Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 26 April 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
April 26, 2008
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Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 26 April 2008

Tropical storms 101 0730.09 16313.14

We’re down to 2 hour night watches – not really survival mode but an acknowledgement that 3 hours of concentration at night is too hard to sustain. Hallucination, green monkeys, out of focus compass readings sending the remaining neuron into a dozy spin.

Filtered moonlight. Vague silhouetted shapes of cloud. Lightning all around, actual flashes or the glow as it plays around inside a big black fuzzy ball. In the flashes, the shape and form of the cloud is clear and often conducive to some serious foreboding. So, you sit there and watch the one in front getting – first of all – just thicker and darker. Then you can make out the filligree proscenium that defines the leading edge and suddenly your brain snaps into focus as you realise that the long – horizon to horizon – curved soft grey line is the squall line and it’s curving towards you. Rather exclusively so. No lightning, but you hear the first, musical roll of thunder – a gentle Gene Krupa riff mixed with a bass steel drum – and then the rain and wind hit as you go underneath the now very hard curve. 25 knots and horizontal rain. The wind has backed 60 – 90 degrees over the last few minutes. And whammy – the roar starts, the boat leaps ahead – headsail only and about a third rolled in – 7 knots and surge and dinos flashing past in glittering cascades. And the lightning – flat flickering blasts of yellow green inestimably bright light followed about 5 seconds later by a much more positively heroic riff from Mr.K and his accompanist. Never thought I’d hear the music in thunder but you bet it’s there. The drum roll at the gallows, perhaps, but with its own beauty…Lightning in the S Atlantic was more purple mauve than this – anyone know why?

And gradually it folds – the wind abates, the rain just drenches instead of sandblasting, and your back to the same old 2 – 3 knots generally north, dropping to nowt too often for comfort. And no airgen in the light stuff. Too early to speculate but I think we may find making enough water in the light stuff could be a problem especially if we run short of diesel.


McQ: Oh when, when will this bobbety bobbing end???

Oh when will this end??? 5 degrees north apparently…anyone advance on that??? weather gods/gurus??? anyone??? If I wasn’t so superstitious I might think about whistling!!! Actually its not that bad whilst we are moving and there is something to be said for gently lolling along at 2-3knots, lots of time to contemplate life and stuff in general. bit like slow food maybe, gotta be good for you somewhere along the line. Its when we stop that it is soooo painful and in this precariously fragile balance between just the edge of enough apparent wind to move and not that all it takes is one slop of a wave in the wrong direction and one lull or gust in the wrong direction at the same time to bring us to a standstill. And then its just the thwack thwack thwack sound of the dacron sail material flogging about, which is just torturous, and if that’s not bad enough, you become acutely aware that every flog of the sail is a potential rip….

Well, I guess if we had wanted to magically get There in no time at all we would have gone in an aeroplane, or on a magic carpet. I always wanted a magic carpet- mine will be red and blue with silver tassles to hang on to on the corners. It will be big enough for two people and the back edge will curl over our heads to keep us dry if it starts raining… oh and we will travel almost as fast as time itself…

Sorry, reality, reality, many thanks Duncan and Carla for CB instructions- both made perfect sense, to me anyway,!!! I’ll be practising in daylight!!! Wholly agree that a double sheet bend infinitely more useful but thought a CB good as ends can be siezed making it flat. Anyway, totally irrelevant now, just nice to have refreshed the memory on such matters.

Time for a snooze and must get outta here (from behind the Cone) before I drown in my own sweat… sounds kinda drastic that, but that’s how it feels!!!!

Lots of love McQ xxx


Bleeeeaah! 0800.58 16310.39

No wind. None. Rolling, glassy, humid calm. Hot, no generator so no fan, sweat running in little Niagaras inside the Cone here. This will be a short one.

Motoring – diesel now the most precious resource – at about 4 kts. North. O great Zarquon, where are ya? Philandering with Gallumbits on Kakrafoon, no doubt. Get back down here and preach at us – harangue us – blast us with your orotund loquacity so the wind blows us along. We don’t have to listen, after all.

We were surrounded by fish before starting the engine. 15cm ish, flat, silver, seemed to be spiny. No birds. And, ominously, I saw little purple jellyfish in the water, so no swimming either.


Noon 0813.24 16316.16

DTD 4091 so dmg 81. Amazing and bloody hard work!

This will probably (did!) morph into the noon position. All rather knackering out here. Tiny breezes, 4 – 6 kts, between rainsqualls so lots of messing around and concentration in the soft bits and a real rollercoaster in the squalls – flying along at 7+ knots, phosphorescence at night spectacular – the dinos, not the algal bloom that sets the sea surface on blue green fire, so sparkly and bright and they are in the toilet water at night too. Fun.

Every mile in the can has been earned – and I wouldn’t dream of predicting an equator time – could be a month. Running the engine for 3 hours every other day to charge and make water so we get 12 miles or so ever couple of days at least.

Small drama this morning. Coming on watch at 0600. I noticed another vessel on the horizon to starboard. Steady bearing, and we were the give way vessel according to Colregs. I watched it for a bit then altered to starboard. No apparent change in bearing, so perhaps he’s altered towards. Another alteration to stbd, again no change. This is always a matter for concern. Watched some more and by this time he was in binocular range – just. Odd looking silhouette – seemed to have 2 masts and some sort of sail but turned out to be large fishing vessel with big crane over stern scoop and huge net hanging from it. Still coming straight towards us and I then noticed small boat in the water. Serious concern at this stage – maybe he’s friendly, maybe not. When they got to within about a mile, I phoned AMSA and left a message just to leave a report somewhere in case anything got pearshaped. They turned away at about half a mile. Phoned AMSA again to clear the report. Now they’ve disappeared into the grand daddy of a rainsquall to the NE which we will get into shortly.

Gerry, I thought the AMSA number I have is the duty officer’s but it isn’t. Could you give them a call, explain the need and get me a number that is permanently staffed? Just in case. Their 1800 number doesn’t work from the satphone.


SpaceRef staff editor.