Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 26 August 2008

6645 05610 AC just over the horizon

We should be back on the Arctic Circle going south in about 4 hours, 31 days after crossing it going north in the Bering Sea. At the other end, I did not dare even think about this moment. I can't give you exact distances because of the idiosyncrasies of the GPS but my guess would be about 3400 miles. For me they have been 3400 miles of extraordinary intensity - I wrote in the previous Berri round the world blog that I lived in a plastic tube with its own language, grammar and syntax and that the boat talks to me. That blog became part of a BBC programme. This time, the language has been there - Berri and I have subliminal conversations - but the intensity of the experience has been about symbiosis and heartbeat. Every creak, every wave slap against the hull, every crash of a pole against the forestay, every change in the engine note and my heart has thumped with Berri's. I stand in the cockpit on watch feeling her as a living thing through my feet and every sense - I can absorb the vibrations in the shaft bearing, the flexing of the mast, the slight change in the feel as the boat goes through a wave, the burr of a shroud harmonic. I think that since we were rolled off Gabo, I have been far more conscious of the possibilities and am living a bit more scared.

Then there was the intensity of the experience - the history, Franklin's ghosts, the scenery, the sheer splendour and indifference of ice and the Central Arctic - Pat Hahn said it much better than I can.

And the tension has got to me occasionally. I've been moody and snappy and once, inexcusably, I was far too liberal with the gin and was clearly incapable. I was acutely horrified next morning and decided immediately never again. Consultations since have been juniper flavoured tonic only. I guess I'm no Pope - fallibility is definitely my gig but I think the trick is to understand it and manage within its limitations. That, after all, is how we got this far.

And we're getting closer to Falmouth - the last sailmail I sent went via the Belgium sailmail station. Yeeehaaa!

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