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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 75: 8 December

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysWake feeling much better. Head clearer and though there is a coffee cup-sliding swell out there, the ship copes with it much better than did the Neptune Garnet.

Christian, the Faroean, is alone on the bridge. He is one of the most lugubrious people I've ever met, but seems quite happy about it. He calculates our position for me.

For the first time in seventy-five days the chart shows Britain, and on a nautical map our favoured position is very clear. The fish-rich Continental shelf extends right around the British Isles and in places a hundred miles beyond, whereas it is only a thin strip along the coasts of France, Spain and Portugal. And the North Sea is covered in a black rash of oil rigs. We're making a respectable 22.1 knots and are 1929 miles from New York.

There is, on the aft deck, lashed into a space which would have accommodated fifty containers, a very interesting piece of cargo. It's the shell of a slim, elegant sailing boat. It has no name, no superstructure, and the planks of its all-wood hull are wet and rotting, but someone must value it enough to pay the substantial amount to transport it at the cost of so much container space. Today Jesper solves a little of the mystery for me. The yacht dates from 1932, her destination is Felixstowe and she's being transported by the Sea Containers Group, whose chairman, James Sherwood, was responsible for the re-creation of the Orient Express.

Abandon my afternoon exercise as a wind strong enough to prevent walking, let alone running on deck, has appeared from nowhere. The Professor is concerned that there might be supernatural forces at work on the ship. He had lost his faithful tobacco tin, his navy sweater and now it seems that his whisky bottle is suffering from the Widow's Cruse syndrome. No matter how much he drinks it seems to maintain the same level. It has been a long journey and I suppose one of us was bound to crack up.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 75
  • Date: 8 December
  • Country/sea: Atlantic Ocean
  • Place: Atlantic Ocean
  • Book page no: 242

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