Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 21 May 2008

Status Report From: Berrimilla Down-under Mars
Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2008



3449.40 16936.06 Wed 21/05/2008 17:46

Everyone knows - don't we? - that the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland is going to destroy the world by creating a mini black hole which will suck in the whole shebang and keep all those tax avoiders and thieving dictators just a bit closer to their funds. Whoopee - will be huge fun while it happens. Meantime, it will be creating wormholes in space so that future life forms can come and visit us in their shiny kevlar suits, sucking on their heated pan galactic gargle blasters as they observe our puny antics. I have to inform you that this has already happened. A future life form, a specially designed cow from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe has been detected by a secret CIA spy satellite at the wormhole periphery ellipse coefficient and sent to a place where it can be quarantined. It seems to have escaped and inadvertently found its way into an abattoir and thence to a soup maker. McQ drank some of it in her Hearty Beef Soup so I think quarantine for her once we get to Dutch. Meantime, a designer Beast in a wormhole? Caroline, doesn't that stoke the boggle reflex?

We're motoring north as the haze and grot closes in - wind change today sometime. Electric autopoilot at last gasp and may have to revert ot actually steering the boat ourselves as Kevvo doesn't do motoring.

PMcQ, the locals have recommended that we take bear spray...When someone convinces me I am wrong, I change my mind...we'll take some aboard. Should enhance the flavour of the canned stew at least. Would still like to hear from the errant 8%

Carla, thanks heaps. I'll try to call you in the next day or so - I want to wait till daylight and, if conditions permit, swap sims between handsets just in case that's the problem.


McQ: Wittering Whitters and other ramblings

Warm toasty layered up mcqueen wouldn't say no to a first plate of fettucine alfredo!! Which is probably why she resembles the michelin man!! methinks I don't have many more layers than Big Whitters, I just wear them more michelin man-like!!

I just got up for watch after falling asleep 3 minutes before... typical!!

And am trying to get my head round the fact that I am sure Whitters wittered something about the wind coming round before he went to sleep but he sounded way to chirpy about this for us to have been headed, but well, we have now. I think I'll keep that one to myself and fingers crossed the wind comes back round to where it was coming from to make him cheerful sooner rather than later!! Or maybe he didn't sound happy and it had headed us a bit for him too. Or maybe Kevvo's brain is as in gear as mine is!!! [After attending to deck] It's the wind, bit all over the place- 6knots then 16 from all over the place too- pretty much as expected tho'.

We had proper boat food for dinner tonight and discussed what constituted proper boat food- definitely has to be a concoction of whatever is to hand and needs ot be hot and probably a selection of things that you wouldn;t necessarily serve at home to a willing audience but that here need using up and accompanied by something cooked in a generally improvised way... so for example, tonight was onion (needed using) and bacon (likewise) and sweetcorn (variety) on top of naan bread,which we fried, one at a time, in the big pot to heat them up, worked though!! And, in my case a big dollop of sweet chilli sauce. Perfect!!! We did imagine that Alex might be my only guest on the evening I choose to recreate this delight when we get home!!

Its funny how on this keyboard you barely need to touch the o and you get ten oooooof them, or you brush past it by mistake!! quite annoying sometimes to have to go through blog and delete them all every time.

I think i was maybe going to add some wisdom about Cook or barometers to my last blog but since it was an intelligent thought It didn't remain in my brain for long and thus proobably the reason I can't quite remember said wisdom.

Time to pretend to be MM after forth FA and put on an extra layer and get some mid watch fresh air and chat to Kevvo for a bit- liven him up a bit. Oh look: We are trying, trying to push North, heading wise, so I guess that is what Whitters was wittering about after all.

A wittering Whitter would be a good name for a bird. I might decide to authoratatively name the little birds that are with us wittering whitters: As in, 'What are you wittering about Whitters, they're not Stormy Petrels, they are definitely that well known Northern Hemisphere bird species, the Wittering Whitter...'

Only one flaw in all this: that is, I definitely witter more that Whitters, but this has distracted me enough to stay awake without thinking about it for a whole hour of watch!!

