1-19. Senegal and Pete’s Birthday


Logs ( 23 )

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Aug 31, 2005 – 0845hrs UTC │Alcohol List, Journey Home

0845hrs 31 Aug 2005 UTC 31’59”N 018’22”W Ref 323

DB: 24hr:127, total 1290/1320 sched = -30 so we’re getting back into it.
In deep mourning for friendly little phone and the big chunk of my life’s database that went with it. Bereft, I am. And stupid. It will be sitting there on the edge of the shelf west of Madeira until the island erodes on top of it or the earth dives into its next black hole. Don’t think I will be around to reclaim it.

Lots to write about, but boring stuff – are you all bored stiff already? Seems as if you are, from the wheelbarrow loads of mail we’ve been getting. it’s difficult in these conditions to get time to write because of the need to be on deck almost constantly with the assy up and rolling swell and seas. Or asleep. Will try – and I suppose we can always crank up our stone age version of flight simulator in the bus shelter to spice up the news.

Malcom, thanks for the Ninja. Hugh, we passed a grey bearded old Turtle – Michaelangelo? Methuselah? – who asked if we knew ‘those Tacit people’ – promised him we’d pass on his regards.

Some questions, to see who’s out there: *For a friend in the USA: Do the English or the Australians use the word ‘phat’ and, if so, what does it mean? It’s apparently an acronym, in use in North America and I think I’ve heard Katherine use it. Some context please. Did you know that ‘chuffed’ is taken to mean angry or upset Over There?
*Is there an airport on Madeira? We didn’t see any aircraft – or, surprisingly, any boats except for one possible fishing boat last night. Looks to be a very difficult place to put a decent runway on.
*How did square rigged ships ever get into Funchal? Must have been difficult – big wind shadow – Cook’s Journal might have at least one answer. Perhaps they only visited Porto Santo.
* Port was originally red wine shipped out of Oporto in used brandy casks – what was the origin of Madeira in it’s bottled version?

The Flea spent all of yesterday hiking towards this big chunk of craggy gravel and dried mud rising over the curvature of the elephant’s bum, then in the evening passing its western end in the flat pink sunlight with tiny silver and gold serrated clouds right down low on the western horizon below the main cloud layer. Then most of the night watching its fairy lights disappear astern. Do dung beetles glow in the dark?

Would have been nice to drop in to Madeira. It’s about the same size and shape as the Isle of Wight, but mountainous. Perhaps a project for the future.

31/1130: Unable to hold the assy and any sort of course – now twin poled, heading directly down the course making 4-5. Got really sweaty doing the complete sail change – drop the assy, fold the #1 and put it away, hook on the 2 and pole it out and raise it, hook on the cutdown 1, pole it out and raise it, drop the main, furl and tie it down, take off all the kite lines and coil them and put them away, put away the jockey pole, tidy up the spaghetti of halyards, sheets, downhauls etc in the cockpit, trim the headsails and Consult – having done all that, between us, I thought I should change out of the gear we left Fmth in. Now very hot, we have the cockpit awning rigged for shade.

[ed: some time later…..]

It’s time to apply the fudge factor to the Daily Bull. Distance covered directly towards a destination is called Distance Made Good or DMG. The distance measured by a GPS is distance covered over the ground, which is almost never the same as DMG, because the boat’s track over the ground wanders around a bit. It is easy to program a GPS to give DMG if it knows where the destination or at least the next waypoint is but in the game we are playing here, all that it rather too vague – we don’t know where we are going, exactly, but we could program a theoretical shortest route into the instrument. Or I could get out a chart and do it with pencil, plotter and ruler. Both rather tedious and probably futile, so we will apply a fudge factor of 5% for the time being. I will modify this daily based on my assessment of the previous day’s run.

The fudge factor assumes that the GPS is reading a greater distance over the ground that the actual DMG by 5%. For this morning’s Daily Bull, the GPS total was 1290 miles. Multiplying this by 0.95, we get 1225.5 which becomes our estimated DMG. Subtracting this from the required DMG of 1320, we get 95 (ignoring the .5). On this basis, we are nearly a day (120 miles) behind schedule. This seems to me to be about right, given the last few days’ windless stinkpotting, but not a big problem – we should start eating into any deficit as soon as we get a steady wind with a bit of strength.

We are getting to the end of our fresh provisions. The bread got mouldy and has been tossed, some of the fruit went the same way. Carrots, zooks, eggplant all getting a bit wrinkly. Bacon still fine, eggs too and spuds. Cheese is looking very oily -may not last the distance. We wrap it in tissue when we open the pack to soak up the oil – the cheese goes a bit crumbly but still tastes ok. We will start making bread and soaking the dried fruit and getting into all the other dried goodies over the next few days.

For the curious, we left with 132 cans of The Doctor’s medicinal sauce, 80 Dr White Smoothies, 12 litres of gin, 42 litres of tonic, 24 litres of wine and 12 litres of cider, plus certain unspecified brown plastic bottles for special occasions. Do the numbers – it’s a relatively small medicine chest for 2 people over 110 days – one Consultation with the Dublin Doctor or his English colleague each per day, a G&T, and half a plastic mug of wine or cider.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 01, 2005 - 0845hrs UTC

0845hrs 01 Sep 2005 UTC 30’10”N 019’34”W Ref 324

We are actually further from Hobart here than we were at Falmouth, by about 200 miles. We have sailed nearly 20 degrees westwards to allow us to get around Africa, and we will need to go a lot further to get behind the south atlantic high once we cross the equator.

