2-16. Hobart-Sydney


Logs ( 41 )

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

We’re off again

We left the yacht club in Hobart at 0900 local this morning. Weather looks reasonable for a quickish trip up the coast to Sydney but who knows?
I'll keep you posted.

Dr Cooper is aboard again running an excellent dispensary ably supported by the good Dr. Gordon. All ok so far – we're still in the Derwent approaching Half Moon Bay.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney


We're just south east of Cape Raoul – Storm Bay having been its usual obstreperous self with blasts and holes and rain – the works. Should all blow away this evening. But no fun going to windward after all those months of the easy stuff.

There are dolphins around and a Black Browed Albatross – and lots of Gannety birds once again pretending to be albatrosses.

From here to Sydney I will use Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time which is UTC + 11. The laptop is set to this time as well – using the backup as the original seems to be a dead parrot.

We should round Tasman Island and turn north in a couple of hours, all going well. For the Sydneysiders and those who can get the abc.net.au internet stream, we might be on breakfast radio with Adam Spencer tomorrow – but at 0545 ish.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

After the bashing

Position 0715 9th March 4230 14825, trip 97, DMG 93. A bit later than usual after being on the electric wireless breakfast radio thingy. Just – only just squeakily – in mobile range and got a text saying 'Anarchy Rules' so someone was listening. Tks J & S

Getting around Tasman Island in a north easter is about as bad as it gets and we had a rugged few hours headbanging wind, swell and rain and avoiding some serious rocks called the Hippolytes. The names down here reflect the European history of the place – Hobart, Gellibrand, Raoul, Tasman, Fortescue, Forestier, Maria, Schouten, Freycinet – Dutch, English and French but, sadly, as far as I can see on the chart, no reminders of the original owners.

The wind has backed to the west during a lovely dawn and as the sun rose, the cliffs on Schouten Island turned from grey gloom to gentle pink and now their normal rocky beige. We are due for a south westerly gale later today – should help us home just a bit!

Bacon sando and Dr Cooper's recommended emollient just demolished for breakfast. Noice, after dry biscuits…

Matt – Ames just an idea at this stage. I'll keep you posted.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Creeping up the coast - 60 miles to St Helen's

One for Gordy and the Falmouth gang – next time you are on google earth, go to 42d 20.043 S 148d 19.854 E. It’s between Cape Sonnerat and Cape Baudin on Schouten Island. Just sailed past it and took a photo which I’ll post on the blog if the Examiner ever gets out of our faces and lets us get north to Sydney.

Ferals – there we were, once again under the Examiner’s whip, all sorts of nastiness happening, ethereal albatrosses in the dusk, Stygianlike murkitude, NEaster blasting in, Turneresque cloud up near the Hippolytes yesterday evening. I look up and see big buzzy insect – no real feel for size or geometry but perhaps an inch at least in bodylength, flapping busily 2 miles out to sea. Must have done the full circle of the low pressure system or somehow got carried out to sea much earlier and getting a ride more or less towards Tasman Island. Hope it made it – otherwise a long cold flight to nowhere.

Dolphins – hundreds of them – some big and slow moving, a slow rolling glide, others frisky tails lapping and jumping all around Berri. I often wonder f they are really playing or just carrying on trying to say – Go Away, this is MY bit of ocean.

Coastlines – seen a few in the last umpteen thousand miles and Tasmania is up there with absolutely the most spectacular. Sir John Franklin, ex Governor of Tasmania, not long before he died up in the NW Passage in about 1850, named some islands in Peel Sound the Tasmanian Islands. Immediately obvious why when you see them – a poignant link to the mind of a ghost we were conscious of all the time up there.

If anyone’s interested, we were interviewed on the ABC at 0635 this morning, 9th March. [Berri ground control note: the podcast will be here once it is uploaded. Likely overnight]

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Aggro in extremis

Will no one rid me of this troublesome Examiner? Salted porridge for a week in a coal mine? Wrap around sound Vogon poetry and throw away the key to the loo? Anything to get her out of circulation for a few days. We are Old and Farty and this sort of aggravation is superfluous. OTT. Past its use by date.

