1-26. Through the Barn Door


Logs ( 16 )

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 25, 2005 - 0330hrs UTC

0330hrs 25 Oct 2005 UTC 37’35”S 017’26”E Ref 483

The great unclench! Polished freckles relaxing all over the place. The wind started to ease late yesterday – from a rumbustuous 50 – 60 down to a lullaby 40 or so and we both hit the sack and slept. Woken around midnight by Pete with cup of soup and thoughts of adding some sail to the equation. I went thro the party gear ritual and out into the cold starry dark – the glow had colour rather like ice seen by distant candle light – Orion majestic, Mars just below, the pointers and the Cross blazing away to the south and a band of solid black cloud to the east and formless gloom in the west. Ran the sheets and decided to wait a bit before setting any sail – swell still huge and some gusts with bite. Went forward to tidy the halyards, spread fanwise around the foredeck to stop them banging on the mast in the storm, repacked the two storm jibs and rearranged the sails up front, closed the hatch and leaned back against the coachroof – the moon had risen from behind the wall of cloud and was golden behind some fluffy wisps – sorry to keep harping on about Turner but you’ve got to be here to appreciate just how good he was. Still very big swell and the moon’s reflection coming back to me on several planes and sometimes disappearing altogether behind a black mass of water.

Back in the cockpit, tightening Kevvo’s counter weight – looked up to see mountain of water with seething top way up above my right shoulder. Instant cringe and brace behind pushpit, as low as possible and hanging on with eyebrows and toes – and dear old Berri just serenely lifted her backside, tucked the thing under her and left just a minor frothfest to wet my boots. Amazing what a boat can tolerate – and sometimes make a complete mess of as well.

We are waiting until daylight and we will set some sail – probably 4 & 5 on poles and head NE. I know that’s not according to the Admiralty and Hoyle, but they ain’t here in this stuff. North gets us above the worst of the next one and we’ll sort it from there.

From Martin

I just saw Alex’s latest re his poor Merlin – poor lad. I almost broke down reading about it.

I have an old Merlin (bought it in 1986 from Jo Birch in Devon), which he is most welcome to have if he would like it. Only trouble is, I forgot I had it, and it was sitting in the cupboard for some years, and the batteries died a while back, so it will need to be re-programmed with the nav program which is in the back of the instruction manual. I do have the instruction manual and all the other data that came with it. If they would like it, I will put it in the post, no worries, and it can wait for them in Sydney. I would be so glad to find a good home for it.

Then they will still have one for future endeavours. Altho I guess you have probably had offers flooding in from other folk with Merlins…..I really felt for them yesterday, re the log reports mentioning 80 knots – not nice at all. That is most unfair, especially at only 38S.

I do hope the weather has improved – and will keep fingers crossed that they will still be able to get home in time, if not by the 11th, then at least in time for C’mas.

Martin – deeply grateful for kind offer of old Merlin – would love to give it a good home if you have really finished with it. Does it still have its program in memory? We never managed to contact Juri – the propagation here is r/s and we can’t even talk to Cape Town radio. Glad hes doing better.

Steve-  won’t waste satphone time this morning utc – as long as I can get this away – all ok and we seem to be ready to move on.

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 25, 2005 - 0630hrs UTC

0630hrs 25 Oct 2005 UTC 37’27”S 017’38”E Ref 484

From Barry Duncan

You mention space toilet development. NASA spent over $23 million on developing their vacuum toilet.  Useful anywhere gravity cannot be relied on. You can suck it uphill and also reduce water consumption.  Possibly as a spin off, vacuum toilets are now used in trains, boats planes and prisons as well as in space.  You do need a reliable power source otherwise you will get your own back.

From Malcom Robinson

They’re a bit short on detail on the web site but, in relation to your query about the ISS toilet arrangements, this is what it says: “”We have to have active components to help remove the feces and urine away from the astronaut. The two machines that separately handle these two body functions both use air flow created by suction to facilitate waste removal””.  Have a good think about *that* next time you reach for the pee bucket :-)

Now that the Great Unclench ’05 has occurred and normal functions can resume, Mal and Barry, thanks for NASA bodily waste removal information. It seems $23M well spent! I have written to the man with first hand – or at least, first freckle – experience and I hope he will be kind enough to ask around his colleagues and send us the bumf.

Rob M – and every one else who has written recently – Potter, Hugh, Mark, Malcom and many others – thanks for your notes – sorry not to acknowledge – been a bit hectic.

Am just realising just how weary I am – A long year combined with a week or so of tension and a bloke really needs the Doctor. Wendy, we are approaching your first milestone – 20E and Cape Agulhas and the Indian Ocean are about a day and a half away if we can keep sailing. Interesting evidence out there of just how much water has dumped over the decks – some of it quite subtle, like the bit of very grippy sticky tape I had covering a small hole in a mushroom vent – gone completely – would have taken significant scraping to remove it manually.

Now have to start drying out – ran the engine for an hour this morning and my woolly sox are now cooking quietly on top of it as it cools. Will be nice to have them dry again.

Where to from here? Dunno – I think that both a 5 Cape Circumnavigation as well as making the start line is now beyond us, sadly. Too much time wasted around here and we’re not yet out of the unpleasantness. Priority will probably be the start line but we’ll see – may not even make that, so there’s always the New Year’s Eve party.

Pete has just handed me a pot of lovely foaming Medicinal Compound. Berri still rolling like crazy – the waves come in patterns and really chuck us around sometimes.

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 25, 2005 - 1043hrs UTC │Confucius and Lieh-Tzu: The Tao of Berri

1043hrs 25 Oct 2005 UTC 37’12”S 017’57”E Ref 485

DB: dmg 79,(V fishy!)5891 SEC gps 72 66/44.
Steve – sailmail spotty but getting some connects – perhaps you could send all by sailmail tfn, then check it daily and anything I haven’t managed to collect after say 24 hours, send satcom or just drop if necessary – saves a bit of money. Also, could you please post Chris Nailer’s quotation from the Analects – I love it. Might inspire someone else to do a bit of reading.

