1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004


Logs ( 21 )

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 12, 2004

Seems our daft venture has begun. Today we loaded about two tons of gear and food into Pete’s van, and piled some more on the roof, and he launched himself and van on the Spirit of Tasmania to take it all down to Hobart to await our arrival at the end of the race. He’s bringing the van back on Wednesday. Hilary and I went up to North Head to wave them goodbye – sadly, the digital camera is in the van so we only have stone age photos, which I will scan if we get it developed before we leave. There will be digital pics from Hobart.

Before loading the van:

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 19, 2004

We’ve had a huge week doing all the stuff we have been putting off for ever. In the last couple of days we have taken off the winch bases and re-sealed them and fixed some leaks – all in the delightful warmth of a Sydney summer.

And fitted a new tiller and reinforced a perspex hatch and tested the shower curtain that we have designed to protect the electronics. Pete has made new storm boards for the companionway and – really important – a new footrest for the helmsperson, incorporating a Guinness/coffee mug holder for those unfortunates marooned in the cockpit.

And we have been experimenting with our Chinese pressure cooker, using it as a dry oven to make fruit cake and bread and damper. Works really well, and we will calibrate the metho usage on the way to Hobart if it’s not too pear-shaped outside, so we know how much of the stuff to load to get us to Port Stanley. We will put the food lists on the web as soon as we have finished buying it all.

Still to do – calibrate the instruments we replaced last week and generally tidy up the boat and start loading the race gear. We’ve done the mandatory radio check on the race frequencies, but we may still have to endure a spot safety check. Should be no problem and anyway, it’s always good value.

Then we have to start – 1310 on Boxing Day – and count ten lighthouses and turn right for the Derwent.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 25, 2004

Happy Christmas y’all

Seems we are committed. I think Berrimilla is as prepared as we can make her but we won’t know till we get there. The forecast is for a wet and cold and bumpy ride and we will need to keep the boat in conservative mode but not as bad, perhaps, as earlier years. Probably not in time for the New Year’s Eve party in Constitution dock, but we will do our best.

The Fastnet organisers have accepted a provisional entry for the two handed division for 2005, so we can’t wimp out now. If we actually make it to the start line, it will be 44 years since I was last there.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 26, 2004 │Departure

Off and running – email from Berri: Not a bad start considering the number of boats on the line. Nice to have the striders fast group passing by to see us off – thanks y’all. Going down the coast under assym kite at about 8 knots off Botany bay – the cold front should arrive around breakfast time @ 30+ knots so the aim is to pick up the current and get as far south as seems reasonable before easing back into the coast towards Montague Island before the change. Celebratory guiness off bondi and fingers firmly crossed.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 27, 2004 – 0900hrs │471nm to go, 104th, 6.5knts

51 miles ahead of last years position.

We’re off Montague Is., all well and so far, Berri seems to be holding together too. Reasonably dry and snug so our work last week may have been worth while.

Those of us who are experienced in the efficacy of such things had a nice bacon sandwich with tabasco and a small taste of guinness to fortify us for the southerly. Others made do with a stugie or two for similar reasons. We went through the front about an hour ago and changed rapidly from kite to #1 to #4 and two reefs and we’re heading more or less for green cape which is promising. The change was quite soft, as forecast, but it’s looking rather murky ahead.

Thanks heaps for all your messages and g00d wishes and special thanks to everyone who helped us to get organised and get going. Will try to keep updates more or less daily.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 27 2004 – 1900hrs │442nm to go, 85th, 5.9knts

35 miles ahead of last years position.

For Steph – not just any beer, ma’am – only works with guinness and then only if you can keep it down.

Been a big day – down to storm jib & trisail – quite colourful but wet and cold. Now 30 miles N of Green Cape and Bass St. Boat ok, crew ok. Forecast lousy wth 2 more days of at least strong winds. 45 -50 kts today in driving rain sea surface all white and frothy with big seas up to six metres. Black lines of cloud with sunlight reflecting off the tops – magnificent and deserving of a small drop from the Dublin Doctor in appreciation

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 28 2004 – 0800hrs │397nm to go, 57th, 5.4knts

60 miles ahead of last year.

What a night. Straight out of one of Turner’s paintings – brilliant moon haloed by solid black clouds with translucent edges and a massively fragmented path on the water below. Water not black but steely grey in the reflections and sheets of spray flying all around the boat and over us. 45 – 50 knot gusts and we had to slow the boat right down to about 4 knots to keep her from banging into each wave. Just passing Gabo now with thick misty cloud all around with rain squalls and sunshine. Sparkling but cold.

