Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 1 June 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
June 1, 2008
Filed under , ,
Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 1 June 2008


5130.36 17918.21 bblink

North of the Fastnet! And – dare I predict – I think we’re west of the IDL for the duration. Welcome back to yesterday, all you Ocks Down There

Tom G – the beast that surfaced beside me a few days ago did not spout, was black/grey as far as I could tell and I did not see a fin. It seemed to be bigger than the boat and seemed to be sort of flat – difficult to explain and it was only there for a few seconds. And there was the ?pectoral shape before it surfaced. Did not see the tail.

Hey Leroy – Fame at last man! Space Toilets on OzRadio. Way to go!

From here, I’m seriously tempted to cut the corner and go south of Garelof. Would save about 7 miles, we could sail it…We’re in fog – vis about 300 metres. Decision in an hour or so.

Time to wake McQ. Think I’ll stay up and make a cuppa and extract some of my dwindling supply of dunkers – perhaps 10 left in last packet.


5129.06 17920.12 Sun 01/06/2008 16:00

You can’t really think more that an hour or so ahead out here. We’ve been headed by about 40 degrees so nowhere near laying Garelof any more. In the sea state, the best we can hope for is around 60 degrees off the wind, so a tack doesn’t help. The sea is abating and in a couple of hours (there I go again) we will perhaps swap the main for the trisail and tack north again. We’re about half way across the pass, still south of my original waypoint put there a week or so ago. But it’s progress.

2 hours and a sleep later – engine going – lots of revs and no speed – hells bells and buckets of blood – kelp! Absolutely something I wanted to avoid. Big thump and something gave and we’re now getting 3.5 kts through the water, 2.5 OTG on 030 towards the top of Garelof. Use the position in the header for this bit. There may well be more. That would mean about 11 hours to Garelof – this little vice doesn’t want to let us go! Will not have enough diesel to risk all the way to Dutch unless the wind frees so looks like Adak, if we ever get out of here!

Someone tried to ring us on the satphone – if you do try please understand that we can’t get to the phone quickly and it will ring out and go to some strange message (at your end) before we do. Ignore the message, hang up and ring again, repeat until someone answers. Can’t begin to describe how difficult it is to manage the satphone in these conditions and we have to keep it all dry.

For those of you that don’t know the boat, Berri is effectively an open ended tube – the open end sheltered but not covered or in any way insulated, so it’s cold and damp inside and we have to be exceptionally careful with anything electronic.

Faint change in the blackness indicates the sun must be coming up somewhere on the planet but not here – last night was the coldest, blackest, dampest and most dismold that I can remember.

Speed has bleeped – will send these and pull in your gems – woohoo!


McQ: weather, navigation, sail plan, land, outfit, is it bunk time yet???

tis a real blurky blurky night again tonight… infact I think this is the coldest so far- great!! and its been raining too. even greater. And we’ve been headed, so we ain’t making garelof on this tack anymore either and the wind comes and goes so our wee trisail, whilst hopefully easing the stress on the rig isn’t quite enough in the lulls… so you ponder options, then it picks up again. goes on like this. sea still a bit beastly for much more sail without slamming about a bit…. just looked on deck, bit of a lift again there- sweet. maybe I am too impatient!!! It doesn’t help that diesel, king size snickers, beer, wine, fruit, showers and other bits and bobs are tantalisingly close!!! Its so cold, and despite having turned into the michelin man. Do you want to know what my party gear consists of right now?? Well I’m telling you anyway… thermal socks, sealskinz socks, woolly sheep insoles, leaky boots, underwear, blue thermal bottoms, grey and red thermal top, purple fleece, midlayer salopettes and get this- size M huge thick Slam jacket with grey Gill midlayer jacket size S over the top!!! then oily bottoms, oily top (super hard to get on and off with all tother layers!!) gloves, trusty cream fleecy and red snowflakey buff round my neck, norwegian hat and headtorch. Michelin or what???And, more importantly I did some bunk organising earlier so that consists of: blanket, searug folded in half on top, silk sleeping bag liner tucked inside thermal sleeping bag liner, Cats Meow over the top of those, then another blanket, then the other half of the bottom blanket folded over the top, oh and me and hot water bottle inside!! and then pillow and towelwrapped round for wet hair moments and various other garments tucked around and down the sides!! ooooh it must be time to head in bunk direction….

