Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 24 May 2008

Status Report From: Berrimilla Down-under Mars
Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2008



A rant against snake oil

This is a rant, but it's well intentioned. Out there at the far end of it, it just might save someone's life.

It's not intended for people who just sail around the cans, but for those of us who go offshore.

I've just made a minor mod to my Henri smock - simple and easy with the trusty sailmaker's needle and I thought about McQ's boots and how the Fashionistas and the marketers and the brand managers - the manipulators and the snake oil merchants - have taken over the sport and the minds of the gullible. Very expensive boots - to take one example - look cool at the briefing (how often do you see the rockstars sitting there for the cameras?) - but they have to work out here on the ocean as well. In my experience, they are no more effective than my $40 wellies and I've seen and sailed with a lot of people who were wearing them and have tried them myself(borrowed a pair and they were already wet inside and leaked like the proverbial). My wellies do two seasons before the rubber begins to perish and I chuck them and buy another pair - and I have dry feet all the time unless I get water over the top. It is utterly ludicrous that poor McQ has to wear plastic bags inside hers, but maybe she will not get conned so easily next time. This is her second pair - for that money Our Appointed Sailmaker could make me a new storm jib and many of you out there are in the same situation? The fishos, who spend their lives out here, wear wellies like mine. Dry feet reduce fatigue and contribute to safety. And, having said all that, perhaps there are some boots out there that are worth the money but I doubt it.

Then there's wet weather gear. I always used to buy Gill because it is excellent gear, quality control superb and they used to listen to people like me and fix things that didn't work. Before the last Fastnet, I looked for a Gill smock only to find that they only had silver or black ones. So the fashion statement has taken over from the safety factor there too - the primary function of this stuff is to keep us warm and dry, and the secondary one is to provide maximum visibility to the helicopter pilot who might be looking for us in a 1998 storm. It is not - not - to sell product for a sponsor. Or to look good in the bar afterwards. They come way down the list. If you are in the water in a crashing storm at night and you can hear the chopper, would you rather be in a black or silver top or dayglo orange or red or yellow? And the sponsors are now insisting that crews be dressed in company livery - there's a well known outfit that puts people in light blue and white kit - if I were an owner at that level, I'd refuse, point blank, just as I did in my own small way to the Gill HQ salesman who tried to tell me that colour didn't matter - after all, they had a yellow hood. Bollocks. Paint a soccer ball yellow and put it 500 feet away and see how small it looks. Then arrange for waves to break over it. That's what the chopper pilot sees from 500 feet - then try it at night. So now I have a dayglo red Henri smock, lots of retro tape, plus yellow hood and there's a pair of pants on the way to Dutch to match it. Sorry, Gill, but I tried. McQ, incidentally, has a black smock, light blue jacket and blue pants. Dame Ellen, from hazy memory, wore grey.

If us sailors don't insist on these things, it serves us right if there's nothing but froth on the market. Tell them, loud and clear and don't buy it! You will be glad you insisted if it's you in the water. I'd like to see race authorities taking a stand as well - while it might interfere with individual liberty, the safety issue is so important that it's worth it. Just a recommendation would be a start. 1998 changed a lot of things for the better - let's not lose sight of the basic principles just to keep sponsors and the fashion industry happy.


noon at 1300 3855.13 17246.33

dtd 1371, dmg 121. DT Amchitka 785 - about 6 days? My June 3 prediction for Dutch still has legs.

Closer to Petropavlovsk than to Dutch at the mo - love to go have a look...

I think I can say we are now past my mental half way point. Finish not yet in sight but we'll get there, pain yet to come and body weary, complaining, but still able to put one foot ahead of the other. Every painted white line on the road a small hurdle that must be negotiated on the way. This is about 36 k in my mental marathon. It gets harder from here in so many subtle and not so subtle ways.

Too much waiting in the queue. Will stop waffling. Motor sailing more or less straight towards Amchitka. Almost no wind. I expect you all are looking at satellite pics of a big white mass of cloud in the top left corner of the Pacific. Yep! We're under it. Sea mist this morning, water temp 14 degrees.


McQ: More from the Boot Room...

