FROM 1-19. Senegal and Pete's Birthday

Sep 09, 2005 - 0430hrs UTC │Balloons for Pete’s Birthday

0430hrs 09 Sep 2005 UTC 15’37”N 025’12”W Ref 342

The Old Geezer has hit 60 in various parts of the world already. He’s threatening to shave off his beard – says it itches, but really it’s because it makes him look older. We have had a Date Line G&T to start the celebrations, the first birthday card has been delivered and duly filed and the lad is resting. I will blow up the balloons in the 0300 watch tomoz and deliver the second birthday card and – perhaps – a small present to get him through the rest of the day at 0600. The satphone will be on from 0600 UTC for the party network to talk to him – except that it looks like the line of thundersqualls might thwart that one – try anyway. And there’s almost no wind yet again – drifting in the heat.

I’ve been reading Captain Correlli and I think all y’all need a pet clone of Pelagia’s little goat to exercise selective digestive censorship on all this nonsense. Was going to offer a 6 pack of Coopers to the first person to name the Goat’s Island correctly, but, sadly, Google has just made it a matter of who is quickest on the draw. It was Cephallonia.

Get that network going out there…

This grey haired old fart has just spent the last hour belting away with a tiny plastic pump to blow up those sausage balloons that you twist into animal and other shapes. A semi-futile exercise, as the pump has no non-return valve and keeps coming apart. But the cockpit is bedecked with coloured sausages to greet the birthday boy when he emerges at dawn. Which is occurring a few minutes earlier today as we creep back to the east. Thanks, Wendy.

Have just caught a glimpse of an aircraft through the low cloud – funny time to be arriving. Apart from that, and a couple of others that Pete saw some days ago, we have seen nothing human since Madeira except plastic bottles and other floating gunk. It’s a desert out here. We did not see Santo Antao, as Hugh predicted – I think in fact we were too far away – but we are aiming directly at Ilha Brava, the south western island of the C.V. Archipelago which we should reach in daylight. Not a fishing boat or a ship in sight anywhere around what seems to be a well populated and touristy place.

We seem to be slotting in between the tropical waves that form as swirls along the convergence line between the warm air to the south and the cooler air in the north. The waves form little depressions that move westwards at 10 – 15 knots with the earth’s rotation about a day or two apart, with attendant thundersqualls and nasty gusts. They then go on to become Katrinas as they deepen and grow, but not all of them last that long.

At breakfast time today we will commence a Conclave of Consultation lasting all day, with no less that four Prominent Medical Persons due to visit and provide Learned Opinions about the price of fish and the state of the world’s entrails. There will be our regular Consultant from Dublin, his colleagues Dr Boag from Hobart, Dr Cooper from Adelaide (go away, Lion Nathan!) and Dr Gordon from London, together with their students. A record of proceedings may become available at some future date.

Go the Swans – and there’s a cricket match due to start soon too! Maggie, Katherine, whoever, please let us know – the BBC is not interested and anyway, I can only get it feebly and occasionally. What is the world sinking to? An institution fades away on the dubious basis that it is all accessible on the internet. I beg to differ.

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