Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 2 June 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
June 2, 2008
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Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 2 June 2008


Berri arrives in Adak – 22.00 Z +1 Everyone off the ceiling

Message received from Alex via satphone – “We’re tied up alongside safe & sound have taken on 60 gallons of fuel. Planning to set sail in the morning for Dutch, after checking weather.” Time for a consultation fans……….



Examiner 0, McQ 1

Mount Agadak

Andak ahead – looks like another volcano, but overcast down to 300 ft or so…photo follows.

McQ on watch, Big A just getting dressed – snaps to attention as Mcq cuts the throttle – Alex, there’s steam coming out the back and no water! – MM! OOH Poo! Through the barn door and the Examiner is still trying. So – analysis – first, check the impeller – seems ok. Then take the pump outlet tube off and restart the engine briefly – no water, so must be outboard of the pump, so the inlet must be blocked. If you know where Berri’s raw water inlet is, you’ll find that hard to believe but…

So Big A struggles with engine box, tools and the raw water inlet tube, trying to get it off the valve fitting. Much struggle and just a little profanity and McQ says sweetly, Why not pour hot water on it? Collapse of stout party, Big A chastened, boils kettle and does so and is able to remove tube. Opens valve, no water. Eureka, but there’s a right angled bend in the fitting – how to get around it? Old vhf aerial too stiff and McQ suggests dismantle hose clip. BA has another think, much struggle and more profanity – silent, of course, and Big A gets act together and works out that the right angled bit unscrews from the fitting inboard of the valve – yeeehaaa. Unscrew, retrieve old vhf aerial kept for just this purpose and open valve, push out whatever was in it, gushing water, Berri in danger of immediate foundering – put the whole shebang back together, take heart out of mouth and start it – McQ down the back, thumbs up. Yeeeehaaa! Big time! McQ to bed, having spent the last hour shivering in the cockpit, BA clears up the mess, brews one of Pete’s special coffees, once again courtesy of RANSA, and sits down to write this.

Wind has dropped, we’re rounding Pt Adagdak and about 13 miles to go. Will report when alongside, prob by satphont to whichever part of the world is awake at the time.


5201.57 1715.34 Quickie

Just a quickie – there are boats around. The usual woolly grey night, light drizzle, coldish, water 6 degrees. Phosphorescence in creamy sparkle form and – pure magic – dolphins cavorting and snorting all around the boat leaving creamy trails twisting and curving and swirling, with cascades of sparkles when they surface – usually at huge speed. These are little ones – much smaller than I’m used to seeing, light/dark brown top and white under tail.

Looking good for Adak around midday. Must take a squizz – see yez.


McQ: The Sock Exchange

I guess we don’t really have a real boot room on Berri, but instead a strange phenomenon known as the Sock Exchange can sometimes be observed. It is funny how you fall into routines quite easily and things that could be quite random become so normal it would be weird without them!!! I’ve noticed it on a few watch changes and it does make me chuckle: Its only really at the early evening two hour watch changes where it is still light but so cold that party-gear-to-bed-gear is the only way to go, but we have developed a sort of routine whereby whoever is coming off watch (say me in this case)will go down below, wake the other (Big A), have a ‘whats changed on deck’ chat whilst simultaneously peeling off soggy layers. Chat may or may not continue depending on whats going on and eventually I’ll be out of cwampet outer layers and will clamber into my bunk. Alex then sits up properly in his bunk, opposite, and kinda gets-with-the-programme: this is when the funniest thing happens, I’ll take off my cold and clammy Outside Socks (now comprised, thermal socks and sealskinz), put them in my boots ready for next time and replace with big thick fluffy purple bed socks, a bit of toe stretching and feet rubbing to get the circulation going again and then tuck them into the depths of my blankets, Alex does the same, at exactly the same time, but in reverse: untucks his feet from toasty blankets, bit of stretching and rubbing the feet to warm them up, removes toasty bed socks, replaces with his cold slippers (he keeps his cold and clammys in his boots) and swings out of his bunk. We both do this the same but opposite, whichever watch change and this little ritual that we have each developed is completed with the utmost precision and concentration and neither of us utter a word. The only difference is that I don’t have slippers and go straight to the cold and clammys when about to go on watch and I don’t think big A’s bed socks are purple…

Anyway, just thought I’d share that with you!!