Lots of love
Woittering McQueen


Reflections Wed 21/05/2008 10:16

Radar reflectors - small boat variety - research in UK seemed to indicate are almost useless. These are the cylindrical plastic tubes with a honeycomb of aluminium plates inside to provide reflective area. We have the larger diameter version on the shrouds just above the lower spreaders, only because Cat 1 race rules require us to carry one. When I visited it today, I noticed that it is half full of water - and, yes, it is fitted the right way up. How? unless the wind somehow blew it up inside the flange around the 'lid'. I also have a set of flat plates that can be fitted together into a trapezoidal shape and hoisted in the rig - much better performance, but a pain to manage.

What I had intended to investigate but ran out of time is a gizmo called something like a radar echo enhancer - passive device that sits around all powered up, until hit by a radar beam which it then sends back but with a boost. Problem is that there are radars across quite a big frequency range...Might be useful to have one though, tuned to whatever is the most common frequency for fishing boat radars. M'sieur le Fruitelet - est ce possible you could investigate? Would have to be relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

We're tracking NW at varying knots - 2 at the mo - kevvo having difficulty with apparents. Must go and check.

I think I'm getting the hang of the SatC weather warnings - there is a string of circular storms that form off Eastern Japan and move NE just to the north of where we are. They all have 'possibility of winds 30 - 50 knots within radius of 500 miles of centre in SE semicircle'. Tends to gnaw at the viscera a bit until you realise that that phrase is a bit of a backside coverer for whichever Met office issued the warning. The grib shows the one moving north of us now is a lot tamer, but no doubt it could develop.

Warm, toasty layered up McQ looks like the Michelin Man with bunches after his third massive plate of Fettucine Alfredo. I don't know how she can move, but she does. I tend to go for a lot less fabric and lots of air, with good seals to keep as much in as possible. Whatever works, I guess. Must soon brave the starboard upper bunk, delve below it and drag out my bag of warm stuff. Noticeably cool, though we are at the same latitude as Sydney. Water 19 deg. Oily margarine has recongealed in the ice box and the VoA is at jackhammer level.


McQ: H for...

After yesterday, I thought i would check my cup-a-soup flavour today before I started, it was called 'H/Beef' Hmmm, H for Happy? I like the idea that my soup came from a cow that led a happy life, however, I suspect that my soup saw about as much bovine life form as our (olive oil) margarine did in its making!! H for hmmmmm then. H for hopeful, or even hopefully, hopefully beef. H for hungry, yes, I still am!! hostile, hooning, hurtful, heartbroken??? who knows??I have a vague recollection it was supposed to be 'hearty' but given its watery consistency and smattering of green herby bits and nothing else it wasn't!! Must be herby then. Don't get me wrong though, with our cup-a-soup-rationing, all flavours our greatly appreciated and all do their job of warming you up in these chilly climes, whatever they are supposed to be made of!!

Since we are actually back on starboard tack I have re-opened the library. Chichester is order of the day and I fully urge all those who haven't read yet to read Gipsy Moth Circles the World- much much much much more interesting than these nonsensical blogs of mine!! Though both possibly require the same quantity of gin to be consumed to enjoy fully!!

No scrabble on board, attempted irony, precisely due to lack of flat, stable surface!!!

Let us never, ever, ever again speak of the negative distance made good over the last 24 hrs. ok? The eternal optimism runs out with backwards movement.

I think there was supposed to be a serious/sensible point to this one but I have completely forgotten what that was, so you just get more of the same inane drivel instead!!! sorry!!!

With love, A toasty warm, thermaled, midlayered, hatted, booted, dry socked and gloved (once I finish typing), McQueen xxx


1300 position 3409.14 16956.40 Wed 21/05/2008 04:18

dtd 1568 so dmg -1 No comment!

