Status Report

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 8 May 2008

By SpaceRef Editor
May 8, 2008
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Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 8 May 2008


1352.54 16522.56 More Funsterism

More on current – I had taken the EAC into account in the original back of envelope calculation, but ignored the equatorial current transit, thinking (actually assuming – silly child) the effect would be negligible. But it all gets taken into account by my conservative average of 4 knots overall – we’d be averaging close to 6 but for the current and we’re getting about 4.5 now, in it.

More Funsterism – and storms at night: Of course, it also depends on what the sea state is (what sort of waves, what shape they are, how high, how far apart) which depends on which way the wind is blowing, whether there is a current and things like that. And finally, on the direction you are trying to sail relative to the wind and the waves…But phosphorescence in a storm almost – almost – cancels out the scariness! You seem to be surging along in huge cascades of diamonds, vast fans of blasting sparkling spray, sometimes just diamonds, sometimes rubies and emeralds as well as the drops and the dinos take on some of the colour of your red and green masthead lights. And in very special storms, dolphins are sometimes swimming along as well.

Food – we filled about 10 trolleys at Woollies and Coles – almost anything that is canned, plastic packed or waterporrfed or otherwise opreserved. But no glass bottles! (Why?)so we have biscuits, cans of stew, cheese (but doesn’t keep – we have no fridge)bacon (also has to be eaten as soon as you open the pack – did you see my description of eating it when it’s rotten?). Yesterday, McQ cooked a hash of bacon, tinned stew, creamed corn and maybe other stuff. Looks like dog food, but it tastes ok! And we brought some spuds, tomatos, a pumpkin, onions and red cabbage. Only spuds and onions left. And some eggs, which we hard boiled to preserve them.

Enough for the mo – I am having difficulty sending these long ones so will try to keep them shortish.


Hi The Funsters – 1337.38 16518.36

My take on the current is the simple spinny one. There is a westerly flow of water across the pacific at the equator, the northern half being diverted up the Japanese coast and the southern half becoming the east australian current. We have been either directly headbutting the eac or diagonally traversing the equatorial current and have lost about 800 nm as a result, which we won’t get back as we will be too far east to pick up the japanese current. Poo in buckets but that’s how it is.

Funsters – Hi! What year are you? And good luck with the test Is this something the new Government has set up or has it been happening for ever? Sharks – sorry to disappoint you but I’ve never ever seen a shark from the boat – at least nothing that I could definitely say was a shark. Sharks (except basking sharks, perhaps) don’t usually swim on the surface – they chase other fish for food, deeper down. But I don’t really know enough about them to say any more. We have seen lots of dolphins – hundreds – and there are lots of different types of dolphin. Also three huge fin whales – second largest animal on earth – near the Australian coast. And th greenish gold fish I described a few blogs ago.

The boat in a storm – wow – what a difficult question to answer properly. Last time, I talked a lot about paintings by an artist called Turner and Mrs Harrison’s classes did some lovely work using copies that they found on the internet. Turner gives you the ‘feel’ and the scariness of a storm and an idea of what the light is like, but being there is always different. Technically, the boat pitches, yaws and rolls as well as going up and down on each wave and it does this all the time, even at anchor, but in a storm everything is magnified and much more violent – the boat feels as if it is corkscrewing savagely and crashing through or over waves. The wind is unbelievably noisy – it shrieks and howls in the rigging and across your face in big storms and you also hear the rain and spray hitting your waterproof hood rather like a jackhammer. It is almost always black dark in a storm at night but you are in a little cocoon of light from the boat’s instruments and from its masthead light. Imagine being in a car at night – the lights of the instruments on the dashboard glow inside the car and tend to reflect and cut off the light from the outside. The sea surface is black, woolly and shapeless and often it feels so thick that it is wrapped around you. As th boat crashes along, it throws huge surges of white water and spray out to the sides and these often reflect the boat’s lights so they glow. And then there is the phosphorescence – one of the true wonders of the sea! It is caused by tiny animals called dinoflagellates and we were sent a good description of how it works in our first website – I’m sure my sister can organise a link for you. Lightning is something else again. McQ might add to all this when she wakes up. This is getting too long – food in the next one


McQ: I like raisins but I HATE CURRENTS!!

Wednesday afternoons, years back, oceanography lectures at NOCS with Professor (I think) Harry Something-other, (sorry I forgot your surname). He was American and a brilliant lecturer and I used to really enjoy Wednesday afternoons… until, that is, the day that we learnt about the Coriolis Effect. No longer was my simple but understandable spinny explanation that I had in my brain, satisfactory, no, this day saw the coriolis force become a series of equations that took pages and pages and pages to decipher. I recall lots of something about standing on ice (an analogy for a frictionless surface would be a guess, perhaps??) and throwing a ball in the air and then some fiendishly complicated differentiation (probably) followed by some fiendishly complicated integration (probably) followed by more fiendishly complicated integration (probably and so we aren’t back to where we started) And there in front of me, six curly pictures of integral signs, rho’s, deltas and x,y,z’s to describe what used to be a simple spinny concept in my brain.

