2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor


Logs ( 162 )

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

noon in the North 0027.07 16344.47

dtd 3581 so dmg 116 – mostly motor, but we’re sailing again and looks like Kimbra’s wx change on the horizon.

Nauru – tiny island – once the main source of phosphates for fertiliser all the world’s farmers and no doubt lots of other less productive things. Phosphates come from guano – bird poo – and the island must have been hundreds of metres deep in the stuff – just imagine the time, the numbers of birds, where have they all gone? The island now just a barren spiky rocky wasteland mostly but with a big population. They originally invested well – skyscraper in Melbourne for one – but I don’t know what has happened since.

Still sweaty hot – we have the hatches open and the Cone open so there’s a breeze through the boat that makes sleep possible, and also sitting here.

D – thanks for the xword – it worked – McQ has done a lot of it in her watch and now I’m going to try to finish it.

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0129.21 16353.23

Dollink – imagination in recess at the mo – you could post this as is if you like…We’re back in amorphous grey – squall following squall following squall. So far, no Vlad sharpening his stake but still a pain. Can’t see Polaris yet – he’s still down in the murk line around the northern horizon. The equator has receded into the background radiation – Half way is less than 600 miles ahead…Was thinking – might interest the punters if you post my notes to Kimbra and her replies – apart from anything else, saves me having to explain and therefore airtime. Iridium costs money! and we’re just about out of sailmail range of Oz and only marginally in Hawaii.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

The Backing Group - Kimbra

Hello everyone out there. Alex would like you to get some idea of what goes on in the background. The answer is loads and we are blessed with a great team of people Worldwide. All of whom help the project in a variety of ways. Weather forecasts (Wx) are essential and we depend on Kimbra Lindus (who will join Berri for the Northwest Passage sector of the voyage from Alaska). Here is a typical exchange between the forecaster and the boat:

Kimbra:Wind should be more SE for next day. Use it to move NE-ish against current if poss. Stronger gradient winds should be starting to fill in from the east over the next couple of days! Lightish to the west. Still wet north of equator before trades.

Alex:Your predictions spot on. Tks for little bottles. Grib says here more or less same to 5N then wind increasing to top of Marshalls to about 15 kt still Easterly. Plan is to go straight up the meridian if poss to top of M’s then what do you suggest? We could try for height or just keep going in the pious belief that we’ll get into w/sw further up.

Kimbra (today):Short-range: Congrats – you’re about to get back into wet stuff for a few days. Worst of it is to the W & NW of you, doesn’t look as bad to N & E in the big pic. Shittiest on Sunday. Gradient winds should pick up to 15 kts avg from Fri arvo thru Sunday, then another lighter patch @ 10 kts, depending on yr progress nth. Direction mainly E, but will start to feel a bit of NE by Mon – initially assoc more with rain system to W than trades proper.

FYI – tropical cylone in Bay of Bengal. Light years away & heading NW to land. No probs. Low developing NW of Taiwan approx 25N 125E. Also heading NE to brush east coast Japan with gales. Models don’t show any swell/wind in your parts from it. Did you know Japan Met Agency forecasts cherry blossom blooming dates?? To within 4 days!

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Serious for a mo.

Yesterday was May 1. That means that the eclipse on Aug 1 is 3 months away – 91 days in fact. In that time we have to get to Dutch, fix some things, reprovision, get lots of advice, charts, warm clothing etc – and then get up to Nome 600 miles or so north, wait for favourable ice reports at Point Barrow and go north and, if we’re lucky, around the corner and across the top at least as far as Cambridge Bay by Aug 1 so that we are in the path of the eclipse. I think the Haughton Mars Camp people – Pascal and his crew – leave Devon Island around Aug 15 so we need to be up at Beechey by then if possible. Talk about water under keels!

Dutch fixes: the laptop; perhaps a strip and refurbish of backup watermaker motor; the ST 4000 tiller autopilot (which seized yesterday and I’m awaiting advice before taking it apart – where are ya Matt Reyes-McGyver?); major repack of boat to squeeze Kimbra in; maybe fit checkstay points on the mast – seems to be flexing forwards rather a lot and I’m not used to bendy masts so feel a bit unsure of what is reasonable flex and what should be stayed. We have to buy a bear rifle, guinness, other medicinal compounds and soul food. Cold weather diesel and maybe an extra external tank. The rest will depend on what happens between here and Dutch and what facilities there are up there.

So, so far so good but it’s a finely balanced enterprise – massively so – and we still need a lot of luck. Keep ‘em all crossed for us please.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: The Equator

Well, it was just as I remembered: First the gigantic pink neon sign comes in to view, ‘Welcome to the equator!!!’, it flashes. Then you get closer- it is just like any other border crossing, a magnet for the fringes of ocean society, a hub of vice… To the left, pineapples being shaken, coffee being ground and the fish market, unscrupulous fish trading in other fish (one squid for 3 flying fish, as we passed) The sea snail magician dude was still there doing his same trick on unsuspecting punters, to do with water going clockwise or anti-clockwise down hte plug hole and crossing the line as often as he could get away with!! Down a back eddy, round an undercurrent and you come face to face with a snarling big fanged, translucent and etiolated sea creature with his own lightbulb above his head, just like Nemo or Blue Planet, and trying to sell lumps of coral for extortionate prices; ‘why so expensive?’ ‘Have you any idea of the depths I have gone to to get this?’ The Northern Pacific Hotel and the Southern Pacific Hotel, joined by the aquasino, open all season (that is all the time!!) The only drinking establishment to venture into is ‘The Old Grog Barrel’ where the regulars go for watered down rum and local scuttlebutt: The Landlord, goes by the name of Admiral Vernon, will pass on messages to Neptune- Have some rum and thank you for a safe passage so far, Neptune. Not, in general, is the equator a place to stop, so soon enough we are well through, a quick glance back to a gigantic yellow neon sign in the sky, ‘Thank you for visiting the equator’ and with a flicker and the accompanying buzzing film-sound-effect its gone. So fast that we might have been dreaming…

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Noon 0212.28 16401.42

dtd 3475 dmg 106.

What she said! I thought I was dreaming, but I seem to have this lightbulb sticking out of my head…

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0237.59 16400.04 Sillyoloquy

Polaris Lives! or rather, lurks. He’s still in the murk layer but I can just see him. He’s such a seemingly insignificant little pinprick for such an important place in our universe. A bit like the good Taoist leader – he’s out there, leading, but not noticed by the punters – and therefore, presumably, neither loved nor hated, like lesser leaders. I grew up conscious of him from as early as I can remember – my dad, no doubt, had something to do with that. It’s still a bit odd looking for him way below the pointers instead of above.

Ploddin’ along. Still 5 days at least to half way at this rate. For those of you living normal lives, you really just live the days, go to bed and the night takes care of itself without any help from you. Here, we live the nights – really live them, often minute by minute, watch by watch – as well as the days and it all seems to take so much longer. So who’s complaining? More living for one’s dollar perhaps. This gig is different yet the same as the last one. Things distant yet near – near yet distant. Sei Shonagon‘s perceptions are wonderfully acute and they remain relevant after a thousand years and across cultures.

Time passing – I wrote in the last logs about boats having their own language, grammar and syntax. I live and feel and hear this boat and I’m part of the pulse of the living entity. So, it’s really difficult to lose myself in Ipoddery or books or xwords because it cuts me off from the message, the data stream, the story as it unfolds. And time passes more slowly.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Noon + a bit 0335.18 16412.59

DTD 3392 so dmg 83 and none of them fun

Nastier and nastier, said Alice. And so it came to pass. Almost solid tropical downpour with 25 – 30 kts for the last few hours. Dark grey slightly translucent sky merging into silvery craggy moonscape sea with soft white texture as the surface seems to float above itself as bouncing raindrops. Vis about a boat length, but there’s no way you can look into wind without goggles. On the assumption that we must get north to get free, we’re motoring as fast as seems reasonable in the conditions – about 3.9 – 4 kts OTG – must remember to keep the fuel tank at least half full to avoid bubbles in the uptake line. Will be hard to top up in these conditions – wild gyrations even with the main up and a couple of reefs to steady her. We must get at least 100 miles further up the meridian….YUK! Later – now sailing again – conditions no better – Kimbra says we have this until Monday, worst tomorrow. Bleeeah!

Captions – we both liked the last one (will Alex tidy up…) because it related directly to the pic, but we decided that no 9 (there’s bound to be a tin opener) wins. By a whisker. Highly commended was the reference to Fenwick.

Kris – I hear you are playing anorak games with Speedy – have you told him about your 0500 beer in Berri?
DW – belated happys. Might see you in Dutch.
Ann – illegal (I’m told) and certainly negligent and insane not to have a rifle if you are ever likely to meet a hungry bear. Of the various options then available to you, you could try talking it out of eating you as your opening gambit, if you want to. Nice to have a fall back though, as bears can outrun humans. We might easily get stuck in the ice somewhere and have to walk out. We will have a rifle, as a last resort.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

0459.00 16414.45

Just a quickie to say g’day. Amazing how the mood changes once the rain stops and there’s been some sleeping. About to cross 5 N and into the trades, I hope. And half way is tantalisingly close – 361 miles – just over half a S2H. When McQ wakes, I think it might be time to open Kimbra’s goody bag and find the one for tropical squalls…been there, done that!

The autopilot seems to be back in action after sloshes of WD40. Still a bit recalcitrant. I think it may have had water in it at some time.

Sun just risen, one solitary seabird – indeterminate, but it’s been with us for days, it seems.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

1400 pos 0536.35 16401.25 – headed and being taken a bit east again.

DTD 3282 dmg 110 from half way in 324 miles, there should be open water – no islands – between us and dutch.

There seems to be a lot less time on this one for idle musing. It’s all work or sleep, unlike in the southern ocean, where we set a sail, trimmed it and left it for days at a time.

And no sooner do we put our little pug nose out past the squally bit but the Examiner turns up again and decrees that the stitching along the leech line of our small furling headsail should die. It’s a pre loved sail, came with the furler and looked fine before we left, but the U.V. might have got to it – or some other rats in the boot room. Anyway, not a catastrophe and potentially fixable, over time, with the sailmaker’s needle and palm. Tedious though. We’re bobbing along under engine, storm jib and 2 reefs just watching the wx for 3 hours, then I think it’s back to the big sail and fingers crossed it will last the distance – furlers seem to flog their leeches something awful and no amount of tweaking seems to fix the problem, consequently high stress area.

Well done Barrett. Obvious really, I guess!

Anyway, we are certainly in, or in striking distance of the trades. I’ve no real feel for what to expect when we do get there in terms of the combination of wind and sea state. I just hope we are not headed too much and can sail reasonably free so as not to overstress the headsail any more than necessary. And soon it will be out with the needle and palm.

Big sail back up – hooning more or less north at 5+ kts. Passed an island 60 miles to the east – 10 miles across, has an airfield but no name on my digital chart. Anyone?

Today’s boat job – just hardboiled 34 eggs – we didn’t vaseline them before we left and I don’t see why we should throw them away. When they cool, I’ll vas them just in case. Egg salads for the future.

Just had a full can of wd 40 discharge into the bilge and all over the floor, lethally slippery and not pleasant. Poo!

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: Burds and, if there is space, theirpocket warmers…

I saw a bird this afternoon. Now I am not especially good with birds but this was definitely a new one, and it was black. Except that might just have been the colour it looked as it was silhouetted in front of the sun! It had a pointy tail and looked like a smaller version of the bigger one with a pointy tail that we saw the other day. Pretty average bird really I am afraid and can’t give you any more distinguishing features. I think the only three birds that I could positievly identify are a Pelican (big, black and white, biiiig beak, my favourite bird too)albatross, huge wings and super graceful and the blue footed booby, (blue feet, doh!!), oh and maybe a dodo too, but since they don’t fly and are extinct then I think its highly unlikely that we’ll see one of those out here in mid ocean, unless of course the foredeck witch brings one in a tux next time she comes for a dance.

This afternoon Alex hardboiled all the remaining pocket-warmers, though, that said, I suppose they don’t really become pocket warmers until after they are hardboiled. Anyway, this was cause there are more than we can get through before they start smelling like rotten pocket warmers since we never got round to vaselining them at the beginning. So we now have lots of hardboiled pocket warmers to get through, we left them to cool too and vaselined them, and since theres no pockets on my shorts and its way too hot to need to warm our fingers and they are now cold the EU certainly wouldn’t let them be called pocket warmers, so maybe we should give them a new name: I know, we shall call them eggs, yes, eggs, from now on pocket warmers shall be known as ‘eggs’

Maybe I’ll write something sensible tomorrow…

lots of love to all
ps DB: I haven’t uttered a word to Walter Walruski 3rd (for that is his full name) yet. Don’t worry.
GM&L;: What a remarkable book, incredible, a fantastic read, thank you- if ever I think wee Berri feels small I shall be grateful I am not chained to a sack of coconuts instead!! Also I am blaming you entirely as have done nothing but read in my off watches for two days when I should be sleeping and am now exhausted!!!
CB: Have lots of thoughts on plans, can’t wait to discuss, whats happening at your end in the village???
JS: I love my pink watch with blue flashing lights- thank you!!
FF: Is it Neist Lighthouse at the top of Skye??

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

0658.29 16350.39 May 5th

One should never set oneself deadlines – or even targets – in this game. It’s still 2 and a bit days to half way and seems as if it has been for days. There’s no real pattern to the trades yet – perhaps there wont be. Nasty – not vicious – squalls 25-30kts with an associated short steep closely patterned sea state – about 3-5 metre waves, very steep, only about 10-30 metres apart and on the beam for our preferred course. Uncomfortable to bloody uncomfortable. In between, moderate sea, 15-18 kts and reasonably workable. Was hoping – as you do – that we’d do better that the 4-5 kts more or less north that we have at the mo.

Kimbra, average track seems to me to be just a bit west of N magnetic, and the sea stops us getting much higher.

Was playing with the concept of the flogging leech. I am told that the Chinese used to pay their doctors only when they were well, as the Doc was then doing his job properly. Perhaps in Hogarth’s London, the rich and dandified sent out to have their Leeches flogged when they (R & D)got sick. And flogging my Consultant leeches out here just means attending to more and more of their potions and elixirs. Dr Jasper, have started magic potion for endless daylight and very good it is too. I just hope it’s efficacious.

Wildlife – was leaning over the side a bit, adjusting the jib sheet winch, and saw this greenish gold shape in the water, quite deep. I first thought we must be dragging a sail or something but it was a fish, perhaps 2 metres long, greenish on top, gold stripey sides and vertical yellow tail. Several more, smaller. A few,indeterminate seabirds.

Ian and all at RORC, thanks for good wishes and all the best to you for a successful season. If Berri hangs together for long enough, we might see you for Fastnet 09. Berri wants her dogbowl back for a reunion.

Speedy, tks for propane warning . I didn’t know(WD40 uses propane-isobutane as a propellant and not the sort of gas you want in a bilge, 20% in air is explosive – ed). Suggest prize for GB should be a copy of your ‘arry and the pursuit of excellence mp3. He’d understand, as that sort of teacher.

Must get out of this sweaty hellhole behind the Cone.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

0748.21 16405.12 later May 5th

Kimbra thanks for ‘stuff’ really useful.

Flogging dead leeches all day – sore fingers ‘n thumbs. And a sailmaker’s needle is a fearsome thing to behold and to use. Stitching rotten along the entire length of the leech and leech line had burst out in a couple of places and not long in others. We mended the bursts with double stitching – really hard work and hard on the hands, and then put a reinforcing line of stitching all the way from the clew almost to the head – will finish tomorrow. Also small compression hole in foil tape where tape passes through feeder when sail fully hoisted. Must be fixed. Knackered.

We seem to be making progress – as long as the wind isn’t too strong and the seas therefore too lumpy and steep, we can track about 015 M which would take us between two Marshall Island atolls and on to Kimbra’s first waypoint. Too early to plan yet.
When I said no more islands, I had forgotten about Wake. Used to be a military base and probably still is.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: Love and War…

Now, I am not Australian (though I would very much like to be!!) but I do know that wee Berri is quite special to have such a superb piece of kit on her bow, that is Love and War’s old furler and sail. It’s funny though that it is our headsail and headsail furler but L&W;’s little hankerchief of a staysail and furler!! Well the whole system has been doing us proud until we realised yesterday that the leech was coming apart.
On closer inspection today it appears that the stitching is rotting under the UV light, so today we have meticulously and lovingly sewed it all back together. I only had one little tantrum (to myself) during this sail fixing- most who know me know that if there is one way to make me have a grump it is to put me on a boat that is lurching around violently in the ocean, and give me a back to front and not quite happy palm, needle and thread and make me sow a sail!!! I get so frustrated cause I like things to be neat and perfect and it is pretty impossible to do that along the entire leech in this sort of lumpy sea!!! Anyway, our little sail got flaked and bagged at failing light and we shall finish her tomorrow, hopefully with no battles and she’ll be good as new- she’s almost finished and looking good.
Kimbra- thanks for such detailed weather info- it al looks pretty positive really, thanks. I expect we will end up a touch west of your route due to sea state/ sail choice/ wind but it doesn’t seem that’s a bad thing in the long run. Either way, really really helpful, thanks.
Speedy, I forgot to thank you for the crossword too- brilliant distraction!!! thanks hope everyone is well and happy too on dry land…
must go take my vitamins whist I remember as I have forgotten all day today.
very tired and ready for bed now!!!
lots of love

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

0830.34 16416.40 Berri to the Funsters!

Go the Funsters! Great to have you on board. Is there anything you want to know about what we are doing? We can try to answer your questions if you send them to us, but we have to keep it all short so that we can actually transmit your questions and our answers over the radio. They go from the internet to a computer in a sailmail station somewhere in the world (we’re using the one in Honolulu at the mo) and the computer converts them into digital signals and sends them over the radio to our modem in the boat and our computer converts them back into text. All rather slow by mobile phone standards and we are only alloowed 10 minutes per day on the radio. I can use a satellite phone to transmit as well, but that’s very expensive.

Kimbra – got yours re DB – noonsite prob has the details. Would like to have Hbrmaster’s phone # and vhf freq if poss. DB prob v busy. We may not be able to get as high as your GC courses, especially if the wind kicks in further north so could end up west of your waypoints. I have looked at your files and that seems ok. I have the pdf arctic pilot #9 but hard to access – if you have time. cd you please just check the unalaska stuff and make sure there are no potential showstoppers.

H – well fed! and well done. Hang on to the books – can’t remember who or why at this stage. The sea here is dark grey blue – not the bright iridescent deep ocean blue but that may just be that it’s mostly overcast.

End of 0200 – 0400 night watch. Took ipod on deck but never got it out – spent the time thinking about Robert M Pirsig. Next blog maybe, but it will be a ‘Hi mermaid…’ blog if I do.

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noon tue 6th 0908.18 16420.38

dtd 3075 so dmg 207 in about 24 hrs as we didn’t send you one yesterday. Sail finished, will try it when needed and see how well we did. If there’s a sailmaker in Dutch – and we get there – we’ll have it all undone again and properly sorted.

Not possible to say with any certainty where we will go in the next few days – wind backs in squalls for hours at a time and we’re all over the ocean. I think we will pass west of the atoll more or less on our direct track, so a bit of a climb to K’s waypoint 1. There should be enough grist in t’mill for the ETA predictors to start to get some accuracy. I’ll stick to June 3, although I think that’s optimistic.

Hot in the HellCone – Pirsig next time perhaps.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: Life should be about challenging oneself…

I have just been on deck thinking: I am incredibly lucky to have, through a series of fortunate and bizarre coincidences, the opportunity to be here on this trip. Alex has put so much time, effort and personal resources into this that it is a huge privilege to be part of it. It is great to sail with someoone who knows his boat so well and is so knowledgable: I think that is the thing about sailing that captures my interest so intensely; there is always, always something new to learn. No one knows it all when it comes to sailing. I believe that anyone who says they know everything there is to know about sailing probably doesn’t have a clue!! It truly is fab to be here and I really really hope that we manage, one leg at a time, to achieve all the little goals we are setting ourselves…

People sometimes say, ‘Isn’t it boring being on a boat and seeing nothing but sea for days on end?’ Far from it, apart from the daily jobs to keep things ticking over smoothly: there is always something to be done to keep you occupied, the sea itself is beautiful, a constantly changing visual landscape all around. Mostly blue, (or grey at the moment) but often every other colour imaginable from vivid ochre-red to insipid pale grassy green. Stunning, not boring at all!!

All the little jobs to do are made all the more challenging by the fact we are generally lurching about or at the very least continuosly moving!!! Making a coffee at the moment requires attaching yourself to the galley by a strop and just as you put the coffee in the mug, we lurch over a wave, get airborne, land, slightly wonkily so the strop cuts in to the kidneys and the thin film of WD40 underfoot means you start to slide down hill and that the instinctive handholds become millimetres too far away, but we save the coffee!!! Despite all the ‘grrrs’ and ‘hmmphs’ that are required as a soundtrack to this procedure, boy is that mug of coffee appreciated!!!

Life, I think, should be all about challenging oneself and success, I believe, is the achievement of personal goals that we keep setting ourselves and challenging ourselves with.

You can tell we’ve finished sowing, can’t you????!!!!

I hope everyone is having a happy and enjoyable Tuesday 6th May too.
Lots of love to all

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Of romantic, classic and Baroque and Boring

Or a slightly different take on ‘Hi Mermaid…’ – you can go and find the original if you are interested.

Robert Pirsig wrote a book called ‘ Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance ‘ beck in the early ’70 s and it was the cult book when I was at Uni. He used Zen as a contextual basis and motor cycle maintenance as a metaphor for life and how it is lived. Lots of bits of it that I remember, but the difference between the romantic and the classic attitude to life has always stuck. The romantic is the person who sees a motor cycle as a glorious sculpture of chrome tubes, alloy gizmos, glossy paint and a sexy leather seat. The classic view of the same object is as a groovy collection of moving parts that just happens to constitute a motor cycle.

We have both extremes in the boat. For McQ, this gig is one big, coool, mental as anything Adventure. For me, it is a series of planning lists and milestones, each of which has to be ticked off in order to see an eclipse in august. And get out again safely. Everyone fits somewhere on the bell curve and, of course, we all carry , inevitably, part of the other. Pascal, I think, might be in the middle somewhere. Leroy and most of his colleagues out at my end, Speed – interesting – probably out towards Mcq even though he’s a brilliant inventor of very clever gizmology. Kimbra – dunno – towards the middle? But enough speculation.

And on to some more. In Consultation with Dr Pete – onya mate – I’ve just been listening to the Bruch and Mendelssohn violin concertos – I bet for the first and only time they will ever be heard in this part of the ocean. I do not understand music – As the way out classicist, I love it for the virtuosity and the skill – wow! how did he get that violin to do that?? and the conductor – all those people, all so together…but I still get some sort of emotional experience from it, as long as I am not distracted and have time to actually listen to the music and not the boat babbling away at me. Someone Who Knows once told me that the Bruch is Baroque and Boring. No bloody way! Flogging leeches, again, unfortunately, got in the way just enough too distract. Going to have to learn to live with them for a day or so if the Grib is right, then this 18 – 20 kts will ease and we can roll out the sail again.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: Puffings and biscuits

Got distracted by the profoundities of my last blog and forgot a few things (is it ok to make up words like ‘profoundities’??)

Mommy, I am soooo sorry I forgot about Puffins, how could I??? Of course, of course I can positively identify a puffin- they are brilliant little birds with multicoloured beaks and they taste soooo yummy smoked!!! (Don’t be alarmed, Vegetarians/Puffin fans, it is a private joke between me and Pam McQ!!)

Puffins are awesome little creatures: they have podgy little bodies that defy gravity, especially with those little wings… when you see them on the water it is impossible not to stop and watch them and urge them on, ‘go puffin, go, flap those little wings’ and they do- those little wings are flapping at at unbelievable rate but you still wouldn’t believe they would manage to get themselves into the air… ‘go, little puffin, flap flap flap,’ and then when they finally get airborne, you just feel so proud for them!!!

Do they have Puffins in Alaska??? I hope so. (we are obviously miles and miles too far south to see puffins yet!!)

Funsters: great to hear from you and know you are following us. Alex tells me you are going to send some interesting and intellectually stimulating questions for us- I’m looking forward to it and I know Alex is too, since it means he will get a break from answering my questions:

Me: Alex if you were an animal what would you be?
Alex: [sigh]
Me: I’d be a tiger, what would you be, if you had to be an animal?
A:[sigh again}
Me: If you had no choice?
A: bacteria
Me: [looking puzzled] Ok, why?
A: so I could live forever
Me: ok
Me: If you were a biscuit, what would you be?
A: [sigh]
Me: I’d be a ginger nut, what about you?

and so on…

lots of love

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

1015.48 16417.18

MJC- So it is Bikini! I had a feeling it might be but has no name on my chart. We’re 90 odd miles SW and should pass it about 40 miles to the west. Will advise on nighttime son et lumiere. All googlable, but I think it was the first H bomb test, in about 1954…We’d be passing 40 miles dead downwind of a very big bang. I seem to remember a photo of old warships anchored in the lagoon being tossed in the air by the early part of the explosion. And, I suppose, Wake just up the street as the base for it all. Eerie – I’ve been to Woomera and close to the Monte Bellos but somehow not the same historical grip as this one. Did I read recently that they have just allowed the original Islanders back again?

Brian – thanks for very kind offer – I think the old sail is fine, but the UV protector is dead and all its stitching. And it’s the UV protector that seems to be holding the leech line – no reinforcement. Tacky! Oh what a shoddy pun! I’m sure there will be someone in Dutch that can fix it. So as long as we actually get to Dutch, we should be ok. But I have learned a big lesson. We should have taken it for a sail before we left…. Your big sail is great – just the right size – and it works really well – but there just ain’t no way to stop the leech buzzing once it’s rolled in a bit. I think it must be something that happens to them all. Sends me bananas, but I’m learning to live with it! I’ll call you on the satphone tomorrow.

Duncan – lanolin is definitely part of my daily routine – industrial strength stuff that we use to waterproof everything electrical and grease shackle pins and the like. And my hands. Savlon for the gunwale bum though.

Not much to report – had the three or four most profound consecutive sleeps ever in the last day or so, but now up and around again mid off watch sleep time. My arbitrary 11 degrees N half way point is about 200 miles too short in actual straight line distances, so we won’t celebrate just yet – nevertheless a big milestone. I’ll try to call Pascal once we’re past 11 N.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Corrie McQueen: Poet Laureate

I have written a poem (Though Alex declared,’That’s no poetry’):

Lurching around in a monstrous sea
Lurchety, lurchety, lurching we be

Lurching around in a monstrous sea
Lurchety, lurchety, lurching wee B

As you can see, in each verse there are, as the Qantas safety checklist lady/voice would say, ‘subtle differences’

You repeat the two verses continually until one of the following;
a) you distract yourself enough to realise that you are now almost dry from the last wave that smashed you in the face
b) you get smashed in the face by a new big wave and come back to reality
c) you lose your marbles
d) you decide, in a moment of clarity, that these words must be written down as a blog for squillions of readers and generations to come to have the benefit of such profoundities…

Brian, that’s so kind of you to offer us a new sail, thank you, as Alex says we think its ok. I was wondering though if maybe (for the good of McQ, AND the project) you could come and hide out in our forepeak for the rest of the trip, instead. and do my sewing detail for me when required??? We can disguise you with orange hair and Alex will never know that I am not doing my own share of sewing!! I think that would be a far more productive use of your resources!!!

Lanolin for the boys, vaseline (and until ‘The Incident’ WD40) weapons of choice for the girls…

On a slightly more serious note, this evenings sunset was something to behold, totally and utterly breathtaking, one of the most amazing I have EVER seen, stunning red sky with streaks of bright gold and orange and blue- I have photos that almost, almost do it justice.

Lots of love

~This blog was brought to you by the letter ‘k’ (karine Polwart and Kings of Leon on the ipod) and the number ’18’ (roughly average windspeed)~

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

WooooHooo-ish 1021.31 16416.44

The first almost cloudless night for ages and ages. Still humid and some haze but the universe is out there with attitude. Because of the haze, the stars don’t have that magic clarity and definition you sometimes get out here but wonderful to behold. The Milky Way – that slash of dolphin phosphorescence across the whole sky, with (I think) Saturn just below it to the SE, Squornshellous Zeta up high and the Frogstar lurking green and slimy in the Coal Sack. Kakrafoon just rising in the east and I’ve just heard the first bars from the band…No sign of Prostetnic Jelz and his fleet of yellow ships filled with ruthless poets, but we do have McQ down here offering strong competition – if you can’t find a Vogon, she’s clearly in good trim. Early each evening, we have Polaris ahead, under the great Bear and climbing every night, with the Cross astern and dipping. Orion in all his splendour out to port and dear old Betelgeuese doing his red giant act in one corner.

We’ll cross 11 N in about 6 hours. Too early for a full on WOOOHOOO but perhaps a little anticipatory one. We keep being headed – average track at the mo back to a bit west of North. Interesting to see how far we can climb if the wind drops a bit and the seas abate.

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Noon 1106.14 16414.36 May 7th

We crossed 11N @ 1032 sydney time at 16414.55 E. Tried to call Pascal but perhaps too late. So we drank his health, as the brains behind all this. Also tried Leroy, likewise. Will try both again over next day or so.

For Kimbra to consider first, then maybe ask Tom

Thanks to both. Tom, no plan as yet for a particular pass – thought we’d leave that as a decision that may be made for us. Would there be any advantage in going through say to the east of Seguam @ 172 E and then NE along the chain to Dutch or even much further SW at 180 degrees and east of Semisopochnoi? That would seem to get us across the Aleutian current the most efficient way. Would there be wind on the other side, or a nasty lee shore? Or should we just time the tides at Unalaska? I have rough tidal times in my digital charts but no directional flows. I assume the ebb flows SE from the Bering into the Pacific and v.v. the flood. Also some limited Argos tidal stream info.
The Aleutian current seems very similar to the East Australian Current – largely coriolis induced, flowing along the continental shelf – good to know it’s there.

Tom, if ok, I will try to contact you by satphone when we get closer if there is anything else we need to know. But I think we can work it out.

K – could you please contact Brian Shilland on (number sent via email-ed) to decide whether you could carry a new sail up with you as excess perhaps. I spoke to him on the satphone this am and agreed we don’t need a new one unless things go pearshaped between here and dutch in which case he’d make one and try to get it to you…

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: little us

Crikey folks, its tomorrow already- where do the days go??? It has been a typical ‘Simpsons’ sky all day today- light baby blue with blobs of white cloud all over and it stayed like that for most of the day. Another magnificent sunset, presided over by the merest fingernail sliver of a moon way up above. The sky fully glowed bright bright orange for ages and the sea was lit up, flickering blue, then green then pinky red all the way from us to the horizon. Magic!!

