1-31. Sooo close to Hobart


Logs ( 31 )

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 02, 2005 – 0402hrs UTC

0402hrs 02 Dec 2005 UTC 45’42”S 116’50”E Ref 608

no change, except that the barometer has dropped ihp. typical convergence zone conditions, dripping damp, alternating misty fog and drizzle – not too cold but very unpleasant to be outside in. i did a bit of work on the winches this morning (local time) and crinkled my hands and came in streaked with dewy water. we have taken advantage of the almost flat calm to change the alternator belt and the water pump impeller – the whole job took less than 20 minutes but nice to have done it. we have decided to leave the fuel filters until we get to taswegia or sydney, likewise an oil change.

no sign of any nasties behind us yet. uniform blank misty overcast merging with the sea surface a mile or so astern. the occasional little grey petrel and an albatross or two, but it seems all the big black petrels have found someone else to chase. gets a bit lonely without them. barnacled kelp floats past and that’s about it. we are about 900 miles south of perth, more or less on schedule for the corner on dec 12.

my daughter katherine leaves for a uni term in kunming, china today – tried to phone, no-one home. k, if you get to read this, sorry i missed you, go well, learn lots of stuff and we shall consult in february. a consultation with the dublin doctor might be an interesting concept to get across in mandarin. perhaps there’s an appropriate metaphor in the analects, chris?

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 02, 2005 – 0915hrs UTC

0915hrs 02 Dec 2005 UTC 45’45”S 117’22”E Ref 609

db: dmg 128 gps 134, dtg 1266 margin 518+8=526 so we have that extra day. day 104, 25 to start, 15 to ti, 21 to lane party.

it’s been an odd couple of days – just enough breeze to keep us moving, overcast, water oozing from the sky, almost flat calm, truly unsettling as the calm before the first front, which according to the wx fax must be very close yet no visible sign of it. baro down to 1006, wind now nne – most odd – and we are going to try to use the first front to get us back up to 4430 ish and we’ll run for the corner from there.

everything now getting a bit low except morale. we’re past perth – hi, john, sherryl, mark and kate – sorry we missed you but pencil in the big bash for perhaps early march. we’ve just had dinner – chunky chicken and corn with mashed spuds and brinjal pickles – lervely and my fave. i’m on for the next three hours, another wx fax at 1245 utc which should tell us more if the first front isn’t with us by then.

h, got yours, ta. looking fwd to the cake. and the lane party, peter – got yours too. tks. sounds as if you guys did it much harder.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 02, 2005 - 2030hrs UTC

2030hrs 02 Dec 2005 UTC 45’40”S 118’43”E Ref 610

Head and laptop under anti-condensation placcy bag – wrinkled fingers over the keyboard, wrists braced on the fiddle till the flesh grooves, knees both hard up under the nav table, Berri just cracked off a pooptillionth and we’re just managing to hold a course a touch north of east (T) – variation back to 15W. Bizarre – here’s the illusion – 2 old deros in the bus shelter on the studio floor with an ever growing heap of mouldering Doctorial cans, some now blowing and clanking around the floor with the dead leaves from the broken window – pretending to be 600 miles south of the western end of the Nullarbor and working out from first principles what’s happening around them – Buys-Ballot’s law states that in the S Hemisph. if you Look into the wind, the Low is on your Left at 90 degrees and all that stuff. In fact, they have a big computer screen in the studio – just like all y’all, and can pull up the latest images, isobaric charts and high resolution wind maps and forecasts to help create the fudge.

I get 3 wx faxes per day (would be 4 but I really cant miss that much sleep so I drop one of them) each of which is about 7 hours old by the time I see it. I also get a good series of text gale warnings and forecasts about three times /day via Satcom EGC (sorry, can’t translate that)and by combining the faxes with the text we can sort of work out what’s going to happen. The wx faxes are actual (but 7 hours old) 1200 same day ditto, and +36 (-7) & 48 (-7) hours. Really complex situation now with low over WA, high over Tas, low to E and big series of lows hooning in from the west and we’re smack at the confluence getting – I think – the NE flow off the back of the high combining with the flow into the WA low. Baro down to 998 which is ominous but I think we’re far enough north to avoid the worst of what’s out west and we’re trying to claw our way very slowly even further north. But you know heaps more about it all then I do. We just soldier on – but I do think that it will push us towards the corner.

Mike H – lovely to hear from u – was wondering how you were. Do call from Freo – always a bed in Sydney if you need one. Charles, g’day again, Caro – toiling along behind a dog with chocolate seems outre’ even for you! BobF – tks for lovely note and delighted re Vera B. Could we use it in the book please? Spot on re Marathon milestones! Malcom – tks – will be nice to have.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 02, 2005 - 2230hrs UTC

[Ed: Satphone call from Alex:

Update waiting to tramsmit but Satcom / Xantic bouncing all emails from the boat (even the ones to Xantic themselves).]

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 03, 2005 – 0245hrs UTC

0245hrs 03 Dec 2005 UTC 45’39”S 119’27”E Ref 611

New wx fax, f’cast storm warnings, looks like we’re due for severe bashing over next week or so.


1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 03, 2005 – 0415hrs UTC

0415hrs 03 Dec 2005 UTC 45’38”S 119’34”E Ref 612

Storm due over us around midnight tonight. Wind will probably veer – hard to tell with info to hand, rise to over 50 kts and be with us for at least 12 hours. Unable to claw our way any further north and suspect that that might be the wrong strategy anyway from general direction of the low and it’s speed. I thought the Examiner hadn’t finished with us! We may still need every hour of that margin to get around the corner and if we do, things will be dire – v. low on diesel, not enough sunlight for solar, no supplies in the Medicine chest. Glad I didn’t say we’d be in dire straits.

I wish I could get these things through. I have second last salute in my head all ready to write,  but can’t actually face writing it and headbutting xantic bounces and sailmail propagation to get it to you. Far too stressful. It’s a biggie and will take some work. It will also be a rather sad one, perhaps the first act of the epilogue. Will start on a draft.

