One of the best-documented ongoing voyages on Earth is that of Alex Whitworth and Peter Crozier aboard "Berrimilla."  You’ll remember these true anarchists as the guys that sailed to England for the Fastnet Race and then cruised to Sydney for the Hobart immediately afterwards.  Still unsatisfied with land life, their latest adventure included a circumnavigation via the Northwest Passage, and they’re finally on the home stretch, nearing the Kerguelen Islands and just half an ocean away from Sydney where it all began. Their old site is finally fixed, so you can check out the history here, and follow their current blog right here.  And  here’s a note from the boys, and a recent example of their beautiful writing.

First Macca, now perhaps Sailing Anarchy. Can this be fame? Notoriety? Just the result of being seen as freaks? Ho hum. Happy New Year to all you anarchists out there if you do get to read this nonsense.

This is a savage bit of ocean, even in summer. The early Portuguese explorers called it ‘the graveyard of ships’ and no bloody wonder. There’s a lot of them still here including Bartholomeu Diaz, one of my heroes. It seems to have even more bite than last time we were here. Hoping that once we get clear of the influence of the African continent, it will come to its senses.

Some of you have asked what happens after a big knockdown – does Berri just spring back as if it was always intended to have a bit of fun. Yep – that’s what happens – well, it is what has always happened so far! – her angle of vanishing stability is 146 degrees – she will roll to 146 degrees and still have righting moment so is immensely stiff by modern standards and she just flips back once the wave has past. Different story if the mast goes into the water though, as we found when we were rolled right over and dismasted off Gabo Island 3 years ago this week. You can read that story here.

Trivia (January 4, 2010)
Variations on a theme of Prufrock. When I was camping out in the bloodhouse on the corner of the main drag in Nome in July 2008, in those uncertain days while we waited for Point Barrow ice to break and melt, I needed to make coffee and I bought a small electric water boiler which came with a little blue plastic funnel and a pack of 100 one cup filter papers. I left the heater with Pat when we departed, but I still have the funnel and 15 of those 100 filters left – that’s 85 cups of coffee for the NW passage, the Atlantic across the top and then down to Agulhas and the Indian to here.  A silly statistic – rough guess, 13000 miles – so a cup every 150 miles or so. Must have drunk a lot in the NWP because almost none from Falmouth to here.

And the not so trivial – as you read this you are probably sitting at your computer, surrounded by all the usual paraphernalia – books, papers, pencils, coffee cups, photos of the cat, the cat itself and all the rest. Imagine if you will what would happen if your house was turned on its side and a bit past horizontal. All sorts of chaos – that’s what has just happened to us. 

Quite a severe knockdown, as usual after the wind had abated considerably and we’d thought it safe to set some sail and get going again. I was perhaps too ambitious with the wind angle, putting it more on the beam than the quarter. Pete was here behind the cone of silence (heavy plastic curtain protecting the nav table and the electronics – it has saved our bacon countless times) and I’d just got up for a pee and was looking directly through the big starboard galley window and saw it coming. The boat rose and rolled to port and everything not properly stowed in the galley and quarter berth shelves launched itself across the boat and into the cone – tubs of margarine, apples, some kilkenny – all sorts of chaos. We must have rolled through about 110 degrees – a tub of margarine that started below the waterline in a quarter berth bin made a big splat of yellow goo right at the top of the cone and was still going up. Then it and several others fell to the floor and – of course – ended upside down on our bit of hairy matting. Careful stowage looked after the rest of the (heavy) gear around the boat but a timely reminder of our vulnerability. The cockpit was a disaster zone but no apparent damage and now all sorted and cleaned up. Pete’s asleep, I’m on watch and the big waves are still out there. Poo!

Makes Kerguelen look very iffy indeed.