FROM 1-21. Equator to Left Turn

Sep 25, 2005 - 0949hrs UTC │Sail Change

0949hrs 25 Sep 2005 UTC 11’24”S 027’20”W Ref 385

DB 134, 9378, gps 146, day 36, 74 to go. Seems we are about a third into the planned 110 days and we’ve sailed about a third of the distance – but it’s all in the unknowable variables. Now in 40 kts.

I don’t know how it happened but I have just lost about an hours worth of hard worked middle-of-the-night creative headbanging as I was trying to get it to your breakfast tables. I’ll have a go at recreating it, but it may lack that je ne sais quoi that comes from the immediacy of experience. Here goes:

Small milestone: we are south of Bamaga, (this was written at about 1049S) at the tip of Cape York Peninsula, the northernmost point on mainland Oz. Woohoo!

Just spent a rough and wet half hour doing a sailchange in 35 knots – I was lying awake on my sweaty bunk cushion listening to Berri crashing into waves and creaking and feeling the rig flexing and generally stressing. Climbed reluctantly out about half way into my sleep time because I knew there was no hope of sleep till we’d fixed things. Short confab with the pee bucket and pass it up to Pete in the cockpit to empty and rinse and discuss what to do. Agreed sailchange necessary, down from #3 and a reef to #4 and two reefs. Into full party gear for the first time for a long time – the whole works, WWG, lifejacket, tether, gloves, epirb etc. but this time over T shirt and shorts – you may ask Why bother? – partly for protection if things go wrong and it’s always better to stay dry if possible. Pete put the rest of his on, we turned on the spreader lights – wild gyrations, bright flashing sheets and clouds of spray, solid water running down the decks. Pete went forward while I ran the boat down wind a bit to ease the motion and reduce the quantity of water over the top. When he was tethered and ready, I dropped the 3 into his hands as he dragged it flogging across the lifelines onto the foredeck. He tied off the halyard, I locked it and went forward up the lee side, knee deep in water occasionally. I moved the sheet car to the #4 position on the way, took the sheets off and started to pull the foot then the leech of the 3 aft into a rough flake as P unhanked it. It has a full width batten about a third of the way down and this is bigger than any sailbag on the boat and also the hatch, so its a pig to bag and stow, but we got it done, still braced on the heaving foredeck sitting in streams of water. P hanked on the 4 as I went aft down the weather side, moving the weather car on the way. We left the sail flaked on the foredeck while we put in the second reef (with the preventer on this time!) and then adjusted Kevvo to sail upwind again, hoisted the 4, adjusted the sheets and we were going faster than before, in the same direction but sailing almost upright over the waves rather than crashing through them. Much easier motion. Will go through reefing procedure in another update.

Tidied up the spaghetti of reefing lines, sheets, halyard etc in the cockpit. By this time drenched in sweat inside the party gear and soaked outside – skin on hands starting to pucker. Only half an hour of sleep time left, so no point in going back to bed – just took off safety gear and jacket, dropped WW pants to knees, removed Tshirt and wrung it out and hung it on stormboard while I made a cup of tea. Tea made, shirt back on, hitch up pants, give P an early mark and take Tea into cockpit where cool 35 kt breeze starts to dry T shirt. Hit a nasty wave sideways, huge blast of almost solid spray into cockpit and over dodger and shirt soaked all over again and tea salsified. Poo!

That’s more or less it. In Falmouth and Lymington we carefully fixed all the leaks into the cabin – really successful except for the one right over my bunk. Drip drip… Will try to plug it with lanoline later when the deck stops messing me about.

From Doug M.

I am still following your journey with anticipation with what the next day will bring. Your mind picture of Friday 23rd with all the history makers travelling north and south together was great but it made me contemplate a sad event in my ancestry that took place at a position in the Sth Atlantic where you may soon pass closely by.

In 1852-53 my gr gr grandfather Henry Knight, a humble gardener and his family had a horror of a trip on the immigrant ship JAVA. The voyage took over six months from the Thames estuary to Sydney heads and over fifty died on the trip, some from starvation ?!. Henry wrote a heartrending diary which a number of years ago I transcribed and both the original and my copy now reside at the Mitchell Library Sydney. Poor Henry, despite his efforts on the voyage had two of his children die of starvation, one in the Sth Atlantic and one as they entered the harbour at Capetown. Henry’s diary descriptions of these events bring tears. There is a small slip of paper glued into the front of Henry’s Bible, written by the ships captain dated the 6th February 1853 (after two and a half months at sea) for the burial at sea of Henry Knight Junior aged 13 at 28deg35minS by 26deg 9minW. The thought of a friend or two passing by might cheer young Henry up. Could you please dips your lids as you pass him by? I am sure he would appreciate it.

Doug, there’s a small pink waypoint on my chartplotter for young Henry at 2835 S, 02609 W. They must have been stuck in the Horse latitudes. We should pass fairly close, I hope a bit to the north, but we will certainly say G’day and dip the lids. Could we post your email with the story, please? I think it helps to recognise the ghosts that live out here. Please let Stephen know if ok. I will visit the original when I’m next in the Mitchell – which reminds me – there’s a story there too. Later.

From Ron C.

I suppose you have no way of sending images to Berri but I suspect that this one might have special significance for Alex.  I’m not a sailor so I don’t know where Gabo Island features in the “”ten lighthouses”” navigation method but I’m sure it has been a regular source of comfort for Alex. What is special about the photo is that it was taken from an Adastra aircraft (probably an Anson) in 1948. It came to me recently as part of the Tom Carpenter Collection.  Given the sailing and Adastra connections, it could be one of those “”Alex Whitworth this is your life”” images. I’ll leave it with you for what it’s worth.

Thanks Ron – I look forward to seeing it.

From Isabella Whitworth

Hey there chaps and all that. Glad comms with RORC ok eventually. No, I think we’ll pass on the poss of £196 for beans on toast, ta ever so, and also hope you can find someone to go and accept your gong, or whatever it is they give you. I expect the news of Hurricane Rita has reached you by other means than me, but if not it’s hitting right now (Sat am our time) demoted to a Category 3 but still 400 miles wide, expected to dump a foot of rain and last from 12-16 hours. They evacuated Galveston and a lot of Houston and the resultant traffic jams stretched 120 miles as people set out north. Then many couldn’t buy gas and broke down so the chaos was spectacular. However, overall preparations at least seem to have been better managed that Katrina. The aftermath is another problem. Sadly, the repaired levees haven’t held up in NO and the city is reflooding. More anon. We have a guest this weekend and so are steaming around the countryside looking at the sea, Dartmoor and observing the definite approach of autumn. M an R are 18 next sun and so we are going out to have a posh lunch with them on the day. Yest we went to recce the hotel and the thing that sold it to us was the small spotty pig that was trotting about the place. Not, I think, one intended to end up as jambon flambe au creme anglaise or whatever, so we think it’ll be there next time looking cutesy XX croo

Isso – hurglaffboolagerry budnoodladingburtle to M & R for 18.

And Brian S, your time will come! Just a bit busy… The old main now has about 30 patches but still going strong.

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