Lots of love



McQ: Thank goodness we haven’t had to DR our way here!!!

We’ve passed Pratt Cove, which is tucked in beside Knob Point, and now we are about 8 miles from rounding Bumpy Point which is at the head of Gusty Bay. I say this with complete sincerity. I’ve also spotted Dinkum Point and Dinkum Rock- nowhere near each other!!! Its hilarious, almost as much fun as making up a new language!!

Earlier Whitters said knowing our luck he wouldn’t be surprised if we got headed all the way round the corner… I thought this a touch pessimistic but here we are round the corner… so gradient wind here should still be northerly, albeit not much and our bearing to waypoint near Adak is 080, so guess where the wind is now coming from??? yep zero-eight-zero. Brilliant!!!!Hopefully its just local off the land- we are only a mile off.

I think midday tomorrow a wee bit hopeful-I’m still going with ETA to Adak of 1523 local tomorrow… we’ll see!!!

For those of us whose today is yesterday, today is 1st June… so just wanted to wish everyone who’s b’day it is in june a very happy one- my brain diary isn’t exhaustive or what it used to be so am sorry if I forget you- most important first cause apparently i always forget, Dave Bright, Happy Birthday my darling for 22nd!! Paul, won’t get cake this year unless i find some tomorrow and post, definitely not homemade or decorated with a monkey. I’ll try and be about next year. Marc- gutted gutted to be missing this one as you well know. hope you and Jonah have the most fantastic 30ths and that ‘Whittensethi’ or equivalent, rocks!! might be wise to carry a pair of trainers if you want to go running. Jo and Philippe, happy birthday, no cakes for you guys either, though it might take some pursuading to get me to stay up all night on the 25th ever again and bake and decorate four cakes in one go!!! Hope your first birthday on the island is brill, jo, wish i was there. lots of love to all other birthday people too Coz/Bol xxx Had my second snickers just now… only four to go!!! oooh crikey, thats not many!!!

I’d like to award a BAPTO to the GPS… is this possible???!!!! AW and I were discussing this morning while still in Amchitka Pass that it was maybe two weeks since we had enough sun (and general vis at night too) to have made a sextant sight possible, so without GPS we would have been DR’ing our way for a long time, and while we would have kept a record of what current was averaging and adjusting our Dead Reckoning pos accordingly (I assume), we would have minimal realistic clue as to which part of the Aleutiens/pass to get between them we had reached!!! Indeed, given the vis, without GPS we could be anywhere!!! Its one helluva thought!!! Full respect to all ocean navigators from pre-gps, makes ‘Frozen in time’ all the more sobering.

Word for the day: Swober- pretending to be sober (was actually a typo in the last sentence, but i like it!!) lots of love McQ xxx


5159.34 17756.17 just north of Bumpy!

As McQ said, we got headed. The Examiner was dozing or beating someone else up when we were at Gareloi but she’s back on the job. I’ve just squeezed Berri so that I could take out the 2 Gareloi reefs and there’s now a 6 kt featherdown breath from somewhere north. 5.2 kts with the engine pushing us along and the sails just filled. We’ve had the little heady – still happily stitched – since way before Amchitka but the big one would be better now.

Such a shame that the local conditions are so gloopy dismold grey. We just made out the base of Tanaga volcano as we passed it a mile and a half to seaward – black and with snow streaks in the gullies was all – but this would be the most marvellous trip in sunshine.

Dicky B – my pre-Gareloi consultation with my 300 RANSA consultants reminded me so much of Tom – do you remember the party we had the day we got back from not getting to Rio? Tommy’s little barrel of factory strength OP with orange juice? And me and Tom having to front some rather indignant Customs people next morning after the press got in on the act? He’s out here somewhere!

Appendages now firmly crossed that it all hangs together for another 12 hours or so. Ride it in with us and thanks for coming along this far.


McQ: Land Ahoy!!! There be Gareloi!!!