Ed: as requested….
Here’s what Lieh-Tzu says about it all:

“Confucius was looking at Lu-liang waterfall. The water dropped two hundred feet, streaming foam for thirty miles; it was a place where fish and turtles and crocodiles could not swim, but he saw a man swimming there. Taking him for someone in difficulties, he sent a disciple along the bank to pull him up. But after swimming a few hundred yards the man came out, and strolled along singing under the bank with his hair hanging down his back.

Confucius proceeded to question him:

— ‘I thought you were a ghost, but now I can look you over I see you are human. May I ask whether you have a Way to tread in water?’

— ‘No, I have no Way. I began in what is native to me, grew up in what is natural to me, matured by trusting destiny. I enter the vortex with the inflow and leave with the outflow, follow the Way of the water instead of imposing a course of my own; this is how I tread it.’

— ‘What do you mean “beginning in what is native to you, growing up in what is natural to you, maturing by trusting destiny?”‘

—’Having been born on land I am safe on land – this is native to me. Having grown up in the water I am safe in the water – this is natural to me. I do it without knowing how I do it – this is trusting destiny.’

Sailing again, directly below the centre of the high. Sunshine and sparkles. We’re taking a punt and going east – seems to me that’s more sensible than playing to something behind us that may not happen. More evidence of water mass over the deck: the liferaft is double lashed to 3 strongpoints – You do learn from experience occasionally! – it has moved and is loose to the extent that an errant sail tie from the main has got between the canister and the base – and come out the other side! Now fixed.

My little free fall across the boat – I found my sandal in a spot it could only have got to if the boat rolled past about 120 degrees. This fits with the other evidence – I think (and felt) that I was tossed upwards over the leecloth pole into two vertical lines supporting the pole from the grab rail. This tore the leecloth from the screws and washers holding it down and I continued across the boat, still going up, and hit the coachroof at the angle at the top of the window and then fell vertically into Pete’s bunk as the boat righted itself. Fun. Bunk now consists of a wrap around cocoon of spectra – will be ok as long as the shelf side that anchors it can hold my weight in another knockdown. I think t can, but we aren’t going to have any more.

A small quote from Bernie – I don’t think he will mind:

“They’ve shown you don’t need a new mega yacht or a big boat to do this stuff. It’s more about your own abilities and tenacity than big toys and a big budget.
Go guys!”

Right on, mate – that’s precisely the message and all the best with the RBI and AZAB – might see you there! And thanks for your donation. Rob, happy new boat and the Scillys is a great place to aim for. Then the world! Johno and Diana and all the PB’s – yeah and G’day!

Ed: from Pete (yep, he is out there too!)…
Hi to everyone out there, I have been quiet lately as transmission of my blathering is a problem but I think the time has come for me to relieve some frustration via the email.

I’m now just a wee bit pissed off with this weather. I just checked my log and today is the ninth day in a row of us having to sail with some form of storm gear up. We just seem to be getting a parade of fast and tough lows coming through from the west occasionally they are separated by a fart sized high which gives us clear skies and 25 kts for perhaps half a day, during which time we can get outside and get some fresh air to the body. Yesterday we ran under storm jib most of the day but later the wind eased and changed direction so we poled out the no.5 to port and poled the storm jib to starboard and headed a bit east of north trying to get away from the stronger winds to the south. This worked well but we still had very big seas which occasionally crashed onto the side of the boat…..Those five dots represent a period of 41 hours.

I had just written “boat” when the first knockdown happened, it was like an instant flip one second vertical the next horizontal. When it hit I was flung to starboard but got a leg out in time to stop me crashing into the galley. I also managed to keep hold of the computer which took a flying leap. I saw all of Alex’s gear which was stored on the port side beside the nav table flying past my head. A large drawer which is about two foot long and full of heavy things like spare batteries numerous rolls of duct tape etc launched itself from under the nav table and crashed into the front of the galley.

If someone was there it would have broken a leg. Alex ended up in my bunk, he must have broken through the bottom of the lee cloth and dropped vertically to my bunk when the boat went horizontal. We cleared the debris and rescued what we could then another knockdown, two more followed. We had to get the storm jib down so on with the party gear and after waiting for a lull I ran forward to the bow and Alex worked the cockpit. Clipped the harness on forward, pulled the sail down unclipped the halyard, removed, the hanks, undid the sheets, quickly rolled up the sail and stuffed it down the forward hatch.

It all took perhaps 2 to 3 minutes at no time did I look back at the waves, if you do you seem to get mesmerised by them and you lose the rhythm of your task. Now back in the cockpit Alex had tightened the halyard and retrieved the sheets, we then had a quick tidy up of the cockpit then back down. No more knockdowns after that but some waves went close, I just can’t imagine how many tons of water Berri rolled off her back that night.

After that incident I was more than pissed off I was quite shitty with the examiner. I was due to talk about “cabin fever” a malaise that gets you after you have been cooped up inside in these sort of conditions. There is no cure for the fever the Good Doctor doesn’t work as the required dosage could cause problems, one just has to wait it out and relief comes when the wind drops and normal sailing resumes. When cooped inside in bad weather most enjoyable things are impossible, a good book is useless as you can’t concentrate long enough. You just have to sit or lie wedged in to stop all movement.

There are physical responses to this of course, yesterday morning I woke with an aching jaw, my teeth have been ground down to mere stumps of their former selves. My stomach muscles have improved out of sight, if these lengths of sprung steel could wrap themselves around a barbell I’m sure they could now bench press at least 200 pounds. Further down the muscles controlling the sphincter have now achieved a grip capable of throttling a Texas size boa constrictor but I don’t think I should go on any more with that analogy. So now things have improved but not for long as the grib forecast says more of the same in a couple
of days. So till the next time I intend to enjoy myself while I can. Cheers…..Pete.

