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Just becausei cant believe it worked

This is another test using iridium Go. ————————————————- Do not push the “reply” button to respond to this message if that includes the text of this original message in your response. Messages are sent over a very low-speed radio link. The most concise way to reply is to send a NEW message to: VZN2025a@sailmail.com If you DO use your reply button, be sure to delete the original message text and these instructions from your reply. Replies should not contain attachments and should be less than 5 kBytes (2 text pages) in length. This email was delivered by an HF private coast station in the Maritime Mobile Radio Service, operated by the SailMail Association, a non-profit association of yacht owners. For more information on this service or on the SailMail Association, please see the web site at: http://www.sailmail.com

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Iridium go test

Test… ————————————————- Do not push the “reply” button to respond to this message if that includes the text of this original message in your response. Messages are sent over a very low-speed radio link. The most concise way to reply is to send a NEW message to: VZN2025a@sailmail.com If you DO use your reply button, be sure to delete the original message text and these instructions from your reply. Replies should not contain attachments and should be less than 5 kBytes (2 text pages) in length. This email was delivered by an HF private coast station in the Maritime Mobile Radio Service, operated by the SailMail Association, a non-profit association of yacht owners. For more information on this service or on the SailMail Association, please see the web site at: http://www.sailmail.com

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iridium go

test

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Test

16/01/17 posted 2123

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Slick and murky

From sparkling crisp spring sunshine to 500 ft cloudbase, snow and universal grey for three days or so. A little thaw yesterday and then it froze again so the place is a skating rink.Sledge Island invisible in the murk. We pulled the crab pots a few days ago – good decision as it turned out. There is clear water only a few yards from the pressure ridge where they were and the whole slab may break away in the current and wind. The photo is Pat baiting one of the pots. The ice is only about half a metre thick which is most unusual.

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Panoramas

From the DarthVader pinnacle on Anvil Mountain. The one with the sun on the left: left to right reflecting sea ice, past Sledge and Cape Rodney to the Kiluaik Range across what I think is the Snake river valley.The peak of Mt Osborne visible behind the hill centre right foregroung. Nome’s excuse for a wind generator cluster centre left foreground.When it blows here, it does so with attitude. The Examiner would have a lot of fun. The one with the sun to the right of centre: left to right:Cape Nome, along the shore to Nome wuth the harbour breakwaters and some grounded jack-up gold digging platforms, sea ice out to the horizon beyond. Then the Snake river and back to Sledge and Cape Rodney. Yesterday I drove a snowmachine on a 60 mile round trip beyond Cape Nome with Pat to survey a plot of land but the wind was too strong to manage the paper and instruments. Blowing about 30 knots with powder snow. Sadly, too difficult to take photos but some spectacular scenery. I want to go back and photograph an old dead tree that Pat thinks must have been there for about a century – the only tree anywhere out there. Ill post the photo if I get there.

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Darth fell off the list…

And a couple of kids who snowmachined up there

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Anvil Mountain

About 4 miles inland from Nome, close to where the three lucky Swedes first found gold…It’s about 1000ft and a steepish climb but worth the effort. One end of it dominated by Darth Vader. Sledge Island under the star with Cape Rodney to the right. Cape Nome about 10 miles away looking the other way




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Sunset and the green flash

106 miles south of the arctic circle, end of winter, the sun slides into the western horizon at an angle of about 10 degrees. The sequence shows the sun setting behind Sledge Island and the nano-second either side of the moment when I missed the green flash. I saw it for the first time ever, which, sadly, means I did not get the photo. Megan saw it too so it must have happened :)












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Martin and DeeDee finishing.

And a few others.









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The view

Hahn Central goings on The house, the view to the east, dogs…more later









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Top of the Seward

The semi organised Iditarod cacophony gathers speed and volume. Hahn Central rocks as the Iditarod finishers come home.About 20 people here in a moving mass most of the time. Photos of ‘our’ mushers Martin, DeeDee, Tim, James & Matt probably from tomorrow – they are all some way back in the field this year. Martin tentatively due around 0300 tomorrow so maybe a long night. Some photos – on the road out to Dexter with Tiqaraha and Mt Osborn on the horizon. Snow blowing off the top of Osborn. Tiqarafa is the grey toothlike spike to the left of the Osborn pyramid. It’s a significant site for the local Inuit and the only place where there are flint deposits. Both are in the Kigluaik range and Osborn is the highest point on the Seward Peninsula. Camping out in the old cabin which Pat is restoring. Sawdust everywhere but it’s warm and away from the noise.






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The Mini Mukluk 2016

A 4 mile race – flat, easy out and back course – trivial in anybody’s programme. Add air temperature of 20degF and about 25kt of wind from one side of the course and it becomes just a bit non-trivial. Slick ice in patches and gritty dust in the wind…the wind chill dragged the temperature down another 20 deg or so and I could feel my feet freezing…dustmask to keep the nose from frostbite, freezing air around the sunnies and face, eyes drying out…and there’s a bit dead into wind on the way back. Oof. I think I was the 3rd male home out of about 10 finishers and Megan was 2nd woman from about 6.








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Out on the edge at Nome

About a mile out from the shore. Almost on Berrimilla’s 2008 track into the harbour. The big pressure ridge is fast on the bottom and anchors all the inshore ice and outside it, the tide and wind take over and the ice moves in sync. There’s been a clear lead out there for a couple of days…find the horizon…and a rather hazy Sledge Island floats in its own reflection about 10 miles away…a seal…Pat and Megan…










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Just a test

To see whether I can remember how to do it… A new friend

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Eden to Sydney photos – none of the good bits

No dolphin silver slashes, no whales, no phosphorescence, just Eden mist and a biggish swell. The light at Point Perpendicular is 95 metres above sea level and visible for 18 miles. We were sailing and almost pointing at Sydney with a long black night to come.Pity we couldn’t take photos of the entrance to Bermagui – very scary experience and a bit of nick of time decision making. Berri now almost emptied of masses of stuff and I think we’ll delay the slipping until January and just get in a queue.





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A bit battered but back in Sinny.

