems thin and the sun almost gets through occasionally. There are thicker patches with quite large raindrops and mistier areas with tiny droplets that soak everything. As I look out of the window next to my head, I can actually see the glow of the sun and the top of the mist like low level cumulus reflecting the sunlight. Nice breeze – a bit like doing hull speed with the kite in fog in the English Channel in the Fastnet. Quite eerie.

But the point of this is that it gives one a different perspective. Looking down sun, to the SW, the mist is bright and reflective – hint of a rainbow – but under it you can see successive grey horizons looming out of the murk – the real SW swell that is sometimes very hard to pick amongst all the confused wind waves caused by the rapid changes in direction in each successive system. These horizons are impressive – high and grey and travelling and as one passes beneath the boat it sometimes happens that the next one is just looming out of the gunk 300 metres or so away. Suddenly, you're in the real world and you get a feel for the size of these things – there's this deep rounded trough falling – lurching? – away below your eye and up into the summit in the distance and although they are significantly smaller than we experienced west of Cape Horn, they are still Big. West of the Horn, you could lose a cathedral in the trough, here, perhaps just a small town hall and adjacent public lavatory. Plus all the little birds.

The sun is poking through – my hands on the keyboard have warm sunlight on them. Local time is about 1300.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Life, the universe and everything

Position 0630 13th 4239 05130 – about level with Bicheno in Tasmania and about 200 north of the Crozets. Trip 99, DMG 92 and Kerguelen 774 (in case anyone is actually following us on a chart, I’m using a waypoint about 90 miles north of Baie de l’Oiseau as my DMG marker so your numbers may not equate exactly to mine. I’ll change it as we get closer).

Tomorrow – the grib says – will be pearshaped with 35 knot (read 50+) northerlies blasting down a big front behind the current high and 40 kts forecast for the Kerguelens. We should be about mid way down and we’ll do our best to deal with whatever we get. Iff we get really lucky, it will then soften gradually and we might get a reasonably clear window for landfall. Pace the Examiner, of course, and the Great Statistician, Mr Murphy.

I forgot to announce that we have a new Medical Person aboard – she comes from Windhoek and her advice and her medications so far have been excellent. Something other than an Irish accent at the Consultation for a change. I have a drop of her elixir to hand as I write and I’ve just demolished a bacon buttie. Life is good.

More unoriginal silliness inspired by Brian Greene – as we seem to be (to the universe and our surroundings) relatively low entropy clumpy collections of hydrogen atoms with interstellar distances between them on a quantum scale – what is a thought? What’s it made of? What is the nature of consciousness? How is it that the clumpy collection that prods this keyboard can create and process and transmit to you lot the concept of a superciliously superior albatross laughing at out dopey inadequacies as it soars and glides around us? And why and how would I ascribe supercilious superiority to an albatross anyway? There must be a lot of people out there working on the answers.

What an interesting bit of spacetime this is. And in a few billion years, physicists think it will be gone, not a wrack left behind, just hydrogen atoms. Eventually – perhaps – just a cold and dark void with about 5 hydrogen atoms to the cubic metre. Rather fewer than the magic 42 in HGTTG. Enjoy it while you can and help others to do the same!

Antarctic Prions in full flit – small,lovely, graceful birds, grey/blue feathers on top, white undersides, wonderfully aerobatic – I have a photo of one half way through an Immelmann. White chinned Petrels in and out of the mizzle – wet, clank and dammy but good breeze taking us SE. Another brief glimpse of the big black bird that looks and acts like an albatross. I think parts of the belly are white. It doesn’t hang around – one fly past and it’s gone for the day.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Piccadilly circus in the southern ocean

Position 0630 14th 4313 05359, trip 125, DMG 115. The usual – lumpy, changeable, damp, sunny it's all happening. Now brilliant sunshine, still blowing white crests off deep iridescent blue sea. Cold enough to notice. I have resurrected my arctic sleeping bag, bought in Cambridge Bay in the NW Passage. Pete has his old down bag and bivvy bag from the original gig. Have to keep them really dry – neither designed for boats but lovely and toasty and difficult to get out of.

We have learned that most of Kerguelen is closed to visitors because of various research projects, so we are now heading for Port au Francais. We are trying to establish some sort of contact, to get permission to enter the harbour and I'll keep you posted on that one.

There's someone else out here – apparently Alessandro di Benedetto is just south of the Crozets, about 250 miles away, trying to break the round the world record solo unassisted in a 6.5 metre boat. That's all I know so far – sounds like a mini-transat. If so, I dips me lid! We are trying to contact him as well. Apparently he has a website.

I've been asked to explain Golgafrincham. It's a joke from HGTTG – Arthur found himself on a planet populated by telephone sanitisers, management consultants, motivators, colonic irrigators, bog roll pointers – all the people that Douglas Adams seemed to think the world could quite happily do without. They had been part of the population of a doomed galaxy, embarked in special space ships to find another home in the universe. What they did not know was that they had been deliberately separated from the rest of the (Useful!) population of their original galaxy in their own space ship and diverted to a small blue planet on the outer edge of an insignificant galaxy – and so became the early citizens of Earth. You really have to read the book…

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Prodding for the sake of it

Middle watch again – now nearly 4 hours ahead of Greenwich and the sun is nearly up – tends to ameliorate the horrors! – it's been one of those crystal nights, no haze, stars so bright and close it felt as if you could touch them. Just a bit cold and damp out there to sit in the cockpit and enjoy the experience. During the night, we cracked 10,000 miles from Falmouth on the GPS and I missed it. I now know that the GPS trip counter does not count above 10k nor does it automatically reset to zero so I have lost some miles, perhaps about 30. Now manually reset and counting again from zero. It seems colder here than it did up in the arctic ice – odd. The air is very dense and carries a lot of water which condenses everywhere.

We are tooling along under a big high, just the headsail and as usual, rolling about a bit, making about 4.5 knots towards Kerguelen. Alessandro, south east of us, is making 6 knots and will pass south of Kerguelen on Sunday night. We intend to go northabout and into Port aux Francais if the weather allows. We are about 5 days out if the grib is accurate – due for a blow from the NW in the next 24 hours.

Malcom, Biggles was probably driving a Catalina, ex Cape Town or Reunion. Doesn't all that Boys Own stuff seem quaint – yet I read it ferociously and no doubt assumed its values. The way we were.

Norm – I can't do numbers. No probs digging a hole with ergro but!

As a safety and sea survival instructor, struggling to undo the zip of my sleeping bag at midnight when Pete woke me this morning, it occurred to me that sleeping bags are really bad news in any situation where a roll or even a bad knockdown is a possibility. Doesn't take much imagination to see why.