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 25, 2005 – 2200hrs UTC

2200hrs 25 Oct 2005 UTC 37’05”S 018’36”E Ref 486

That’s one spectacularly inventive Examiner we’ve been allocated. She certainly stimulates the reflexes – we are now hove to, not in a gale but in a pretend zephyr that is just enough to keep the headsail backed in a very sloppy and confused bit of ocean. Quite impossible to sail – Berri rolls and gyrates so much in the slop that it’s futile even to try. So the barn door is still firmly closed 66 miles ahead of us and we ain’t a goin’ anywheres. Not yet anyway. From the blast furnace into the acid bath! The apology for a breeze is coming from the south and we are drifting south west at about 1.5 kts, so it seems we are in a 2 knot or so current from the north, perhaps the bottom end of the Agulhas current. The water temp is 16 degrees and earlier, the wave pattern was very much wind against tide with steep sided waves, all confused.

A warning. I set about fixing the liferaft lashings late yesterday. They consist of a set of webbing straps held down and locked with a big pelican clip and a second lashing of doubled up 6mm spectra over the top. I found that the pelican clip was undone and the raft was only attached to the boat by the spectra – very firmly attached so no problem but the pelican clip was something to think about. When we lost the first raft off Montevideo, we found the pelican clip undone as well and were puzzled by this. The clip is designed so that when locked and under pressure, friction holds the sliding locking ring in place. I can only assume that the force of water hitting the clip from the side is sufficient to shift the deliberately easy to slide locking ring up the shaft of the clip far enough to release it. In ordinary circumstances, I have always taped up the slider so that it was not inadvertently slipped by someone’s heel when reefing or whatever, but I thought this not sensible or necessary for this voyage. Be warned, anyone who relies just on the clip – if I am correct, then you really do need to tape up the slider if you expect serious greenies over the top and your raft is as exposed as Berrimilla’s is on the coachroof. Having taped it up, you need to have some way of releasing it quickly – perhaps a knife attached to it somehow.

I feel a bit like Bligh must have felt when he was cast off from the Bounty in the longboat. They were in sight of one of the Pacific islands, or at least very close, but it was directly upwind and Bligh knew he had no choice but to sail west in the general direction of Australia. We are about 200 miles south of Cape Town but it would be impossible to sail there in this breeze and probably very difficult in the strong NW’erly that, I think, is to follow. Bligh sailed, eventually, about 3500 miles to Kupang, and I’ve stood on the wharf where he probably landed. We will sail about 6000 miles to Oz, eventually, if the Examiner can’t find a way to prevent us. At which point, comparisons stop.

My request to borrow a consolatory bear yesterday when the Merlin died has produced two – one from L, H & J, potentially renamed Bearymilla and the other from the Izzos – a Virtual Bear called Percy Vere. Thanks – I am as consoled as it is possible to be. I wonder if the originator of the Merlin is still out at Strathfield in Sydney – I have his contact details with the instructions for mine and it would be nice to be able to get Martin’s semi comatose friend reprogrammed on-line instead of feeding in the program line by line from the keyboard.

I was stung by some extra snide and pointed remarks from Himself along the lines of ‘all we’ve got around here is dry biscuits’ so I made some bread yesterday. Timed it too – 2 hours for 8 slices of bread, but nice to have. I tried frying it and it works, so cutting down the baking time by at least an hour. The trick is to press a small ball of dough into the thinnest pancake possible and then drop it onto oil so hot that it has just started to smoke. As soon as the top starts to form bubbles – about 2 minutes – turn it over for a minute or so and remove. Uses a lot of oil and tastes a bit like naan without the spices but offers lots of opportunity for adding stuff.

Ed: later…

Ship approaching. First since C.Verdes maybe cos I was able to contact CTown radio yest.

Mostly becalmed

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 26, 2005 – 0730hrs UTC │ Pink Albatross

0730hrs 26 Oct 2005 UTC 37’16”S 018’37”E Ref 487

Lily the Pink, the Pink, the Pink, saviour of the human race with her medicinal compound – has anyone ever seen a pink Albatross? Well I have and completely without any help from Lily – just after sunrise this morning, all pink and orange and flame in a softly misty east, and we have a couple of small dark topped albatrosses wheeling around, together with the fifty or so big black petrels. The Albatrosses were doing low passes and banking up and away just on our beam and – for an instant as they lifted, the sunrise was reflected off their white undersides so they were truly pink – magic. Worked for the petrels as well, but not so obvious against their black feathers. One of them had a drop of water on its beak and, again for an instant, there was a prismatic flash – rather like the hollywood gimmick that makes the good guy’s teeth flash for a moment. Wish I hadn’t thought of that!

We’ve spent all night going up and down to nowhere. Same again, I think for the rest of today, with a bit of promise for tomorrow. Still 66 miles to the barn door. We saw our first ship since the CV’s too – came up on the AIS in SoB @ about 16 miles. Big cargo ship, 185 mtrs,  bound for Xiamen in China, called Thor Energy. I spoke to them – the Deck Officer sounded completely uninterested. But that’s about 5000 miles without seeing a ship – big empty ocean. Wouldn’t it be fun if the old Titan Uranus appeared over the horizon.

Today we finished the supply of bacon for breakfast – suitably washed down, wrapped in yesterday’s bread. Not bad – 66 days out from Falmouth.

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 26, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 26 Oct 2005 UTC 37’22”S 018’43”E Ref 488

DB: DMG 42, gps 73 67/43

Making slow progress again – heading SE with 50 miles to the barn door at about 3730 S. The chart shows some amazing seamounts under here – they rise almost vertically from the seabed at about 5000m up to 1500m – and all in a circle about 6 miles across. Old volcanic plugs perhaps? There are quite a lot of them, like huge stalagmites.

We are gradually getting the boat back in order. The generator seems to be close to the end – we examined it and there is a lot of movement in the bearings, especially the rear. We cant take it apart to fix it – the two halves are bonded together in an oven, we were told. And the storm damaged the solar panel array – not sure how it happened, but the back of the panel has been scratched at the edge of one of the discs and there is a green stain. This seems to be serious – but the panel is still working and is running the watermaker as I write. Pete has slaved away up in the forepeak and rearranged sails, stowed empty plastic bottles, retrieved food from the bins under the sails and rearranged the bins and packed them in with sails. He’s now resting the rest of the just.

