Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 29 May 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
May 29, 2008
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Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 29 May 2008


McQ: Fog Solvers

I spend lots of time whiling away the hours on watch (between checking we going the right way as quick as poss/ the rig not falling down/the repairs are holding/ we not about to get squished by passing vessels etc) thinking about ‘what if’s’ so yesterday morning- I kid you not- my what if’s that I were running through were first reactions if forestay goes, backstay goes, shrouds go, minutes before The Big Bang!! Anyway, this morning I have been thinking about fog (Its a clear morning with a dash of sunshine too so hopefully no fog-dramas about to happen!!) Lots of different solutions really, for eg, if i was in the Channel and I had working radar/AIS/both, probably carry on fairly comfortably. If I was in the Solent and had no radar/AIS etc and my GPS’s were all broken/out of batteries I’d probably head north (or south, depending on where I was by my last visual) to say 2m contour (assuming I didn’t draw more) and follow it to somewhere (Lyminton, Cowes, Hamble) or anchor till it lifted. I’d probably be quite grumpy too!!! I’m still working on no radar/AIS and broken GPS’s and definitely in middle of shipping lane in channel…

Anyway, these are all sensible things to think about and every situation is different. up here, according to all our repoorts it can get pretty foggy and grim round the Aluetians at this time of year, so may well have to put into practise various fog-solvers and then these won’t seem such ridiculoous thoughts!! We have no radar. Our AIS box hasn’t talked to the poot since Newcastle- of this we are 99% convinced but then again ships since then have been few and far between!!! GPS still working (touch wood) and we have a fully charged 276c too, so should be ok unless big president B presses any buttons. Fishing fleets prob biggest concern but through our great contacts in Dutch they know we are going to be around soon and would do all they could to guide us through, so worst case we could radio them and take it from there. Its all interesting stuff to think about really and good to keep us on our toes…

Big A has surfaced so I am going to go and discuss thoughts on putting a wee bit more sail up, since shroud-solution seems to be happy, and going a bit faster…

Top o the morning anyway,

Lots of love


Dunking 4847.56 17722.59 Thu 29/05/2008 14:36

Does anyone remember reading a scientific paper on the physics of biscuit dunking? May have been one of Karl Kruszelnicki’s – certainly his style anyway. Really interesting stuff, but it seems to me that my McVities absorb tea at a greater rate than the very ordinary coffee I’m using. Certainly, my coffees are more treacly than my teas – anyway, an observation for the record – has no scientific value without lots more experimentation and I’m into the last pack of dunkers.

I think our bit of excitement will slow us down by about half a day to Amchitka – could be a crucial half day if the weather closes on us but that is yet to be seen. We are also losing height, which is a nuisance but can’t be helped. I’m resisting getting new gribs – we have to cope with whatever we meet anyway and the gribs seem to change radically every update, so better just to get on with it. I’m not too concerned about the pass itself – I can see from the topography why it could be dangerous but we can go in and have a look. Portland and Alderney races with wind against tide are good for the confidence and McQ professes to be on top of those, so we’ll just probe gently when we get there – starting, obviously, at low water slack or an hour or so before. Once we’re inside, we have to reassess and move on.

The fix – two large cable clamps about half a metre above the swage, clamping a big U shaped through-deck fitting to the shroud. Big turnbuckle hooked on to the U and a spectra strop from the chain plate to the bottom of the turnbuckle, tighten and bobsyer – the swage bypassed. The mast is still in column as far as I can see and I’m tempted to go for the third reef tomoz in daylight. Will do a similar setup on the other shroud as a precaution and put clamps on all the other shrouds so that we can at least buy time if they start to fail. Will take some photos for the website. Speeds, the handycam hasn’t been out of its bag this trip – it’s just been too busy or too wet – so there won’t be any video for this leg.

Getting lots of help and advice from Dan at Westward – thanks Dan – and I think the long term fix is to get the old barge to Dutch as fast as we safely can and I’ll take off the dead one and fly to Anchorage with it. Speedy is checking for riggers – there’s got to be at least one somewhere – and we have another friend who will know for sure but he’s not answering his mobile at the mo.

Water now 6 degrees. Not much warmer than how it comes out of the fridge. Lucky I splashed the nethers yesterday, I suppose.


McQ: Snickers and knickers

I just wrote a blog but it sounded really grumpy and I am not grumpy so I have deleted it and started again. Not grumpy- just tired and my eyes are going funny looking at the horizon and the sails and the instruments and Ray in the blackness outside. Well, maybe a teensy weensy bit grumpy when our COG and heading are 40degrees different- yes four-zero, can you believe it????? grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! And when it says our boat speed is less than 2 knots, though I am adamant that we something tentacly has attached itself to our log impeller and is slowing the rotation of the paddle wheel- this is not entirely unreasonable as we certainly feel we are going faster through the water that it says we are!!! And our SOG indicates current with us, which, well, could that possibly be true, after all this time???????? Can’t even comprehend what it must be like to have current WITH us (even if its with us and a lot left!!!)

