Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 6 May 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
May 5, 2008
Filed under , , ,
Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 6 May 2008

WooooHooo-ish 1021.31 16416.44

The first almost cloudless night for ages and ages. Still humid and some haze but the universe is out there with attitude. Because of the haze, the stars don’t have that magic clarity and definition you sometimes get out here but wonderful to behold. The Milky Way – that slash of dolphin phosphorescence across the whole sky, with (I think) Saturn just below it to the SE, Squornshellous Zeta up high and the Frogstar lurking green and slimy in the Coal Sack. Kakrafoon just rising in the east and I’ve just heard the first bars from the band…No sign of Prostetnic Jelz and his fleet of yellow ships filled with ruthless poets, but we do have McQ down here offering strong competition – if you can’t find a Vogon, she’s clearly in good trim. Early each evening, we have Polaris ahead, under the great Bear and climbing every night, with the Cross astern and dipping. Orion in all his splendour out to port and dear old Betelgeuese doing his red giant act in one corner.

We’ll cross 11 N in about 6 hours. Too early for a full on WOOOHOOO but perhaps a little anticipatory one. We keep being headed – average track at the mo back to a bit west of North. Interesting to see how far we can climb if the wind drops a bit and the seas abate.


1015.48 16417.18

MJC- So it is Bikini! I had a feeling it might be but has no name on my chart. We’re 90 odd miles SW and should pass it about 40 miles to the west. Will advise on nighttime son et lumiere. All googlable, but I think it was the first H bomb test, in about 1954…We’d be passing 40 miles dead downwind of a very big bang. I seem to remember a photo of old warships anchored in the lagoon being tossed in the air by the early part of the explosion. And, I suppose, Wake just up the street as the base for it all. Eerie – I’ve been to Woomera and close to the Monte Bellos but somehow not the same historical grip as this one. Did I read recently that they have just allowed the original Islanders back again?

Brian – thanks for very kind offer – I think the old sail is fine, but the UV protector is dead and all its stitching. And it’s the UV protector that seems to be holding the leech line – no reinforcement. Tacky! Oh what a shoddy pun! I’m sure there will be someone in Dutch that can fix it. So as long as we actually get to Dutch, we should be ok. But I have learned a big lesson. We should have taken it for a sail before we left…. Your big sail is great – just the right size – and it works really well – but there just ain’t no way to stop the leech buzzing once it’s rolled in a bit. I think it must be something that happens to them all. Sends me bananas, but I’m learning to live with it! I’ll call you on the satphone tomorrow.

Duncan – lanolin is definitely part of my daily routine – industrial strength stuff that we use to waterproof everything electrical and grease shackle pins and the like. And my hands. Savlon for the gunwale bum though.

Not much to report – had the three or four most profound consecutive sleeps ever in the last day or so, but now up and around again mid off watch sleep time. My arbitrary 11 degrees N half way point is about 200 miles too short in actual straight line distances, so we won’t celebrate just yet – nevertheless a big milestone. I’ll try to call Pascal once we’re past 11 N.


Corrie McQueen: Poet Laureate

I have written a poem (Though Alex declared,’That’s no poetry’):

Lurching around in a monstrous sea
Lurchety, lurchety, lurching we be

Lurching around in a monstrous sea
Lurchety, lurchety, lurching wee B

As you can see, in each verse there are, as the Qantas safety checklist
lady/voice would say, ‘subtle differences’

You repeat the two verses continually until one of the following;
a) you distract yourself enough to realise that you are now almost dry from the last wave that smashed you in the face
b) you get smashed in the face by a new big wave and come back to reality
c) you lose your marbles
d) you decide, in a moment of clarity, that these words must be written down as a blog for squillions of readers and generations to come to have the benefit of such profoundities…

Brian, that’s so kind of you to offer us a new sail, thank you, as Alex says we think its ok. I was wondering though if maybe (for the good of McQ, AND the project) you could come and hide out in our forepeak for the rest of the trip, instead. and do my sewing detail for me when required??? We can disguise you with orange hair and Alex will never know that I am not doing my own share of sewing!! I think that would be a far more productive use of your resources!!!

Lanolin for the boys, vaseline (and until ‘The Incident’ WD40) weapons of choice for the girls…

On a slightly more serious note, this evenings sunset was something to behold, totally and utterly breathtaking, one of the most amazing I have EVER seen, stunning red sky with streaks of bright gold and orange and blue- I have photos that almost, almost do it justice.

Lots of love

~This blog was brought to you by the letter ‘k’ (karine Polwart and Kings of Leon on the ipod) and the number ’18’ (roughly average windspeed)~


McQ: Puffings and biscuits

Got distracted by the profoundities of my last blog and forgot a few things (is it ok to make up words like ‘profoundities’??)

Mommy, I am soooo sorry I forgot about Puffins, how could I??? Of course, of course I can positively identify a puffin- they are brilliant little birds with multicoloured beaks and they taste soooo yummy smoked!!! (Don’t be alarmed, Vegetarians/Puffin fans, it is a private joke between me and Pam McQ!!)

Puffins are awesome little creatures: they have podgy little bodies that defy gravity, especially with those little wings… when you see them on the water it is impossible not to stop and watch them and urge them on, ‘go puffin, go, flap those little wings’ and they do- those little wings are flapping at at unbelievable rate but you still wouldn’t believe they would manage to get themselves into the air… ‘go, little puffin, flap flap flap,’ and then when they finally get airborne, you just feel so proud for them!!!