Fenwick – please pass on our best wishes to the LHI fleet -keep your mobile on and we might try to give you a quick call if the weather permits.

From Colin B.

Hope all three of you are bearing up under the strain. Of little comfort to you, but several hats dipped to you, especially while you’re being pummelled, keep your chins up. A weeks good running and you could be back on schedule, will still try and organise a Brolga escort up to the Iron Pot if you can come this way! 

God speed and my hopes for a fair wind for you.

Colin, Hobart looks doubtful on the way across – we are looking iffy even for the start from here. Hi Maggie and Ian, Martin, Steve W. – sorry cant be there just for the mo!

Just crossed 19E. Woohoo!

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 26, 2005 - 1600hrs UTC

1600hrs 26 Oct 2005 UTC 37’29”S 019’20”E Ref 489

Wild life, apart from two rather smelly humans includes a sea surface covered in millions of baby Portuguese Man o’ War from a couple of millimetres to about 5 cm. The turbine line gets their tendrils wrapped around it in thick clumps of blue stretchy stringy spiral jelly. We slowed down from our majestic 2 knots to put up the 2 and I looked down into the water and there is a layer, or so it seems, about half a metre down, of tiny iridescent blue sparkles just like chopped aluminium foil in millimetre  slivers. They are, presumably, alive – perhaps a version of the old phosphorescence wizard, the dinoflagellate, but they don’t seem to have any form or shape.

We know that we will run out of tonic long before we finish the gin, so we are improvising. It seemed worth adding a drop or two of the old juniper to our alternate day’s mug of cider and, ladies and gents, permit me to introduce you to our latest Medical Consultant, the good Doctor Grumpy, of indeterminate gender but tasting very like slightly fizzy scrumpy. Certainly sufficiently medicinal to help us through the five o’clock Consultation. We can go for about 8 days on the stuff, so preserving the precious cramp cure for a future rendezvous. We are one hour and twenty minutes ahead of Greenwich here today and we calculate our timing very carefully so that we get our fix a little bit earlier every day. About 20 minutes to go until today’s libation. Hoooley Doooley. Wish we had Baez singing her juniper song – there but for fortune go you or go I…I wish!

Bright sunshine, early evening, warm breeze, hatches open, Berri drying out. Is, the red ribbon, sadly, left us in the storm but we still have the green one and the purple one from Arrival Day. The Examiner has taught us never to anticipate anything on this voyage but I can say for certain that we are 38 miles from the barn door and – right now – hitting a portly Bishop’s 4 knots at the double, cassock flying and crozier at the high port. The flea is rampant, folks. We are way further north than the plan, but the planning at least has taken care of that. I think we will ease south again once through the BD and finally in the Indian Ocean, pace the Examiner. At which point, we will consult Dr Wendy.

Then, I think, we will need the Infinite Improbability Drive if we are to get across in time. The schedule gives us 43 days to cover about 5800 miles to SE Cape by Dec 11 which works out at 135 miles a day. Tricky! It’s looking like Bass Strait and even then it will be a fine chance. At 120 miles/day we could just make Gabo in 49 days or about Dec 17 if we don’t have to call in at Albany. The pear is growing hips. We had no margin whatever when we set off and I think we just blew it. But we follow out Destiny. Marvin, where are you when we need you? I sense a Vortex out there somewhere.

Dr Grumpy has arrived. Noice.

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 27, 2005 - 0421hrs UTC │Cape Agulhas Rounded

0421hrs 27 Oct 2005 UTC 37’43”S 020’00”E Ref 490

Reception ok – you could probably double up, but just watch to see what I collect. Power is likely to be the main problem from here. Have turned off satcom tfn. I’m getting reasonable connects as we get closer and then -will it ever happen – past Africa. Half a mile to go…

Malcom – analysis spot on re Agulhas current. Ta.

From Chris -

Belmore South Presentation Evening

If miracles happen, your’re invited, to present the awards for Leadership & Citizenship on the 14th December. If you can’t make it, I have to present them, on your behalf and I won’t be anywhere near as interesting. As you’ve probably gathered, ours is a very multicultural school, so our presentation evening is by no means the stuffy, boring affair that other schools have. It’s more like a party.

Alex, we’ll get the choir singing Blow the Wind Southerly and Peter, I know exactly what we’ll do for your theme music.

Forget about the Times and Y.M. We now have 2 bulletin boards devoted to you in the Library and even the Kinders know who you are. That is a measure of true fame.

I know it’s an impossible ask but I just wanted you to know we’re still thinking of you .

Take care and hang on.


Chris at Belmore – Thanks for the huge honour – very sorry, but Dec 14 is out of the question without the Infinite Improbability Drive. Wot we ain’t got. Next term perhaps? Re the choir, being kids, I bet they find the fart in the song – it’s quite clear when Ferrier sings it and she had such a sense of humour that I bet she found it too.

300 metres to go…bloody current – we’re doing 6 through the water and 3.7 over the ground.

We’re over – finally! At 27/042130. Berrimilla is now in the Indian Ocean at 374312 S. WOOOOOHOOOO! Dr Wendy, one pace forward – March!

I’m now waiting until the sun gets up a bit further and I can set up the solar panel to drag it in and process it. The albatrossery once again fleetingly pink – bet you haven’t got any pink ones in the Bird Book, Peter!

From Kevin Fleming and Denise

hi  Alex @ Pete You are in one, and have good the other. Stay safe keep kevo working at west end and hopefully things will improve eastward bound. We would love to kick in some $$$ for some good footage which would like to add to our new DVD. I have a brand new Merlin still in original box (never been used) Alex it yours you have earnt it when you come home.

Kevin & Denise – there’s quite a bit of footage of Kevvo, altho it might be a bit difficult to extract – very hard to film in the really wild stuff but I’ll take a lot more from here. If your Merlin still has its program, (which it has almost certainly lost) I’d love it please – I have been kindly offered another one that has definitely expired. Can’t believe you never used it!