No takers yet for bird photos – not as many birds out there today and mostly white chinned petrels.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Just a position

Position 0630 15th 4355 05614 Trip (corrected for reset)109 DMG 107. Sparkling, glorious day, Prions in full flit, delicate grey patterns against the icy blue water.

No contact yet with Port aux Francais so I'll keep this short.

Norm, Pete would like numbers please.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Latest Position

Posted by I & G in the UK.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Under the red planet

We are now south of Tasmania. I've gone on enough about the night sky – tonight Mars actually looks red – much redder than Betelgueuse, which is just dull orange. Luminous ocean again. Wearing my arctic balaclava in the cockpit to keep the uninsulated shiny bits warm.

Yesterday – or was it today? Neurons in decline – an aircraft contrail crossed above us – heading west, perhaps on the great circle from Sydney or Perth to S. Africa. A bit of a surprise. Must be a wonderful view of Kerguelen and the other islands from 6 miles up but unusual to have a really clear day to see them.

No contact with Kerguelen yet. We are assuming that if we do arrive, they won't tell us to go away. We've exchanged SMS messages by satphone with Alessandro, now nearly 500 miles SE of us and we have spoken on the radio to the skipper of the NZ research vessel Kaharoa, about 400 miles NW, engaged in laying Argos buoys out here in the extreme boonies. A real Kiwi voice and we've established a schedule to talk each day. Nice.

And so far, suspiciously easy. Softish day, brilliant sunshine, a couple of new albatrosses. One was a Black Browed, medium sized, breeds in the Falklands where we saw lots in 2005. The other, I can't identify. A big one, grey head, white collar and seemed to have grey underparts, pinkish white bill which might have had a dark spot towards the end. Dark on top with the usual white patch between the wings and mottled shoulders. White flecks on or close to the primaries. While it was with us there was also a tiny storm petrel frolicking around us, so we had both extremes of the albatross family (the big one weighing in at 10 kilos or so, the Stormy at a few hundred grammes – sparrow sized). The usual graceful Prions and big gaggle of white chinned petrels.

Now windless and wallowing, expecting a NW change later and a bit of a blast tomorrow sometime.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Golden birds

Position 0630 16th 4443 05818 trip 102 DMG 101 – on target, just! A very rough calculation says it has taken us about 2 weeks longer to get to here that last time, corrected for stops in Lisbon and CT – result of bad guess up near the equator and getting stuck in the Agulhas. One lives and learns. AGW, about 40 sailing days from here to Hobart.

Middle watch:This one will just expand until the position report at 0700. There's been no berrimilla2 mail for a couple of days so if anyone is waiting breathless for a reply, I'm afraid it will have to wait until Steve gets back to his computer.

Ferals: the booties got an airing, if that's the right word, a couple of days ago and I can still hear the excited chatter from inside the foetids. Colonies of them cling to my socks and interbreed when I take the socks off and park them in the halyard bag next to my bunk. I have to speak to them severely when they try to get into my sleeping bag. It's coldish now down here, so we are just scaly rather that sweaty (hope you're not having breakfast) but it does mean that one doesn't have to recycle clothing quite so often.

Albatrosses – a couple of the really big ones, too hard to identify exactly but Snowy, Tristan or NZ (faint possibility may be large Southern Royal). Waited for ages this morning, Nik and trigger finger poised and finally got the shot of the bird with reflected sunlight – big, glowing, golden, gorgeous. I'm lost for metaphor or adjective. Much harder to get the same effect in pink at sunset because the bird has to be ahead of the boat to reflect and way more difficult to photograph. Another photo, mostly luck yesterday, of one of them transformed from tight, streamlined, aerodynamic curves and angles – rather as if it had been disassembled – coming in to land, feet hanging down, head up and awkward, wings semi folded, angle of attack nearly 90 degrees,, feathers awry in the airstream. Slight loss of dignity – white chinned petrels already parked in a gaggle scattering as this flapping discombobulation splotted into their midst.

And since writing that, the big one with the pinky orange collar is back – nothing like that collar anywhere in the book, though the bird could be any of the three big ones.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Mostly catch ups

Kelp! Big floating patch – impenetrable. About 400 miles out but a sure sign we are getting closer

First recognisable Sooty Albatross – glimpse only – big dark bird, very similar to the bigger petrels but acts like an albatross and has the longer wings. Also black beak.

A pair of the big gold collared birds still with us – trying to get really good sharp photos but the damn things won't stay still.

More on Golgafrincham. That was the name of the original planet so Arthur called them Golgafrinchans. I have a feeling all the lawyers were with them too and they spent a lot of time arguing, forming committees and getting nowhere. My golgafrinchan day was filled doing useless odd jobs. Just a silly joke for the HGTTG tragics.

John S in Hobart – thanks re Kiwiprop and Albatross man. I would be really interested to go through the photos with him if he has time. I think I'll make a calendar of the best photos and see whether we can make a quid for CanTeen or some other charity.

Norm – the real challenge is finding all the extra words. I'll let you know if I find any!

Carol, tks for ISS.

Chris N and the mob in Canberra – g'day and HNY. If you are interested enough, there's a good computer program called Stellarium – comes as an add on to our Winastro celestial nav program but probably accessible separately.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Idle patter from the middle watch

Position 0630 17th 4542 06053, trip 127, DMG 122. A good day! About 350 to Kerguelen. Nasty low forming to the north.

Back on Iridium full time until we get closer to Oz so these will be fewer and more frugal. This one will develop until it's time to send the 0630 report.

I made Berrimilla bread yesterday – bread with attitude. Chop an onion and a big clove of garlic very fine. Mix the dough from a pack of breadmix with warm water and when it is fully mixed, work the onion and garlic through it. Heat some olive oil – really hot but not smoking – make lots of small very thin pancakes out of the dough and fry them for half a minute or so each side till brown and crusty. If you prefer, as I do, cook them a bit less so they are still slightly doughy in the middle. Remove, replace with another, eat the first one – and that's the problem, of course. The whole process takes about half an hour – far less than conventional breadmaking and uses much less metho. The pancakes keep for a couple of days if they don't get eaten first.

10200 miles out, about 3800 to go in cold, unstretchy numbers but most marathon runners will understand the stats, where every mile is longer than the last. I reckon we're at about 6 miles into the Falmouth to Hobart marathon – just settled into a nice rhythm, contemplating with apprehension and the usual touch of dread the next 20 miles and hoping it all holds together.