In the black glooms last night, thinking that pearshapedness threatened and plug pulling was on the cards, I thought about Cook and La Perouse who must both have been close to here. I wondered about the usefulness (should that be utility?) of information and the effect it has on the quality of decisions. Here we are, with SatC forecasts and warnings, grib files, weatherfax (note to myself - must try to pull in Kodiak wxfax -should be in range) and, in desperation, professional routers almost permanently glued to the satphone for the RTW racers. Does all this stuff inhibit the timid - who can't make a decision until they have 'all' the information? Does it embolden the rash - 'The grib says we can do it...' or simply inform the experienced, who might make a different go/no go decision without the storm warning...In other words, is the quality of the decision dependent on the quality and extent of the information or on the experience of the sailor? Obviously both - but what would Cook have done last night? My bet is exactly the same as us, but without the angst. He'd have been sailing backwards and forwards at the same wind angles as us, looking at the sky, assessing the cloud patterns, feeling the wind, watching the swell and its direction and checking his barometer every hour. (Did he have one??). Then he'd have done what we are now doing - headed NW on the freeing breeze, ready to face whatever was in store and glad to be moving again. The fact that we know that there is a chance of a nasty storm ahead makes our present slightly less comfortable than his perhaps. We also know how it will move, more or less and can therefore decide to back away if we want to. Cook's best information would have been his own, or other sailors' logs from previous visits to the area.

And I wonder how Baudin's committee decision would have worked. And how, maybe, a cold war Russian submariner with his party cadre in his little cabin full of appropriate texts supervising the Captain to ensure the political content of the Captain's decisions was sufficient to ensure their quality. There was a cold war Russian sub in Sydney for a while - those guys must be the bravest of the brave. Still are - Komsomolsk and Kursk as witness. Courage and fear - fear and courage! And in those early days, to have to comply with the cadre as well (whose cabin was next to the Captain's and slightly bigger). We were always in awe of those boats, but to actually see the conditions aboard was an astonishing revelation.

Visited the mid portions of the mast - not as spectacular a performance as Pete's in the S2H, but interesting. Needed to move the radar reflector back to where it is supposed to be and improvise a strop for a second check stay. All done, reflector moved but not taped as intended, strop made, checkstay installed, after some expert unravelling by Mcq and Whitters bruised but happy. Time for a late visit to the Barber Surgeon.


McQ:I love our barometer today... and found the oat cakes

Amazing what a barometer on the up can do to spirits!! Oh and not forgetting the sea abating and wind slowly slowly freeing us...we are pointing less at Japan and more towards Aleutians!!! Woo-hoo!!! Hopefully comitting to the SE when it comes in and riding it North will prove to be not a bad move and hopefully , we will then start to have a more realistic idea of the depressions a bit further up there that we will have to face... if they are still stonking on, with wads of winds in them then hopefully if needs be we can ride east a bit underneath and pop north behind the worst... As I have said before, ruled by the predictable wind and wave gods, this is exactly what will happen!! Did a Vancouver bolt hole stock take too- we have enough food!! (possibly actually to go there and back!!) certainly enough museli to last a lifetime!!Did I mention though that it would be nice to bump in to a snickers ship though???!! Also found the oatcakes- being Scottish, huge boost, almost, almost makes up for lack of snickers!!!

Sunnies back on and off to deck I go...
Lots of love

ps Gems, ty for info, please yes send all luck and love with Ross to him and the whole crew and ask him to send lots of love and hugs to Hannah, tell her, she can do it, and though I can't follow everyday from here in Pacific, I am still fully behind her and sending as much good vibes across the ocean as I can- also we must have crossed their to-Hawaii track sometime last week- kinda cool to think about!!! Cor xxx


Decisions 3349.49 17018.24 Tue 20/05/2008 22:20

We've had a look at the grib for the next three days for the area to the NW of us and it seems that we can keep going north. The wind should come around to the south, 25 - 30 by tomoz evening and stay for a couple of days. As long as we can sail downwind in the change without busting anything, we'll go with it and then try to stay in the bottom of the string of lows to get some easting and duck around one when we get a chance and go for the barn door. So that's the plan.

Caroline - great minds! And don't they boggle. Must ask Matt one day.

Kimbra - guesstimate for potential bolt holes still useful - but not so urgent, I hope.

Kris - Your driveway with Berri in it might be an interesting photo caption competition!

Sailmail propagation extinction was finger glitch on my part - must have entered the wrong longitude in the dark and not noticed. Interestingly, there are little fail safe indicators if you know the system - I found my error while setting up the grib request because the little boat wasn't on screen. Apologies to all of you that have never seen sailmail, but it might help people that do use it.

There's a temp lull and I have to go up the mast - see yez.


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