However, the DB says: 24 hrs = 130, total 1420/1440 off the GPS but applying the fudge factor, say 125 for the days run, added to the Estimated DMG from last nights email gives 1225+125= 1350/1440 = -90, so we’ve regained 5 miles. That’s the fudge factor method. Or I could plot it all on a chart.

Or I could use my Merlin calculator (remember them? – wonderful bit of kit) to calculate the rhumb line and gt. circle distances between 0900 fixes – which I’ve done and it gives me 124 miles rounded, so fudge was not bad, but we’ve only regained 4 miles. I will use the Merlin from here and assume that we have 12000 miles to go. The new Daily Bull will have the days run between fixes and distance to go, so:

DB: 124, 12000  Still not quite an accurate rendition of DMG but a reasonable approximation. You can work out for yourselves what the run rate needs to be to get us home by Dec 11 as we progress. Why should I do all the work?

Still twin poled,relatively easy sailing, Kevvo in charge and we just look out for ships and do the chores. Have transferred fuel from the cockpit to the main tank and we have 160 litres left within measurement tolerances. And as we eat stuff and Consult, space appears and we can repack things and even find long lost underpants and books and other goodies. I’m still working on crossword no 2 – Think I’m stuck but there’s plenty of time. Pete is reading Morse – all those Colin Dexter quotes from the way up to Falmouth.

There was a tiny white crawly insect on the laptop screen last night and I found it or another on my crossword this morning. Baby cockroaches? Mutated boot ferals – wonder how they are doing – elephant fleas? little dung beetles looking for nourishment? Will investigate with magnifying glass if I find another.

From Ann G.

Subject: Phat

Phat is a bicycle manufacturer in California – elevated handle bars.  Tres cool!
Phat is also a program used in a Windows platform to help install LINUX platform on PCs.
Phat is also a slang word to describe something ‘cool’.
Phat also means ‘pretty hot and tempting’.

Subject: Chuff

A couple of pointers – to chuff is to expell methane from your nether porthole.

To be chuffed is to be okay with life.

I am unchuffed right now because my rather primitive, and probably misinterpreted as not serious, question about avoiding the African coast and going home thorugh the Med was not listed in the questions of the day.  I’m bruised but I shall prevail.

Hope all is going well.  The gulf of mexico (alabama, louisiana, western florida, mississippi) states are reeling under extreme environmental damage due to hurricane Katrina.  New Orleans is under 20 feet of water.  100’s of people dead – so not as devastating as the sunami last year but just as intense.

Ann G thanks twice and sorry about your question – don’t remember seeing it, but actually in my opinion much hairier – less phat – going that way than the way we are going, but for different reasons – we should post the replies – I like the bike manufacturer and I’d worked out a possible acronym that was close – mine was pretty hot and terrific. Tempting is much better.

From Tori P.

Glad to be of help with some trivia..””phat”” means cool, a bit like “”sick”” which means awesome.Used mostly by the skateboardy snowboardy 14 to 25 set.Used by the young kids in Ozzie a lot these days.

This mother has been known to use it too just to annoy the kids!!!

Lovely to keep following you.

Tori too – thanks all y’all.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 01, 2005 – 2130hrs UTC

2130hrs 01 Sep 2005 UTC 29’13”N 020’25”W Ref 325

We seem to be in the Trades at last – uncomfortable rolling downwind ride twin poled but hooning along. Cape Verdes next, then probably some more stinkpotting in the ITCZ.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 02, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 02 Sep 2005 UTC 28’21”N 021’13”W Ref 326

DB:139,11861 (GPS run was 140) so not a bad day. The wind has dropped and veered and we’re back to #1 and main in very lumpy sea. Otherwise, would be the assy. Another sweaty sail change before Breakfast. Kind of grey but with a hint of dust in the air.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 02, 2005 - 1515hrs UTC

1515hrs 02 Sep 2005 UTC 27’53”N 021’22”W Ref 327

I thought we had hooked into the Trades but the Examiner came flouncing in this morning in pink hotpants and leathers with SM kit at the high port to tell us differently. Pottering along in about 10 knots from the east – heavy sky, haze, maybe dust, cloud, heat. Sea almost indigo. Not enough wind to fill either kite and, for all the required effort to get one up, probably futile to try, so we’re sitting back waiting for the sun to dip below the spreaders in the murky sky and signal the necessity for refreshment. It is difficult for an old stick-at-home like me to come to terms with the proximity of Africa – about 400 miles to the coast of Western Sahara, Cape Blanc in Mauretania way out there on the port bow. It’s Friday, RANSA twilights (Hi everyone – have a good one) and I’m used to thinking of Berri in the pond at CYC – or chatting up Frank to get a berth on the pontoons somewhere for the weekend and this Africa stuff is not reality – yet nor is it a dream. Just not plausible somehow. What are we doing here? How did we come to be here?