Norm, looks further than Germany but there ya go! One for you and anyone else who cares to try. When I was about 10, if such a time ever existed, my maths teacher was a learned gent in a cassock who believed in the 'I told you and wrote it on the blackboard so why don't you understand?' teaching method. He tried to introduce me to algebra. If a=3 and b= -3 then a+b=0 – obvious isn't it? Well, not actually, for this kid. I kept asking why. If he'd taught it as if it was a language I might now be better at it. Anyway, I remember his writing a puzzle on the board – he wrote SEND and then wrote MORE under it so that the M was under the S and said 'Assume that each letter has a numerical value and is the same whenever it appears, if you substitute the correct values the answer will be MONEY' and he wrote that under MORE so the Y was under the E which was under the D. Isn't it odd what sticks in the memory? For all I know, there might not be a solution. I've never got beyond first base and Pete is having a go now but isn't much further. Would be relatively easy to write a computer program to solve it today but by elimination with a pencil it's tricky. A small Berrimilla artefact for the first solution that arrives.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

closing on Kerguelen

That is South Africa in the top left corner, Antarctica is the white bit at the bottom, and Australia just peaking in on the right edge. Kerguelen is dead centre of the bottom map.
Click on the maps to enlarge.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

The Examiner lurks

For the first time in ages, we are albatrossless. Lots of petrels and a prion or two and the occasional storm petrel. It's grey, soft overcast, grey green sea with glassy tips to the waves and crystal filigree frills. The wind has been more or less constant N for 24 hours or so and we are making good progress in a rising sea. The rather nasty tight little low is, I think, forming to the north of us though it's possible that it is the little depression the grib shows to our south and it will deepen very fast and roll over us. Anyway, a bit of stink looms and the Examiner will be abroad in the Boonies tomorrow.

It is eerie to be once again so close to Cook and some of his predecessors. We passed Cooks northernmost point, near Point Wainwright north of the Bering Strait in the Chukchi Sea in 2008 and he was down here in 1776. I hope we can actually visit his Christmas Harbour – now properly named Baie de L'Oiseau – on the northern tip of Kerguelen island. The engravings and logs of his stay are very detailed and it should be possible to stand where he stood and where the artist stood – but with Berrimilla in the bay where Resolution and Discovery and later Erebus and Terror once anchored. And there's another shiver for the spine – in 2008 we also passed the last known positions of Erebus and Terror and the final resting places of their crews near King William Island in the North West Passage. It is thought that Francis Crozier, Captain of the Terror, was one of the few straggling survivors that reached Starvation Cove where they died. I have seen his last note, left on King William Island and discovered later by (I think) M'Lintock and now in the museum at Greenwich with some other sad relics. There is so much history, pain, courage and fortitude in such a small scrap of paper and it's a privilege to have been able to follow them all.

Pete thinks he has proved that there is no solution to the SEND MORE MONEY problem. Anyone got a better idea?

We've been talking on the radio to the skipper of MV Kaharoa, laying argos buoys out here for the New Zealand Institute of
Water and Atmos Res. They are going to try making Berrimilla bread – fame at last! They expect to be in Hobart around Feb 7th – if any of y'all are reading this over there under Mt Welly, go along and say G'day.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

The green tendrils of envy

Position 0630 18th 4720 06301 trip 136, DMG 105. For the next report I will use as the DMG waypoint a lump of rock named Ilot de la Reunion by Kerguelen (Rendezvous Islet, where he arranged to meet Rosnevet in L'Oiseau after they had landed) and which Cook named Bligh's Cap without knowing of the original name. It's about 20 miles north of Baie de L'Oiseau.
Quick as a flash from Steve Jackson:
9567 + 1085 = 10652
no computer needed!
I'm envious – wish I could do those things and I bet it only took him a few minutes. Pooo! So a bottle of Pete's home brew if the kids haven't found it all or whatever works shall be despatched in due course. Onya Steve! Steve has an advantage in the timing as he can email us direct so if there's a correct answer in the next Berrimilla2 download from the other Steve, there will be a second despatch. Pete is checking his workings! I wonder what Father McCormack would be thinking if he knew that more than half a century after he chalked it on the board at least one of his pupils actually remembered and inveigled a solution. Cunning succeeds in the end!
When I send this, I will also pull in a grib which should give us a feel for how the Examiner will test us. Violent rolling, 20 knots, but not too bad at the mo. Breakfast Consultation appropriately conducted – Liffey Water – and thinking about lunch.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

getting there…

Click on map to enlarge.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Just words

SEND + MORE etc: I meant to ask in the last one whether there are any more solutions. Seems there are – Pete reckons there are at least 8 – any advance?

As the most diaphanously tentative perhaps, it seems the Examiner has slipped, at least as far as the little stink bomb to the north is concerned. The latest grib shows us south of the nasties and with a reasonably clear run to Bligh's Cap in about 2 days. Keep em firmly crossed please. The seas are breaking around us with the most vivid powdery blue translucent crests. Worth all the bother just to watch them. I'll try to get photos but never quite the same. Big, gold collared Albatross back briefly this morning, now lots of prions and the usual white chins.

Huge sign of progress – I was able to connect to the NSW sailmail station to try to send this – very long range and rather slow, so I'll revert to Iridium but – Hi Derek! Yay! We are at 4729 6333, range 3968 miles.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


Did I ever start something with that puzzle. Prizes go to Steve Jackson foe the very first, Bill Watkins for the first on Berrimilla2, Malcom for bending the rules creatively and Norm for the longest explanation. Remind me when we get home! Huge thanks to everyone else. Now who can come up with the most solutions?

Andrew, got La Reponse, in both senses. Love it! Sent you direct mail via Deb.

Norm, lovely having you out there but please go a bit easy on the bandwidth! Working on the cube – not too difficult, I think. We used a different technique for iceland – double the number of letters and add 4 seems to work and gives same answer as germany, hence my cryptic reply.

Kimbra, if you still have the charts, there is a potential buyer. Am arranging to put him in touch – have sent him your mobile and your parent's numbers

Back to reality. AGW, we will be off Bligh's Cap in a couple of days. Cross em again please and squeeze a lot.

Love yez all.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

The Swirl of the Pallids

Pallid silvery sky, delicately textured in darker fluffs. Occasional loom of the sun in halo of luminous cloud – Turner would have exaggerated it to get the effect. Sea deep almost milky blue – odd when it seems it ought to be grey too. Prions, slightly darker but their shaded greys in between the blue of the sea and the angels' wings in the cloud. Lumpy, vicious sea – big swells from the north with spiky dragon skin surface from the local wind. Brilliant breaking crests with flying cascades of pearls and diamonds. Violent rolling passage, moving around inside a continual blind trapeze act. Easier on deck because there's a horizon and so a frame of reference.

Excitement and some apprehension at the approach of an unfamiliar, alien coastline with beartraps everywhere for the unwary. The same shiver as we approached Amchitka in the Aleutians and Cape Horn and the Falklands and the Greenland fiords – and especially Point Barrow and our first ice and then at the other end, the M'Clintock Channel. Trying to think of all the possibilities – lee shore, rocks, kelp, surge, how to anchor with Berri's various bits of gear, bolt holes, magnetic anomalies, instant williwaws…it all churns around and won't rest till we get there and can have a look. I remember a conversation in Falmouth with a venerable and hugely respected sailor about age, experience and the increments in apprehension each time you prepare do something out of the ordinary – extending even to things that are normally easy. Maybe it's a characteristic of the cautious. Or the geriatric! Helps me to wonder how Cook would have dealt with it – with extreme caution and minimal risk, I think. He stood off rather than risk going between the islands in poor visibility.