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 27, 2005 - 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 27 Oct 2005 UTC 37’43”S 020’15”E Ref 492

DB dmg 130 very fishy! And it seems the solar panel has died – we’re investigating. This could be the real showstopper – we’ve got just enough diesel to keep up the charge if we get very lucky. We’ll be down to 1 Tx/day, while the engine running, water making etc. Will advise later.

Ed: satphone call from Alex at 0930UTC

Yep, the solar panel has decided to die.  Pete working on it.  The junction box has leaked and a major diode has fried.  End result is that we are down to a single update a day and only when the engine is running…. At least we are in the Indian Ocean now!

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 27, 2005 - 1100hrs UTC

1100hrs 27 Oct 2005 UTC 37’42”S 020’19”E Ref 493

Panic seems to be over but fingers toes eyebrows and eyes firmly crossed. Pete took the lid off the junction box on the solar panel and found the inside completely filled with green corrosion products – couldn’t see the wiring – some of the connectors to the diodes and the cables had collapsed and it was very much an ex panel. Big cleanup and he tested the output and found 12 and 18 volts, so we now have 18 volts direct to the regulator – no diodes – and it is putting in 4+ amps. Phew! The lad is now Consulting with Dr Wendy as a little reward for being a clever boy.

Memo for Marty and anyone else connecting one of these – the seal around the junction box seemed to be just bare plastic – a flange fitting into a groove. It needs to be coated with the very best marine sealant available and preferably after all he wiring has been heat shrunk or sealed with self annealing tape. Also, watch out for dissimilar metal screws attaching the box to the panel frame – gunk them up way past what seems reasonable. Ours rotted out a couple of months ago but, as there seemed to be no internal connection, we ignored them. Probably correctly, but you never know.

Pete 1, Examiner 0.

 Noted in your log of early Oct that you’d had cause to use a rolling hitch and were singing its praises. Thought to self “”yes – must remind myself of that one”” and of course didn’t get around to it.  Last Saturday sailed around Betsey Island and got the most magnificent override on the jib that I’ve ever seen – no way would it come out – and no way could I remember how to tie a rolling hitch :-( Ended up putting a spare sheet on the jib and taking up on that. Since then I’ve been tying rolling hitches on everything :-/

 Bottom line – thanks for the timely reminder and next time I’ll act on it! Our performance on Wildfire has been all over the shop. In anything up to about 12kts we do really well but over that we seem to lose the plot. They say that you learn quicker from your mistakes – in that case we’re learning very quickly indeed!

 Glad that you’ve got a bit of respite guys – have been clenching in sympathy for a while – nice to be able to relax a bit!

Someone who shall be nameless but he’s just started to play with a nice new red boat has confessed to ignoring my harangue about rolling hitches a week or two ago. And regretting it – massive riding turn around the primary winch and couldn’t tie the hitch to release it. Avoided the knife by running a new sheet, which is fine if conditions allow and you have a spare sheet (some hot racers don’t want the extra weight!). But thanks for the confession – it gives me an opportunity to reinforce the message. He now ties his pyjama cord with a rolling hitch, just for practice. [ed: see Mal, we didn’t mention you at all!]

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 27 2005 – 1615hrs UTC

1615hrs 27 Oct 2005 UTC 37’39”S 020’48”E Ref 494

Doug has sent us some encouraging news – he plotted the voyage of Henry Knight’s ship the JAVA from Cape Town to Sydney and it took 49 days, mostly along 40 S with a dip to 43 at Kerguelen. That dip would have saved a day at least. They were becalmed off S. Australia and in Bass Strait. Seems we still have a fingernail on the wall – we will certainly go for it and we can decide about SE Cape when we see how things are going. Unlikely, I think, from here. We are running twin poled at 7 – 8 kts through the water and have been for most of the day – but only 5-6 over the ground. Encouraging sign perhaps is that the water has cooled from nearly 20 degrees to 18 – the good current in the south Indian Ocean is cold. The barometer is falling again and we are due for some more stink, but it doesn’t look as bad as the last one. We do need to get lucky and stay lucky from here.

I’d be interested to know whether I miscalculated our chances down here for this time of the year or whether we have just been unlucky. I expected we would average about 20 – 25 windspeed most of the way across along 38 – 40 S – and reasonable seas to allow us to sail at maximum speed. Anyone care to enlighten me? Is what we got over the last couple of weeks the normal pattern? I would have loved to have had a set of isochrones to play with.

I spoke to Fenwick just before the Lord Howe Island race briefing this morning – Was feeling left out – we haven’t missed one for about 7 years. Next year, perhaps.

On solar panels – and ours in particular – we have removed the diodes from the panel itself and we don’t know whether there are diodes in the regulator to stop the battery discharging through the panel – I do have the regulator handbook in the boat, but it’s fiendishly difficult to get at, so we are disconnecting the panel every time before we stow it for the night – just something else to remember. The panel was charging in sunlight at about 4 amps all day – brilliant – so as long as we get reasonable sunlight, I think that we will get across the lily pond talking to all y’all all the way. A half hour top up with the engine should keep us in wiggly amps for the duration. But I’m not making any predictions until we get there!

And if you happen to be a little goldfish and you like coloured lights, have we got a home with a view for you! It seems that we did dip the masthead during the first knockdown – I’ve completely forgotten when it was, if I ever knew – I was looking up at the windex today (the little swinging arrow at the masthead that points into wind) and it is clearly bent – looks as if from the downward thrust – so, if Dunedin is any guide, there will be a little puddle just big enough for a tiny goldfish in in the base of the masthead light. Million dollar views, no cats, no sharks – I can see the queue growing already. Anyone got a rich goldfish?

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 28, 2005 - 0330hrs UTC

0330hrs 28 Oct 2005 UTC 37’50”S 021’32”E Ref 495

Here we go again! As expected, the nice 20 -30 westerly evolved into the usual 40 -50 stinker and, as usual, it hit us just at dusk. #2 and main off earlier as it deteriorated, to poled out 4 & 5 then as the first squall rolled in around 2100 (now yesterday) we climbed out into a screamer and dropped both of them and put everything away – after the last one, prudence, persistence, perseverance is the go. We’re bare poled, now in a gusty 30 – 50 westerly with steepish but not threatening waves – so far anyway. We are ‘sailing’ ESE at 4.5 knots and seem to be out of the current. But it doesn’t stop – just had a 65 knot gust. Like the man in the waterfall, we’re following Destiny but I do wish, occasionally, that Destiny was a kinder path.

