Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 19 April 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
April 19, 2008
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Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 19 April 2008



As soon as I got the SOF head out of the immediate, I realised that I’d ignored the fact that the fifth member of The Team, Kimbra from Hobart, is slaving away in the west Oz boonies and doing some really useful analysis for us from the NOAA website. Sorry K! The memory gadget survived the crash, so I do still have the files and I’ve backed them up on the spare laptop. Assuming we ever get out of this hole andthin audio range of the polar bears, Kimbra will fly into Dutch to help us get through the Examiners Arctic nasties.



The shuffling crowd

So – out here under the tropic moon, we have The Team. A Senile Old Fart, too gaga to realise when someone is kidding, plus The Bollinger Chick – a mixture of Fenchurch and Pollyanna on speed perhaps and, just to make it mildly tricky, The Examiner, who lurks about the place in technicolour virtual reality. The Examiner goes in for polka dot pink patent leather, diamond studded stockwhips and a nasty line of evil tests for aforesaid SOF and BK. Right now, she’s taken away all our wind except the memory of what it was once like to have any (she’s also into homeopathy and snake oil)and told us we have to move this old barge in a generally north northeasterly direction and we’re trying – wow are we trying. Little kite up and flopping, kevvo straining every stainless sinew and SOF and BK sweating in turn on getting the kite to work just on the memory of wind. It doesn’t, but that doesn’t stop Herself in pink polka dots from declaring that it absolutely does. And the tropic moon just sits up there and laughs at us as we roll and flop and slat.

The fourth member of The Team – Mr. Speed Himself – is down at the pub in one or another of the Chalfonts beset by another Miss Whiplash as he tries to keep his pint from spilling on his laptop and cutting us all off. But that’s another story.

As you will gather, we have slowed down more than a bit. Barely moving is the go. Frustrating, but what would life be without challenges?? Fiona, I guess it was a bit of a cliche’d rant – serves me right!

Kris – no 3 letter words in today’s cryptic but an interesting puzzle. Any chance you could send me Lincoln’s Gettysburg address? I think it’s only about 350 words. I’ve been listening to famous speeches on the ipod but no Abe. One of the all timers in wordsmithery and I miss him.

Some of you will know the feeling at the start of a big marathon or a fun run like the City to Surf in Sydney. There are 25+ thousand of you, all packed tight together shuffling forward to get past the start gate and into the race proper. You’ve started, but you haven’t. That’s the feeling for me – that twanging, apprehensive, adrenaline flushed excitement, dampened by the knowledge of everything that can go wrong. We’re only just out on the course, although we are already 1000 miles closer to Dutch. Our world is fragile – our links with all of you depending on so many implausible wormholes in space and all the planning. So I retreat into my head and work my way through the possibilities. I don’t think I will feel we have really got over the start line until we can hear the polar bears barking. Or whatever they do.


A day in the life of…

From things you have said to me, I know that some of you out there are minutely interested in the daily life of a boot room rat, so here goes:

We are working 3 hour watches. If I tell you that I do the midnight to 0300 watch, you can work out the rest. Night watches are loong and really quite arduous because we have to stay awake and at least minimally on the ball, monitoring everything that goes on in the boat – battery levels, Kevvo, lizzie, sail trim, heading and vmg, all the different and important noises and vibrations that tell us how Berri is travelling, plus the speed at which our toenails are growing and, I guess, for McQ, counting the hours until the next hair management session. (It’s not too bad at the mo, but fully salty…) All this through the din of an ipod faffing away. More on this later.

Izz, somewhere in the BBC archive there is the Mike Morpurgo program – woonderful stuff and relevant – all about the concept of ‘home’ down the ages to us and Leroy in our respective vehicles…a link from the website perhaps?

Watch changes are when we speak to each other – usually shorthand communication – kevvo behaving, kettle’s on, ‘night…

I’m generally awake during the day and I tend to do the boat chores because I know Berri so well. For instance, I’ve just adjusted kevvo and the inner forestay and opened a beer. The Consultation process this time is quite different because McQ very sensibly doesn’t drink alcohol on boats so we don’t have the evening happy hour. I usually have a contemplative Consult with Dr Pete – or Drs Steve or Jasper – though Dr Jasper hasn’t quite come of age – during the noon – 1500 watch. Stinking hot today and I’m wondering where we put the cockpit shade cover. I think we have just enough medicinal compound to last the course.

We take it in turns to cook the evening meal around 1800. Yesterday’s was buttered vegies – home grown pumpkin with carrots, onion, red cabbage, spuds lightly boiled with lots of bacon, then drained and given a bit of oil and heat and served with melted olive oil marg and parmesan. Veg au beurre a la Boot Room Cinq Etoiles. I had the remains for brekkie.

Starting to ramble. Wind dying and code zero up and just moving us – sea still to high and rolling too much to work properly. The Examiner is back…next time, a burst on her new patent leathers.

Sadly, the programme to which Alex refers is no longer listed in the BBC archive. It was from the “Something Understood” series and was presented by Michael Morpurgo in July 2005. Michael’s children’s book “Alone on a Wide Wide Sea” was initially inspired by Berrimilla’s first voyage. Izzy


Goldfish, protocol and crackers

The problem with having done this once before is the Goldfish problem. The goldfish has no short term memory, so every time it swims around its bowl, past the plastic mermaid, it sees the mermaid effectively for the first time ‘Hi mermaid!’…’Hi mermaid!’…’Hi mermaid…’ I want to tell you all about the proper protocol for cheese crackers but I think I have done it before somewhere. If I start to get repetitive, Isabella, just shout ‘Hi mermaid!’ at me.

Anyway – cheese crackers. Anyone who went to state school in the UK or Oz will remember lunch boxes and cream crackers (UK), Saos (Oz) or Ryvita and all the other proprietary names for hardened gritty cardboard. I don’t remember them because I’m too old and anyway, I went to a slightly posher boarding school where lunch boxes were only for the other lot. Can’t you feel me blushing with shame already? Well anyway, yer average cracker has a pattern of tiny holes in it – (why I dunno, does anyone? – research project for Belmore South perhaps?) – and the only way to pack a pair of crackers with cheese, tomato, devon (bleah!)salami, marmite or vegemite or some kind of dead fish or bird was with so much butter on each cracker that when you squeezed them together with your teeth as you struggled to bite into them and at the same time keep it all together, little worms of butter were extruded through the holes and ended up all over your nose, exercise book or wherever. This had a secondary purpose, in that all that butter tended to hold the broken bits of cracker to the filling as you tried desperately to wind your tongue around every little greasy crumb. Marmite and vegemite ones were specially good because the worms were stripey brown and yellow – true culinary art forms!

I’ve just been there – ryvita type crackers, essentially soggy cheese that all the oil has run out of and into the plastic pack and several millimetres of again almost melted olive oil margarine. And worms all over my nose, fingers, chin – everywhere. Yum!


SpaceRef staff editor.