Had to run the sked for Four Seasons this morning cos Berri’s new radio was working the whole fleet while FS couldnt get most of them. Busy hour or so, and really difficult writing positions, relaying and holding on while also working the mike – Berri going up and down and sideways and rolling on 3-5 metre waves. Breakfast will be Pippin fruitcake – Thanks Anne – with no doubt a draught from Dublin.

Love youse all – it’s going to be aslow trip, I think.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 28 2004 1830hrs │ 394nm to go, 54th, 1.5knts

27 miles ahead of last year.

Hard to make progress in these conditions so we’re hove to – better to be going sideways slowly in the wrong direction than fast. We’ll have a look at the weather tomorrow. All asleep ‘cept me, doing the 1705 sked and Ross on lookout. Chocolate fix imminent.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 29 2004 – 0600hrs │405nm to go, 58th, 2.7knts

35 miles behind last year.

Following an update email to Berri advising of Skandia losing keel and capsizing the reply was:

… we knew it is adrift and all safe but not why. Getting the boat dried out, doing some sleeping, finally getting stugies into our sickie now that violent motion has stopped and maybe get him back on deck.

Winds due to abate this morn but may not help much. Still getting 9 meter breaking waves and 60 kts in rain squalls but very comfy.

Choc fix administered. About to go on watch.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 29, 2004 – 0900hrs │ 399nm to go, 57th, 5.0knts

40 miles behind last year.

Sickie no more. He’s on the pill, eating and steering for the first time in 2 days. Nothing like stopping the washing machine and getting some sleep.

We’re finally pointing more or less at Tas Is@6KT. Much better feeling. And it seems there are boats emerging from bolt holes up the coast and on our tail. Thanks for news. Interesting on watch last night – Turner all over again but more vivid, if thats possible, with the breaking waves having a faint bluish translucence. Never seen that in moonlight before. Whiteout in the rain squalls with the sea surface blowing up into the rain. Big waves too.

Trying to drink tea as i write. mistake.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 30, 2004 – 0800hrs │ 307nm to go (ETA 02/01/05 5:30pm) 56th, 4.0knts

121 miles behind last year.

This ride is becoming a plum for the headbangers and s&m freaks among us. For the rest of us, its getting tedious. Looks like another shitfight with the weather as we get further south and we may just get in before Easter if all goes well. The Dublin Doctor will be in short supply. Will call Stephen’s mobile on the satphone if this USB link thingy finally defeats me. Simon at digiboat may have some ideas. Egg mash being concocted as I write – eggs, bacon, cheese, tabasco and who knows what from the smelly wet sock bag. Life goes on.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 30, 2004 – 1100hrs │ 300nm to go (ETA 03/01/05 0300hr) 56th, 4.0knts

129 miles behind last year.

Ello. Expecting to have our half way guinness in 3 hours with 489 miles on the clock. Half distance is 314. SPBF. Not much help from the weather gods for the next few days either.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 30 2004 – 1800hrs │ 276nm to go (ETA 02/01/05 1730hr) 56th, 4.0knts.

The sun’s out, the boat smells but is drying out, we’re getting some sleep – even me – and we’re going to finish. We are trying to stay in a dropping breeze tonight and be in position to pick up forecast NE/NW tomoz. Race rules prevent me from being specific in real time. It will be interesting to see whether Windmills and Rollercoaster have the same strategy when they report on the 1705 sked. Half way guinness was most welcome and we hope we don’t have to sail so far for the second half. Thanks to everyone for messages.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 2004, 31 – 0600hrs │ 207nm to go (ETA 01/01/05 1830hr) 55th, 4.9knts.

One of those evenings the poets like to mess with. Mt strzelecki on flinders is. was just visible under red and gold wispy mares tails and the boat is dry and we seem to have kept the breeze so far. Stars like you lot in the cities never see any more and the moon due in a couple of hours. Rollercoaster had the same idea as us so the next sked will be interesting. We think we can see Magic astern. If we can keep the breeze and collect the change tomoz we should be well down the tas coast by the time the next southerly arrives. Not looking like a good one to be in for too long.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 31, 2004 – 1400hrs │ 181nm to go (ETA 02/01/05 1930hr) 57th, 5.0knts.

Thanks for the emails. Frustrating morning so far. We overtook Rollercoaster during the night and were hooning along with the kite up at sunrise but found the usual hole out off cape barren and watched the bubbles not passing by for several hours. Huge pink and brown jellyblobbers about a metre across and the occasional dolphin. Roll on the Cape Raoul seals. Now under way again v slowly more or less in the right direction. Rollercoaster sneaking past inshore – bugger – we’ll get em in the southerly tomorrow. Saltersboats motored past in cruising mode silhouetted against the rising sun – bastards. We have just done a stocktake and we have just enough of the dublin doctor’s medicinal potion to get us round tasman is. if we’re lucky. Gripe water in short supply after this morning’s stuffing around but there’s enough goats milk in a suitably innocuous bottle to keep Pete in serious coffee till the new year. Funny stories in abundance but not for family websites.

