Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 23 June 2008

Status Report From: Berrimilla Down-under Mars
Posted: Monday, June 23, 2008


MONDAY, 23 JUNE 2008 Photos

There are photos of Berri with strop and heath robinson kit on Steve's website here Doesn't seem to be raining so must have been taken acouple of days ago.


More trivia

What makes it all the more unreal and generates the trepidates is that we still have to get the gearbox back on and ourselves and Berri way further north and across the top if this gig is to proceed according to plan.

Comparisons are invidious but these pauses are a sort of soft version of the short leave between tours that the WW2 aircrew used to get. I visited the WW2 memorial here yesterday, in the mud and rain - the imagination - even mine! - strains to get around what it must have been like here for both the Americans and the Japanese in winter and, as an ex aviator, my mind almost cannot grasp the difficulty faced by kids as young as 17, with 8 hours flying experience, sent up here in winter to fly out over the sea, alone, DR, no navaids, no landmarks, cloudbase 200 feet, freezing cold (-85 degtrees outside the cockpit at altitude) and experienced Japanese pilots looking for them. We used to navigate over the sea at sea level in shocking weather, mostly by DR, but it just doesn't compute. I dips me lid - I couldn't have done it. Of the entire Japanese force of about 6000 in the islands only 28 surrendered. And they tied down massive US resources for nearly 2 years. An American trained Japanese doctor, coopted into the Japanese Army, grenaded his patients in strict accordance with protocol, before taking part in the final hopeless Banzai assault where he was killed with most of his companions. The doctor's diary still exists, with the final entry the night before he died. You might not accept the ideology but it's awesome nevertheless.

Back to the present - no word yet on the gearbox. To do list will start with posting USB's with pics to Speeds and H.


Trivial - and not so trivial

Up early this morning - lay in my tiny cocoon for most of the night listening to the wind howl and Lizzie whizz and the rain spatter on my ever so lightweight jacket tied over the top of the open companion way, now blocked by the chain hoist. NPR on the radio - Vale George Carlin. I hear already the roar of 'George WHO??' GC was a comedian who used his considerable intelligence and wonderful irony to take apart pomposity, hypocrisy and market speak out beyond the accepted line in the sand - here's his most famous routine - you may be one of those who is offended by it...

I'm a bit surprised that tits got up instead of - for instance - nigger or kike - but then it was back in the 60's. A wonderful wordsmith - you can read his books and, I think, buy recordings of his routines and soliloquies.

Also on NPR - Leroy Chiao, the first person to vote from space in a presidential election, talking about his experience which was at about the same time as Pete and I were talking to him. And I reflected on unreality - the surreal - ephemeral concepts of permanence and solidity - There I was, warm under my fleecy rugs and the searug in atrocious conditions, muddy daks spread to dry, bits of engine all around - brown fisho's boots standing grey and splattered just inside - in Berrimilla in Alaska. How could this be? I can't really be here! A bit like talking to Leroy on the satphone when we were under that awful storm in the South Atlantic. And today, I regard the man as a friend - weird, but wonderful! Hi Leroy, if you're reading this and not on a plane to Burrumbuttock or WoopWoop. Sometimes life seems to be suspended and, perhaps like A Midsummer Night's Dream, family, home and the rest are just misty context for the play within the play. Amelia's for coffee (...?) and toast at 0530 and then across the muddy road with the Nik to take photos of fog and pale and grey harbour and mountains.

And the Pontiac has returned to its rightful spot.

Speeds - And H - I will today post USB sticks with pics to date - Speedy, you've already got most of them - if there's room on the stick, I'll send the raw files, else just small jpegs.

More detailed bits and pieces today - might make it up Ballyhoo with McQ & K but not if the gearbox is here.


McQ: 1+1=2 or maybe it's 3 or 5 today????

Mind is boggled with numbers today; we have spent some time, quite a bit of time really, more than is perhaps necessary in these electronic-chart-times, pouring over the paper charts for the next few stages of the journey. We have marked out waypoints and worked out distances the old fashioned way with plotter and dividers. There is, however, something romantic and great about paper charts- much like reading a real book or newspaper, or writing a handwritten letter is far more satisfying than trying to read online or send emails: There is something wonderful about pouring over the various place names and considering their connotations to voyages of yonks ago and those explorers and adventurers trying to discover routes through the ice and islands, Cambridge Bay, Lady Franklin Island, Edinburgh Island, M'Clintock Channel, Victoria Island, Rickets Bay, Prince William Island, Tasmanian Islands, to name but a few. Edinburgh Island and Tasmanian Islands, of course, being the most important waypoints for Kimbra and myself!!!! We even added distances up in our heads (one might expect the creative mental arithmetic of two engineers to be a more agreeable exercise than it turned out!!!! Perhaps at the stage of adding various distances of 100's of miles and the low level of correlation between K and my results should have spurred us on to open a spreadsheet and get Mr A Mac to add for us) We persisted though and are fairly confident, if a little brain frazzled that things are now accurate!!! I will need to leave some time before adding 1+1 again though... Yesterday saw the engine being moved- as I am sure Big A will have reported. The day before was a variety of little productive jobs: up the mast on the new genoa halyard: I can report that it definitely needed stretching. Poor Kimbra has one wonky arm now having wound me all the way up!!!! Sails have been stitched, I tried my best to partake in this little job (painful chore???) and managed to only have one tantrum!!!! A first for me when it comes to sewing sails, but relative to the fact that the length of sail I was sewing was about 6 inches long it was a big grumpety-grump!!!

Kimbra and I planned to climb Mount Ballyhoo today but it was pretty cloudy up at the top this morning, so after a long Sunday brunch to let the cloud burn off we looked out of the window again, by which time, of course, it was pouring with rain- typical!!! We shall check the weather tonight and if there is no sign of the gearbox tomorrow morning we will reconsider out summit attempt... we may even be able to pursuade Big A to take some time out from all the jobs he keeps pottering on with and have a full Berri outing, vertically!!!!

That's about it for now

Lots of love to everyone



Ps. Gems, you crazy loon, how did the 55mile hike go???

Pps: Gonzales, metho sub is indeed a working metho sub!!!



Summer in Unalaska - bleak, cold misty rain, low cloud, legendary mud and no place for a bloke on a pushbike. Where I've been for most of the day, assembling bits and pieces for The Great Rebuild. US post Office closed on Sundays, so no chance of new gearbox till at least tomorrow and big to do list once it arrives.

Spoke to JW to ask all the necessary questions and he reminded me that you can't post flammable liquids through the mail, so the box will arrive dry (no oil in it...) that would have been embarrassing! And I need to discuss with the local experts things like oil specification for the donk sump and whether to put antifreeze in the heat exchange tank.

But we shall prevail...

I'm living - well, sleeping really - in the boat. Even less comfortable and more cluttered than usual with the engine in what was the only usable space. Now back in the lobby of the G I getting this on line, then it's into the Cape Cheerful bar where it's 'Build your own Bloody Mary' day - you get a shot of vodka in a glass and proceed to a table covered in in stuff to add to it. There's even TJ somewhere. I shall follow procedure and sit there and do the to-do list for tomoz.

McQ and K working off a 4 hour breakfast sorting and cataloguing charts. They were going to climb Ballyhoo but in these conditions it would have constituted penance for a lifetime of sin. David W - there was a bloke peering under the bonnet of the Pontiac yest. I had a look - erk! All about 6" deep in mud and gunk. But it seems he got it started because it's now on the other side of the pub - no doubt having shed a few rust flakes on the way.


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