We’re just pottering along – #3 and 2 reefs – lumpy sea, about 4 kts if we’re lucky, waiting for the stuff to come off the shovel. Small bursts of sunlight, an occasional black petrel, long grey overcast, thick, soupy and threatening astern. Not game to put any more sail up – this should come on gradually from the isobaric wx fax but don’t know. Doubt wether we’ll make the numbers for this days 24 hr dmg. I guess all y’all know all about waiting. It’s an inexact science at the best of times.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 03, 2005 - 0745hrs UTC

0745hrs 03 Dec 2005 UTC 45’30”S 120’01”E Ref 613

[Ed: Position report and request for weather details]

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 03, 2005 - 0850hrs UTC │ Salute to the Gusts

0850hrs 03 Dec 2005 UTC 45’28”S 120’09”E Ref 614

My second last salute is to all y’all out there. It’s a sad one because it marks the beginning of the end of the journey for all of us. This has been an incredible experience for both Pete and me, enormously enhanced by your interest, support, enthusiasm, often fascinating contributions and advice, useful information, poems, jokes and puzzles, many sometimes deeply moving personal stories and responses to our updates and just by knowing that you were there when things were difficult. To all the gusts who have signed on – big thanks for giving us real people to write to. We have been sustained and uplifted and enabled. Some of you we know well, some of you I hope we will meet in Consultation when we get back and some of you, perhaps, we will never meet – or even know about. Some – many of you – seem to have jumped aboard in the UK after Hugh, Jo and Ed wrote about us; some of you have been with us all the way – Malcom, Peter, Heggie, Tim, Kim ‘n Carol, Siobhan, Kevin, Kris and I’m sure, many more, as well as the members of Berrimilla’s growing group of ex Barri crew members, the Bashers; the BOGgers, and the runners. I’ve been specially chuffed by all of you who have latched on to the jokes and run with them and bounced them back and forth – great fun for me out here.

Our particular thanks to all of you who have bought shirts and sent us donations and offered or given other help. I don’t yet know who you are. This has been perhaps the most surprising and unexpected of all – I’m speechless – beyond belief grateful and thoroughly humbled by the whole experience. Thank you all. Also, if I might presume on behalf of CanTeen, to the generous person who bought the shirt at the auction and then gave it back, thank you too.

Dangerous to make lists but I feel that I should make some exceptions – for the Australians who helped us to get started especially the members at RANSA and CYC, for Fenwick who has done so much to support the cause; for the kids and teachers at Belmore South Primary in Sydney for all those interesting questions; Jeremy, John, Dave and Ian and the RCYC in Falmouth; for Jane and David and a candle on a Cornish cliff; the RLYC, Peter, Hugh, Rousy, Joe and James and Jane and the Warborne crew in Lymington; for Caro, for deputising; for Janet, Peter and the team and members at RORC; Roger and the sailing office at CYC, to Ed Gorman at The Times and Jo at YW; for Martin in the Bahamas and Paul in Brunei; for Arlette, Mike, JMB and the troops in the Falklands; for Sue and Jim and the people at Sailmail and Marc who set it up for me who, above all, made having all y’all aboard with us possible, our deepest gratitude and thanks. To coin a cliche’ – couldn’t have done it without you, guys. Thanks.

A very special thanks to Dr. Leroy Chiao, PhD, who was the Commander of the International Space Station when we were in the Southern Pacific and the South Atlantic, for his vision and his ability to see instantly the broad similarities and the vast contrasts between our two voyages and for being sufficiently interested during what must have been a difficult program to contact us between space-walks (sorry, Leroy, EVA’s!) and play games with us – Onya Leroy! And Onya, Karen!

And, inevitably, I will have missed some of you – my sincere apologies – decrepitude my only excuse. I’ll try and make amends in The Book.

DB: dmg 123, gps 124, dtg 1145, margin 526+3=529, day 105, 24 to start, 15 to TI. Still waiting for ther bashing. Feel we just might sneak out from under the4 edgr – must do some plotting after this.

Dave W in Poole – right on about the noise – I think the maths error was a typo. Sorry! Hope my first reply was useful.

Will try to reply to the rest of you asap – a bit stretched at the mo.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 03, 2005 – 1715hrs UTC

1715hrs 03 Dec 2005 UTC 45’10”S 121’18”E Ref 615

Just when you think the baro must have bottomed out, it ratchets down another click. Many sailors will know the little wrench that grabs the viscera and twists when that happens. We’re down to 992 – not particularly low in real numbers, but again, most sailors will know that it’s not the actual number that counts but its relationship to numbers observed over time in the recent past. We crossed the Indian Ocean with the numbers always above about 1008 and usually above 1020, so 992 is scary. It puts us well into the guts of the 974 hp ogre that’s roaring up behind us at 30 kts – otherwise known as the Examiner’s Next Question. However, I have plotted its course as far as I am able from the very good text forecasts that we get via SatCom from Weather Perth and I think that we will be able to sneak out from under its south eastern edge. The centre is moving east and will be about 300 miles NW of us by midday tomoz. This puts us on the outer edge of the SE quadrant – almost the best possible place to be, assuming that one has to be any place close to the beast. The really nasty bit will be the NE quadrant, way to the north and – I hope – beyond messing us about. We are high tailing it out of here – wind from the NW, about 30, poled out 3 and 2 reefs, 6-7 kts going east, so about 90 – 100 miles further on by the time The Question is put. I have released the freckle but have kept the puckering muscle tuned and ready to go.

The 1000 to go mark in less than a day, DV & WP. Trivial in the overall set of numbers but about 40 K in the marathon for us. Two of Dr Wendy’s specials await.

To Brian and Jen and the Otago YC – we haven’t forgotten you! B & J, there’s now a queue for Kevvo and in any case, I’m having second thoughts – there is Another Plan forming in the whorls of the sludgepot – I think I will withdraw him from the market for the mo – sorry – but there’s still all the other stuff. If all this keeps muddling along, we should be in Sydney on about Dec 21, if you feel like coming across for a real beer. We’ll be busy but thirsty.