Happy new year to all seven or so of our listeners in case you are all partying when next we crank this thing up.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Dec 31, 2004 – 1800hrs │161nm to go (ETA 02/01/05 0230hr) 7knts

Thanks to everyone for your messages and good wishes. Happy new year y’all too and we’ll be thinking of you.

The race for us now is to get to Tasman Island and round the corner before the southerly change due ‘tomorrow morning’. It’s just possible but we need some help so we’ve dedicated a small libation to Poseidon and his or her mate Neptune to ask them to make the arrangements. We will find out tomorrow whether it worked. We have Katherine’s purple kite up and – at last – we’re moving. If the wind holds, we ought to be at T.I. at about the same time as the fan starts to rotate. May make the difference between finishing tomorrow or Sunday.

Cross the fingers.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Jan 02, 2005 – 0645hrs │ Sydney to Hobart 05 finished

58th out of a starting field of 116, at an avg of 3.9knts. Elapsed time 6 days 17 hrs 35 mins 21 secs.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Jan 01, 2005 – 1500hrs │ 47nm to go (ETA 02/01/05 0600hr) 58th, 4.3knts.

We’ve got a beer on with Magic, about half a mile away, so it’s everyone on the rail to T. I. and the finish. We think we’ll let him go round first so he can find the holes for us.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Jan 01, 2005 – 1800hrs│ 37nm to go (ETA 02/01/05 0400hr) 58th, 4.9knts.

Thanks everyone for messages. We’ll try and reply later – just a bit on at the mo. Tasman Island at bloody last – we’re just rounding. Been a long time coming. James driving, somewhat wet and draggly but seems to be enjoying himself. The usual nasty bullets at 40+ knots and a bit to bouncy for emailing but the mail must get through. Ross cooking up mashed spuds with onion, dried peas, bacon and eggs to fill some empty spaces. We have reserved the last three cans from the medicine chest of of the barber-surgeon to ensure that the agues are kept at bay till the slab of Dr Boags arrives in Con Dock in about 7 hours if all goes well.

We love youse all

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Jan 03, 2005 – 1500hrs

Berrimilla is in Constitution Dock, but moving to Bellerive Yacht Club tomorrow for final setup. No departure date yet decided.

1-1. Sydney-Hobart Race 2004

Jan 04, 2005 – 0700hrs │Bellerive Yacht Club.

Hard to summarise a race like that. Certainly one of the more difficult and interesting that I have done, with a bit of everything somewhere. Seldom do we ever get down to three reefs in the main in Berri but this time we were there three times, with the full storm gear up for around 24 hours and the #5 on its own for short periods. And I’ve never hove to in a race before, although we stopped to dry out in 1999 – but this time it was the obvious thing to do. The boat was handling the conditions really well and Eden was not an option except possibly as a last resort if James deteriorated, so once we found we could not make headway to the south west there seemed to be no point in going sideways fast when we could do it slowly and in comfort. And get some stugies [ed:sea sick pills] into James. And get some sleep.

Comparatively, most like 1977. I think, with a series of nasties and some parking and no let up. The 1998 storm was much more intense but very short and 1999 was a headbang in both senses from half way to the finish. Including our heave to, we beat our 1999 time by about 18 hours, if I remember correctly, but that one also included a stop in Skeleton bay.

Some interesting points in the tracker plot (haven’t seen it but they must be there).

Full stop north of Eden where we got the full force of the southerly and put up the storm gear, quite close inshore near a farmhouse. And the heave to around 70 miles SE of Eden – I think we drifted about 17 miles but I was way past logging it at the time. And the car park off Cape Barren Island where we waited for the north easterly that took all day to arrive. Storm Bay was something else again – really nasty and scary lee shore inside Cape Raoul with huge waves and then more gale round the Cape and calm and variables as well, just to keep everyone guessing.

We are now working on all the jobs on the list to get Berri into voyage mode. She seems to have suffered no damage despite some big crashes off waves and a lot of pounding. We have stripped hor out and James did a big clean and polish with soap and bleach inside and today we will fit the internal insulation and probably move from Con dock to Bellerive.

For the first time since all this nonsense started, we have all the gear together and it is now spread around the Sutherland’s yard in various heaps ready to be loaded. It will be a challenge stowing t all.

The aim is to leave on Saturday 8th barring major problems in the meantime.