Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 14 May 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
May 14, 2008
Filed under , ,
Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 14 May 2008


noooon 2426.20 16746.20

Blogg dtd 2140 so dmg 138. Good one .

Now getting very soft. Kimbra predicted the motor from just north of here. She’s pretty good! Drs Jasper, I think, is summoning me. I think I’ve earned it too – checkstay sorted and I think it’s a neat solution that will work. Murphy, of course, intervened while sorting but now done.

Have I given you Jasper’s website? for them that can read it. Wonder whether they are still in Sydney on Berri’s mooring.


McQ: Heavens Above Part 2

We are on the last of the Southern Hemisphere stars now… Can still see scorpio- one of my fave constellations, not sure how far north he stays with us??? And fully into the Northern Hemisphere Constellations now- my fave being Cassiopoeia, or the ‘lazy W’ (or M, depending on the name of the handsome young man you are sitting on the beach with, gazing at the stars!!!) but I always thought it should be glaringly obvious, but I am not sure if we can see it yet or not, which means probably not, still too far south!!! Can you believe we came all this way without a heavens picture??? I got out my Toghill’s Celestial Nav (brilliant book!!) the other day, but of course being an Oz book it only covers Southern constellations… so if anyone can tell me if we are north enough for Cassiopeia yet, that would be great and also can we see Pleiades by the mast (ie high up) at around midnight Sydney itme??? Mum, any chance of a heavens above guide (for both hemishoheres, for completion) simple, just pics of the constellations, to go in the AM parcel???? (As we head N and it becomes more daylight, this publication would become reference only, I do get that!!! but its always good to absorb new knowledge!!!)

My Ali: just a thought, if you take Imaginary Me on your next WLA you should maybe consider taking Real Marc too so the punters of Holland Park don’t think you are talking to yourself, and he should be able to help you through any little doorways away from any ugly people!! Otherwise, hope you and IM get on- shes pretty well behaved, so no leading her astray now… xxx

hugs and love to all on a beautiful sweltering pacific morning McQ xxx


Blugger 2408.18 16741.17

Difficult to imagine perfect sailing conditions but these get close. The downside is the current, still negative 1.5 kts. However, not a Golgafrinchan telephone sanitiser, not a marketing executive, not a snake oil preacher – just no-one else around, 15 kts on the beam, gentle sea, Berri pottering along at 6kts SOG, 7.5 log. Lizzie whizzing and keeping the batteries ahead of the drain and Kevvo in charge down at the back and in happy commune with the Lizz. The electric autopilot has died again – not sure whether I have successfully resurrected it but it’s asleep.

Absolutely no news of the outside world except barest details of tragedy in Burma and Chinese earthquake. Nothing, but nothing else – no US primaries, no olympic torch, no wars, no climate change….which reminds me, I have a short wave radio – must try to get it operating while things are relatively calm.

H – glad K is safe – little does she know! We are now north of Taiwan – I think – so getting closer to Beijing. The dried fruit you found for us is sensational – no other word for it. Thee rock melon and the pawpaw soften up beautifully but the kiwi goes to mush. The rest as expected.

Doug M – tks for reminder about La Perouse. A bit of Australian/French history that could so easily have gone the other way. Do you have a short version of the story as you have found it that you could send a link to Speedy for the website?

MJC – yep, and thanks, but that’s the maths for the deflection, which I’ve always understood. What I was trying to get at is why this huge – gobsmackingly enormous – chunk of the earth’s surface is effectively going backwards and taking us with it. Obviously, it curls the ‘wrong’ way intuitively (for us non geeks) when it gets deflected by Australia or Asia and becomes the Brown Snake or the EAC but why does it move in the first place?

Nearest Sailmail station is now Hawaii @ 1924 nm, then Brunei @ 3260, then Firefly NSW @ 3461 and then Sailmail HQ Friday Harbour WA @ 3545. Will be a notable milestone if we ever get to connect to them. Lots of time for Jim and Sue and the Saimail team. Perhaps an Accolade, Speedy, By Appt. to the world wide Sailmail team for wonderful, dedicated hugely efficient service around the world. Just reaching Hawaii sometimes, but this is the first time I think that I have ever been effectively out of range.

We’re now north of the Tropic of Cancer. Hoooley dooley – next big milestone might be the Arctic Circle @ 66.5N. Am about to go up the mast to create a mousing line either side to get the running part of the staysail halyard over the lower spreaders and back to the quarter so as can use it as a check stay when things get violent again. It emerges from the mast inches below the inner forestay so is in just the right place. Will consider a tang when in dutch. There’s a lot of boat speak for the nautically challenged!