El, not sure whether I will be able to get an email to you in what will be an exceptional hubbub – Happy Birthday and come up if you can but let me know via H or the website. I’ll try to phone from wherever we are.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 03, 2005 – 2215hrs UTC

2215hrs 03 Dec 2005 UTC 45’04”S 122’02”E Ref 616

A later forecast and the centre of the low should pass right over us at 04/0000 utc – in about 26 hours. We’re twinned again, 4 & 5, vmg >6 going east afap. Interesting to speculate – i think the wind will increase to about 40 kts from the N, then NE and round to the SW very quickly after the centre goes through and abate, leaving us in some nasty seas but much closer to home. Uncomfortable but I like it! Baro now at 991. 48 (-7) hr wx fax in a couple of hours should give me more to go on.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 04, 2005 - 0430hrs UTC │ More Salutes

0430hrs 04 Dec 2005 UTC 45’02”S 122’53”E Ref 617

Yet another forecast and the Question is still awaiting being put – we’re now about 500 miles ahead and directly in the path of the big 974 hp low behind us. Baro now 990. It is gradually filling and curving SE but is forecast to pass directly over us at midnight utc. Hard to believe it is such a nasty one – we’re in bright, balmy sunlight for the first time for days – even weeks. We are now close enough to home to be reasonably confident that the metho will last so I have just made bread – wonderful – a bit of the old farinaceous works wonders. Tesco wholemeal with dried garlic and red capsicum. Best eaten immediately, but good after several hours when the garlic and capo has absorbed some moisture as well. Keeps for several days in these T’s.

When I fill in the log at 0900, I will then turn the page to what could be the last week of Act 5. Mixed feelings rampant (sounds like a painting by Jackson Pollock). And I have had what ought to be the second last shave of the Act. Noice.

Also, on things second last, I knew lists were dangerous in yesterday’s salute. My mind has been so fixed on the immediate and the immediate past that Dunedin seems aeons away – but a big lid dip to Bert, Kevin, Brian and Jen and Bob (Charley Noble), ace welder, and all the members of the Otago YC who made us so welcome and gave us encouragement at a time when it would have been easy to call it a day and go home. Also to George Durrant at Ampair for some expert diagnosis at very long range and Mik, somewhere in MoD, who fixed the transport of our replacement generator to Port Stanley. Thanks guys. To Marty Andersen at RPA who installed the electronics, Andy Coyle for the winches, Dion from Yachtserv for the rig and Ian Button, whose stainless welding has had a rugged testing, Thanks also. We dips our lids to you all. And I must confess to a system failure – I don’t have the name of the painters at RPA who stripped and antifouled the hull – sorry guys, but they are in the next office to Marty and the antifoul was clean when we got to Falmouth. Nice one.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 04, 2005 – 0846hrs UTC

0846hrs 04 Dec 2005 UTC 45’10”S 123’23”E Ref 618

DB: dmg 130, gps 143, dtg 1013, margin 529+10=539, day106, 23 to start, 14 to TI – looking promising.

[Ed: an hour later:]

1005 to go…Wendies waiting…

Storm downgraded to gale – now wet and windy, not uncomfortable baro 987 – centre will now pass just behind us – should keep pushing us home. Can’t remember whether my Fmth ETA was Dec 11 or 12 but will be close unless Examiner intervenes!


If arrive 12 or better, will stay at least 1 night. will ultimately depend on what wx doing up Tas coast. Hope no screaming NErly!

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 04 2005 – 2125hrs UTC

2125hrs 04 Dec 2005 UTC 44’55”S 124’52”E Ref 619

Low now predicted to pass about 150 miles astern of us. Baro 985. Storm downgraded to Gale – goody, and should go on giving us westerlies. Clenchless. Under 1000 to go – wooohooo. Dr Wendy has been duly Consulted. We are a long way south of Oz – no obvious signs except kelp – certainly no desert winds with red dust and wafting acacia – just a wet, wet, black dismal dripping night. Haven’t seen the moon or a star for what seems like at least for ever but is probably about 2 weeks – just more grim grinding out those last few strides to the finish line. Now have all Oz on large scale GPS screen, Tasmania just appearing on next scale down. How did this occur? Mind in boggle mode.

John and Sarah in Oklahoma – thanks and of course you’re right – more boat would be nice but the point we have made, I hope, is that it can be done, subject to the Examiner’s whim, with less boat but the right one, a tiny budget, no sponsors except the generous donations from all y’all and a lot of medicinal help from various Doctors. It’s a headbang, but worth every minute of pain to be right here right now. Apart from the HF radio modem and laptop and Kevvo, Berrimilla is set up just as she would be for a Hobart race – set up with some care and forethought, but essentially no different. She is -was- jammed to the gunwales with food, water and equipment and heavier that she’s ever been but getting lighter every day and will be empty and ring like a church bell by the time we sail out of the Heads on Boxing Day.

I have just been outside to make a small course change and wonderful to behold – stars everywhere – it’s as if the pressure has been lifted. Only the first magnitude stars, plus Mars glowing orange to the north – must still be a lot of murk out there and we’re really just under a hole but emerging from isolation. Soul soothed and all that.

Much later bit – lovely sunrise, rainbow, low shld be passing 120 miles astern – baro still 986 but we’re on the way home with the cutdown and 2 reefs @ vmg6

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 04, 2005 – 2300hrs UTC

2300hrs 04 Dec 2005 UTC 44’52”S 125’04”E Ref 620

Seems we are some kind of news in the backblocks of the USA – hoooley doooley – G’day to you, USA, and I wonder what all y’all over there make of concepts like the great Australian freckle pucker in times of stress – we’ve been asked what ‘chuffed’ means (it means really pleased and proud over here; quite different over there – more along the lines of disgruntled or discombobulated, we’re told….). Nice to have you out there anyway. Camilla (if that’s your name, not your home town – sorry but my geographical knowledge doesn’t quite stretch that far) thanks for signing on – glad you’re enjoying the ride, and 70 seems a good time to start out on these things!

We’re now surrounded by birds again – mostly the same small grey petrels that have been with us all the way from Tristan plus a few of the big black ones and – lovely to behold – lots of the little storm petrels – tiny birds to be way out here – they seem to flop, flollop, twist and turn just above the surface in the most extreme winds we have experienced – they are able to twist their tails through about 90 degrees to achieve top rudder and they touch the surface occasionally with one foot or the other, very delicately. Fascinating – I sit out there and watch them with frozen hands and dripping nose out of sheer joy. They are mostly black on top but with a white V ahead of the tail, all black tail feathers, black heads and beaks with black under the wings and white bellies.