About 200 miles till we can expect to see the islands to the NW of Cap d'Estaing. I see from the Admiralty chart that Bligh's Cap is actually called Ilot du Rendez-Vous not Reunion as I wrote yesterday. All of you will be able to see more – and almost certainly more detail – on google earth than we will on the spot. You may be able to see the huge kelp patches all along the north and east coasts.

Malcom, can you see a jetty at P o F? I seem to remember something like a concrete quay. And a big SW swell running into the little bay by the church.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Money problems

"Now listen lads, its come to my notice that one of those louts in the upper forms has been selling the answer to the money problem for a rather large proportion of your lunch money, this wont work, we have ways of knowing if your answers are the result of your own independent thought or perhaps there has been a little help along the way. (thinks…I also heard in the staff room that this enterprising chap has been using the money to buy fags and is selling them at a huge profit round the back of the toilet block. I must find out who he is… he could be useful.)
That said lets get back to the Latin… The verb scrotata….scrota ..scrotas ..scrotum..socrotamus ..scrotatus…socrant."
I've had a fair go at this problem over the last couple of night watches. When Alex first mentioned it and later said he didn't know if it had an answer I thought the easiest way to solve the problem would be to show through simple maths that at some point there would be some thing which would be illegal and would be wrong for all cases.
I thought I had that and told Alex that there was no solution and went to bed. The next morning he told me that the emails had come in and there was a solution. I went through what I had done and found I hadn't carried one of the 10's across.
Bugger, I thought, I had better see if I sort this one out. I think I have but would like to know if there are more solutions. Here are the results. I have 8 solutions, the first 4 columns are the same for each group with the last column changing for each new solution of that group.

9675 4 9567 5 6 9456 7 9347
1086 6 1085 5 5 1084 4 1083
10761 0 10652 0 1 10540 1 10430 Good luck with it Cheers Pete

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

More Pallid,s with attitude

Position 0630 19th 4751 06510 trip 94 DMG 93 and Kerguelen 150. A day and a bit AGW.

Much earlier:
Fogg! Thick, wet and dank. This isn't just convergence zone mist, it has clammy coils and glutinous texture. It's dark, woolly dark and out in the cockpit, in the red beam of my head torch, I can see the droplets streaming past like paint going on brick. We are directly south of the centre of the tight little low I thought the Examiner had put here to bash us and 189 miles from the nearest rock. I hope! If it persists, we will have to stay a safe distance out to sea. Different tactics, perhaps, from the desk of the Examiner. There's just enough wind to fill the sails, except for the lumpy sea, as per my last, so we have the engine idling to give us steerage way and we are trickling forwards, still rolling horribly.

This post will sit here and expand as the night goes on. Time now for a dig into the can of lychees followed by toothpaste – yuk! – and the sack for 3 hours and then the middle watch. Oh joy! Maybe more then.

On the subject of head torches and toothpaste – I use specially fluoridated bright blue goo for my straggly gnashers but in the red light of the torch, it looks inky black. I'll know I'm back in civilisation, or just as different time zone when it turns blue again. Perhaps there's a measure of longitude in there somewhere – the chromatic variation of toothpaste, CVT, maybe? Would go nicely with the VoA.

Dozy old git. That WAS the middle watch. Head seriously out of phase. Now daylight and still in thick fog, vis about 500 metres. If it hangs around as it did for Cook, we've got a problem as we get in really close. The warning on the chart says don't assume that GPS positions and the chart agree. As for the weather, on our current grib, I think we just might crack it lucky – the fog should have gone and we should be in a 20+ NWerly which would be perfect for a look at Baie de L'Oiseau and its collapsed arch. In three days, though, things can change radically down here!

Half an hour after I wrote that, the fog lifted – one minute it was thick around us, next it was 100 ft above and I had a horizon. Then the wind came back and we're away again. The next grib will be interesting.

On that money puzzle, if there really are the 8 solutions that Pete thinks he's found but got bored checking, we have an interesting statistic. Everyone except Malcom came in with the same solution, which must be somewhere out on the extreme end of the probabilities. Malcom gets away with his because I was a bit sloppy with my original statement of the problem.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

More money

Before you all descend on us with rulers at the ready – Pete has seen the error of his ways and there really does seem to be only one solution. Thanks David, as the first of the horde! Prizes as stated except that Steve J has declined as he is part of the Berri ground crew, so David Rule gets the reallocated bottle of home brewed Coopers. Remind me, David – I'll get it to you somehow.

From Pete
David thanks for sorting that out, mea maxima culpa (as it was a Latin lesson we were involved in yesterday). Sloppy work from me but I'll blame the late night and the crashing conveyance for part of the mistake. For some reason I missed Y values of 0 and 1, it was the last one to be checked; still at least one of them was the right answer. As the old rooster said never crow till you see the dawn. It's late arvo so I think we'll have a G&T; that'll make everything right again. Cheers Pete.

Alex again
Sue – my Dad was Wings in the previous Illustrious in 1953 – I was on board for the Coronation Review.
Steve W, 1942.
Gordy and the Chain Locker mob – Onya and thanks! Did Oz get away?
Doug – we'll do our best. Might just crack Christmas Hbr but timing is everything. Berri is not Resolution! We'll try to point directly at Hobart afterwards but the Examiner lurks everywhere.
Norm – no probs – have the cube sorted!
Malcom, Gotcha, thanks!

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


It will be close. We are about 14 – 18 hours from Baie de LOiseau on present progress but the wind is dying. That would put us there in the dark – tricky in a gale. There certainly won't be any moonlight. There's a nasty front coming in from the west with 30+ knots in it – not clear (never is!) exactly what path it will take. Options, therefore are first, slow down and let it go through (the dying wind might enforce this one anyway). I don't have a good enough digital chart to get in close at night and doing it on a paper chart in the black dark is not feasible. Option 2, if the wind holds, get in as close as we can in daylight and have a look. Then, if it seems ok, get behind the peninsula and either shelter or try for the Baie. If not ok, stand off to the north, cop the blast and either try again for the Baie tomoz when/if it's gone through or, if our stand off has taken us too far down wind, head for Port aux Francais.

Malcom, no need to copy to B2 if you send direct.

As I write, the 'slow down' option firms by the moment but things change so fast that – well, who knows? We'll play it back to the bowler. Watch this space.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Waiting for the blast.