Anyway, totally digressing… I remember, too, a day where a slide went up depicting in 3D the surface currents and deep water currents across the oceans- it looked a bit like a London Tube map wrapped around a notional sphere, but with arrows clearly showing which currents go where (totally to do with good old coriolis in fact, so not digressing so much after all) And they, suprisingly enough go round and round, replacing each other. There were two pics, one for atlantic side and one for pacific side. What I definitely DO NOT recall is the Pacific one showing one great big current flowing from Canada to Tasmania, forever. I am sure it is impossible!!! Should there not be a generally north flow on the western side, in the northern hemisphere, to start with, and then the rest of the ocean currents follow round???

So, Professor Harry, MJC, Simon R, Andy F, anyone in fact who knows these things, please please explain why oh why oh why have we had at least a knot of current pushing us SW ever since Sydney (EAC excepted)and when will it stop????????????? It just can’t keep pushing us SW forever!!!! I don’t believe it!!! (It isn’t calibration error as boat speed at 6knots and SOG 4, heading north, we are only covering 4 mins latitude in an hour so its got to be current, surely!!)

Meanwhile, I’m going to stick to raisins.
Lots of love


noon 1237.47 16450.27 28 days at sea

Dtd 2867 so dmg 101 and dmg overall 2952 out of 5819nm. All approximate…

At about this time in any long journey – for me, in a marathon, it kicks in around 25 k – one becomes conscious of distance travelled, which focuses the mind on distance yet to go and, for me anyway, there’s always a tendency to anxiety and depression. I’ve never started a marathon, let alone anything like this, knowing absolutely that I would finish it and there’s always that corrosive doubt travelling in company – what if…Then, in a marathon, perhaps around 37-38 km, certainty takes over and while the body slowly eats itself, there’s an end and an achievement in sight and the pain is diminished. We’re not anywhere near there yet on this gig.

As you may have gathered from my last, the downer is upon me. Everything is now so finely balanced and the feather brush of an sparrow’s wing one side or the other could make the difference. So it’s grind it out, metre by metre and keep grinding.

Have just finished ‘Frozen in Time’ for the second time. Fascinating book – the victorian ideals of adventure, imperialism and self sacrifice examined through a 20th century analysis of what went so desperately wrong. And there’s an untold story behind it that I did not notice first time around. The victorians were pioneers in so many ways, some of them, like imperialism, no longer recognised as acceptable. But they were industrial pioneers as well and the hidden story seems to me to be that of Stephan Goldner who supplied the canned food for Franklin and many other Admiralty ventures. He must have been an interesting man, honest or dishonest, principled or unprincipled. How must he have felt under the criticism he must have endured? Was he stubbornly convinced in the face of the evidence, that he was right – canned foods do preserve the properties of the fresh version – or didn’t he care as long as he made a profit? How did he get started, did he go on to found an industrial giant or did he die in poverty after the danger of lead poisoning perhaps killed his business? I’d love to know more about him and will follow up when I can get back on line. There’s a project lurking in there somewhere.

And I think there’s a burst on ‘adventuring’ germinating somewhere as well. Time for daily Con – I feel a need for the Alchemist today – I need gold! Dr Steve, extract the elixir!

On which – real gold to talk to Leroy half an hour ago. Perspective all over again. Onya mate – keep kicking the can for us! That’s an Oz expression – hope it doesn’t offend any one else.


In the Slough

Having a severe attack of the Desponds – sounds like something out of ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ – but it is 0300 and the time never to think about all the scary things in life. Circadian rhythms gang up on you at this time of day and make it all seem much worse. But it does seem to me that our actual chances of making this one stick are very slim indeed. We will need to be lucky in so many ways. The first decision point, if we get that far, will be at Dutch – do we go on? Will depend on ice predictions and local advice but almost certainly a ‘yes’ to that one. Then again at Nome and a ‘yes’ a bit less likely. The point of no return, it seems to me, will be at Barrow and the decision will depend, again, on ice reports, advice about the availability of diesel and other possible supplies if things start to go wrong further along the track. And we have to get around Point Barrow by the end of June, early July, at the latest, for us to be able to see the eclipse and get out at the other end and into a safe port. So – current plan – go through Aleutian chain via Amukta pass @ 172W. Arrive dutch whenever – am compiling to-do list. Kimbra arrives 12th june, aim to depart by 14th. Then 700 odd nm to Nome which we could mostly motor as long as fuel in Nome. Then same again, roughly to Barrow – need to find out about faciities if any in Barrow. Does not appear to be a harbour or anything except anchor offshore…Thence – if reports favourable, to Point Barrow where the ice piles up and where we will have to make the big decision.

Stars from horizon to horizon – most unusual, rivettingly beautiful though still hazy and so slightly fuzzy. Hard to believe that this calm and beautiful night covers the scene of so much violence and destructive force – when was the last Noocular test? I expect that this bit of ocean is where the three Mutant Ninja Turtles originally mutated – and all the fish swim backwards to preserve their night vision.

Before we left, I bought a cheap and nasty 12v fan – the sort you plug into the socket in your car except had no plug, just leads. Wired it into Berri’s lighting circuit and it’s been a little gem – just circulating enough air at night to make sleep possible. It’s a noisy little beast and its stand has long since collapsed but life would have been hell without it.


SpaceRef staff editor.