We've been in the poo more or less since we left the Iron Pot – nothing unusual really for around here. At the mo. we are hove to in 30 – 50 kt NW – soapy green/blue milky water, froth everywhere being blown horizontally (the froth) with terminal force into the eyes, codpiece or whatever gets in the way. Position where we set it up, for the record 4200 14824 and we are fore reaching SE at about 1.8 kts. For the nautically challenged, heaving to is setting the boat up so that it is stopped and beam-on to the wind and waves and basically having a rest. Some boats sail forwards a bit when hove to and this is called fore reaching. This s a Good Idea as long as the waves are not too big and definitely not breaking. If either, then it's often better to sail the boat so as to minimise as far as possible the effects of the conditions. We will stay hereish until this nonsense abates, probably in about 12 hours. Absolutely no point in headbanging into it – better to preserve the boat, Consult with proper seriousness with the Doctor from Cork and get some sleep. Which (both) will be nice.

Malcom has corrected one of my earlier blogs in which I lamented the lack of Aboriginal place names. Tribaunna, the name of a fishing village not far from here is an Aboriginal name for a small bird. As is Berrimilla. and I've been to Triabunna so I should have remembered.

Carla – well done and to Rocket too. Was Lerizhan aboard? See above re enjoyment!

A rather scruffy albatross with a grey face.

More later.

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2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Admin stuff

But first – we are unhoven and in semi hoon mode north east of Bicheno – the wind finally did what it was supposed to do and backed to the west and now SW. But it will slowly drop and we may have to motor across Bass Strait. Correction – the wind is dropping fast and the barometer is rising.

Aiming for 0830 arrival at Sydney Heads on Sunday – possible but I'd only give it evens at the mo.

Does anyone know what the east coast current is doing? I could not find the CSIRO web page while we were in Hobart.

Mark Dawson – sorry but I haven't got your email address on this computer or written down anywhere.
Steve J – likewise. I have given your mobile to Robyn Morton re arrival possibility.
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2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Iffy for am Sunday.

Position 0630 10th March 4133 14840, trip 87, DMG 57. Disappointing but not too bad considering we stopped and went backwards for about 6 hours. It dows mean that an early Sunday entry into Sydney is looking very unlikely. We would need to maintain 4.5 knots all the way, against the current.

But a lovely morning down here – the old familiar coastline south of St Helens purple in the dawn light.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Breakfast of the long distance headbanger

Take one small frying pan, add a couple of spoonsful of olive oil and heat. Chop 3 cloves of garlic (in our case, brownish and dessicated – after all, they have come all the way from Lisbon)and slice about half a field mushroom. Add three slices of bacon and the garlic to the hot olive oil and bring to sizzle stage, then add the mushroom. Toss them all around a bit. When all looks aurifically loverly, remove from heat and keep hot. Carefully decant one dose of Dr Coopers throat elixir into a heavy tankard and administer as necessary. Put two slices of (almost) fresh bread into the remaining oil in the pan, return to heat and fry on one side (hard to do in the boat, so I just drop them into the pan), build up a sando of all the bits on one of them, cover with the other and allow the imagination to become riotous and the mind to boggle. Think Tabasco? Mmm! Open face and insert, lubricating with aforesaid elixir. Hedonistic, decadent, self indulgent gustatory bliss.

And rather better than a dry cracker with scrofules and crutch flakes.
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2-16. Hobart-Sydney

north by north east’ish

click to enlarge – anchor is Hobart, Sydney top right.
2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Nothing in particular

Position 0730 11th 3943 14917, trip 117, DMG (25 hours) 114 so on track for some time on Sunday but probably afternoon or evening. Looks as if the North Easter will have set in again by the time we start up the NSW coast and that will completely clobber any chance even perhaps for Sunday. But I never make predictions and an Examinatorial southerly would be noice. Windless and slow at the mo.

