Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 22 April 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
April 22, 2008
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Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 22 April 2008

McQ: It’s a beautiful thing

What a glorious day!! We motored much of last night through barely any wind and at some point we discussed that if the wind hadn’t filled in by dawn we would put the Donk off and probably wallow for the day, diesel being the resource that it is. But just before sunrise the breeze started to fill in on a flat calm sea. Before long we were sailing, in the right direction, slicing through the ocean at 4.5 knots… not a bad start to a birthday!! The wind stayed in all day and now,the following evening/day (0400) it is still there. We are sailing upwind in around 10/11 apparent, mostly. Full sail up and storming along at nearly five knots on starboard tack. For the most part we were being pushed a bit left but this afternoon the wind gently gently veered for us and our little black outline of a boat with a big black arrow at the front was pointing to the the little red dot that is our waypoint on the computer screen. sweet!!! Wind backed a touch again now though and we’re pointing left again… good birthday wishes and vibes etc from the wind gods, can’t last forever, and it is no longer birthday!!! At least we are moving and have been all day, especially considering we were gearing up for a wallowing!! Its a beautiful thing!! Kevvo was in charge most of the day, though we did have a wee moment when his concentration waned and we tacked by accident…. I wrestled the tiller from him but by the time I unlashed him, it was too late, we were fully hove to, so the only solution was a donut… hmmm.

Saw one of the more spectacular sunsets ever this evening. the whole sky was yellow and orange and faded pink and blue behnd some clouds, but it was the sea behind us, it started off pale pink and as the sun went further down, the pink turned into a silvery lilac and by the time the sun had almost set the sea was a bright vivid violet colour- awesome!!!

Made a birthday thai red curry for dinner this evening, which wasn’t bad if I don’t say so myself- though i would suggest pumpkin and chickpeas (garbanzo beans, garbanzo beans!) offer an unusual texture sensation, but the pumpkin was going mouldy and needed eating and chick peas were the first tin to hand!!!! Lots left for breakfast!!! I even partook in the days birthdya consulting too!!!!

Soundtrack for the day has been ‘scribbled in chalk’ and ‘screamadelica’ (yep, indeed I am on ‘s’ on the ipod!!!)

BVS additions: Lightning: the most vicious thing that has been discovered- needless to say I hope never to have to compare face to face the viciousness of lightning versus polar bears to find out just which has superiority in the vicious scale. Consulting: not vicious unless it involves lots of gin

not much else to report at moment. lots of love mcq x



More thanks everyone for birthday wishes. Get ’em in while you can! Kimbra, Speedy suggests we go through website unless super urgent. I’m not logging in much during the day now anyway as we only get one download from Speed Central.

Kris, thanks for Mr Lincoln. Shame we seem to have departed so far from those principles and doesn’t learning by heart spoil the experience? Snow in April – wonder if that has any significance for the ice further north. I remember that beer too!

Planning failures – can’t believe, for instance, that I didn’t put in the cockpit floor. No dramas there except wet feet tramping through the cabbage patch in the boot room. Or find and put on board the sextant plotting sheets or even graph paper so we could make one. Means we are entirely reliant on the calculator if we ever need to use it.

Things that are both near and distant – the course of a boat – time to resurrect 1000 years in a day from the Berri cd archive. Stone age technology already – I remember buying my first cd player in 1984. A Sony brick, but then an amazing bit of gizmology. And Andy, who helped design it.

Grand birthday – wind all day, more or less right direction, 2 Consultations and Thai curry with pumpkin and noodles courtesy of McQ for dinner. And presents. And boobs in the rig for Michelle. A cornucopia for an old git.

We’ve had the place to ourselves since leaving the Oz coast at Port Stephens except for one light astern a few nights ago. And we hit something earlier this evening – big soft double bump but dark and could not see anything.

VoA now so low it almost needs a spoon. Water temp 35.


McQ: The BVS

This blog is dedicated to my friend Ali, who would be designated Chief Viciousness Rater should she accompany me on a future voyage.

For those who were lucky enough to receive the regular installments from ‘The Arctic Adventure’ Chronicles from my trip to Spitsbergen in 2006, you will be fully up to speed on the Bollinger Viciousness Scale, for everyone else, here is a quick guide…


The Bollinger Viciousness Scale is a scientifically proven method of rating, well, just about anything really, according to ferocity. It was first developed in 2006 in order to convey in simple terms just how ferocious a variety of Arctic wildlife can be. For example, at the top of the scale is the Polar Bear (very vicious when hungry)and at the other end, the Beluga Whale, totally un-vicious. Every other aspect of arctic wildlife can be included in the scale inbetween- Afurther example: the Walrus: appears vicious but is really big and cuddly and smelly.

Recently the usage of the scale has been increased and now an official Southern Hemisphere section has been developed. This can be used as an independent rating system or still with integrity as part of the original BVS.

Here are some examples relating to wildlife which we have seen so far. Items annotated with an asterisk and ‘not seen’ indicate that we have not seen any examples and thus can not accurately rate them on the viciousness scale, but merely speculate where they might lie. Certain items, therefore, have been included for the benefit of Mrs McQ who was asking for statistics on things we have seen (other than clouds, which incidentally are a BVS phenomenon in that they can lie anywhere- yes, anywhere, on the scale!!!)