Earlier we saw this big dolphin leap out of the water a bit ahead of us and went right across from starboard to port gliding through the air, landed and did it again, a bit away to port, literally flew through through the air at afair rate of knots!! We wondered if something was chasing it??? Which makes you stop and think: here we are quite happily trundling along across the sea, occasional fish, flying or otherwise, some debris on the surface but completely disregarding the fact that not one metre below, and then miles below that, a whole ocean world is vibrantly thriving!! Its good to be reminded of that once in a while, as we traipse across the roof of someone’s home!!! Just to remind us how small and insignificant we still are out here!!

Love to all

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

In the Slough

Having a severe attack of the Desponds – sounds like something out of ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ – but it is 0300 and the time never to think about all the scary things in life. Circadian rhythms gang up on you at this time of day and make it all seem much worse. But it does seem to me that our actual chances of making this one stick are very slim indeed. We will need to be lucky in so many ways. The first decision point, if we get that far, will be at Dutch – do we go on? Will depend on ice predictions and local advice but almost certainly a ‘yes’ to that one. Then again at Nome and a ‘yes’ a bit less likely. The point of no return, it seems to me, will be at Barrow and the decision will depend, again, on ice reports, advice about the availability of diesel and other possible supplies if things start to go wrong further along the track. And we have to get around Point Barrow by the end of June, early July, at the latest, for us to be able to see the eclipse and get out at the other end and into a safe port.
So – current plan – go through Aleutian chain via Amukta pass @ 172W. Arrive dutch whenever – am compiling to-do list. Kimbra arrives 12th june, aim to depart by 14th. Then 700 odd nm to Nome which we could mostly motor as long as fuel in Nome. Then same again, roughly to Barrow – need to find out about faciities if any in Barrow. Does not appear to be a harbour or anything except anchor offshore…Thence – if reports favourable, to Point Barrow where the ice piles up and where we will have to make the big decision.

Stars from horizon to horizon – most unusual, rivettingly beautiful though still hazy and so slightly fuzzy. Hard to believe that this calm and beautiful night covers the scene of so much violence and destructive force – when was the last Noocular test? I expect that this bit of ocean is where the three Mutant Ninja Turtles originally mutated – and all the fish swim backwards to preserve their night vision.

Before we left, I bought a cheap and nasty 12v fan – the sort you plug into the socket in your car except had no plug, just leads. Wired it into Berri’s lighting circuit and it’s been a little gem – just circulating enough air at night to make sleep possible. It’s a noisy little beast and its stand has long since collapsed but life would have been hell without it.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

noon 1237.47 16450.27 28 days at sea

Dtd 2867 so dmg 101 and dmg overall 2952 out of 5819nm. All approximate…

At about this time in any long journey – for me, in a marathon, it kicks in around 25 k – one becomes conscious of distance travelled, which focuses the mind on distance yet to go and, for me anyway, there’s always a tendency to anxiety and depression. I’ve never started a marathon, let alone anything like this, knowing absolutely that I would finish it and there’s always that corrosive doubt travelling in company – what if…Then, in a marathon, perhaps around 37-38 km, certainty takes over and while the body slowly eats itself, there’s an end and an achievement in sight and the pain is diminished. We’re not anywhere near there yet on this gig.

As you may have gathered from my last, the downer is upon me. Everything is now so finely balanced and the feather brush of an sparrow’s wing one side or the other could make the difference. So it’s grind it out, metre by metre and keep grinding.

Have just finished ‘ Frozen in Time ‘ for the second time. Fascinating book – the victorian ideals of adventure, imperialism and self sacrifice examined through a 20th century analysis of what went so desperately wrong. And there’s an untold story behind it that I did not notice first time around. The victorians were pioneers in so many ways, some of them, like imperialism, no longer recognised as acceptable. But they were industrial pioneers as well and the hidden story seems to me to be that of Stephan Goldner who supplied the canned food for Franklin and many other Admiralty ventures. He must have been an interesting man, honest or dishonest, principled or unprincipled. How must he have felt under the criticism he must have endured? Was he stubbornly convinced in the face of the evidence, that he was right – canned foods do preserve the properties of the fresh version – or didn’t he care as long as he made a profit? How did he get started, did he go on to found an industrial giant or did he die in poverty after the danger of lead poisoning perhaps killed his business? I’d love to know more about him and will follow up when I can get back on line. There’s a project lurking in there somewhere.

And I think there’s a burst on ‘adventuring’ germinating somewhere as well. Time for daily Con – I feel a need for the Alchemist today – I need gold! Dr Steve, extract the elixir!

On which – real gold to talk to Leroy half an hour ago. Perspective all over again. Onya mate – keep kicking the can for us! That’s an Oz expression – hope it doesn’t offend any one else.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: I like raisins but I HATE CURRENTS!!

Wednesday afternoons, years back, oceanography lectures at NOCS with Professor (I think) Harry Something-other, (sorry I forgot your surname). He was American and a brilliant lecturer and I used to really enjoy Wednesday afternoons… until, that is, the day that we learnt about the Coriolis Effect. No longer was my simple but understandable spinny explanation that I had in my brain, satisfactory, no, this day saw the coriolis force become a series of equations that took pages and pages and pages to decipher. I recall lots of something about standing on ice (an analogy for a frictionless surface would be a guess, perhaps??) and throwing a ball in the air and then some fiendishly complicated differentiation (probably) followed by some fiendishly complicated integration (probably) followed by more fiendishly complicated integration (probably and so we aren’t back to where we started) And there in front of me, six curly pictures of integral signs, rho’s, deltas and x,y,z’s to describe what used to be a simple spinny concept in my brain.

Anyway, totally digressing… I remember, too, a day where a slide went up depicting in 3D the surface currents and deep water currents across the oceans- it looked a bit like a London Tube map wrapped around a notional sphere, but with arrows clearly showing which currents go where (totally to do with good old coriolis in fact, so not digressing so much after all) And they, suprisingly enough go round and round, replacing each other. There were two pics, one for atlantic side and one for pacific side. What I definitely DO NOT recall is the Pacific one showing one great big current flowing from Canada to Tasmania, forever. I am sure it is impossible!!! Should there not be a generally north flow on the western side, in the northern hemisphere, to start with, and then the rest of the ocean currents follow round???

So, Professor Harry, MJC, Simon R, Andy F, anyone in fact who knows these things, please please explain why oh why oh why have we had at least a knot of current pushing us SW ever since Sydney (EAC excepted)and when will it stop????????????? It just can’t keep pushing us SW forever!!!! I don’t believe it!!!
(It isn’t calibration error as boat speed at 6knots and SOG 4, heading north, we are only covering 4 mins latitude in an hour so its got to be current, surely!!)

Meanwhile, I’m going to stick to raisins.
Lots of love

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Questions from the Funsters!

Hey there Berrimilla!
We brainstormed a whole stack of questions and came up with the three most popular…
1. Have you seen any sharks yet?
2. At night when there is a storm, what does the boat do and what does the water look like?
3. What do you eat? Some of our favourites are: pizzas (Monait), carrots (John L) bbq chicken and mashed potato (Sonia). It’s a bit hard for you guys to go out and get something for dinner. What do you do if you don’t like what’s on the menu?

We’re enjoying seeing your position on googlearth and are looking at your site at school each day- talk 2 u L8r, LOL. We have a BIG test next week. Every student in Aust. in Year 3,5, 7 & 9 are doing this- we’ll let you know how it goes!
Funsters at Belmore South.

(in the interests of clarity-these are the questions posed by the Funsters-ed)

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Hi The Funsters - 1337.38 16518.36

My take on the current is the simple spinny one. There is a westerly flow of water across the pacific at the equator, the northern half being diverted up the Japanese coast and the southern half becoming the east australian current. We have been either directly headbutting the eac or diagonally traversing the equatorial current and have lost about 800 nm as a result, which we won’t get back as we will be too far east to pick up the japanese current. Poo in buckets but that’s how it is.

Funsters – Hi! What year are you? And good luck with the test Is this something the new Government has set up or has it been happening for ever?
Sharks – sorry to disappoint you but I’ve never ever seen a shark from the boat – at least nothing that I could definitely say was a shark. Sharks (except basking sharks, perhaps) don’t usually swim on the surface – they chase other fish for food, deeper down. But I don’t really know enough about them to say any more. We have seen lots of dolphins – hundreds – and there are lots of different types of dolphin. Also three huge fin whales – second largest animal on earth – near the Australian coast. And th greenish gold fish I described a few blogs ago.

The boat in a storm – wow – what a difficult question to answer properly. Last time, I talked a lot about paintings by an artist called Turner and Mrs Harrison’s classes did some lovely work using copies that they found on the internet. Turner gives you the ‘feel’ and the scariness of a storm and an idea of what the light is like, but being there is always different. Technically, the boat pitches, yaws and rolls as well as going up and down on each wave and it does this all the time, even at anchor, but in a storm everything is magnified and much more violent – the boat feels as if it is corkscrewing savagely and crashing through or over waves. The wind is unbelievably noisy – it shrieks and howls in the rigging and across your face in big storms and you also hear the rain and spray hitting your waterproof hood rather like a jackhammer. It is almost always black dark in a storm at night but you are in a little cocoon of light from the boat’s instruments and from its masthead light. Imagine being in a car at night – the lights of the instruments on the dashboard glow inside the car and tend to reflect and cut off the light from the outside. The sea surface is black, woolly and shapeless and often it feels so thick that it is wrapped around you. As th boat crashes along, it throws huge surges of white water and spray out to the sides and these often reflect the boat’s lights so they glow. And then there is the phosphorescence – one of the true wonders of the sea! It is caused by tiny animals called dinoflagellates and we were sent a good description of how it works in our first website – I’m sure my sister can organise a link for you. Lightning is something else again. McQ might add to all this when she wakes up. This is getting too long – food in the next one

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

1352.54 16522.56 More Funsterism

More on current – I had taken the EAC into account in the original back of envelope calculation, but ignored the equatorial current transit, thinking (actually assuming – silly child) the effect would be negligible. But it all gets taken into account by my conservative average of 4 knots overall – we’d be averaging close to 6 but for the current and we’re getting about 4.5 now, in it.

More Funsterism – and storms at night: Of course, it also depends on what the sea state is (what sort of waves, what shape they are, how high, how far apart) which depends on which way the wind is blowing, whether there is a current and things like that. And finally, on the direction you are trying to sail relative to the wind and the waves…But phosphorescence in a storm almost – almost – cancels out the scariness! You seem to be surging along in huge cascades of diamonds, vast fans of blasting sparkling spray, sometimes just diamonds, sometimes rubies and emeralds as well as the drops and the dinos take on some of the colour of your red and green masthead lights. And in very special storms, dolphins are sometimes swimming along as well.
Food – we filled about 10 trolleys at Woollies and Coles – almost anything that is canned, plastic packed or waterporrfed or otherwise opreserved. But no glass bottles! (Why?)so we have biscuits, cans of stew, cheese (but doesn’t keep – we have no fridge)bacon (also has to be eaten as soon as you open the pack – did you see my description of eating it when it’s rotten?). Yesterday, McQ cooked a hash of bacon, tinned stew, creamed corn and maybe other stuff. Looks like dog food, but it tastes ok! And we brought some spuds, tomatos, a pumpkin, onions and red cabbage. Only spuds and onions left. And some eggs, which we hard boiled to preserve them.

Enough for the mo – I am having difficulty sending these long ones so will try to keep them shortish.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

noon 141505 16529.34

And we’ve changed back to our sewn up sail in 20 kts, supposed to be rising…Sail seems to be working fine but appendages all crossed bigtime. 2 reefs, glistening day, sea that lovely iridescent turquoise – quite steep, lumpy, little breaking tops with spray blowing off them in downy jewelled wisps. Best we can comfortably do is direct track for Wake – the Americans won’t be pleased if we arrive on their beach, so we’ll divert around as we get closer.

Later – much too hot for more that 5 minutes in this little hell hole – I’ve just noticed that today the sun is to the south of us – no shade in the cockpit. Yeeehaaa! Belmore South, this is important for a couple of reasons. Can anyone work out why?

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

MCQ&A!! answer to the Funsters

Exactly… WEST equatorial current not southwest!!! grrrrrrrrrrr….
Anyway, just have to tolerate as nowt we can do!!!

1. No Sharks, as A says. I have only ever seen one shark at sea, near the cost of Japan on a drizzly, grey day. And I saw a basking shark in a bay in Scotand once, it seemed to be nearly as long as the boat I was on (36foot) but I was quite little!!!

2. As for A. The most scary is a lightning storm though. When you think that the metal mast would very much like to be a giant lichtning conductor it is even scarier!!! At night, oin a lightning storm there is usually lots of rain and when the lightning flashes the whole sky lights up purple. mental!!

3. Food… yep, bit hard too go to the shops- if we don’t like the menu, which is a variation on tinned brown stuff or tinned red stuff then we add lots of tabasco and hope its dark so we can’t see what we are eating!!! (and remind ourselves that out here food is fuel!!) I always miss steak and salad and ice cream most!!!
Monait, we have bread mix and pizza tomato sauce so we could make a sort of pizza, we have pepperoni and tinned sweetcorn that could go on top, but as alex said no cheese left!!! John L, We had some carrots in our veggie box when we left but most went rotten- surprisingly quickly!!! We have tinned carrots now though. And, well, Sonia, BBQ chicken, out here, thats in a different world!!!!

Lots of luck in the BIG test, everybody, Love McQueen xxx

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

noon 1616.29 16550.34 Anyone know anyone at Wake?

DTD 2639 so dmg 121 yeeehaaa! Absolutely wonderful, exhilarating, once in a lifetime sailing. Berri just below her limits, half headsail, 3 reefs, balanced, Kevvo in charge and surging along, over, through the waves – all brilliant blue, silver, hot as hell, sun almost directly above but to south so no shade. When she doesn’t quite get over a wave, the nose goes in, white water cascades back down the deck and off we go again. Mast flexing forward rather more that leaves me comfortable but does not seem to be stressed.

This wind due to increase over next 36 – 48 hours, so sea state will be pretty horrible by the end and we will certainly have to slow down. Thinking possibly the trisail if it does build to uncomfortable state – never used it with new track and would be about the right size so good practice.

If anyone knows anyone stationed at Wake, looks as if we will certainly pass to the west, possibly some distance away, but will depend on how this develops. Would love to wave if anyone wants to come and find us…the website will indicate our position accurately enough for a practice exercise. If any likelihood of our being in range, we will be on VHF 16 or can do any HF frequency if advised. Iridium phone number [please use ‘contact‘ to email for number-ed]- probably won’t get to it first time it rings – ring back in a couple of minutes and unless we’re in pearshape on deck, we’ll be ready.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Of breeding and perhaps a colour index for hydration

My father, bless him, who taught me to sail, was a naval pilot in WW2. He told me the story of one of his Captains, who was a respected horse breeder in his spare time, and who was writing his annual flimsies – reports on the conduct and efficiency of his officers, written on very thin ‘flimsy’ paper. Of one particular officer, he felt it appropriate to write, copied to the officer and the Admiralty : ‘I would not breed from this man.’ Only bettered, I think, by Dorothy Parker and ‘No Leica.’

To all my three Consultant Physicians – DRs. Jasper, Dr. Pete and Dr. Steve, – your potions and elixirs have matured superbly. It is a shame you are not all here to sample – and therefore perhaps evolve and improve – your offerings. However, emphatically, I would breed from you all!

Now – to the smelly, daggy stuff – mostly for Belmore South. Do we wash? – no. Do we smell? maybe, but you wouldn’t notice if you lived here. I have been wearing the same two shirts since we left Sydney – I rinse one in salt water every couple of days and squeeze it out carefully while wearing the other. Unlike McQ, I don’t wear knickers because they do dreadful things to my bum when salty. Just the same two pairs of shorts, rinsed likewise. I shave every three or four days and my whiskers have almost stopped growing. The bum gets treated daily with Savlon and, when sore, as now, with Betadine and I’m being rather careful to sit on it only when essential. We sweat rivers – Niagaras – especially here inside the Cone – and we drink lots of water. I pee into a plastic bucket, (instead of the energy sapping alternative of actually fighting my way forward, opening the two toilet valves, going through the process of pumping out and flushing and closing the valves again) so I can actually look at and assess the colour of my pee. Really useful as an indicator of general health and hydration level – if it looks pale and straw coloured, it’s perfect for Sydney, but I’m drinking too much water for out here (or perhaps better expressed as drinking far more water than necessary for survival out here). If it looks dark golden, it’s about right. I don’t do supplementary vitamins, so no odd variables there.

Hope all that’s useful!

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: just stuff

Well, it was with slight trepidation that I was looking forward to this evenings meal- Big A was in charge, his turn to cook, and given his fondness for rotting bacon and the fact that I saw him examining the mouldy cabbage earlier, well, I didn’t fancy my chances!!!

However, I am pleased to report, that the bacon barely tasted too piggy and there was only the merest hint of foost in every cabbage mouthful (nothing that good old tabasco couldn’t sort!!) and the whole concoction, with the addition of beanz and toms and pepperoni was really very good!!!

The ocean is beginning to resemble the Pacific that I remember- humungous swell, pretty regular and long, with a fair old sea on top of that. There is still a long way to go before it is as big as I remember, but we were also further north and it would have been Jan/ Feb time then. As is will do nicely though for us, thank you very much. Wee Berri is surging across the sea, with Ray back in charge, we are just trying to coax Berri across and through the waves without too many rig shuddering moments- she’s doing great though, loving it infact, I would guess. Its due to build over the next 48 or so hours so might be an opportunity to try the trysail… in the meantime, we are chomping away at the miles- funny how, not so long ago 20N seemed almost inconceivably far off but now is less than 4 degrees away. crazy stuff.

I am caked in salt- have just mopped it out of my eyes but the rest of me is still caked, my skin has that slimy greasy feel that you get when you have been doused continually with salt water for some time!! Mostly today this is due to being on deck on watch for mere minutes and four huge waves slapped against the hull, then up in the air then down my neck. Unbelievable!! Though at the time I did ask the ocean very politely, no swearing at all, as to whether that was really necessary and whether I really deserved such a drenching. Wherever I moved in the cockpit, the waves would follow and get me, all the rest of the watch- you had to laugh!!!

Thats all for now folks.
Love and hugs,

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Bog 1750.58 16613.16

Wind has increased, but manageable. Our sewing job on the small headsail seems to be surviving being rolled in and out and it’s the perfect sail for these conditions. Looks as if we will go very close to Wake – but still 90 miles away and plenty of time for adjustments. Some tiny signs that we are getting closer – the nights are noticeably cooler, so sleep is easier and the Great Bear is tickling his tummy on the masthead early every evening. Soon we’ll be directly underneath him.

Speed has an official birthday tomorrow – Consultations and good wishes all around please. There will be Consulting going on out here for sure.

Interesting patch of water we are crossing – the divide between Wake, bomb test HQ and the bomb test range in the Marshalls. Would have been well travelled in the ’40s and ’50s and some famous names – Oppenheimer, Teller, Szilard, Strangelove, Fermi, Beeblebrox and probably some of the rocket scientists too – von Braun, perhaps. Was Einstein ever part of the test team?

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Noon 1812.50 16617.30

dtd 2519 so dmg 120. And we are still bucking current. Hard to believe. 15 deg between heading and COG and 1.5 kts speed difference between log and GPS SOG

Happy Birthday Speedy – I’m about to have the first Official Consultation. Still heading for Wake – might just slide to the east. Too hot for any more – will resume later.

Grind, grind, grind…when you are traversing a quarter of the earth’s surface at not much more than walking speed, time tends to drag. Wonderful sailing but such a loong way still to go. About 15k in a marathon, mentally. You start to wonder why you are doing this and then you see the night sky again and you know.

We are definitely heading for the Amukta Pass through the Aleutians at 172W. The passes near Dutch are treacherous, busy and to be avoided – google Akutan and Unimak for some gruesome details – 9 knot tides, vicious waves when the wind is against the tide, lots of ships. Dutch is very close to the great circle route between the US west coast and east Asia, so lots of ships use these passes. Too hot again – back later.

Later – sun has just set and we’ve just altered to pass Wake to leeward – to the west – by about 10 miles. 35 miles to go and I’ll give them a call on VHF 16 in a couple of hours.

Banged my head – again! – on the top of the companionway entrance. Hooooowl!

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Elementary, my dear Watson – 1915.49 16626.10

One for the sleuths; at 1254 UTC on May 11 2008, an aircraft passed directly overhead Wake Island (and Berrimilla). It was very high and tracking about 255 M. Who was it? Probably a commercial flight from Hawaii to Singapore?

We are passing 12 miles west of Wake as I write, and directly downwind. No wafting PBX smells, no nothing. I can see the loom of lights – but that’s about all. Tried to call them on 16, but no answer. I wonder if they know we are here. Easy to see how the early explorers could have sailed on to reefs at night – La Perouse for one.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

1952.07 16636.11 Things distant…

Things distant yet near – Wake Island, the GW crossword (got soaked seconds after I had unwrapped it – such is life in the old bus shelter). Things near yet distant – Speedy, Kimbra, H, K & E. Things at the very very edge of the universe of contemplation – an eclipse from HMP.

So the dim glow of Wake is way behind us and the open ocean to Amukta ahead, 2207 miles or 22 days @ 4kts. Not a prediction, a fact! Will be a very long 22 days but every boat length gets us closer. We’re still going well, in the trades, further west than planned, but that’s not necessarily bad given the prevailing winds further north. Another 3 degrees north and we’ll be out of the tropics. Tiddly pom! I wonder how intense the stream of depressions up there are at this time of year.

Note for Marty A if you’re reading this – the sexy masthead LED nav lights right next to the vhf aerial completely clobber the vhf – interference on all channels. Can’t use vhf at night unless using aux or no nav lights. Interesting and certainly worth knowing! H, perhaps you could give him a call – might save someone else some grief?

Just about to cross 20N

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

noon 2016.45 16640.49

dtd 2396 dmg 123

Prob best day’s run so far. Still headbutting – really clobbers the vmg.

About to have Daily Con – today with the Apothecary, the excellent Dr. Jasper. Not much else to report and too hot anyway, though does seem at last to be getting a bit cooler. Sea temp has been 33.4 – 33.6 since Solomons if not before.

On shaky ground here, but ponder this, if you will. Seems to me that we are working our way across an immense body of water that appears to be moving westwards. What perhaps is closer to what is really happening is that the body of water is trying to stand still while the earth rotates underneath it, leaving the water lagging behind and giving the impression to a little boat on its surface that the water is moving to the west. So tiny Berri is trying to keep up with mother earth, while tangled in mother earth’s skirts all flowing backwards because inertia and low viscosity ‘unstick’ them from the base rotation. And that has to be the silliest attempt to explain coriolis that I’ve ever read.

Just passed a lobster pot float – in 5000 metres of water – so probably not attached to the bottom. Had lots of growth on it and the only place it could realistically have come from is one of the Hawaiian Islands 2000 odd miles up current and up wind. It might make it to the Phillipines or Taiwan or South China any time in the next few years, or get diverted up the Japanese coast and around to where we are going – in a few more years.

Two seabirds – one twin tailed, delicate and beautiful, the other, which I was able to photograph, basic grey brown petrel or gannet or ..Otherwise, nothing obvious, tho the dinos are still around and glorious at night.

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Hi Funsters!

Hey Funsters – right on about bottles. The only ones we have on board are the tiny ones with Tabasco sauce. I like your idea of a diagram of our communications. The sailmail website is www.sailmail.com and that will give you lots of info. Jim and Sue Corenman and Stan Honey wrote the software and you might be able to contact them through the website. Stan is a very famous sailor and a really nice guy – google him. You might also like to check out the Aleutian Islands, and volcanoes along the edges of tectonic plates….Goood luck with the test!

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: Starboard tack, Jumblies and Cormorants

We have been on starboard tack for as long as I can remember, heading north, E/NE trades, beam reach, close reach, some combination thereof but starboard tack. We are going to carry on like this for a good few more days, then the wind is going to ease and gently veer and we are going to gybe as it goes behind us and then it is going to fill in from the W/SW adn then we will screeching reach up to the finish, (Aleutien waypoint!!!) in a matter of 22 days…
This is of course, given the predictable nature of the sea and the weather gods, EXACTLY how its going to happen!!!
But certainly my starboard eye is looking forward to being on port tack, as is my starboard leg (it feels like its shrinking, or maybe the port leg is stretching!!!) and the starboard eye gets the brunt of the waves so is a wee bit bloodshot and gunking up worthy of Papi after two days on a coconut. Anyway, trying to keep the salt out of it, a thankless task, but am trying nonetheless!!

Anyone who sails will know how intensely irritating a waterproof jacket hood is… for a start anything that obscures you beoing able to feel what the wind is doing on your face, is pretty unhelpful. If you are going up wind, it just keeps blowing ooff unless its tied up so tight that you can’t hear or see anything. extremely frustrating and at the moment the staroard side of my hood keeps irritating the starboard side of my irritated eye… all very frustrating!!!!

Right, offski to deck, to salinate.

Lots of love and hugs

ps the Three Chimneys is the my favourite, favourite restaurant in the world and the best in Scotland, so I expect and hope, Philippe that it was expensive for you but that it was worth every penny? and hope you tried the marmalade pud… for everyone else, its hard enough to get a table so I urge you not to go!!!! It might be my fave but its hardly worth bothering with that long, off the beaten track hike to get there… and the marmalade pud is definitely not worth the effort!! (but try it if you do go, and go once and once only and make sure its before I get back!!)

pps Rach A: can you believe its a whole year since it was May last??? Anyway thinking of you and how great you are. love you. cor x

ppps: Mum, any chance of a copy of ancient mariner to Dutch, inscribed by Web of course- if you think that could be there by 12th June when we leave?? I left mine at home and the copy on board is only extracts and it is a whole book of poetry and I keep getting distracted by Lear and Anon (Jumblies and Cormorants) xxx

PpppS Andarks by appointment as supplier of all relevant accessories to McQueen too…They are probably glad I am away at sea as I can’t harrass their fabulous selves for discounts from here!!!

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noon - almost 2217.10 16557.43

This will morph into noon pos. now 0800, just crossing 22N @ 16656.30. Tropics end @ 23.5N…90 miles. Been headed a bit – now pointing firmly at Kamchatka. This will sort itself over time.

Just morphed @ 1140 dtd 2278, dmg 118 or about 121 for 24 hrs.

Speedy – Hope you had a good Burf and caffeinator has ‘sufficient’ horsepower!

The characteristics of the sea have changed – Temp is trying to go from 33 to 31 deg which might be a sign that we are getting close to top of current. Swell pattern now all from NE – big underlying swell, perhaps 3 – 4 metres @ 50+ metres with smaller wind waves on top, much shorter wavelength, same direction and occasionally meet and amplify underlying swell into short very steep breaking wave. Then confused slop on top of all that. Berri slightly easier as travel veehicle because corkscrewing not so savage with everything more or less lined up. Still need to brace with both legs, eyebrows, earwax and one hand and do everything that has to be done with the other hand. Like, for instance, getting damp trackies to progress upwards from wet feet which stick to material – massively energy sapping but there are techniques – can, for instance, sometimes sit on (damp/wet) floor and work them upwards – or, if Berri really heeled, downwards because feet are then above head level…GRIBs show change in wind and weather from about 24N. Nice to get off stbd tack – and maybe get a look at the barnacle colony that I’m sure is thriving under berri’s port quarter above the antifoul. Photos of the last lot on the old website under ‘arrival in Hobart’ or similar.

We have been offered a set of NWP charts via a friend – Kimbra in charge of chart acquis’n and is investigating. Sensational offer but can’t post details without permission. But thanks by the bucket load. Janx spirit duly and gratefully teleported.

To-do list for Dutch growing daily. Will post it when we get closer.

P & E O’C – noted. I hope you’re several days too late.
P McQ – re AM – any chance I could have one too please? Never ever owned my own copy, so wd be a first. Obeisances as required.

For the Funsters – apropos of nothing in particular:
Ode to Tomato Sauce:
First you shake the bottle
None’ll come, then a lott’l
by Ogden Nash. Not Shakespeare, just whimsy!

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Professor McQ: 2008 Year Zero...

Hey folks,
This afternoon I read two New Scientists!! Now, you might wonder how we hapopen to have New Scientists Magazines on board- well, Alex has been saving his copy and Guardian Weekly too (for crossword!) for a few months so every so often we have new reading material. So, I’d never read a New Scientist before today but what fascinating stuff!!!! My little brain is still trying to compute all the knowledge i have acquired this afternoon. Its mental!! I always wanted to be a professor cause It means you can get away with being a bit eccentric, I think!!! but I read an article by a man who is a Professor of Theoretical Physics, which, from what I can gather from the article is a recognised branch for Physics they don’t know about yet!!! Imagine!!! Well, now I know all about the Large Thingummy (HAdron) Collider. I’m still trying to get my head round it but some(scientists) think that we have unwittingly invented the first time machine with the LHC…and, logically, it would be impossible to go back further in time than the first time machine, this means that this could be prove to be year zero for time travel. However, while we don’t yet have the knowledge or technology to utilise our makeshift time machine other people forom the future, say 50 years time, might be able to and thus come backin time to now. Mind boggling stuff. Truly, my head is whizzing!!! So we might get some visitors, cause obviously year zero would be an interesting place to visit on a time travel itinerary!! But this begs the question, if they can use the LHC to get here but we can’t use it to get there (the future) how can they use it to get back to the future?? Or indeed could they show us how to use it to go to the future??? And then, if we did go to the future could we not come back armed with info about how technology has advanced etc and then is the future still the future or just part of the extended present??? Or would it take until that point in the future that we came back from to utilise the information that we have obtained to make it work, in which case the information must surely have come out of nowhere, but just loops about in space between now and that point in the future, since that means it never really gets developed??? Are you still following??? Its all properly bonkers. Maybe I will hypothesise more articulately and write to the NS and they will make me an honorary professor in something!!

Today I also threw overboard some rotten potatoes. Rotten potatoes smell of fish, if anyone wanted to know that. And then on the menu for this evening was beef in red wine casserole and non-rotten potatoes.

Lots of love
ps Marcus, I have a GRAND idea for our birthday party.
pps Carie, hows things????, send an email via speedy!!! Whats going on in the village? Are you in the village, even???? Singapore??? France??? What you up to??? Is no 10 ok??? Miss you. xxx

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

We interrupt this broadcast......

