404 Why are we doing this? | Berrimilla

Why are we doing this?

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In the logs of May 24, 2005, October 13, 2005, and  April 18, 2009  , Alex answered this question

  • Why are you doing this?

May 24, 2005

 We have been asked many times why we are doing this. it’s what there is to do today, basically – there’s a huge sense of exhilaration, achievement, joy even, in being a living part of the elements where there is no infinite improbability drive, no ‘beam me up scotty’ but just the 2 of us  moving on. so far, the planning has held out.  it has been made infinitely more personal, interesting, absorbing and fascinating because all y’all seem to be coming along for the ride and getting some of the joy and exhilaration as well. we’re grateful to have you along – it certainly didn’t start out that way and it’s been a big surprise. all in all, a wild, heart catching , sometimes terrifying ride and soon we get to see our families and all y’all again. very special sense of anticipation. thanks for sharing it.

OctobeR 13, 2005

Reading Ed’s article has rattled the marbles a bit. I’ve been trying to pin down what it was that started all this and I think it may have been as far back as the day my parents gave me Joshua Slocum ‘s book to read. I must have been about 10, but that book as it were lit the candle and set a standard for what is possible and that standard underpins this venture as well. When I first had the idea, long before I met Pete and perhaps as far back as the 1977 Hobart, it was a fantasy but with definite attitude. I can remember it sitting out there as a sort of whimsical dare that I used to play with and I think some decisions since then have been influenced by the harder edge of that fantasy.

The Sydney -Rio start in Jacqui was one of these and there’s always been that unfinished 1961 FastnetFastnet Race: 608 mile biennial race from Cowes, UK, Isle of Wight, to the Fastnet  Rock off Southern Ireland, finishing in Plymouth. Berrimilla took part in  2005 and 2009. out there stage left. When it became possible for me to buy a boat this size, I had a tiny budget. I was looking for a seaworthy go-anywhere boat at the right price, but with the 50th Sydney-HobartSydney-Hobart Race: often described as the most gruelling ocean  race in the world, this annual race starts on 26th December from Sydney Harbour and ends in Hobart. The course is 628 nautical miles. race in the front of my mind rather that a jaunt across the ocean to play at Fastnets. But always, down there lurking in the subconscious was old Joshua, putting tintacks in front of my bare feet to send me generally in this direction.

For instance, I had decided that an S&S 34 was the way to go, but the S&S tag meant that they were all – I thought – significantly overpriced for what was on offer. Berrimilla eventually cost me a bit over half the lower end S&S’s and has proved to be at least their equal. When this project finally surfaced as an idea with some substance, the boat was there and was partly prepared. Thanks Joshua.

I did one longish two handed trip in 1994, from Eden to Sydney with Flop and we may have talked about it then, but it was when Pete and I two handed Berrimilla back from Hobart in January 2000 that the idea really eased into the frame. Even then, it needed a lot of other lucky breaks, like a modest redundancy cheque and tolerant families, but here we are. And – most astonishingly of all, there you all are.

Listen up (April 18, 2009)

Lots of people have asked me why we do this. Are we mad, foolhardy, plain self indulgent or what are we trying to prove?? Lots and lots more people – more than I could count, if I ever cared – have said to me and Pete that they found the last one truly inspirational, fascinating, life changing – all that really good stuff, and they meant it. And there have been lots of people utterly gobsmacked by this one – totally uncomprehending yet fully with it and with us.

So yes – at one level, it is completely hedonistically self indulgent but at all the other levels, it does things for other people too. Hardened crusty old achievers from all over the place along with them. The idea seemed like fun in the bar in Baton Rouge and Pascal and Pete and I could see immediately its power to involve and inspire, particularly kids. We are being followed by several schools, especially our old mates at Belmore South Sydney School corresponding with Berri – onya guys! – and if just one of those kids grabs an idea from this and follows it and becomes a scientist or an astronaut or just finishes school we’ve achieved.

If we can demonstrate that by starting small and without massive resources you can do things that are way out in left field (could one of you Americans please tell me what exactly that means?) then maybe there’s a chance that other messages will stick as well.

As for something to prove – yesss! Absolutely we want to prove it can be done – small, unsponsored, individually powered and with our due amount of luck, we can make this happen. People have said that we are brave – perhaps, a bit, but by being brave you sometimes make your own luck. And if it goes pearshaped, some of those people will say we are just foolhardy. Perhaps that too. But it’s all about preparation – the more prepared you are, the luckier you get!


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