An observation – we are not squeezing Bass Strait for our water supply but instead using the water from Berri's tank. We filled it in Falmouth with a little top up in Lisbon so it is mostly hard English water not soft, unadulterated Tasman Sea. When I rinse the soap off my face after my sporadic shaves using squeezed water, the soap seems to stick – the skin stays just that bit slippery slimy. With the Falmouth mix, (acidic?) it all goes with the first rinse – probably curdled as well. Just thought you'd like to know.

Ferals – two grey faced albatrosses with us until yesterday but haven't seen them this morning. Not enough wind probably. There were Storm Petrels too – I think Black Bellied. The original Boot ferals have stayed on after Hobart – dear little things! And we are carrying a couple of hundred flies and other insects so we must be getting close to something or other. Next, we'll see swimming sheep, deserting NZ for sunnier climes.

Scott, would be good to see you.
Woc – could the painting have been of James Clark Ross and Francis Crozier who were Captains of Erebus and Terror when they visited Hobart after Kerguelen in the early 1840s while Sir John and Lady Jane were in Government House.?
Bill W tks for East Coast Current – we'll try to stay west of it up the coast.
Wall – WMP! We shall be in touch.
Sue – EP scratchy but happy.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Sunday too far away

A poke in the eye from the Examiner – we are not going to make an 0830 Sunday entrance into Sydney. Poo – and sorry to everyone who might have been making arrangements. Late Sunday is still possible if we get lucky up the coast but we will have to call into Eden for fuel whatever happens. ETA Eden around 2100 tomorrow. The good side of that from our point of view is that we will be able to pick up a sackful of fresh mussels and a box of screech to cook them in…

I think Monday for Sydney is more likely.

Chris H and Kari's mob in Eden and anyone at The Magnet – would be good to say G'day if you are reading this and around. Chris, I have your phone number, but not Kari's with me. We won't be there for long if conditions up the coast are still good.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

An elastic ETA

As I write this, we are in almost exactly the spot where we were rolled and generally messed about in January 2007 the last time we sailed back from Hobart. SJ or Izz, if you have the link to that story, could you please attach?

edit: as requested, link to story here!

Later: Position 0630 12th 3815 14928, trip 92, DMG 90. Not looking good for Sydney any time soon – my latest grib file shows the north easterly gradient on the back of the high setting in on Sunday at 15 knots. With the sea breeze amplifying it, it will become savage by midday until very late. The high is moving very slowly, so we might be ducking for cover during the days and travelling at night. Eden, Bermagui, Batemans?, Ulladulla? Jervis Bay? Could be Tuesday at the earliest for Sydney. We will need to restock the medical supply as well as fuel and mussels in Eden.
Seems the Examiner is still out here.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

702 Interview podcast

The interview with Adam Spencer on ABC Radio a few days ago is here

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

A time filler – a mental doodle across the vacuum of my mind

That has a Simon and Garfunkel feel to it.
We are 40 miles from Gabo and 69 from Eden. This bit of this journey always seems to take for ever – perhaps according to my modification of Parkinson's Law: The time for the final stage of a journey expands in the mind to exceed the time for all of the previous stages. Assuming, of course, that you are busting to arrive.
Gabo Island light marks the south eastern corner of mainland Australia yet it has a surprisingly short range – only 16 miles. Green Cape, around the corner, has 17. Tasman Island, at 276 metres above sea level, only 18 although we were seeing it at about 22 a few nights ago. Cape Tourville on Tasmania's east coast, at 21 miles, is one of Australia's most powerful. I suppose the governing factor for range is the need for a continuous chain of lights along a dangerous coastline and the cost of building lighthouses in the 19th century (here I should cite 'The Lighthouse Stephensons' but it is packed deep in the impenetrable fossilisation that is Berri's forepeak).
There are three ships between us and Gabo – it's not the English Channel but busy enough when you haven't seen many ships in nearly 6 months. I am surprised that there is no separation zone here. One of the ships, the Itajai Express, will arrive in Sydney tomorrow at 0930. He's doing 21 knots – I wonder how fast Groupama is going and whether they have made up their time. When we were rolled in 2007, AMSA diverted a Korean woodchip carrier to our position – I don't remember its name but I wonder where it is now. I wrote to thank the Captain afterwards and he replied wishing us well, so I have his contact details somewhere.
The VoA is back to Sydney tolerances.
We should be in mobile phone range in about 10 hours.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

slowly slowly

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Yesterday morning: A thousand plus the answer to everything and the highest barometric pressure reading I can remember ever seeing. I think there is a calibration error somewhere – the forecast was for 1038. Clear day, slight haze, big bushfire along the shore west of Mallacoota. Gabo Lighthouse lost in the haze against the hills behind Cape Howe but only 15 miles away. No mobile signal yet.