We are on a well travelled bit of ocean – direct route for all the early sailors going south then either east or west about from Europe and now the milk run for yachts from Europe and the Med heading for the Cape verdes and the departure point for the transatlantic passage to the West Indies. We are about a month ahead of the big rush, although given the hurricane nastiness, there may be a lot fewer this year.

Yachting Monthly and Yachting World come out in the UK next week, so they should be in the Australian shops by the end of the month if they fly them out, or in about 6 – 8 weeks if shipped. Hugh Marriott, who wrote the YM article, has kindly allowed us to put his pre-edited original on the website once YM hits the streets -Thanks Hugh – I think it’s much better that the edited version, which tends to emphasise the sensational and misses Hugh’s message. All y’all can judge for yourselves. Hugh has also written a terrific book called ‘The Selfish Pig’s Guide to Caring’ which I hope will make him rich and famous.

I haven’t seen Jo Cackett’s article for Yachting World – a pleasure for the future, Jo. Any chance of a soft copy to Stephen  at berri@berrimilla.com? Well done in your Fastnet – 3rd in class is huge. I think the honours are about even on that one and I’m looking forward to exchanging a pot or two next time. What next for you?

Stephen and Mal, could you please crank up your South Atlantic weather sites and start watching the S.A. high – we will probably have to go to the west of it, but the more tightly we can cut the corner, the better, so it would be useful to get some idea as we close in on it about the wind towards its centre and west. But a long way to go yet.

Thanks, Dorothy, for the photos – we remember that send off rather well!

From James J.

 still here and reading.  Fantastic result for the Fastnet race. I haven’t caught up with all the reading but it must have been edifying to sail all that way AND get a good result! 

 I just read a webpage account of an American sailor/academic who sailed his 35′ steel around the word in 1985 without any instruments including compass. He intellectualised everything including altitudes of different stars for longitude, wave patterns, species of birds and insects etc etc.. very interesting.

 I just got back from sailing the Sydney Southport race and Hamilton Island Race week on `Calibre’. Syd- S/P we finished 2nd in the Syd 38 Div. The 38 fleet has very close racing and the highlight was still racing boat for boat with 3 other Syd 38s reaching at 9 knts fully hiked inside Cook islet on a moonless night with .5m under the keel and me navigating. . At Hamilton Island race week we finished third with a crew of Michael Dunstan and his 2 match racing crew . I navigated and trimmed and we had an absolute ball. These 3 twenty something year old boys have grown up with exotics and know nothing about dacron, wire halyards, twin pole gybing and IOR rating certificates. The word `blooper’ and `tallboy’ had them rolling in the aisles and lessons from the IOR days became a theme. The regatta was in mostly 20-30knots of breeze so the sailmakers and shipwrights were kept busy. Quite a few boats found reefs during the racing. We also found  mud trying to rock hop ourselves off the start in Dent passage in adverse tide. We finally got off with a lovely view of the fleet some 2 or 3 miles down the track in the long race. Such is passage racing that we did a `Buffalos’ and passed half our competitors at night time in shifty breezes and adverse current. Alpha Romeo, Neville Chrichton’s new 100 ft Maxi spent the week hurtling around the fleet at never less than double figure boatspeeds. It will be very interesting to see all the giant canters sorted and racing one another at the maxi worlds.

 Hope all is well aboard the good ship `Berrimilla’ and that supplies are adequate for the necessary consultations.

 PS I’m noticing a trend amongst my girlfriend’s high flying banking associates to use the expression  `babel fish’….ie `Geeze Bruce we’re not f..ing paying that much for his company, its just his BB is hearing things differently.”” : )

And James, good to hear your news. Along the same lines, I’ve been offered the loan of a Figaro for the 2 handed Round Britain race – me, in a Beneteau??- which is tempting, but rather too distant for anything more than an expression of interest at the mo. David and Is, Ta, Woc, g’day.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 03, 2005 - 0915hrs UTC

0915hrs 03 Sep 2005 UTC 26’21”N 022’12”W Ref 328

DB: 130, 11731 (gps 131) so there’s been some progress.

A little bit of idle comparison: I ran the Falklands marathon in approximately 4.75 hours, in other words at a speed of about 4.85 knots – more or less what we must average out here. Walking pace, really. My best ever marathon was at 8.86 knots(approx 2.6 hrs) – I don’t think we are likely to get close to that here except in very short bursts. Which, of course, proves nothing – comparisons being invidious, according to Dr Johnson. What does invidious mean anyway? I think the context was that the Great Man expressed disapproval of something (London, perhaps??) and someone asked him how he could disapprove of something God had made – at which the GM grunted and said ‘My dear Sir, comparisons are invidious, but God also made Scotland’ Collapse of stout party and audience in general. To take the comparison a bit further, Paula Radcliffe, my heroine and also the world’s fastest woman over a marathon course, ran hers in about 2.25 hours or about 10.25 kts and would have beaten Emil Zatopek to his Olympic gold medal by about a mile. Not sure of my facts but I think the fastest man ran about 2.08 hours or 11.1 kts. Both absolutely mind boggling to this old dinosaur. I will contemplate these achievements over Breakfast and The Other Doctor.