To give a couple of hints and tips about messaging. This is not about discouraging people from sending messages. They are after all extremely important for the jollity and sanity of the crew. All messages put in the Gustbook are transmitted every 24 hours. Unless they are disqualified by size, in which case they are edited (more time consuming this end) and go later. Now and again the sinuous link that is sailmail cannot get through. Alex, then has to use the satellite phone to download the email sent from here. This costs $12USD per minute. You can see the problem. So the trick is; don’t use too many words (50 maximum);don’t use carriage returns let the Gustbook do that for you (that goes for emails as well). When you send an email here via contact please put in the subject line: ‘message for berri’. That will be hugely helpful for sorting.

Don’t insert blank lines as spaces like the one above here.
Because they all have to be removed manually, consuming more time. So keep them coming and sign them off without a space like this. Thanks Speedy.The preceding message (excluding the picture)contains 190 words and is 2 Kilobytes in length and we can only send 6k at a time.

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How I see it.

We have been given dire warning, indirectly, by someone whose opinion deserves the utmost respect, that this is a foolhardy gig. While I agree with some of the points made, I see them differently. Here are a few:
- to get through this year you need to be up there now. I don’t agree – We have the annual stats from the NOAA website for the entire passage and the ice doorway starts to crack open at Point Barrow at the earliest in mid june, more likely early July. I have timed this part of the journey to get us up there round about then. Once up there, we are utterly dependent on a set of circumstances occurring that would make the next stage possible. We need to be able to get around Point Barrow, we need an open lead to the east and we need the prospect of an offshore (southerly) wind to keep the ice to the north and to give us a boost along the Alaskan coast. Lack of any one of these is a showstopper and we wait at Barrow for as long as seems sensible, then come home. However, if all 3 do occur, we have to be there to take advantage.
- we need a crew of heavies. Why? Just more mouths to feed and no real benefit as far as I can see.
- we need an ice strengthened boat. Yes, would certainly help, but I decided quite deliberately not to try to strengthen Berri on the basis that anything we could do would be largely useless and we’d be a lot more careful knowing that we don’t have it.
- we need a cage around the prop. Yes – and this is something I intend to investigate in dutch, but again, it tempers any go/no go decision if you know the extent of the risk.
- the coastguard won’t allow us to proceed. So be it. they know best and we’ll come home. However, the stories from people who have recently been through, or failed, indicate that the local authorities in both the US and Canada were extremely helpful and encouraging. Further, we have a number of very experienced local contacts, fishermen and marine scientists, all of whom have been positive and helpful and will continue to advise us as we progress. No one has yet tried to talk us out of it.
- the boat needs to be big and strong enough to winter in if we get stuck in the ice. Yep – and Berri isn’t and that’s the bottom line. I do not intend to risk getting stuck but I know that a wind change at a critical time is all it could take. The Canadians have an excellent icebreaker service up there and, while use of the icebreaker would represent failure to me, it may be available to get us out as a very last resort. We will need to find out a lot more when we get to Dutch – we need a friendly voice at the Canadian Hydrographic Service, for a start.
A real problem might be that Berri draws about 6 ft and there is a lot of shallow water along the way. Also means we cant use shallow water to escape big ice. But a much bigger boat went through last year, East to West, with no difficulty, owner a farmer from Minnesota, but I don’t have a link to his article. For us. will depend on whether last year’s ice melt was a one off or the sign of things to come.

So we’re not going into this blind to the risks, or obstinately disregarding them. We will take all the advice we can get and I am prepared to pull the plug at any time the signs are negative. Once around the corner at Barrow, the die is cast to some extent, but I think it is far less risky, again using the NOAA data, to be going West to East. But we don’t know until we get much closer what the ice predictions are for this year and I have no internet access out here so am relying on Kimbra’s knowledge and judgement for advice.

Finally, please, everyone keep it short from here. We are out of effective sailmail range for at least the next couple of weeks and I’m using my dwindling number of expensive iridium minutes to send these and to pull in and read your gems. Thanks!

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: Heavens Above Part 1

Yep, no worries folks, all ‘thank you’s’ send them this way… for those in UK, once again it looks set to be a scorcher of a summer… now, of course, we all knew this because EVERY summer I go to sea to be cold and wet and togged up in thermals all year, ensuring no hope of a tan, it is a blinder at home, and likewise, when I stay at home, like last year, its rubbish!!! So hope you are enjoying your lovely sunny days!!!

Ali: you know how I love all adventures, big and small!!! I miss you loads too darling. Maybe you can pretend I am there on your next West London adventure, talk to me and stuff as if I am, perhaps???!!! Just don’t get lost in the Windsor Castle, you and imaginary me will never manage to find our way out of there!!! lots of love Coriander xxx

Malcolm: brilliant coriolis chat, brilliant, perfectly understandable, not a greek letter in sight and much more akin to my ‘nearer the poles the faster you spin’ adage!!!

Its a beautiful clear clear night, the moon has just set but we are still lit up from horizon to horizon by bright twinkling stars and swirling galaxy- amazing!!! There is not a cloud in the sky, not even a dark, inky blob anywhere. But the strangest thing just happened- we just had a 35 degree wind shift (lift) for about five minutes but just can’t figure out as to where it might have come from!! mad!!


2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Blugger 2408.18 16741.17

Difficult to imagine perfect sailing conditions but these get close. The downside is the current, still negative 1.5 kts. However, not a Golgafrinchantelephone sanitiser, not a marketing executive, not a snake oil preacher – just no-one else around, 15 kts on the beam, gentle sea, Berri pottering along at 6kts SOG, 7.5 log. Lizzie whizzing and keeping the batteries ahead of the drain and Kevvo in charge down at the back and in happy commune with the Lizz. The electric autopilot has died again – not sure whether I have successfully resurrected it but it’s asleep.

Absolutely no news of the outside world except barest details of tragedy in Burma and Chinese earthquake. Nothing, but nothing else – no US primaries, no olympic torch, no wars, no climate change….which reminds me, I have a short wave radio – must try to get it operating while things are relatively calm.

H – glad K is safe – little does she know! We are now north of Taiwan – I think – so getting closer to Beijing. The dried fruit you found for us is sensational – no other word for it. Thee rock melon and the pawpaw soften up beautifully but the kiwi goes to mush. The rest as expected.

Doug M – tks for reminder about La Perouse. A bit of Australian/French history that could so easily have gone the other way. Do you have a short version of the story as you have found it that you could send a link to Speedy for the website?

MJC – yep, and thanks, but that’s the maths for the deflection, which I’ve always understood. What I was trying to get at is why this huge – gobsmackingly enormous – chunk of the earth’s surface is effectively going backwards and taking us with it. Obviously, it curls the ‘wrong’ way intuitively (for us non geeks) when it gets deflected by Australia or Asia and becomes the Brown Snake or the EAC but why does it move in the first place?

Nearest Sailmail station is now Hawaii @ 1924 nm, then Brunei @ 3260, then Firefly NSW @ 3461 and then Sailmail HQ Friday Harbour WA @ 3545. Will be a notable milestone if we ever get to connect to them. Lots of time for Jim and Sue and the Saimail team. Perhaps an Accolade, Speedy, By Appt. to the world wide Sailmail team for wonderful, dedicated hugely efficient service around the world. Just reaching Hawaii sometimes, but this is the first time I think that I have ever been effectively out of range.

We’re now north of the Tropic of Cancer. Hoooley dooley – next big milestone might be the Arctic Circle @ 66.5N. Am about to go up the mast to create a mousing line either side to get the running part of the staysail halyard over the lower spreaders and back to the quarter so as can use it as a check stay when things get violent again. It emerges from the mast inches below the inner forestay so is in just the right place. Will consider a tang when in dutch. There’s a lot of boat speak for the nautically challenged!

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: Heavens Above Part 2

We are on the last of the Southern Hemisphere stars now… Can still see scorpio- one of my fave constellations, not sure how far north he stays with us??? And fully into the Northern Hemisphere Constellations now- my fave being Cassiopoeia, or the ‘lazy W’ (or M, depending on the name of the handsome young man you are sitting on the beach with, gazing at the stars!!!) but I always thought it should be glaringly obvious, but I am not sure if we can see it yet or not, which means probably not, still too far south!!! Can you believe we came all this way without a heavens picture??? I got out my Toghill’s Celestial Nav (brilliant book!!) the other day, but of course being an Oz book it only covers Southern constellations… so if anyone can tell me if we are north enough for Cassiopeia yet, that would be great and also can we see Pleiades by the mast (ie high up) at around midnight Sydney itme??? Mum, any chance of a heavens above guide (for both hemishoheres, for completion) simple, just pics of the constellations, to go in the AM parcel???? (As we head N and it becomes more daylight, this publication would become reference only, I do get that!!! but its always good to absorb new knowledge!!!)

My Ali: just a thought, if you take Imaginary Me on your next WLA you should maybe consider taking Real Marc too so the punters of Holland Park don’t think you are talking to yourself, and he should be able to help you through any little doorways away from any ugly people!! Otherwise, hope you and IM get on- shes pretty well behaved, so no leading her astray now… xxx

hugs and love to all on a beautiful sweltering pacific morning McQ xxx

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noooon 2426.20 16746.20

dtd 2140 so dmg 138. Good one .

Now getting very soft. Kimbra predicted the motor from just north of here. She’s pretty good! Drs Jasper, I think, is summoning me. I think I’ve earned it too – checkstay sorted and I think it’s a neat solution that will work. Murphy, of course, intervened while sorting but now done.

Have I given you Jasper’s website? www.waarisantares.com for them that can read it. Wonder whether they are still in Sydney on Berri’s mooring.

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2605.58 16805.26 Wed 14/05/2008 23:51

As we go at the moment, we’re about 17 days out from Amukta, but I think that may improve. We’re motoring at rather slow, walk the dog pace generally along 020M. Wind about 3-4 kts very slowly veering and I expect that it will eventually become a westerly with a bit of grunt at the base of the line of depressions moving along north of about 40 degrees. We’re just making our way around the back of the N Pacific high – a clockwise system with a hole in the middle (us right now!) and, once past it we should get going again. Very hot, the sea surface has tiny wind ripples and the remains of a very big and rather confused swell pattern that is slowly settling. Two rather tatty black seabirds following us all night – elusive shadows in the moonlight – and they are out there now, way in the distance. I must one day get the book to identify them – have tried several times but never found the ‘seabirds of all the oceans’ version.

Last night was beyond amazing – clear sky, the earth’s disc, from the cockpit, black with lozenged, wavering, snaky patches of grey to occasional silver as they caught the moonlight. Hard edge to the horizon down moon, darker silvery slightly milky sky, first and second mag stars only but brilliant pinpoints through the usual slight haze. Up moon, sky luminous grey, brighter towards the moon itself. Masthead light tracing a swirling ribbon across the universe – its gyrations perhaps stroking other life forms way in the future as we look back way into the past. Berri’s version of a wormhole.

The flash – was wondering if perhaps it may be the anniversary of an atmospheric test back there on the bomb range and, just to remind us humans about what we have done and continue to do to each other and to the planet, Gaia arranges a little anniversary display. A sigh of anger and despair, of resignation, of sheer disbelief that we continue to do as we do.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

early noon (1100) 2616.09 16807.53

For kimbra (& blog?) – yea! – we’re now on P tack in feather breath of wind. Still motoring. How far north do the lows go – gribs indicate around 45N plus or minus. Any word from small boat hbr? Wd also like to try to get on slip to see whether ice basket for prop possible. If in contact, cd you pse investigate? Would need stainless welder, prob, and perhaps f/glass in the feet/supports but I’m sure they make them regularly. Tks for good info.

Too hot for more.

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Plog 2625.37 1609.16

So here we are – a smidge over 2000nm to Dutch (say 17 days), a smidge under to Amukta plus 2 days to Dutch. No wind worth mentioning, but what there is is from the west so it’s good. There is a line of nasty tight low pressure systems crossing our path from w to e between about 30 and 45 N. These guys are clockwise rotational systems with 50 – 60 kts in the front sectors and just like the Southern Ocean – not nice. We are west of the great circle route, at least notionally deliberately, though we did not have much choice. This is good – means we can pick up the westerly flow at the bottom of each system and reach north, sea state permitting. When the system passes and we’re in the back of it – strong northerlies, dead against us – we will be west of the direct line to Amukta and – in theory at least, can fall away a bit to get a reasonable wind angle and keep stoking along towards Amukta. Fog expected in and from Amukta towards Dutch, so extract serious radar reflector and hoist. Time and reality will tell, but that’s the theory. I think we should be able to maintain a reasonable vmg from here. Approaching mental turning point in marathon – but not there yet!

So – assume 110 nm/day and work it out for yourselves.

Original to-do list for Dutch included:
refuel and restock
check whether diesel heater necessary
investigate ice basket for prop
warm clothing and boots
charts and local advice
buy small outboard?
repack boat to include Kimbra
sort anchor lines, stow at least emergency kedge line on deck, maybe buy appropriate anchor for conditions if not Berri type CQR activate NL200 iridium SIM additional fuel tanks?
Rifle (sorry Ann)

New autopilot – buy Berri type socket and fit fit Iridium aerial checkstay tangs?
sailmaker for refurb of old sail & small adjustment to trisail computer geek who understands CMap to rebuild small laptop Electrical engineer to refurb backup watermaker motor send pics to speed inflate and stow both inflatable duckies.
heavy duty rubber gloves

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Things to do 2648.45 16816 42

Still motoring. Wind very slowly coming in from the SW. Big, confused swell from all points. It’s been a long, hot day. Put the trisail up in its new track to make sure no adjustments needed. Looks good – always better to do these things when conditions benign. Swapped checkstay to port side. Put bungee on starboard shrouds (to . prevent the leeward, loose shrouds from swinging around and fracturing at the lower swages). Rather tedious and dull report – sorry!

Kimbra – for D & K & T,
Gents, thanks for your wise counsel. Several things to run past you, if I may – Karl, I don’t know what tracking system the fishing fleet uses, but we have SatC which can be tracked – our mobile number is 450302047 and I’ll leave it turned on for the duration. It’s a passive system and we can’t track other boats.
Our to-do list for Dutch includes the following:
- Buy 800 beers or the local pan galactic equivalent for Dave, Karl and Tom if he’s in town
- Slip the boat and try to get an ice guard fitted around the prop. Thought it better to get local experts to do rather than second guess from Sydney.
- Find a sailmaker, for relatively minor repairs (or at least someone with an industrial sewing machine)
- Also an electrical engineer to refurbish the motor on our backup watermaker. Not essential.
- Find a computer geek to help restore laptop – not essential but would like to have for backup.
- Get internet access – at the small boat harbour perhaps?
- Find a chandler – lots of stuff
- Buy a 2 or 2.5 hp outboard
- buy a rifle
- plus refuelling, restocking, contacting local and Canadian weather and ice forecasters, and all the other stuff that we’ll need to do to get out of there by June 14 at the latest.
- buy another 800 beers….

Any comments or advice would be appreciated.

Looks as if we’ll be north of the good ISS flypast. Pity. And it will almost certainly be cloudy where we are going.

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2709.47 16824.53 Thu 15/05/2008 18:59

Before we left, I was interviewed in depth by a Master’s student for his thesis. He was interested in certain qualities in crews that make boats go faster and it was a fascinating discussion. Been thinking more about that since, and I think the one that I did not fully emphasise is the one that is absolutely the sine qua non of the successful single or shorthanded sailor – an acute, intense focus on the boat – first, middle and last. No detail is too small, no problem should ever be left unfixed except by deliberate decision, no mystery can be left unresolved, nothing but nothing should be allowed to intervene. It’s an exceptional responsibility and not everyone has the capacity. The boat talks to you, tells you how it feels, smothers you in detail and it’s essential that you pay attention even when you are asleep – yes – I wake up if the leech is fluttering or if there is a different noise – and race crews get used to my head poking out of the companionway and saying ‘Oi! what’s going on?’ And it fills me with delight when I see other boats’ crews climbing aboard for a Hobart race with cameras, ipods, mobile phones and the rest – onya guys! Go for it!

MJC – I would have thought trades, constant @ 20 kts say, at high rotational velocity as well would be main engine for water flow and diversion of current to the east up north is result of coriolis not wind. Too hard! At the mo, we’re banging into 3 knots as we track north. Weird and frustraring.
Carla – them bloody Vogons! But then, might have been a bit of poor battered Marvin’s BTSOAP. The Eeyore bit, perhaps! Definitely no sound last night, but an awesome flash.
H – pear and fennel chutney sublime. Eating with teaspoon as nowt else to eat it with. Hard on the teeth though. (Erk!) Ta re Wendy – pleas e tell her – again – that she doesn’t have to ask, just send soft copy of the bill. Also, I may be using it a bit in the next month or so. Good to know the system still works. Will contact Paul and DC. Cd you please call Spowie and tell Bev we’re into her mango pot as well?

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

biloge:2746.54 16842.19 @ 0900 Noon 2758.30 16844.56

Lord Howe on the left with Mt Gower to the left, Mt Lidgbird on the right, Wheatsheaf Rock in the centre and Ball’s Pyramid on the right.
Still motoring (0900). Tiny breeze from the SW – I think we have about 90 miles to go to get into a reasonable gradient, along with its attendant depressions. Last night, we motored through a patch of thickish cloud, rain falling out of it, but astern. The moon was behind one of the bigger ones and silhouetted it – stark, black, ominous, full of Vlads with impaling stakes and a solid wall hanging below it – impenetrable and opaque. Very Turner. This morning, there’s a line of just such clouds behind us – soft white fluffy lambskin totally unthreatening and even quite inviting for the shade they bring. Night and darkness hide vampires, ghastly predators, fearsome ghoulies – daylight restores faith in the best of all possible worlds. Boat jobs today – I’ve just completely repacked the forepeak, extracted the emergency kedging line and lashed it on deck in case we need to anchor in a hurry near Amukta and so that I can splice a thimble into it as we potter on. Still plenty of diesel in reserve, but if the grib is wrong, we’ll have to start conserving in a day or so. Found some other stuff, and put a snatch block on the vang bracket for the trisail strop.

End of first watch. Time to wake McQ.

now 1230 AEST
dtd 1923, so dmg was 108.
Now sailing – just…This is the headbang stage. There is the feeling – the suspicion only – that somewhere out there is a finishing line but tempered by the knowledge that it’s a very long way away. Grind out the metres one by one. I had a list of ‘P’s in the last website – planning, patience, persistence, perseverence, providence, pig headedness, pain – can’t remember them all but here’s where it is at. Looks like a good list for Sei Shonagon ‘Things that contain The Other’ And you can add ‘courage and fear’.

Out there to the NW there is the faintest suspicion of a line of cloud that just might be the bottom of the next system. If so, then, pace the Examiner, it’s westerlies followed by northerlies and then SW and the barn door beckons. Amukta is 35 miles wide, foggy in the middle with a volcano on either side. Berri does volcanoes – Lord Howe and Balls Pyramid are the remains of a giganormous crater – pics perhaps, via Speedy.

Duncan C – tks for good wishes.
Peggsy – stand by for a phone call one of these days…

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Bloog Fri 16/05/2008 09:19

Back on the donk – now looks like a long slog – maybe 300 miles – till we get something useful. The Examiner has just been stalking us quietly, slicing strips off our SOG and COG – we still have a 15 degree difference between hdg & track and 1.5 kts off our speed thro the water. Pooo! Headbang, as I said earlier.

Golden orange striated ice crystal sky as the sun set. Open, clear horizon to the north – the empty sea and the sky – save for my ghosts. Tommy, young Henry and all the others who never made it home. Coleridge said it better. Somwhere down near the Marshalls, we must have crossed the tracks of Magellan’s ship full of starving, scurvy ridden sailors – and a Filipino who, it is thought, must have been the very first circumnavigator, having been taken to Portugal from the Phillipines by an earlier expedition and then sailed with Magellan away to the west and home again.

P McQ – tks re bear spray. Good to have in back pocket but I rather think I’d like to hear from the other 8%. Have they phoned in yet? A.

Caroline – thanks – we’ll look for Cass – hope we don’t need next eclipses!

Kimbra – thanks to Dave pse. We’ll try to pull in some of those wx broadcasts – a bit far out still for 4 megs, I think. I’ll call him on the satphone when we get through Amukta. What freqs do the fisho’s work?

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Blogo 2914.14 16907.08

Things change fast around here. Pulled in new grib that said more wind and here it is. Not a lot yet but due 35kts. Down to small headsail and first reef as precaution, pottering @ 5 kts North. Water temp down below 30 deg for first time since Oz coast – and getting noticeably cooler, esp at night. Now that SatC permanently on, getting all the cyclone warnings for S China Sea, plus warning for the low forming to our NW. Great service, but the software is not user friendly for small boats with intermittent opportunity to check laptop and hugely unstable platform.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: Port Tack and Turquoise Hat

We are on Port tack folks…way!!! And boy you can tell we are making our way north…the water is less than 30degrees now!! We are entering into the region of depressions that go barrelling past us with lots of wind- first biggy should start to increase this afternoon/evening and should reach 30ish knots the following evening. Things are all starting to cool down- definitely out of the tropics now: NW winds- chilly!! I woke up v cold this morning and have broken out the first of the thermals!!! I had to put my new fluffy turquioise hat on last night too- which i bought the same time as my new turquoise bikini and the girl in the shop thought I was mad, even when I pointed out that I wouldn’t be wearing them together!!!
Mum, lets hope we aren’t in the 8% that meet a bear that thinks, ‘Pepper Steak- Bonus!!!’
Time to tuck up for a couple of hours in my wonderful blanket (courtesy of the Whitworth Family) its got a print repeated all over it, of a girl in a red dress with a big yellow and white daisy on the front and she has bunches and the biggest smile- makes me happy every time i wake up!!
Lots of love

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

noon 2945.45 16921.34 Sat 17/05/2008 02:56

dtd 1812 so dmg 111

I think we heard our first Alaskan voice this morning – there are regular wx broadcasts on 4125 mhz – extreme range for us but there was definitely someone there – wooohooo!

Still just in range of Hawaii sailmail station, then, perhaps Friday Harbour in Washington (sailmail HQ – hi guys!) and then it will be iridium all the way.

Hot, sweaty, nasty joggly sea, very big swell from NW – motoring to keep up speed through sea. V unpleasant – and seems our little fan may have died – very unpleasant…

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

3002.21 16938.19 A lopsided tribute.

John Grunsfeld
About a century ago, when I was a kid, a young guy called Lonnie Donegan and his Skiffle Group (yeah! That long ago!)made a record called ‘I left my chewing gum on the bedpost overnight’. I was idly contemplating the beauty of all this ocean and sky out here – plenty of time for that in these long, hot, empty, dreamy days – and I felt the stiletto tip of envy just brushing past the membranes of my heart. I think I wrote about him before, when I heard he’d got the guernsey for the gig, but there’s a guy at NASA who most of you have never heard of, and I expect he’d like to keep it that way, who has got the job that I would most like to have, in all this world at least. His name is John Grunsfeld and he was at the LSU Symposium where this silliness began. Sometime soon, John is off back to the Hubble Telescope for, I think, his third time, to service it and add new goodies – probably the last mission ever to do this. He will be thoroughly sick of chewing gum and lost spanner jokes, but perhaps, John, when you get out there, you could turn the thing around and take one last loving series of pictures of the Earth. Bring back a copy for me and leave one up there in memory so that when we destroy the planet or the Vogons arrive with their yellow tip trucks to take it all away and, in their usual sloppy fashion, fail to check that they have finished the job, the Hubble will drift off and perhaps some new life form anthropologist will have the technology and the imagination to recreate the images and appreciate just how stunningly, sublimely lovely it all was. Good luck mate! I’ll have a cold Coopers for you when I come to collect my copy – perhaps if we get this old barge across the top and go home via Houston?

We’re in the calm before the – what? Oily swell, no wind, tiniest ruffles on the water, big build up of cloud to the NW and dire warnings from Met Japan about the depression forming out there. We’re due for about 35 kts from the SW tomorrow sometime, but all that might change before you get to read this.

Classic example of a safety feature that causes so many problems that it is preferable not to have it at all – a bit like some virus checkers. Easymail is the software for the SatC device we use for Inmarsat communications – free weather downloads etc, plus safety and distress messages and it can be tracked, but very expensive if used for email. Really useful bit of kit. When the Inmarsat system sends a distress or urgent message, Easymail takes over the receiving computer and puts a big flashing message on the screen. If you are not watching the screen and don’t immediately acknowledge the message, it sends another…and another. Each of these has to be separately acknowledged (or else I don’t know how to wipe them all at once)before you can do anything else so I have just spent 20 minutes getting rid of a hundred or so of them. And then I switched off Easymail – if there was an easy way to fix it, I’d rather leave it on but….The SatC system is still on, but we can’t read the messages without Easymail.

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3116.33 17021.17 About 0630 AEST In praise of flatulent dragons…

Noon pos 3143.07 17028.41 DTD1679 dmg 133

This one may develop as the day goes by… the dragon’s tail is a quivering – 25 kts, still from the SE, sea building, 3 reefs and the small heady. Berri, and Kevvo handling it fine. The dragon will fart sometime – there will be a front and about a 90 deg wind change to the SW and up to 35 kts. We’ll assess the stench, probably drop the main till it all dissipates a bit and keep on hooning. Still got a bit of current under us and cracking 7’s. Small wooohooo – exhilarating after all that headbanging but wont get us back much of the distance lost. And we still have to keep it all together for at least another 10 – 15 days.
Done some precautionary things around the boat – rigged a backstay tackle in case the ram goes – unlikely, but it’s been doing odd things. Filled the tank with diesel, sponged the bilge, did stocktake on the Medicinal Compound remaining. Would not do to arrive in a foreign port without my three Consultant Physicians in attendance. There will be enough if we keep hooning and I maintain my self discipline. Made lots of water, but we have a full tank of Sydney water as well (with a bit of squeezed ocean added occasionally to keep it full).

More later.
An hour or so – smells a bit farty. Pulled in some heady, had a bit of a feel and decided to gybe – from about 040 to – as it turned out, about 355. Very careful gybe, put the checkstay back on, eased it all, sorted the heady. 28 kts, seas still building and the wind now definitely SW. Have just taken photos of farty looking blast roiling up astern – white, fluffy, tightly rolled series of cloud lines, catching us fast.

More later. Will be several hours before I can send this, according to propagation application. A coffee, I think.
And post caffeination – McQ came up for her watch just after we got our first cockpit full of water. Good practical lesson in why I’m so obsessed with keeping the drains clear of peanuts and other jetsam. We rolled the heady, dropped the main in 30 kts while Kevvo bare poled, unrolled the heady again and back to 6’s and 7’s but with big breaking waves and dragon pong all around. And now it seems to be abating. Nice dragon – go somewhere else please! I wonder whether dragon spray would deter 92% of these guys.

But – heading North instead of about 030 and we’ve got current against us again. My befuddled brain just cant sort that one. Water temp 27 deg. Still at least 2 hours before I can send this, so watch this space, smell this pong.

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3055.08 17000.56

I think I can see the loom of the Dragon’s eyes just over the NW horizon – murky. baleful jade, this one. When he emerges, I think he’ll swish his tail and change the wind from SE to SW and breathe brimstone and stink at us. A gybe and perhaps 35 kts.

For the very first time since Sydney, we seem to have a freebie – some current behind us. Perhaps half a knot, and not to be sneezed at. We’re clocking 6+ over the ground – noice!

Doug M – fascinating – I’d forgotten that Napoleon might have drowned on a Pacific reef. And yet it has its own skein – because he didn’t, he married Josephine, who encouraged Baudin (interesting man, interesting story – imagine having to run a ship as a revolutionary committee!) – and established her botanical garden with the specimens he brought back.

Carla – thanks – separate email follows, once the dragon has farted. I will transcribe the ISS possibilities into the diary I use as our minimalist log (just a series of noon positions and dmg). This bit of silly bloggery is really the loggery.

So far travelled, so far yet to go. About 12 more days at this speed, but that’s hugely unlikely.

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McQ: Mouldy me and the Cats Meeoow

Well the wind is doing exactly what it said on the tin folks!! Fully filled in 30knots from the SW by ten this morning. Big, huge rolling seas, but we’re hooning on through, munching away at those miles- am just so impressed once again as to how the fabulous wee Berri just storms on through, thoroughly enjoying herself!! Dropped the main and barrelling along with just headsail… I tried to take some pics but you never quite get it in photos, then I went for a bit of video, definitely not going to be a career move there, and I felt a bit sick watching my movie of us surging through these seas, while surging through these seas, but you do get a better sense of the scale of the waves!!! Never again will I complain about all those waves coming crashing over us earlier in this voyage either- the sea is now 25 degrees and that down your neck feels positively icy compared to a balmy, salty 36C!!!
Had to break out the Cats Meeoow (The Sleeping Bag!!) last night and I am a touch fearful that I am getting into the cold weather kit all a bit early… I also discovered everything has gone mouldy… mid layers, jacket, vest, shorts, purple hoody, etc, and not just inoffensive black pin mould either, I’m talking about full on fluffy, white, foosty blobs, all over everything!!! Nice!!!
Lots of love to everyone.
Mouldy McQueen
ps Can someone please give me a short report as to how Hannah J is getting on?? TY.

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3241 17116 Sun 18/05/2008 19:15

What a night – words fail me – atrocious conditions, tho not severe. memories of very low clouds rushing past tiny glimpses of the moon, berri with postage stamp heady rearing and falling as big, closely spaced waves overtook, Katherine, your playlist briefly – liked allelulia – tried to apply all that stuff you taught me – now in northerly drizzle, lumpy, awful, cog about 080. looks as if the next 1000 miles will be like this so we’d better get used to it.

love yez – sorry, Carla, all to hard at the mo…

The Posts have arrived out of order owing to comms: What follows is the previous to this:
3221.00 17114.19 Mon 19/05/2008 19:33
Hove to again. This is where Francis Chichester would have closed down the boat and resorted to a big G & T. What is is about Francis? Chichester, Drake, Joyon, Crozier, Clare? Seafarers of distinction, all.

Keith – You’ve put us in very distinguished company. Hey, Scott, love your work! There’s a marathon I’ve run more times than I care to contemplate that has a finishing straight of about 5 miles but with a little kink in it towards the end. You can sense the finish, feel the buzz, can’t see the end and your body has started to eat itself and rather wants to stop, so it’s just one foot after the other and the finish eventually arrives and it was all worth it. We’ll be the smiley face way out on your eastern horizon – blow it a kiss from the top and take care on the way down! All the very best from Berrimilla.

H – all the best to John. If it’s any consolation, he’s almost certainly having a better time than we are!

