Day M26: The Wake-Up Call

23.10.11: Thomas woke me up some time after ten to tell me that he was going out with Patti for a bit. I dragged myself out of bed and marvelled at how wonderful the world is when one goes CouchSurfing, stumbled into the shower and held on for dear life – as far as my sense of equilibrium was concerned, I was still at sea. Downing half a keg of beer last night probably didn’t help. I was still shaking the cobwebs out of my pickled brain when Tom and Patti returned looking irritatingly fresh-faced and wholesome. I was feeling lower than a rat that ratted on his pals and that steady tide of nausea that accompanies an epic hangover was starting to kick in. Fresh air was what I needed, but first, the internet! I hadn’t managed to get online since I accidentally broke Stan’s…

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Days M20-M24: The Papuan Chief

17.10.11-21.10.11: Monday was spent at sea familiarising myself with the ship. Swire take their safety seriously: I’m not allowed out on deck unless I’m wearing a boiler suit and steel toe-capped boots. After a tour of the vessel (a 1991 Miho-Type freighter, 4 storage bays, 3 cranes, 9000HP, top speed 15.5 knots) I familiarised myself with the onboard bar “Ye Pracktickle Navigatore” and got up to speed with some of the editing and writing I’ve been putting off for months as the south coast of New Britain floated past the window. On the Tuesday we skirted around the coast of New Ireland and arrived on the island of Lihir – home of the biggest goldmine in PNG. It’s a privately-owned port and I’d need a two-day induction to even step foot on dry land. A volcanic island located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, the mining…

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Day 82: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

23.03.09: The madness of leaving at night, drunk and without a weather window slowly dawned on us - looking to port and looking to starboard, electrical storms cackled like mischievous witches in the heavens. I mean, sitting in the middle of the ocean inside what is effectively a large lightning conductor has got to test the judgment of even the most illogical earthlings. So we dropped the sails and threw out the sea anchor - but this is the Gulf Stream - it's like the bit in Finding Nemo with the surf dude turtles - you can't fight the flow baby. Even with no sail, no engine and a sea anchor deployed, we were still doing four knots toward Mexico - four knots towards instant fried crackly doom. Captain Johnny laughed at me for hurriedly putting my gloves on. You think that a tiny bit of…

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Day 80: Hooked!

21.03.09: What WOULD Philias Fogg have said? If all had been going to plan I'd be in AFRICA by now, having already stepped foot in every country in The Americas and Europe. And yet, I'm spending an entire day on a boat trying to get reach one little country. I'm caked in sea-salt, my hair is dry and matted and my beard is threatening to take over my face again. Not only that, but as I was at the helm, Captain Johnny was trying to fix the main sail into a better position when a hook twanged off and SMACKED me in the head - blood gushed, I thought I was done for - fifty miles from shore and here's my head dripping more blood than a vampire drinks in a week. Bit scary. It wasn't too bad in the end - no stitches required -…

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