David, thanks – if there’s a Eureka, see if you can follow the bulge for September from the equator southwards and describe the line it takes – probably goes towards NE Brazil, then curves across towards Cape Town from about 30S. This would have taken them behind the high.

From Malcom C.

Conserve yr Coopers.  This week another beer company has bid to take over Coopers.  May not happen quickly though.

Malcom, don’t let it happen! Coopers is an institution and we don’t want some faceless marketer changing the product to appeal to today’s youth or something. Beer must have sludge it it…

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 04, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 04 Sep 2005 UTC 24’29”N 023’22”W Ref 329

DB: 130,11601 (GPS 137) so another goodish day.

Really soupy haze – sun came up white, first sighting about an hour after sunrise, through the murk. Looks like convergence zone conditions but we’re not there yet. Looking at the grib, there’s a low forming over the Cape Verdes about 500 miles ahead – this is where the hurricanes are born, as big thunderstorms, which then set off west across the Atlantic and get bigger. There’s a photo on the website of Isabelle when it was just a big nasty thundercloud.

Looks as if the inter tropical convergence zone (the doldrums) is just south of the Cape Verdes and the SE trades at the equator are mostly SSE, so we’ll have to go west towards Brazil to make progress from there. But a long way ahead and it can all change in a day.

I’m now able to look ahead towards the rest of my life – there’s still this big black hole we’ve got to negotiate, but it does seem to have an opposite side, as it were. And I’m in trouble – I’ve been reminded that I promised last year’s S2H crew that they are all invited for this year’s if we get there in time so I shouldn’t have asked anyone else. Sorry, Steve and Fenwick and Katherine. So, Ross, James, Johnny G, Malcolm – are you on? Katherine first reserve, Jeanne second.

Made naan bread yesterday – fried the dough in very hot pan – worked really well and much quicker that long slow oven – think I’ll try to fry the next conventional bread mix as well. Will report later.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 05, 2005 – 0500hrs UTC

0500hrs 05 Sep 2005 UTC 23’02”N 024’34”W Ref 330

Back in the Tropics – we crossed the Tropic of Cancer yesterday. Funny old day – warm and humid with very thick haze and the sun only visible as a white disc – so not dust, or it would have been bronze or reddish. We’re sailing very conservatively – keeping the boat above 5 knots but not pushing for maximum speed. Yesterday was poled out 5 and cutdown 1 for 6 – 7 knots dead downwind – uncomfortable, could have gone faster but no need. The turbine line is just the wrong length for the following sea as well and the turbine kept jumping out of the water and flailing around – it makes a giant farting noise – disconcerting.

Pete woke me from a deep sleep at 0300 to get that rig off and go back to main and cutdown. Very hard to get the body into gear – till I thought about the crews of the square riggers who had to wake up and climb the rig as well. Easy for us. It seems from the grib that the ITCZ is at the Cape Verdes – there’s a little low forming down there now and we will probably go through the back of it if the wind holds. More with the 0900 fix.

05/0915 DB: 132, 11469 (GPS 135) not bad. Straight line back to Falmouth is 1900 which is a reasonable approximation of DMG and we should be at 1920, so even that one is looking reasonable.

The strategy from here: first we have to get through the ITCZ around the Cape Verdes – this may be tricky, with thunderstorms, fluky wind or none, or it could be relatively easy. Won’t know till we get there. Then we will try to head SSE towards the equator to give us a better angle on the SE Trades, and across wherever that puts us, but aiming for about the mid point. Then we have to get around the South Atlantic high. More on this later.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 05, 2005 – 1100hrs UTC

1100hrs 05 Sep 2005 UTC 22’36”N 024’53”W Ref 331

The S. Atlantic high is likely to be centred somewhere close to 23S 015W with a soft ridge extending west towards the S. American coast. Winds round a southern hemisphere high are anticlockwise so going to the west of the centre looks the better bet, and this is supported by the existence of the Benguela Current flowing NW up the African coast. The critical decision is how far west? Cutting the corner is a good idea as long as we have enough wind to keep moving or fuel to drive through the holes and the horse latitudes to the south of the high. We may have to stay close to S. America all the way down to 40S. We will have to wait until we get much closer and then assess the status of the ridge and the local winds. If I’m still able to keep sailmail running (by no means certain) then the grib will give us enough to go on. Rhumb line distances around westabout are very close to my Daily Bull DTG. Watch this space.

Flying fish everywhere – one tiny one and one almost worth eating on deck this morning. I wonder what they can see when they are out of the water – they seem to be able to direct their flight around wave tops and along the troughs, but this may just be a feel for the updrafts – and they mostly miss us during the day, only arriving on board at night. Do they have specially adapted eyes? Humans can only see blurry outlines under water because of the different refractive index – is it the same in reverse for fish? And what about at night?