This blog doesn’t have any point to use as a title.

Lots of love

Michelin McQ



5125.49 17953.13 alternative vice.

If you are ever tempted to visit this delightful stretch of real estate – land glimpses in cold, driving mist – go and lie down for a bit and review your life’s experiences. Then strike down the evil temptation with a stout quarterstaff and do something really interesting and useful – cut your toenails perhaps, or look at Saturn through a telescope or count the number of times Shakespeare used the word ‘varlet’. Anything but a visit to Amchitka Pass with a 20 knot northerly. That is, of course, unless you are into other quirky activities like scraping your fingernails down brick walls or marathon running. Then you’ll love the place.

We’ve made what look to be a couple of good decisions – parking and reassessing, getting going again with tri and half heady, and setting off to the NW. We are now tracking across the front of the barn door in driving, cold, misty rain with big rolling swells and sometimes breaking tops, kevvo driving, slightly off balance because the tri isn’t really big enough for the heady we’re flying, so kevvo coping quite well with lee helm – but not slamming, except very occasionally, on the port tack so on the so far undamaged (and precautionarily (!) braced) shroud. The wind has freed just enough to give us the faintest hope that we might lay Garelof in about 12 hours time – tide with us for a bit and we’ll see what happens when it turns. It will be dark in an hour or so and the usual woolly black and dismold, clank and dammy prospect of masochistic processes of warm bunk, desperate struggle into cold, wet, sticky (don’t you hate polars when your hands and feet are clammy?) party gear, 2 hours on or close to deck, huddled away from the blast, constant temptation to look at watch – how much longer…and blessed relief, struggle back out of now wetter and stickier party gear and begin the business of warming the bunk all over again…What a treat for a marathon runner looking for an alternative vice.

Just been reminded how fragile this electronic setup I’m using really is – it is quite easy to get in front of the Software on board nav package, at least on this computer, when zooming the chart and when that happens, it closes itself down, loses all its waypoint data and generally misbehaves. I then have to close easymail and airmail, remove the usb connector to the rest of the vitally important black boxes, insert the Cmap dongle and restart SoB. Remove dongle and reinsert usb connector and hope that it will all come back up again. Then have to reset everything and sit on hands while it decides whether it wants to work properly. Very very stressful, when the whole shebang depends on such a complex single point of failure and a rigid process for getting it all going again. Another great alternative vice.



Land! 5120.40 17935.21

About ten minutes ago I tacked exactly 3 mils from the eastern tip of Amchitka Island, which was just visible through the murk. I took its photo, for the record, but only intrinsically exciting. GPS log read 5687, but has been off at times. Through the water log read 246 – something wrong there unless it recycles itself at some odd number like 7000 miles. We’ve had some glitches and it may just have dropped all its data which is a shame.

We’re looking good to cross the pass on about 075, so won’t clear the volcano 60 miles ahead. Might go inside it if we’re there in daylight. And the tide will change and may affect us.

Anyway, something achieved, now we just have to get to Adak….or Dutch, if the wind gives us a break. But keep them all crossed. A small tot for the old geezer is due, I think, courtesy of RANSA. Then back to work.


McQ: And we’re off again- yee ha!!

We’re moving again!! Trusty trisail up and a spotty hankerchief (spots are best) of heady out. Engine assistance firmly off and accepting that we have to sail a touch off the wind so as not to pound through the steep seas- makes for longer slower journey all in all but at least the poor rig isn’t shuddering every 3rd wave (hopefully Alex’s nerves are shuddering marginally less too!!!). So we’re making around NW, about 8nm from Amchitka Island (again) and heading straight for it- now some people will know I have issues with land (v dangerous- best stay away!!) so despite all my efforts to tack 10nm out yesterday and so on we seem to keep gravitating back towards it!!! One of those things, hey ho!!! Anyway, prob go like this for another hour and then tack away again- and this time, all being well, we’ll have the little tide there is lee-bowing us north for the following 12 hours and with 60miles across to the oother side, plenty time for the wind to back to the NW and lift us (you hear that wind gods????? NW, NW, NW is where you wanna blow from!!) which it is supposed to do by 10pm local according to Mr Grib. I am fully going for optimism this afternoon too and after the next tack onto port, there will be no more and next thing will be a bear away to Adak!!!