Today: Got into Eden around midnight. Eden a bit frantic – no diesel on the wharf any more, no phone signal on the wharf – Telstra 3G yet. By massive coincidence, I bumped into Chris H also on the dock and he organised his mate Peter to bring hie wheels and take me to the service station at the other end of town for 80 litres of diesel, and then Jen and Anne arrived to take us shopping and delivered hot muffins and it all got fixed and we left as soon as we were sorted – departed 1035. HUGE thanks to Chris, Peter, Jen and Ann – as with so much of this gig, we could not have done it without lots of help from lots of wonderful people. Jen, I’ll send you back the muffin basket. Had intended to give the Eden Magnet our story but it all got too complicated. Kari’s mob too – sorry but we just had to get on with it.

Earliest possible ETA now early Monday if absolutely everything works for us. Else later Monday or – most likely, early Tuesday for entry to suit whoever wants to come and meet us. We should be in mobile range most of the way. If anyone desperately wants to talk to us, 0418243600.

Watch this space! And cross em please.

Carol, plonk always used to be the cheapest red available and screech the equivalent white. The stuff you burnish copper with.
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2-16. Hobart-Sydney

(no subject)

Kettle crisps and Dr Cooper's prescription for laryngitis and just about everything – aaaaaaah!

5 miles south of Bermagui, motor sailing, rock hopping along the coast to stay inside the east Australian current. Too early to predict an ETA but we are making good progress at the mo. Fresh mussels to come. A great swirl of whitebait just off the bow, rounded up by tuna or someone else bigger and hungrier.

From here, we look straight up the starboard nostril of Cook's Dromedary. We will work our way around its hairy nose at Cape Dromedary and then look up its port nostril before getting the whole silhouette – head and hump. We will be looking at it for at least 24 hours. I'm actually surprised that Cook knew what a dromedary was – but perhaps it was one of the scientists who applied the template and gave Cook the name. It's a very good likeness.

Later: We have now passed Bermagui, Montague Island to starboad and the Dromedary's nose to port. I can smell his foetids.

Just pushing the old barge as fast as she will reasonably go, aiming for Monday morning at the next rusty hinge.

We'll see.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Dank, dark and dromedary

When you are rock snaggling 500 yards off the beach and pointy bits on a very dark slightly drizzly night wreathed in dromedary foetids it pays to be very careful. Eyeballs and GPS and 6th and 7th senses – which were jerked into adrenalin blast by a series of bright flashes – far brighter than Montague Island light out to starboard. Umm? A fireworks display, just for Berri and me, about 10 miles behind us. And there's a christmas tree on the eastern horizon – probably a fisho out of Eden.

The lights along the shore merge into the phosphorescence – lovely – no time for more.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

A rather shaky groove

Position 0730 14th 3535 15023 trip 98, DMG 92. Monday entry still possible, keep em crossed.

Ferals – one recumbent drom, now over the hump and out of sight, one tiny ex flying fish on deck, one Virgin 737 heading south, lots of birds. Homo erectus and maybe even some sapiens in little boxes, all made of ticky-tacky all along the shore. 2 weary OF out here.

We cracked 15000 miles near Eden and we have 110 to South Head – a lot less than 1% of the journey. Looked a bit pearshaped yesterday when the old electric autopilot finally gave up the ghost in the rain – great job Udo! I'm surprised it lasted this long. But in the secret stash we have another one, a bit of a toy and also modified by Udo – yay Udo! – but it will get us home. Small panic when I set it up and it thought it was going south but then I read the instructions. Duh.