How I see it.

We have been given dire warning, indirectly, by someone whose opinion deserves the utmost respect, that this is a foolhardy gig. While I agree with some of the points made, I see them differently. Here are a few:

– to get through this year you need to be up there now. I don’t agree – We have the annual stats from the NOAA website for the entire passage and the ice doorway starts to crack open at Point Barrow at the earliest in mid june, more likely early July. I have timed this part of the journey to get us up there round about then. Once up there, we are utterly dependent on a set of circumstances occurring that would make the next stage possible. We need to be able to get around Point Barrow, we need an open lead to the east and we need the prospect of an offshore (southerly) wind to keep the ice to the north and to give us a boost along the Alaskan coast. Lack of any one of these is a showstopper and we wait at Barrow for as long as seems sensible, then come home. However, if all 3 do occur, we have to be there to take advantage.

– we need a crew of heavies. Why? Just more mouths to feed and no real benefit as far as I can see.

– we need an ice strengthened boat. Yes, would certainly help, but I decided quite deliberately not to try to strengthen Berri on the basis that anything we could do would be largely useless and we’d be a lot more careful knowing that we don’t have it.

– we need a cage around the prop. Yes – and this is something I intend to investigate in dutch, but again, it tempers any go/no go decision if you know the extent of the risk.

– the coastguard won’t allow us to proceed. So be it. they know best and we’ll come home. However, the stories from people who have recently been through, or failed, indicate that the local authorities in both the US and Canada were extremely helpful and encouraging. Further, we have a number of very experienced local contacts, fishermen and marine scientists, all of whom have been positive and helpful and will continue to advise us as we progress. No one has yet tried to talk us out of it.

– the boat needs to be big and strong enough to winter in if we get stuck in the ice. Yep – and Berri isn’t and that’s the bottom line. I do not intend to risk getting stuck but I know that a wind change at a critical time is all it could take. The Canadians have an excellent icebreaker service up there and, while use of the icebreaker would represent failure to me, it may be available to get us out as a very last resort. We will need to find out a lot more when we get to Dutch – we need a friendly voice at the Canadian Hydrographic Service, for a start.

A real problem might be that Berri draws about 6 ft and there is a lot of shallow water along the way. Also means we cant use shallow water to escape big ice. But a much bigger boat went through last year, East to West, with no difficulty, owner a farmer from Minnesota, but I don’t have a link to his article. For us. will depend on whether last year’s ice melt was a one off or the sign of things to come.

So we’re not going into this blind to the risks, or obstinately disregarding them. We will take all the advice we can get and I am prepared to pull the plug at any time the signs are negative. Once around the corner at Barrow, the die is cast to some extent, but I think it is far less risky, again using the NOAA data, to be going West to East. But we don’t know until we get much closer what the ice predictions are for this year and I have no internet access out here so am relying on Kimbra’s knowledge and judgement for advice.

Finally, please, everyone keep it short from here. We are out of effective sailmail range for at least the next couple of weeks and I’m using my dwindling number of expensive iridium minutes to send these and to pull in and read your gems. Thanks!


McQ: Heavens Above Part 1

Yep, no worries folks, all ‘thank you’s’ send them this way… for those in UK, once again it looks set to be a scorcher of a summer… now, of course, we all knew this because EVERY summer I go to sea to be cold and wet and togged up in thermals all year, ensuring no hope of a tan, it is a blinder at home, and likewise, when I stay at home, like last year, its rubbish!!! So hope you are enjoying your lovely sunny days!!!

Ali: you know how I love all adventures, big and small!!! I miss you loads too darling. Maybe you can pretend I am there on your next West London adventure, talk to me and stuff as if I am, perhaps???!!! Just don’t get lost in the Windsor Castle, you and imaginary me will never manage to find our way out of there!!! lots of love Coriander xxx

Malcolm: brilliant coriolis chat, brilliant, perfectly understandable, not a greek letter in sight and much more akin to my ‘nearer the poles the faster you spin’ adage!!!

Its a beautiful clear clear night, the moon has just set but we are still lit up from horizon to horizon by bright twinkling stars and swirling galaxy- amazing!!! There is not a cloud in the sky, not even a dark, inky blob anywhere. But the strangest thing just happened- we just had a 35 degree wind shift (lift) for about five minutes but just can’t figure out as to where it might have come from!! mad!!



SpaceRef staff editor.