After 53(??) days at sea, and a bit of a slog for some of that we sighted Gareloi Volcano. And am quite glad to have missed the thin grey strip of Amchitka Island and the craggy rocks of Unalga in the mist the morning for my first land to be this Island… Alex called me up on deck and there abeam of us to port, a couple of miles away is this magnificent island rising out of the sea in classic volcano format!!! Various first sightings of land have been memorable: Table Mountain, Mount Fiji, but this was something else. Absolutely breathtaking- leaving Sydney 50 odd days ago in sunshine, tropics, misty foggy grey days with no sun for the past week or so and the sun had glimpsed through the mist at the end of my previous watch and by the time we got to gareloi it had burnt off enough fog to see the whole side of the island and the top, between the clouds, was bathed in sunshine and streaks oof proper blue sky above!! Awesome. I suppose I hadn’t reallythought about what the first land we would see would look like but I guess after all that time in the heat for a big snowy lump to rise out of the mist was somewhat unexpected- yes, snow!!! Infact the whole thing a geographers dream: layers of black rock, some erosion by wind and rain making relatively gentle slope in to the sea, some sections more vertical, where the waves must have eaten away great chunks of cliff, and then above the black rock the whole slopes are covered in a uniform pale khaki green, AW suggested some sor tof lichen but impossible to tell from out here, a very mossy colour anyway. Green, I find one of the strangest things when I reach land- sure, the sea has its green moments, but not like land green, after going so long without seeing proper, jealous, grassy green, it always seems such an incredibly vivid colour. I think it takes my brain a few days to adjust to processing this, (and brightly coloured flowers too) mental. So green holds this crazy fascination, even pale mossy green, after such a long time at sea. And atop the green bit, rising towards the volcano peak was bright white snow cap, with thin slivers of icy snow reaching down towards the sea (though probably bit thick drifts, if you were standing on the mountain side!!) The very top not quite visible, instead the top third all blending and melting into the clouds with the occasional rocky bit to identify between island and cloud!! Really, truly amazing sight. and as much as I love my wee Olympus, I wish I had my real camera… I think this and all the different birds swirling around us are the first real indication that a proper camera will be sorely missed (though those folk who’ve had to sit through any of my slide shows are probably mighty relieved!!!) Anyway, we had a nice lift round the SE corner and now we are out into the middle of the gap between Gareloi and the next island we are being fully headed so should prob go chat to Kevvo.

Hope everyone good and happy too.

Lots of love

Cor McQ



5150.55 17828.48 1800ADT

DT Adak 96 miles, DTD 448, so still a sizeable chunk of journey to go. Very tempted to bypass Adak but I think that would be foolhardy given the rate of change of weather here. We could almost certainly sail to Dutch without and difficulty – oit’s the ‘almost’ that’s the problem! We may not be allowed to stay for very long when we do get there, which will be ok, although a shame not to have a look around. Will all depend on the ground rules imposed on the Harbourmaster by US Customs.

Gareloi disappeared much faster than it emerged. Just had time to chuck in a couple of reefs as the murk rolled in from the sea and we were again enveloped in grey gloom and sadly I don’t have an equivalent to the lovely photo of Cape Horn looking back to the west into the evening sky But lots of pics – might be able to send from Adak, but more likely Dutch. And I expcet all you all knew from google earth that it has snow on it but it was a lovely surprise for me!

And now we are just – only just – laying Tanaga. I will go speak to kevvo. Having spoke, I’ve started the engine – no point in missing waypoints from this close in. At this speed, about 18 hours to Adak, so around midday tomoz, Monday 2nd. May stuff up a prediction or two, mine included, for ETA Dutch but that’s the kitchen we’re in. There’s something odd about the way the propeller is working – might be covered in grot, kelp who knows – and so might Berri. Will be able to investigate a bit better from alongside a wharf.

So I’ve committed us. Just left a message for Lacy Plummer at Adak that we should be there around midday tomorrow. Foolish, perhaps, given all our experiences in the Aleutian chain but ’tis done. I’m wearing my old 1985 New York Marathon souvenir helly hansen thermal top on my head over my beanie with the arms tied around my neck, to keep the beanie on (nothing else except Epoxy works) and to keep my ears and neck warm until I can find the bag my hats are in. Have to take it all off to make a satphone call – amazingly effective, given the cold draft around my neck – must reinstate it.