Position 0645 20th 4824 06742 trip 111, DMG 116 so some current, perhaps. We are 43 miles from Bligh's Cap, bare poled, basically parked at 2.5 kts waiting for the front to go through. We are actually going too fast, but there's not much we can do about that.

If the grib is accurate and we get lucky, it will be mostly through by midnight UTC tonight – 17 hours time – which is also first light here so if we can manage to miss the rocky bits we should be close enough to see where we are going and we can decide what to do. I've just finished a repack of the forepeak to give us access to anchors, fenders, inflatable etc. Now we just wait.

I'll keep you posted as often as possible – lots will depend on how busy we are and also Iridium access if we get close in and perhaps out of the satellite's footprint.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Birds and all that jazz

Time for a bit of description. 2 magnificent albatrosses – Snowy, NZ or Tristan – huge, and as they scythe towards you all you see is the razor slash of the dihedral curve of their wings, speckled leading edges, yellow dot of a beak, two tiny eyes all set in a circle of white in the middle of that huge curve. They rock slightly when it it really windy, then bank away – white underparts, fine black edges. Sometimes they bank the other way – black wings, white splashes on the inners, white, mottled shoulders and back, black tail – exhilarating.

Plus a couple of much smaller black browed and another slightly bigger, very similar but with a grey head. White chins and prions in crowds.

And diving petrels – lovely – little heads bobbing around ahead of the boat, they peer at us and there's a blur, instant glimpse of upended rump, widening circle of ripples and they surface 20 metres away and look at us again. Fun.

The sun a pale glow through the fogbanks – occasional patches of blue, rolling fog all around, filtered light. Deep greenish blue icy sea. Berri placid, gentle rolling, whizzer moaning at the back as it harnesses the gentle breeze and fires wiggly amps at the batteries.

Wouldn't be in the big smoke for quids…

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

From the good ship Juniper

It's the waiting! We are now 32 miles WNW of Bligh's Cap, cold clammy fog, 15 kts breeze, bare poled waiting for midnight. 11 hours to go – if the grib is accurate we should then have been in the 20 kt NW front for a few hours and have a few hours to go, but we will have daylight for 18 hours or so and we'll go and have a look at the Baie. We may have to shelter there for a day or two if we can get in, if, once again,the grib is accurate – there's a very nasty looking front due at 50E on the 23rd.
From Malcom:
AW, Baie de L'Oiseau, a place where James Cook anchored in 1776 is at 48 40'
S, 60 02' E. In 1759 James Cook was at 48 40' N, 60 02' W, part of the St
Lawrence River, which he charted, ahead of the capture of Quebec, at the
time French territory. Malcom's Believe it or Not irrelevant facts.

Alex's Believe it or not irrelevant facts – Baie de L'O. is actually at 69 02 E – and it was partly because of the cartographic skill Cook showed in the St Laurence that Their Lordships fingered him for the first voyage. And the rest is history…

Later: 1830 20th now hove to, 24 miles from Bligh's Cap, 15 kts breeze, 1.8 over the ground. Still cold and clammy, black dark, no visible moonlight. About 5 hours till we can see where we are going, if the fog allows.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

location location location

Click on piccie to enlarge….

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


0045 UTC 21st
The front is through – softly – and we are 9 miles from Bligh's Cap. Vis about a mile in typical clag so we're aiming to miss it by about 2 miles to the north. Tiny patch of headsail, making about 4 knots in about 18kts breeze. Once safely past, we will gybe towards Cap D'Estaing and creep forwards until we can see it or the fog becomes too thick for safety. With a bit of luck, it will clear later as the sun comes up. I have checked our rudimentary digital chart against the paper one and it seems ok so we will ust it to get in close then transfer – the digital one doesn't have small detail like rocks. Pencil and plotter again – first time for years.

During the night – claggy, clammy black – but almost free of boat noises as we were hove to or bare poling – I could hear the birds – Grooarrrk from just beside the boat, answered Grooaarrk from a bit further away – deep, expressively modulated raspy squawks, easily audible from here at the nav table and clear and crisp outside. They were probably the White Chins which are black all over except for a tiny white patch so I couldn't see them even with a fairly powerful light. From the many conversations, I reckon there must have been 20 – 30 of them. So, Jill, that may be where they go at night! Nowhere.

Bligh's Cap is 83 metres high, now at 7.4 miles so just teasing our non-horizon. Too early to start peering for it out there in the clag. As long, that is, as it is where the paper chart says it is! There's a warning on the chart that says quite clearly that positions on the paper chart may not agree with WGS84, the GPS datum – so we can't relax too much.

The plan – we have set this up so that if all goes well we will be close to Baie de l'Oiseau at about 1300 local time, giving us the afternoon and evening in daylight to get in, have a look, pull in another grib and decide whether to shelter till the next one goes through or keep going to Port aux Francais. Cross 'em please and watch this space – don't stress if no update for a day or so – we will be busy! If we have iridium contact, I will try to ring someone somewhere who is in an appropriate timezone with a report.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


position 0630 21st 4832 06907 trip 57 DMG 35 after heave to and bare poling. Cap D'E visible 9 miles ahead – too busy for description – North Head with muscle for the Sydneysiders. 3rd reerf, tiny heady, trying to work to windward in 25 kts. Bumpy, wet orrible. Fogbanks all around hope it stays clear for us – 2 hours or so to go. Likely to be a bit tricky getting in but if Cook and the rest could do it in square riggers even tiny Berri should manage. Will try to report later from inside DV & WP.

0315 21st sighted Blighs Cap – rolling fog, 25 knots and it was there – a solid wraith if such can be rearing vertically out of the ocean.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Penguins Ahoy

I just received an iridium call from Alex and Pete who are parked in
Christmas Harbour, Kerguelens. Alex was exultant, describing brilliant
sunshine, penguins, seals, amazing rocks, kelp. He said "Couldn't
have asked for anything better." They are not planning to land now as
it is a bit dangerous (I think wind / weather wise) but will be there
overnight and may land tomorrow. A lot depends on the next GRIB. They
may stay put until the next nasty has been and gone.
Alex says he hopes to upload a report in the next hour or so but it
depends on reception etc. He tried to call several times and it rang
here but with no sound from the other end. We're not sure if this is a
reception problem or penguin poo in the satphone.
I apologise if this upload appears twice. The previous one did not
appear on the blog at once as it usually does; as I have experienced
a similar problem before I have now transferred the message to upload
from the other computer.
I in the UK

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Christmas Harbour

Sadly, I think the man is just about to thump penguins. I don’t think the ones to his right are simply asleep.
Some other links:
On the Wikipedia page there is a map. Christmas Harbour is also known as Baie de l’Oiseau and is on the north eastern tip.
Posed by I in the UK
2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Baie de L'Oiseau

Impossible to convey the thrill, the absolute delight, the quiet satisfaction – here we are, anchored in Baie de L’Oiseau, 236 years after Ensign de Rochegude landed here from L’Oiseau and claimed the place for the French and left his message sealed in a quart bottle which Cook’s men found 3 years later and Cook replaced with his own added message. We are anchored opposite the little headland where that bottle was found and replaced. Brilliant sunshine, powder blue water, kelp patches, king penguins and seals on the beach about 500 metres away and the sounds of the penguins at least just like the Falklands. Seabirds – cormorants and other divers, Lovely Cape Petrels escorting us in. Last 15 miles on the wind in 25 knots and rising sea – interesting! Cape Petrels all the way! Worth every little thump of the headbang getting here from Cape Town. We have been lucky, once again but the plan worked perfectly and, for once, the Examiner was looking the other way. Spellbinding! Once in a lifetime exhilaration – more immediate than sailing out of the NW passage but comparable to Cape Horn.