Another small sailing boat to seaward. Seems to be going faster so I wonder if there's a reverse EAC eddy here.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

the long and the short of it

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Wet concrete wrapper

The Plan is to be at South Head at 1100 tomorrow, Monday 15th March. Midnight UTC for the Chain gang and Devon croo and whatever it takes in Boulder – but an excuse to keep the bar open perhaps. Nothing is ever definite, especially with us lot, so keep an eye on the blog.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Wollongong in the offing.

At 1815 local March 14th, 60 miles to South Head, VMG 5 knots while the wind holds so looking good for 1100 tomorrow short of northerly gale or catastrophic engine failure. I can see the chimney at Wollongong. Time for medication.

Keep em crossed and we'll keep you posted.

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For Robyn and anyone else who might be planning to come out to meet us – we will listen on VHF 72 once we get into range. I think at the moment we will have a couple of hours in hand for 1100 but the Examiner still lurks.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Past The ‘Gong

For the meeters and greeters – 1100 this morning at South Head looks pretty much do-able. We'll be on VHF 72 and my mobile is 0418243600 – look for the Fastnet battle flag on the forestay and the hoist of all the other flags up the backstay. The Fastnet flag is almost as big as all the rest put together. The Mark of Sponsorship!

Night vision. The west a lively organism, the east Stygian and a sharp dividing line fore and aft. Dawn's flush a just a statistical probability. The long string of lights that is the coast road north from Wollongong with its little villages, brilliant against the black silhouette of the scarp behind and the slight silver-grey glow of the sky above – the sky ruffled like the underside of a woolly rug – little tufty balls of cloud all tightly curled together and reflecting the white loom of the lights of Sydney ahead. The jewelled chain of the coast road disappearing just ahead as it climbs the scarp to Stanwell Tops and then just the black line of the scarp merging into the point in the distance where sea, scarp and Sydney fuse and the Sydney glow and its reflection from the water fill our horizon. The Southern Cross and its pointers – Crux, Rigilkent, Hadar visible in a hazy gap above the mainsail. Another star, perhaps Antares, in a tiny gap over the scarp. A big cargo ship a mile or so out to sea waiting to go into Port Kembla, its lights cutting the gloom to the east and reflecting in coloured lines towards us on the rolling glassy surface. Phosphorescence – separate green sparkles rushing past in the surf of Berri's bow wave and the coiled luminous trail of her passage through the water astern. And now the cloud opening everywhere and letting the stars through – the lights at Sutherland and Cronulla and Kurnell just appearing at the meeting place of the sea and the sky and the reflections ahead. I'm going to miss all this!

So – anyone have any suggestions about how to make all this waffly nonsense available in a more conventional form? There's a book in draft about the first circumnavigation but I think there's perhaps a wider story. Do you think an edited version of the Complete Works of Berri – all three website blogs with incoming emails included and a few linking fillers, lots of maps and a glossary – would actually work as a book? Gerzillions of photos and lots of video available as well. I hope we can organise a video of the full story but it will take time and a lot of help from our friends. Likewise, perhaps, a book of the photos? Albatross calendars perhaps, a desk diary with daily quotes? The Complete Works would be quite substantial – perhaps 400+ pages with some fairly savage editing. Or just a coffee table book of pictures and little grabs? I'd love some bright ideas from all y'all out there who experienced these gigs from the other side of the looking glass.

Interesting Fact no. 42 from Malcom – Cook might have seen a camel as they had been some in zoos and menageries in Europe since the 13th century. Dromedary, though, implies knowledge of Bactrian as well, or perhaps all available camels were single humpers called Dromedaries, if that makes sense. Else just Mt. Camel? Anyway, thanks Malcom! Food for speculation.

If the wind is kind later, we'll sail around the corner.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Arghhh…the ribs.