We motored from Eden to Brush Island south of Ulladulla and then the southerly arrived. 15 knots at first. 3 reefs and half the headsail, lumpy double swell 4 metreish from north east and south peaking and amplifying where they crossed so very uncomfortable. We nosed into Bermagui just after dark to find very big waves breaking across the entrance – last second decision to get out of there before we got swamped. Might have stayed to assess the possibilities in daylight but exceptionally dangerous at night – huge stone breakwater is not bouncy and completely impossible to judge the waves. So onward, ever onward into another especially long black night. Eerie phosphorescence, more whales, dolphins shooting strings of pearly glow under and around the boat and snorting a lot – and a strange glowing patch of ocean – I wondered whether there was a whale somewhere under us. Odd. 12 hours or so later, Point Perpendicular taking forever to round as usual. And the huge swells in the shallow waters. My guess about 6, maybe 7 metres. Memories of the very first time in Miko with Don Burfitt when we were pooped several times. Then it got dark again and the wind rose to about 25+ knots and life became more interesting. 3 reeled main overpowering kevvo and the autopilot and causing wild gyrations in the swell with poor old Berri sliding down waves and rounding up and generally making hay. Threatening to drag the boom through a wave and maybe break something so preventer off. Hand steering was fun but I was a bit too knackered by then to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time. Just a bit too much for Megan to steer but she’s getting the idea. Not easy sailing, but interesting and a bit stressful for old geezers short of sleep. I took down the main and it settled for a bit, then had to roll in half of the remaining heady. Berri still rolling wildly. Swell rising all the time but Berri pointing at Sin City and so – eventually, after a very long but spectacular night with the lights from Kiama to Cronulla glowing golden orange under the low overcast (making everything else much blacker) and several very big ships just outside us – it came to pass. We gybed into South Head at about 0600 and up the harbour to RANSA. The harbour is different every time we enter and this time it was windswept, raffish and with that reddish look to the rocks after rain. And empty. And rather wonderful to be back. Two very tired and somewhat battered cookies tided up the old barge and cadged a lift home from Pete. And slept. And slept. And we’ve been unloading and cleaning – poor old barge needs TLC and we’re doing our best. Photos to follow.

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Hi to Felicity and Emily!

Our latest readers. Yay! Sorry but my hands a bit full for long post. Just passing Point Perpendicular. Usual dramas. Hope to be in Sydney tomorrow morning. Cant get HF to talk to modem so using phone.

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Wily Pru and the churn

Do you ever get that corrosive churn of apprehension in the depths of the gut? Comes to me any time i hear the wind howling – in a rig, around a house, anywhere. It’s when it happens at sea or close to departure that it really gets stuck in. It’s howling with attitude now and raining. I have become familiar with the churn over the years but it never gets easier to manage – it’s just there and it colours everything else that’s going on. I’ve got it now – sitting safe in the Fisho’s but aware that Berri is tied up out there moving around in the surge and now accompanied by a much bigger boat tied up just ahead and, in my opinion, not as it should be. I was down there earlier and their stern was touching Berri’s bow in the surge. No one around, so I moved Berri back as far as I could but still dodgy IMHO. Not impressed. Megan’s asleep in Berri so I’m sure she will warn me if things deteriorate. The wind should gradually abate later today. Tomorrow looks better. The change is due around midday and should last until Monday. About 220 miles to Sydney but against the East Coast Current which could add another 50 or so depending how it’s running. A bit over 2 days if we get lucky. Then we have to find a slip and get the job done.

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An afterthought from wiley Pru

Some reflections on turning back. Why? The boat was performing well, the conditions were moderate compared to some of our Hobart races and return trips, to say nothing about the southern ocean and Montevideo. I think it’s fair to say that we could have continued without problem and got across to the Tas coast before the forecast 50+ knot northerly and be in Hobart by now. However, it’s one thing to set off across that bit of water in the middle of a big yacht race, with rescue facilities laid on and itching to get some practice, other boats around and a full communications schedule. It’s quite another thing to set off alone in potentially worsening conditions with a relatively inexperienced crew member to share the load. It is also an additional layer of responsibility. I sometimes teach Sea Safety and Survival courses and we emphasise prudent seamanship – you plan for the worst but, even in yacht races you should back off early enough to get home safely and without breaking anything. That’s what we did. There was no need or incentive to continue, as there would have been in a Hobart race and we’re now safe in Eden hoping that crossed appendages are helping to bring tomorrow’s forecast change. It’s bloody awful here right now..That northerly is howling away and shaking the windows of the Fisho’s. As an afterthought – I’ve been coming to this club since 1977 – umpteen times – and yesterday, I thought it about time I paid my $10 and joined. I am now a proud member of the Fisho’s establishment. Yay!

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Blue hat on a grey grey day.

And windy too. Will be windier tomorrow, from the north. Then, appendages crossed and wood fondled, about 4 days of moderate southerlies to get us back to Sydney.

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New blue hat

This is mostly to test the HF and Sailmail gizmology as it hasn’t had an outing for a bit and comms were iffy yesterday. Berri has a new blue hat – a 10×8 tarp over the cockpit. What a differenct! The OB isn’t set up for living in in a harbout – just for getting wet outside one. I can’t send pic from the boat system but may try this eve at Fisho’s. See y’all later.

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Surfing across the bay on a black night in the phosphorescence

Eden lights – at last, as we cross the reef at the entrance. Work the mainsail down, Roll the snatch of heady. Catastrophise in the mind getting alongside. Surf around the end of the breakwater, Serious rain, lousy vis, but the continuous floodlights along the wharves. Some fiddling as we work out tactics and line placement and fenders and – yay, it worked. Lots of fiddling but it worked. Alongside our fishing boat 0215 approx, Adjusting stuff. Wet crinkly hands and feet. Wet sleeves. Noodles – just add boiling water. Bliss. Sleep around 0330. Up at 7, more adjustment and into town to buy a tarp for a cockpit cover. We’ll be here at least until Friday… I’ll maybe try to philosophise about Kevvo later. I’m hungry and it’s lunchtime.

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Phosphorescence!

Dolphins streaking around the boat – over, under, around beside. Greenish blue glow, the boat now surrounded by crashing iridescent froth. On a very dangerous lee shore, peering to leeward hoping not to see glowing froth at the base of the craggy coastline. Himalayan ranges of glowing water all around. Noise. Rain. The wake, snaking away astern, seemingly all over the place, but Berri moving north at about 5 knots. Have to miss the huge rock at Mowarry Point. GPS! More peering, forwards now, looking for the loom of the woodchip mill lights at the entrance to Twofold Bay. And it takes for ever to appear – first a suspicion – just glowing water or real diaphanous loom? And it fills and expands and the phosphorescence brightens and the Himalayas get wilder. We surf into Twofold Bay on cresting warehouses of illuminated froth – how to get the sails off?