Mark L – I should have qualified my note to you – a litre is excessive only as long as you are sure the stern gland is working as it is supposed to and have ruled it out as the source. If it is one of the older stuffed ones, it could drip a litre easily, but if it does, it probably needs tightening or restuffing.

Now blowing a steady 50 and I just saw a flash at 70. That’s the problem with sitting here – I have the numbers directly in front of my face. It is due to abate over 24 hours or so but certainly has lots of attitude now. I think I’ll go to bed and let it howl!

That was at about 2200 yesterday. At 0330 today, it’s still blowing but may be abating a bit – still some nasty squalls but the lulls seem to be easier. One or two dumping waves but not too bad. Perhaps a couple of storm jibs in an hour or so when the sun is up.

Now 0500 – we went out and put up the storm jib, had a bit of a feel and took it down again and, once again we’re bare poling at about 3+ knots to the SE. The boat handles the storm jib and the seas really easily for 98% of the time – but it’s the other 2% that contain the knockdown waves and the occasional one out of left field that Kevvo can’t hope to handle. And they generally seem to come with the gusts. As we pulled it down, we copped a rainsquall with a nice rainbow to the south and 55 – 60 knots just for us. Anyway, prudence reigns for the mo. Also means there’s too much nastiness to rig the solar panel, so we will need half an hour of engine later.

A word on bare poling – there’s more on this elsewhere on the website – but for the newcomers and non sailors, there are three ‘last resort’ ways of handling potentially overwhelming conditions.

The first, which everyone has heard of, is to heave to. The boat is set up deliberately so that it lies beam-on to the wind and waves and it drifts sideways or very slightly forwards. To do this may require a small sail forward, set so that the wind hits the ‘wrong’ side of it – so that it is ‘backed’ and to have the helm lashed to leeward. It works fine until the waves get to be so big that they start to roll and break over the boat, by which time, you are somewhat committed. Been there and I really don’t like it!

The second method is to combine a heave to with a drogue, (a sort of water parachute on a long line) or that a drogue be streamed instead of heaving to to keep either the bow or stern into wind and waves. Both these are essentially passive methods. I have never tried a drogue, so can’t comment, but we tried streaming warps in the 1961 Fastnet storm and they helped to slow the boat and keep it stern to the waves. I don’t remember the detail of that night too well – it was a long time ago!

The third method is what we are doing now. It does require either an automatic steering system or someone to steer the boat. If the latter, then it is likely to be unpleasant and dangerous for whoever draws the short straw. Essentially, all sail is removed, everything that can be is stowed and the boat is steered so that the wind crosses it from behind the beam, and the pressure of the wind on the rig and the hull moves it forwards. This is an extreme form of sailing and I think it works far better that the heave to. It sets the boat up so that the waves hit it from the quarter and it runs diagonally down the face of each normal wave and usually wallows a bit on the backs. It gets to be very stimulating in Cape Horn sized waves and big winds, but if you are out there, what works best is what is likely to save your skin. As with every potentially dangerous situation, it is often the so-called freak wave that does the damage, coming from a different angle and amplifying or radically changing the wave pattern as it passes.
And there will always be situations where none of these work and you have to hope that your experience can cope. Each one of them will be different for different boats as well, but you cant really go out and practise in the real thing – just play around when things aren’t too critical and learn how your boat handles.

Ed: Fenwick, a follow of the saga, sent this with a request to Alex to “push Steve to put it on the website”. Well, here it is:

Alex Pete,

Berrimilla shirt in frame
Shirt in the Frame

We had an opening bid of $500 last night at the briefing, I have sent a photo to Mali.
and something to put on the web for any bids from the web page and arranged with Dal Wilson to pass on any bids we may get via sat phone donated by telstra for the race.
on another note when you called me erudite I now remember when I was doing my phd. my lecturer said something to me” erudite” and I thought the same as Pete, “Poffter bastard”
I now recall he explained after I decked him and I was released by the uni security guards that I was contreversal,
Occasionally saying what i’m certain is true and hinting at that for which I have no evidence, it adds credibillity, I will let you take that on board and use it as you will.
Regards Allan

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 28, 2005 - 0837hrs UTC │Alcohol List, Stocktake

0837hrs 28 Oct 2005 UTC 37’51”S 021’53”E Ref 496

DB: dmg 103 – seems about right, given the adverse current and the overnight park. 69 days out, so in 2 days we will equal the Falklands – Falmouth leg in days, followed the next day by a Berrimilla record voyage. We have already sailed about 1000 miles further.

We have again done a stocktake of the Medicine Chest in the face of an elongated voyage. We will run out of everything useful in about 40 days so we are on an abstemious kick – no more Dr Grumpy, morning Consultation with The Doctor on alternate days only and smaller G&T’s. Glooom.

Steve says our Fastnet medals for 2nd in the 2 handed div and 3rd in the seahorse div (that’s a special division basically for RORC newcomers) have arrived from RORC – there might perhaps be a photo for the site. We’ll be the last to see them!

Kevin and Denise – If it helps, I will do a 5 minute sequence for you in the next calm patch, showing how to set up Kevvo so he steers the boat right along the chalk line. Let me know. I’ve done a bit of the wild and woollies too over the last couple of days plus some bare poling. Not brilliant and I can’t get out there in the really spectacular stuff, unfortunately.

Last night, as we struggled with the wind and spray and brought in the headsails, I saw, right out on the edge of my peripheral vision in the glow of the spreader lights, a shape on the water – a sort of white patch, but not evanescent like most white stuff out here. It was an albatross, sitting on the surface watching us go by – noice! The spreader lights turn the exercise into a page from the Inferno – orange fiery jib, blasting, flashing spray moving horizontally, glistening red and yellow dayglo figures with bright reflective patches toiling at full stretch at heaving masses of canvas and lines and the whole lot tossing and crashing and rolling. What must an albatross think of us humans?