Do they have Puffins in Alaska??? I hope so. (we are obviously miles and miles too far south to see puffins yet!!)

Funsters: great to hear from you and know you are following us. Alex tells me you are going to send some interesting and intellectually stimulating questions for us- I’m looking forward to it and I know Alex is too, since it means he will get a break from answering my questions:

Me: Alex if you were an animal what would you be?
Alex: [sigh]
Me: I’d be a tiger, what would you be, if you had to be an animal?
A:[sigh again}
Me: If you had no choice?
A: bacteria
Me: [looking puzzled] Ok, why?
A: so I could live forever
Me: ok
Me: If you were a biscuit, what would you be?
A: [sigh]
Me: I’d be a ginger nut, what about you?

and so on…

lots of love


Of romantic, classic and Baroque and Boring

Or a slightly different take on ‘Hi Mermaid…’ – you can go and find the original if you are interested.

Robert Pirsig wrote a book called ‘Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance’ beck in the early ’70 s and it was the cult book when I was at Uni. He used Zen as a contextual basis and motor cycle maintenance as a metaphor for life and how it is lived. Lots of bits of it that I remember, but the difference between the romantic and the classic attitude to life has always stuck. The romantic is the person who sees a motor cycle as a glorious sculpture of chrome tubes, alloy gizmos, glossy paint and a sexy leather seat. The classic view of the same object is as a groovy collection of moving parts that just happens to constitute a motor cycle.

We have both extremes in the boat. For McQ, this gig is one big, coool, mental as anything Adventure. For me, it is a series of planning lists and milestones, each of which has to be ticked off in order to see an eclipse in august. And get out again safely. Everyone fits somewhere on the bell curve and, of course, we all carry , inevitably, part of the other. Pascal, I think, might be in the middle somewhere. Leroy and most of his colleagues out at my end, Speed – interesting – probably out towards Mcq even though he’s a brilliant inventor of very clever gizmology. Kimbra – dunno – towards the middle? But enough speculation.

And on to some more. In Consultation with Dr Pete – onya mate – I’ve just been listening to the Bruch and Mendelssohn violin concertos – I bet for the first and only time they will ever be heard in this part of the ocean. I do not understand music – As the way out classicist, I love it for the virtuosity and the skill – wow! how did he get that violin to do that?? and the conductor – all those people, all so together…but I still get some sort of emotional experience from it, as long as I am not distracted and have time to actually listen to the music and not the boat babbling away at me. Someone Who Knows once told me that the Bruch is Baroque and Boring. No bloody way! Flogging leeches, again, unfortunately, got in the way just enough too distract. Going to have to learn to live with them for a day or so if the Grib is right, then this 18 – 20 kts will ease and we can roll out the sail again.


McQ: Life should be about challenging oneself…

I have just been on deck thinking: I am incredibly lucky to have, through a series of fortunate and bizarre coincidences, the opportunity to be here on this trip. Alex has put so much time, effort and personal resources into this that it is a huge privilege to be part of it. It is great to sail with someoone who knows his boat so well and is so knowledgable: I think that is the thing about sailing that captures my interest so intensely; there is always, always something new to learn. No one knows it all when it comes to sailing. I believe that anyone who says they know everything there is to know about sailing probably doesn’t have a clue!! It truly is fab to be here and I really really hope that we manage, one leg at a time, to achieve all the little goals we are setting ourselves…

People sometimes say, ‘Isn’t it boring being on a boat and seeing nothing but sea for days on end?’ Far from it, apart from the daily jobs to keep things ticking over smoothly: there is always something to be done to keep you occupied, the sea itself is beautiful, a constantly changing visual landscape all around. Mostly blue, (or grey at the moment) but often every other colour imaginable from vivid ochre-red to insipid pale grassy green. Stunning, not boring at all!!

All the little jobs to do are made all the more challenging by the fact we are generally lurching about or at the very least continuosly moving!!! Making a coffee at the moment requires attaching yourself to the galley by a strop and just as you put the coffee in the mug, we lurch over a wave, get airborne, land, slightly wonkily so the strop cuts in to the kidneys and the thin film of WD40 underfoot means you start to slide down hill and that the instinctive handholds become millimetres too far away, but we save the coffee!!! Despite all the ‘grrrs’ and ‘hmmphs’ that are required as a soundtrack to this procedure, boy is that mug of coffee appreciated!!!

Life, I think, should be all about challenging oneself and success, I believe, is the achievement of personal goals that we keep setting ourselves and challenging ourselves with.

You can tell we’ve finished sowing, can’t you????!!!!

I hope everyone is having a happy and enjoyable Tuesday 6th May too. Lots of love to all McQ xxx


noon tue 6th 0908.18 16420.38

dtd 3075 so dmg 207 in about 24 hrs as we didn’t send you one yesterday. Sail finished, will try it when needed and see how well we did. If there’s a sailmaker in Dutch – and we get there – we’ll have it all undone again and properly sorted.

Not possible to say with any certainty where we will go in the next few days – wind backs in squalls for hours at a time and we’re all over the ocean. I think we will pass west of the atoll more or less on our direct track, so a bit of a climb to K’s waypoint 1. There should be enough grist in t’mill for the ETA predictors to start to get some accuracy. I’ll stick to June 3, although I think that’s optimistic.

Hot in the HellCone – Pirsig next time perhaps.


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