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Green Cape, ep 36ish part 2

And peering. Warehouses, boat rolling and pitching and now sliding sideways too. White water, rain and spray. The occasional waterfall into the cockpit. Tiny pinprick – a reflection from the mast head off the pulpit? Or the lighthouse? Lots of yaw, impossible to maintain constant directional vision. And now impossibly black – thick feely black that’s there, hanging all around the little glowing cocoon that is us. Desperately hard to make out the light at first, then – yes – there it is! Just one flash but reassuring. And we crash northwards and see more flashes and then the great revolving light spokes above us in the murk Flashing 2 every 10 seems to be the go. Are we going to clear it? And, of course, we did but not everyone has been so lucky GPS! Memories of the first Fastnet with Pete when we got to the rock in the middle of the night under the immense spokes of that huge light.

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Green Cape, episode 36ish part 1

And I forgot in previous post – could not raise Coast Radio Melbourne or Tasmar Radio on the HF most unusual for Berri’s radio and a cause for concern. No comms out there could become serious although there’s always the satphone. If it works and can be rigged…It’s a bloody long way north to Green Cape on a woolly black night. Cape Howe was visible but not for long and the mist closed in again and the blackout curtain fell upon us. Megan sitting wet and a bit bedraggled in the cockpit and apparently enjoying herself.Takes all sorts. The whizzer has a blue LED which makes the whole experience comprehensively eeerie. Masthead nav lights reflecting off the mist with dark segments diagonally downwards from the masthead where something shades them. Warehouses building but invisible except for reflection off the breaking crests. Berri rolling severely but coping superbly. 3 reefed main, boom end sometimes kissing the water to leeward. Preventer off, in case it becomes a rather deeper kiss. Where’s the Green Cape light? Peering into the blackness and rain. And peering.

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Cape Howe

A special place – the bottom right hand corner of mainland Australia and the point of departure into the crossing. Low sand dunes with trees and woods behind. I have a vivid memory of it in 1998 – just a glimpse in a patch in the storm. Yesterday – nasty rolling beam sea, night falling, Berri and Kevvo in their happy partnership but the old geezer worried about deteriorating conditions and rising sea. Approaching warehouse status. Options – keep going and risk the crossing or go and shelter behind Gabo Island and wait for the northerly change or turn back. Continuing would be a painful poke in the eye for young Prudence – definitely possible and with a good prognosis but with potentially catastrophic consequences if the Examiner decided to flex her muscles. Big ships out there too, visible on AIS. And probably no sleep for the old geezer for at least 24 hours. Gabo likewise – shelter, but the need to break out an anchor and the problem of what to do if the conditions didn’t improve. So I decided to turn back. Tricky under the circumstances but achieved and back into hoon mode to the north on what was becoming a very black night.

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Whales!

Half way between Green Cape and Cape Howe – bleak and windy and wet evening, Berri in hoon mode, Megan asleep. Boom! Crump! Huge grey tail whopping the surface – and another – they were all around – perhaps 6 of them. In the conditions, I only saw two or three but heard several. It’s a sound you can feel – a concussion, even in the froth and noise of hooning. And then a humpback surfaced next to the boat. I don’t mean close to the boat, I mean next to it. It might have blue antifoul on its back somewhere. Huge black body, barnacled nose, blowhole elongated and big as a bucket, fin high as the gunwale and the whale longer than the boat – or seemed to be. Double gobsmackeroonies! And just wow!

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Green Cape, episode 35ish

There’s always drama at Green Cape. For those who don’t know, it sticks out into the Tasman Sea about 20 miles south of Eden and must be negotiated. Just inside it to the south is Disaster Bay – google it. I’ve been to Green Cape at least 30 times, once by car with Hilary many years ago and the rest by boat. Mostly dramatic visitations – it’s a bleak and wild peninsula viewed from the guts of a beam sea and worse still in a bluff southerly. And sometimes fun – I remember Katherine steering Berri around it on one of our return trips. Yesterday, it appeared from the mist as a woolly silhouette with the old lighthouse ghostly white above and the new tower – steel frame contraption – also silhouetted. The wind had just turned east properly and was hitting 20 knots. Crashing swell against the rocks half a mile to starboard, hoisted the 3 reefed main with the old barge rolling and pitching happily and unwrapped a bit of heady and she was off. Kevvo driving – bliss – and of him, more later, perhaps. From 3 knots massively uncomfortable to 6 feeling the wind and waves and hooning. And it all disappeared into the mist again. Megan’s first real experience of being out of sight of land.

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Paragraphery

This will be a series of vignettes – or maybe just a lorgnette or two – on the great tapestry as seen from Berri’s rather wet insides. Or maybe the Fisho’s. Yesterday. We left Eden at midday and ground our way down to Green Cape at 3 knots into a rising ESErly and biggish swell. Neglected our Australian duty to stop for the Melbourne Cup. Onya from Berri to the girl in green sleeves – Henry Vlll would have has his heart delighted if he’d had a bet. She was the only colour in one of those grey days – grey mist clamped in around the horizon, grey porridge sky, grey water, grey wind, grey decrepit old geezer driving.. Green Cape lighthouse only visible from half a mile or so.

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Prudence is a wiley bird

Back in Eden. Again. 0330 now. Much more later. Whales, Kevvo, glowing mountain ranges on the blackest of nights. Sleep

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Alongside in Eden

It’s never comfortable here. Eden’s wharves are set up for fishing boats that are much bigger and better protected than fat little yachts. Massive barnacle covered piles, big black tractor tires as fenders, big swell and surge in southerly winds. But a haven and Berri is bouncing around alongside a fishing boat with all our longest mooring lines working hard. Still some nasty scrapes in the gel coat.paragraph The wind is due to turn easterly this afternoon and we’ll have another go at getting out. Our HF radio still works well. I have just spoken to Coast Radio Melbourne on 6125 kc and a couple of days ago to Tasmar Radio in Hobart.paragraph We saw lots of whales yesterday during out short excursion. All humpbacks, I think and some of them breaching and splashing around. Perhaps a dozen, spread all along our route. Good to be out amongst them. paragraph Quick explanation – the gmail link to the website does not pick up the paragraph spacing in our posts so I’m just inserting the word to make it a bit more readable. Perhaps.paragraph I have also been reminded by one of out now 4 readers that I’m not including co-ordinates at the head of each post. Mea culpa and I’ll try to do better in future.

