Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 15 April 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
April 15, 2008
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Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 15 April 2008


2452.20 15746.34 Around 07.30 Berri time

Short messages for the mo – quite difficult conditions, Berri rolling and pitching all over the place and makes it hard to do anything – even making water needs stable containers.

Theres a reef ahead, about half way between New Cal and the Gt Barrier reef with Chesterfield Island at the north end which we’d rather like to miss. Not a lot of choice about where you go in these conditions and I suspect that the 5 -6 metre seas we’ve got here will be much bigger in shallower water. I think the wise thing from here is to aim to go to the west, rather than through the middle so I’m trying to head down there. Almost dead downwind and very not easy.

Carla, sorry we missed you for Yuri – I’m still trying to get an answer from Xsatusa about how to set up the satphone to receive messages so if you left one we didn’t get it.

The milk in my tea curdled this morning – not once but three times. I’ve given up and will rehydrate in consultation with Dr Pete later.


Diamond moments

Wind blasting in from the port quarter, Berri corkscrewing in the breaking surf of each wave – brilliant moon, almost cloudless, Orion clear to the west, a couple of bright stars next to the moon. A breaking wave crashes against the side behind me as I sit in the cockpit and I look up at the mast. The moon is just behind the headsail, which is in silhouette, and there’s a tiny tiny string of pearls streaming from the top of the forestay – a wisp of spiders web released who knows where and come to rest in the moonlight 170 miles out to sea. For this we are alive!

Love youse all but I wish there was a bit less wind – very uncomfortable and messy. McQ off watch asleep and missing it all. The wind now howling through Lizzie’s tv tower at the back and the airgen actually ahead of the current drain. It’s only about 25 – 30 kts so basically still on the edge of benign, so I shouldn’t complain.


A quickie while I pullo in a grib 2642.39 15651.14

Lots of stuff: had our first big splash over the cockpit coaming a few minutes ago so the Cone of Silence is now down – for the uninitiated new gusts, that’s a heavy plastic curtain that protects the nav station and the pointy bits of all the electronics without which all y’all would not be able to follow us. And the bottom stormboard – a half door that fits into the access ‘doorway’ from outside to inside the boat. When the cockpit fills with water, the stormboard keeps it as a swimming pool at the back rather than a flood inside. We hope.

Power – the airgen is not staying ahead of the output, so we have to run the engine for an hour every morning and evening to top up the batteries. We are clearly using more power than last time and I think it is probably the new instruments. We have to keep the autopilot in standby to get course and speed data which is an extra. This has other effects – it means that we can only make about 4.5 litres of water per day and we must monitor diesel use much more carefully. Pete and I went around the world on about 3.5 – 4 ltrs of water per day. I think we are using a lot more that that this time, so we will try to monitor use and work out how long we can keep going with what is in the tank and what we can make. Should be no problem but important to check.

Stonking along at the mo – broad reach and 6 – 7 knots vmg. Again, sparkling day, deep deep blue ocean that glows back at you when you peer into it.


Noon 2627.21 15859.14 and our first reef in the main

DTD 5275 so vmg 137. Not bad. Signs of real progress – we’ve made good 554 miles from Sydney, and 621 through the water, so we’ve lost a bit in the current. Still, nearly 10% of the journey and on schedule.

About to pull in a weather fax from Charleville. Really getting a good push north from the big high over mainland Oz but there’s a little low forming just ahead of us that might become interesting. Today, 15 – 20 kts, occasional showers with gusty blasts underneath. Put a reef in the main for the first one, just in case, but no dramas. Took it out, wind came in a bit, put it back. no point in boring you with this.

Empty bit of sea. Wonder who has been here before us. Somewhere north of here, more or less on a line from Tahiti to Cape York, we will cross William Bligh’s track to Kupang in the Bounty’s jollyboat. Poignant in all sorts of ways.

Wxfax in – low doesn’t look too threatening yet but – things can change very fast and we’ll watch it.

Great cake Jeanne – thanks. Pete, had a contemplative drop of The Brew for lunch – rather noice. Ta. Do you remember how many you put in?

Time to sleep.


Well I never

Second and third reefs in quick succession – 25 knots up the proverbial and a very nasty sea behind us. Orange sun just disappearing, Berri stonking along nice and snug at about 6.5 Time to Consult with Dr Pete, I think.

Happy commute, everyone down south!


SpaceRef staff editor.