Ian in Oban, I think you will get slime no matter what you use. We have a couple of coats of self ablating Devoe (old name, now called something else)and it keeps the ferals off  for a full year as long as you don’t touch it – for instance, to get rid of the slime which forms after a few months. Usually more on one side than the other – I haven’t done enough observations to decide whether it is on the side that gets most or least sun. As soon as you try to wipe off the slime, you lose almost the entire coating and that’s it for the rest of the year. The barnacles jump on for the ride wherever the hull is awash for most of the time while under way, so above the boot topping under the counter all the way back to the transom and just above the boot topping around the hull. I’ve been leaning over and cutting them off wherever I can reach them with a knife – including, at last, a big one that was parked at the top of Kevvo’s paddle all the way out from Falmouth to about ten days ago.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

From Peter: The Cold and Damp

Hi Pete here, I haven’t written for a long time because of our communication problems but today the sun is out we have blue skies and last night I saw the stars after such a long time of complete blackness. All this light has lifted our spirits and the warm sun is a feature we haven’t enjoyed for weeks. I wrote an email about the cold and damp some time ago and I think now is the time to get it to you.

I’ve just been on deck to reposition the solar panel but where is the sun? I always seem to be looking through a  grey-white translucent mist which covers the sky from horizon to horizon. The sky has been like this for many weeks now, sun appears occasionally sometimes there is blue sky but not for long as the next low moves in to the south of us and again paints the picture white. If you were thinking of using solar in these latitudes I think you would only get about one third normal output. We are running along the convergence zone between the warm high to the north and the parade of cold lows to the south. Here you get rain, mist, fog and lots of condensation inside the boat but you also get westerly wind. We don’t have an outside thermometer but the water temp sometimes hovers between 5 and 6 degs. at the moment its fairly warm at 9 degs.

I have a problem with cold and damp, I cannot get to sleep with cold appendages i.e. ears, nose, fingers, and toes. A wool beanie pulled over the ears and the tip of the nose works well, the fingers can be warmed in the armpits or groin but the toes are a task, you are unable to warm them anywhere on your body unless perhaps you’re an tenth dan in yoga. The easy answer is a hot water bottle. We don’t have any of the conventional variety but a plastic home brew bottle filled with warm water did very well until the cap unscrewed and emptied into the bottom of my sleeping bag just after a a very cold late night sail change. Yes there was salt water in the bottle and yes the bag is still damp after drying it in the sun one day. I am now warming toes by friction (a rapid tight rubbing with the palms does the trick) then placement in a warm sock just before bed. Now, how to warm the sock, if the engine has been recently run use that. I was also having great success warming them on the pot lids while cooking dinner until one night a sock fell into the curry when I was about to stir it in the dark. I then thought I had a foolproof method, when I got out of bet the sleeping socks were stuffed up the front of my thermal top, there they would remain warmed by body heat till required. This system went really well until one night I was using the pee bucket when the boat rolled violently, my reaction was to bring my arms together to save the bucket this movement collapsed the tension on the front of my thermal top and the socks tumbled down into the bucket. I am still using the socks up the thermals method except now with a lot more care.

Some sage told me once if things can go wrong they will go wrong more often on a small boat, I think I agree but its still a hell of a lot of fun……Cheers for now Pete.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 05, 2005 – 0645hrs UTC

0645hrs 05 Dec 2005 UTC 44’44”S 125’54”E Ref 621

Sailmail getting better every day – now have almost continuous contact – sometiimes v slow. Malcom,tks for Australis. Is the sea surface current data site you are using publcly available? If so, we can use it during the S2H. Not allowed if not.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 05, 2005 – 0745hrs UTC

0745hrs 05 Dec 2005 UTC 44’44”S 126’04”E Ref 622

We applied to Customs in Hobart for a special exemption from port of entry requirements to enable us to resupply with food, diesel and goodies in Adventure Bay on South Bruny Island just around the corner from SE Cape in case we are very short of time. We have just heard that Customs have refused the application. Should not be a problem, but if we do cop a long park from the Examiner between here and there, we will either have to go on serious conservation rations (solar power only, almost no diesel almost no water, probably not enough solar to run the watermaker for more than half an hour a day so perhaps a litre )to try to go direct to Sydney (or Eden if in time or desperate) in one hit to get there in time or give up the idea of making the start line. Could be done, but not looking forward to the need to do it. Giving up is unthinkable at this stage and we’ll go for it if necessary.

We are still hooning along in the right direction and we should make the numbers again today. I think we have nothing further to worry about from the last low – the next one is a long way back – freckle just a’twitching – the tension is getting to us a bit as we close in – it can so easily go wrong even from here and we would rather it didn’t. Customs’ refusal not making things easier.

Roger @ CYC – we are hoping to get to the Heads some time on Dec 20 or 21 – obviously a bit early to predict and will depend very much on what happens at SE Cape. If we slip in Hobart, should not need diver in Sydney and also hoping to get radio check in Hobart. I think I have original IRC cert with me as Hilary brought it to the UK before the Fastnet. Liferaft Cert I do have and is ok and worded as per instructions. I understand the crew are doing their paperwork so keep the fingers crossed we don’t get parked before we can load some diesel. Do you want the RORC trophies for pre S2H stuff? Will arrange if you do, as long as Steve brings the big one back with him.

Izz – send me the shawl numbers – ta. Only 400 emails? Perhaps I’ve been counting a different set. G& T day today and it’s almost upon us. Wooohoo! Looking forward to reading the glosso.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 05, 2005 - 1000hrs UTC

1000hrs 05 Dec 2005 UTC 44’44”S 126’22”E Ref 623

DB: dmg 120, gps 124 dtg 893, margin 539, day 107, 22 to start, 13 to TI – looks a little better every day. Getting very short of essentials – good solar day today and made water – will now try to make as much water as we can by solar and during engine runs in case we have to run for Sydney without diesel resupply in Tasmania. We will need about 3 litres /day to be comfortable so say 18 days = 54 litres and that’s as long as we keep up the average speed. We’ve got about 26 litres. We will need the sun!