Hi, I was intending to write to you all on the way from Eden to Sydney but a fall to the water from the wharf in Eden put an end to that.
We had moored Berri alongside a large ex-fishing boat the night before, I was on the wharf about to make a call home when it started to rain. Deciding to go back and get a jacket I moved down to a wooden beam just below the top of the wharf then pulled the ex-fisher in. The top of the rail I was about to step onto had been capped with stainless plate and it had recently been rained on but I didn't take that into account. As I stepped on board my foot immediately slipped and I fell back and went down. I hit my back on something on the way either part of the wharf or one of the boat's heavy mooring lines.
You feel so stupid, how did that happen? Anyway I grabbed the mooring line and after a couple of goes managed to drag myself the four or five feet up and back onto the fishing boat. Of course the office, with a lot of documentation was in the wallet, in the back pocket of the shorts, along with the phone.
I felt ok at first glad that I hadn't hit my head on the way down, there was no one there to pull me out, if I had. I now feel like I've been hit in the back with a cricket bat, hit with all the vigour one associates with a 20-20 player trying to loft a ball into the members stand.
That's my excuse, I'll write later, after the xrays, when I feel better. Cheers for now, I feel the need of one of Dr. Cooper's herbal tonics. Pete.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

The final 6.30 report for this gig

Position 0638 15th 3358 15117, trip 109, DMG 107. We’re off Long Bay with the barn door looming. GPS distance so far from Fslmouth 15214.

More later, though probably tomorrow – it’s likely to get a bit busy from here.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

and so it came to pass….

docked at noon at the CYC, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney.

That was home for many, many moons. There is no “other” space!

Berri’s mission control station. Just add movement and water…
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Coming home part 1 of several

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part 2

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part 3

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part 4

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With thanks to Steve W for the photos. There will be more.

I will catch up with myself and write some coming home stuff in a day
or so and I know I owe lots of you thanks and replies. I'll get there
- this 'civilisation' stuff takes a bit of getting used to. Likewise
this laptop – the spacebar doesn't work…

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

On a roll

One for David Carne and the Victory mob. The World Championship
Trophy, suitably mounted.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Coming Home party

Don’t you all go away just yet. There will be the Great Berrimilla Coming Home Party real soon now – will take a bit of organising but probably mid April after Easter. Watch this space for details.

The photos – the famous collapsed arch at Baiede L’Oisaeau and Slarty’s face carved by one of his students -clearly not one of his originals.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Some rather profound words

I was at Uni with my friend Chris, learning Mandarin, about a century ago and ince then we've shared that sort of friendship over the years that needs no words. So I was surprised to get this letter and I asked him whether I could put it on the blog. I thought it deserved  wider circulation::
Chris' email reply:
Dear Alex
Lovely to chat with you earlier. Here is the (soft copy) letter. The more I think about the Berri write-up, the more I think the central theme is that of the 'horizontal anarchic network as back-up team,' enabled by blog and enthusiastic word-of-mouth. It contrasts so dramatically with what has become the conventional way of putting together expeditions, with massive (vertically organised) sponsorship and a huge caranvanserai of specialst back-up teams… The Berri story is very very different.

The letter


16 March 2010


Dear Alex and Peter


It is now impossible to write to one of you without also acknowledging the other; once again, you have done the remarkable, the extraordinary, something no-one has ever done before, and done it not only with stoic grit and endurance, but also with good humour and many fascinating observations about the world, the environment, the human condition and the taste of stout at different latitudes. Congratulations on another outstanding achievement done in a combination of two great traditions: the taciturn British and the Aussie larrikin. Your physical and mental and emotional endurance – as a dynamic duo – is just awe-inspiring, and it is your achievement of this as a team of two which is most intriguing. It seems to me that well-balanced teams of two are special; there is an essential tension and resolution at the same time; there is a need for trust and consensus in all major decisions; there is an intertwining of psyches, a total interdependence, absolute mutual accountability; there is a complete absence of politicking because neither party can be out-voted. The team of two seems to me to be an interesting phenomenon in itself, and by now, there is probably no-one more qualified that yourselves to share insights on that.