Heavy, humid and sweaty. Not pleasant. No major breakdowns so far – apart from this intensely frustrating problem with the USB-Serial port gizmo which is irritatingly and unpredictably unstable and a nightmare to bring back up when it crashes. Takes several goes sometimes, and at least an hour of tense frustration. And I never know if it will work whenever I try to transmit. Not sure whether it loses power somehow (it is powered by the laptop through the USB cable) or is attacked by HF energy and gets switched off by the laptop trying to turn it into a serial mouse even though I’ve deleted the serial and HID mice. But I desperately and sincerely wish it wouldn’t. I hope Microsoft have a fix by the time we get back. I have reset the AIS port from 38400 baud to 4800 and disconnected all the AIS stuff in case that was affecting it, but doesn’t seem to have fixed it. spbf.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 05, 2005 – 1630hrs UTC

1630hrs 05 Sep 2005 UTC 22’10”N 025’06”W Ref 332

I’ve put some target waypoints on the chart for your greater fascination – one at 26W on the Equator, the next at 23S 023W, where I hope we can turn towards home, one at Tristan da Cunha at 3704S 01217W which I hope we’ll pass to the north of, and one at 40S 020E directly below Cape Town. That’s the plan. Execution is in a different Kettle but exciting to have some blobs to aim at.

The water temp rose about 3 degrees to nearly 27 deg in the last 12 hours – and, sure enough, we’re headbutting about a knot of warm current.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 05, 2005 - 2330hrs UTC

2330hrs 05 Sep 2005 UTC 21’39”N 025’09”W Ref 333

All the forecasts predict severe thundersqualls ahead of us – for me the scariest part of sailing, probably irrationally – and I can see lightning flashes over the horizon. If we disappear from the airwaves without warning, don’t panic – probably just the electronics fried by static. A strike or near miss could take out every computer chip in the boat. That would certainly fix the USB problem. We have a metal box to protect the satphone and a handheld GPS but we haven’t tested it and it may not work. Highly unlikely, but if it does happen, it is possible that we could be out of touch for a couple of months unless we can talk to a ship.

From Malcom C.

Just an idle thought, do you listen to news via radio, e.g. BBC or do you rely purely on news people email you.  How in touch are y’all with day to day events?  Such as New Orleans crisis.

Malcom, I have a tiny short wave radio (Chinese, of course) and I can sometimes get the BBC and sometimes other more exotic english speaking programs – was listening to Star Radio News from Monrovia, Liberia earlier this evening, and then got the BBC for a bit. Isabella sends us news summaries as well, so we do know about Katrina. But please keep us posted about Coopers and anything else you think we might be hanging out for news of…

Hrungecomely Blurbleflunket Gra! 2 @ 60 in one week is overdoing things a bit. And 1 @ 63 on Thursday too. A week of birthdays.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 06, 2005 - 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 06 Sep 2005 UTC 20’49”N 025’16”W Ref 334

2049 02516 06/0900 -3

DB: 116, 11353 (GPS 120) slow day. Lightning seems to have moved westwards. We should pass close enough to see Santo Antao Island, the westernmost of the Cape Verdes, on Thursday morning if the wind holds.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 06, 2005 – 1533hrs UTC

1533hrs 06 Sep 2005 UTC 20’17”N 025’29”W Ref 335

Although where we are, local time is nearly 2 hours behind UTC. Very slow day – tooling along with the assy just filling and collapsing as the boat rolls. No fun – and hot, sticky, humid and hazy as well. The weather forecast says thundersqualls ahead  south of the Cape Verdes and, ominously, has changed it’s terminology from ‘severe’ to ‘violent’ gusts. We’ll be down to the #5 and probably the engine if we get close to one of those.

But we’re still chiselling away at the old uncarved block – or, in a mirror concept, watching the road not travelled disappearing out of reach over the horizon. We’ve knocked off over 2000 miles from about 13 which is a decent chunk.

The satphone will be on on Friday from say 0600 UTC all day (Oz evening) so you can talk to the birthday old geezer. It will cost you about $15 per minute, so you’d better work out what you want to say and then say it – no time for trivia!. The only possible showstopper might be those thundersqualls, in which case the satphone will be firmly tucked away in its box. Don’t leave messages – if we don’t answer, try again in a couple of minutes then give up. + 881 621 440078

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 06, 2005 - 2130hrs UTC

2130hrs 06 Sep 2005 UTC 19’56”N 025’32”W Ref 336

Well Gra has joined the OGC whilst we, a nanospot upon the vast pachydermal curve, spent the day drenched in sweat battling for every metre – one down now is one less later. P,P,P & P with Pee the colour of best Darjeeling and a widdly dribble at that. There’s a tiny African moth running around on the screen as I write – Senegalese or Gambian perhaps. Spends its time running up the screen, flying to the bottom and running up again – Sisyphus the Moff? Or was it someone else condemned to roll a peanut up a slope with his nose?

Was thinking, if that’s the word, about the Tao and uncarved blocks – Michaelangelo said that he released his figures from their blocks of marble and there’s an unfinished work in Florence where the figure is – amazingly – emerging from the surrounding marble. Stunning Renaissance magic, but the Taoist scholar might have asked ‘But, lao Mike, why that figure? Why did you choose that one from the infinite millions that were in the block before you started to mess with it? Wouldn’t it have been better to have left them all there?’ The yin and the yang approaches – the classical and the romantic, the road not travelled. Why do I foist this twaddle upon you all?

I have carefully collected a sample of what it probably Mauretania – there was a film of dust on the solar panel and I have it in a bag – looks like mud, rather than the red dust that lives under the eyelids in remoter Oz.

