Editor's note: The 10 meter sailing vessel Berrimilla completed a circumnavigation of the world via Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, (http://www.berrimilla.com) during which her crew, Alex Whitworth and Pete Crozier, linked up with the crew of the International Space Station.
As a result of this contact, Alex and Pete were invited by Leroy Chiao, who was the Commander of the ISS during their contacts, and Keith Cowing to give a presentation about Berrimilla's voyage to a Risk and Exploration Symposium at Louisiana State University (co-chaired by Leroy and Keith), using the voyage as a simple analog for a journey into deep space.
After the Symposium, in a bar on the edge of LSU Campus, Pascal Lee drew a map in Alex's notebook. This became an invitation to undertake another, rather more symbolic voyage through the North West Passage to link up with the Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island in time to observe the total solar eclipse on 1 August 2008.
Editor's update: Leroy and I are a bit concerned about our friend Alex. Read the following words and imagine, instead of worrying about reaching Dutch Harbor, Alaska, that he is talking about Mars and the problems he and his crew mates are having getting back to base in a dust storm with a broken rover. Talk of remaining electrical power evokes Apollo 13 issues. All previous updates are online here.
Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 27 April 2008
"We have a smidge over 4000 miles to Dutch. The next 700 or so of that is potentially windless. We may or may not have an engine. We have about 300 litres of diesel and 5 litres of oil. We need about 3.5 amps to run the computer and instruments. The airgen can carry that - mostly - when we have wind.
So - lets say 40 days to Dutch. We desperately need wind - to motor 700 miles would use all our diesel but we can work the little breeze there is and squeak along. Yesterday we did 60 miles - so perhaps 11 - 12 days to the trades.
Seems to me that the best bet is to monitor the engine very carefully and use it as necessary to get through the holes and up to 5 deg N and - I hope - some real wind. We need to keep about 80 - 100 litres of diesel for the N pacific, so we have perhaps 200 litres or 100+ hours of motoring @ about 4 knots = about 400 miles of the 700.
Really skinny but manageable as long as the engine lasts. If the engine really has the dickies, then it's a long sail with very limited comms and whatever the airgen will give us to run the systems. Water will definitely be a problem."
Send a message to the crew of Berrimilla - post in their "Gustbook"