And that’s just about where we are. Going nowhere, probably no communications as my iridium link has died and we are out of HF range at the mo so this may never go. One foot after the other – I can sense the Examiner grinning out there as she sharpens her nails with a broken grinding wheel. We are doing exactly what the ancient mariners did all the time – patiently waited until things changed – as they always do eventually. In this instant age, we’ve forgotten about patience.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Previous cont 3241 17116 Mon 19/05/2008 03:24

Later – 3243.24 17126.41
We’re hove to waiting for this swirl of dragons blast to go away. Wind 25 kts 050M, our heading is 310M and we’re fore reaching 283M towards northern Japan at 1.2 kts. Just might make it in time for the finish of the next Melbourne Osaka race in three years time…There was no way we could make reasonable headway into a truly awful sea – nothing severe, but short, confused, steep, occasionally breaking and dumping on us. Poor Berri pounding and flexing and not happy. So we’re parked until something improves. Could be a day or so, but the grib indicates tomorrow morning. McQ asleep, I’ve had a shave, done the boat chores and will work away at some other things on the list.

Last night full on – I’ve never seen cloud rushing past the moon like that – cloud base must have been about 500 ft to get the perspective. You know, perhaps, how a non stop train blitzing through a station seems to be going very much faster than you expect, sometimes. This cloud was like that. One lovely few moments – tiny clear patch, moon in full glory, silver sky all around and ice crystal halo. Tiny wisps of high cloud, the whole patch surrounded by black, beetling blasting monsters – and then it was gone. Next watch spent out of the cockpit taking out reefs, re running tweakers, sorting messes and tidying up – immensely hard work, because every movement needed bracing against wild gyrations and dumping waves. Soaked. And next watch, McQ in charge, wind came back from the N and put it all back in again. So we considered the options and here we are. Quiet and peaceful, although, inevitably, some wild rolling occasionally.

H – can’t think of any snail mail stuff, thanks. xx

Carla, thanks so much for sorting the email. Moot point as to whether it was spam – to me, all unsolicited commercial email is spam and anathema! Will write today – post caffeination. And perhaps part 2 of 1000 years in a day.

Kimbra – for Dave and Karl – again, huge thanks for all that useful info. If we ever get to Dutch, or Seattle, there will be Consultation and Discussion.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Hove to. Noon 3249.08 17123.07

DTD 1596 dmg 83
Passing the time really – not possible to make headway safely with sail into this stuff. Surprisingly, we are moving north while hove to. Slowly! Cant really even do routine maintenance stuff – but bilges must be looked after, and half cupful of exquisitely flavoured but excess olive oil poured down the head (bog, loo, toilet etc for the nautically challenged)

Spoke to Steve on the batphone to resolve laptop problem – I killed the thing in the end and it has come good. i think the nav program takes over and tries to save all the trackpooints. But, in consequence, decided that today’s Con would be with dr Steve the Alchemist. Onya, mate – gold as ever! Will now try to send all this via iridium, which started started this problem in the first place.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Underway again Mon 19/05/2008 07:50

We sat and rolled around for about 6 hours while the dragon played with his blast vents. Now under way again, still pretty awful but psychologically better. Creeping NNW with heady alone, hoping the grib is right and we get a NWly tomoz. Still a bloody long way to go and if it’s all uphill it will be just like the last 10 k in a marathon – only worse, if that’s possible.
Lots to write about but connections very flaky and my iridium data connection has died, which severely limits us.

3322..20 17116.19 and parked again.Mon 19/05/2008 22:17
I just don’t understand this iridium business. I have 2 motorola 9505 satellite handsets and a data kit that connects one or the other to the USB port on the laptop. Airmail (the sailmail application) has a brilliant iridium connect facility and – if the phone has a signal – it should be just a matter of dialling the iridium data call number, establishing the connection and using Airmail to send and receive messages – plain text only – no effective internet access. One 9505 has my old faithful Falklands Islands Cable and Wireless SIM card in it – a contract service and quite expensive but it has never failed. The other 9505 has an Xsatusa SIM with a 500 minute voucher on it that theoretically should give me voice and data at a cheaper rate. This is still not properly set up, but that’s a different problem It worked fine for data until yesterday but now will not connect to the iridium data service – it tells me that the remote computer will not allow the connection. I have carefully checked all the settings and even created a second dial up connection. The C&W; handset sent the last blog and – I hope – will send this one. I can’t access the Xsat support service – too long a story but I cant. Anyone got any ideas?

The sun is out, sparkling day, quite noticeably colder – water @ 22.9 degrees, which slows down the watermaker – and the wind coming from exactly where we want to go at about 25 knots. Because of the sea state, there is no angle that we can sail at that gets us closer to Dutch – the closest, either way, is about 5 degrees away from what we need. And bloody uncomfortable too! The engine will thump into wind and sea and move us slowly and stressfully in the general direction but there’s very little gain per litre of diesel and we now must conserve. So we’re hove to, rolling around, but quiet, boat unstressed, sleep possible.

Heaving to – without getting too technical, means setting the boat so that it lies parallel to the waves and at right angles to the wind, both give or take 20 degrees or so. Some boats, like Berri, do it easily, with no sail up, others won’t do it at all. When hove to, it drifts downwind and sometimes forwards or backwards and generally, apart from the rolling, is snug and safe. In really huge breaking seas, it’s not a good option – you really have to try to sail the boat to minimise the effect of the waves and wind, as we did rather a lot of in the southern ocean, but here, it’s fine. Occasionally a wave breaks and crashes across the boat or fills the cockpit – as just happened, but no drama.

Inside the boat at floor level, everything is damp if not outright wet – you can’t keep a tiny boat dry while you tramp in and out in soaking, dripping party gear, which you then have to get out of and stow somewhere, with the litres of water it is holding dripping out of it. As I sit at the nav table, I’m thrown violently (and I mean violently) around as the boat rolls and have to wedge and brace myself to keep the keys going.

Will try to iridiumise this – we’re out of HF sailmail range at the mo.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Catastrophising.Tue 20/05/2008 05:13

Keith C: could you please email your contact phone numbers to the website and Speedy will forward them to me?

Those of you who know me will understand that what follows is called catastrophising – thinking things through to worst possible conclusions and developing contingency plans. What it isn’t is the beginning of a rationalisation for failure.

The task, as I see it, is to get Berri safely through the NWP and out to a safe port at the other end with an acceptable safety margin. The eclipse would be a wonderful spin off. So – starting from the far end, we really need to be at the south end of Greenland by the beginning of September at the absolute latest. The Atlantic is starting to growl by then and even getting to Halifax might be difficult. That means leaving Beechey Island or wherever we get to up there by mid August. No later. Allow 30 days (ambitious in itself)for the NWP from Barrow to Beechey, and we must be past Barrow by mid July. Dutch to Barrow via Nome is at least 2 weeks, so we must leave Dutch by the end of June. The current plan is to leave by June 14, so from here we have a contingency factor of about 2 weeks. That’s the balance, and there’s no real safety factor built in if we accept the latest dates. Nor does it give us time for maintenance and fixes in Dutch.

I think we will be able to push through this nastiness here, but it may take a lot longer than I had allowed for. If it is more than two weeks, we have a problem. The broad options then seem to me to be:

- accept that it would be stupid to headbang beyond the two weeks and so head for Hawaii or preferably Vancouver, park the boat and rethink for next year, or just go home or for a cruise. Kimbra could join us wherever.

- get to Dutch come what may, park the boat and – say – fly into Cambridge Bay for the eclipse, then collect the boat and sail home via Canada and points south

- Get to Dutch, reassess what may still be possible given our arrival date and get on with it. A sail up to Barrow would be pretty interesting…

Kimbra, all this affects you most. My preferred option would be the Cambridge Bay one and then you could sail back down the Alaskan/Canadian coast and fly home when duty calls. Any comments?

All that said, I’ve got work to do – I think we may be at the start of the wind change – appendages crossed please.

False alarm – it’s pretty ordinary out there. Some very big waves – going downwind would be tricky, but upwind, Berri is no better than an old square rigger like Cook’s Endeavour or Resolution in these conditions. We just can’t do it, so we have to manoeuvre to optimise for future changes and then wait and see whether they happen. Right now, we are tracking 300M at 2.5 kts…

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

noon 3327.19 17115.30 Tue 20/05/2008 03:10

dtd 1567 dmg 29 I guess there’ a always the possibility we could get stuck down here – the prospect at the mo is not good given the current forecasts. If it really does get pearshaped, the next best option might be Hawaii. This bit did not look so difficult off the NOAA stats and we might have got it seriously wrong least for this year. That would be a shame, but if is going to take us too long to get to Dutch, there’s no point in pretending. Kimbra and David W, watch this space.

3324.43 17118.36 @ 1020 Sydney time, I’ll save this blog for the noon position for what that will be worth!

Back under way. The wind has abated slightly, same direction, still the short lumpy sea, maybe 4 metre waves 15 metres apart, about half of them breaking and one or two much bigger, often arriving in trains of three with cross waves. Half the heady unrolled and we’re tracking a smidge N of W at about 3kts, intending to get over towards the advancing high and the predicted veer and softening wind, followed by the front of the next low and 35 knots again, from the SE. Grib and SatC predict that we’re going to have to negotiate at least one full on low pressure system with up to 55 knots in it somewhere to the north. Not a pleasant prospect. We can try to loiter till the nasty bit is past, but that puts us back in these northerlies again. 1300 miles to Amukta – 2 sydney – hobart races but this is harder and I don’t – of course – want to destroy the boat just for the sake of progress. When we have sail up and are moving, the boat’s motion is immediately much easier, because the pressure in the sail dampens the rolls and keeps the boat heeled.

On iridium, the last blog went Cable & Wireless. I don’t want to be swapping SIMs around between handsets in these conditions to try to diagnose, so I will retry Xsat periodically and just pay the money to C & W if still dead. Irksome, though, because I’ve already paid for my 500 minutes what I don’t seem to be able to use as intended and an absolute pain to have to fiddle with the wiring and connections each time I do a data call. The iridium hardware was designed for stable, dry platforms, dry hands, no salt…..

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ:Update on hair, library and boot management programmes

T’other day, when we were still on starboard tack, I decided it might be wise to do some precautionary Library Management… The library is on the starboard side at the end of my bunk, beside the mast. Whilst I re waterproofed all the library, Alex re waterproofed the mast boot- we had been taking in a fair bit of water there and this certainly would have been to the detriment (the ruin of,infact!!) of the library once on port tack. Fortunately, there is seemingly nothing the man can’t do with a big jubilee clip, a roll of black and yellow hazard tape and, of course, the requisite lanolin!! The mast is proving watertight!! But since its been pretty windy and wet and wavy and damp inside in general, i have shut the library for the moment- poetry recitals will begin again in due course. I am just considering, though, that since we are hove to for tea and scrabble, it might also be a good time to reopen the library and learn the next few verses, or might it be tempting fate if I take any books out of their wet weather homes????

Its been a productive morning tho’- hair fully managed- it really is quite remarkable how a bit of hair management makes such a difference!! Have also begun the boot management programme- now, don’t tell Alex, I won’t live it down but my very expensive yottie boots leak- great, 2nd pair wet socks already. Not amused. I have another pair of boots at home that leak. Either I brought the wrong ones (stoopid) or they now both leak. either way, not amused. Anyway, nothing a couple of plastic bags can’t manage to fix, many a mile I have gone with plastic bags in my boots!!

lots of love to all
ps how is AG figaro getting on???
pps For Jamie Powell: though I imagine there is almost zero possibility that you are reading this, I thought I should let you know that i have a sun tan, well, on my hands anyway!!!

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creeping westwards Tue 20/05/2008 09:56

It’s going to be a looong night out here in the boonies. Glimpses of very Turner moon, wind fitting and starting, but never less than 20 and often closer to 30. We are now closer to Japan than to Dutch and the next couple of days will be critical. If the wind does soften and veer and – big and! – we can make headway safely to the NW, we will at least be starting to go in the right direction, tho prob only at 2- 3 ks. Then the front of the next depression is due the following day with 35 from the SE – another big iff we can make headway safely, that should get us a couple of hundred miles N and I don’t yet know what’s behind it but if more of this, then I think we could be in for another long park.

My only data link is good old C & W satphone – the xsat one still refuses to connect (iridium says the phone’s number is out of service when I dial it from the phone, even though I can make voice calls) and sailmail is completely out of action at the mo – must be excessive sunspots or something, but there’s no green anywhere on the propagation charts.

I said this thing was finely balanced way back – it sure is!

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: Cup-a-soup and catastrophising Tue 20/05/2008 09:56

I just had the most curious cup-a-soup. There was hardly any powder in the packet. It was bright yellow and had noodles in it, but they all seem to. Anyway, usually at this stage you can make a fair assumption as to what flavour it is but this time i had no idea. I checked the packet, it said ‘cas cns’ still none the wiser and having eaten it still no eyed deer.

It warmed me up enough to give some thoughts on the catastrophising though:

Poor old Alex, stuck on a boat with an eternal optimist!! Though, i don’t think he is being pessamistic in this case just, extremely sensibly realistic. Still, I suspect, ‘I love Hawaii’ and ‘I love Vancouver even more!!!’ were not quite the first reactions he had hoped for!!!
We can get to Dutch, the question that will start to become very apparent is whether we can get there within the time scale to make it possible to attempt to carry on north. The journey there might become even more: stonk north in the southerlies, park for a bit in the northerlies, all well and good but will become immensely frustrating and time consuming and not only that the lows seem to be more intense farther north- so its not even as if we’ll be able to say, ‘phew, through the worst of it now!!’ We would get there eventually though, I think. Its this unbelievable sea state that is making any head way whatsoever impossible. I guess we can hope that the wind eases tonight as forecast and the sea eases too- it did yesterday for a bit but as soon as the wind blew again the pacific became a big old seething frothy mass again. grrrrr. I am currently being thrown around violently behind the cone and it is a struggle to write and think and brace yourself all at once.

Hawaii, Vancouver, Japan, China, Galapagos, back to Sydney, general cruising round the Pacific- all of which sound fine options!!! We might struggle to get anywhere with our Consulting provisions though and we’re out of chocolate, and cup-a-soups are rationed, but it’s never meant to be simple at sea!!! We might have to rendezvous with that snickers ship, after all, at the same time as we collect Kimbra!!! It truly would be a real shame not to make it to Dutch though.

Fingers crossed we get to Dutch tho’ otherwise, the question is, iff, where and when do we open mum’s ‘arrived in Dutch pressies’????

Well, we’ll be seeing y’all whenever we get to wherever we make it to…
I keep trying to keep these short but they keep being long!!!
Love McQ

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Decisions 3349.49 17018.24 Tue 20/05/2008 22:20

We’ve had a look at the grib for the next three days for the area to the NW of us and it seems that we can keep going north. The wind should come around to the south, 25 – 30 by tomoz evening and stay for a couple of days. As long as we can sail downwind in the change without busting anything, we’ll go with it and then try to stay in the bottom of the string of lows to get some easting and duck around one when we get a chance and go for the barn door. So that’s the plan.

Caroline – great minds! And don’t they boggle. Must ask Matt one day.

Kimbra – guesstimate for potential bolt holes still useful – but not so urgent, I hope.

Kris – Your driveway with Berri in it might be an interesting photo caption competition!

Sailmail propagation extinction was finger glitch on my part – must have entered the wrong longitude in the dark and not noticed. Interestingly, there are little fail safe indicators if you know the system – I found my error while setting up the grib request because the little boat wasn’t on screen. Apologies to all of you that have never seen sailmail, but it might help people that do use it.

There’s a temp lull and I have to go up the mast – see yez.

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McQ:I love our barometer today… and found the oat cakes

Amazing what a barometer on the up can do to spirits!! Oh and not forgetting the sea abating and wind slowly slowly freeing us…we are pointing less at Japan and more towards Aleutians!!! Woo-hoo!!! Hopefully comitting to the SE when it comes in and riding it North will prove to be not a bad move and hopefully , we will then start to have a more realistic idea of the depressions a bit further up there that we will have to face… if they are still stonking on, with wads of winds in them then hopefully if needs be we can ride east a bit underneath and pop north behind the worst… As I have said before, ruled by the predictable wind and wave gods, this is exactly what will happen!! Did a Vancouver bolt hole stock take too- we have enough food!! (possibly actually to go there and back!!) certainly enough museli to last a lifetime!!Did I mention though that it would be nice to bump in to a snickers ship though???!! Also found the oatcakes- being Scottish, huge boost, almost, almost makes up for lack of snickers!!!
Sunnies back on and off to deck I go…
Lots of love
ps Gems, ty for info, please yes send all luck and love with Ross to him and the whole crew and ask him to send lots of love and hugs to Hannah, tell her, she can do it, and though I can’t follow everyday from here in Pacific, I am still fully behind her and sending as much good vibes across the ocean as I can- also we must have crossed their to-Hawaii track sometime last week- kinda cool to think about!!! Cor xxx

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1300 position 3409.14 16956.40 Wed 21/05/2008 04:18

dtd 1568 so dmg -1 No comment!

In the black glooms last night, thinking that pearshapedness threatened and plug pulling was on the cards, I thought about Cookwikipedia. and La Perouse who must both have been close to here. I wondered about the usefulness (should that be utility?) of information and the effect it has on the quality of decisions. Here we are, with SatC forecasts and warnings, grib files, weatherfax (note to myself – must try to pull in Kodiak wxfax -should be in range) and, in desperation, professional routers almost permanently glued to the satphone for the RTW racers. Does all this stuff inhibit the timid – who can’t make a decision until they have ‘all’ the information? Does it embolden the rash – ‘The grib says we can do it…’ or simply inform the experienced, who might make a different go/no go decision without the storm warning…In other words, is the quality of the decision dependent on the quality and extent of the information or on the experience of the sailor? Obviously both – but what would Cook have done last night? My bet is exactly the same as us, but without the angst. He’d have been sailing backwards and forwards at the same wind angles as us, looking at the sky, assessing the cloud patterns, feeling the wind, watching the swell and its direction and checking his barometer every hour. (Did he have one??). Then he’d have done what we are now doing – headed NW on the freeing breeze, ready to face whatever was in store and glad to be moving again. The fact that we know that there is a chance of a nasty storm ahead makes our present slightly less comfortable than his perhaps. We also know how it will move, more or less and can therefore decide to back away if we want to. Cook’s best information would have been his own, or other sailors’ logs from previous visits to the area.

And I wonder how Baudin’s committee decision would have worked. And how, maybe, a cold war Russian submariner with his party cadre in his little cabin full of appropriate texts supervising the Captain to ensure the political content of the Captain’s decisions was sufficient to ensure their quality. There was a cold war Russian sub in Sydney for a while – those guys must be the bravest of the brave. Still are – Komsomolsk and Kursk as witness. Courage and fear – fear and courage! And in those early days, to have to comply with the cadre as well (whose cabin was next to the Captain’s and slightly bigger). We were always in awe of those boats, but to actually see the conditions aboard was an astonishing revelation.

Visited the mid portions of the mast – not as spectacular a performance as Pete’s in the S2H, but interesting. Needed to move the radar reflector back to where it is supposed to be and improvise a strop for a second check stay. All done, reflector moved but not taped as intended, strop made, checkstay installed, after some expert unravelling by Mcq and Whitters bruised but happy. Time for a late visit to the Barber Surgeon.

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McQ: H for...

After yesterday, I thought i would check my cup-a-soup flavour today before I started, it was called ‘H/Beef’ Hmmm, H for Happy? I like the idea that my soup came from a cow that led a happy life, however, I suspect that my soup saw about as much bovine life form as our (olive oil) margarine did in its making!! H for hmmmmm then. H for hopeful, or even hopefully, hopefully beef. H for hungry, yes, I still am!! hostile, hooning, hurtful, heartbroken??? who knows??I have a vague recollection it was supposed to be ‘hearty’ but given its watery consistency and smattering of green herby bits and nothing else it wasn’t!! Must be herby then. Don’t get me wrong though, with our cup-a-soup-rationing, all flavours our greatly appreciated and all do their job of warming you up in these chilly climes, whatever they are supposed to be made of!!

Since we are actually back on starboard tack I have re-opened the library. Chichester is order of the day and I fully urge all those who haven’t read yet to read Gipsy Moth Circles the World- much much much much more interesting than these nonsensical blogs of mine!! Though both possibly require the same quantity of gin to be consumed to enjoy fully!!

No scrabble on board, attempted irony, precisely due to lack of flat, stable surface!!!

Let us never, ever, ever again speak of the negative distance made good over the last 24 hrs. ok? The eternal optimism runs out with backwards movement.

I think there was supposed to be a serious/sensible point to this one but I have completely forgotten what that was, so you just get more of the same inane drivel instead!!! sorry!!!

With love,
A toasty warm, thermaled, midlayered, hatted, booted, dry socked and gloved (once I finish typing), McQueen xxx

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Reflections Wed 21/05/2008 10:16

Radar reflectors – small boat variety – research in UK seemed to indicate are almost useless. These are the cylindrical plastic tubes with a honeycomb of aluminium plates inside to provide reflective area. We have the larger diameter version on the shrouds just above the lower spreaders, only because Cat 1 race rules require us to carry one. When I visited it today, I noticed that it is half full of water – and, yes, it is fitted the right way up. How? unless the wind somehow blew it up inside the flange around the ‘lid’. I also have a set of flat plates that can be fitted together into a trapezoidal shape and hoisted in the rig – much better performance, but a pain to manage.

What I had intended to investigate but ran out of time is a gizmo called something like a radar echo enhancer – passive device that sits around all powered up, until hit by a radar beam which it then sends back but with a boost. Problem is that there are radars across quite a big frequency range…Might be useful to have one though, tuned to whatever is the most common frequency for fishing boat radars. M’sieur le Fruitelet – est ce possible you could investigate? Would have to be relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

We’re tracking NW at varying knots – 2 at the mo – kevvo having difficulty with apparents. Must go and check.

I think I’m getting the hang of the SatC weather warnings – there is a string of circular storms that form off Eastern Japan and move NE just to the north of where we are. They all have ‘possibility of winds 30 – 50 knots within radius of 500 miles of centre in SE semicircle’. Tends to gnaw at the viscera a bit until you realise that that phrase is a bit of a backside coverer for whichever Met office issued the warning. The grib shows the one moving north of us now is a lot tamer, but no doubt it could develop.

Warm, toasty layered up McQ looks like the Michelin Man with bunches after his third massive plate of Fettucine Alfredo. I don’t know how she can move, but she does. I tend to go for a lot less fabric and lots of air, with good seals to keep as much in as possible. Whatever works, I guess. Must soon brave the starboard upper bunk, delve below it and drag out my bag of warm stuff. Noticeably cool, though we are at the same latitude as Sydney. Water 19 deg. Oily margarine has recongealed in the ice box and the VoA is at jackhammer level.

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McQ: Wittering Whitters and other ramblings

Warm toasty layered up mcqueen wouldn’t say no to a first plate of fettucine alfredo!! Which is probably why she resembles the michelin man!! methinks I don’t have many more layers than Big Whitters, I just wear them more michelin man-like!!

I just got up for watch after falling asleep 3 minutes before… typical!!

And am trying to get my head round the fact that I am sure Whitters wittered something about the wind coming round before he went to sleep but he sounded way to chirpy about this for us to have been headed, but well, we have now. I think I’ll keep that one to myself and fingers crossed the wind comes back round to where it was coming from to make him cheerful sooner rather than later!! Or maybe he didn’t sound happy and it had headed us a bit for him too. Or maybe Kevvo’s brain is as in gear as mine is!!! [After attending to deck] It’s the wind, bit all over the place- 6knots then 16 from all over the place too- pretty much as expected tho’.

We had proper boat food for dinner tonight and discussed what constituted proper boat food- definitely has to be a concoction of whatever is to hand and needs ot be hot and probably a selection of things that you wouldn;t necessarily serve at home to a willing audience but that here need using up and accompanied by something cooked in a generally improvised way… so for example, tonight was onion (needed using) and bacon (likewise) and sweetcorn (variety) on top of naan bread,which we fried, one at a time, in the big pot to heat them up, worked though!! And, in my case a big dollop of sweet chilli sauce. Perfect!!! We did imagine that Alex might be my only guest on the evening I choose to recreate this delight when we get home!!

Its funny how on this keyboard you barely need to touch the o and you get ten oooooof them, or you brush past it by mistake!! quite annoying sometimes to have to go through blog and delete them all every time.

I think i was maybe going to add some wisdom about Cook or barometers to my last blog but since it was an intelligent thought It didn’t remain in my brain for long and thus proobably the reason I can’t quite remember said wisdom.

Time to pretend to be MM after forth FA and put on an extra layer and get some mid watch fresh air and chat to Kevvo for a bit- liven him up a bit. Oh look: We are trying, trying to push North, heading wise, so I guess that is what Whitters was wittering about after all.

A wittering Whitter would be a good name for a bird. I might decide to authoratatively name the little birds that are with us wittering whitters: As in, ‘What are you wittering about Whitters, they’re not Stormy Petrels, they are definitely that well known Northern Hemisphere bird species, the Wittering Whitter…’

Only one flaw in all this: that is, I definitely witter more that Whitters, but this has distracted me enough to stay awake without thinking about it for a whole hour of watch!!

Lots of love
Woittering McQueen

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3449.40 16936.06 Wed 21/05/2008 17:46

Everyone knows – don’t we? – that the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland is going to destroy the world by creating a mini black hole which will suck in the whole shebang and keep all those tax avoiders and thieving dictators just a bit closer to their funds. Whoopee – will be huge fun while it happens. Meantime, it will be creating wormholes in space so that future life forms can come and visit us in their shiny kevlar suits, sucking on their heated pan galactic gargle blasters as they observe our puny antics. I have to inform you that this has already happened. A future life form, a specially designed cow from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe has been detected by a secret CIA spy satellite at the wormhole periphery ellipse coefficient and sent to a place where it can be quarantined. It seems to have escaped and inadvertently found its way into an abattoir and thence to a soup maker. McQ drank some of it in her Hearty Beef Soup so I think quarantine for her once we get to Dutch. Meantime, a designer Beast in a wormhole? Caroline, doesn’t that stoke the boggle reflex?

We’re motoring north as the haze and grot closes in – wind change today sometime. Electric autopoilot at last gasp and may have to revert ot actually steering the boat ourselves as Kevvo doesn’t do motoring.

PMcQ, the locals have recommended that we take bear spray…When someone convinces me I am wrong, I change my mind…we’ll take some aboard. Should enhance the flavour of the canned stew at least. Would still like to hear from the errant 8%

Carla, thanks heaps. I’ll try to call you in the next day or so – I want to wait till daylight and, if conditions permit, swap sims between handsets just in case that’s the problem.

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Just to confirm 3504.49 16946.16 @ 0700 sydney

Spoke to Carla – wonderful – made my day!
First time in weeks that conditions have allowed this – if you are being tossed bodily around a confined space, fiddling with very delicate sim gates and trying to keep everything from flying around and also dry is not really a goer. Anyway, I swapped sim cads between handsets. The xsat sim does work for data in both handsets, but not always first time, every time. Sometimes it is rejected before dialling, sometimes while verifying at the very end of the connection process, and sometimes it connects so I think it must be a problem between the sim card and the handsets. As my original C & W sim works fine in both handsets, perhaps the xsat sim may have slightly flaky contacts – I dont know. WD40 on a tissue perhaps? I have tried again to dial the xsat sim’s own number – 00881631633526 – and the automated ‘please do not hang up’ voice tells me that the number is ‘not in service please check the number’ and I do not get as far as the voicemail prompt to enter a password. I can live with this, but it does indicate that something is wrong somewhere.

We’re motoring – a couple of albatrosses with us all night and this morning – 6 ft wingspan. dark grey brown over wings, white body but black around eyes, light beige beak, grey brown under wings but with whiter dappled streak along the length mid chord. Remind me of the Falklands black browed version. Stunningly beautiful birds, sweeping majesty as they caress the water – you can sometimes see the downdraft on the surface when its mirrored. They fly out in front, always approach from behind or one side, and sometimes alight on the water a hundred metres or so ahead and watch us pass. Big birds, but nowhere as big as the southern wanderer.

And we have our own Stormy Petrel – opposite end of the scale – appears to flollop along diving, swerving, almost tumbling over the surface – requires enormous precision – I’ve seen them in huge winds blasted by spray just doing their thing – a real delight to watch.

And back to Cook’s decisions – he’d be becalmed again, not even able to move in this. We can motor north – completely different attitude to time and the achievement of objectives.

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McQ: woo-hoo, think I might have over caffeinated myself this morning!!

It feels like a monday morning, but in a good way, but i don’t think it is! Thursday, apparently, according to my watch, though I’ve long since stopped registering days- they matter not one iota out here!! Maybe its the cwoffee i just had followed by museli and un-dried fruit for brekkie. Awesome!!

We have around 5knotters from the SE… woo hoo!!! So, I guess we watch this space and hopefully it will just build all day. At the mo we have the donk on and are pointing direct to Dutch… woo hoo!! The latest Grib I’ve seen is showing it build to 20knots SE by this evening and maybe up to 25/30ish through the night… should give us a wee boost anyway!! Calm-glassy sea at the moment too, be v nice if it takes its time to build too.

We are currently at 35 14N so we are more north than Sydney is South… woo hoo!!! And boy you can tell, woolly hat on at 1030 in the morning!! Water 18C!! I used to swim off our boat in Scotland (they’d tie a rope to me and I’d go swimming- I think it used to be fun but that may just be cause thats what they kept telling me!!) and I remember swimming, proper laps of the boat, in 11C… which seems very, very cold… 18C splashes send shivers!!

I remembered the sensible, interesting (perhaps) stuff I was going to say.
I was on deck yesterday, and suddenly it struck me as to just how small we are, not relative to the ocean/in the big scheme of things but actually physically, we are a tiny, tiny 33ft boat!!! I was standing in the cockpit- only room for 1 to stand!!(2 can sit, one either side.) and if you lose your balance over a big wave, your neck catches on the spray hood if you fall forward or the tiller pokes your kidneys if you fall back (which makes me sound like a very short and rotund michelin man, I guess!!) The bow, slicing through waves, felt barely arms length away.
It is the sort of boat that my mum and non sailor friends will see at our destination and say ‘crikey, you came all the way here on that???’ Actually, it might be my sailor friends who only ever go anywhere on huge big racing boats, who wonder that!! But Berri is a proper, proper boat, she may be small but she is just brilliant. She might not get polished to gleaming white in the harbour everyday, she might not get her rusty bits Y-10’d and hosed down in a water ban before the owner pops down but I know if I were a boat I would far, far, far prefer to be a proper boat that gets taken across oceans and shown the world!!

My random thought process then goes on to ramble in my head about the Dolphin 3 in Pittwater and the man who brought his mast down on the way in to Lymington- (how they connected I can’t remember but they are the thoughts now floating around in my heid) I’ll save those for tomorrow maybe!!

Lots of love
ps Anyone seen or heard from Carie?????

