Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 15 May 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
May 16, 2008
Filed under , ,
Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 15 May 2008


2709.47 16824.53 Thu 15/05/2008 18:59

Before we left, I was interviewed in depth by a Master’s student for his thesis. He was interested in certain qualities in crews that make boats go faster and it was a fascinating discussion. Been thinking more about that since, and I think the one that I did not fully emphasise is the one that is absolutely the sine qua non of the successful single or shorthanded sailor – an acute, intense focus on the boat – first, middle and last. No detail is too small, no problem should ever be left unfixed except by deliberate decision, no mystery can be left unresolved, nothing but nothing should be allowed to intervene. It’s an exceptional responsibility and not everyone has the capacity. The boat talks to you, tells you how it feels, smothers you in detail and it’s essential that you pay attention even when you are asleep – yes – I wake up if the leech is fluttering or if there is a different noise – and race crews get used to my head poking out of the companionway and saying ‘Oi! what’s going on?’ And it fills me with delight when I see other boats’ crews climbing aboard for a Hobart race with cameras, ipods, mobile phones and the rest – onya guys! Go for it!

MJC – I would have thought trades, constant @ 20 kts say, at high rotational velocity as well would be main engine for water flow and diversion of current to the east up north is result of coriolis not wind. Too hard! At the mo, we’re banging into 3 knots as we track north. Weird and frustraring. Carla – them bloody Vogons! But then, might have been a bit of poor battered Marvin’s BTSOAP. The Eeyore bit, perhaps! Definitely no sound last night, but an awesome flash. H – pear and fennel chutney sublime. Eating with teaspoon as nowt else to eat it with. Hard on the teeth though. (Erk!) Ta re Wendy – pleas e tell her – again – that she doesn’t have to ask, just send soft copy of the bill. Also, I may be using it a bit in the next month or so. Good to know the system still works. Will contact Paul and DC. Cd you please call Spowie and tell Bev we’re into her mango pot as well?


Things to do 2648.45 16816 42

Still motoring. Wind very slowly coming in from the SW. Big, confused swell from all points. It’s been a long, hot day. Put the trisail up in its new track to make sure no adjustments needed. Looks good – always better to do these things when conditions benign. Swapped checkstay to port side. Put bungee on starboard shrouds (to . prevent the leeward, loose shrouds from swinging around and fracturing at the lower swages). Rather tedious and dull report – sorry!

Kimbra – for D & K & T,

Gents, thanks for your wise counsel. Several things to run past you, if I may – Karl, I don’t know what tracking system the fishing fleet uses, but we have SatC which can be tracked – our mobile number is 450302047 and I’ll leave it turned on for the duration. It’s a passive system and we can’t track other boats. Our to-do list for Dutch includes the following:

  • Buy 800 beers or the local pan galactic equivalent for Dave, Karl and Tom if he’s in town
  • Slip the boat and try to get an ice guard fitted around the prop. Thought it better to get local experts to do rather than second guess from Sydney.
  • Find a sailmaker, for relatively minor repairs (or at least someone with an industrial sewing machine)
  • Also an electrical engineer to refurbish the motor on our backup watermaker. Not essential.
  • Find a computer geek to help restore laptop – not essential but would like to have for backup.
  • Get internet access – at the small boat harbour perhaps?
  • Find a chandler – lots of stuff
  • Buy a 2 or 2.5 hp outboard
  • buy a rifle
  • plus refuelling, restocking, contacting local and Canadian weather and ice forecasters, and all the other stuff that we’ll need to do to get out of there by June 14 at the latest.
  • buy another 800 beers….

Any comments or advice would be appreciated.

Carla: Looks as if we’ll be north of the good ISS flypast. Pity. And it will almost certainly be cloudy where we are going.


Plog 2625.37 1609.16

So here we are – a smidge over 2000nm to Dutch (say 17 days), a smidge under to Amukta plus 2 days to Dutch. No wind worth mentioning, but what there is is from the west so it’s good. There is a line of nasty tight low pressure systems crossing our path from w to e between about 30 and 45 N. These guys are clockwise rotational systems with 50 – 60 kts in the front sectors and just like the Southern Ocean – not nice. We are west of the great circle route, at least notionally deliberately, though we did not have much choice. This is good – means we can pick up the westerly flow at the bottom of each system and reach north, sea state permitting. When the system passes and we’re in the back of it – strong northerlies, dead against us – we will be west of the direct line to Amukta and – in theory at least, can fall away a bit to get a reasonable wind angle and keep stoking along towards Amukta. Fog expected in and from Amukta towards Dutch, so extract serious radar reflector and hoist. Time and reality will tell, but that’s the theory. I think we should be able to maintain a reasonable vmg from here. Approaching mental turning point in marathon – but not there yet!

So – assume 110 nm/day and work it out for yourselves.

Original to-do list for Dutch included:

  • refuel and restock
  • check whether diesel heater necessary
  • investigate ice basket for prop
  • warm clothing and boots
  • charts and local advice
  • buy small outboard?
  • repack boat to include Kimbra
  • sort anchor lines, stow at least emergency kedge line on deck, maybe buy appropriate anchor for conditions if not Berri type CQR activate NL200 iridium SIM additional fuel tanks?
  • Rifle (sorry Ann)

Additions: New autopilot – buy Berri type socket and fit fit Iridium aerial checkstay tangs? sailmaker for refurb of old sail & small adjustment to trisail computer geek who understands CMap to rebuild small laptop Electrical engineer to refurb backup watermaker motor send pics to speed inflate and stow both inflatable duckies. heavy duty rubber gloves


early noon (1100) 2616.09 16807.53

For kimbra (& blog?) – yea! – we’re now on P tack in feather breath of wind. Still motoring. How far north do the lows go – gribs indicate around 45N plus or minus. Any word from small boat hbr? Wd also like to try to get on slip to see whether ice basket for prop possible. If in contact, cd you pse investigate? Would need stainless welder, prob, and perhaps f/glass in the feet/supports but I’m sure they make them regularly. Tks for good info.

Too hot for more.


2605.58 16805.26 Wed 14/05/2008 23:51

As we go at the moment, we’re about 17 days out from Amukta, but I think that may improve. We’re motoring at rather slow, walk the dog pace generally along 020M. Wind about 3-4 kts very slowly veering and I expect that it will eventually become a westerly with a bit of grunt at the base of the line of depressions moving along north of about 40 degrees. We’re just making our way around the back of the N Pacific high – a clockwise system with a hole in the middle (us right now!) and, once past it we should get going again. Very hot, the sea surface has tiny wind ripples and the remains of a very big and rather confused swell pattern that is slowly settling. Two rather tatty black seabirds following us all night – elusive shadows in the moonlight – and they are out there now, way in the distance. I must one day get the book to identify them – have tried several times but never found the ‘seabirds of all the oceans’ version.

Last night was beyond amazing – clear sky, the earth’s disc, from the cockpit, black with lozenged, wavering, snaky patches of grey to occasional silver as they caught the moonlight. Hard edge to the horizon down moon, darker silvery slightly milky sky, first and second mag stars only but brilliant pinpoints through the usual slight haze. Up moon, sky luminous grey, brighter towards the moon itself. Masthead light tracing a swirling ribbon across the universe – its gyrations perhaps stroking other life forms way in the future as we look back way into the past. Berri’s version of a wormhole.

The flash – was wondering if perhaps it may be the anniversary of an atmospheric test back there on the bomb range and, just to remind us humans about what we have done and continue to do to each other and to the planet, Gaia arranges a little anniversary display. A sigh of anger and despair, of resignation, of sheer disbelief that we continue to do as we do.


SpaceRef staff editor.