FROM 1-6. Below 50S

Feb 22, 2005 – 2100hrs UTC

Sitrep: 2100hrs 22 Feb 2005 UTC 48’10”S 118’16”W Map Ref 76 4362nm

The lonely sea and the sky…To misquote Douglas Adams, here we are, two ape descended primitive organic life forms (and some highly advanced boot ferals) protected by a fibreglass shell travelling across the vast expanses of intercontinental ocean. Not for us the infinite improbability drive in the Heart of Gold – we must go with Berrimilla’s dacron laminar flow engine and flex and bend with the forces that exist out here – using as much of them as we can and accommodating the rest. I’ve been reading stories of storm and shipwreck around the Horn all my life and I’ve re-read a lot of it in preparation for this journey. We have some horror stories in the boat with us too- light reading foe those idle moments – and the tendency is to trepidate a lot about what may be in store for us and to allow the thought of the wave out there that is just too big for our resilience and flexibility to cope with to smother the knowledge that such waves are rare and – mostly – survivable and that most of what we are likely to meet in the next couple of weeks is quite manageable and, indeed, exhilarating. Probably extremely uncomfortable at times but nothing we haven’t seen before.

And as we get towards the 36k half way mark of this metaphorical marathon to the Horn, it is clear that our resources will last the distance, although we will need to manage power and diesel very carefully. The solar panel is in the cockpit, face to the lighter part of the cloud cover as I write, and it is contributing about 2 amps. Whoopee. We have water, Medical Supplies in the icebox and food and, so far, no big threats to the boat or her gear. Berri seems to be handling it very well – a couple of minor bumps and noises that I could do without, but nothing scary. However, the block is as yet uncarved.

As for the weather, difficult to predict at this stage. Without the generator, I have decided not to try and get weather faxes as they take 10 – 15 minutes to come in over the HF radio and that’s a huge drain on the battery.  We will rely on grib weather through sailmail and the EGC messages on satcomC and any advice that we can get. Most of this depends on the laptop.  If I lose the use of it, we will have to try to get weather info over the radio from the locals atCape Hornor just go with whatever weather we experience. The distance – about 1899 miles and descending –  is now a mentally manageable chunk – threeHobarts, or even 1999Hobartand return during which we logged more than 1500 miles in some awful weather.

That all seems very Marvin and Eeyore. ‘A mind the size of a planet and you ask me to count your beer bottles? That’s just what would happen.’

Does anyone out there have experience using the Telstra satellite phone system? I can always get a call through toAustralia, but have failed every time I have tried to talk to theUK.  That’s about 50 failed attempts over the last week since the generator started to pack up and I have wanted to talk to the manufacturers. I just get the message ‘Call fail system busy’. It is an old Kyocera handset with an external aerial but that ought not make any difference for voice comms – it just doesn’t do data.  Very very frustrating and certainly not worth the access charge I pay to Telstra unless it improves.

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