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noon @ 1130 3518.03 16959.22 Thu 22/05/2008 03:36

dtd 1509 dmg 59 GPS trip log 5540 (departed @ 342) end of our 6th week at sea actual dmg 4310 distance lost 1230. Well, those are the numbers but there may be different interpretations!

Now that conditions are reasonably benign, I have managed to disassemble my mp3 player and furbish its batteries and it seems to be charging again, though only holding a charge for perhaps half an hour. With luck, this will improve with every charge.
But I cranked up part 2 of 1000 years in a Day (inspired gift,H – thanks xx) and there’s a burst of Shakespeare at the beginning – not acknowledged but I think it’s a sonnet, in which the narrator, outcast and friendless and unhappy, remembers his love -‘…when I think of thee…for then I scorn to change my state with kings’. Watching an albatross in full arrogant, subtle majesty spearing in at three inches above sea level, undulating with every wave, wings flexibly rigid, massive anhedral and sometimes the little out turn at the tip making a wide omega as the very last fibre of the outboard feather strokes the surface, completely casual, having a look at us as it flows past and a tiny almost supercilious lift of one leading edge up into a high, vertically banked climbing turn (the Stormy Petrels seem to do full Immelmanns right on the surface, not these guys- way outside the design envelope for the airframe)or – sometimes – fanning what tail it has, extending its feet as whopping airbrakes, it plonks itself on the surface a boat length away and contemplates us with its black shrouded eyes, its long hook tipped beak wagging gently at us – clumsy, clod footed humans in a daft contraption trying to cross my ocean!

..’for then I scorn to change my state with kings’.

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3632.23 17109.20 Thu 22/05/2008 20:51

Moving satisfactorily NE towards the barn door. No predictions.

Lurking dangers – passed a white buoy about 10 metres to stbd. Looked as if it was supporting something so looked further and yep – 200 metes away, another one, with a flagpole. Cods and wallops – how deep is this stuff? Did we run over it? Has it escaped from somewhere else or is there a fishing boat around? Half an hour later, big white fishing boat hoons up over the horizon to the SW and towards the gear. At least one answer…
Then, during a very black night, I decided a smock was the way to go too keep warm, took a quick squizz around the horizon and nothing in sight, went down found smock and brought it to the cockpit where I sat to leeward and struggled into it (easier down below, standing rather than sitting)stuck my head out of the top and there off the stbd bow, about a mile away, a vessel’s lights crossing from right to left – so we are the give way vessel. Very quick sort of sheets, Kevvo etc and we’re heading east and behind him but a close shave – no idea whether he was trawling, long lining or what, but the odd thing was that I could see a red light all the way to the horizon, so might have been part of a fishing signal. Impossible to work out what the lights mean on some of these boats.
Then, next watch, lights on the horizon, port quarter. Constant bearing, 2 white, one green so we stand on. Watch him closely and about 2 miles away, a definite turn to starboard and he’s headed behind us. Was a very big ship, bulk carrier of some sort, heading roughly east. My AIS black box has not worked since leaving Newcastle with it’s hundreds of ships, so I don’t know any more

Can someone please tell me how Scott is going on Everest?

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noon3710.10 17133.45 Fri 23/05/2008 04:45

This will probably morph into noon pos. (it did!) Now 0950. Berri is stomping along – hugely exhilarating, somewhat visceral, but a blast. Stbd tack, full main, right out till the head is touching the cap shroud, small furling jib, about half way between a #3 and #4 in old wardrobe terms, short steepish sea, 18 – 25 kts apparent over the stbd quarter, serial rain squalls and Kevvo in charge except when I was hand steering. Cracking 8’s and 9’s, occasional 10 off the waves, white surging water back past the cockpit – kevvo a bit erratic because he is essentially reactive, so smoother to hand steer and probably at least half a knot faster. We’re tracking about 020M, the intention being to get as far north as possible while we can and worry about the east later. Due for more northerlies in a couple of days, some slack in between Just as I typed that, Mcq stuck her head around the rain screen and said it’s time for a reef, so we’ve just put one in and rolled in the heady for balance. Still cracking 7’s and 8,s but still bucking a knot of current.
Now 1030. 3702.40 17128.02

Post noon 3721 17142 put in the second, third reefs and then dropped the main, all together. unrolled about a third of the heady in 32 kt and now breaking following sea. Still honking at 6.5.

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McQ: Cape Cheerful and Annoy Rock rock!!

We had spag bol for dinner tonight, it was really very good- the first spag bol we’ve had, would you believe?? So now it has surpassed beef and coconut curry with cashews (and a good dollop of SC) as my fave meal so far, and before we had a beef curry my previous fave was Oirish Stew and creamed corn and some of our many potato supplies. No beef curry left, some spag bol and lots of oirish stew to keep us going, if i remember rightloy from the recent stocktake.

Interesting chat, huh??!! But thats tinned food aboard boat life!!

Currently still stonking north, we had some big SEasters and huge following seas this afternoon- 32/33 knotters for ages- Big Whitters even bunged the exhaust (that phrase means just that!!!)- the wind’s come round quite quick though and merely hours later we now have around 20 from the WNW, so it feels pretty feisty again!! Its amazing how chilled it all is going downwind, even with big ole seas!!

Did I mention Cape Cheerful ever??? Sorry if I have but it is fascinating me: approaching Dutch form the north we have to clear Cape Cheerful, which is just the most brillisnt name- I just keep wondering whether, with all the rocks and current and fog that appears to be the norm whether Cape C is perhaps ironic??? Will let you know when we are near!!!

I just had a look at some other names up north- Imagine naming your local rock Annoy Rock?? just bonkers really and hilarious but perfectly logical nonetheless!!! There is also Teapot Rock, i don’t think we’ll go near but I wonder if thats ironic too and it looks nothing like a teapot!!! Its so nutty, you could sit and look at the funny rock and place names on the chart and amuse yourself for hours (well I could, anyway!!!)

must be time to go get some sleep, perhaps!!

Lots of love everybody
Spag Bollinger McQueen

I just found another one- Bobrof Island, ‘Hello, I am the King of Bobrof Island’ hmmm no one’s going to take you seriously now are they??
Also, I swear Egg Pt is next to Banger Pt and Salt Pt… was someone having breakfast when they discovered???

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Not having fun! Fri 23/05/2008 13:30

Too weary for long blog – possible change of plan – if more convenient wind and wx wise, we may try to go through Amchitka Pass at 180 deg W. Despite mcq’s enthusiasm, it’s not much fun out there just now. But the dinos put on a huge show for me earlier that helped too lift the spirits. Kimbra, could you please run Amchitka past Dave and Karl and Tom? Tks. Will see whether I can pull in Speedy’s latest.

PS I think the GPS in the SatC has died – not really surprising in these conditions – so, for Karl, we’re no longer trackable.

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Bloggage Fri 23/05/2008 14:44

I wish I could capture for you the splendour and magnificence of all this. From a black, menacing night with a glorious dino show glowing and sparkling and pulsating in the surge as Berri surfs through her gerzillionth wave to a grey night with soft fluffy, cotton ball clouds in huge swathes across the sky – really just elevated mist patches but with their own presence and attitude when silhouetted by the moon. And the moon – almost directly astern, sometimes just an illusory glow, sometimes a brilliant reflection as its light comes through a hole in the fluff and becomes a silver plate on the water, sometimes a grey disc with a halo of subdued iridescence and sometimes the moon itself in our own gap – the horizon goes black, the sk silvery grey, there might be a star or two and suddenly its all lovely soft/hard texture and dappled sea. And then it’s gone again.

I think what I’m describing is the developing centre of a small low we’re crossing but I’m not sure. Wind now WNW and we’re still on about 020, following cross sea, kevvo in charge and still stonking along, though a bit less enthusiastically as the wind has abated to about 20 kt. Improved by a cuppa and some dunking mcvities.

Speed has blipped the phone – must go gather your gems – excitingest part of the night.

Kimbra, I’ll try to call Dave today or tomoz if conditions allow.

Love yez

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Answers on a postcard Fri 23/05/2008 15:07

Keith – thanks – please pass on my commiserations. I have at least some idea how he must be feeling. Hope he’s ok otherwise.

David W tks. Intend dumping some excess baggage on you for your trip home if ok.

PMcQ I’m 5ft 10ish old scale.

Carla – brewing it is easy – we’ve got a stainless plunger (and a plastic backup!)so as long as you can brace for loong enough to fill the thing, then pluuunge, easypeasy. Then you have to get it and mug out the door into the tempest – not so eastp. But the real problem is cleaning out the plunger afterwards – has to be dunked over the side and that’s a bit fraught in this stuff.

wooo big dunking wave just broke across the boat.

Fiona – nah! Nothing so pansy. This one’s the very latest Henri – lovely bit of kit, just wish

I’d bought a size larger. Must go check the horizon.

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McQ: Alert… Alert… Snickers detected…woo hoo!!!

Its not so miserable outside now!! Just a bit feisty still but its not black and gunky and murky anymore- theres a wee bit moon fuzzing through the cloud. lumpety sea and charging along still in 20 knotters. All good!! To be fair, at the start of the last watch I did stick my heid on deck and after one look around into the gloom decide that the getting through the next 2 hours would require going under my bunk and breaking out the last remaining Tim Tams!!! Whilst hunting for the tim tams I also found more ryvita!! and Steves emergency chocolate… wooo hooo thank you steve!!! Which Alex was as excited about as I when I told him what I had found and brought out!! AND, there is another packet of SNICKERS!!! So, ha, all you who mocked me by sending those mean adn teasing messages about tucking into more snickers at your desks and stuff. We have rations!!! woo hoo!!! I left them under the bunk for the mo- clearly out of sight out of mind works wonders and I think we’ll need them next week!!!

T’other news, oh yes very exciting- our Gribs (weather files) that come in are all in pretty colours- no wind- blue, little wind green, then yeller, then orange then lots of wind red and then pink!! and land is little grey blobs… well at moment there is blue and green for the next 24 hours then lots of red, but the most exciting thing is we now have little grey blobs that represent the Aleutians, at the top of the picture!! Wicked!!!

Its hard to write anything articulate and cohesive when you keep popping up on deck to check whats happening- Merc-you Watch is rubbish, I want to be on Whit Watch- they get all the exciting things- first fishing buoys and afishing boat, next watch big shipo, next watch another boat, then last watch he came down woke me up said it was black and grim but the phosphorescence was amazing, I go up on deck- black and grim yes and not even a flicker of luminous green to be seen anywhere to amuse me!!!Had to entertain myself with singing along to power ballads on the Ipod and one or two recitals to the wind of the first 11 verses of AM.

Hope everyone well and happy.
Lots of lvoe
Cor (AKA: McQueen)
ps mum, am shorter than big A- he quite tall. No JC’s (obviously, doh!!), why you ask???
message for hannah (via email-thea maybe? are you even there my thea??) if anyone going to jamaica- ‘brilliant, darling, brilliant, just the Atlantic to go, you can do it. go Glasgow, much love and vibes to the whole crew from Bol in the North Pacific’!!! FF, thank you for hannah updates- much appreciated!! Is Ricky 4th now and still hot on heels and were NY and H&H; 1st/2nd into jamaica or has she closed any gap there, overall??

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: More from the Boot Room…

I’ve been thinking: At some point the plastic bag in my left boot disintegrated- though,possibly my fault for using one of those bags that you might get at a fruit and veg market but would think twice before using even for just your salad leaves!! Anyway, on looking around for a substitute I started thinking… so now I have invented the McQ (patent pending) Gore-Tex Boot Liner… I would like to patent my invention- Speedy I bet you know about stuff like that? Now, this is not a sock, sealskin/waterproof or otherwise, it is quite simply a thin goretex boot liner, a foot shaped liner with the waterproofing capacity of a plastic bag. I have drawn some pics of wet but happy people who have dry tooty-toes using the McQGTBL and wet and sad people who aren’t and have soggy feet. I will donate these drawings to be used for the advertising campaign and though we can’t really market this to the likes of Dubarry (that would be like admitting your product doesn’t work, I guess) there must be lots of waterproof gear people who would make them for us. AND…If this already exists, er, why don’t I have a pair??? In the meantime, i am improvising and have discovered that a large ziploc bag, whilst almost too thick is proving quite sturdy!!

I have to defend my baby blue jacket… It was bought for warmth pre Hobart as I had nothing else with me!! I tried to get the lady in the shop to sell me a normal midlayer jacket in red, shall we say (shh, but probably I actually wanted grey or black!!) I specifically told her I didn’t want to look girlie before getting on a boat to Hobart with lots of handsome Dutch men!! She only had huge great big man sizes tho’. Anyway, go figure but I came out the shop with a fitted girlie baby blue jacket- and whilst it looks v nice in the YC I am the first to admit that I don’t think its designed to cross oceans (it is first on my mental list of stuff to go home from Dutch!!)

And, I shall definitely be reverting to red when my blue bottoms and black smock (which does have some reflective bits on it) wear out and need replacing (and to be fair to Musto, as far as I know, they only make their full on Ocean kit in red and yellow and they’ve never stopped making the Offshore in red and yellow too, despite the other colours). Until then, I shall use the fact that no one is going to see me to fish me out the water as a deterrent from going for a dip in the first place…

Can you believe it, but the sun is out????
Sunnies on and off to deck we go!!
Speak soon,
ps I am starting to look forward to a glass of red wine, i think thats fair enough after 45 days!!
pps I can see that well known town of Pertropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy on the chart now (!!)

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A rant against snake oil

This is a rant, but it’s well intentioned. Out there at the far end of it, it just might save someone’s life.
It’s not intended for people who just sail around the cans, but for those of us who go offshore.

I’ve just made a minor mod to my Henri smock – simple and easy with the trusty sailmaker’s needle and I thought about McQ’s boots and how the Fashionistas and the marketers and the brand managers – the manipulators and the snake oil merchants – have taken over the sport and the minds of the gullible. Very expensive boots – to take one example – look cool at the briefing (how often do you see the rockstars sitting there for the cameras?) – but they have to work out here on the ocean as well. In my experience, they are no more effective than my $40 wellies and I’ve seen and sailed with a lot of people who were wearing them and have tried them myself(borrowed a pair and they were already wet inside and leaked like the proverbial). My wellies do two seasons before the rubber begins to perish and I chuck them and buy another pair – and I have dry feet all the time unless I get water over the top. It is utterly ludicrous that poor McQ has to wear plastic bags inside hers, but maybe she will not get conned so easily next time. This is her second pair – for that money Our Appointed Sailmaker could make me a new storm jib and trisail…how many of you out there are in the same situation? The fishos, who spend their lives out here, wear wellies like mine. Dry feet reduce fatigue and contribute to safety. And, having said all that, perhaps there are some boots out there that are worth the money but I doubt it.

Then there’s wet weather gear. I always used to buy Gill because it is excellent gear, quality control superb and they used to listen to people like me and fix things that didn’t work. Before the last Fastnet, I looked for a Gill smock only to find that they only had silver or black ones. So the fashion statement has taken over from the safety factor there too – the primary function of this stuff is to keep us warm and dry, and the secondary one is to provide maximum visibility to the helicopter pilot who might be looking for us in a 1998 storm. It is not – not – to sell product for a sponsor. Or to look good in the bar afterwards. They come way down the list. If you are in the water in a crashing storm at night and you can hear the chopper, would you rather be in a black or silver top or dayglo orange or red or yellow? And the sponsors are now insisting that crews be dressed in company livery – there’s a well known outfit that puts people in light blue and white kit – if I were an owner at that level, I’d refuse, point blank, just as I did in my own small way to the Gill HQ salesman who tried to tell me that colour didn’t matter – after all, they had a yellow hood. Bollocks. Paint a soccer ball yellow and put it 500 feet away and see how small it looks. Then arrange for waves to break over it. That’s what the chopper pilot sees from 500 feet – then try it at night. So now I have a dayglo red Henri smock, lots of retro tape, plus yellow hood and there’s a pair of pants on the way to Dutch to match it. Sorry, Gill, but I tried. McQ, incidentally, has a black smock, light blue jacket and blue pants. Dame Ellen, from hazy memory, wore grey.

If us sailors don’t insist on these things, it serves us right if there’s nothing but froth on the market. Tell them, loud and clear and don’t buy it! You will be glad you insisted if it’s you in the water. I’d like to see race authorities taking a stand as well – while it might interfere with individual liberty, the safety issue is so important that it’s worth it. Just a recommendation would be a start. 1998 changed a lot of things for the better – let’s not lose sight of the basic principles just to keep sponsors and the fashion industry happy.

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noon at 1300 3855.13 17246.33

dtd 1371, dmg 121. DT Amchitka 785 – about 6 days? My June 3 prediction for Dutch still has legs.

Closer to Petropavlovsk than to Dutch at the mo – love to go have a look…

I think I can say we are now past my mental half way point. Finish not yet in sight but we’ll get there, pain yet to come and body weary, complaining, but still able to put one foot ahead of the other. Every painted white line on the road a small hurdle that must be negotiated on the way. This is about 36 k in my mental marathon. It gets harder from here in so many subtle and not so subtle ways.

Too much waiting in the queue. Will stop waffling. Motor sailing more or less straight towards Amchitka. Almost no wind. I expect you all are looking at satellite pics of a big white mass of cloud in the top left corner of the Pacific. Yep! We’re under it. Sea mist this morning, water temp 14 degrees.

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Noon 4034.23 17322.16 Sun 25/05/2008 03:14

Looking a bit more reasonable out there today. Fitful sunlight through the mist, beck to the big jib and doing 6.5 towards Amchitka. Our day of painful stitching on the little sail has survived with attitude – will probably get us all the way to wherever so if no big sewing machine in Dutch, we’ll not fret. Berri slipping through the water almost silently – what a change it is to be in benign conditions! The only – and more or less continuous noise – is Lizzie whizzing away at the back – has kept the batteries fully charged all the way – Fantastic. If OK with US Immigration, we might call in at Adak for fuel and freshies if we do go through Amchitka. Was once a cold war US Naval Air Station – now handed over to local Aleut community.

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4010.33 17315.01 North coast of Tasmania in the S2H!

Grey, translucent overcast – tinges of pink and orange as the sun does its best – even, ethereally, glimpses of milky blue jade universe, evanescent, distant but near. As my Dad used to say during those endless English winters in similar conditions, just enough blue to patch a Dutchman’s trousers. That was back then, when we all thought that the Dutch went around in clogs and blue baggy pants like in the fairy stories. Banks of mist all around – glossy, polished calm surface with complex swell pattern, long and rolling and all over the place but seems to be a biggie from the ESE in there somewhere. Motor running, everything waterfall wet, moisture rilling and dripping everywhere but great because it washes the caked salt out of the lines and the blocks and all the bearings, so the lines are soft and pliable again and the blocks run properly. If salt weren’t hygroscopic, my shorts would have crackled last time I took them off – instead, they just sort of creaked and remained in the shape they were – they would have stood up on their own. Had to flatten and subdue them with our mega adjustable spanner and stomp them into a plastic bag where, I hope, they will fester until Dutch. Revolting instant coffee and sweetened condensed milk on the go to remind me that offices ain’t where I want to be.

Which was a long and wordy scene setting for – dolphins! – about 50 of them, leaping and snorting and racing around Berri under the mirror surface – absolute delight to watch and hear and participate. Smallish, dark grey backs with a vivid white curved patch from roughly below the dorsal fin all the way back to the tail and the tail has a white stripe around the outline of the top surface. Impossible to photograph with the camera I have with me – it’s very clever but desperately slow between shutter push and actual photo so have to judge timing and focus way early and I’ve only cracked one passable pic and even then the dolphin is out of focus. Oh for the Nikon at times like these but way too salty and humid out here.

On which note, (clank and dammy and cold…) time for another BAPTO for things that really work. This one should have got up on the last website as well but can’t remember. We’ve got a Sea Rug each – Australian design, www.searug.com.au (I think – Speeds, could you check please) and it does exactly what is claimed for it – works when wet, either way up, depending on circumstances and it’s all I need in these conditions to keep me warm and dry at night. McQ buries herself under searug, arctic sleeping bag, various sheetlike thingies and a polar fleece blanket but she’s a sensitive soul. On the last gig, my rug worked as a sort of tent on the way home because we did not have time to re-install the insulation and condensation flooded the old bus shelter. It soaked up the drips and streams and at least kept the water off my polar blanket and ultimately my skin. Great gear. Still have that rug as well – now rather tatty – using it as a pillow. When it gets cold – which it won’t, unless we get stuck for the winter somewhere, (average temp across the top during the time we expect to be up there is about 0 – 10 degrees C – an English summer’s day) I have three thermal survival bags that we can stuff searugs or whatever anyone fancies into and stay toasty. Maybe!

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4113.07 17328.33 evening update Sun 25/05/2008 08:57

Still stonking along – wind E about 15 – big jib rolled in a few turns and one reef. Grib says more of this, all day tomorrow – hope so and hope it doesn’t increase too much. Iff we get lucky, we might just slip between two systems, but that’s serious wishful thinking and I must wash my mouth out with soap – or at least my finger tips. We had six albatrosses wheeling and circling and gawping at us for most of today – all the same sort, black browed, as described earlier. I think at least two of them have been with us for about a week. Lovely to watch them formation flying – sometimes two, sometimes four, lazily soaring and dipping back to the surface, airy grace and symmetry.

Our local advisor says that up here, May through July, the Bering Sea and probably as far down as here tends to be permanently overcast, low cloudbase some mist and fog. That’s what we’ve got. Getting through Amchitka will be a bit of a challenge – to be met when we see what we’ve got but not to be attempted against the tide and only in daylight. It’d 50 miles wide, but quite shallow in the middle, and the bottom rises from gerzillions to tens of metres in a very short distance, very strong tides, often against the wind, so very like the SE corner of OZ, of what we know!

McQ cooking, then I’m on deck for a couple of clank and dammy hours. The nights seem very long in two hour stints – three is almost better, but that last hour really drags, so we’re sticking to the 2 hour routine.

Had in mind to write about some of Berri’s systems for anyone else who is thinking about long distance sailing. Perhaps if tomorrow is reasonably benign, that’ll be the go.

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McQ: fairly random selection of thoughts

After extensive clinical trials I can officially sanction large ziploc bags as the best boot liners I have come across to date- they are so good that I have discarded my first pair of warm but soggy socks in favour of anew clean dry pair- normally I owuld eek out the soggy pair a little longer but I am so confident in the ability of the ziplocs that I have gone for a new pair. Bear in mind dry socks oft become a precious and rare commodity on board and the utmost should be done to preserve, at all times.

Also, Just below Clam Lagoon lies Yippee Shoal which is just to the North and West of Lucky Point!!! I wonder what happened round there??Do you think they really meant ‘yippee’ when they found the shoal??!!

Fair bit of easterly breeze at the mo, so screeching reaching North- past 41N so not long till only 10 degrees latitude to cover (as Alex points out tho’ we do need to sail the hypotenuse!!)

Mum, please could you get dad a copy of ‘Frozen in Time’ about the ill fated Franklin Expedition to discover the NWP. Alex gave me a copy before we left and I have just started reading it- gripping stuff and I think dad will enjoy too, if he ahsn’t already read it. Tinned food- who knew??!!!

Irish Stew and creamed corn for dinner, am quite partial to those two tins together, they actually taste of something, I think must be what it is!! Fingers crossed we don’t get lead poisoning!! And used the penultimate meals worth of pots- finally!!!

Wee snooze now before what I have named Black Watch (8-10pm no moon just black gunky sea and sky mixed together and you can barely see the mast from the cockpit)

lots of love

Congrats on wedding last week N&A;, heard it was lovely from Carie. Sorry I didn’t get my best wishes in in time- knew it round about nowish but as you know the days disappear out here and become meaningless, so I missed it!! Wish i could have been there… maybe see you Sydney at Christmas?? Bol xxx

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Noon 4253.46 17341.60 Mon 26/05/2008 04:13

dtd 1039 dmg 115
Kimbra, I’ve left a message for Gary Ramos Been thinking about state of mind, cold feet, endless finishing straights – all more or less linked. Standing beside the Cutty Sark, before the fire when she was fully rigged, I wondered how anyone could get that huge ship with that enormous sail area and unimaginable power up to maximum speed and keep her there for 90 days through the southern ocean rollers, the doldrums, and all the storms and calms in between. How would you feel as the captain, making daily decisions about sail, course, weather and the rest with the ship creaking and straining around you and water crashing across the decks and the rig vibrating and shuddering and flexing with every huge wave? Disaster lurking every moment and with every breaking wave – some bigger than the ship itself. Were those men so confident in their ships and their own abilities that they would sleep easily at night with all that going on – and, above all, a deadline to meet and a race to win in some cases? Or did they, like me, live their lives in a state of nervous, analytical, catastrophising, anticipation? Was their whole attention focused on the ship and its dialogue with them, the subtle changes in tone and pitch, in vibration, in motion through and over the water, the tiny sounds that signalled changes in condition, in the state of a massive brace or a spar and the state of the crew and their capacity to keep driving the ship? That’s me and it’s a big big strain. Only at times when the sea is at its most benign and there’s nothing in the forecast can I ease up and read or do a crossword or listen to music. Inevitably, when I do, it gets interrupted by a random thought about something that needs fixing or that should go on the list for Dutch. I sleep tuned to the boat and when things change, I’m usually awake immediately and trying to sense what has changed. When things are bad, I doze, but don’t sleep, and usually sitting on the floor of the boat at least partly dressed in party gear. I guess that in my world, shit happens and I like to feel that I’m prepared to deal with it and am at least partly on top of each possibility before it happens and have taken action to minimise or prevent it. Lots of examples on this trip – checkstays, furler mods, backstay tackle. And simple things like noticing that the shackle pin holding the tack on the main to the gooseneck had unwound a couple of turns, or that my mousing line for the checkstay was about to fly loose in 30 kts – little things that so often get ignored or missed And as I write this, I wonder what I have actually missed as we enter the never ending finishing straight.

The Melbourne marathon finishes next to the Art Gallery almost in the city centre. The last 8 or so kilometres are almost straight – a long straight stretch along St Kilda rd, about 4 k, the long shallow bend to the left at Toorak rd, and back again past the old barracks and then a final kink to the left and you can see the finish. A whole kilometre away at least. If you’ve never run one, you won’t have any idea how difficult it is to keep pushing a screaming body metre by metre along those stretches and the final k is almost the hardest because that’s when you know you have to push even harder and you cant feel your legs any more and your eyes have no focus. The headbangingest thing I’ve ever done and not just once but about 15 times. This little stretch of 500 miles or so to Amchitka is similar – never seems to get shorter, day to day – GPS always seems to say 5 days 6 hrs to go. Immensely difficult to stay cool and just wait while it all happens – but happen it will.

And cold feet. Dry though they may be, they just don’t ever get warm. I’ve just remembered that Pete and I used plastic beer bottles as hotties and I’m experimenting as I write. But we’ll buy those little metal camping drink bottles in Dutch and use them for the next leg.

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McQ: A heater in the Boot Room??

Wet feet = sad me
Cold feet = sad me
Dry feet = happy me
Warm feet = happy me
Warm and dry feet = extra happy me!!!
A simple formula really but Alex’s latest innovation, a variation on the hot water bottle theme is just wonderful (empty nutella tub and, of course, ziploc bag, just in case it leaks!) Warm up some water- but not too hot to melt the plastic, into nutella pot, screw lid up tightly, into ziploc and tuck in at the bottom of the Cat’s Meow at the start of off watch and two hours later, toasty feet- woo hoo!!!

Which got me thinking:

Is there a heater in the boot room?? Probably, being the Arctic. And which sort of person is worse/better- the one who rushes back, first into the boot room, throws of his layers and takes pride of place by the heater for his boots to warm them up overnight… or, the one who ambles in late after everyone else has gone and moves aforementioned boots and replaces his own in the best, warmest spot. Then theres the type of person who keeps his boots in the corner furthest from the heater, he will have no probs locating his own boots in the morning but has to suffer cold feet continually. A system perhaps, whereby, everyone gets a turn of their boots getting the warmest spot??? A heater in the boot room- adds a whole new dynamic.

5 knotters of wind at the mo, so donk on and pointing to destination: first clear night in ages tho’- I see stars!!! Saw a plane too and I think a satellite aswell… busy up there tonight!!

Lots of love
PS. For Heat(h)er (!!): I seem to recall we used to make excellent lemonade at 67WPS and Viewmount too- we have 6 lemons and 3 limes left on board, some sugar (not loads- need to keep enough for our tea and coffee, v v important!!) Can you tell me what quantities of sugar and water i need for our fruit and do i need to add anything else/ do anything other than pulverise the whole lot together??? lots of love Cor xxx

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4336.46 17351.22 Mon 26/05/2008 14:16

Was right first time – its Andak. Moonless, so far, at 2245 AEST, 2345 local. Hazy, first and second mag stars only, grey sky with myriad pinpricks – Great Bear was directly over masthead, now off to port – undefined horizon – just a heavy merge from grey to black. Doing diesel sums – how far can we motor this time – we have 130 ltrs in jerries and whatever is in the tank, say 60 ltrs so 190 @ 2/hr = 95 hrs or about 3 days = about 300 miles. My Amchitka waypoint is 533 miles ahead, then there’s at least another 400 to Dutch along the inside. In round numbers, 300 miles in the tank, 1000 to go and we need a contingency factor so say 200 in the tank + 100 contingency. I think we’ll keep the motor running for 24 hrs max and reassess with new grib and actual progress as factors.

I saw an aircraft too – I wonder which route we’re under. Perhaps Seattle to Beijing? My aircraft seemed to be going north, and was to the east of us. US West coast over the pole to Moscow perhaps or am I way off?

Follow up from my last about state of mind – I can’t know, of course, that I actually do wake up when things change – just a pious hope – but I do know that I have done so at a couple of critical times – once just in time to prevent the forestay from parting company with the boat.

180 degrees – the International Dateline – that arbitrary divider imposed by Imperial Britain – last time Berri crossed it was way down at the other end, just south of the Antipodes Islands, so named because they are almost exactly opposite Greenwich on the earth’s surface. That was in January 2005 and about 6 months later I stood at the exact opposite end of the axis, on the Greenwich meridian at the Observatory. I bet there aren’t many people alive who have done that. Odd feeling too – think about all that mass and heat in between…Will be fitting to cross it again in Amchitka pass if we do go through that way.

Propagation here non existent – odd – so will try iridium to see whether there’s goodies for us out there. Speed awol in Dartmouth, so might be change in routine.

Just stuck my head up to check for sea monsters and there’s a soft cheesy moon just above the horizon, yellow through the murk and only the first mag stars visible – but there’s a horizon.

