Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 20 May 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
May 20, 2008
Filed under , ,
Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 20 May 2008

TUESDAY, 20 MAY 2008

McQ: Cup-a-soup and catastrophising Tue 20/05/2008 09:56

I just had the most curious cup-a-soup. There was hardly any powder in the packet. It was bright yellow and had noodles in it, but they all seem to. Anyway, usually at this stage you can make a fair assumption as to what flavour it is but this time i had no idea. I checked the packet, it said ‘cas cns’ still none the wiser and having eaten it still no eyed deer.

It warmed me up enough to give some thoughts on the catastrophising though:

Poor old Alex, stuck on a boat with an eternal optimist!! Though, i don’t think he is being pessamistic in this case just, extremely sensibly realistic. Still, I suspect, ‘I love Hawaii’ and ‘I love Vancouver even more!!!’ were not quite the first reactions he had hoped for!!!

We can get to Dutch, the question that will start to become very apparent is whether we can get there within the time scale to make it possible to attempt to carry on north. The journey there might become even more: stonk north in the southerlies, park for a bit in the northerlies, all well and good but will become immensely frustrating and time consuming and not only that the lows seem to be more intense farther north- so its not even as if we’ll be able to say, ‘phew, through the worst of it now!!’ We would get there eventually though, I think. Its this unbelievable sea state that is making any head way whatsoever impossible. I guess we can hope that the wind eases tonight as forecast and the sea eases too- it did yesterday for a bit but as soon as the wind blew again the pacific became a big old seething frothy mass again. grrrrr. I am currently being thrown around violently behind the cone and it is a struggle to write and think and brace yourself all at once.

Hawaii, Vancouver, Japan, China, Galapagos, back to Sydney, general cruising round the Pacific- all of which sound fine options!!! We might struggle to get anywhere with our Consulting provisions though and we’re out of chocolate, and cup-a-soups are rationed, but it’s never meant to be simple at sea!!! We might have to rendezvous with that snickers ship, after all, at the same time as we collect Kimbra!!! It truly would be a real shame not to make it to Dutch though.

Fingers crossed we get to Dutch tho’ otherwise, the question is, iff, where and when do we open mum’s ‘arrived in Dutch pressies’????

Well, we’ll be seeing y’all whenever we get to wherever we make it to…

I keep trying to keep these short but they keep being long!!!

Love McQ


creeping westwards Tue 20/05/2008 09:56

It’s going to be a looong night out here in the boonies. Glimpses of very Turner moon, wind fitting and starting, but never less than 20 and often closer to 30. We are now closer to Japan than to Dutch and the next couple of days will be critical. If the wind does soften and veer and – big and! – we can make headway safely to the NW, we will at least be starting to go in the right direction, tho prob only at 2- 3 ks. Then the front of the next depression is due the following day with 35 from the SE – another big iff we can make headway safely, that should get us a couple of hundred miles N and I don’t yet know what’s behind it but if more of this, then I think we could be in for another long park.

My only data link is good old C & W satphone – the xsat one still refuses to connect (iridium says the phone’s number is out of service when I dial it from the phone, even though I can make voice calls) and sailmail is completely out of action at the mo – must be excessive sunspots or something, but there’s no green anywhere on the propagation charts.

I said this thing was finely balanced way back – it sure is!


McQ:Update on hair, library and boot management programmes

T’other day, when we were still on starboard tack, I decided it might be wise to do some precautionary Library Management… The library is on the starboard side at the end of my bunk, beside the mast. Whilst I re waterproofed all the library, Alex re waterproofed the mast boot- we had been taking in a fair bit of water there and this certainly would have been to the detriment (the ruin of,infact!!) of the library once on port tack. Fortunately, there is seemingly nothing the man can’t do with a big jubilee clip, a roll of black and yellow hazard tape and, of course, the requisite lanolin!! The mast is proving watertight!! But since its been pretty windy and wet and wavy and damp inside in general, i have shut the library for the moment- poetry recitals will begin again in due course. I am just considering, though, that since we are hove to for tea and scrabble, it might also be a good time to reopen the library and learn the next few verses, or might it be tempting fate if I take any books out of their wet weather homes????