*Cruise Ships: not seen, impossible to rate at this stage in Southern Hemisphere, could speculate relative to Arctic Dolphins: not vicious at all, saw about 10 the other day who hung around for ages in a tight knit group- we think they might have been babies at dolphin how to swim school Fin Whales: potentially vicious, purely due to their size, but probably not. 3 seen All manner of birds so far: none seem to have any vicious tendencies Bits of floating polystyrene: 3, one with a weedy beard growing from it. Not vicious towards people but extremely vicious to the environment Flying Fish: vicious in a gory horror movie sort of way with their bony wings flapping about, but harmless really (unless they get stuck in the drain holes. 4 seen so far on deck, more in the water. Other flotsam/jetsam: one white plastic buoy: not rated on the vicious scale. too inert. *Other yachts/ tuna. none sighted but presumably equally un-vicious *Fishing boats, none so far, potentially vicious, (From prior knowledge: especially those with spears when you drive near their nets (from a previous experience in the south china sea))

Now that everyone is equipped with a basic understanding of how this works, we will update the scale on a regular basis as we encounter more and more new things.

DISCLAIMER: It is the middle of the night and there is no wind McQ x

ps j’nie thanks for message but no email address???? is it just your full name at x


Where to start?

So – first, thanks Malcom and a mile or so to go till we cross Bligh’s longboat track. Would’ve been a Dr from Dublin job in the old days.

Second – best EVER birthday present – WIND and 4.5 knots in the right direction. AGW, we should be a quarter of the way tomorrow.

Thanks for all the birthday/buffday wishes – glad you’re back Caroline! – and Hey Carla! AstroAlmostAssymetric! Don’t suppose you’re left handed as well? Last night, 1800 – 2100 and 12 -3 probably rate high amongst the most miserable and unpleasant watches I’ve ever spent and that’s saying something. Hugh, you bastard, you wished it on me. May your parts shrivel and your pansies die! We sailed into a small circular system – probably a low, but no gradient – just as it got dark. Grey, fluffy amorphous sky – no shape, no structure except every different softly textured grey had its own ominous black line along its lower edge and everywhere you looked, solid grey/black walls – rain – much softer once you get past the frontier, but soft miserable dripping rain – runs down the main, along the boom, rivers down any crevice in the party gear. Massive lightning flashes all around and there ain’t much that’s more scary for this little black duck than lightning. And all windless except in little bursts from everywhere, mostly associated with thickening of grey texture. So – unroll furler, get it all sheeted on, re-run main preventers, trim, turn off engine, perhaps 10 minutes of really hard work and humid, sweaty and aforesaid rivers not helping and Berri starts to come alive again. For about 3 minutes and then you feel the first little lift of the headsail luff and the main starts to soften and it’s gone. Roll and slat and curse. I guess the examiner is in a dirty mood – so undo it all again, restart the engine….

Jennie, you have to include your email address in the text or ask Speedy to forward it – which he’ll probably do when he reads this anyway. Isn’t like normal email – everything goes through the squeezer and shredder before it gets sent to us and all the crap that hangs off office emails ‘This email is for addressee only…’ etc gets assigned to where it should have been in the first place.

Have just transferred remaining diesel from cockpit to tank so we now have floor to stand on again out there in the garden. Yay. The equation – we have about 300 litres left, @ 2 ltrs/hour @ about 4 knots = about 600 miles of motoring. We will have to cross the ITCZ (doldrums) which will be about that distance on its own, so there will have to be some wallowing waiting for wind somewhere up there.

Just crossed Bligh’s track.

The Boot Room Birthday Rat.



DTD 4468 so dmg 77.

Birthday personals:

Ethel and Alec – onya!

H & K in the ‘Jing and E in Melb, thinking of you. H, thanks for Horatio telescope and clocks – counting seconds is where it’s at!

Kimbra – that was the cake to build the Opera House on! Yea – went well with The Paddo Quack’s best brew. Which actually came out of a round the world recycled bottle that we must have used for gin at some time in its history. Way to go. And the pink balloons too – Michelle C, if you’re out there, we had two very elegant pink boobs in the rig, just like your kites, spreading the message to the dolphins and Bligh’s ghost. Hope you are going well.

And The Paddo Quack, OTK Pete – great brew mate. Thanks. Second consultation for the day has just occurred. This is a very long and tedious leg – big hole in the middle and not a lot of wind.

And some stuff for the fixers – if anyone (in Oz) is in touch with Paul Fisher and/or Marty Andersen at RPA, could you please pass on that the manufacturers instructions and the base fitting for mounting the Airgen tower are nowhere near adequate. Was down the back in bumpy sea doing the usual and nudged one of the tower supports and the whole tower came off the rubber compressed fitting at the base and fell forwards. Potentially dire consequences, luckily avoided, but at the very least there should be some sort of through bolt arrangement to anchor the thing to the rubber base. I now have it lashed down to the windvane bracket and have devised a more permanent fix with hose clips and a couple of shackles through them at the base of the tower to allow the base to be tied down firmly to the windvane bracket.

Meantime, we’re just headbanging away at this rather difficult stretch Hotblack Desiato diving into the sun we are not! We need an infinite improbability event to shift us into the wind 200 miles ahead.


SpaceRef staff editor.