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McQ: Yep you guessed it- more about my feet

Oh Kimbra, how wonderful you are!!! This morning we opened one of Kimbras parcels, on her recommendation, and what were they?? A pair of fluffy insoles for each of us- AMAZING!!! I have never been so excited!! Have just finished watch and am about to cut down to size… then the question remains, will they fit inside the ziplocs or do I risk removing the ziplocs and hopefully it will be a long time before the damp (not wet anymore) insides seep through my new woolly insoles… whatever happens, boy they look like they will toast my tooty toes a treat!!!! Thank you!!!
Its starting to seem as if I am a bit obsessed about my feet.
Was a bit over excited this morning, got up, made coffee, oatcakes and marmalade as a treat for brekkie- a change from museli and undried fruit, back to the museli for a few days tomorrow tho, then crackers for a bit, before any more oatcake rations, I think. Had my vitamins too, went on deck and then realised it was only 0400, usually wait till 0900 watch before doing all of the above!!! Got a bit ahead of myself this morning tho- think it might be cause we’ve stuck to Sydney time but realistically we must be a few hours ahead by now, so it’s pretty light pretty early. We’ve got a 6 hour time change between Sydney and Alaska (and also it’ll be yesterday, if you see what I mean!!) Might be sensible to change the clocks when we cross the dateline, or we might end up very confused as we near Dutch!!
Right, must get on the woolly feet case.
Sailing again- woo hoo!!! Gentle 5.8 knots boat speed, in the right(ish) direction, not loads of wind but all our sail up… all good really!!
Lots o love
ps dave bright: what are your words for fingers and toes? I think i remember but I won’t announce just in case I am totally wrong and then people really would think I was mad!!! Oh, am contemplating talking to the walrus, what do you think??
pps: mum, Frozen in Time is by Owen Beattie and John Geiger

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noon 4439.10 17413.12 Tue 27/05/2008 03:57

dtd 948 dmg 91

dmg much better for Amchitka as we are heading more or less straight towards it. Now only 250 nm from US territorial waters – we’re only a couple of days from Alaska at least, touch wood and lick me nose…

What to report – good wind, benign sea for the last 2 days – unimaginable. Real progress, although the bloody GPS keeps telling us we’re not getting any closer timewise. Blood red sunrise – rather like sydney bushfire effect – obviously particulates in the air but what and where from? Indonesian forests? Chinese industry? I took a photo of the sun with an albatross just about to cross it – perfect timing but out of focus and just a splodge so worthless. Pity.

Found a way to get the fuel filter off the engine to fix the oil leak, which had been getting worse (obvious really – put a hose clip around it and was able to turn it by hand) and cleaned up the contact areas and replaced it with a new one so I hope that’s sorted.

We’re in a propagation hole – not a patch of green anywhere on the calculator and almost no orange. Checked the co-ordinates and all ok – anyone heard about unusual sunspot activity?

Carla – yay! re Phoenix. What it is looking for? And thanks re Dall’s porps. They were dazzling.

Kimbra – thanks for Gary R stuff – really useful contact – and for fleecy inners. Have mine in my Chinese slippers from Beijing that keep my feet off all the damp floor inside.

Duncan – thanks heaps for all that research – basically confirmed my own opinions – I have raincatcher as well and have just assembled it. Will remove the cylinder in dutch. Also have AIS gizmology, but it seems to have gone to sleep so will have it checked.

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McQ: Ship Ahoy!!!

4452N, 17423E- just had an enormous container ship cross behind us from west to east. He was huge and so fully laden with containers that the bridge was barely visible over the top and he looked as though he had containers hanging over the back too- literally full to bursting!! He was dark blue and he passed close enough behind us for me to read CMA CGM (just, and I think!!!) on his side (but not close enough to stress about) He did come absolutely stonking out of nowhere though- I guess they don’t expect to encounter anything out here and it really is full speed ahead… wasn’t long before he was gone over the horizon at the other side either. I watched him for a bit after he passed, partly to make sure he didn’t do anything crazy like turn around and come and have a look at us (like MV Beryl, once before in the Atlantic!!) and partly cause, in about 45 days, that is really the only tangible evidence I have that there is still a world ticking over out there!! If they’d been able to see me close up they would have wondered what this random michelin man-girl with bunches was doing sipping coffee and staring at them intently but a bit glakit from the cockpit of this tiny boat!!!

Sailing again, all good… should prob get back to deck to watch for more ships, would not be good to get mown down and squished here, so near to a large glass of red juice!!!

lots of love
ps is seymour out there at all??… miss your chat seymour, if you are!! will try call from dutch. xxx

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Blunky Tue 27/05/2008 19:06

Looks as if we will be at or close to amchitka on saturday. we have tidal data from argos stations either side but not for pass itself – seems low water slack is around noon utc sat 30th = 0400 alaska daylight time so if we’re there it will be a dawn entry – locals advise not at night. Can anyone pse confirm low water time sat, sun, mon – Kimbra/Tom perhaps?

water temp 8 deg and now more current from NE so probably in the Aleutian slope flow, though still a long way out. Hands too cold for more – will do another in daylight. Water at Cape Horn was 7 deg.

Anyone for a tour of old nuclear testing sites? Jump aboard! First the Marshalls, now Amchitka. I doubt whether we could get to New Mexico, but there’s Mururoa and a few others to go.

For ages now, I’ve been hearing a strange squeaky chirruping noise at night. Unable to place it but assumed that it was not threatening and probably coming from some part of Kevvo’s wheels and pulleys. A couple of night ago, in the yellow cheesy moonlight. I saw a ghostly, tumbling black shape silhouetted against the moon’s reflection – yay! got it – it’s the Stormy Petrels talking to eachother. They must congregate around the boat at night attracted by the lights.

We’re now nearly at 46N – way past Tasmania and approaching Stewart Island in our southern equivalents. Berri’s highest latitude was Cape Horn at 57 and a bit south, and the Fastnet at about 51N so we’re getting close to one and closer to another. Shame there’s no gin.

Through the water log now reads 6343 after starting at 342, so 6000 miles – would be at Dutch if no current -we couldn’t have gone much straighter. Must work out our average speed ttw – must be better than 5 kts.

A cold, wet, grey gloomy morning out here beyond the boonies. Manchester as I remember it, every Tuesday. Supposed to be midsummer – but I like it heaps as long as it keeps bringing us wind and keeping the nasties south of us.

Hey, Austin – glad you’ve found us again – pass the word around! Would be really interesting to know who else is out there – sign the gust book please everyone!

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4609.28 17453.50 and pearshaped Tue 27/05/2008 23:30

Seems that pearshapedness prevails, at least as far as Amchitka goes. To hit the centre of the barn door, we need to track 030M but current, wind and sea state only allow us about 015 – 020M. This means we will make landfall some 70 – 90 miles west of the pass and have to fight our way into the teeth of the easterlies in front of the low developing to the west. Poo! I have the engine running, full sail just at the point of stall, squeezing every inch of height we can get while the wind is soft. We may well have to do a Cook and park while it all blows through. No word from anyone re Adak entry yet, but we may well need to go in there for fuel.

Kimbra – agree with you, Tom and the other naysayers. We’ll go without a rifle – you can carry the oxo cubes and I’ll push the wheelbarrow with the pepper spray, McQ can be the advance Party – did I really say that?. And yes, ski masks (3 better than 1) but better still windsurfer helmets with visor – unlikely in Anchorage! May be a fisho equivalent in Dutch – will advise. Cd you please buy 3 metal half litre camping water bottles for hotties, hand warmers etc – they’ll need reasonably heatproof tops and the wider the top the better for dekettling into. Thanks re fleece.

Carla – thanks – thought it must be ice! And it certainly looked like bushfire smoke. We must be in some sort of propagation hole unless there’s a bug in the calculator – unheard of in Jim Corenman’s stuff, so I’ll go for the hole. The whole thing went red as we crossed 43 degrees.

Pascal – probably too late but if you do ring our satphone, please keep ringing back until someone answers. The person who hears it first will be in their bunk, the phone is sequestered in driest possible spot and awkward to get at …. but someone will get there eventually. Don’t leave a voice message – we’ll never get it. I’ll try your cell after this. We’re not in Dutch yet – I’d say about 10 days from here, all things considered.

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noon 4624.15 17503.44 Wed 28/05/2008 05:00

dtd 852 dmg 96 – still going sideways relative to Dutch. 136 to Alaskan waters.

From this rather uncomfortable, cold and damp little grot behind the Cone, things ain’t so good. IFF we can climb high enough to make it through Amchitka without having to park and wait, we’re about 9 days from Dutch. If we get lucky, that is!

Real headbang stuff. Engine running, heady now rolled in, boat set up to just slide the swell rather that pound into it and stop with every third wave. So we’re still 10 deg. below the direct track required of 028. Small chance from the grib that we will get a lift tonight and then again a couple of days out off the big low but it will be a close run thing. We have about 120 litres of diesel so in deep conservation mode. That is about 70 litres for distance and the rest for contingency – 70 litres is about 150 miles if we get the right conditions and we’re 400 from the other side of the pass, so Adak is looking like a definite if they will allow us to enter. And if we can pay by credit card – all our $US is waiting for us in Dutch. Been trying to contact our local friend but no luck – would be a real help if someone could please let us know if Adak has credit card facilities, so that we know whether we can burn diesel to get there.

Pearshapedness looms large! All applicable appendages crossed for the next week or so please.

I’ve taken the punt and rolled out the headsail, cranked it right on with the autopilot following the windvane to chase every lift and 33 deg off the wind with the engine running. We’re getting 015 – 025 with 5+ knots so while it doesn’t get us uphill far enough, it’s a lot more efficient than before and I hope we’ll get the lift tonight and be able to climb far enough under sail to make the pass. Iff all goes well, we’ll be in Alaska sometime late tomorrow with 220 odd to go to Amchitka.

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McQ: Whether the weather be…and, of course, my feet!!

From our the latest grib we have, it seems there is a bit of a low low forming (might already have formed, but outside of area grib shows?)to the SW of us. In the grib for 10pm this evening (Sydney time) we can just see the easterlies on the edge of the page. Over here where we are we should have easterlies, or with a bit of good luck, SE, and thus a bit of a lift, at about 15knots. Grib for the next 24 hours shows low arc’ing northeast- up towards the Aluetians and where we will potentially be, will be in strong (20+knots) E wind- so we try and make as much easting as we can now, as it is likely we will be forced north, (and to the left of Amchitka) tomorrow. Though, its too early to say, and the gribs change all the time, but the outlook for friday 10pm (72 hours grib) show the low moving NE still and even stronger Easterlies, but just below, as you would expect, moderate S/SW around lat 49…which we may or may not be north of, depending!!
So, now listen up wind and weather gods, this is what is going to happen: we’ll have a wee lift tonight and tomorrow then the low is going to move a teensy wee bit quicker so in a couple of days we shall barely have a chance to think about where strong E winds are forcing us and soon enough we shall be swept up by S/SW winds straight up to the Aluetians, through Amchitka pass- the low will continue to pass over the top of us and S winds will veer SW then W then NW: all of which will have us stonking East and in to Dutch!!!! My ETA is the 5th now!!!
Now, where’s this afternoon’s lift, so we can turn the engine off…???
We’ll see what the next grib says, but there is also the possibility that the low will go under us and in a few days we will be stonking along east in a northerly wind but unable to make any northing!!
Of course, if things don’t go quite according to my plan and we have to deal with full on easterlies then, I guess we make our way north towards the islands and then at some point, either sit out the easterlies or tack back and forth to try and make our way to the east, which will be close to soul-destroying in a strong E wind (we’d be pointing SE or worse on port tack !!!) but then again, that’s sailing for you- a certain proportion of the time your destination is inevitably close to where the wind is coming from!!! It’s all part of the challenge and thats why we love it!!
Lots of love to everyone,
ps forgot to mention my feet!!!
pps: kimbra, please may I have a ski mask and balaclava too, if you have room- was just thinking such thoughts during the chilly night watches!! Thank you. x

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4654.19 17525.17 Change of vegetable Wed 28/05/2008 10:53

The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of other things: of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of mushy peas and kings…

As I write, there’s a can of mushies sitting on top of the cooling engine (yes!)getting its preliminary charge of heat before I stand it in hot water too really get it hot. Then it gets slipped into a polar fleece sock and down to the end of my bunk and – magic really – warm feet.

JG, thanks for camera advice – problem is that when you half press, it locks the focus and when you don’t know the distance or if its further than a boat length, it gets tricky. My albatross in the sun was about 50 metres away and there’s nothing that far out to focus on…bummer.

And if I’d had my brain in gear for the last few days I’d have realised that we have the phone number for US Customs in Dutch in the digital chart info. I will call them first thing tomorrow ADT and ask about Adak entry and they might even know about credit card facilities. There’s no Adak data in the chart.

McQ’s lift arrived and we’re sailing reasonably above our required track for the barn door. As McQ says though, the Examiner has a real chance to get fancy with us if she plays fast and loose with the big low forming ahead. We’ll see, I guess. It’s all grind from here.

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lift off and excuses for our course!!! Wed 28/05/2008 13:10

We have lift!!! Its now 2100 Sydney time and the wind has come further round behind us than expected at all for now- thank you wind gods!! Long may it continue and fingers crossed that the weather gods aren’t just toying with us and we will get a battering of some sort from them over the next few days- now, if everyone can concentrate on sending them good and happy vibes, so they remain nice to us, that would be great!!

Also neglected to draw attention to the fact, in my last witterings, that we are not actually useless sailors but the reason our angles are so bad relative to the wind is current!!! (is true, is true) So whilst we might reasonably sail 045 in a strong E wind and a bit of a sea, what that actually gives us (currently, (haha)) is around 020 over the ground- not good. On the upside, unlike the entire length of most of the Pacific, this current was expected (think it might even be called the Aluetian Current) and we can be pretty sure we are in it since the water pretty quickly changed from 18C to 8C. brrrrrr!!!

Whatever happens,all appendages, as Whitters would say, crossed for the SSE breeze to last, well forever, round here would be nice!!!!

Much love again

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Blonk:4723.44 17608.40 @ 0200 Wed 28/05/2008 17:20

Soft, woolly darkness – a bit like reading under the bedclothes with a fading torch as a kid – there’s almost no light from above so the sky is only just grey – uniform, dark, dull grey and the horizon merges into it so there is almost no frame of reference either – the boat’s movements seem randoom and you can’t anticipate and brace. Gyrations subdued in a fairly gentle sea but difficult nonetheless. Thick, dense overcast, base almost at sea level and we’re in and out of misty low cloud all the time – vis from perhaps 1/2 mile out to maybe three at best so constant vigilance needed. Berri’s masthead is a little platform about 6 inches wide and 9 long. It has the tricolour light at the aft end with the windex behind it, the VHF stub aerial in front to the right and the lightning conductor to the left and the anemometer sticks out ahead of the mast. In the mist, the effect is eerie – the tricolour streams its green, red and white sectors which reflect from the mist, and each bit of equipment casts its own shadow, so we seem to be sailing along under a glowing set of spokes and coloured lights. Very good check too, that the tricolor sectors are properly aligned. Looking up, I saw a ghostly glimpse of a big bird – unexpected and surprising – and there are the very occasional but very bright dino sparkles out to the sides in the surge – we’re doing 6 knots and long may it last!

All quite soft and gentle, but Lizzie makes it seem a whole lot more serious – she whizzes and whirrs and howls down at the back and it sounds just like quite strong wind in the rig so I’m always slightly edgy until I’ve got the different sounds isolated and sorted. Berri would be almost silently slipping along just now but for out tame banshee!

Given all this, I must get the raincatcher radar reflector up into the rig in daylight – I have already checked that all the christmas tree lights on the mast are working in case we get into a close encounter and we need to advertise with attitude.

The grib ain’t so rosy – the low is deepening and we need to get through that pass by Friday evening or we may have to sit it out this side. Not really much better the other side either, but the passage through is critical. Then Adak or Dutch depending on conditions and our diesel reserves.

Thanks to everyone who has sent us information on Adak and tides – Chris, H, Mjc, Speeds – and I’ll try to contact various authorities tomorrow ADT

Ann – assume you meant N Pacific – Dutch is on N side of island, so must pass through Aleutian chain to get to it. 3 passes close to it are all very dangerous for small boats – google Unimak, Akutan – so approaching through a less dangerous one – originally intended Amukta but current & wind have pushed us way west and Amchitka beckons. Sort of.

Australia operates 2 massively powerful transmitters, VMW @ Wiluna and VMC @ Charleville to coordinate distress, safety snd wx info- they have to put them on the edge of the desert s they doon’t fry all the local sheep. I was listening to VMC loud and clear and undistorted on 4149 earlier this evening. Must be nearly 6000 miles away. We’re now closer to Belgium sailmail stn than NSW.

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Pearshapedness in earnest. 4808.41 17658.37 will do as noon as well. Thu 29/05/2008 05:45

There was this metallic bang. AW in bunk instantly rigid, thinking oooh s..t! I know what that is – and so it turned out. The starboard inner shroud – the big heavy one that supports the lower half of the mast – has started to strand, or break, strand by strand. Happened in the Atlantic last time too – and now I wish I had insisted on staloks but that’s life. This despite bungees to stop the shrouds moving. We have bypassed the swage using cable clamps and turnbuckles and we’re sailing again, but it’s softly softly from here. Really serious problem if it develops. Even worse of the port one starts to go as well. Big, big effort getting it sorted – and in the middle of it all, murphy struck again – cannot imagine how this one happened, but all the line in the furler drum ran out long before we could get the sail all rolled up. Sorted that one too, not without some interesting events.

So the state of play – I have spoken to the rigger who made the rig and he’s sending the dimensions of the shroud to the website. I will call our contact in Seattle to see whether we can get 2 new ones made there, or anchorage, and shipped to us, else have them made in Sydney and shipped to Dutch.

Not the end of the world, but may slow things down a bit while we faff around. Watch this space!

Meantime I’m going to Consult – Mcq is cooking noodles for afters. Dr Steve, yours was next in the Medicinal Compound Management Plan and very good it was. The whole set of three brews has aged beautifully.

A couple of hours later – i’ve rung around the world sorting possible options – the most important thing now is to get through Amchitka and to dutch. From there we can fix anything. We’ve got the small heady and the trisail up, doing 5kt in roughly the right direction – losing a bit of height, unfortunately, but trying to keep the rig unstressed. Quite messy and still semi violent so taking it very easy. Weather for the next three days is critical – but we’ll get there. Wouldn’t be a proper Berri voyage without one go at least of trisail-in-anger so I hope this is the only one needed! Next watch, after some sleep, I’m going to put a cable clamp on all the other shrouds so that if any of them initiate recalcitrance, we’ve got ‘em covered and can rig a bypass very quickly.

We’re 3 miles from the US of A…wooohooo and yeeehaaaa! By the time you read this, AGW, we’ll be in the promised land.

Best option from here might be for me to fly to Anchorage from Dutch with the dead one and find a rigger. We’ll see what turns up.

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North to Alaska! Thu 29/05/2008 09:59

[Just before receiving this, got call from Alex, to reassure everyone that they’re okay – a little local difficulty. -ed]

We just crossed the 200 mile territorial waters line. USA it is….Kind of special to have actually done it. vTiny remnant of Dr Brian’s Med. compound shared between us to celebrate. So far soo good

Interesting how a bit of adversity changes the perspective – before The Event, I was all tenterhooks and anticipation – what will we find at Amchitka? Now I don’t care – we’ll get there, we’ll sort it and maybe call in at Adak – I’d like to do that anyway and we now have an excellent reason if customs are nervous – and then dutch and one more fix than intended.

Much later and a sleep – just re-run various lines across the deck to free up a couple of winches and the trisail is now working as intended. Satphone has just beeped so will go for grib and send this – lots more for later.

Love ysz all. That’s a Polish ‘yez…’

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McQ: Snickers and knickers

I just wrote a blog but it sounded really grumpy and I am not grumpy so I have deleted it and started again. Not grumpy- just tired and my eyes are going funny looking at the horizon and the sails and the instruments and Ray in the blackness outside. Well, maybe a teensy weensy bit grumpy when our COG and heading are 40degrees different- yes four-zero, can you believe it????? grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! And when it says our boat speed is less than 2 knots, though I am adamant that we something tentacly has attached itself to our log impeller and is slowing the rotation of the paddle wheel- this is not entirely unreasonable as we certainly feel we are going faster through the water that it says we are!!! And our SOG indicates current with us, which, well, could that possibly be true, after all this time???????? Can’t even comprehend what it must be like to have current WITH us (even if its with us and a lot left!!!)

Trisail up and wee headsail too. Ray has had it too and keeps whining, extending fully and making us want to tack. Can catch most of them but have had to accept a donut too. hmmm. He’s alright if we don’t try and make him go too high, but of course, if we don’t go high we are heading straight for Amchitka ISlAND (instead of PASS- yes, huge difference!!!!)

We’ve had a Pretty eventful afternoon really- just as Alex described, but it’ll serve me right for spending the previous 2 off watches considering the merits of opening the snickers and changing knickers and not sleeping!! Now it is 9pm and I am very very, very, very tired!!! Temporary rig repair, bypassing the unwinding bit on the lower shroud, seems to be working so far (touch wood) and this is the reason we are taking it gently with trisail etc. Do not want to lose the rig. Not a good look for any boat!!! And masts not the easiest things to just pop down to the shops and pick up a new one whenever you feel like it, obviously!!!!

OK, things looking better now- 4knots SOG and roughly making course- yay!!! s’pose I should get back on deck and go say words of encouragement to Ray

Snickers were for 6 days to go, which might have been tomorrow, but prob not for a couple more days now!! Knickers, still undecided, too tired to decide now, will reconsider in morning.

Nearly got through a whole blog without mentioning my feet, which are, incidentally, as cold as my nose, which is very cold, so cold, infact, that I have to keep checking it is still there. It is.

Is it time for bed yet???

Lots of love

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Dunking 4847.56 17722.59 Thu 29/05/2008 14:36

Does anyone remember reading a scientific paper on the physics of biscuit dunking? May have been one of Karl Kruszelnicki‘s – certainly his style anyway. Really interesting stuff, but it seems to me that my McVities absorb tea at a greater rate than the very ordinary coffee I’m using. Certainly, my coffees are more treacly than my teas – anyway, an observation for the record – has no scientific value without lots more experimentation and I’m into the last pack of dunkers.

I think our bit of excitement will slow us down by about half a day to Amchitka – could be a crucial half day if the weather closes on us but that is yet to be seen. We are al

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: Fog Solvers

I spend lots of time whiling away the hours on watch (between checking we going the right way as quick as poss/ the rig not falling down/the repairs are holding/ we not about to get squished by passing vessels etc) thinking about ‘what if’s’ so yesterday morning- I kid you not- my what if’s that I were running through were first reactions if forestay goes, backstay goes, shrouds go, minutes before The Big Bang!! Anyway, this morning I have been thinking about fog (Its a clear morning with a dash of sunshine too so hopefully no fog-dramas about to happen!!) Lots of different solutions really, for eg, if i was in the Channel and I had working radar/AIS/both, probably carry on fairly comfortably. If I was in the Solent and had no radar/AIS etc and my GPS’s were all broken/out of batteries I’d probably head north (or south, depending on where I was by my last visual) to say 2m contour (assuming I didn’t draw more) and follow it to somewhere (Lyminton, Cowes, Hamble) or anchor till it lifted. I’d probably be quite grumpy too!!! I’m still working on no radar/AIS and broken GPS’s and definitely in middle of shipping lane in channel…

Anyway, these are all sensible things to think about and every situation is different. up here, according to all our repoorts it can get pretty foggy and grim round the Aluetians at this time of year, so may well have to put into practise various fog-solvers and then these won’t seem such ridiculoous thoughts!! We have no radar. Our AIS box hasn’t talked to the poot since Newcastle- of this we are 99% convinced but then again ships since then have been few and far between!!! GPS still working (touch wood) and we have a fully charged 276c too, so should be ok unless big president B presses any buttons. Fishing fleets prob biggest concern but through our great contacts in Dutch they know we are going to be around soon and would do all they could to guide us through, so worst case we could radio them and take it from there. Its all interesting stuff to think about really and good to keep us on our toes…

Big A has surfaced so I am going to go and discuss thoughts on putting a wee bit more sail up, since shroud-solution seems to be happy, and going a bit faster…

Top o the morning anyway,

Lots of love

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McQ: and Whitters, time travellers (to yesterday!!)

Crikey, its all very confusing. Today it is four o’clock yesterday (instead of 10 in the morning today, or indeed midnight, tooday) Not a worm hole or Large Hadron Collider to be seen and we have decided it is yesterday!!! We haven’t got to the date line yet, just seemed wise to go to Alaska time as it was broad daylight at 3am last night and for local tide info etcit makes sense and when communicating with people on land, it stops the probloem that we might be satphone at antisocial hours!!! Fortunately my rather fab pink (to match my thermals) watch has a button you press and the top left hand corner changes from ‘SYD’ to ‘ANC’ (Anchorage I guess, its the right time anyway!!) Our noon position is now 6pm pos though!!
So all is well this arvo- even the sun came up out of the sea and is shining bright… we have more sail up, tacked too- so motorsailing upwind on port making about 060 ish, COG same on the tack- darn typical!! still easting no bad thing. going faster too!!
Boiled eggs for brekkie (lunch)- pretty mushy by now tho’!!! And Hilary, amazing cake thank you, we broke into the first this morning and pretty confident that if all else fails, this cake will keep our spirits up and bellies and brains nourished all the way to Dutch!!!
Also broke out my heavyduty norwegian hat that Marten gave me (well, I borrowed then refused to give back) during the Hobart…thank you Marten!! It is the best hat in the world. Thick and fleecy and perfectly snug and now staying firmly on my head!!! the turquoise o’neill is nice and fluffy but not quite adequate during the chilly nights anymore (has become my bedhat!!) Notalot else to report. still on v11 of AM, but recite aloud on deck regularly so know them pretty well, indeed am getting a touch bored of the first 11verses- looking forward to finding out what happens next!!!
Think Adak (approx 51ishN) is roughly in line with Cork- must be Cork week quite soon???
Now my fingers and nose are nicely warmed up, back to deck i go!!
Lots and lots of love

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4923.06 17802.55 @1800 ADT, noon tomoz sydney

Thanks very much to everyone offering help and advice. The plan – as it stands – is to motor into the Examiner’s latest little zephyr coming precisely from where we are trying to go – for as long as we can manage given our diesel reserve, keep some in hand for the pass and for the 100 miles or so in the other side to Adak, assuming Customs allow us in for an emergency fuel stop. If they do, we have to stay on the boat and depart once refuelled. Pity, but them’s the breaks – I rather expected as much. I took heart in hand and put the main up again with 2 reefs, having braced the other shroud as well, and we’re trickling along. I thought, earlier on, that things could be worse, it could be raining and the Examiner head me – cold, sleety rain for a bit. The grib – I relented, couldn’t resist it – is not too favourable but AGW’ we’ll make it as far as the pass in the next 2-3 days.
Huge, southern ocean type swell from the NE – not quite losing a cathedral in the hollow standard, but pretty big, and it’s not helping.
Kimbra, I assume the Gary in Seattle is Gary Ramos – I’ll call him and maybe take or send the shroud there if no riggers in Anchorage, as seems likely.
And we’ve raided the goody bag – randomness prevails – and decided that the occasion demanded that we open one of Hilary’s rummy cakes. Rather nice – and it will get us to Dutch.xx I wonder whether, if we do go to Andak, we will be the very first boat – or veeehicle – in the history of the world to travel directly from Sydney to Andak – or, for that matter, to Dutch. A little warm fuzzy for the mighty Berri if so. Certainly seems possible.
We’ve officially changed from Sydney time to Alaska daylight as well – as we are now well and truly here. It’s now 1535 yesterday for all you caffeinators Down There. Old time noon position is now out 1800 position.

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McQ: See Weed!!!

Just saw seaweed!!! Which is very exciting- means one of two things- either we are in the Sargasso Sea and thus lost or, or we are nearing land!!! How exciting!!! How exciting!!!
Theres a big lolloping swell about too- lake district size perhaps (as opposed to Himalayas), big undulating rollers. Notalota wind but headsail out and making good progress motor-sailing. All good.
Cold outside and its that time of the afternoon where its getting that way inside too, despite the engine. Probably too late in the day for a knicker change- means peeling off lots of layers to get to them, definitely a warmest-point-of-the-day job at this latitude (49 33N- woo hoo!!!) The sea is a general sort of grey colour with a kinda greeny-browny tinge to it all over, shiny though and clear and bright, so not an unpleasant muddy colour, more slightly metallic, dull chrome, in need of polishing, sort of colour, maybe. Sky is pretty much 8/8 cloudy with a twinge of blue occasionally. mostly white with long layers of low grey lines out towards the horizon.
Can’t quite believe we’ve been at sea for 50 days!! That’s five-zero!! mental!! That’s a long time.
Wondering really whether a knicker change is in order- its a bit like hoping that you’ll have your best knickers on if you get run over by a bus- imagine if something happened and we are close enough to civilisation now to be rescued and I got rescued wearing 50 day-old (slight exaggeration!!) knickers?? would be a wee tad embarrassing!!! Right, have decided- knicker change at watch change!!
Lots of love,
(Soon to be wearing clean knickers) McQueen xxx

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4939.31 17832.19 @ 2245 ADT (Z – 8) Fri 30/05/2008 07:48

We’re about 140 miles south of my waypoint in the shallowest part of Amchitka Pass. AGW, we should get there on Saturday around midday local, on a flooding tide so – again AGW – we might just have a go at it. But in this little gig, that’s far too far ahead and extra tempting for Herself in the patents with stockwhip. Just idle speculation! Between here and there lies the Aleutian Trench, 7000+ metres deep and only 40 miles or so across – presumably where the two plates are interacting. The shallowest sounding I can find in the pass is 88 metres over a spike in the middle. We’ll see. Would be a fascinating place to cruise in the right boat – insulated, heated, big engine, space for wet gear – a proper Boot Room in fact. We’re a bit exposed in Berri.

Not much else to report – I wonder at the fortitude of Cook, his crew and all the other early explorers who sailed so far into this and beyond. Without a satphone or polar fleece or ‘technical’ yachtie kit. What does technical actually mean?

We should cross the international date line about half way to the waypoint on present progress, but that will change. Unless the wind changes, we will probably have to tack to get there.

Will keep this open…4 hours later…Somehow I’ve deleted the exciting bit so here goes again – where complacency took over and I sat down here writing this and looked up through the window and saw a huge container ship heading towards us. Grabbed vhf command mike, set it up, raced on deck, decided he was actually coming to investigate dayglo orange trisail, still in track tho not set, below main, thinking it might be a distress signal. Tried calling him – no answer, so rolled out the headsail to indicate business as usual and started to bring in the trisail. He turned away and was gone over the horizon in about 20 minutes. Grateful he bothered, but slightly unnerved that I didn’t see him first. He was heading along the line of the outside of the islands, so great circling from China to Vancouver or Seattle perhaps.