I’ve just made bread. Anyone who has romantic notions of the soothing feel of the dough and the tactile sensations and illicit pleasure of kneading and rising and the ultimate satisfaction of the small of baking – forget it – anyone who tries to make bread in a tossing gyrating small boat with no work surface, no stowage for the necessary implements and bowls, nowhere to ‘cover with a damp cloth, place in a warm spot and allow to rise until dough has doubled…'(if you try, you’ better be prepared to sit on it) – that person should be certified instantly and removed for their own safety. It’s a refined form of masochism and at the end, you have a monster cleanup of spilled flour, crumbs, hardened dough, bowls, frying pan etc. All for about 8 slices. Very nice to have and to hold, perchance to eat, but worth the candle? – I think not! Only about another ten packs to go.

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 28, 2005 - 1600hrs UTC

1600hrs 28 Oct 2005 UTC 37’39”S 022’43”E Ref 497

Rioting in the aisles – fireworks on the rooftops – alby poo all over Kevvo (L, J, & H – he forgot to tweak!) – we’ve just picked up our first Australian voice on the radio! Wooooohooooo! Gerry Fitz asked us to check whether we could pull in the Australian Bureau of Meteorology broadcast from Wiluna in W.A. (how far is that from Kojonup??) and here they are large as life on 6 megs. Hear them? Don’t they sound good? We’re on the home stretch, no matter how difficult it gets.

From Peter D.

I am a neighbour of Alex and wish them Godspeed to get back here to go to Hobart. Just for the record Alex knows I have done the journey from Capetown to Melbourne in an Robb designed 39fot cutter – in 1972. We left May 3rd and arrived dockside Melbourne July 1st. 59 days. Th yacht was similar to a LION class just a foot or two longer. We didnt have an engine to motor through quiet spots – but there werent many. I was worried about Alex around the Agulhas Banks – and am glad they are clearing that area where the warm current moving down the East Coast of Africa meets the cold currents of the Southern ocean.

Of other interest, I had a phone call from one of the Hercules crew that was involved in a rescue mission for some Japanese fishermen shipwrecked near Isle St Paul (just below Amsterdam Island). These two islands are about half way between Afica and Aus. That rescue was in 1995 and RAAF Hercules bloke described St Paul as very steep sided on the west, being then like the top of a volcano, but spilling far more gently into the sea on the eastern side. In fact there is a sea entrance into the centre of te volcano, so one can wax lyrical about a Tahition island – alas no maidens, so no inhabitants, temporary or permanent. There is a single shed on the island – the history of why and how and when may be fascinating. In any case I am hoping to get hold of some photographs taken from the Hercules, of the island. I could then scan and email to you or Alex and Peter if that would work, and if they want.

 If you would like that to happen please let me know and I shall do my best this end

Peter D, thanks for offer of pics – Steve will contact you. Wish we had time to sail into the volcano of St Paul. Sounds fascinating.

Gerry, will write separately. For anyone else with a dead Merlin, it seems that Boatbooks in Sydney can restore their programs.  Sadly, mine was full of salt water and burst teabags and I’m sure it’s really dead. But at the risk of seeming greedy, Martin and Kevin, yes please. I’d love to have a backup one. The sense of loss was deep and meaningful – it is such an exquisite and useful gadget.

The very much land locked year2/3 class in Kojonup,W.A. are following your adventures. We have the atlas out and read your log-updates. The photo gallery is fantastic and we are inspired by the descriptions of the storms, the birds and other wildlife. You remind us of Robert the Bruce, Shackleton and Scott,and other heroes, all had that “”never say die”” attitude! GO GUYS!

And huge G’day to class 2/3 at Kojonup, W.A. – nice to know that you are interested and following us. If you want to write to us and tell us about Kojonup, we will try to answer. You are the third school that we know is following us – there’s one in England and one in Sydney as well as you. I wonder if there are any more.

From Jo

 I have been meaning to mention that I was aboard the Sydney 38 Cuckoos Nest (MYC2 – the boat on the left of Fitness First Sting) on the Berri home page.  With the Lord Howe race starting Saturday, it’s a bit hard to believe that was two years ago !

 Jo, thanks for checking in! We can put you in touch with the others if you like.

Jennifer, you guys snuck out of that little contretemps rather neatly! I thought we were done for a moment there.

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 29,2005 - 0915hrs UTC

0915hrs 29 Oct 2005 UTC 37’34”S 024’14”E Ref 498

DB: dmg 92 – gps 123 about right, as we’ve been headed a bit by the top of the high. 70/40, so tomorrow equals our record and, incidentally, equals the time it took Ellen MacArthur to go all the way around. She was going about three times as fast as us!

The equation: the great circle distance to SE Cape from here is about 5250 nm, rhumb line about 5500. We can go down to about 40 S on the Gt Circle but after (below) that it gets too iffy and we will try to run due east along 40 S. At this moment, we are heading straight down the great chalk circle to the good Dr. Cooper – approx 120T. We have just about enough diesel to  keep the batteries charged without help from solar and with solar we can survive without diesel. We will not run out of food or water, although adequate (as opposed to survival) water does depend on power supply. Plenty of other essentials like bog paper and engine oil, torch batteries and the rest. Patience will be a problem – the black sheep in the prudence, patience, persistence and perseverance progression. We will certainly denude the Medicine Chest sometime around 30 days from now – we are looking at extreme conservation measures as we go. Today is Pete’s appointment with the Consultant Physician, for instance, and I get mine tomoz. Drastic measure – perhaps not yet extreme. We have reserved half our remaining supply of G&T not to be opened until past half way across the lily pond. The little bit of surplus G will be stretched experimentally with other fluids.

From Mark A.

Port Geographe is out:  I checked with my brother in Customs and can only clear customs in Fremantle, Bunbury or Albany ports.  I have set out the details of Bunbury and Albany ports below.

I will see whether I can source a cheap second-hand Ampair  and let you know.