Interesting to compare Customs and Port of Entry requirements in Oz and the UK. The UK PoE reqts for visiting yachts are no longer being enforced and the Customs operation in most of the original Ports of Entry have closed down. You can fill in a form and leave it in a box if you know about it and can find the form and the box. I wrote about this from Falmouth. It was only because I’d done my homework before leaving Oz and downloaded the UK Customs requirements that I had a phone number that worked. I spoke to Neil Spearey in Avonmouth and he took our details over the phone, acknowledged Pete’s Oz passport, and checked us out again when we left. We have no clearance papers into or out of the UK. Neil also took my VAT receipts by post for processing – if you want a real nightmare, try getting VAT refunds as a visiting yachtie in the UK. Still don’t know whether I got any refunds – it’s all very much retrospective and only if you get the forms exactly right. By the time I had worked out the system, I had already missed out on quite a barrow-load of cash – for instance, I got no refund on the liferaft which would have been substantial.

Customs here are a bit different!

Had a big day fixing little things. One job I’ve been looking at for years got done as well as lots of trivial stuff that mounts up and you try to avoid when the days are wet and dismal and the nights often worse. We’re under the edge of the low now and it is getting back to the usual gloom and drizzle but we are moving east quite fast. Soon be time to wave to us, Kevin. I’ll hand steer so Kevvo can wave back.

El – tried to email @alphalink but bounced. Have I missed a new one?

Kris – good to hear – will write when I get a chance. All the best.

Happy 1st anniversary to Heidi & Jude.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 06, 2005 - 0308hrs UTC

0308hrs 06 Dec 2005 UTC 44’42”S 128’28”E Ref 624

[Ed: Postion report and admin only]

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 06, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 06 Dec 2005 UTC 44’43”S 129’16”E Ref 625

DB: DMG 128, gps 134, dtg 765 margin 637 (Dave W corrected my maths – at first I didn’t believe him but I left off 90 miles between 30/11 and 1/12 thanks Dave!) day 108, 21 to start 12 to TI.

For those of you who might be mystified by this margin stuff – when I first started calculating it on Nov 14, we had to get around Tasman Island by Dec 18 at the latest to get to Sydney in time for the start. This has not changed but the circumstances are clearer.

I calculated then that at 120 miles/day we could do it with about 4 days to spare or about 480 miles. Since then I have added or subtracted the difference between each day’s run and 120 miles to/from 480 and we now have 637 miles or 5 days and about 7 hours in hand. In other words, we could park for 5 days out here somewhere if the wind drops and as long as we can do 120 miles every other day, we can still make the TI target. Alternatively, we will have a day or two to spare to go into Hobart to clear Customs and resupply with diesel, food and water and certain essential medicinal compounds.

Things are looking promising, but – very big but – the TI target assumes that we can then get to Sydney in 6 days starting with a resupply of diesel and so be able to motor against a potential 3 knot adverse current flowing down the N.S.W. coast. If we slow down out here and are really late at SE Cape, just before TI and do not have time to go north into Hobart (which would add about a day to the trip) then we would have to head straight for Sydney on or after Dec 18th to make it in time and sail all the way there (with some severe restrictions on use of diesel, electrical power and drinking water)- almost impossible to do in six days in this boat – because Customs will not allow us to clear Customs and resupply outside the Port of Entry, which is Hobart.


We’d have to be desperate to try it and it would depend on there being a strong southerly blowing on Dec 18th and for the next few days to get us up the Tasmanian coast and across Bass Strait quickly. Very much end of road last resort stuff and unlikely to be necessary or successful. Anyway, this gig is by no means in the bag yet – if I may mix yet another metaphor.


Unlike a putrid collection of damp unwashed and very used clothes which has been growing and festering with a whole new colony of bag ferals in big heavy duty plastic garbage bags since Falmouth. They are blue tinted because of the blue light that reaches them through the bags. The feral booties and baggies will soon need to disembark else it’s the dreaded laundromat thresher for them. I’ve grown rather fond of them and will do my best to sool them off onto someone’s compost heap or the like before Damocles arrives. I will report on their new home in due course. Or not!

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 06, 2005 - 2230hrs UTC│ More Salutes

2230hrs 06 Dec 2005 UTC 44’20”S 130’40”E Ref 626

We are getting soooo close to that 5th Cape. When we were surfing off a wave yesterday, the GPS actually had an ETE (est time elapsed) so under 100 hours at whatever speed we hit. Still no Derek at PentaComstat, but we can hear people talking to him on Ch 802 – not yet on 12 or 16 megs.

Told you my brain is a bit of a sludgepot – it has been coming up with lots more names that should have been in the penultimate salute – so we’re going to have a nice trilogy in five volume penultimate salute as a salute to Douglas Adams – how, for instance, could I overlook Simon at www.digiboat.com.au who wrote the Software on Board (SoB) navigation system for laptops that has taken us around the world and will give us heaps of extra information when we can download the files and analyse them. It’s a freebie and you can download it from the website – check it out – lovely package, Simon and I really like the AIS function. To make full use of AIS you need a DSC VHF and/or HF both of which we have but they are not essential – it is an early warning system without them if you use it correctly. (There are log entries about all of this back in August or just after we left Falmouth). I have some suggestions when I see you – for instance, an audible alarm when AIS gets a new contact?. Also a big lid dip David N who came down to Lymington for a day to help me sort some incompatibility problems between my laptop, the usb device and the AIS engine that works with SoB – thanks David – it’s still working!

To Brian Butler, who made the Cone of Silence heavy plastic curtain that protects the electronics from incoming spray when the companionway is open – good one Brian it has saved our goodies several times.

To the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (RYCT) who have offered us all sorts of help during our forthcoming very quick pitstop in Hobart – thanks. And to Bellerive YC across the Derwent, who looked after us so well before we left, about a century ago.

To Simon at CYC, for organising our S2H entry and offering us his HF and other goodies – there’ll be a Consultation when we see you, guys.