Somewhere along the journey, while reading the Berri-blog, I got really pissed-off, and I expect this is what a wife feels in such cases. It was a combination of things: you two doing some extraordinary feat of ingenuity on the high seas, with masses of online suggestions pouring in from the global Berri fan-club at a time when my simple suburban life was in bad shape and without any sense that there was any support team out there; I can’t remember the specifics but I remember writing it up in a very angry way in my journal, saying to myself: “Sure, those guys are out there testing their mettle against the elements in a way that brings them encouragement and admiration, but, bugger me! I’m on my own journey through hell here of another kind and I’m bloody well on my own with it because no-one gives a shit, and it doesn’t end with a nice pink ribbon and a pop of champagne corks; it fucking well goes on interminably and there’s damn-all recognition at the end of it!” It was a particularly severe case of weltschmerz. And after a while, I realised that I was looking at it upside-down. Instead of getting angry and resentful of what you were doing – achieving something remarkable, something that generated spontaneous admiration from a whole community of observers – I could use your example to validate the odyssey of my own feats of psychological/emotional endurance and say: “Hey, look, those guys are out there on the high seas, but what I’m doing, hanging on here by my toenails in one untenable situation after another, is pretty damned remarkable too!” And once I realised that, I felt a whole lot better. And I think this is why we are drawn to identify with epic feats of endurance: they help us to make sense out of what seems unendurable in our own lives.  


So the next feat – before the high energy of the return dissipates – please – is to document the story so that it can have that impact. And I think that task is almost as important as the journey itself. It’s like a piece of academic research; the experiment means more once it’s written-up. And let me toss out a challenge to you: I know that this task of documentation is the one you have least patience with. You’d far rather be bashing into a headwind with three reefs than be bashing away on a computer writing slabs of text. And you’d far rather sub-contract or outsource or delegate the write-up task. But it’s the documentation now that validates and consolidates what you have done and it’s an endurance task in and of itself; and – as your previous ghost-writer experience demonstrated – it’s not a task that you can meaningfully delegate to others. So I encourage you to take it on with all the determination you gave to the journey itself. And here are a few suggestions that might help:

(1) Focus the story on Berri and that might help you to get around that awkward sense that each episode seems to begin ‘And then I did this and then Peter did that…’

(2) Take as much as possible absolutely raw and verbatim from the Berri blog. It is full of wonderful, unique stuff, about the journey, the mechanics and gadgets, the weather, the environment, wild-life, your analogies to the Hitchhikers’ guide and the Space Shuttle… these all make extraordinary reading and do not need any editing at all

(3) Yes, also incorporate the combined wisdom and contributions from the hundreds of external contributors. I think one thing that will make this a unique document is the way you have used blogs to create a global community of Berri-helpers. The number of times people helped with advice, suggestions, engine parts, and so on; the way the journey galvanised people to help, to anticipate, to pitch in, with satellite internet as the vehicle for enabling it all – that is I think a very interesting theme all on its own.

(4) Following from the above, the fact that both circumnavigations have been done without the big-ticket sponsorships and huge media caravan and the multi-million-dollar, Branson-Forbes-Travolta style excess of ego. It’s the taciturn Brit and the Aussie larrikin at their absolute best.

(5) And lots of pictorial stuff

(6) Lastly, get onto it right away.



That’s it from me. I look forward to catching up with you both for a cuppa and a chat sometime soon.


Meantime, the Masters Exhibition from the Quai d’Orsay is still on at the National Gallery in Canberra for another few weeks, so if can bear getting away from the sea-shore for a bit, come down and look at a painting or two.


Love and good wishes

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Personal email address and other stuff

If anyone wants to contact me direct for the time being, my email address is alex1whit@gmail.com – please feel free to use it.

There is a short term Plan evolving – I am going to California for a week in April to rendezvous with Leroy, Pascal (who drew the little map that started this latest silliness) Keith Cowing (spaceref.com) and Pat Hahn from Nome. No doubt there will be serious Consulting, but I want to cut some video  interviews as well, to splice into the Berri Galactic Guide Video that our friend Matt at NASA Ames has generously offered to put together for us.

If any of you have burnng questions you want answered by any of these legends, flick them to me in the next couple of weeks please. Or just interesting questions related to their involvement with Berri.