Its been a productive morning tho’- hair fully managed- it really is quite remarkable how a bit of hair management makes such a difference!! Have also begun the boot management programme- now, don’t tell Alex, I won’t live it down but my very expensive yottie boots leak- great, 2nd pair wet socks already. Not amused. I have another pair of boots at home that leak. Either I brought the wrong ones (stoopid) or they now both leak. either way, not amused. Anyway, nothing a couple of plastic bags can’t manage to fix, many a mile I have gone with plastic bags in my boots!!

lots of love to all

ps how is AG figaro getting on???

pps For Jamie Powell: though I imagine there is almost zero possibility that you are reading this, I thought I should let you know that i have a sun tan, well, on my hands anyway!!!


noon 3327.19 17115.30 Tue 20/05/2008 03:10

dtd 1567 dmg 29 I guess there’ a always the possibility we could get stuck down here – the prospect at the mo is not good given the current forecasts. If it really does get pearshaped, the next best option might be Hawaii. This bit did not look so difficult off the NOAA stats and we might have got it seriously wrong least for this year. That would be a shame, but if is going to take us too long to get to Dutch, there’s no point in pretending. Kimbra and David W, watch this space.

3324.43 17118.36 @ 1020 Sydney time, I’ll save this blog for the noon position for what that will be worth!

Back under way. The wind has abated slightly, same direction, still the short lumpy sea, maybe 4 metre waves 15 metres apart, about half of them breaking and one or two much bigger, often arriving in trains of three with cross waves. Half the heady unrolled and we’re tracking a smidge N of W at about 3kts, intending to get over towards the advancing high and the predicted veer and softening wind, followed by the front of the next low and 35 knots again, from the SE. Grib and SatC predict that we’re going to have to negotiate at least one full on low pressure system with up to 55 knots in it somewhere to the north. Not a pleasant prospect. We can try to loiter till the nasty bit is past, but that puts us back in these northerlies again. 1300 miles to Amukta – 2 sydney – hobart races but this is harder and I don’t – of course – want to destroy the boat just for the sake of progress. When we have sail up and are moving, the boat’s motion is immediately much easier, because the pressure in the sail dampens the rolls and keeps the boat heeled.

On iridium, the last blog went Cable & Wireless. I don’t want to be swapping SIMs around between handsets in these conditions to try to diagnose, so I will retry Xsat periodically and just pay the money to C & W if still dead. Irksome, though, because I’ve already paid for my 500 minutes what I don’t seem to be able to use as intended and an absolute pain to have to fiddle with the wiring and connections each time I do a data call. The iridium hardware was designed for stable, dry platforms, dry hands, no salt…..


Catastrophising.Tue 20/05/2008 05:13

Keith C: could you please email your contact phone numbers to the website and Speedy will forward them to me?

Those of you who know me will understand that what follows is called catastrophising – thinking things through to worst possible conclusions and developing contingency plans. What it isn’t is the beginning of a rationalisation for failure.

The task, as I see it, is to get Berri safely through the NWP and out to a safe port at the other end with an acceptable safety margin. The eclipse would be a wonderful spin off. So – starting from the far end, we really need to be at the south end of Greenland by the beginning of September at the absolute latest. The Atlantic is starting to growl by then and even getting to Halifax might be difficult. That means leaving Beechey Island or wherever we get to up there by mid August. No later. Allow 30 days (ambitious in itself)for the NWP from Barrow to Beechey, and we must be past Barrow by mid July. Dutch to Barrow via Nome is at least 2 weeks, so we must leave Dutch by the end of June. The current plan is to leave by June 14, so from here we have a contingency factor of about 2 weeks. That’s the balance, and there’s no real safety factor built in if we accept the latest dates. Nor does it give us time for maintenance and fixes in Dutch.

I think we will be able to push through this nastiness here, but it may take a lot longer than I had allowed for. If it is more than two weeks, we have a problem. The broad options then seem to me to be:

– accept that it would be stupid to headbang beyond the two weeks and so head for Hawaii or preferably Vancouver, park the boat and rethink for next year, or just go home or for a cruise. Kimbra could join us wherever.

– get to Dutch come what may, park the boat and – say – fly into Cambridge Bay for the eclipse, then collect the boat and sail home via Canada and points south

– Get to Dutch, reassess what may still be possible given our arrival date and get on with it. A sail up to Barrow would be pretty interesting…

Kimbra, all this affects you most. My preferred option would be the Cambridge Bay one and then you could sail back down the Alaskan/Canadian coast and fly home when duty calls. Any comments?

All that said, I’ve got work to do – I think we may be at the start of the wind change – appendages crossed please.

False alarm – it’s pretty ordinary out there. Some very big waves – going downwind would be tricky, but upwind, Berri is no better than an old square rigger like Cook’s Endeavour or Resolution in these conditions. We just can’t do it, so we have to manoeuvre to optimise for future changes and then wait and see whether they happen. Right now, we are tracking 300M at 2.5 kts…


SpaceRef staff editor.