To the Chilean Navy met office in, I think, Valparaiso, for their lovely hand drawn isobaric weather charts with Altos and Bassos that came in on the fax and got us around the Horn. True works of art – I still have some of them in the laptop. And the Patagonian cruise netters – great bunch of people, friendly, helpful and hugely knowledgeable – you’ll hear them on 8164 @ 1200 UTC if you are going down there. To Derek P at Cable and Wireless in Port Stanley for sorting our satphone problem and stretching the rules to give me an account down there – thanks Derek – it has been our only link occasionally. To Tom and Vicki in Sunstone for some spot-on advice about the Fastnet, and to Malcolm & Hamish in Sarau for companionship and encouragement in the solitude of the Southern Ocean – and a nice bottle – along the way. There will surely be more.

Did anyone take up my offer of a smelly Berri T shirt with attendant blue tinted ferals as a token prize for the painting competition? I know of one set of paintings – if there are any more out there, please let us know in the next couple of weeks – for the Newbies, the competition was to paint, draw, produce in any medium a picture of anything that comes to mind when reading these logs and fax or scan us a copy to the website. I suggested the Albatross that I saw in one of the bigger storms. You still have time to get an entry in – roll up, roll up! The old farts’ decision final and unprotestable on this one! Might become the book cover…

And to all those who have written recently – sorry, I’ve been fiendishly busy attending to trivia – Phil C in Pleasanton, Ca, welcome to the old farts club. Graeme F – thanks and yes, we’ll probably need all the help we can get to turn around. Joppie, Caro, Kim, Izz- got yrs re duty, no probs, Paul thanks for good wishes, encouragement and humour. To George, for, it seems, using the powers of democracy on our behalf, John McC – we’ll be back at RANSA after the S2H – at CYC before. John M – I know your boat and, I think, some of its history. Good luck and if there’s anything we can help with, please let me know. I will send you my shore email and mobile number.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 07, 2005 – 0900hrs UTC

0900hrs 07 Dec 2005 UTC 44’10”S 132’12”E Ref 627

DB: dmg 126 (prudent night) gps 136, dtg 639, margin 637+6=643 day 109, 20 to start, 11 to TI – maybe 5 to SEC.

Once again in hoon mode, this time with attitude. We’ve got a gusty 30 knots directly up the chuff, big swell left over from the big low still trucking through from the west with serious wind waves over the top -so confused, lumpy, steep seas and taxing Kevvo’s trusty arms to the limit – Berri tends to career down the front of a big wave generally off to one side or the other and Kevvo’s paddle goes almost horizontal with the correction but it doesn’t seem too stressful because the twin poled rig just pulls the boat straight as it gets down into the trough and helps him out. Magnificent sight as the rooster tail streams past in a flashing sparkling cascade of foamy blue green water with the sunlight turning it into iridescent glass. Dull to describe the colour as blue green but I can’t think of a simile – amethyst going on jade going on swimming pool all at once and luminous. Lovely – and lethally indifferent to our presence. At times like this, we really dip the lid to Kevin Fleming for his superb and elegant creation bringing us home with accuracy and dependability.  We’ve been thinking about the things we could least do without – Kevvo is at the top of the list by an ocean mile. Kevin F. is now only about 500 miles away to the north – Onya Kevin! Tried to phone you today and will try again.

I saw the moon again for the first time in weeks last night – just a brief wreathed and silvery apparition behind racing cloud. Nice to know it’s still there.

If we don’t break anything and the Examiner leaves the door ajar, We’ll pass SE Cape sometime late on Dec 11 or early 12th. and up into Hobart for a rapid pit stop, clear Customs, slip, refuel, quick look at the radio to see whether there is any obvious reason for our difficulties contacting sailmail (could easily just be dreadful propagation at the mo) replenish the Medical Supplies and outta there and back on the track up to the start. We plan to get into Sydney on Dec 20 – but remember Mr Burns’ Mice and their best laid plans. Or for that matter, Mr Adams’ Mice, who really rule the world. Except that the Dolphins really really rule the world.

Duncan W. thanks – I’m right with you on confidence in your boat – but isn’t it at two or maybe three levels? Everyone knows at level 1 that a Brolga or a Halberg-Rassy or an S&S 34 are examples of great designs, so as a class they work. Then there is the second level – each individual boat has to be tested to see whether it has been properly built, set up, looked after – all that stuff. Then you take it round the Horn, if that’s your gig. The third level is a bit more subtle – it’s about confidence in yourself sailing in your boat and taking it to your – ever extending – limite. I’m just learning how to sail Berrimilla after 14 years and a few modifications that I generally think about for a year or two before actually doing. Stay in touch – if you want my shore email address, let me know.

Dave and Liz – thanks and sorry we missed you in Falmouth. All the best with your Examiner. I hope s/he’s as tough as ours, so you feel as good when you get to the end.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 07, 2005 - 1700hrs UTC

1700hrs 07 Dec 2005 UTC 44’08”S 133’24”E Ref 628

Interesting. We have been advised by an ex Merchant Navy sailor in Sydney who first checked with Customs Sydney that his advice is correct that if we are in Tasmanian waters, goods bought in Tasmania can be transferred to Berrimilla provided that we – Pete and I- do not come into close contact with other persons or set foot ashore or on another vessel or send any goods ashore. A statutory declaration might be necessary later setting out the exact circumstances. Seems to me therefore, that if we were to find a slab of fresh cold Dr Coopers Sparkling Ale with nice red labels floating in Storm Bay on the end of a line from another vessel which we were then able to rescue with a boathook, we would be fulfilling these conditions. Similarly, a 20 litre container of diesel if things are really desperate. Colin and Chris, this advice might be worth taking on board! We will be on VHF 12, 81 or 82 depending – RYCT might be able to tell you – probably not HF unless desperate but if so, 4483. Try 4483 after twilights tomoz – we’ll turn it on for half an hour from 2000. Reasonable chance at about 500 miles or less. We are VZN2025.

David H. – blimey! A serious voice from my callow youth. I remember well an invitation to visit your mess in the pointy end! What are you doing in Florida? Did you know that there’s an ex 892 Vixen up at Caloundra Aircraft Museum in Queensland – used to be 210, I think, and I vaguely remember that some hamfisted pilot broke its undercarriage deck landing in the Indian Ocean after Dar and it was trucked to a merchant ship in Singapore and later converted to FAW2. It’s out in the open and a bit the worse for wear, but it was nice to go and visit it last year. Ron Cuskelly (www.adastra.adastron.com) would be able to give you more of its history if you are interested. Thanks for getting in touch and come and say g’day if you’re ever in Sydney. I’ll send you contact details.