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Mnyah!

Berri is a superbly seaworthy boat except – in a dead headwind with short steep waves with a wavelength around or less than her waterline length. We had about 20 knots that seemed to stay right on the nose as we rounded each of the headlands leaving Twofold Bay and we caught the full effect of the waves as we rounded the last one and pointed at Green Cape. Not having fun and no immediate prospect so we went back. To find another huge boat had taken our spot. Eden is not a user friendly spot for small yachts and we had to struggle for a bit in the wind to get alongside another fishing boat. Yachties who’ve been there will understand. So back at the Fishos for consolation wifi and salad. Berri sends congrats to Stephen Jackson – ex webbie – for doing some running in New York. Headbangers and lefties unite!

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Another update.

My punt on the forecast was a bit ambitious. We’re returning to Eden to wait until the southerly eases. Old geezers don’t have to headbang unless they have to. Megan says hi.

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Quick update.

We left Eden at midday. Bit of a punt on the forecast and a headbang at least down to Gabo but it’s time gained on the nasties due on the Tas coast on Friday. Can see Green Cape at 7.5 miles…more as it happens via sailmail if the technology works.

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Rather a lot of fuss

About nothing. The front went through very gently. Some rain but nothing like the hail and lightning other places received. All quiet now. More tea.

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Towel stuff

We know where our towel is. Making tea. Examiner twitching her riding whip. And just to add flavour, Eden seems to have gargantuan mosquitos. Yee haa.

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Back on board

Massive front approaching. Big thunderstirms, lightning all around the horizon. Berri as grounded as possible but situation still conducive to the clenchies. Sitting in the cockpit watching the spectacle. Mr Krupa a distant rumble on his big bass. Phone will go into tin box when it all starts to revolve. Watch this space. Grey knuckles the gig for the mo.

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At the wonderful Fisho’s in Eden

For the – I think – 18th time either in Miko in ’77 & ’79 or in Berri umpteen times since 1994. This time is the first time we have come in from the North. Some of our 3 readers will understand… Longish story but I’m sailing Berri down to Hobart with Megan to put Berri on the slip for a few days to check and maybe fix some osmosis we noticed when she was last on the slip in Sydney. It’s a Queen’s ransom cheaper to do it down there…we came into Eden on Friday evening, feeling our way in as seems to be the routine over the years. The wind is due to shift to the SW tonight and I thought it best to wait till the front goes through and then see what’s behind it. I think we are here at least until Tuesday – Melbourne cup day. I’ve been seriously crook – something I ate before we left Sydney – monster chundering session a day or so out and it then worked its way down and I will spare you any further detail. It has not been pleasant and I’m really only back to some sort of normal today. Quite some bug.I think if I’d been feeling better we should have departed yesterday morning, into a 35 knot northerly which would have put us half way down the Tas coast by now. But here we are. For the sailors – Marine Rescue NSW works well on VHF on the way down. For their system to work, they do need an ETA somewhere so you should be prepared to talk this through with them when you log on. A much better system than the old scattered variants of organisations. And as always, Tasmar Radio were there and ready to talk to us on HF – 4125 worked best and 6215 was ok. I think they are located south of Hobart and we spoke to them from roughly Jervis Bay. Sadly, Eden isn’t what it used to be – there are only about 5 or 6 working fishing boats when once they were 2 deep along both wharves. Many of the high street shops have gone and for sale or rent notices are everywhere.The showers on the wharf are broken and look as if they have been for a long time. The showers at the Fisho’s are no longer operational, so it’s buckets of cold water in the dunnys for the intrepid Berri crew. There is talk of extending the main breakwater and bringing in cruise ships – I hope it works for the town – I kind of like the place for lots of reasons. Some pics – Berri in her usual spot in Eden, A pelican or two and a swallow – and a swarm of bees that the local beekeeper was capturing near the wharf. More tomorrow, perhaps – $10 pork dinner not long away…





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Test

Alongside at RANSA. Getting ready to sail down to Hobart to slip the old barge.

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Sugarloafing: Megan

We stayed in Quarantine bay last night. It looks different every time we pick up a mooring. Slight changes in the weather make for completely different visits. Alex dropped me off on shore to go for a morning run while he waited on the boat and tended to another injury. A few days back we walked down into the waterfall in America Bay and somewhere along the hike Alex found a new way to hurt himself. All will heal in time. We’re back up Middle Harbor moored next to Sugarloaf. We both chickened out of a swim. The water was filled with tiny, white, harmless jellyfish, but they look a lot bigger up close. The ordeal was immediately followed by a consultation and a toast to chickening out. We took the rubber duckie around to the south and north arms of Sugarloaf and found a good spot to land for tomorrow’s morning run. ’tis all for now. -M

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Kevvo rules

Yesterday we went for a little sail towards New Zealand to see whether Kevvo still has his magic touch. Only the keen, the desperate, those who race or those in Kevvo Test mode ever need to go to windward under sail but to windward we toiled in a lumpy cross swell and set him up and off he went. It’s easy to forget how to do it – first get the boat balanced, then give it to Kev, wait to see how he’s going and fine tune the balance and Kevvo’s vane and he’s away. Still has his mojo downwind as well. He’s been bent and battered over the years and the miles but the touch is still there. We parked for the night in Quarantine Bay – again, but way better than last time – and smelt the fine cooking from the Boilerhouse Restaurant on the beach 50 metres away as we scoffed our steamed veggies and cous-cous. Noice and I wouldn’t have swapped. Today,we’re at Sugarloaf again, exploring the mangroves and creeks and looking for places to beach the duck that aren’t covered in oysters to rip it’s little bottom. I’ve run the track here a hundred times but never till today reached it from the water. Tomorrow, back to the five hundred and twenty steps at Bantry Bay. I should have mentioned somewhere that the mast is still standing – the new dyneema lowers SoFarSoGood. Appendages, y’all.