I wonder how many other vessels have anchored here since de Rochegude. Far more than made the NW Passage although up there, the whaling ships in the Bering Strait, Chukchi and Beaufort seas must have numbered in the thousands on the western approach to Amundsen Gulf. And on the subject of Amundsen: From Malcom again:

AW, You are in good company. On 28 Nov 1910 Roald Amundsen in the Fram hove
to in sight of what he took to be Bligh’s Cap while he waited until he
good get a clear fix on his position before sailing to Baie Morbihan. This
was while en route to his 1910 -1912 Antarctic expedition. Malcom

Roald Amundsen – someone else we have been following around. He was the first to sail the NW Passage, (we were the 77th vessel, the 114th transit) and here he is again. He completed the NW Passage at Nome in 1906 and was down here in Fram 4 years later. We visited Teller from Nome, where many years later he and Nobile ended their airship crossing of the north pole.

We intend to wait here until the next big front has blown through – perhaps 48 hours – then sail for Port aux Francais. Unimaginably bleakly beautiful here – classic igneous landscape, thick moss, no other obvious vegetation except the Kerguelen Cabbage which I think we can see in little clumps. Binoculars only – we might try to land tomorrow if the wind dies but on the assumption that it is a national park, we will leave nothing but footsteps and take nothing away except photos. A massive igneous extrusion just to the south of us which looks for all the world like one of the President’s faces on Mt. Rushmore – but transmogrified as a lizard.

Malcom, tks for advice – will try on departure.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Eerie echoes

Other uncanny reflections of the past – Doug Morrison sent me a sheaf of papers from his research into the French and other explorers, amongst which were James Clark Ross' chart and soundings for the Baie, possibly compiled by Francis Crozier. I used this to find the spot to anchor. There were also detailed drawings from out to sea of the entrance and the arch, now collapsed, by R Benard (I think – can't read Doug's writing) published in 1784. Benard was with Cook. I used them to identify the entrance from 5 miles out. I could not read the photocopy of his soundings chart so I used Ross'.

There was also an engraving of the harbour in Ross' account, showing Erebus and Terror at anchor, one of them almost in the same position as we are now. They too went to the NW passage with Franklin ten years or so later and they are still there, somewhere off King William Island with the bones of their crews. We felt the presence of their ghosts up there, particularly in Simpson Strait. I never imagined we'd meet them again, let alone here, almost at the opposite end of the planet.

Wonderful to have it all with us, Doug. Thanks!

When we set off from Cape Town, I thought that Kerguelen might be a bridge too far. Boneheadedness sometimes wins out. So, a Talisker this evening, courtesy of Pete Goss.

More tomorrow.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Something very special.

What a day. Pure, gold plated magic. It's about midnight local time and I've been sitting out in the cockpit on anchor watch wearing my Dutch Harbour Mustang Flote Coat – padded for buoyancy and warm – lined industrial gloves, also from Dutch, fleecy salopettes and brown fisherman's boots – Dutch again and Dutch fleece balaclava. A still, cold, brilliant starry night in this huge rather menacing amphitheatre dominated by the great black lava face to the south and what looks like a classic volcanic plug to the north. Orion to the north west, the Cross to the south and the cascading slash of the Milky Way a luminous bridge between them across my bit of sky. The smell – penguin rookery and seals upwind, earthy and pungent – the snorting roars of elephant seals echoing around the auditorium, sharper barks of something much smaller and the arky squeaky of the King Penguins in cacophony in the background. The calls of other birds – cormorants, petrels and big brown seabirds that I could not identify. A watch with a difference – one I will remember when things get pearshaped.

Earlier, I saw a mother seal up on the mossy slope above the promontory where de Rochegude left his bottle. She had two biggish pups and was chasing them around. Penguins swimming around the boat and what sounded like fish sucking the growth from Berri's bottom. A seal somewhere close.

I guess it can't last – we have been so lucky to arrive on one of what must be very few cloudless days – weirdly unbelievable that we are here at all. The reports I have read talk of the bleak, desolate dreariness of the place but I don't think I will ever be able to think of it that way. Soft northerly at the moment, due to turn westerly and the usual blast later tonight or tomorrow morning with another bigger one to follow. But we cracked today. Yeeehaaa!

Next morning – while I was writing all that, the cloud rolled in, the stars disappeared and the wind came up. Three hours in a loverly warm sleeping bag later and I'm up again and shivering. But it's still bleakly beautiful! The sun has risen directly behind the two huge pillars of the collapsed arch at the entrance to the harbour putting them in silhouette – filtered light through the low overcast. We are hoping our single anchor will hold in the 35 knots forecast for the next 24-36 hours – will have to lay the second one if it looks iffy. The NW winds blow directly over the saddle at the western end of the harbour and funnel down between the high sides.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Very quick update

Departed Baie de L'Oiseau 0215 utc heading for Port aux Francais. Alternative was to wait for the next big blow with 40 kts in it and perhaps stuck there indefinitely.

Major problem with kelp everywhere – trying to stay in deep water. Half an hour of furious work with chart, plotter and pencil transferring a string of waypoints to the computer – Cook had the same problem but he did not have a chart and sent Discovery ahead to find a way through.

Bright sunlight again – snow on Presqu'ile de la Societe de Geographie and Cook Glacier just visible behind it. We could not have picked a better day – so far!

Could be a long day – we both have to stay awake but opportunities between waypoints for one or other to grab half an hour if we get lucky.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Passe de la Resolution

Position 0630 22nd. 4848 06923 trip 18. In the Passe de la Resolution with plotter and pencil. I'm at the nav table, Pete on deck and it's watch on, stop on. Nice breeze, 18 – 20 up the chuff so lovely sailing – just have to keep serious loookout for kelp – at least twice the boat length, several times as wide and densely tangled. We are trying to follow the deepest part of the Passe but the chart is very vague – not a lot of survey work along here so interesting. Hoping to be off Cape Digby by nightfall then depending on wx, perhaps another heave to in preparation for the last 40 miles or so into Baie du Morbihan. Hope they let us stop alongside and land. Cross em please.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

old style navigation

click on graphic to enlarge….