So, Mark A in Perth, if you can find a second hand generator, we may have to ask you to kindly forward it to Sydney. We are resting the one we have here in the hope that we won’t damage it beyond reasonable repair. Albany is still on the cards and we won’t really have a proper feel for the final route until we are at least half way across.

Jo and the kids at at Kojonup – how on earth did you find us? – most unlikely website for you guys, I would have thought. Did you get the extra info on Pulau Tiga? Tiga is Indonesian for three, so Three Islands. Paul told us that there are three mud volcanoes on the island and as you approach it you see them first and it looks like three islands. I’m not sure exactly where it is and I can’t find it on the Cmap on the laptop, but somewhere north east or north of Brunei and not very far away. Probably too small for most atlases – Sorry, Belmore, if you’ve been searching in vain. Perhaps Paul can come back to us?

Helen K at Belmore, thanks for the bit of history about your Henry Knight. I think we should all meet for lunch with Doug and Estelle and compare artefacts – in a consultative environment!.

Linda and the kids at King’s – G’day. When I did geography at school in England – thankfully, a very long time ago – it was all about facts – tons of wheat grown in the USA, number of people who live in Timbuctoo, places where the rainfall is less than 3″ per year. All sort of out of context. Sounds as if you guys have a much more interesting syllabus. Have you studied the flows of the great ocean currents around the globe – we are meeting some of the surface ones, but it is as much the very deep ones that may affect your future if the flow pattern changes, as it seems to be doing. I think I would have enjoyed being an oceanographer, but too late now!

Sometimes I sit and look at this keyboard in sort of disbelief – what is there to talk about? – as happened this morning. But it seems to evolve. If we stay on schedule, there will be about 100 more of these and then the mighty Stephen can go and do something else for more that 12 hours at a time. What will the rest of us do? I guess Pete and I must try and get a book together, but that’s trivial and doesn’t involve all y’all.


No takers, so far, for out bijou penthouse for a goldfish. Perhaps there’s a friendly babel fish out there in need of a home who can delve into the Beep for us. This morning’s sailchange involved a convocation of about 50 black petrels sitting on the water a few yards away as we passed, all chittering and cheeping – such an odd sound for such big birds.

1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 29, 2005 - 1530hrs UTC

1530hrs 29 Oct 2005 UTC 37’57”S 024’55”E Ref 499

Today’s little tragedy – we went to a lot of trouble to preserve our cans of ale by covering them in wd40 and insulating them from the s/s ice boxes – and almost succeeded. I was doing a final count today in the main icebox and, sadly, found that about 6 or 7 cans had deteriorated to the point where they have to be drunk in the next 24 hours or so if they survive that long and two had died altogether. Another two were just expiring. That makes a huge hole in our tiny remaining stock. I think that a periodic maintenance schedule would be needed next time – take them all out at least every couple of weeks and re grease and stow them and carefully dry out any salt water in the box. Big job, but I guess it reduces with time. I hope the few we have in their original packs in plastic bags in the forepeak are still ok. We have so little available storage space that the iceboxes seemed – and still seem – to be the best place for as many as they will hold. Looks like a dry passage from much earlier that we had hoped. Oh bother. A glooomy prospect. PPPP! We Shall Overcome! If they do last till tomorrow, we can celebrate our record passage in style, DV & WP! There might even be a spare to drink the health of the Dame who done it faster.

We have thought a bit about where to from here – the primary focus is the start line and so Bass Strait is looking like the go, with a short stop to clear Customs, refuel and restock the fridge in Eden. Albany with or without Eden is still a possibility but it is looking very much as if we will bypass SE Cape. A pity in a way – it would have crowned the endeavour.
We’ll know more by half way across. Start line is still on the cards but we need a bit of luck.

Had a fast day so far, cracking 7’s and 8’s generally along the Gt Circle but now back down to #4 and 5.5 in 35 – 40 NEasterly on the back of the high. More roll and gyration.

Jo C at YW, you’re on for the S2H if you want to take a punt and I’m sure we could get you a ride with someone else if we don’t make it. Let me know where your head is so we can plan.

From Mark L

Alex, a question  – just to distract you from the interminable clenching. (and because you are my yachting authority).

 My beloved Top Hat (Baker built, Shilland sails – what a coincidence!) – is taking in a litre a day whilst at the mooring. The prop shaft gland (I think that’s what it’s called ) seems OK.. Is a litre a day excessive – or am I just being paranoid?

 Let me know in December.

Mark L – By Jove, I think you’ve got it! About once a minute or longer would be reasonable. Can be tightened with big special spanner from chandler or friendly engineer as long as stuffing not stuffed – else needs restuffing. Also, does it have a grease cap? If so, fill it up with waterproof grease (several times if it has been neglected) and screw down and that might fix without all the rest. I think a restuff can be done quite easily without slipping if you have access but get advice. You can stuff the outer end of the gland with grease if you don’t mind going over the side and that should minimise water intake. Baker boats don’t osmose. Where do you keep it?

From Marcus H

 Firstly a big thank you for keeping all this together. I am sure that thousands of people are following the progress of Alex and Pete in this fantastic venture. It has certainly kept me gripped more than any book I have ever read. In fact it is like reading a “”living book”” with everyone behind the heros willing them to succeed.

  And now to Alex and Pete this is an update on the berrimilla sandwich. I read in your last log (0730 26th Oct) that you have just run out of bacon. Oh Disaster! and just as sales are starting to pick up in the restaurant. I even had one customer tell me that it was the best bacon sandwich that he had ever had.Thank you for the kick start into starting to serve breakfast in my restaurant.I am still trying to sell the hot chocolate and coffee idea will let you know.

I wish you well and still check in every day.Hang on tight and think of the great consultation that all your followers will have when you arrive.

Marcus – glad breakfasts are a success. The coffee is definitely an acquired taste. A bit like The Doctor!

G’day Coombsey – Thanks for your note – I really do miss all that but once past the use by date, mate, it’s definitely time to go. Love to hear from you guys and anyone at SITACS and the Dept. at UoW, but please use berri@berrimilla.com, not direct to the boat. Ta.