I've been thinking: At some point the plastic bag in my left boot disintegrated- though,possibly my fault for using one of those bags that you might get at a fruit and veg market but would think twice before using even for just your salad leaves!! Anyway, on looking around for a substitute I started thinking... so now I have invented the McQ (patent pending) Gore-Tex Boot Liner... I would like to patent my invention- Speedy I bet you know about stuff like that? Now, this is not a sock, sealskin/waterproof or otherwise, it is quite simply a thin goretex boot liner, a foot shaped liner with the waterproofing capacity of a plastic bag. I have drawn some pics of wet but happy people who have dry tooty-toes using the McQGTBL and wet and sad people who aren't and have soggy feet. I will donate these drawings to be used for the advertising campaign and though we can't really market this to the likes of Dubarry (that would be like admitting your product doesn't work, I guess) there must be lots of waterproof gear people who would make them for us. AND...If this already exists, er, why don't I have a pair??? In the meantime, i am improvising and have discovered that a large ziploc bag, whilst almost too thick is proving quite sturdy!!

I have to defend my baby blue jacket... It was bought for warmth pre Hobart as I had nothing else with me!! I tried to get the lady in the shop to sell me a normal midlayer jacket in red, shall we say (shh, but probably I actually wanted grey or black!!) I specifically told her I didn't want to look girlie before getting on a boat to Hobart with lots of handsome Dutch men!! She only had huge great big man sizes tho'. Anyway, go figure but I came out the shop with a fitted girlie baby blue jacket- and whilst it looks v nice in the YC I am the first to admit that I don't think its designed to cross oceans (it is first on my mental list of stuff to go home from Dutch!!)

And, I shall definitely be reverting to red when my blue bottoms and black smock (which does have some reflective bits on it) wear out and need replacing (and to be fair to Musto, as far as I know, they only make their full on Ocean kit in red and yellow and they've never stopped making the Offshore in red and yellow too, despite the other colours). Until then, I shall use the fact that no one is going to see me to fish me out the water as a deterrent from going for a dip in the first place...

Can you believe it, but the sun is out????

Sunnies on and off to deck we go!!

Speak soon,




ps I am starting to look forward to a glass of red wine, i think thats fair enough after 45 days!!

pps I can see that well known town of Pertropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy on the chart now (!!)


McQ: Alert... Alert... Snickers detected...woo hoo!!!

Its not so miserable outside now!! Just a bit feisty still but its not black and gunky and murky anymore- theres a wee bit moon fuzzing through the cloud. lumpety sea and charging along still in 20 knotters. All good!! To be fair, at the start of the last watch I did stick my heid on deck and after one look around into the gloom decide that the getting through the next 2 hours would require going under my bunk and breaking out the last remaining Tim Tams!!! Whilst hunting for the tim tams I also found more ryvita!! and Steves emergency chocolate... wooo hooo thank you steve!!! Which Alex was as excited about as I when I told him what I had found and brought out!! AND, there is another packet of SNICKERS!!! So, ha, all you who mocked me by sending those mean adn teasing messages about tucking into more snickers at your desks and stuff. We have rations!!! woo hoo!!! I left them under the bunk for the mo- clearly out of sight out of mind works wonders and I think we'll need them next week!!!

T'other news, oh yes very exciting- our Gribs (weather files) that come in are all in pretty colours- no wind- blue, little wind green, then yeller, then orange then lots of wind red and then pink!! and land is little grey blobs... well at moment there is blue and green for the next 24 hours then lots of red, but the most exciting thing is we now have little grey blobs that represent the Aleutians, at the top of the picture!! Wicked!!!

Its hard to write anything articulate and cohesive when you keep popping up on deck to check whats happening- Merc-you Watch is rubbish, I want to be on Whit Watch- they get all the exciting things- first fishing buoys and afishing boat, next watch big shipo, next watch another boat, then last watch he came down woke me up said it was black and grim but the phosphorescence was amazing, I go up on deck- black and grim yes and not even a flicker of luminous green to be seen anywhere to amuse me!!!Had to entertain myself with singing along to power ballads on the Ipod and one or two recitals to the wind of the first 11 verses of AM.

Hope everyone well and happy.

Lots of lvoe

Cor (AKA: McQueen)


ps mum, am shorter than big A- he quite tall. No JC's (obviously, doh!!), why you ask???

message for hannah (via email-thea maybe? are you even there my thea??) if anyone going to jamaica- 'brilliant, darling, brilliant, just the Atlantic to go, you can do it. go Glasgow, much love and vibes to the whole crew from Bol in the North Pacific'!!! FF, thank you for hannah updates- much appreciated!! Is Ricky 4th now and still hot on heels and were NY and H&H 1st/2nd into jamaica or has she closed any gap there, overall??


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