Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 28 July 2008

Still on the nose 7116 15737

Approaching Point Barrow - fog - was pink as sun dipped below the horizon. No ice in sight but now need for constant lookout. GPS trip log from Sydney reads 7635 miles - probably a bit low as it has not been on continuously. Expecting to turn the corner about 1700 UTC but no doubt the Examiner has cut her chains and is lurking.

Speeds - nothing heard from you or anyone else - I assume these are getting through."

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POSTED BY BERRIMILLA DOWNUNDERMARS AT 12:15

McQ: Ice

And now came both mist and snow
And it grew wondrous cold
And ice, mast high, came floating by
As green as emerald
A somewhat appropriate verse to have reached last night I think!!! Except there's no mist, or snow, yet, thankfully!!!
How exciting!!!! I so, so, so hope we can get round the corner!!! Lots of love,
McQ
xxx

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POSTED BY BERRIMILLA DOWNUNDERMARS AT 12:08

ICE! 7059 15944

There are BIG ice floes all around the NW horizon. Brilliant in bright sunshine. WOOOOOHOOO! Seems we're here. May not be good news, of course but we'll see. And we're sailing again. Expecting Barrow tomorrow morning. Have just spoken to Pascal on Devon - they think the weather will be too bad for them to see the eclipse - sad. And we will certainly miss them but I have arranged to leave some beer at Beechey if we get there - carefully hidden! Now for a Consultation.

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POSTED BY BERRIMILLA DOWNUNDERMARS AT 03:01

HF radio - SSB if you live in Alaska 7058 15949

It seems that our HF may not be transmitting - it's an ICOM M802 with an ATF130 tuner and a pactor 11pro controller. It receives weather faxes ok and I heard Taupo a couple of days ago but it won't connect to sailmail and I have not been able to talk to Amodino, only about 300 miles away, or Cambridge Bay, about 1100 miles or hear either of them. I've checked the external connections to the backstay and all seem ok - the microphone appears to be working and the set indicates that it is transmitting. I will look at the internal connections from backstay to tuner next. Anyone got any ideas as to where to go after that? Please keep it short if you have - I'll have to pull it in by iridium. Thanks.

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POSTED BY BERRIMILLA DOWNUNDERMARS AT 03:01

...of breaching whales and strings...7054 16014

..of mucous? I remember reading in Sydney that biologists follow whales off the coast and collect bits of skin and other material the whales leave behind every time they surface. For about an hour during my last watch, there were whales breaching all around the horizon - looked like humpbacks but I don't know enough about other species to discriminate. We sailed through a spot where a very big one had been and sure enough, lots of frothy, rather greasy looking bubbles, flakes - more like little mats of perhaps skin and long strings and skeins of mucous like substance. I was not expecting it else would have tried to retrieve some.

And a whale spout in silhouette is just a grey column - hangs around for much longer that I would expect - but a spout with the sunlight reflecting from it is something special - stark white to begin with, then as it spreads and dissipates, a shower of diamonds falling through silver mist. Lovely - and out here, a century ago, deadly for the whale. Charlie Brower's descriptions of the whalers and the hundreds of ships are cause for admiration of the men and mostly Eskimo women who hunted the whales along the edges of the ice - and deep sadness that the whales are now so scarce. A bowhead was worth a fortune to the catcher - think corsets - and I wonder whether any of the women who wore them and the men who expected them to do so - had any idea of the hardship and awfulness that killing whales for the baleen that made the whalebone for the corset actually involved. The bowhead was saved by the invention of plastics (I think). There's a deep grey green blue Chinese jade - not very common - that's the Chukchi sea today. I've never seen the sea as flat and glassy as it was this morning even in the tropics. We have a bit of breeze now, on the nose again, but useful to help the motor along. AGW, a lift this arve if the GRIB is right and Point Barrow tomorrow morning. Pete, we drank one of yours for the Arctic Circle, Steve, one of yours for the whales. Nooice!

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POSTED BY BERRIMILLA DOWNUNDERMARS AT 03:01

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