We have the engine going again – sultry hazy night, still drenched in sweat, dripping into my lap as i sit here slaving away.

From Allan Fenwick

I do hope you know I’m only having a bit of fun with you straight laced buggers,  Now your knocking my spelling, yes the louisiades, don’t you know engrish when you see it. 6 months of sun and fun, and no I’m not taking Gordon, I still haven’t forgiven himfor the gay thing, but his broken nose has healed but a bit still a bit bent. Keep sailing ,Africa on the left and south America on the right for a little while yet then turn left, I will let you know when, email me if you get lost and I will send new instructions if you can understand my spelling.

Fenwick, I was really worried there for a moment – thought you really cared – ah well. Sorry to hear Gordo misbehaved yet again.

Two more USB crashes today – have worked out a slightly more effective procedure for rebuilding the thing – at least, I think I have. But desperately, screamingly, ragingly infuriatingly frustrating – and having to insert the bloody dongle every time to get CMap up seems so unnecessary and just another device to give it the yips. As it does. All y’all should be proud of my forbearance and tolerance – the temptation to hit it with my metaphorical rifle butt is very strong.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 07, 2005 - 0430hrs UTC

0430hrs 07 Sep 2005 UTC 19’32”N 025’38”W Ref 337

From Pete:

Hello out there,

   It’s about 2,am the the engine has stopped and were now sailing goose-winged with about 8-10 kts from the north.

To the right across the pond you can hear the steel band playing outside the “Admiral’s Inn”, you can smell the rum as its poured over the ice in a long tall glass, the ice cracks as the warm rum hits it…..AAAAAHH….the tropics again. During the day the air is hazy, heavy, humid and hot but tonight we have a beautiful warm breeze helping the Berri slide along at a steady 3.5 – 4 knots. Not much has happened since we left Falmouth no disasters very little wind the engine rattling away sucking up the limited diesel supply so early in the trip. About 160 miles south and slightly to the left are the Cape Verde Islands further left on the African coast lies Senegal. We passed the Canary Islands a while back but were not close enough to see anything, before that though we sailed close to Medeira.

Now that island looks interesting. We had a good view of the NW W and S sides passing the island during the late afternoon and night. The NW and W sides of the island have sheer cliffs dropping vertically to the water with deep valleys and faults breaking the line of this flat surface. Set on the very top of these cliffs were small villages connected by a road and joining the main road which was sited close to a sharp toothed ridge running east west along the island’s major axis. The S side of the island was not steep to, it was a more gentle slope with houses running down to the water’s edge. On the chart Medeira looked about 30 by 15 miles and egg shaped. Looking back at it later in the night the orange lights of the villages strung together by the house lights along the roads gave the impression of a gold necklace adorning the island.

    The Fastnet race how good was that result. I can only say it’s a great feeling to wake up after that, lie back and think ” How sweet it is “. We only missed out on the fairytale finish the top spot on the podium by 26 mins. not bad after nearly five and half days of racing. Berri’s 11th. out of 264 I think who finished in IRC division was a huge result, especially when you consider that over 90% of the boats we beat were fully crewed. Thanks for living the dream Alex.

    A while ago I had asked my youngest daughter Tessa if she could send me some cds for the trip home, when they arrived I noted that included amongst them was Pink Floyd’s The Wall. On the morning of the race I had a listen to it.

The opening track starts with a lilting acoustic guitar solo that I could barely hear so I upped the volume, a voice came in……”Hey you…… out there in the cold getting lonely getting old ..can you feel me…” the first stanza finished with ..”Don’t give in without a fight..”. Then the full volume hit me blasting the brain with soaring electric guitar riffs and mega bass drums. This was operatic stuff, this would lead us into battle,  this was Berri’s anthem.

I finished listening to the cd, had faint idea what it was all about and took from it what I needed, I was pumped up, feeling 20 years younger and hot to trot. This feeling continued throughout the race especially on the kite ride home, it seemed we were always in this one right from the start.  Now to other business. In a couple of days time on the ninth of September I turn 60. Everybody is invited to the party, space and access on the Berri is limited but I think we can overcome this by joining “Pete’s party network”. Select some area get a few friends ( or if you are like some of us who have no friends just yourself will do fine ) open a bottle of some suitable liquid refreshment and join the party, you just have to imagine the rest of us are in the next room, oh and try to keep the noise down I don’t want any raucous behavior disturbing the neighbors. That’s about it for now, I’ll get back to you after the party.

                                                                     Cheers  Pete.


From Alex:

Sao Antao is about 140 miles ahead. Its westernmost point is at 02521W so we are already west of it. Once it is abeam, we can, geographically at least, gybe for home. Would be nice to drop in for a demijohn or two of vinho tinto on The Birthday – but perhaps a project for the future. The course for the Cape of Good Hope will be 166M, distance about 4150 miles, about 35 days at 5 knots. That’s geographically. Meteorologically, while we could sail that course, it will be better to head (perhaps a pooptillionth east of) south to the equator and see what the SE trades will allow us to do. My waypoint at 23S 023W is the notional target, at the back of the high and a few degrees east.

