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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 40: 3 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysMy eighth consecutive day at sea. Exactly half-way through my ration of days, but far from half-way round the world. Ron wakes me with a cry of 'Mi-kel! Allo Mi-kel!' and a cup of coffee. We're 160 miles off the Vietnamese coast and a big sea is running, whipped up by a Force 7 wind from the north. The Beaufort Scale, on which these things are measured, is still internationally accepted as the wind speed criterion. On the bridge is a display board of photographs illustrating the various conditions. Force 7 is white caps and 10 foot waves. The hurricane that struck southern England a year ago was Force 11. The top of the range is 18, though it's hard to find anyone alive to talk about a Force 18.

I find a gym with table tennis, some weights and a rowing machine, and row for a quarter of an hour. At least I can say I've rowed across the South China Sea. I even manage a run on deck. I get soaked with spray every time I pass the bows, which is most refreshing.

The captain has to admit that the current is running against us and has forced a cut of one and a half knots per hour and our ETA in Hong Kong is now 2 a.m. on November 5. But we are still in less of a crisis than Fogg, whose vessel had also hit strong Northwesterlies and Passepartout had begun to panic:

'Until then everything had moved on so well! Land and sea seemed to be devoted to his master. Steamers and railways obeyed him. Wind and steam combined to favour his journey. Had the hour of mistakes finally sounded?' On the Diamond the only precautions the captain advises is that not more than two of us should use the lift at the same time.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 40
  • Date: 3 November
  • Country/sea: Pacific Ocean
  • Place: South China Sea
  • Book page no: 128

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