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Lights on the Harbour -

Should have posted this yesterday evening from the boat….hence the gmail tag…A night sail up Sydney Harbour dodging ferries, cruise ship and anonymous and usually much faster nav lights on moving silhouettes trailing big washes. The universe lost in the ambient light from the city. Navigation marks almost invisible against the background of city lights. The cruise ship completely merged and indistinguishable except that it moved and its lights were too regular. Berri with just her headsail, hard on the wind all the way from Castle Rock around Middle Head to RANSA and significantly easier than the last time we did it (see the post for April 22nd). The Opera House and the Bridge opening in serene magnificence from behind Bradley’s Head as we closed on the Kentucky Fried mark dividing the channel. Towing the duck slows the old barge down a bit but still making 5 kts. Megan steering into it all and discovering how much more difficult it can be when you can’t see the sail or the wind indicators. Pete and Jeanne behind us somewhere in Zoe, ghosting in to their mooring just after we picked up ours. Small Consultation with Dr. Gordon and a mess of pasta and an early night. Doesn’t get much better.

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Five hundred and twenty

plus or minus five, depending on what you count, is the number of steps up the Timbergetters’ track from the water in Bantry Bay to Seaforth Oval. We climbed them twice, first in Mallory mode because they were there and second to go for a run in the early morning and to fill some water bottles. Lots of birds, mostly tiny but we don’t have the bird book with us. I think I saw a wren and what might have been a cockatiel. Sulphur crested cockatoos near the water. Dogwalkers and dogs in their battalion on the oval. Now we are round the corner at Sugarloaf, so close to home that I’m sure I heard our own gaggle of Northbridge Kookaburras asserting themselves this morning. And there’s a flock of rare black cockatoos close by. It’s drizzling and glassy calm and the world still seems to be rotating because, somewhere above the murk, the sun has come up. Ole’. Pete and Jeanne are planning to bring their Brolga, Zoe, over to join us later and we may Consult. Tea and dunking biscuits for the time being. Haven’t seen the Examiner for a few days. Polishing her leathers, no doubt, and putting new spikes in her whip. I’m about to go around in the ducky and de-slime Berri’s waterline, still green from Newcastle floodwaters. See yez

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Wind in the trees

It’s blowing 30kts out in the Tasman Sea. Here, the faintest silky zephyr of cold air to play on the surface of Bantry Bay. It’s 0445, the moon rose about half an hour ago above the hill to the east – the big lump with Seaforth Oval silhouetted against the ambient light from the city. Just the sound of the wind in the trees on the hilltops. We are about 15k from the Harbour Bridge but could be on Lake Windermere – I heard a dog barking, the sound diaphanous and and transparent. The gravelly rruff of an open exhaust as some early starter hoons up the hill behind the Roseville Bridge. Tea with dunking biscuits. Starlight. We both have our arctic sleeping bags with added sea rugs – it’s cold, but not really that cold – and we sat in the cockpit wrapped in all that stuff and watched the cumulus roll in and out to sea from the SW and huge slashes of Milky Way and the first and second magnitude stars and planets. Skyview on the ipad is wonderful. Bantry Bay has an interesting history – there are Aboriginal middens and carvings going back thousands of years and later remains of white settlement. Early last century, it was the summer pleasure spot for the citizens of Sydney, accessible only by ferry or the very steep and difficult Timbergetters’ track through the bush. There was a dance hall here and a slipway, both still here in decay and grassy slopes for picnics and the exploration of relationships far from inquisitors. A place of carousing, debauchery and fun. London’s Vauxhall Gardens, perhaps, with a bit of attitude. And then it became the explosives and munitions store for Sydney, used until the 1970’s and still very much off limits to us transients. Barbed wire around the land side, familiar to runners who do the Great Nosh. Big Keep Out – Explosives signs beside the water. But a lovely spot and we have it entirely to ourselves.

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Toodling along: Megan

A minor point: Something that Alex has been kind enough not to complain about or I’m hoping he just hasn’t noticed is my hair. I brush it out every day to keep it from turning into salted dread locks and the byproduct is fine strands of yellow hair EVERYWHERE. I’ve been doing my best to keep it under control; ie. grooming only on deck or keeping it pulled back or under a scarf. Alas, it still manages to find its way into the strangest places. I suppose there are worse things to have to deal with than a few rogue strands on a boat. -M

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Testing

Berri’s lower shrouds have started to fail several times during our time together due to metal fatigue at the swages. Not good. So, for this trip, I had new lowers made from dyneema, a very strong manufactured line supposedly with minimal stretch. We’re out in a 20 knt westerly hooning down the coast from Barrenbjoey towardsa Sydney and the new starboard lower is being tested for the first time…the port one in hanging loose and, were it stainless steel, would be in fatigue mode. The starboard one seems to be holding as it should. The real test will be when we park and drop the sails, to see whether it has stretched. If it fails, the mast will break at the lower spreader. We have the old stainless ones aboard if it looks iffy but appendages firmly crossed for the mo. Megan driving and enjoying herself. Watermaker going and wind generator keeping the volts up. What could be better? We’ll go wave to the surfers at Bondi and maybe head back into Sydney Harbour. I had half a blog in my head yesterday evening about Refuge Bay. Instead, we went exploring in the ducky. A place of plenty for the Garingal people and the starting point for operation Jaywick in WW2. We had it almost to ourselves and just hung out. Yay!

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Civil twilight

The time when conventional celestial navigators reach for their sextant, chronometer and tables and shoot the stars and the moon. It’s the time from about 20 minutes to sunrise or after sunset when there is both a horizon, a visible moon and all the first magnitude stars. This morning it was dim grey above the hill in the west changing through silver to deep pinkish orange in the east with the Southern Cross and the almost full moon bright and lovely and others I once could recognise around the hills. Orion and Betelgeuse probably below the horizon to the north behind the big hill. When I stuck my head up this morning, there were about 50 swallows roosting around Berri’s guardrails all sleepy, not anxious to leave. A tiny spider must have worked all night to weave a minutely delicate web with tiny traces of dew glinting in the glow of sunrise. We tried to preserve it when we left but, I think, sadly, we failed. So much intricate work gone. We often see threads of spider silk in the rig – released to fly downwind with tiny spider attached, to wrap where they may and perhaps become the first spokes of new webs. Tonight in Refuge Bay, quiet evening sunlight fading through a gusty NW wind – sun just not set, moon and stars not here yet but soft light, deep greens and sandstone, the waterfall now in shadow. Cool and froody. Megan the Intrepid stood under the waterfall in her swimmers – brr! a.