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Tentative yeeehaaa and wooohooo.

More or less parked off the NE corner of the island – to get into Baie du Morbihan and Port aux Francais, we have to sail a big circle – radius about 25 miles – from the NW to the SE and then NW into the Baie. Another series of waypoints transferred from paper to digital. We have almost no wind after copping 30 kts for a lot of the day and making huge progress. The Examiner is back from her holiday. We left L’Oiseau to try to get to P a F in the short window between fronts. The one behind us has speeded up and will arrive around 0900 utc so we have about 12 hours to sail about 40 miles – too risky to use the engine at night with all the kelp around but should be ok after first light when we have some chance of seeing the stuff. The next one after that, in about 48 hours, has 50 knots in it.

The silence of another lovely, hazy starry night cut by Berri’s thumping and banging in the gentle swell and the sounds of the birds around us. There’s one that makes a noise like a road rage car horn, then the usual grrooaaks and phnaaarks (albatrosses, I think) and squeaks. I see them occasionally in the dim reflected light from Berri’s masthead light – fleeting wraiths in the gloom.

Several hours later – I think we cracked it. Ain’t we been lucky?? We have just entered Baie du Morbihan with about 12 miles to P a F. Misty sunshine, Kelp! You think you’ve seen seaweed? We snuck in through a narrow channel on the chart, saving about an hour, between huge forests of the stuff covering perhaps 500 metres square – and then there’s all the loose mats that must be spotted and avoided. Berri’s well travelled Q flag flying but haven’t got a French Southern Territories courtesy flag. That would be one for the collection! If, of course, they let us land. Watch this space.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Port aux Francais

Arrived around 0800 UTC – Berri on a mooring 50 metres from the jetty and we are up in the settlement being rather well lokked after. Settlement just like an Austalian mining camp – demountable buildings for acommodation, communal eating, movies – the works. The Postmaster – selected for his knowledge of philately as well as general soundness of mind – is going to do a special edition envelope commemorating our visit – if you want one posted to you with Kerguelen TAAF stamp, I need snail mail addresses urgently. No promises but I'll do my best.
Norml internet access almost impossible so will go outside into the cold cold wind with the laptop and the satphone and try to send this.
After whch, totally knackered and gong to bed. Saha! Seals and penguins not far from window.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Port Aux Francais (population 60 + 2)

Somewhere south of the middle of nowhere! Cool. Click to enlarge, not that there is much more to see!

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Port aux Francais part 2 – a glimpse

What an interesting place – physically, environmentally, culturally, historically. Thanks to Doug's papers, I know about as much of the history as the locals. They spend one year here – two month handover overlap between 'missions' a bit like the ISS crews – research projects continue but personnel change. There is a tracking facility for satellites with a telemetry download process and a meteorological station with the usual internet access and an atmospheric balloon launch every day to monitor the upper atmosphere.

A tomb outside the non denominational church with the tombstone written in arabic. Also a plain wooden cross, weathered and grey – in memory of someone who died at sea – memorial plaques to people from many countries inside – poignant indicators of the international and cosmopolitan tide of the place.

Perhaps it's typically French and a spin off from the extreme professionalism and respect between the people here but you handshake when you meet someone anywhere for the first time during the day if he's male, double cheek kiss for female – it's expected and a sort of formal ritual. There's a lot of it going on at breakfast! And there's a genuine Boulanger – yay! Fresh bread, chocolate cake par excellence, croissants, palmiers, the lot. French wine if required.

Tomorrow, we hope to be allowed to sail on MV Aventure around the islands of the Baie du Morbihan doing the weekly delivery run to the many outposts and research sites. Requires permission from the Chef du Mission, who is in the field till tomorrow.

1800 or so sheep on the island left over from one of the farming projects – we had one for lunch yesterday! And there are rainbow trout in the rivers – wild after an aborted attempt to farm them in the 1920's – Anne-Claire, one of the Doctors, leaves on Wednesday for Reunion at the end of her year here and she has gone trout fishing up there in the hills with the scientist who runs the toothfish project – and who was at Macquarie University in Australia studying Lungfish. But he should know how to catch a trout!

There's a wonderful documentary lurking out here – the place, the history, the wildlife, the people, the projects – I'd love to do it! There is a lovely uncluttered thread from the past that lives and breathes and evolves here – just like the settlements in the North West Passage, particularly Cambridge Bay which is strikingly similar.

More if I can – these posts depend on my sitting outside with the laptop and the satphone – local internet is way too clunky and we don't get much chance to use it anyway.

Must have all snailmail addresses in by Monday evening local so that I have time to catch the outgoing ship on Wednesday with the letters. Again, no promises but I'll do my best.

Ivan, lots of photos of Baie de L-Oiseau. We did not land – decided to leave in the weather window. There's still a scattered pile of stones on the little headland where the bottle was left – the remains of Cook' cairn perhaps? And I bet de Rochegude's buried bottle is still there somewhere. I know how it might be possible to find it too.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Glimpse part 2

There's an easy discipline to this place which I recognise and love – I grew up with it in a different world. It's based on acceptance of a set of basic and common assumptions, a shared and universal trust in the competence and professionalism of others and an (always somewhat tentative) confidence in one's own ability to take part. It is easy to see these people as the same people who sailed with Diaz, with Kerguelen, DuFresne, de Rosnevet, Cook, Ross, Crozier and all the others. Kings Regulations and Admiralty Instructions or the Inquisition were always menacingly in the background – surfacing occasionally to create fear and consternation (Voltaire's acid remark that the English found it necessary on occasion to shoot an Admiral 'pour encourager les autres')- but mostly intrepid and courageous men, usually but not always volunteers, who were out here because it gave them a living. No more than that. There were, of course, the others, the leaders like Kerguelen perhaps, whose ambition drove them to excess. And the obsessives – Amundsen perhaps.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Super quickie

Have we ever been lucky – so far – we got in at just the right time – glorious weather for three days including Baie de L’Oiseau and tomorrow it blows – 60 knots forecast. Poor Berri tied by long, heavy plaited lint to mooring buoy with the line looped round both foredeck cleats and on to itself, bridle strops back to main winches, eerything tied down, 2 lashings on the furled headsail and we cross the fingere it will be ok. Not a lot we can do if not, so we’re going off around the Baie for the trip of a lifetime from 0600, returning about 11 hours later when the wind is forecast to come in.

A seal wobbled past my window today – 300 metres up the hill from the water. I have video to prove it. Smashing day all round.

Amazing place – I wish I could spend a year here with a laptop and a couple of cameras.

