FROM 1-11. South Atlantic-26°S

Apr 05, 2005 - 2214hrs UTC

2214hrs 05 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 150

We finally cracked part of the rendezvous – we saw the ISS high and clear about 10 minutes ago for the first time since all this started – huge thrill – but we’d already decided it was too chancy with cloud moving over to risk wasting a flare so we didn’t in case no one was watching. But we waved with wild abandon. As one does…yeeeha! Brittany, would you please tell Leroy?

This bit was written as we waited, so it doesn’t really follow, but y’all may as well have it.

We’ve been sailing for about 10 days with no sign of another human being except these emails and Leroy Chiao’s evening check in. But a huge empty ocean it isn’t – for me it’s a place of ghosts – not the moaning blobs of Hollywood protoplasm but the shades and memories of all the people who have been here before us and left no mark except perhaps their stories lost in some vault somewhere. The man, for instance, who in a very early expedition to find a way to the Pacific was hit by a severe storm this side of the Horn and saved his ship and crew by beaching it on one of the islands near the Horn and wintering there before sailing back to – I think – Portugal, where his name has been lost but his report still exists. A man I would have liked to have known. And Magellan, Drake, Hawkins and many many known and unknown Portugese and Spanish explorers in tiny ships with superstitious and mutinous crews who came this way – mostly along the Brazilian coast and not this far out – plus the migrants, the tea clippers, the treasure galleons from central America and the north coast of South America, the whalers, the fishermen, the German and British battle fleets of the first and second world wars and the British task force in 1982, some of whom were friends of mine – and all the dead who remained behind, in the ocean and on the battlefields and in the settlements and, particularly poignant for me, the Argentine Army dead who are still in the Falklands. And Tommy Melville, with whom I first set out for Rio in 1982.  And all the unknown and forgotten people who have been lost trying to find the way to other lives. And the original Tierra del Fuegans who survived down there in the harshest conditions at least until Europeans arrived – they’re all here in my imagination. Without them all and their endeavours and their history, I might not have been here myself. And perhaps I will one day exist in some other memory.

Arlette – good to hear from you and glad nothing’s changed – give our regards to Jen and all – we’re still dunkin that shortbread.

And John F, thanks for the newspaper article – we cant get the internet out here, so we won’t get to read it until we get to the UK unless you have a soft copy you could send us via the website if it’s not too long. Good to meet you too and the storm is just a nasty blur now. I’m wearing the trousers you last saw me in as I sat on the big tractor tyre trying to keep Berri from getting smashed on the East jetty all covered in black rubber marks.

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