We’re 5 miles west of Cape Sajaka on Tanaga – impenetrable grey gloop and nothing to see. We’ll pass about 3 miles north in about 90 minutes. There’s another volcano behind Sajaka, but I don’t think we’ll see it. Once past Sajaka, we’re in the Bering sea proper. Hoooley dooooley!.


5144.02 17844.49 GARELOI!

How can I begin to convey the beauty and the wonder of this. We’ve sailed a quarter of the way around the world, from semi tropical Sydney, through the squalls and nonsense along the way, headbanged the current, sweatd through the tropics, plugged our way north to Amchitka, whales, dolphins, puffins, albatrosses, flocks of little auks and then – Gareloi!

Slowly slowly, out of the murk, the slope got bigger and there was – snow! Of all the most unexpected and gobsmackingly amazing experiences, this rates pretty high. I woke McQ and we just bathed in it all. The most perfect volcanic peak gradually emerged into thin sunlight – patchy blue sky, the snow and ice at the top glowing white and merging into the cloud – lenticular cloud around the top, never actually saw the very top of the cone, but the shoulders were brilliant white gleaming iridescence. Greenish lichen type vegetation on the lower slopes, black cinder slopes above, streaky snow in the gullies – lots of little ice filled gullies – Berri’s first mini glaciers. Serene, lovely, indifferent and pure joy. Made all the rest fade away and filled the emotional space with happiness.

For a bit anyway! Now we’re almost back in the murk. Cape Horn did the same for Pete and me – the only patch of sunlight in weeks and it was ours. Same here, it seems. Heading for the north end of Tanaga, then Adak, perhaps tomoz. If I dare speculate. This short cut was one of the best decisions ever.

Anyone know when Gareloi last erupted? Was not sure but it looked as if there might have been steam mixing with the cloud at the top – certainly different colours. The only glimpse of part of the peak was of black cinders.


South of Gareloi 5139.09 17858.35 @1215 ADT

Not yet totally committed but seems that way. McQ off watch asleep. Been wanting to write this for the last hour but no chance. Can’t begin to talk you through it – took in trisail, shook out all three reefs, one by one, tidied up lines, freed kevvo of long 10 metre strand of kelp – masses of it around, big matted tangled islands of it, almost solid, very dangerous to get mixed with – up and down looking at chart – initially, sea state big swells as we rounded the ‘bend’ into the channel, with typical gentle tidal race conditions on top – short spiky waves, little steep piles of water – 1.5 kts against us, as water piled uop against rise for Unalga Is. Dense fog, tiny, 30 sec glimpse of pale sun, then small break and wow! Unalga Is right there, a mile to stbd massive, toothed, craggy, rocky, top in cloud, Reminiscent of Tasman Island. Bit of a shock to see it there. Seabirds everywhere from tiny sparrow sized to Albatross, which fly along with us and park and watch us go by. Fun, but hard to photograph – must go on deck –

wind back to 18 – non bloody stop – but at least the right direction. Not quite first reef yet – eased traveller & mainsheet and we’ll watch and wait. Cant see Gareloi; or Unalga any more – thick mist. Damp, dripping and absolutely fascinating. A place not too many people will get to see – hope it lifts enough to see Gareloi sometime. Aiming to miss it by 3 miles, then harden up to get north of Tanaga. Adjusting kevvo major exercise – have to climb over his lines, holding on to weaher side winch, get under checkstay, around Lizzie’s TV tower and lean over the pushpit…often about 10 times every hour as the wind shifts.

Not really cold – I’m sweaty after all that work – hands going white, planning failure, didn’t bring heavy duty gardening gloves which worked so well last time. lanolin now solid and almost rock hard – really difficult to get any off to warm up and spread on hands but must keep doing it. Having said all that, big sneeze.

Dan from Westward, bless him, called in by satphone to check how we are going. And yes, we are east of the IDL – assume everyone will write in and ask whether it was a deliberate mistake (nah! just read the W with brain in neutral).

Anyway, small celebration time again, I think – real progress again. About 300 Consultant Physicians from RANSA will be in attendance. Will keep this open

And there I sat squeezed into the cockpit with my 300 friends and – out of the murk ahead, a tiny sliver of land, sloping into the water from under the overcast. Yeehaa! Garelof!


SpaceRef staff editor.