I’ve just seen 15.9 knots on the GPS. In a Brolga. Strewth, as they say in the boonies – we are regularly hitting 14+. I wonder how fast we were really going coming off those waves down near the Horn because we certainly weren’t watching the speedo all the time and we were going – it seemed – a lot faster than this. Those surfs seemed to last for half a minute or more with monster rooster tails but we were bare poled, so a lot less power. Somewhere, I have 13.8 logged but that was just what happened to be in the display when I dared open my eyes. It’s a black old night out there now else it would be spectacular – not sure I want to go out and look! The GPS is consistently showing an ETE for SE Cape now so under 4 days – at these speeds, it’s not surprising – but it does mean we are almost on the doormat or, in marathon metaphor, we can see the clock at the finish and the uplift takes over…I have a photo of myself taken at just that moment in the last Melbourne I ran a couple of years ago – eyes looking ahead, blank, emaciated, singlet dripping off but everything working for those last few moments. Amazing that as soon as you cross the line and stop, you almost fall over – could not run, walk or hobble another step and the weight of the finisher’s medal is almost too much to carry. I’m a bit scared of that effect after this gig.

George, thanks for your ministrations on our behalf – I think we’re going to be ok! Sydney will be busy but feasible as long as we have a couple of days.

H – gotcha -thanksx

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 08, 2005 – 0244hrs UTC

0244hrs 08 Dec 2005 UTC 44’03”S 134’51”E Ref 629

 [Ed: Position report and admin only]

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 08, 2005 – 0800hrs UTC

0800hrs 08 Dec 2005 UTC 44’01”S 135’34”E Ref 630

We spent the night in full surfie mode. The speeds I was seeing were – as I now realise – in the vmg field, so we may have been going even faster. The wind and seas have now abated – sporadic sunshine, lovely iridescent bloom from the wavetops as the sun shines through them and vivid white breaking crests. In a couple of hours, before the 0900 fix, we’ll have less than 500 to go and a foot in the door. Looking good for late afternoon Monday 12 around SE Cape and up to the Iron Pot and the end of the circumnavigation at the exact spot where it began on Jan 10. I haven’t done any stats yet because I want it in the bag before we play those games. We will go straight up to the RYCT where I hope we will be able to clear customs on arrival and get Berri up on the slip immediately for a couple of hours to attend to her bottom. Unload lots of stuff in Hobart which will be useful for the final trip north – inflatable, autohelm, cockpit floorboards etc – and perhaps get the radio checked then load up the shopping and go. No time for nice soft beds or carousing in the bar – the Examiner will be lurking out there somewhere on the voyage north and we can’t afford to ease up until we can see Sydney Heads from the inside, we hope on Dec 20. This would give us heaps of time to turn around and still have christmas with our families. Then it’s really on in earnest. Berri will be the lightest she’s ever been on the start line and we will be aiming to make the New Year’s Eve party on Constitution Dock.

Tom, G’day and thanks for your message – I hope your dream comes true!

Neil CA – thank you too for yours – reverse inspiration for us and very special to know that we have been able to give you a handle to cope with your bit of bother. Your own stamina and endurance are just as impressive. Really glad too that you have enjoyed the logs and I hope you will soon be back in your boat. We will certainly Consult on your behalf on Christmas Day – a little island of calm for us before it’s all on again on Boxing Day and we hope that you too will enjoy some true Medicinal Compound. With very best wishes for a complete recovery and we’ll be thinking of you.

Scott – thanks for proposed slab – most grateful! Last time i tried Dunalley and Blackman ba we nearly partked on the sandbank at the north end – we draw 2 metres and that was then right on the limit and we just managed to bounce out. Needs serious local knowledge and would be last desperate resort. Storm Bay ain’t too bad anyway!

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 08, 2005 – 0912hrs UTC

0912hrs 08 Dec 2005 UTC 44’00”S 135’43”E Ref 631

DB: DMG 152 GPS 159 DTG 481 Margin 643+32=675 day 110, 19 to start, 10 to TI. We are well within range of TasCoast Radio in Tasmania on HF 4483 and we are listening as I write for one of the locsl BOGers to call us from his Brolga after the RYCT twilights. If no hear, we’ll try to call TCR. If we get through, it will be the first voice contact since Cape Town except for Satphone calls and only the third since Falmouth – the other was a one sided conversation with a bored deck officer in a passing ship south of Africa. I don’t think we’ll hear them – but we did hear a boat calling Mersey Radio from Sydney Heads so we’re back in the ballpark! We have our fingers firmly crossed but it does look as if the wind will hold for the next few days and blow us home Watch this space!

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 09, 2005 – 0115hrs UTC

0115hrs 09 Dec 2005 UTC 44’05”S 137’49”E Ref 632

 [Ed: Position report and admin only]

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 09, 2005 - 0636hrs UTC

 0636hrs 09 Dec 2005 UTC 43’59”S 138’32”E Ref 633

We’re on the way in. We have spoken to TasCoast radio on 4483 – still no Derek – and I think that we will pass SE Cape sometime early on Monday morning and the Iron Pot about 4 hours later. We have formally requested Customs clearance and advised them of the fact that we are very short of water and diesel and we have developed what we think is a a stern gland leak since running the engine in gear for the first time in a couple of months. Not a cause for concern – the pumps work fine, but we will require urgent slipping once we have cleared into Australia.

We have had our second last G&T – only one more left in the bottle. Timing just as bit out there but we will persevere and prevail. Like what you have to do when the Vogons read you poetry – thanks Paul – forgot about that! And, by a statistical fluke, I think I will be within 24 hours of my ETA.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 09, 2005 - 1215hrs UTC

1215hrs 09 Dec 2005 UTC 43’57”S 139’12”E Ref 634

u/d – will expand during the night – will need to recharge before can send.

Once again, twin poled, gusty squally 25-30 up the proverbial and going like the clappers. GPS ETE now consistently under 70 hours to SE Cape, sometimes below 45. One of the poles creaking a bit – perhaps the parrot beak fitting rivets have died. OK as long as we keep it under compression!