From Sao Antao, it is about 1025 miles to the equator, so about 9 days away if we can keep moving. We crossed going north on May 3rd at 029 41 39W. The Fastnet is at 51 22N and Cape Horn is at 56S so we sailed 6442 miles up the Atlantic. We will sail down to about 40S, or about 5482 back down again. Then we really turn for home.

A bit more on the satphone, in case anyone wants to call the old geezer on Friday – be aware that it goes into messagebank after only about 3 rings. Usually we can grab it in that time but not always. If you get messagebank, don’t leave a message – it costs us too much to collect them – just try again in a couple of minutes and someone will be waiting near the phone unless it is in its thunder box. If you get messagebank twice, it probably is, so give up.

I have a small present to get him over the hump, and a few balloons to liven up the messdecks and a card from H & K and a rude one from me. And we have some of Dr Boag’s special throat elixir for breakfast, perhaps a lunchtime consultation in Gaelic, and the aphrodisiac Dr Cooper for afternoon tea, to go with Isabella and Graham’s alcoholic cake. Then there’s Dave’s bottle of Bundy in case we need fortification into the evening. Promises to be a Big Day Out. We might play Pink Floyd on the cd player,if it still works.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 07, 2005 – 0925hrs UTC

0925hrs 07 Sep 2005 UTC 19’08”N 025’41”W Ref 338

DB 106, 11237 (GPS 102) very slow day.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 07, 2005 - 1715hrs UTC

1715hrs 07 Sep 2005 UTC 18’26”N 025’51”W Ref 339

Did anyone spot the deliberate mistake (actually, I just forgot to explain it)? In the last Daily Bull, the GPS distance was less than the calculated day’s run. If everything is working properly, this should not be possible. But it isn’t all working properly and every time we have a USB crash, I have to turn off the GPS and the SatCom until I’ve got the system back up again – if there’s any data whatever getting to the USB-Serial gizmo when it powers up, the laptop thinks it’s got a serial ballpoint mouse going ape around its edges – can’t pre-delete it because there’s nothing in device manager to delete. It all has to be done from inside device manager as it comes up. Tedious. And the CMap dongle has to be inserted, SoB activated and the dongle removed before the main USB cable is attached or, when the dongle is removed, the laptop again sees the USB gizmo as a mouse and crashes it and, usually, the computer as well – the dreaded blue screen of death. Does anyone know how to permanently remove the serial ballpoint mouse so that it doesn’t boot or isn’t seen by XP? Anyway, I’m gradually getting to a standard procedure that works. If only the failures had an element of consistency. Enough nerdery – back to Twaddle.

Reading Pete’s stuff about the Fastnet – Pascal Loisin, the guy that beat us in the 2 hander, was 16 hours ahead and would have had a fair tide or slack water across Falmouth Bay over the last 40 miles to the finish – we were headbutting nearly 2 knots most of the way and that was the difference – about 2 miles on corrected time. Just as in Storm Bay and the Derwent (at the end of a Hobart Race) it all depends on timing and luck. Extinction is a tough examiner but the Dinosaurs almost got themselves reincarnated to bite a bum or two.  Would have been a nice Jurassic touch. Everyone has their ‘ifs’ in ocean racing!

I’ve found the mung beans – we used exactly half of them on the way up – and we have started the vegie garden again. Cress is a lot of effort for the return, so will leave that for later – in case of desperation.

Hugh, thanks for snails, Is for news, Hi George, Hi, Ross – the northern constellations are all going slowly belly up – Orion is flat on his back and the Great Bear is getting lower. Noice – I keep looking into the Milky Way down south – when we can see it through the haze and dust – but the Southern Cross has a way to go yet.

Warm sticky night – tiny moon, almost gone. Could do with one of Pete’s long tinkling glasses with condensation on the outside…Have just gybed to pass closer to Sao Antao in the morning. A symbolic first turn for home, although we are not quite holding 180 yet.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 08, 2005 – 0400hrs UTC

0400hrs 08 Sep 2005 UTC 17’30”N 025’55”W Ref 340

Santo Antao is 41 miles away on the port bow and, for the first time since we left Falmouth, we are moving back Eastwards towards Oz. Woohoo. We will pass the island tomorrow morning and, Hugh, I’m pretty sure we will see it, blue mist or no. I don’t know whether the islands were inhabited when the Europeans first sighted them, but the first European was almost certainly one of Henry the Navigator’s Captains, who may have been lost or coming back from the other side of the Gulf of Guinea, or, perhaps, using the technique the Portugese developed of running southwards from Cape Blanc until they reached the required latitude and then running eastwards along the latitude until they reached a known spot on the African coast. The identity of the Captain who actually sighted them first, and his report, were probably lost when the Lisbon Archives burnt down in the great fire in, I think, the 1770’s. Not sure of my dates, but the Ming Admiral Cheng Ho was on the East African coast in the early 1400’s and Vasco da Gama would have been there within the next hundred years or so. It would have been an interesting meeting if they had coincided.

