Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 19 June 2008

Status Report From: Berrimilla Down-under Mars
Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2008


McQ: Something happened to something...

(Written Wednesday 18th on return to Dutch)

At about 2200 last night something happened to something... now this is definitely one of the more worrisome problems there could be- when you don't know what is wrong with what!!!

The wind had died and it was time to engage Ernie the Engine, we turned him on, he choked and spluttered- I think we woke him from a deep sleep- into action, put some revs on and we just didn't seem to get going as quick as we should have. Back in to neutral and tried again and there was a funny screeching metal sound and things just weren't right, seemed like maybe the prop wasn't opening and working properly, maybe... could it be kelp??? Barnacles?? Ernie just been stubborn???

We made the decision to head back the 14 hours to Dutch where we have made some friends and contacts who may be able to help- Nome being un an unknown quantity at this stage. And, furthermore, if we couldn't get our not-sure-exactly-what-the-problem-is problem solved there it would be daft to go any further North with an engine/ prop problem, and we might be daft but not that daft!!!

So we are now back in Dutch- who knows, maybe I am destined to stay here forever and become a king crab fishergirl after all!!! Big A spoke to John who installed Ernie in Oz and he thinks it is almost (almost) certainly the gearbox and we have a diver organised first thing to make sure that all is well with the prop and wee B's bott in general... so things should become clearer tomorrow about organising a new gearbox etc etc and time-wise how long that might take.

All in all its definitely been the right call to come back- we know our way around and where to get bits and pieces from here and its even better to have a likely solution!!! We have a great spot in the small boat harbour and there is always plenty of things on the jobs list- and we might get a chance to send Kimbra to the museum too now!!!

The Bering Sea, itself, wasn't too mean to us for the past 28 hours, bit bumpy round good old Cape Cheerful, but otherwise bit grey, then a bit sunny and a bit greyer and colder and back to Cape C this morning and fogtastic again!!! And then it drizzled all day on our way back, today was definitely not a day to choose to go out sailing!!!

I guess, being on land for a bit is good news for anyone reading as they will get lots of daily wordage from us!! In the meantime, that's it!!!

Lots of love



Ps I have the best new socks - they are knee length and stripey and have multicoloured and have toes too!!!

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From Kimbra: What a difference a day makes! (Or Plan B, Part 1)

Well, you've probably already read Alex's blog on what's happened with the donk. We're back in Dutch with another to-do list, crossed-fingers, a big blue wheelbarrow carting stuff back and forth, and hot showers all 'round. The journey so far...

13 hours out: rather sinister grey hazy skies, beam-winds, several albatrosses & petrels, packs of puffins, a head cold, mild seasickness for me and warm toasty dry feet.

13 hours back: rather sinister grey skies with rain falling from them, winds on the nose, a seal, a fleet of dolphins, seasickness gone, still got the head cold and warm toasty dry feet.

Looks like we may be here for a while, so if anyone from Lonely Planet is reading this, we're volunteering to write a new chapter on Dutch Harbour for the cost of our hotel room...

Love to all,


PS: a random note on puffins. Every other bird I've seen so far up this way is very sleek and serious looking in shades of black or grey or white or brown, big serious powerful wings and "I'm tougher than you" stare. After all, survival is a serious business. And then along comes a comical little puffin bird that has to flap its wings at a million beats per minute to stay airborn and has this huge comical beak that looks better suited to a tropical parrot. Maybe it got lost somewhere along the way??

And another strange looking bird. Corrie has emerged from the shower wearing t-shirt, bright pink hot pants and stripy Alaska knee socks with toes in them. (My new fluffy Alaska socks are bright pink with mooses on them). Can't keep a girl away from some the retail therapy can you??