Steve Jackson, may his name be in lights for evermore, has finally persuaded Google to give us control of David Speed's www.berrimilla.com/tng website (which we lost when he died) so that we can clear the spam. There are over 1100 spam postings and unless any nerd out there has a better idea, it's one by one, with the obligatory "Are you sure…?" Bleeeah!

ET, please call!

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

A few more photos

I haven't been able to add captions -never worked how to do it. Dozy and decrepit neurones.  From the beginning: Iron Pot; Tasman Island with Cape Raoul in the distance – you can just see the lighthouse in the cloud; Chain Locker Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula – one for the gang in Falmouth; Naval escort; the hoist and El Pinko; El Pinko; Sydney cliche – ferry, Opera House and Bridge; Berri alongside at CYC.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney


I have been asked for the link to the dismasting story. It is here:
with thanks to Yachting World, where it appeared originally.

[The North West Passage website www.berrimlla.com/tng and awberrimilla.blogspot.com have now been cleaned of dubious spam invitations to mess with parts of ones anatomy. Thanks Stephen. It needs a further tidy up and some links but it’s all there.]

I parked Berri alongside the local sailing club on Sunday evening where she was overrun by kids and even some adults. Lots of fun and some interesting questions. Plus the inevitable Sharks? Pirates? I don’t have any photos but there was someone there with a camera, so I will see if I can scrounge a .jpg or two.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

Some more rather profound words

Another of yez all out there, one who, like most of you, I've never met but feel I know, sent us this and, with Chris, put her finger on something that I've been trying to get a handle on more or less since all this nonsense started:

What your friend Chris said…  I was wondering why your blog, with completely unfamiliar people and subject matter, was so meaningful (and emotional! I too went through about every emotion in the book). How well he said it.

Just ran across this passage about telling one's story:

"My friend Stan Brakhage claims that in creating the films for which he became famous, he was always guided by the conviction that "the most personal is the most universal."  This insight, it seems to me, goes beyond the obvious observation that the types of human situations and possible reactions to them are limited, that in telling of ourselves we are bound to strike a common chord with at least SOME persons.  Beyond this, I think that to watch others in their solitude grappling with what comes to them, making it into themselves, and giving back to the world something which was not there before is to see the very image of what each of us is."

(from an autobiography "The Story I Tell Myself" by Hazel E. Barnes,  former Professor at the University of Colorado).

I feel apologetic for not really comprehending what you did in the physical sense, it being so out of my realm (hopefully I will someday).  But the grappling, making it into yourselves and giving back to the world, and helping the rest of us get more in touch with ourselves—sublime.

For which perceptive and complimentary words – Thanks Jane.

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

One for the roadies

Over the last couple of days, I helped deliver part of a training course for people planning to work overseas on super yachts and other commercial vessels. An interesting group. Seemed to me that they needed a line in the sand – a base line – the lowest common denominator – an ‘ it gets better from here on’ experience so I brought Berri around to the pontoon next to the 3rd Mosman Bay Scout Hall where we were holding the course. The photo is a rather foggy camera pic of Jade, one of our students, who actually appreciated Berri for what she is. And understood my jokes – good luck out there Jade! And all the rest of you, of course!

2-16. Hobart-Sydney

The coming home party - May 9th

May 9th seems to be the best compromise date for all the direct Berri hangers-on – but it’s also Mothers’ Day so a good excuse for a party. It will be at RANSA, the last building on the left as you go down New Beach Road from New South Head Road – go past CYC and D’Albora and you are there. There is all day and 2 hour parking in local streets but make sure you read the signs – the Rangers are ferocious ferals. Kick off at 1130 and we will wind it all up at 1800 at the latest. Berrimilla will be alongside with flags flying.

All of you silent blog followers, please come along if you are in range.  It would be great to meet you all. There will be medicinal compound, food and other goodies available.  Please bring something to drink if you are Very Very  thirsty.

A generous friend has offered to donate a spit roast so it would help a lot if we have a ballpark idea about numbers.

So: Please let me know via berrimilla2@gmail.com or alex1whit@gmailcom or on my mobile 0418243600 if you are likely to be there. You may not get fed if you don’t.

[The coming home party photos are here (Google+ photo album)]