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Reatreat of the Coasters: Megan

We left Newcastle early yesterday and sailed back down to Coasters Retreat in Broken Bay. This is a nice place to sit and watch the sea gulls make messes on unattended boats. Not so fun when they make messes on the solar panel of a briefly unattended Berri. Alex and I had another go at running up the hill. It went a bit better this time. We made it up and back with out injury or hyper ventilation. We did a bit of boat maintenance, moved the solar panel around, and drank tea. Another lovely afternoon aboard the Mighty Berri. -M

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Pain on The Basin track

Waay back when I could run a bit, there was an event in Sydney called the 3 Ports Race. It was based on the Three Peaks in the UK and it involved runners and sailors. The Basin track up to West Head road from here through the Kuringai National Park is 2.8k. Up hill – up one of the higher hills in the Sydney area. Trivial by overseas standards but I think the slope is about 1 in 3, maybe 1 in 4 for the first k or so. Non trivial for runners. When we did the 3 Peaks – not in Berri – our runners ran the 20 k to West Head and back in phenomenal time and we eventually finished second overall in the event I seem to remember. Today, twenty something Megan, with her not too distant 10,000 or so miles across the US cyclist’s legs powered up the hill and left this dessicated bit of old stringybark a long way back. Coming down, different matter. The local Native people are the Garingal Nation. Google Basin Aboriginal art site… Lovely evening here – purple and silver sky silhouetting the hill to the west, first magnitude stars due any minute and a big moon later.

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It may say gmail but it is from the boat…

The HF isn’t talking to the modem again. 50 mile Ismail down the coast with a bit of help is from the engine and we’re back in CoastersRetreat. About 30 ships anchored along the 100 fathom line, all waiting to get into Newcastle. Must be awful for the crews. Here, the stars are out. Wonderful. A.

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The properties of spinach

Is anyone else old enough to remember Popeye the Sailorman and his spinach? A can poured into his mouth, somehow missing his upside down pipe and into his gullet and his biceps bulged like soccer balls. Hilary made us some spinach curry and sent it with us frozen – We finished it earlier in the week and I’m sure that’s why I can run again – the leg seems to have come good and we’ve run 30k this week. After 3 months off, it’s been hard but it seems to work again. Any Eagles out there, take note. The Plan – pace the Examiner – is to leave Newcastle early tomorrow and head south. The weather is giving us a little window and we’ll probably duck into Pittwater again and explore some of the lovely anchorages. Megan will be in charge of the sailing – it’s fun having her along, even though it’s sad we couldn’t go back to Nome. She grew up on the edge of the Arctic Circle in a family of practical survivors and she is a very fast learner – just looks, listens, gets it and does it. Cool. Regarding Nome, I don’t like hindsight on difficult decisions but it really does look like a good one. The Aleutian Low and the trades are firmly against out predicted track and while things change, this looks to be solidly established. Megan says the Aleutian Low sometimes sits there all year and causes all sorts of mayhem. Check out www.windyty.com I think our AIS tracker may be misbehaving – if anyone has been following, our last known position on the marinetraffic site was out at sea on our way north. The gizmo says it’s working properly so later today I will try to diagnose using the software. Appendages crossed. More as it happens alex

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Planets go round

From Megan: Holst on the mp3 player, dunking biscuits, watching a yacht race go by…not a bad way to spend the afternoon. We wandered through the Newcastle museum this morning. Quite an impressive little town. I could get used to aimlessly wandering through new places; ever exploring, ever learning. It keeps the brain from atrophying. -M

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Tea Break

Of a sort…looks as if we’re stuck in Newcastle at least until Tuesday. Another East Coast low playing with the Examiner’s toys. So we sit here in the rain doing the crosswords in the Sydney Morning Herald or wandering the streets and imagining Newcastle as it was – major industrial city with all the railyards and factories and smelters and shipbuilders…including Arnotts Biscuits…we have McVities, the original digestive and as I write, Megan is perfecting her dunking technique and listening to von Karajan conducting The Planets… So this is just to pass the time and tell y’all Subscribers we ain’t forgotten yers. Big hugs for K from us both.

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What one forgets - from alex

Subscribers three – The little things – the details – decrepitude advances and the memory bank diminishes. Cunning is needed to bring back words, details, inconsequential stuff mostly but sometimes the vital hook that may save the day. I was trying this morning to drag beck from the congealing grey matter the word for the line that cuts off a part of a circle – all to do with running the shortest distance and being aggressive about running the chord to cut off a few metres – really useful here in Newcastle where our run goes all around the curved waterfront and my battered leg needs to be cosseted. Megan can outrun me by about a kilometre over the out and back 10k to the end of the breakwater and back. I’m slowly getting it together. The weather has been Examinatorial. We’ve decided that to go to Lord Howe would be courageous under the circumstances. Easy to get there, horrible in the lagoon while there and a massive headbang to get back to Sydney. So we’re waiting for a window to duck out and head south again. And we’re parked here as tourists in this fascinating city. It’s in transition from a very big commercial port, industrial centre and link to the world for the Hunter district into a place for cruise ships to visit and tourists to wander and marvel at what it once was. The harbour in now owned by a Chinese consortium, which has led to some interesting industrial problems. More as it happens… a. ————————————————-

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Newcastle

The HF radio has magically decided to work again. I sat down and pressed buttons until something beeped and some lights blinked while Alex poked through the wires in the electronics board. Poof. Magic. Functioning radio. We made it up to Newcastle yesterday. The day started with big swells, had an afternoon of mediocre wind, then died down to a breeze even Kevvo couldn’t recognize. Motored into port. Alex and I went running this morning. I got blasted by too much sun, we both got hit by sandy wind off the beach and the ocean spray crashing off the rocks of the causeway. We both have our current running-related problems so were were both crawling along and cursing malfunctioning body parts all the way back to the boat. Off to explore town! -M

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To our 3 subscribers — from Alex