The state of play

Adam the Diver came down this morning and reported that all looks fine under water. No Inquisitorial Stockwhip or other unmentionables tangled round the prop, feathering prop fully functional, no damage, anode still ok, rudder bearings ok. Grand - that eliminates one of the variables and it just about has to be the gearbox, so I will start to dismantle the old one this afternoon or tomorrow to get an idea of trhe task ahead. Some organisation required with John Witchard to get the new one here through US customs but in now way a showstopper. I hope I can exchange boxes without lifting and shifting the engine, but we have been offered help every which way by so many people that I'm sure we will be able to build a tripod and shift it if necessary. The place is organised for 300 tons and up trawlers and big commercial vessels and the toy meccano stuff we need just doesn'r exist here. There's a floating dry dock for big ships and a huge slip in the old submarine base, but no travel lift anywhere closer than Anchorage. So we'll work it out from first principles and get on with it. I'll keep posting these updates as we go and McQ and Kimbra no doubt will do the same. It's good to have a real opportunity to get things sorted and relax a bit.


The Hall of the Grand Illusion

Therer seems to be a pattern to Berri's long trips - at least one use of the trisail in anger, at least one unscheduled stop, communication difficulties...

Diagnosis - I have arrenged for a diver to look at Berri's prop and to check for any evidence of other damage, but I think it is unlikely he will find anything, unless it is evidence of attachment and entanglement with diaphanous Inquisitorial underwear or, more likely, kelp.

The real cause of our problem seems to be a set of worn shims in the gearbox - perhaps from aforesaid possible entanglement - and John Witchard has started the rather difficult process oif building us another gearbox and getting it here. I think it would be irresponsible to try to wing it with the current one, even though it works fine most of the time, so I think we will be here for a few more days at least, probably a couple of weeks. Ther boxes can be exchanged without lifting the boat or the engine, but it will be a squeeze. But once again, Onya John. Amazing service and an astonishingly reliable little donk.

And we need to reassess - perhaps bypass Nome altogether and go straight to Barrow - certainly no sign of a showstopper yet, but all depends on what we can do while we are here.

More tomrrow after thre diver. I've seldom ever been so knackered and I'm off back to Berri for a couple more hours zizzery.


Supreme moments - 535235.4 1663302.2

Back in Dutch. The world about you is TU - AOT - SNAFU - the universe - the pangalactic gargleflimsy - the Boot Room, the Bus Shelter, the Vortex, the lot. Vogons are clamouring to read you their poems, you're hard aground in the position indicated, sitting in the cockpit in your wet wellies and your survival party gear in cold greasy rain (basalt lumps, sand, years of dumped crab pots, old fishing gear) - with a big g & t in your hand and Kimbra cooking you a bacon sandwich - life is good. And McQ found my Chelsea K hat - life is better still. Then a boat goes by out in the channel making wash and poor Berri bumps hard on the bottom and life isn't so good. But it means she's floating again, so can move the last 30 ft into the berth.

But where to from here? We have a diver organised to come and look at the prop to see whether we wound something less diaphanous than the Examiner's panty hose around it. We have booked ourselves into a room with a shower - I'll sleep in the boat, we can use the room as a staging bin if we really do need to lift the donk - small to-do list arising from stuff we learned after leaving - frinstance, whitters needs fleecy pants, being unable to wear thermals next to tender, seabattered bot. Cold and wet in the Bering. Was too knackered to fetch the Nik and anyway much too wet, but the cloudbase was about 200 ft coming back in and all that you could see of the island was the base and the spit. Lots of phone calls to make. Also need to unpack port q'berth to find filing box with instruction manuals - did I bring KIWIprop stuff?? 10 points if I did, and 10 points deducted if I did as well - silly additional weight...

Got back to the small boat harbour at dead low water and we're parked, on the putty (luckily - it's not basalt lumps) trying to get back to our old berth. The Harbourmaster rubbing hands and looking up my credit card number again, to keep the state of Alaska solvent at least in moorage fees (that's what they call them).If we can find the problem and fix it, we're off again - if not, a punt will be considered - no doubt in Consultation with many expert advisers. Meantime - DON'T PANIC. We shall prevail.

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