We have about 60 litres of diesel in the tank and 60 in jerries – decision time very soon. Not enough wind to sail, doing 5 kts almost all vmg motor sailing so very efficient use if the stuff but…125 nm to go to Amchitka – should bo ok to use 60 getting there and through if necessary, but will need careful judgement.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Mad McQ: in new knicks

Its getting dark. We are a bit out time wise, would have been more appropriate to change clocks in a couple of stages- say 3 today and 3 more hours in a few days time, but bit confusing really to do that and apoart from the fact it will be quite dark till about 9am for a bit, and its midnight and jsut getting dark now!! makes no odds to us really in the big scheme of things- on watch is on watch whatever time of day or night!!! (which hopefully answers a question I often get asked: do you anchor at night and go to sleep? (No)) I have clean knickers on, you’ll all be relieved to hear- so can sleep easy now- perhaps a rash decision given we may well go to Adak and have the opportunity of a shower- we shall see, but had to be done nevertheless.
AW saw whales on his watch. I haven’t seen any on my watch yet. boo! Up until this watch I haven’t spoken to myself (never mind the walrus) except to recite the Ancient Mariner out loud, which I think is acceptable in society, and doesn’t count as talking to yourself. This watch,however, I have been talking nonsense to the whales…chat that goes along the lines of ‘whalefish whalefish whalefish’ Fortunately, i know that there is one person out there that would believe I haven’t gone more mad!!! (Its a song, sort of) but I guessed anyone with their satellite trained in on me from space would think i was mad, hopping about the cockpit to keep warm and muttering ramblings about whalefish to myself!!! And still no sign of any real whales come to say hello!!!
Well, all I really wanted to tell you in this blog was that I have new knicks on, but I said that already in the subject.
Am I going barmy, who knows???
McQ and other McQ and other McQ
PS: i’ve just invented a new word, ‘BLURKY’ Its not quite black and not just murky- its that smudgy, fuzzy darkness where there’s no discernable horizon but just faint wavy boundary lines in the clouds distinguishing between different shades of dark grey. Its a blurky night out there tonight. Now if everyone could incorporate ‘blurky’ into everyday usage, eventually I might get my own entry in the OED- cool!!!

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Thar she blows!

Whales, weed, phosphorescence. nukes, krill, trench, terns, acclimatisation..quick, dash below checklist for this blog.

Too hairy to sit down here while on watch – more on this later. Down in the big trough between two wavest I looked up and saw a dark column silhouetted against the sky out on the port bow about 300 metres away – odd – it disappeared, then another – yesss! whale spouts – huge plumes of vapour and spray, perhaps 20 ft high and cylindrical – then they were white against the sea, from the top of a wave – perhaps 4 or 5 animals, going our way, only the briefest glimpse of one – long back, small fin, very Finwhale. And then – and then there was a black shape beside the boat, perhaps 10 metres away – I now think it might have been the tip of a pectoral fin – and a HUGE black shape surfaced – no spout, just massive presence, no apparent velocity – and then dived and turned towards us as it did – enormous swirl of water, longer than the boat. I had a Moby Dick shiver, but it did not reappear. I could not see any detail – just black.

McQ’s weed is kelp – enormously long fronds of the stuff with stems like tree trunks all longer then the boat and highly dangerous if it gets into the prop – hence not being down here blogging. We hit one – big bump and I could see a long sinuous line in the phosphorescence astern – took me a few seconds to work it out and reach for the throttle and it was gone. Lucky,

Phosphorescence – astonishing, amazing, I’ve never seen it like this. Berri’s path through the water is a silver green arrow with brilliant surges from the bow and a long undulating shaft stretching astern as far as you can see. It is bright enough to light up the sails and, believe it or not, the terns milling around the masthead as well. It’s they who are making the chirrups I mentioned earlier as the try to land on the masthead. I photographed one in daylight. I went and sat in the pulpit looking aft and just bathed in the raw beauty of it all – like the most subtle firework display, but cold and fierce as well. It seemed, too, as if we were going through a shoal of tiny fish or perhaps krill in terabytes. I wonder if it’s all a left over from the nuclear tests at Amchitka!

We’re now over the Aleutian Trench – up to 7500 metes deep – it would take me half an hour to run that these days. I wonder how long it would take for – say – a coke bottle to reach the bottom. And I’m deliberately trying to sit out there slightly underdressed to get used to the cold – and the damp. I like McQ’s blurky. Needs cold and wet somehow as well.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Water now brown…

We’re 73 miles from my waypoint. Grib says that the wind goes north tomorrow morning with some attitude (therefore potentially wind over tide so opportunity for renewed pearshapedness), we have flood tide tomorrow morning, we are due there around 0100 ADT – iff I’ve got the time right – I’m juggling with UTC, Speedy time (UTC + 1) Kimbra time for tides (UTC -10) and ADT (UTC – 8) and my cheesebrain gets confused. But it does look as if we have one good chance of pushing through early tomorrow AGW. Every appendage crossed please, applicable or no! Still no worthwhile wind and I’m playing the tiny bit there is for all its worth to squeeze inches out of it. Motor just above half revs from the feel and sound and I hope being very frugal while keeping 4 knots clicking over. McQ just off watch and asleep so can’t ask re BAPTO.

Water sludge brown – must be the edge of the tidal flow from the Bering. Still lots of kelp around. Woolly overcast, patches of light on the water, long rolled almost tubes of fluff SE to NW, rain cloud to the west. Thin dark line of cloud on the horizon to port that wishful thinking tries to make into Amchitka Island but cheesebrain knows that we won’t be able to see it from 60 miles.

Have spoken to Lacy Plummer, Harbourmaster at Adak – we have permission to enter from US Customs – yeehaa. Apparently there are 2 sailboats (when in Rome!) in Adak from Australia. Amazing.

MJC – of course! How could I have forgotten!

Speeds – agree absolutely about some aspects of sailing engineering. There’s also the ego side that shaves tolerances in order to win…

I’ll try to keep these updated but it may get busy, particularly in the pass.

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5059.57 179197.45 Sat 31/05/2008 02:35

A bit tense in the Whitters camp. McQ asleep and oblivious. We’re 30 miles from Amchitks Island, about 50 miles west of the ideal spot to push the stick forward and dive the veehicle into the mosh pit (how’s that for a three tier mixed metaphor?) and the wind is building – now 15 – 20 apparent as we progress – and we’re on the stbd tack, so working the damaged shroud. I’ve just put the 3rd reef in to minimise the stress, everything softly softly, trying not to pound. Shortish steep sea, not too difficult, water now grey olive greenish but seems crystal clear. Our chart tidal data is set to Sydney time (it would be wouldn’t it, when everything else in the software is on UTC!) but if I’ve got it right, it tells us that the tide turns against us at around midnight tonight until about 0900 tomoz. This more or less correlates with Kimbra’s data, (hers set to UTC – 10). and for a different tidal station. Seems to me, therefore, that we can get ourselves as close as we can by midnight, perhaps motor NE to get a better position and start going in around 0600ADT, on the last of the ebb. I think we’ll have to motor unless we can get upwind somehow. Then it’s all down to Huey and the Examiner.

Wish us luck!

I think I need a calming consultation – it’s the Alchemist today.

A couple of hours later – calm prevails, the Alchemist has worked his magic, McQ up and cooking, wind easing, sea still olive grey – like volcanic glass – and I saw Berri’s and my very first Puffin – tubby beast, very flappy and with THAT face – if not a puffin, then a guillemot or an auk? 24 miles from Amchitka Island, no spot heights on chart so don’t know what to look for but it looks a bit like Lord Howe. Semisopochnoi to the north looks just a bit interesting too. The Plan is to plough on until something tells us to stop. As McQ says, a 50 mile wide pass is just like the Channel, but this one’s a lot shallower.

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5106.35 17919.38 Sat 31/05/2008 06:06

Just tacked out from about 12 miles south of Amchitka Island – lousy angle, only making 120 but we’ll play with it as things progress. We will see what sort of ground we can make from here until the tide turns tomoz and then go for it. Everything crossed please. Still bleak overcast, thick mist towards Amchitka so no actual sighting.

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McQ: Corrish-the new english. Hi from the cwampet berri!!

Engine is off, finally- it’s such a pleasure to have just sailing noises (and lizzy whining away!!) Lizzy’s pretty amazing- absolutely no engine assistance required to charge the batts so long as there is a bit of wind. We are now averaging about 4 knotters to Amchitka Island!!! Wind is due to be about 15 knots N/NE in approx 12 hours time, probably about the same time we get to the Pass, so likely we will need to tack our way through, which could be kinda time consuming I guess. From the info on the chart (I say ‘chart’ but I didn’t need to do any calculations- just put the cursor over the T symbol for tide info and use arrow keys to get to appropriate time and date on computer- not a purple tidal diamond, breton plotter or set of dividers required!!!) if we get there around 2am local it will be just after LW and just under 1m range at Amchitka Island and at most 0.2knots of current flowing North-east through the pass, but I might have got our time zones totally wrong!! so though it is likely to be wind over tide, with only 0.2 knots flow and the whole thing about 60nm wide I wouldn’t have thought it’d be too feisty- famous last words- we shall see!! And of course the info I have to hand may not be accurate/ I may have completely missed some Amchitka Pass oooh chat somewhere and everyone else might know that there is lots of current squeezing the pacific through this little gap- It does decrease in depth from about 4000m quite rapidly to 1000m then averages around 500m for a bit with the min depth about 100m so that could contribute to some lumpety breaking waves!!! We will find out soon enough!!!

Allie: mum sent me a message saying you have organised me some midlayers, so just wanted to say thank you so, so, so much- you are truly amazing (but you know I think that!!!) I shall possibly be forever in your grateful debt and won’t forget it when notsocold up north!!! I know I didn’t give you much choice tho’!! In exchange I shall wash my Sailing Logic T-shirt and jacket so they are nice and fresh and clean for wearing in port and fully advertise and market you as the only people to sail and race with in the Solent!!! You never know- you might get some Alaskans racing with you next year!!! Thanks again and lots of love Bol xxx

Web: Amazing news re SB engine, so it is said that a bad workman blames his tools, so in this case does VP take any credit or entirely due to maintenance team??? Certainly, I’d like to book in for the diesel engine maintenance course in October, if thats ok? also I don’t understand fliders and galloons, gliders and falloons but what is a falloon?? c x

Not much else at moment… pretty grey outside and cwampet too (thats THE new word for cold/wet/damp)- maybe its time I invented a whole new language- soon everyone will be carrying round a copy of the OCD, corrish to english version. (Oxford Corrish Dictionary)

Oh yes, the phosphorescence last night was truly out of this world. wouldn’t photograph on my wee olympus tho. but incredible… bright bright white against the black sea, not the usual glowing green, but the sort of pearlescent, iridescent ultraviolet dazzling white- the colour/effect rich and famous people pay loadsa money to their dentist for!!! Never seen anything quite like it- properly mesmerising!! big fat white lines streaking out from the boat swirling miles away into the blackness. And a thick frothy white trail behind us as the prop churned up the ocean. Pretty awesome!!!

Enough ramblings- we’ve slowed down so am off to deck to speed us up.

lots of love

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

5059.21 17946.50 The Plan updated Sat 31/05/2008 15:20

We’re still shuffling along on about 110 – intending to keep going until 0400 at least which should put us about on the IDL. Then we’ll tack on to about north which should take us straight up the middle. The tide should be negligible by 0600 and we can – I hope – push on up to the tricky bit about half way through where we can use the engine if necessary to opt for the deeper western side or the shallower east. Daylight around 0600 as well, or what passes for daylight here. Flood tide – again, I hope – from 0900ish. I feel cold and a bit seasick – not nice. Can’t sleep and I’ve lost my Olga knitted beanie that I sleep in. Major tragedy.

Terns are back, and another puffin before dark. Phosphorescence subdued – more cream than fire, but with big sparkles. Grey black night again – merging horizon, bleak, cold overcast. McQ has broken out the emergency snickers and given me my half so that I can hide them from her.

0345 – reassessed and we’ll go on a bit longer. Been lifted so changes angle for next tack.

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McQ: Grumpy and ranty, but we’ve crossed the date line!!! Yay!!!

Its pretty rubbish at the moment. I am trying to be grumpy too!!! We are doing between one and 3 knots slewing around between 070 and 100 course, pounding over some waves, slopping over others, despite my continual efforts I just can’t get Kevvo to go straight. One minute we are reaching along next minute sails all flapping and we are about to tack. grrrr. Sometimes you just switch to Kevvo and there we go stonking along and you think ‘Kevvo you amazing’!! but that seems to be in loads of and consistent wind. We don’t have quite enough and the short steep chop just confuses him, I think. Poor Kevvo!!! It would be ok if we could just keep an average speed on and if I could get some idea from the course whats going on wind wise, as to whether we are generally being lifted still or starting to be headed, instead of having to change the instrument display to the digital wind readout, which is accurate but you tend to get fixated on it changing in degree increments (irrelevent out here) or watching the picture of the boat swing about on the pooter and not seeing the bigger picture, which would be blindingly obvious if we were just going in a straight line!!!
Conclusion: phew, needed a wee rant and don’t think its time to tack quite yet!! And wish it would hurry up and get daylight. The cwampet, blurky nights are rubbish!!
It is 1327UTC and we are at 179 59W so we are officially across the date line- all this time travel, making me dizzy!!! woo-hoo!! another milestone!! (Just ignore the fact that we will be tacking back across it shortly!!) Phosphorescence not as incredible tonight- instead of big, long, white streaks trailing out from the side of the boat for as far as the eye can see, we just have a sprinkling of little swirling blobs every time we pound over a wave. Still kinda cool though.
Lots of love

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

5059.02 17956.53 Sat 31/05/2008 16:03

Tacked 0615. Stick fully forward, right rudder, mosh pit here we come, accompanied by heavy metal from Kakrafoon. Too tight to sail, so heady rolled away and motoring on about 350 @ about 4kts. Should get us abeam waypoint with lots of sea room and can tack again to lay Gareloi Island – looks like a volcanic cone on the chart. Tracking back towards the IDL – could be one of those days …sday esoht fo eno…one of…

Tom G – please describe the Right Whale – unfortunately we don’t have our cetacean recognition kit. We’ll do our best with fishing gear as well – I hope without any actual contact!
And Chris – thanks for advice – confirms our thoughts – which Chris, incidentally? – and there will indeed be a Con if we make it through. Just not exactly sure I’ve got the tides right, but we’ll find out soon!
Ann – thanks!
E & P OC about 450 ltrs, mostly in jerries also flex tanks on cockpit floor and coachroof.

Don’t want to mess with the chart but we must be almost as far north as the Fastnet, so another first for Berri sometime soon. Glims of daylight – always better when you can see what you’re doing. I need a cuppa and some ritual dunking to while away the next few hours. More as the day unfoldssdslofnu…

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

McQ: lets all ride the demon rollercoaster…

I think we got our tide times all wrong!!! I think tide is going to be with us according to graph from 6.50am which is 1.50pm thios afternon local time… or maybe I have been staring at the graph for way too long!!! Fortunately there isn’t really enough tide to make to much difference to the theory. Out here though it feels like wind agaisnt tide- so feels like tide with us and about 20 knotters of wind from in front of us- we are fairly lurching around all over the place!! Feels like a completely erratic 3-D demon rollercoaster- ie, doing its own thing entirely, completely without your control, and you have no idea which direction the next lurch is going to go!!!! If I ever run a fairground the main feature attraction ride is going to be wild and called ‘The Amchitka Pass’ and there’ll be a gigantic plastic but scary clown on the way in going ‘mwaaaahh hahahahaha’ as you walk past- maybe you even go onto the ride by walking through the giant plastic clowns big open grinning mouth, accompanied, of course, by the honky, squeeky noise of an amateur saxophonist. I’ve lost it. Must be all the time travel. We’ve gone back to the future too, I think we’ll be going between today and yesterday (or today and tomorrow, depending!!) all day long!!! Grey oot still. Had museli and apples (from a tub,in juice- yum!!) for breakkie. Definitely lacking in antiscorbutics that don’t come in pill form… If I could have anything at all right now it would be a gallon of freshly squeezed orange and pineapple juice!! (followed by a really rare steak and salad and mushrooms!!!!) lots of love Cor xxx Carie: Harriet and the Urgle Gurgle Monster????? No idea why Harriet sprung to mind. And was the urgle gurgle monster what we said since we couldn’t remember. I thought I’d got it in the middle of the night- had to get up and write it down, but feel i might just be going a little mad out here??? Bol xxx

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5114.31 17951.20 clenching

Well, nobody expected it to be easy. This is freckle clenching boat breaking stuff and I’ve just parked the boat at this position. We’re pretty much stationary, rolling horribly but otherwise, I think, snug. We’re drifting roughly 170 – 200M, no speed on the GPS. Wind is 20 kts dead bang on the knocker, short (about boat length) steep 2-3 metre waves and poor Berri with 3 reefs and about a mars wrapper of heady + engine was thumping and banging into it, on the damaged shroud. Not severe by Sydney – Hobart standards, but not sensible and no way to go with damaged rig. The grib shows some promise for tomoz, so we’ll sit here until something changes. Prob at least 24 hours. I’ve called Dan at Westward in Dutch and asked him to warn all his fishing boats in the area and I’ve put out a securite call on 4125 and 4149, which are the local frequencies of choice. I’m going to make another cuppa, seeing as we haven’t any gin. McQ blissfully asleep – don’t know how she does it!

This was going to be a dissertation on Party Gear – may work up to that later but will send this to liven up your breakfast muesli.

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McQ: And we’re off again- yee ha!!

We’re moving again!! Trusty trisail up and a spotty hankerchief (spots are best) of heady out. Engine assistance firmly off and accepting that we have to sail a touch off the wind so as not to pound through the steep seas- makes for longer slower journey all in all but at least the poor rig isn’t shuddering every 3rd wave (hopefully Alex’s nerves are shuddering marginally less too!!!). So we’re making around NW, about 8nm from Amchitka Island (again) and heading straight for it- now some people will know I have issues with land (v dangerous- best stay away!!) so despite all my efforts to tack 10nm out yesterday and so on we seem to keep gravitating back towards it!!! One of those things, hey ho!!! Anyway, prob go like this for another hour and then tack away again- and this time, all being well, we’ll have the little tide there is lee-bowing us north for the following 12 hours and with 60miles across to the oother side, plenty time for the wind to back to the NW and lift us (you hear that wind gods????? NW, NW, NW is where you wanna blow from!!) which it is supposed to do by 10pm local according to Mr Grib. I am fully going for optimism this afternoon too and after the next tack onto port, there will be no more and next thing will be a bear away to Adak!!!
Appendwages crossed!!!
Word for the day: squoodjil: as in- if you put the powdered milk in the mug before squoodjilling the teabags fully it becomes impossible to get anything but milky watery tea. Thus- squeezing and stirring/jiggling.
I WILL be cross if that word has already made it into print!!!
I’m loving the language invention. Wonderful.
Lots of love
Ps Ali: I’m missing you loads and looking very much forward to our next day of fun…even though its months and months away. hope all is good. xxx pps Carie: ‘Harriet and her new neighbours’ perhaps??- apparently Amazon sells EVERYTHING. Its got to be there. Sorry, for some reason I have got a bit fixated on this, I bet you have many better things to do!!! xxx ppps FF: Last night was soooo blurky it was fully, fully a ‘Father Abraham’ night to keep spirits up- oh how I wished you were here to sing and flail around the cockpit!!! xxx

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Land! 5120.40 17935.21

About ten minutes ago I tacked exactly 3 mils from the eastern tip of Amchitka Island, which was just visible through the murk. I took its photo, for the record, but only intrinsically exciting. GPS log read 5687, but has been off at times. Through the water log read 246 – something wrong there unless it recycles itself at some odd number like 7000 miles. We’ve had some glitches and it may just have dropped all its data which is a shame.

We’re looking good to cross the pass on about 075, so won’t clear the volcano 60 miles ahead. Might go inside it if we’re there in daylight. And the tide will change and may affect us.

Anyway, something achieved, now we just have to get to Adak….or Dutch, if the wind gives us a break. But keep them all crossed. A small tot for the old geezer is due, I think, courtesy of RANSA. Then back to work.

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5125.49 17953.13 alternative vice.

If you are ever tempted to visit this delightful stretch of real estate – land glimpses in cold, driving mist – go and lie down for a bit and review your life’s experiences. Then strike down the evil temptation with a stout quarterstaff and do something really interesting and useful – cut your toenails perhaps, or look at Saturn through a telescope or count the number of times Shakespeare used the word ‘varlet’. Anything but a visit to Amchitka Pass with a 20 knot northerly. That is, of course, unless you are into other quirky activities like scraping your fingernails down brick walls or marathon running. Then you’ll love the place.

We’ve made what look to be a couple of good decisions – parking and reassessing, getting going again with tri and half heady, and setting off to the NW. We are now tracking across the front of the barn door in driving, cold, misty rain with big rolling swells and sometimes breaking tops, kevvo driving, slightly off balance because the tri isn’t really big enough for the heady we’re flying, so kevvo coping quite well with lee helm – but not slamming, except very occasionally, on the port tack so on the so far undamaged (and precautionarily (!) braced) shroud. The wind has freed just enough to give us the faintest hope that we might lay Gareloi in about 12 hours time – tide with us for a bit and we’ll see what happens when it turns. It will be dark in an hour or so and the usual woolly black and dismold, clank and dammy prospect of masochistic processes of warm bunk, desperate struggle into cold, wet, sticky (don’t you hate polars when your hands and feet are clammy?) party gear, 2 hours on or close to deck, huddled away from the blast, constant temptation to look at watch – how much longer…and blessed relief, struggle back out of now wetter and stickier party gear and begin the business of warming the bunk all over again…What a treat for a marathon runner looking for an alternative vice.

Just been reminded how fragile this electronic setup I’m using really is – it is quite easy to get in front of the Software on board nav package, at least on this computer, when zooming the chart and when that happens, it closes itself down, loses all its waypoint data and generally misbehaves. I then have to close easymail and airmail, remove the usb connector to the rest of the vitally important black boxes, insert the Cmap dongle and restart SoB. Remove dongle and reinsert usb connector and hope that it will all come back up again. Then have to reset everything and sit on hands while it decides whether it wants to work properly. Very very stressful, when the whole shebang depends on such a complex single point of failure and a rigid process for getting it all going again. Another great alternative vice.


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5129.06 17920.12 Sun 01/06/2008 16:00

You can’t really think more that an hour or so ahead out here. We’ve been headed by about 40 degrees so nowhere near laying Gareloi any more. In the sea state, the best we can hope for is around 60 degrees off the wind, so a tack doesn’t help. The sea is abating and in a couple of hours (there I go again) we will perhaps swap the main for the trisail and tack north again. We’re about half way across the pass, still south of my original waypoint put there a week or so ago. But it’s progress.
2 hours and a sleep later – engine going – lots of revs and no speed – hells bells and buckets of blood – kelp! Absolutely something I wanted to avoid. Big thump and something gave and we’re now getting 3.5 kts through the water, 2.5 OTG on 030 towards the top of Gareloi. Use the position in the header for this bit. There may well be more. That would mean about 11 hours to Gareloi – this little vice doesn’t want to let us go! Will not have enough diesel to risk all the way to Dutch unless the wind frees so looks like Adak, if we ever get out of here!
Someone tried to ring us on the satphone – if you do try please understand that we can’t get to the phone quickly and it will ring out and go to some strange message (at your end) before we do. Ignore the message, hang up and ring again, repeat until someone answers. Can’t begin to describe how difficult it is to manage the satphone in these conditions and we have to keep it all dry.
For those of you that don’t know the boat, Berri is effectively an open ended tube – the open end sheltered but not covered or in any way insulated, so it’s cold and damp inside and we have to be exceptionally careful with anything electronic.

Faint change in the blackness indicates the sun must be coming up somewhere on the planet but not here – last night was the coldest, blackest, dampest and most dismold that I can remember.
Speed has bleeped – will send these and pull in your gems – woohoo!

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McQ: weather, navigation, sail plan, land, outfit, is it bunk time yet???

tis a real blurky blurky night again tonight… infact I think this is the coldest so far- great!! and its been raining too. even greater. And we’ve been headed, so we ain’t making Gareloi on this tack anymore either and the wind comes and goes so our wee trisail, whilst hopefully easing the stress on the rig isn’t quite enough in the lulls… so you ponder options, then it picks up again. goes on like this. sea still a bit beastly for much more sail without slamming about a bit…. just looked on deck, bit of a lift again there- sweet. maybe I am too impatient!!! It doesn’t help that diesel, king size snickers, beer, wine, fruit, showers and other bits and bobs are tantalisingly close!!!
Its so cold, and despite having turned into the michelin man. Do you want to know what my party gear consists of right now?? Well I’m telling you anyway… thermal socks, sealskinz socks, woolly sheep insoles, leaky boots, underwear, blue thermal bottoms, grey and red thermal top, purple fleece, midlayer salopettes and get this- size M huge thick Slam jacket with grey Gill midlayer jacket size S over the top!!! then oily bottoms, oily top (super hard to get on and off with all tother layers!!) gloves, trusty cream fleecy and red snowflakey buff round my neck, norwegian hat and headtorch. Michelin or what???And, more importantly I did some bunk organising earlier so that consists of: blanket, searug folded in half on top, silk sleeping bag liner tucked inside thermal sleeping bag liner, Cats Meow over the top of those, then another blanket, then the other half of the bottom blanket folded over the top, oh and me and hot water bottle inside!! and then pillow and towelwrapped round for wet hair moments and various other garments tucked around and down the sides!! ooooh it must be time to head in bunk direction….
This blog doesn’t have any point to use as a title.
Lots of love
Michelin McQ

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5130.36 17918.21 bblink

North of the Fastnet! And – dare I predict – I think we’re west of the IDL for the duration. Welcome back to yesterday, all you Ocks Down There

Tom G – the beast that surfaced beside me a few days ago did not spout, was black/grey as far as I could tell and I did not see a fin. It seemed to be bigger than the boat and seemed to be sort of flat – difficult to explain and it was only there for a few seconds. And there was the ?pectoral shape before it surfaced. Did not see the tail.

Hey Leroy – Fame at last man! Space Toilets on OzRadio. Way to go!

From here, I’m seriously tempted to cut the corner and go south of Gareloi. Would save about 7 miles, we could sail it…We’re in fog – vis about 300 metres. Decision in an hour or so.

Time to wake McQ. Think I’ll stay up and make a cuppa and extract some of my dwindling supply of dunkers – perhaps 10 left in last packet.

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South of Gareloi 5139.09 17858.35 @1215 ADT

Not yet totally committed but seems that way. McQ off watch asleep. Been wanting to write this for the last hour but no chance. Can’t begin to talk you through it – took in trisail, shook out all three reefs, one by one, tidied up lines, freed kevvo of long 10 metre strand of kelp – masses of it around, big matted tangled islands of it, almost solid, very dangerous to get mixed with – up and down looking at chart – initially, sea state big swells as we rounded the ‘bend’ into the channel, with typical gentle tidal race conditions on top – short spiky waves, little steep piles of water – 1.5 kts against us, as water piled uop against rise for Unalga Is. Dense fog, tiny, 30 sec glimpse of pale sun, then small break and wow! Unalga Is right there, a mile to stbd massive, toothed, craggy, rocky, top in cloud, Reminiscent of Tasman Island. Bit of a shock to see it there. Seabirds everywhere from tiny sparrow sized to Albatross, which fly along with us and park and watch us go by. Fun, but hard to photograph – must go on deck -

wind back to 18 – non bloody stop – but at least the right direction. Not quite first reef yet – eased traveller & mainsheet and we’ll watch and wait. Cant see Gareloi; or Unalga any more – thick mist. Damp, dripping and absolutely fascinating. A place not too many people will get to see – hope it lifts enough to see Gareloi sometime. Aiming to miss it by 3 miles, then harden up to get north of Tanaga. Adjusting kevvo major exercise – have to climb over his lines, holding on to weaher side winch, get under checkstay, around Lizzie’s TV tower and lean over the pushpit…often about 10 times every hour as the wind shifts.

Not really cold – I’m sweaty after all that work – hands going white, planning failure, didn’t bring heavy duty gardening gloves which worked so well last time. lanolin now solid and almost rock hard – really difficult to get any off to warm up and spread on hands but must keep doing it. Having said all that, big sneeze.

Dan from Westward, bless him, called in by satphone to check how we are going. And yes, we are east of the IDL – assume everyone will write in and ask whether it was a deliberate mistake (nah! just read the W with brain in neutral).

Anyway, small celebration time again, I think – real progress again. About 300 Consultant Physicians from RANSA will be in attendance. Will keep this open

And there I sat squeezed into the cockpit with my 300 friends and – out of the murk ahead, a tiny sliver of land, sloping into the water from under the overcast. Yeehaa! Gareloi!

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5144.02 17844.49 GARELOI!

Puffin © Dr Graeme Davis from his new book “Vikings in America

How can I begin to convey the beauty and the wonder of this. We’ve sailed a quarter of the way around the world, from semi tropical Sydney, through the squalls and nonsense along the way, headbanged the current, sweatd through the tropics, plugged our way north to Amchitka, whales, dolphins, puffins, albatrosses, flocks of little auks and then – Gareloi!

Slowly slowly, out of the murk, the slope got bigger and there was – snow! Of all the most unexpected and gobsmackingly amazing experiences, this rates pretty high. I woke McQ and we just bathed in it all. The most perfect volcanic peak gradually emerged into thin sunlight – patchy blue sky, the snow and ice at the top glowing white and merging into the cloud – lenticular cloud around the top, never actually saw the very top of the cone, but the shoulders were brilliant white gleaming iridescence. Greenish lichen type vegetation on the lower slopes, black cinder slopes above, streaky snow in the gullies – lots of little ice filled gullies – Berri’s first mini glaciers. Serene, lovely, indifferent and pure joy. Made all the rest fade away and filled the emotional space with happiness.

For a bit anyway! Now we’re almost back in the murk. Cape Horn did the same for Pete and me – the only patch of sunlight in weeks and it was ours. Same here, it seems. Heading for the north end of Tanaga, then Adak, perhaps tomoz. If I dare speculate. This short cut was one of the best decisions ever.

Anyone know when Gareloi last erupted? Was not sure but it looked as if there might have been steam mixing with the cloud at the top – certainly different colours. The only glimpse of part of the peak was of black cinders.