We will try to pick up as much easting as possible from here until we hook into the SE Trades in about 600 miles. This will give us a better angle across the trades into the South Atlantic. There’s a little low forming ahead of us, which may assist – or not – depends on which bit of it we arrive in and what is in it.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 08, 2005 - 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 08 Sep 2005 UTC 17’05”N 025’49”W Ref 341

DB: 121, 11116 (GPS 134) Murky hazy morning, Santo Antao 25 miles away directly up sun – so Hugh, you may be right after all.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 09, 2005 - 0430hrs UTC │Balloons for Pete’s Birthday

0430hrs 09 Sep 2005 UTC 15’37”N 025’12”W Ref 342

The Old Geezer has hit 60 in various parts of the world already. He’s threatening to shave off his beard – says it itches, but really it’s because it makes him look older. We have had a Date Line G&T to start the celebrations, the first birthday card has been delivered and duly filed and the lad is resting. I will blow up the balloons in the 0300 watch tomoz and deliver the second birthday card and – perhaps – a small present to get him through the rest of the day at 0600. The satphone will be on from 0600 UTC for the party network to talk to him – except that it looks like the line of thundersqualls might thwart that one – try anyway. And there’s almost no wind yet again – drifting in the heat.

I’ve been reading Captain Correlli and I think all y’all need a pet clone of Pelagia’s little goat to exercise selective digestive censorship on all this nonsense. Was going to offer a 6 pack of Coopers to the first person to name the Goat’s Island correctly, but, sadly, Google has just made it a matter of who is quickest on the draw. It was Cephallonia.

Get that network going out there…

This grey haired old fart has just spent the last hour belting away with a tiny plastic pump to blow up those sausage balloons that you twist into animal and other shapes. A semi-futile exercise, as the pump has no non-return valve and keeps coming apart. But the cockpit is bedecked with coloured sausages to greet the birthday boy when he emerges at dawn. Which is occurring a few minutes earlier today as we creep back to the east. Thanks, Wendy.

Have just caught a glimpse of an aircraft through the low cloud – funny time to be arriving. Apart from that, and a couple of others that Pete saw some days ago, we have seen nothing human since Madeira except plastic bottles and other floating gunk. It’s a desert out here. We did not see Santo Antao, as Hugh predicted – I think in fact we were too far away – but we are aiming directly at Ilha Brava, the south western island of the C.V. Archipelago which we should reach in daylight. Not a fishing boat or a ship in sight anywhere around what seems to be a well populated and touristy place.

We seem to be slotting in between the tropical waves that form as swirls along the convergence line between the warm air to the south and the cooler air in the north. The waves form little depressions that move westwards at 10 – 15 knots with the earth’s rotation about a day or two apart, with attendant thundersqualls and nasty gusts. They then go on to become Katrinas as they deepen and grow, but not all of them last that long.

At breakfast time today we will commence a Conclave of Consultation lasting all day, with no less that four Prominent Medical Persons due to visit and provide Learned Opinions about the price of fish and the state of the world’s entrails. There will be our regular Consultant from Dublin, his colleagues Dr Boag from Hobart, Dr Cooper from Adelaide (go away, Lion Nathan!) and Dr Gordon from London, together with their students. A record of proceedings may become available at some future date.

Go the Swans – and there’s a cricket match due to start soon too! Maggie, Katherine, whoever, please let us know – the BBC is not interested and anyway, I can only get it feebly and occasionally. What is the world sinking to? An institution fades away on the dubious basis that it is all accessible on the internet. I beg to differ.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 09, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 09 Sep 2005 UTC 15’21”N 025’00”W Ref 343

A DB festooned with balloons and in the August Presence of Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Dr Laura Boag:

114, 11002 (GPS 116) pity about that 2!

We’re just about to run up the assy to get us back up to a respectable speed and around Ilha Brava 36 miles dead ahead. Lots of phone calls – thanks – Pete took one from someone – male – whose name he didn’t catch because the line was bad – special thanks to that person.

Go the Swannies!

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 09, 2005 – 1445hrs UTC

1445hrs 09 Sep 2005 UTC 14’53”N 024’51”W Ref 344

We’ve just sighted Ilha Brava at 7.5 miles. Uncanny – we are directly downwind of it and so in the plume of haze and mist and would have sailed past without seeing it at all if we weren’t looking for it. It’s a big chunky hill –  small mountain – too murky to describe any further. Later, as we pass through the plume and some reflected sunlight gets through, at about 5 miles, I can see that it is quite high – perhaps 2500-3000 feet, very steep, with a small settlement on a ridge about a third of the way up the western slope. The island is roughly circular, about 5 miles across. The Eastern side might be even steeper from the shape of one of the crags. There’s a small harbour marked on the NW corner but I could only see the steep headland that probably hides and protects it. No signs of cultivation, no boats. Had a good look because it could be the last land we will see until Tasmania in three months or so. There is a surprising number of islands in the southern Indian Ocean but we should be to the north of them. And I discovered that there is an island south of Tristan da Cunha called Gough Island. We may pass close to Ascension and St. Helena, but not in the plan.

Lots of phone calls all day – and the Swannies won – and Warnie got 6 wickets. WOOOHOO.

1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 09,2005 – 2130hrs UTC

2130hrs 09 Sep 2005 UTC 14’26”N 024’42”W Ref 345

Picked up a swag of messages – Thanks everyone, from the Old Geezer and we’ll respond over the next day or so. Ilha Brava behind us and the equator and the South Atlantic out front. So nice to see the numbers in the GPS ticking down again from the west.