Trisail up and wee headsail too. Ray has had it too and keeps whining, extending fully and making us want to tack. Can catch most of them but have had to accept a donut too. hmmm. He’s alright if we don’t try and make him go too high, but of course, if we don’t go high we are heading straight for Amchitka ISlAND (instead of PASS- yes, huge difference!!!!)

We’ve had a Pretty eventful afternoon really- just as Alex described, but it’ll serve me right for spending the previous 2 off watches considering the merits of opening the snickers and changing knickers and not sleeping!! Now it is 9pm and I am very very, very, very tired!!! Temporary rig repair, bypassing the unwinding bit on the lower shroud, seems to be working so far (touch wood) and this is the reason we are taking it gently with trisail etc. Do not want to lose the rig. Not a good look for any boat!!! And masts not the easiest things to just pop down to the shops and pick up a new one whenever you feel like it, obviously!!!!

OK, things looking better now- 4knots SOG and roughly making course- yay!!! s’pose I should get back on deck and go say words of encouragement to Ray…

Snickers were for 6 days to go, which might have been tomorrow, but prob not for a couple more days now!! Knickers, still undecided, too tired to decide now, will reconsider in morning.

Nearly got through a whole blog without mentioning my feet, which are, incidentally, as cold as my nose, which is very cold, so cold, infact, that I have to keep checking it is still there. It is.

Is it time for bed yet???

Lots of love


North to Alaska! Thu 29/05/2008 09:59

[Just before receiving this, got call from Alex, to reassure everyone that they’re okay – a little local difficulty. -ed]

We just crossed the 200 mile territorial waters line. USA it is….Kind of special to have actually done it. vTiny remnant of Dr Brian’s Med. compound shared between us to celebrate. So far soo good

Interesting how a bit of adversity changes the perspective – before The Event, I was all tenterhooks and anticipation – what will we find at Amchitka? Now I don’t care – we’ll get there, we’ll sort it and maybe call in at Adak – I’d like to do that anyway and we now have an excellent reason if customs are nervous – and then dutch and one more fix than intended.

Much later and a sleep – just re-run various lines across the deck to free up a couple of winches and the trisail is now working as intended. Satphone has just beeped so will go for grib and send this – lots more for later.

Love ysz all. That’s a Polish ‘yez…’


Pearshapedness in earnest. 4808.41 17658.37 will do as noon as well. Thu 29/05/2008 05:45

There was this metallic bang. AW in bunk instantly rigid, thinking oooh s..t! I know what that is – and so it turned out. The starboard inner shroud – the big heavy one that supports the lower half of the mast – has started to strand, or break, strand by strand. Happened in the Atlantic last time too – and now I wish I had insisted on staloks but that’s life. This despite bungees to stop the shrouds moving. We have bypassed the swage using cable clamps and turnbuckles and we’re sailing again, but it’s softly softly from here. Really serious problem if it develops. Even worse of the port one starts to go as well. Big, big effort getting it sorted – and in the middle of it all, murphy struck again – cannot imagine how this one happened, but all the line in the furler drum ran out long before we could get the sail all rolled up. Sorted that one too, not without some interesting events.

So the state of play – I have spoken to the rigger who made the rig and he’s sending the dimensions of the shroud to the website. I will call our contact in Seattle to see whether we can get 2 new ones made there, or anchorage, and shipped to us, else have them made in Sydney and shipped to Dutch.

Not the end of the world, but may slow things down a bit while we faff around. Watch this space!

Meantime I’m going to Consult – Mcq is cooking noodles for afters. Dr Steve, yours was next in the Medicinal Compound Management Plan and very good it was. The whole set of three brews has aged beautifully.

A couple of hours later – i’ve rung around the world sorting possible options – the most important thing now is to get through Amchitka and to dutch. From there we can fix anything. We’ve got the small heady and the trisail up, doing 5kt in roughly the right direction – losing a bit of height, unfortunately, but trying to keep the rig unstressed. Quite messy and still semi violent so taking it very easy. Weather for the next three days is critical – but we’ll get there. Wouldn’t be a proper Berri voyage without one go at least of trisail-in-anger so I hope this is the only one needed! Next watch, after some sleep, I’m going to put a cable clamp on all the other shrouds so that if any of them initiate recalcitrance, we’ve got ’em covered and can rig a bypass very quickly.

We’re 3 miles from the US of A…wooohooo and yeeehaaaa! By the time you read this, AGW, we’ll be in the promised land.

Best option from here might be for me to fly to Anchorage from Dutch with the dead one and find a rigger. We’ll see what turns up.


SpaceRef staff editor.