FROM 1-10. South Atlantic-Going up

Mar 31, 2005 - 1230hrs UTC

[ed: Mainly admin stuff with a few tidbits that he said would be in a subsequent, long message. Watch this space!]

1230hrs 31 Mar 2005 UTC Map Ref 139

Leroy Chiao called us from the ISS around midnight to say he could see a light but as we didn’t have ours on, it can’t have been us. We sent him a white flare anyway but I think he was way past by then. Connection was not super and we lost it, I think, before he intended. I hope he has time to try again – thanks Leroy for an absorbing distraction from the froth and bother of the last few days :-). We will be visible all night from tonight – I have finally disentangled the turbine line from defunct liferaft painter and got the kinks out of it and the generator is again pushing lots of wiggly amps back into the batteries. This means we have enough reserve power to burn the spotlight all night and we can do flares if we know where the ISS will be. Malcolm is sending more flypast times.

And for those – most of us, probably – who have never seen one, white flares are more orange than white and the effect on a windy and rough night is quite eerie. I’ll try and film the next one. Happily, under my instructor’s hat again, I can now say from real experience that it is quite easy to fire a parachute rocket flare in the dark in a hurry entirely by feel. Grooovy and I hope we get to do it again. See remarks below about drill.

More on storms and stuff and contrasts in another episode.

Have just seen a new albatross – big, not huge, say 3 metres, snowy white with black upper leading edges at the outer ends of its wings and black polka dots in a triangle back and inwards from these. Breathtaking – it was with us for only one pass, sadly.

Alan laptop type is Panasonic Toughbook CF18 details in preparations doc on website. Has now saved our bacon twice after knockdowns. Yesterday, I was sitting braced on the floor when we collected a small knockdown, the laptop launched from the nav table and crashed into the galley bulkhead  next to my head. It pulled out the USB connector so I had to switch everything off and reboot and it came up unscathed – great piece of gizmology. Every journo should have one.

Which leads me to a discourse on drill – very important to have drills and checklists for critical operations so that the operation becomes instinctive – man overboard, heavy weather kite drops, igniting flares etc, and also for leaving the laptop while doing other things. Drills help to eliminate mistakes in moments of stress – like forgetting to tie down the laptop. Unforgiveable really and any other laptop would almost certainly have karked.

Thorry, thanks for your support – and for info about Peter Joubert – please pass on our congratulations re award.

And big thanks to the people on the Patagonian cruise net – very helpful and really reassuring to have them all out there when needed.

From Allan Fenwick

Well a bit of real adventure at last, I thought I was reading a book instead of real life stuff, I bet you two don’t want to go through that again. I know at the twilite of my life I don’t want to go through 80 knots and 30 meter seas. your right again, after Easter weekend I think I have done it again, no friends at all, but on the bright side I’m allways meeting new people who don’t know me. I will leave it to Sarah to dob me in on my Easter capers. When you climb up to 35 I will start to have a go at you two old farts. ps. don’t worry about the life raft, you pair of pricks don’t need one, your both full of hot air to start with. you two should get a life and take up lawn bowles.

Fenwick – glad your’e back on song. Pity about the friends tho.

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