Exquisite moon out there wreathed in wispy cloud and big dark silhouettes all around. Pink remains of sunset fading under cloudbase astern. Battery very low – deliberately running right down to 10.8 v to conserve diesel – not enough sunshine to fire up the solar much during the day. We are using our reserve water, also to conserve diesel.

Later: there seems to be a series of tight little fronts embedded in this westerly flow – we’ve just flopped out of the back of one – 35+ knot gusts, very short (2 boatlength) steep (4-5 metres?) seas under, which fade gradually as front recedes. Venus bright like a beacon in a gap in the cloud for a time, now hidden. Moonlight making ghostly coils out of breaking crests all around us and glowing in the sternwave as we surf off each wave – seldom straight down the face but semi-sideways until the headsails and Kevvo exert their leverage. Gets us ever closer to the Cape and the Iron Pot. It seems there might be a reception committee and I understand that Storm Bay is full of interesting flotsam – we will keep our eyes open.

To all of you who have written and signed the gust book from the USA – thanks for your good wishes, encouragement and personal messages – wonderful to get them and we are delighted that the website has given you pleasure. I’m sorry that I just don’t have the capacity to reply to everyone personally. Nice to know you are all out there – the next three weeks will be the pointy end of the whole gig – hang on for the ride!

El, will call you when in range – email too hard for the mo. Come up for arrival if you can – ETA Sydney dec 20, but depends on the Examiner. Hobart for NY eve too? ETA ditto!

Gordo – thanks re food – not this time thanks – we’re just doing 6 meals and using up the leftovers. Back on the contract for LHI if you want.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 09, 2005 - 1840hrs UTC

1840hrs 09 Dec 2005 UTC 43’48”S 140’17”E Ref 635

There were seven wonders of the world and then there was phosophorescence. I haven’t seen it since the Atlantic but now we are roaring along in a lovely ethereal cloud of milky luminescence that starts at the bows and grows and surges and turns to filmy cotton wool wrapped around a sledge hammer and sometimes threatens to overwhelm the cockpit as we get slant-wise off the top of one of the steeper ones. It makes it very easy to see why our GPS runs for 24 hours are always longer than the distance made good – we have a beautiful sinuous trail of pale but vividly glowing icy fire coiling away astern behind the keel and rudder and Kevvo’s paddle for several boat lengths and some of the curves are almost at right angles as the boat gets thrown sideways by the breaking crests. We go through a lot more water than over the ground.

I may have written about this before. The brain congeals a bit sometimes and things get lost in the blur, but I have been thinking about missed opportunity. As a kid beside the Beaulieu River, I was lucky enough to have been taken sailing for a couple of years by an irascible but delightful Australian, Sir Keith Officer, in his big grey gaff rigged yawl, Yarinya – all mahogany and teak and huge polished brass winches. He employed a Breton fisherman, Gaston, as his forward hand and I was the willing helper – I knew about throat and peak halyards and parrals before I ever met a bendy mast. Keith was the last Australian ambassador in Nanjing before the Japanese army arrived in the late 1930’s and I would now give up Coopers to be able to ask him the questions that he could have answered. I wonder where Yarinya is now. Keith sold her and bought a Folkboat at about the time I left for Oz. Through him, I met John Illingworth, who inaugurated and won the first Sydney – Hobart race and Eric and Susan Hiscock and had dinner in what must have been Wanderer 3 – more unanswered questions. Later,I knew Adlard Coles and Errol Bruce and – fleetingly – Francis Chichester – legendary sailors – and again was too ignorant even to know what to ask. At least they all wrote books and Peter Bruce has extended and expanded Adlard’s Heavy Weather Sailing encyclopaedia into an essential item for any offshore sailor. Onya Peter! The internet now allows anyone anywhere to ask those questions of anyone who is prepared to answer them and, in a very small way, these logs are an attempt to leave some answers of my own somewhere where they are accessible to kids who may, like me, be too shy or too ignorant to ask the questions today. 50 years later, I can still hear Keith harrumphing at that sentence – pompous he was not!

Davy C. Well I never, as they say in the fairy stories – didn’t know you could read, mate. Nice to know you are still with us. So is the rig – good one! Should we tighten it all up a couple of turns when we get into Hobart? We’ll look out for Dr. Wendy.

From David T.

When I was talking to Marion the indications were that declaring an emergency was the only option to get a quick clearance and her husband thought that it was the sensible thing to do.  This is what the people at CYCA recommended & I think that the customs people really know what its all about but this is the only way that they can bend the rules.

I am rostered on Tascoast Radio for the 0800 & 1800 skeds on Monday so will have to fit in meeting Berri around these times.  At least I will be able to contact them.

David T – thanks and look forward to talking to you – a giant ‘Yes please’ to Anne for stroggers and stuff – most appreciative! I think the shaft anode will be ok as long as it has stayed attached – it was a big one and we fitted it in Falmouth in June. I think i still have the old one in the boat somewhere too. Thanks for the offer. Looks as if we will round SE Cape early on Monday morning if we can keep this up.

From Alan K.

Ok boys I have just taken redundancy from SMH and  would love to give do the editing I agree. The raw material is good just needs a bit of organisation and filleting. My publishers intrrested they connected to ACP so have a bit of grunt for promotions. But we can talk about that when you onshore  hang in there I read your log every day it gets me going very funny and inspirational at the same time.

I don’t leave herald until end of December so a few Berrimilla stories  will be appearing in SMH before then.  Bon Voyage

Alan K – steve has emailed you the satphone number. If we don’t answer, try again – it goes into message bank very quickly. Don’t leave a message. I don’t collect them because it costs too much. No publisher yet and no deals from out here. We need a good editor more than a publisher to start with and would be happy to talk to anyone when we get in. A couple of offers of help in the UK too.

1-31. Sooo close to Hobart

Dec 09 2005 – 2245hrs UTC

2245hrs 09 Dec 2005 UTC 43’47”S 140’51”E Ref 636

G’day – re closing the loop – if all goes according to plan, it will be exactly abeam the Iron Pot and we intend to fire off the last two white flares so the escort can take photos.