Doug, I’ve given all your papers and the Dagelet article to Renaud Huez – long story – who will understand them and make them available here. He will contact you but please send me your email address asap if you read this.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Last chance

Amazing day today. Now blowing elephant seals off the rocks – poor Berri straining at her mooring, everything slatting.

Will do full blog later but if you want a commemorative envelope, this is your last chance. I think I can guarantee one for everyone who has replied so far – just a bit overwhelmed by the response – but from early AM tuesday UTC (so 1100 ish in Sydney, no guarantee but I'll do my best. Many of you have asked how you might contribute – a small donation to the iridium fund via my sister Isabella would be appreciated – if you email her at isabella.msw at homecall.co.uk (remove the spaces and substitute the @ where necessary…)she will tell you how to send it and she has access to my iridium account. If no can do, no problem!

H,K & E, have you on the list, also Fiona (massive thanks!)

SW, thanks also for forwarding.

Apologies Izz – hope it's ok! Tks for addresses yesterday.

2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Correction to my last

Muggins aka Dozy Old Fart got it wrong – my French is way far from perfect. The next ship arrives here in March, (mars, not mardi…) so the envelopes will not leave until then and you won't get them until April. Also, I do not want to impose on the generosity of Son Eminence le Maitre de Poste so no more addresses after today please. I have two more envelopes above the list already received so first come…

Wonderful day today shuttling researchers in and out of the remote outpost stations around the hundred or so islands in the Baie du Morbihan. We called at Haute, St.Malo, Mayes, Guillou and Verte and on the way back to Port aux Francais, passed the wreck of a previous ship, which is actually marked on my chart. At Guillou, we were about 15 miles from Mt Ross, the highest point on the island. Lots of photos. Stark volcanic landscape, eroded by water freezing in the cracks and breaking off the outer layers, exposing the strata and blurring the crystalline rock forms down the millions of years. Also huge runoffs after the rain and occasional snow. Penguins, seals and dolphins (type to follow – I will ask later, but blunt nosed with white sides). My Gold Collared albatross was probably an immature Snowy and I am extremely doubtful that my 'Amsterdam' was indeed such – more likely a juvenile Snowy, NZ or Tristan. There are people here who really know about these things. Projects today – the effect of introduced species, rabbits, cats, rats and sheep; Blue Petrels and their environment and reproductive cycles; invasive species – aphids and other insects, which are all vectors for viruses; the effects of atmospheric pollution – several others but that's the sort of thing. They stay out in the field for three to ten days in insulated cabins, but they are all rigged and equipped to walk and to survive for longer if the weather changes. L'Adventure is an 80 ton barge about the size of one a half tennis courts with two big diesels and hydraulic propellors on stocks that can be turned so no need for rudders, and they can be raised out of the water. The barge just drives up to a beach or a rocky headland. parks its square flat nose against the solid earth and Frank, the skipper, holds it there with his engines as the teams transfer their equipment and themselves. No fuss, all done with cool competence and flair. The people – carefully selected volunteers – all with personality, verve, knowledge and dedication. Some students doing field projects – what an opportunity!

Wind gradually rising all day – averaging 45 kt on the way back. Now seems to be abating. The wind and the defined static lenticular clouds and the flying cascades of spray added to the stark landscape but I will never be able to see these islands as the desolate spot the early explorers and pioneers described – it has life, bleak beauty, rapid change from glorious to menacing in minutes. A character of its very own. A real privilege to be here and to see it all and to take part.

When we arrived back in Port aux Francais, we were greeted by Mme Deschamps, the Chef du District. She came down to the quay in the wind and rain specially to meet us and then took us to her house for coffee. Tomorrow she will stamp our passports.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


0300 UTC and I’ve finished addressing my quota of envelopes – sorry if you did not get in in time! For those who did, they should arrive some time in April, DV & WP.

Berri still attached to her mooring, with elephant seals flashing by in the wind. On my way out in the RIB to inspect and tidy her up a it.

More later.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

Envelopes part 2

Doing envelopes most of today.
For those who asked for one on the blog and for my family, this is what they will look like – suggest you print this because they won't arrive until the end of April. I hope we beat them back to Oz!
FRONT: Photo of Berrimilla with bow of L'Aventure in the background. Photo and envelopes courtesy M. Renaud Huez, interesting man of many parts, now the Postmaster here for a year, who set all this up for us.
Personal rubber stamp of Renaud Huez,
Two postage stamps – one of de Rochegude (as an Admiral) who first landed, with great difficulty, at Baie de L'Oiseau. The other of Charles Rouillon – much later but very eminent explorer – google him – just to keep a historical perspective. Stamps cancelled with special postmark.
Pete's and my signatures.
BACK: Official (rubber) stamps for L'Aventure, CNES – the Centre National des Explorations Spatiales and Meteo France, the French Bureau of Meteorology. CNES and MF provide most of the funding for this District. The CNES stamp was badly worn and the image is a bit indistinct.

Pete's envelopes are for his family and friends. They may be different. The choice of postage and rubber stamps is bewildering!

Sue, you got in by special dispensation. Too difficult to take pic of El Pinkathingykerg – huge wind and just too busy surviving to set it up. Will try tomoz when wind abates.

64 knots last night – elephant seals crashing earthwards all over the place, rather like the HGTTG whale, poor thing.

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2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens


The admiralty chart has notations all over it for magnetic anomalies. I'm not surprised – even the grit here is magnetic. I go outside with laptop and satphone to send these posts, shivering in the cold breeze and I have the satphone aerial extension fitted to the thing. The antenna on the end of the cable has a magnet underneath it (for attaching to the roof of yer ruggedized 4WD as you barge down the highway from Chatswood to do the weekend shopping…) and I sit on a rock outside the demountable and put the antenna on the black, gritty ground and when I have finished, there is a little crown of tiny black pebbles attached to the circular magnet. Good fun. Apparently there are places where even the GPS gets the habdabs although I don't see how it can happen.

We hope leave tomorrow, restocked with assorted goodies and, with luck, 25 – 30 days to Hobart. The plan is to stop in Hobart for a few days, slip Berri, change the prop and fix any glitches and put on some antifoul and a bit of polish and varnish – should be back in Sydney, DV etc, end Feb, early March. For the initiated, I hope to reinstate the Bash this year, date TBF, and if we make it in one piece, there will be a homecoming party in the park. However, predictions are dangerous and serve only to provoke the Examiner, so this is just the first wash on the canvas.

Today, I will spend the morning repacking the disaster that is Berri's interior and then we will start putting all the gear we have ashore back on board.

More later. Berri seems in good nick. Forecast for tomorrow is ok but for Friday, distinctly pearshaped. We'll leave and head north to give ourselves some room and to get as close to the top of the low as possible. Big high to the east if we can get across to it.