Greetings from Newcastle! Long rolly ride up here and some potentially nasty questions from the Examiner over the next few days so we’re sitting on the Marina at RNCYC and watching the forecasts before deciding whether there’s a safe window to set off for Lord Howe. RIP – the original and hybrid Boot Feral colony – I found their old residence in my Bering Sea brown boots but, sadly, the last remnant of the colony had eaten itself, along with bits of the boots so Megan and I held a little funeral ceremony before consigning them to the bin. I kept some dna for the new boots Pat brought me from Nome a year or so ago. Who knows what might metamorphose…Sad farewell – a bit like famous Chinese calligraphers ceremonially burying their favourite writing brushes… Berri once again full of stuff – way too much for this little gig but here in Newcastle, the remnants of last weeks storm (the same one we were in in Sydney harbour) are everywhere – broken trees, massive heaps of debris from the floods, homeless people, power failures, repair crews in high vis gear all over the place. We feel a bit privileged being more or less unharmed by it all. We have offered several bags of Alaska bound food to the relief effort but so far, no-one has taken us up. Booked in here for a week, just to wait and see what She who Examines has to ask us.

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The Examiner has her leathers on and her whip in hand

The HF radio has died. If you get this, it means that I have successfully reinstalled the satellite phone setup on this laptop. An interesting process… Not the end of the world but a nuisance. If you post to Berrimilla2, please use plain text only, keep the message short – say 10 lines max – and no attachments. Satellite is expensive. But if this gets to the website, the Magic works… More later

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Standing ovation

I have been introduced to a life changing tool. Said tool allows those who lack certain anatomy to, given practice, write one’s name in the snow. As of today I have had two successful onboard trials. Misuse in the third attempt may or may not have given way to gravity and allowed for a puddle in one’s shoe. More practice is required before branding the hillsides of my homeland. – M.

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Hmm! from Megan

When I sailed with Alex a few months back I got seasick. We planned ahead this time and the seasick pills did their job perfectly. If they hadn’t, it may have been a messy trip back. I’ve tried to imagine what anyone seeing us from shore might have been thinking. A few choice words come to mind. The wind was steady in the upper 30’s and there were regular gusts to 42 knots. The highest I saw was 46 knots. That was after leaving Quarantine bay and immediately getting blasted from the port side by the full force of the wind coming straight in from the sea. At one point while winching the storm jib I had a knee up on the deck beside the cockpit and was dunked into the ocean to mid thigh by a wave knocking us sideways. It was disorienting and took a second or two for me to find “up” again. Alex drove beautifully. He’s obviously done this once or twice before. Plans are in the works for the next stage of our “puttering” in the area. There’s a lot of ocean to explore!

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Hmm!

If there’s anything we should learn from the sea, it’s big slabs of humility. One can apply lots of skill and experience to crossing an ocean – or a harbour – and get there but it’s not ‘conquering the ocean’ as has sometimes been written. Preparation, yes, skill, yes and luck. With a capital L That’s what has just happened to us. Sydney had what the newspapers called the storm of the century a few days ago. Megan and I took Berrimilla down the harbour to Quarantine Bay which is sheltered, just to get the feel of it and to see whether the seasick pills work. As I’ve already posted, we sat on the public mooring all night, with consistent 35 knots and a doubled up mooring line keeping 3 hour watches to make sure nothing changed. In the morning, I thought it would be sensible to go back to Berrimilla’s mooring in Rushcutters Bay because the wind was rising and there seemed no point in staying. We set the storm jib and poked our noses out from Cannae point and immediately I realised it was not a good thing to do – Berri was laid sideways and drenched in horizontal spray. Too late really to turn back and I thought we might just make it around Middle Head and up the harbour under motor if we could get the sail down. Long story, but no go – plan B was to run up Middle Harbour to the public mooring next to the Spit Bridge which we did, with big following waves over the shallow bits. Picked up the mooring, and all was fine except that the stern is about 30ft from the rocks on a lee shore. Then the wind shifted and we had big waves coming up the long reach past the Yacht Club and the boat started to pitch severely and hit the buoy and the line was chafing. I thought we were not safe, so we waited for a tiny lull and set off back again. About 40 knots, right on the nose. Big waves – in Middle Harbour yet! A lot of people on the jetty at Middle Harbout YC with at least one boat sunk in its berth and another on the rocks across the harbour. Crashing horizontal spray, with the engine working hard to make progress. Around the bend towards Middle Head and real ocean waves, rolling and breaking but we were able to head off slightly. Huge, dirty rollers smothering Castle Rock and blasting right to the top of Middle Head. Me massively catastrophising – is there a plan B?. Party gear mostly useless with a Niagara down my neck at every crash. Megan holding on and being stoical. Berri barely making way and both of us soaked. 45 knots true more or less consistently. Very wide around Middle Head with the engine at full power and we turned in towards the Harbour at the middle ground mark. Desperately slow up the harbour but eventually back at RANSA and safe on the mooring. Probably a silly thing to have done, but I saw no real alternative. John Witchard’s engine didn’t miss a beat, despite being rolled and pitched all over the place. We were very lucky. And the seasick pills worked. We learned later that people had been surfing at the Opera House. In the attached screen print of the AIS track, I think the reporting points are at 6 minute intervals…

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disorganised and sloppy

I forgot to pack my slippers…essential for leaping happy and joyful out of a nice warm pit at 0250 and keeping the toasty feet from the dankly dismold wet deck thereby catching said dismoldery about the soles. Nothing brings on the gloom like dismoldery of the foots. And I messed up the last post – thanks Sylvie for fixing it – and back at you! Now clutching caffeine fix and listening to the wind – howling with attitude. We sent Mr Dylan back to his groove so we could hear the boat. Poor old barge is not happy. We’re on a public mooring which seems ok for the conditions but the tag line has not been maintained and looked very dodgy when we picked it up so I went for a swim and doubled it up with one of our lines. Berri swinging wildly through about 70 degrees so a bit of stress up there and we go and inspect it every hour or so. Now I must find the digestives and practise my dunk. Medicinal compound, sadly, not sensible in these conditions. Poo – from Alex

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Another night in Quarantine

The Sun was shining on the sea, Shining with all his might. He did his very best to make The billows smooth and bright. Which was odd because it was The middle of the night. I’ve had “The Walrus and the Carpenter” stuck in my head since leave the boat pen this morning. We didn’t see any other sailboats on the harbor as we pulled out. Just a few ferries and a slow motoring fishing boat. It has been raining and blowing all day and is expected to keep on for a couple more days. So what better time to go outside and play? Alex posted about the change in plans. No Northwest Passage this year. Silly weather. I doubt the Trade Winds would lighten up if I screamed “O Oysters!” at them.