Appendwages crossed!!!

Word for the day: squoodjil: as in- if you put the powdered milk in the mug before squoodjilling the teabags fully it becomes impossible to get anything but milky watery tea. Thus- squeezing and stirring/jiggling.

I WILL be cross if that word has already made it into print!!!

I’m loving the language invention. Wonderful.

Lots of love



Ps Ali: I’m missing you loads and looking very much forward to our next day of fun…even though its months and months away. hope all is good. xxx pps Carie: ‘Harriet and her new neighbours’ perhaps??- apparently Amazon sells EVERYTHING. Its got to be there. Sorry, for some reason I have got a bit fixated on this, I bet you have many better things to do!!! xxx ppps FF: Last night was soooo blurky it was fully, fully a ‘Father Abraham’ night to keep spirits up- oh how I wished you were here to sing and flail around the cockpit!!! xxx


5114.31 17951.20 clenching

Well, nobody expected it to be easy. This is freckle clenching boat breaking stuff and I’ve just parked the boat at this position. We’re pretty much stationary, rolling horribly but otherwise, I think, snug. We’re drifting roughly 170 – 200M, no speed on the GPS. Wind is 20 kts dead bang on the knocker, short (about boat length) steep 2-3 metre waves and poor Berri with 3 reefs and about a mars wrapper of heady + engine was thumping and banging into it, on the damaged shroud. Not severe by Sydney – Hobart standards, but not sensible and no way to go with damaged rig. The grib shows some promise for tomoz, so we’ll sit here until something changes. Prob at least 24 hours. I’ve called Dan at Westward in Dutch and asked him to warn all his fishing boats in the area and I’ve put out a securite call on 4125 and 4149, which are the local frequencies of choice. I’m going to make another cuppa, seeing as we haven’t any gin. McQ blissfully asleep – don’t know how she does it!

This was going to be a dissertation on Party Gear – may work up to that later but will send this to liven up your breakfast muesli.


McQ: lets all ride the demon rollercoaster…

I think we got our tide times all wrong!!! I think tide is going to be with us according to graph from 6.50am which is 1.50pm thios afternon local time… or maybe I have been staring at the graph for way too long!!! Fortunately there isn’t really enough tide to make to much difference to the theory. Out here though it feels like wind agaisnt tide- so feels like tide with us and about 20 knotters of wind from in front of us- we are fairly lurching around all over the place!! Feels like a completely erratic 3-D demon rollercoaster- ie, doing its own thing entirely, completely without your control, and you have no idea which direction the next lurch is going to go!!!! If I ever run a fairground the main feature attraction ride is going to be wild and called ‘The Amchitka Pass’ and there’ll be a gigantic plastic but scary clown on the way in going ‘mwaaaahh hahahahaha’ as you walk past- maybe you even go onto the ride by walking through the giant plastic clowns big open grinning mouth, accompanied, of course, by the honky, squeeky noise of an amateur saxophonist. I’ve lost it. Must be all the time travel. We’ve gone back to the future too, I think we’ll be going between today and yesterday (or today and tomorrow, depending!!) all day long!!! Grey oot still.

Had museli and apples (from a tub,in juice- yum!!) for breakkie. Definitely lacking in antiscorbutics that don’t come in pill form… If I could have anything at all right now it would be a gallon of freshly squeezed orange and pineapple juice!! (followed by a really rare steak and salad and mushrooms!!!!) lots of love Cor xxx

Carie: Harriet and the Urgle Gurgle Monster????? No idea why Harriet sprung to mind. And was the urgle gurgle monster what we said since we couldn’t remember. I thought I’d got it in the middle of the night- had to get up and write it down, but feel i might just be going a little mad out here??? Bol xxx


SpaceRef staff editor.