FROM 1-32. Made it-Sydney

Dec 19, 2005 - 0415hrs EDT

0415hrs 19 Dec 2005 EDT 35’17”S 150’42”E Ref 664


Less than 100 miles to go and I can see Point Perpendicular light – the last big one before the Macquarie Light on South Head.

Sydney in about 14 hours – just too late for the 6pm news so I’ve promised the Rolex Media team that we will enter harbour between 0700 and 0900 tomorrow morning, to coincide with a special broadcast slot they have arranged. Unless it really does go pear-shaped from here – the dreaded container ship scenario, perhaps, or an early visit by the Vogon Constructor Fleet to demolish the world, we’ll be there. We have a satellite phone radio interview for breakfast radio in an hour or so  and I’m about to shave so that I look really good for the listeners.

Once we’re in and finished with the press, it’s the Big Unload – everything that moves comes off the boat and we will clean off all the mould and the slimy bits and any remaining ferals will have a few minutes to jump ship. And all the other stuff that we have to do to get to the start line will start to line up.

There’s a big thunderstorm out on the eastern horizon – lots of lightning and the loom of big clouds around the flashes – I do hope it stays out there. I think my worst couple of hours of the whole gig so far was sitting out in the cockpit that night off Montevideo watching for a ship we knew was there somewhere during the massive, green storm with purple lightning zapping into the sea all around – the whole world contained in every flash as it lit up the hanging fronds and sheeting rain from the overcast that swallowed the mast, it seemed so low. I remember thinking that Leroy Chiao was up over the top of it for a while in the International Space Station – we had been due to r/v with him that evening – and wishing that I was up there too. He told us later that it was one of the biggest he’d seen as well. That’s real fear – long drawn out gut wrenching expectation that the worst will happen and being completely unable to do anything about it including not thinking about it. I still don’t like thinking about it!

We must be careful here – Point Perpendicular is a chunky little artefact and, as always just here, there’s  a big swell so Kevvo is wandering around a bit and the wind is quite gusty too. There’s a fishing boat in Wreck Bay to port and away to the west are the lights of Ulladulla. The moon’s path is a wide spangly  triangle and I can see the silhouettes of St George’s Head and Point Perp behind it. Always drama negotiating this corner – I’m looking forward to the dawn so that we get the spectacular sight of the rocky ends of two peninsulas that enclose Jervis Bay

[ed: an hour later…]

With deference to Mr.Durrell and G&S –

The final salute: to our families and other animals – to Ethel, Hilary, Jeanne, Eleanor, Luke, Sarah, Eve, Tessa, Katherine, Isabella’s mob, David’s mob, Lilian, Chris, Anne, Joan, Siobhan, Kim & Carol and all our uncles and our cousins whom we reckon up by dozens and our aaaunts, and John, Alex and Jane Sutherland who have become family since we started trekking down to Hobart every year – and to Kevvo and Berrimilla – thank you all, for your support, mostly amused tolerance and general willingness to let us get on with it with no hassles and the fort held with competence and aplomb until we eventually clock in again after demolition day, groggy with a surfeit of Vogon poetry. Whatever we have achieved, you all have a piece of the achievement and we couldn’t have done it without you. We dips our lids with gratitude and affection.

Dawn of what will be the last full day two handed – long line of thunder clouds to the east and the pink light about to hit the tops of the stern line of rocky cliffs at Point Perpendicular – bright moon and silver path over the water towards us – a lovely moment and one for all y’all out there to share with us.

[ed: some hours later still….]

Hi, Pete here, as I write this we are heading up the coast about 50 miles from Sydney. So, how does it feel? Well, there is a certain sense of pride in the completion of what we set out to do. The Fastnet result and the RORC Seamanship award were a wonderful bonus. Along with this sense of achievement there is the regret that all this is about to end. The thing that keeps you on the edge in a voyage like this is that every day is different, nothing is routine, every day I had an awareness that I was really alive. In the oceans that we sailed nothing remained the same for very long, seas which had previously battered the boat would subside, we would relax and be comforted by a softer more gentle ocean, until the next storm.

The one thing I will miss is the amount of time you have to just sit and think. In my mind I have solved all the problems associated with finishing the renovations to our house. The brain has worked and reworked various plans for refitting and cruising in our Brolga. The strangest thing was the finding of a protective system I did not know existed in my brain.

During the long lonely night watches of the two bad storms off South America I would close the eyes and think. One would imagine that under the circumstances various disaster scenarios would flash up. Not so, I started to recall wonderful and pleasant memories from the past. What I recalled were vivid memories, some going back 40 to 50 years, all in Technicolour and Cinemascope. I remembered names and recalled faces I thought I had forgotten. I had vivid images of places, I even remembered things which had been said from my distant past. The most pleasant and calming recollections were of early times spent with Jeanne and our four young children. All these things helped me to stay calm during the tough times, I assume these memories are all still filed in some remote part of the brain ready to be accessed when the need next arises.

This will be my last email for the voyage, its a time to say thanks to a whole range of people. I will not be specific but its for the family, friends, neighbours, fellow sailors, people who helped to repair the boat in NZ and England, those who helped to prepare the boat before we left, people who we have come to know through the Berri emails and a very special thanks to Steve and Malcolm who ran the web site. Another special thanks to those people who bought Berri shirts and jackets also those who sent donations to help pay for the replacement of the liferaft we lost, the rigging repairs, radio repairs and the communication expenses.

 So we come to the end of a great adventure. How do I feel? Well, I feel strong both physically and mentally, I feel young and alive, perhaps ready for some other adventure but not till I’ve crossed most things off the job list I have made for myself. I have lost an amount of weight not sure how much but there are hollows and bones to the body that I don’t think have appeared since I lost the schoolboy figure. To all those people who wrote encouraging us in our task saying that we were doing something which they wished they could do, well, you can do it. There is nothing exceptional about either of us.

We came up with a voyage which we both knew would test us but we did it one day at a time. You may not want to take on Cape Horn but set your your own bar and raise it a little each time.

Finally, I want to thank Alex for promoting this voyage, it took a lot of courage to risk yourself and your boat in this sort of venture. Not everyone thought this little trip was a good idea, I felt that we had a great boat for the job and I knew if we both looked after each other we would make it. It has all come to an end rather suddenly and all I can say is  …..”what an experience”…..To Jeanne and all the loved ones I left behind….”Open your hearts I coming home”….

                                        Till perhaps the next time….cheers Pete.


From Alex

I think Pete said it all. 42190 metres down, 5 to go. Eyes glazing, uplift from the crowd and the sight of the finishing clock and we’re almost there. The gig is nearly played out. We will enter harbour tomorrow morning at 0800 and see all y’all at CYC a bit later for a small celebration before the real work starts.

There will be updates as we go – probably from a shore based computer until we cross the start line and then we’ll do our best to keep them going during the race and the trip home.

WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO! We done it – well almost!

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