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(no subject)

This is not the post I wanted to write today but there ya go. The Plan was to set sail for Alaska and another NW Passage today but – to misquote von Moltke, a plan does not survive the first contact with the elements. I’ve been watching the weather in the North Pacific for a month or so and it ain’t the same as when McQ and I set off in 2008. Looks as if the NE trades are blowing with a bit of attitude and the Aleutian low is up there and serious. So, sadly, I pulled the plug. No NW passage this year but lots of other options to pass the time. More on that later. Megan Hahn is on board and we were going to sail to Nome and collect Pat for his and my second NWP and Megan’s first. Instead, we came out to play in the East Coast low that is sitting off Sydney and blowing dogs and blasting rain. Bleak and nasty for non headbangers but the Examiner knows we’re here. We are parked in Quarantine bay at the entrance to Sydney harbour with Dylan Blowin in the Wind and the real wind not quite howling but at least hoovering through the rig and the wind generator whining away as it makes wiggly amps. Oddly, 2 police vessels seem to be circling around us. The Examiner’s latest gig perhaps. But this is really to see whether all this technology still works. I’ll send it and request a grib file for all this nastiness.

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A little bit of magic

A post for the initiated – once and future voyages…

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The trouble with lists…

is that they multiply, cascade, transmogrify, get scrunched up and reborn ​ and eventually metamorphose into this ​and this ​And that’s just for starters. Mostly clothes, computer gizmos, a few charts and some food containers. Masses of stuff to come out of the boat, get sorted and maybe go back in. Winches to service. Water and fuel tanks to clean. The fuel tank is plain nasty – lots of algal crud – filters will be ugly…bleah! But a journey of a thousand miles….this at least makes it look as if we might go somewhere.

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The lost art of signwriting

or Close enough is not good enough… Berri is on the slip at Castlecrag being antifouled and generally scrubbed up for her next biggish gig. Click the link on the homepage for her AIS position. More on that later. About 20 years ago, I had a professional signwriter paint her name on each side of the bow. He made a sort of graphite template on paper (DSC1697, below) which he used to mark the surface and then used a soft brush and a signwriter’s rod with a cloth ball on one end as a wrist rest and off he went. Not a bad job either. I’ve kept the template ever since. The name had become very faded and hard to read so a few days ago, I asked someone who called himself a signwriter – at least on the side of his van – if he’d repeat the process for me and I offered him the template. “Nah!” he said, “Not interested – we just stick on plastic letters these days”. Oh Poo! So, today, when I’d finished covering myself with blue antifouling, I had some time to spare and thought it might be worth trying to repaint the name. A doubtful proposition and here’s the result. Looks ok from about 3 metres away but zoom in and you can see just how rough it really is. I used a flat brush, about 6mm, and freehand over the old paint, with my opposite forearm as a rest for the brush hand. With my senile tremor and reading glasses, it’s wobbly and all over the place. Very hard to correct wobbles and flicks because it just makes more mess. About 2 hours of intense concentration and effective as long as you keep your distance… But a journey of a thousand miles…

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That fishing boat

Back in Sydney. Re aforesaid sports fisherman – a very close call. We were the stand on vessel under the Col Regs (International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea). in simple terms, we had right of way and, although it is not relevant, we were under sail. Further, the other vessel was overtaking and should have kept clear. We were also transmitting on AIS so no excuse for not seeing us. He was a 30ish foot Steber type powerboat with high flying bridge and after deck behind the superstructure, so no view forward. 20 ft fibreglass poles out on either side, trailing lines. There was a visible head up on the flybridge and the boat was doing about 15 knots and closing from astern on our port quarter. I had seen him at long range and was watching carefully and thought he’d altered course just enough to pass astern, but almost too late, realised we were in for a massive collision unless I acted. Was just able to alter our course to parallel his, about 2 ft from his side as he thrashed past. Head on flybridge was asleep or looking aft at fisherman on after deck and did not see us, We snagged the starboard fibreglass pole and it flexed just enough to flick past the forestay and mast and let him pass. Man on afterdeck appeared, shouted at man on flybridge, watched as we fell astern draped in fishing line and hooks. No apology, no apparent concern for any damage we may have received, no change in speed or course. Just motored on and away. All over in about 30 seconds but could have been very nasty. It happens!

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Megan Aboard the Berrimilla II

Today has been my first ocean voyage on a sailboat. Alex has taken me sailing around the Sydney harbor a few times before and decided it was time to take a trip into the Pacific. Alex and I parked the Berrimilla II in Quarantine Bay last night to make for an easy launch up the coast. The trip north to Patonga beach in Broken Bay went fairly well. “Fairly” meaning I managed to keep myself in the boat and we avoided, only just, a collision with a sports fishing boat with an apparently not-all-present skipper. Somewhere between cursing at the boat and cutting down the fishing hooks that were swinging around the cockpit we both missed the name and registration of our near hit-and-runner. In the last 24 hours I have come across two major personal challenges. The first being the constant battle of sea sickness and the second being the self-education of how to properly piss on a moving boat. A bucket in the cockpit works well, but being tossed around in the ocean while sitting on a bucket feels like riding a mechanical bull while attempting to relieve one’s self. It goes against all instinct and I don’t imagine I will ever risk going to a rodeo bar again. The sea sickness is by far the worst part. While driving, Alex is always within a few seconds of the rudder to take over when I need a minute or two to heave over the side. I am learning a lot and having fun, sea sickness and all. I had an hour on shore at Patonga beach to balance myself again and fetch a couple of ice creams. We are heading out tonight for my first night sail back to Sydney.

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First post for 2015

HNY allk y’all out there who might read this. Happys for 2015! Berri is in Quarantine Bay – google it for the long and sad history – waiting for dogs off chains northerlies to blow out this evening and we’ll heade north to Pittwater…more later if this works :)