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5150.55 17828.48 1800ADT

DT Adak 96 miles, DTD 448, so still a sizeable chunk of journey to go. Very tempted to bypass Adak but I think that would be foolhardy given the rate of change of weather here. We could almost certainly sail to Dutch without and difficulty – oit’s the ‘almost’ that’s the problem! We may not be allowed to stay for very long when we do get there, which will be ok, although a shame not to have a look around. Will all depend on the ground rules imposed on the Harbourmaster by US Customs.

Gareloi disappeared much faster than it emerged. Just had time to chuck in a couple of reefs as the murk rolled in from the sea and we were again enveloped in grey gloom and sadly I don’t have an equivalent to the lovely photo of Cape Horn looking back to the west into the evening sky But lots of pics – might be able to send from Adak, but more likely Dutch. And I expcet all you all knew from google earth that it has snow on it but it was a lovely surprise for me!

And now we are just – only just – laying Tanaga. I will go speak to kevvo. Having spoke, I’ve started the engine – no point in missing waypoints from this close in. At this speed, about 18 hours to Adak, so around midday tomoz, Monday 2nd. May stuff up a prediction or two, mine included, for ETA Dutch but that’s the kitchen we’re in. There’s something odd about the way the propeller is working – might be covered in grot, kelp who knows – and so might Berri. Will be able to investigate a bit better from alongside a wharf.

So I’ve committed us. Just left a message for Lacy Plummer at Adak that we should be there around midday tomorrow. Foolish, perhaps, given all our experiences in the Aleutian chain but ’tis done. I’m wearing my old 1985 New York Marathon souvenir helly hansen thermal top on my head over my beanie with the arms tied around my neck, to keep the beanie on (nothing else except Epoxy works) and to keep my ears and neck warm until I can find the bag my hats are in. Have to take it all off to make a satphone call – amazingly effective, given the cold draft around my neck – must reinstate it.

We’re 5 miles west of Cape Sajaka on Tanaga – impenetrable grey gloop and nothing to see. We’ll pass about 3 miles north in about 90 minutes. There’s another volcano behind Sajaka, but I don’t think we’ll see it. Once past Sajaka, we’re in the Bering sea proper. Hoooley dooooley!.

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McQ: Land Ahoy!!! There be Gareloi!!!

After 53(??) days at sea, and a bit of a slog for some of that we sighted Gareloi Volcano. And am quite glad to have missed the thin grey strip of Amchitka Island and the craggy rocks of Unalga in the mist the morning for my first land to be this Island… Alex called me up on deck and there abeam of us to port, a couple of miles away is this magnificent island rising out of the sea in classic volcano format!!! Various first sightings of land have been memorable: Table Mountain, Mount Fiji, but this was something else. Absolutely breathtaking- leaving Sydney 50 odd days ago in sunshine, tropics, misty foggy grey days with no sun for the past week or so and the sun had glimpsed through the mist at the end of my previous watch and by the time we got to gareloi it had burnt off enough fog to see the whole side of the island and the top, between the clouds, was bathed in sunshine and streaks oof proper blue sky above!! Awesome. I suppose I hadn’t reallythought about what the first land we would see would look like but I guess after all that time in the heat for a big snowy lump to rise out of the mist was somewhat unexpected- yes, snow!!! Infact the whole thing a geographers dream: layers of black rock, some erosion by wind and rain making relatively gentle slope in to the sea, some sections more vertical, where the waves must have eaten away great chunks of cliff, and then above the black rock the whole slopes are covered in a uniform pale khaki green, AW suggested some sor tof lichen but impossible to tell from out here, a very mossy colour anyway. Green, I find one of the strangest things when I reach land- sure, the sea has its green moments, but not like land green, after going so long without seeing proper, jealous, grassy green, it always seems such an incredibly vivid colour. I think it takes my brain a few days to adjust to processing this, (and brightly coloured flowers too) mental. So green holds this crazy fascination, even pale mossy green, after such a long time at sea. And atop the green bit, rising towards the volcano peak was bright white snow cap, with thin slivers of icy snow reaching down towards the sea (though probably bit thick drifts, if you were standing on the mountain side!!) The very top not quite visible, instead the top third all blending and melting into the clouds with the occasional rocky bit to identify between island and cloud!! Really, truly amazing sight. and as much as I love my wee Olympus, I wish I had my real camera… I think this and all the different birds swirling around us are the first real indication that a proper camera will be sorely missed (though those folk who’ve had to sit through any of my slide shows are probably mighty relieved!!!) Anyway, we had a nice lift round the SE corner and now we are out into the middle of the gap between Gareloi and the next island we are being fully headed so should prob go chat to Kevvo.
Hope everyone good and happy too.
Lots of love
Cor McQ

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5159.34 17756.17 just north of Bumpy!

As McQ said, we got headed. The Examiner was dozing or beating someone else up when we were at Gareloi but she’s back on the job. I’ve just squeezed Berri so that I could take out the 2 Gareloi reefs and there’s now a 6 kt featherdown breath from somewhere north. 5.2 kts with the engine pushing us along and the sails just filled. We’ve had the little heady – still happily stitched – since way before Amchitka but the big one would be better now.

Such a shame that the local conditions are so gloopy dismold grey. We just made out the base of Tanaga volcano as we passed it a mile and a half to seaward – black and with snow streaks in the gullies was all – but this would be the most marvellous trip in sunshine.

Dicky B – my pre-Gareloi consultation with my 300 RANSA consultants reminded me so much of Tom – do you remember the party we had the day we got back from not getting to Rio? Tommy’s little barrel of factory strength OP with orange juice? And me and Tom having to front some rather indignant Customs people next morning after the press got in on the act? He’s out here somewhere!

Appendages now firmly crossed that it all hangs together for another 12 hours or so. Ride it in with us and thanks for coming along this far.

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McQ: Thank goodness we haven’t had to DR our way here!!!

We’ve passed Pratt Cove, which is tucked in beside Knob Point, and now we are about 8 miles from rounding Bumpy Point which is at the head of Gusty Bay. I say this with complete sincerity. I’ve also spotted Dinkum Point and Dinkum Rock- nowhere near each other!!! Its hilarious, almost as much fun as making up a new language!!
Earlier Whitters said knowing our luck he wouldn’t be surprised if we got headed all the way round the corner… I thought this a touch pessimistic but here we are round the corner… so gradient wind here should still be northerly, albeit not much and our bearing to waypoint near Adak is 080, so guess where the wind is now coming from??? yep zero-eight-zero. Brilliant!!!!Hopefully its just local off the land- we are only a mile off.
I think midday tomorrow a wee bit hopeful-I’m still going with ETA to Adak of 1523 local tomorrow… we’ll see!!!
For those of us whose today is yesterday, today is 1st June… so just wanted to wish everyone who’s b’day it is in june a very happy one- my brain diary isn’t exhaustive or what it used to be so am sorry if I forget you- most important first cause apparently i always forget, Dave Bright, Happy Birthday my darling for 22nd!! Paul, won’t get cake this year unless i find some tomorrow and post, definitely not homemade or decorated with a monkey. I’ll try and be about next year. Marc- gutted gutted to be missing this one as you well know. hope you and Jonah have the most fantastic 30ths and that ‘Whittensethi’ or equivalent, rocks!! might be wise to carry a pair of trainers if you want to go running. Jo and Philippe, happy birthday, no cakes for you guys either, though it might take some pursuading to get me to stay up all night on the 25th ever again and bake and decorate four cakes in one go!!! Hope your first birthday on the island is brill, jo, wish i was there. lots of love to all other birthday people too Coz/Bol xxx Had my second snickers just now… only four to go!!! oooh crikey, thats not many!!!
I’d like to award a BAPTO to the GPS… is this possible???!!!! AW and I were discussing this morning while still in Amchitka Pass that it was maybe two weeks since we had enough sun (and general vis at night too) to have made a sextant sight possible, so without GPS we would have been DR’ing our way for a long time, and while we would have kept a record of what current was averaging and adjusting our Dead Reckoning pos accordingly (I assume), we would have minimal realistic clue as to which part of the Aleutiens/pass to get between them we had reached!!! Indeed, given the vis, without GPS we could be anywhere!!! Its one helluva thought!!! Full respect to all ocean navigators from pre-gps, makes ‘Frozen in time’ all the more sobering.
Word for the day: Swober- pretending to be sober (was actually a typo in the last sentence, but i like it!!) lots of love McQ xxx

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McQ: The Sock Exchange

I guess we don’t really have a real boot room on Berri, but instead a strange phenomenon known as the Sock Exchange can sometimes be observed. It is funny how you fall into routines quite easily and things that could be quite random become so normal it would be weird without them!!! I’ve noticed it on a few watch changes and it does make me chuckle: Its only really at the early evening two hour watch changes where it is still light but so cold that party-gear-to-bed-gear is the only way to go, but we have developed a sort of routine whereby whoever is coming off watch (say me in this case)will go down below, wake the other (Big A), have a ‘whats changed on deck’ chat whilst simultaneously peeling off soggy layers. Chat may or may not continue depending on whats going on and eventually I’ll be out of cwampet outer layers and will clamber into my bunk. Alex then sits up properly in his bunk, opposite, and kinda gets-with-the-programme: this is when the funniest thing happens, I’ll take off my cold and clammy Outside Socks (now comprised, thermal socks and sealskinz), put them in my boots ready for next time and replace with big thick fluffy purple bed socks, a bit of toe stretching and feet rubbing to get the circulation going again and then tuck them into the depths of my blankets, Alex does the same, at exactly the same time, but in reverse: untucks his feet from toasty blankets, bit of stretching and rubbing the feet to warm them up, removes toasty bed socks, replaces with his cold slippers (he keeps his cold and clammys in his boots) and swings out of his bunk. We both do this the same but opposite, whichever watch change and this little ritual that we have each developed is completed with the utmost precision and concentration and neither of us utter a word. The only difference is that I don’t have slippers and go straight to the cold and clammys when about to go on watch and I don’t think big A’s bed socks are purple…
Anyway, just thought I’d share that with you!!
Lots of love

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Examiner 0, McQ 1

Mount Agadak

Andak ahead – looks like another volcano, but overcast down to 300 ft or so…photo follows.

McQ on watch, Big A just getting dressed – snaps to attention as Mcq cuts the throttle – Alex, there’s steam coming out the back and no water! – MM! OOH Poo! Through the barn door and the Examiner is still trying. So – analysis – first, check the impeller – seems ok. Then take the pump outlet tube off and restart the engine briefly – no water, so must be outboard of the pump, so the inlet must be blocked. If you know where Berri’s raw water inlet is, you’ll find that hard to believe but…
So Big A struggles with engine box, tools and the raw water inlet tube, trying to get it off the valve fitting. Much struggle and just a little profanity and McQ says sweetly, Why not pour hot water on it? Collapse of stout party, Big A chastened, boils kettle and does so and is able to remove tube. Opens valve, no water. Eureka, but there’s a right angled bend in the fitting – how to get around it? Old vhf aerial too stiff and McQ suggests dismantle hose clip. BA has another think, much struggle and more profanity – silent, of course, and Big A gets act together and works out that the right angled bit unscrews from the fitting inboard of the valve – yeeehaaa. Unscrew, retrieve old vhf aerial kept for just this purpose and open valve, push out whatever was in it, gushing water, Berri in danger of immediate foundering – put the whole shebang back together, take heart out of mouth and start it – McQ down the back, thumbs up. Yeeeehaaa! Big time! McQ to bed, having spent the last hour shivering in the cockpit, BA clears up the mess, brews one of Pete’s special coffees, once again courtesy of RANSA, and sits down to write this.

Wind has dropped, we’re rounding Pt Adagdak and about 13 miles to go. Will report when alongside, prob by satphont to whichever part of the world is awake at the time.

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5201.57 1715.34 Quickie

Just a quickie – there are boats around. The usual woolly grey night, light drizzle, coldish, water 6 degrees. Phosphorescence in creamy sparkle form and – pure magic – dolphins cavorting and snorting all around the boat leaving creamy trails twisting and curving and swirling, with cascades of sparkles when they surface – usually at huge speed. These are little ones – much smaller than I’m used to seeing, light/dark brown top and white under tail.

Looking good for Adak around midday. Must take a squizz – see yez.

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Berri arrives in Adak - 22.00 Z +1 Everyone off the ceiling

Message received from Alex via satphone – “We’re tied up alongside safe & sound have taken on 60 gallons of fuel. Planning to set sail in the morning for Dutch, after checking weather.” Time for a consultation fans……….


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McQ: Back on the road.

Adak was mad: wee Berri alongside a wharf built for aircraft carriers- wish I could have got a photo from the sea!! To start with it was almost like going alongside nothing as we were lower than the bottom of the pier sides!! crazy!!! but we got there and away and intact- And, yes thanks to Lacy the Harbourmaster, Its so nice coming all this way and the first person I speak to other that Alex in 53 days is super helpful and friendly!!!
We came out of Adak, have just cleared the corner of Great Sitkin Isloand and are now pointing in a straight line to Dutch, 350ish miles to our waypoint up there, 064- I guess we follow that line and munch away at the miles, pac-man styley. Sweet.
Not a lot of wind and guess where it’s coming from??? we have the engine on, nowt to stress about there at the moment- we’re almost overflowing with diesel!!!!!
I just put the headsail away cause it was just flogging about doing nothing and all the commotion must have woken Big A- I explained what I had done no wind etc, he looked confused and asked- this is quite funny- if we had gone round the corner and got to our bear away point? I said yes, we have borne away, and wind bore away with us!!! Typical eh??? I just read that- it doesn’t sound very funny at all. I guess you have to be here.
We have a big plastic curver box that is filled with our ready use foods, like plastic tubs of tea/coffee/sugar/pasta/ museli bars/chocolate etc and today the bundy has made its way in there too and Kimbra, you’ll be pleased to hear that we have a tub dedicated solely to beetroot which we replenish from tins regularly!!!
I still can’t quite grasp that we have just made land fall in America. Its barely comprehensible for me here, it must be really random for anyone following, but while wee Berri is just that, compared to the huge ocean, to me, when we are sailing, alongside she was definitely the Mighty Berri, having safely and happily got us a quarter of the way round the world nonstop!! Go Berri, I love you!!
Love to everyone else too,

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5210.33 17600.05 Flopopery under Sitkin's Teapot

Photo by Fred Zeillemaker, 1982 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, courtesy of Alaska Volcano Observatory).
Where on earth to begin? Adak – old US cold war naval air station, from what we could see of it, rather like Port Stanley, with a lot of ex government facilities now largely unused and falling apart. The jetties – 2 of them – once parking spots for big aircraft carriers, now have grass growing out of them. Difficult to get alongside huge fuelling wharf and even Whitters got knickers twisted first time. Met by Lacy Plummer – BAPTO please Speeds for help way beyond the call of duty of a Habourmaster. We were confined to the boat BY Order of the US Customs so Lacy organised 60 galloons of diesel and took our shopping list and bought us lots of goodies, even getting my glove size right. I now have waterproof lined rubber gloves and toasty hands. She had previously cleared our visit with USC, and also brought us the biggest bag of M&M;’s I’ve ever seen – we now have ready use tub of M&M;’s instead of boring peanuts in the cockpit. Got us the weather and generally fussed over us. Thanks Lacy.

Great Sitkin – whooo! Coming out of Adak, there were occasional breaks in the grey gloop and there, magnificent, gleaming, unbelievably close – near yet distant again! – the snow covered slopes of what seems to be a huge volcano. Only saw glimpses of it, unfortunately, and now it’s pinching our wind as we work out way around it, way too close for the two finger rule and the wind, if there is any, goes over the top of us and up the mountain, a cosy for Teapot Rock.

Must now start keeping these short. Still working Hawaii sailmail station, but only just, so mostly iridium. Voucher dwindling fast.

David E.W. G’day! MJC, found the wharves despite google earth.

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McQ: Advice re torches (flashlights)

Some advice re torches:
1. Make sure to locate and secure torch BEFORE it gets dark. McQ’s torch MIA. Its dark.
2. Don’t do what Big A is prone to do and forget that your headtorch has already been located and secured to head.
Gribbage for 24hrs blue/green. For 48hrs red and pink!! At moment reaching (not quite screeching reaching in 6kts breeze but reaching nonetheless!!) straight line for Dutch so until The Examiner restarts The Examination, which she inevitably will, its Kwik-E-Blogs with the benefit of my wisdom!!!
Love McQ xxx

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

5234.58 17422.10 Barnacles…..

Anniversary 2005 Falmouth, Barnacles, Fishing boat, hat & gloves

This is the anniversary of Berri’s arrival in Falmouth 3 years ago late in the evening – to be met Izz ang G and Dr Gordon. Would have been fitting to arrive in Dutch, but not to be. We’re on track to be there on Thursday arvo AGW, which, on this gig, tends to be the exception.

Berri slow and sluggish – all the underside of both quarters above the antifoul is covered in 3″ barnacles. There seems to be something affecting the prop as well. Pete, about the same as when we got to Falmouth – I wonder if they are the children of the ones that got a free 114 day ride from Falmouth to Hobart.

We were overtaken by a small trawler during the night – phosphorescence again, in iridescent cascades. And it’s so nice to have warm dry hands and my old Falklands fridge bonnet which I found as soon as I dug for the errant bag.

Grey gloop continues. We’re a few miles from one of what must be the most spectacular views in the world and all there is to see is the inside of a paper bag. Pity.

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5243.37 17342.08 conceptual space

Time expands and contracts to fill the conceptual space available. I must do a minimum of 2 more of these morning watches before Dutch and it seems like a century yet I have already done 54 or so of them. That finishing straight in the Melbourne marathon again, but with the pain of longing and anticipation rather than lactic acid convulsions and cramps. How on earth do I fill in that cavern of time? Can’t read, can’t listen to music, can’t do much of this cos the vis is too bad and have to be on deck watching the water go by and looking at the few seabirds that break the monotony.

The satphone has spoken – there must be incoming from all y’all – exciting and wow does it help…

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McQ: 3rd June

Phosphorescence was out last night in full iridescent glory, would have been great big white streaks everywhere if we had been going a bit quicker but instead bubbly squiggly worms leaping about in the water we churn up- different dynamic to great big white streaks but equaloloy mesmerising and, well, nice really to have a bit of a change!!
Only 267 miles to go to our Cape Cheerful wapoint-I can’t wait for C.Cheerful… and what it may bring!!!
Shower remained tantalisingly close yesterday, don’t suppose another 3 days make much difference after 53!!
Congrats to Big A, Pete and Berri on the anniversary of their arrival in Falmouth in 05- It must have felt pretty special!! and this makes Berri’s 2nd huge adventure in 3 years!!
The deck peanut tub has been relegated to the mists of time- even the permanent marker pen has rubbed off- no more a single trace that once it was filled with peanuts. Now replaced by the super colourful and altogether more pleasing Deck M&M;’s Tub…
Love McQueen xxx

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McQ: barnacles

Imagine being a barnacle on Berri’s bot!! Imagine just cruising along one day and clinging on to her, then suddenly 114 days later, everything’s upside down, the sun shines, all the fish that come and hang out look a bit strange- you keep meeting sharks called ‘Bruce’ and so on… after getting used to this lifestyle, basking in the delightfully warm Sydney Harbour- getting a cooling once a year on the way south, you find yourself off again… hotter and hotter, you realise you are going north, then it starts to cool off- you have a vague recollection of what ‘cold’ feels like, hanging out with your buddies in Falmouth in the winter, but then it gets really cold…by this time there’s loads of you, and you’ve made masses of new friends, so many that wee Berri is definitely feeling sluggish, everyone’s talking in American accents but the cold water is starting to remind you of home, and you start wondering if you’ll ever get back to Falmouth again??

I hope those little barnacles make it back to Falmouth one day, despite them slowing us down in the mean time (so maybe on someone elses bot)!!!

love McQ
ps: Carie, did you see FF’s gust re our new neighbours??? Gust 213 i think!! hilarious!! see if you can get the lowdown?? Awesome re JH!! miss you, lots of love Bol xxx

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More or less north of Amukta 5251.30 17310.37

About 50 hours to go iff it all continues to hang together. 50 hours during which you all will go to work, read the papers (what is happening out there? We’ve been 51 days with no news whatsoever) sit in traffic jams, polish the baby’s bottom or whatever you normally fill your days doing. I’ll be either dozing in my tiny, slightly angled bunk or in the cockpit in full party gear watching the water go by and wishing time was not so elastic. We have been promised 20 kts up the clacker (never thought about it before, but that must be Oz slang for cloaca)from here to Dutch so appendages once more in the supplicant position and onwards, ever onwards.

Huge to-do list for dutch. Mostly seems under control, but will be very expensive and perhaps tricky. Talking of expense, diesel in Adak was $4.10/gall and parking alongside the delicately named Refuse Barge was $80 + 3% per night. Even more expensive than Bucklers Hard! But not a real incentive to hang around.

Thanks to everyone for your messages and good wishes – lovely to pull them in this afternoon and can’t wait to get to dutch and catch up with the world again.

Carla – was not aware of Discovery mission – no real comparison, but I like your idea of symmetry. What is the program? Anyone we know out there?

Doug M – have you seen the map?

El – dvd would be noice – ta. pse send email to speed with your plans – he will forward to us. will try to call from dutch.

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Update from the radio room 21:50 Z

Just received call from Alex. They are hooning along (running before 20kts) on direct course for Dutch. Expect to arrive @ noon local time today (that’s yesterday for most of us). Confusing, it will be. Their local is 14:50 now. So add 10 hours to zulu and that will be their noon time. Of course if you’re in the USA, you may well be asleep at the time of arrival. On the other hand, if your in Oz, you’ll be settling down to Neighbours at 18:00. Carla, the Oracle, has supplied us with ground zero webcam links (see gustbook). And I’m aware that at least 7000 people are sitting out there like a tree full of Owls awaiting the arrival in real time fogvision. So set your alarms and don’t miss it. Should any of this not make sense, please resist the temptation to point it out. I’ve had enough advice for one lifetime, thank you.
PS: What he actually said was noon tomorrow – so that could be the day after. Mind you; all above calculations still apply by adding 24 hours. Going for a lie down before breakfast……….

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Summary of 2 lost blogs 5336.29 16951.12 115 to cape cheerful

First, McQ got a really nasty bang on the head this morning when we were putting in a reef – glancing blow through hood and beanie and non trivial. I checked all the signs – pupils ok, no bleeding from anywhere, lucid, but very sore and angry and badly shocked. We both think she will be ok. I kept her up and talking for an hour – cryptic clues, simple maths – all seemed to be there so sent her to bed to get warm. Woke her 2 hours later to check the signs, all seemed ok so allowed her 1 Nurofen – her painkiller of choice tho wouldn’t be mine – and one every 4 hours since. Wants to get up and help but I’m insisting. Rather her than me.
Second, weather as bad as it has been – 20 kts up the clacker earlier, then 25+, big big building seas, v. uncomfortable, v difficult to manage. Down to poled out heady for a bit, then bare pole, now back to tiny heady as wind has abated to 20 again. At least 30 hours to DH at this rate but gale warning for tomoz, 35+ so may have to park for a bit. Bloody Examiner – two to her for the day.

And third – I could weep with rage, anger, frustration and plain disappointment. My second computer crashed a couple of hours ago as I was sending original blogs. Just like last time – lost everything – digital charts, all emails, downloaded photos, track data – the whole shebang. This set up is so complicated for a non geek that if it goes wrong, I’m stuffed, completely. and, once again, it has and I don’t know why. I hope there’s someone in DH who can sort it. Sorry folks. Examiner 3, Berri 0

Current situation – McQ resting, Whitters trying to ensure that everything possible happening to get us through the barn door as fast and safely as possible. Tiny sail area just getting us high enough to stay more or less on track. Changed one of kevvo’s steering lines, both checkstays on, everything possible tied down. Have alerted contact in DH re McQ just in case she needs xray or other inspection on arrival, checked Nikolski as possible safe haven. No weather event lasts for ever, but this one is a doozy – exquisitely placed by the Examiner and we’re going to have to negotiate it to get home. Cold, wet, miserable.

And, please everyone, appendages crossed for this computer – my home laptop, not at all suitable for these conditions.

There were lots of messages and thank yous etc, but can’t at this stage remember and don’t have original incoming emails to check.

Can’t believe it – first sun since Gareloi – tiny hole in gloop lighting my keyboard.

Love yez – hope the webcam works, but prob updated every few minutes only.

Wind back up again. Will try to send this – Don’t know from minute to minute whether it will work or not.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

5330.50 17050.38 Examiner 1, McQ 1

The story continues – after our morning sked with our friend in Dutch, we went out to put in the second reef – wind then about 15, right up the clacker, sea building so boat snaking a bit, poled out headsail, all cool but precautionary in view of forecast. We roll in the heady and bring the boat up a bit – Whitters to the mast, preventer off and the boat gybes. McQ sees it coming, ducks but still collects solid glancing blow on side of head. Conscious, in pain, cross (angry!) with herself. W secures boat, checks for bleeding, lucidity, no vomiting, pupils ok. Prognosis good, but rather her than me. Kept her up talking for an hour – she knows it’s wednesday (it is here!), can focus on cryptic clues and do the simple maths that my cheesebrain can cope with. Then sent her to bed with hottie, woke her 2 hours later, signs still good so allowed her a nurofen. She wants to get up, is embarrassed, doesn’t want her friends to know but I’ve put foot down. Alerted friends in Dutch, just in case, and checked Nikolski as potential safe haven if needed. Don’t worry, Pam, she’s sore but ok. Will have blue ribbon bruise tomoz.

Meantime, wind now 20+ dead astern, 6-7ft short breaking seas – dropped main, just sailing with poled out heady, still doing 5.5 – 6 kts. Berri will go like this for ever – loves it, kevvo driving, so snug, estimating dutch around 1800 tomoz. Times like this, a bloke needs a G&T.; And a second forestay to twin pole. Those were the days. Will be light till midnight, then again around 0630. I’ll get some short naps and keep her as flat out as seems safe. Forecast wind due to abate tomoz.

Leif – top fitting angled T piece to wire, all dimensions to follow by separate mail from David. If you can match the threaded pin at the bottom, we can use the old turnbuckles. Will need 2 copies please – no point in taking chances with the second one. Anyway, I’ll call you and send you the complete shroud with all fittings as far as chainplate as soon as I can. Please send details for courier. We should be in dutch for at least 10 days, but would have to wait for you.

Carla – yay, another tin can to add to the concatenation. Sadly, we haven’t seen the sky or anything much above 500 ft since Gareloi so no chance of seeing the thing – thanks Matt, anyway. Carla, tks for webcam, Where is it so we can wave? It probably updates only once every few minutes, so you might not see us…

Great to hear from everyone else – will do my best to keep y’all posted as we approach.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

5336.27 17023.49 More from the Examiner

McQ still has nasty headache. 1 nurofen every 4 hours is all that I think is sensible. She’s been up, had soup, but now back in bed.

We now have 30 kts dead astern, postage stamp heady, poled out, big building sea and gale warning for tomoz. Oh Whooopeee! We’re doing around 5kts, some big waves, will shorten heady even further as things develop. Very cold, raining right against the back door. Poo! Both stor boards in.

Looks like a long and interesting 24 hours to come. Glad I’ve done a few Melbournes and I know about the last few kilometres, but not a pleasant prospect. Don’t like your chances with the webcam unless the vis improves.

And there’s Bogoslof Island dead ahead, which I will try to miss. Should be there in daylight tomorrow.

Love yez all. Have fun out there!

Later – fortified with soup and a rather revolting mix of baked beans, tinned slushy mushies and steak and onion, plus my last 2 snickers bars, carefully preserved for such an occasion. No weather event lasts for ever, but the examiner has placed this one very carefully. Helping us along, but at the same time the building seas are potentially a bit iffy. They’re about 10 feet now and steep – I have kevvo set up so that he takes us slightly diagonally up the face and down the back of each one that he can manage – remember, they are overtaking us, probably twice the boat speed. Also hoping that same course will get us inside Bogoslof in 80 miles or so.

Will try to keep sending these but don’t stress if none or v. few. Is difficult – and sometimes busy. Might set the trisail later if seems appropriate.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

5338.15 16927.58 Thu 05/06/2008 04:32 berritime

Amazingly, I seem to have the old computer back. Following this one are the 2 blogs that were ‘lost’.

Bloody uncomfortable out here. Still blowing 20 – 25, very big seas, breaking, Berry gyrating violently. Huge fun juggling laptops, dongles, iridium stuff in the dark. Actually, because we’re not on deck as we should be, I’ve left the spreader lights on so that anyone close can at least see us as a sailing vessel. 35 still forecast, so we’re keeping our heads down.

Sked with Contact in Dutch at 0900. Unlikely we’ll get in today.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

5345.58 16851.59 Thu 05/06/2008 17:46

Will write this in the hope that I can send it. McQ still has big headache – other signs ok, but I think she should be ashore as soon as possible.

Conditions still awful – 25 kts, dreadful sea but manageable as long as I keep going downwind. Going absolutely as fast as I dare – full small furler and trisail, just able to maintain general course towards DH. No way we could make Nikolski. May have to hand steer around Bogoslof. Will be doing sked with Dave in DH @ 0900. Earliest ETA Cape Cheerful around 2200 and will ask Dave to organise someone to meet us if possible as I’ll be alone on deck and not easy to get to chart. No time for more – we’ll get there. No forecast yet – hope Dave will have it and that this is easing a bit – not too much as that would slow us down.

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

5354.04 167.40 The finishing straight

McQ back in circulation – good news. Estimating C. Cheerful sometime between 2200 and m/night. Wind has turned at DH, now blowing from NW straight into Unalaska Bay. Examiner again! We’ll take a look and might hide in Wide bay until daylight, tho can’t possibly be as bad in there as out here.

Hard to believe we’re so close! I wonder whether it’s ever been done before. This will probably be the last blog until we get in. Will update Speed and Carla by satphone if my hands not too cold at Cheerful.

Love yez all and thanks for coming along for the ride.

Later – Cape Kovrizhka in sight! The finishing straight. And what a landfall! Big lumpy sea, wind dropping – 18kts or so. Misty sun, sea glowing bottle green as the sun shines through the curling wavetops and a glorious line of snowy volcanoes along the north shore of Unalaska. 6000 miles and worth every inch – distant haze, volcanic cones and snowy ridges shining through. Yeeehaaa! I think I can just see Cheerful – and isn’t it!

2-2. Equator-Dutch Harbor

Berrimilla in safe harbour - Dutch

Alex, Corrie and Berri,
Alongside in Dutch, tied up next to a big red thing named “Lucky Island”.
They’re going to book into The Grand and have a quick wash and some consultations.
All facts & figures will appear over the next few days. They’re also hoping to connect to wi-fi and the usual email addresses may be used to contact them.
And the toast is:
“To Mighty Berri & Her Crew”
Speedy – off watch.