Saturday, 28 November 2009

The Voyage: Tuesday November 17

Position: 47°17'45.67"N 2° 9'22.00"W

When we woke up in the morning the boat had docked. We decided to get off and go into town, even though it was a very short stop. The first officer told us it would be nicer to go to La Baule instead of St. Nazaire, and the taxi driver confirmed this. So that's where we went. The taxi situation was the same as in Le Havre: one car would do a round trip. The first group (Margit, Alex, Kjell and I) went straight after breakfast.
The taxi driver told us La Baule was the Miami of Bretagne.
The first difference we noticed was that it was marginally smaller. The second difference was that it was grey and wet. And I don't mean the sea. Well, that too, but I meant the sky.
We got there at 8.45 and everything was still shut. By the time we'd walked down the high street on to the beach it was almost 9, so we thought a coffee should be possible now. We found a small patisserie that had won a prize for best chocolate sculpture, and sat down. Around 9.45 the others arrived, joined us for coffee and then we each went our own way, checking out the town and buying some last supplies.

Even though we got fed a lot on board, there was a big gap between lunch (at noon) and dinner (at 7pm), so we bought some snacks.
Kjell bought a cable to connect the computer to the tv, because if we wanted to watch any more films or use computer images to work with, it was much nicer to watch a big screen than to all gather around a 15 inch computer screen.
I bought some superglue...

At 11.15 we were picked up by the same taxi driver who drove us there. This time he did allows us to all get into the 7-seater (we are 8). We had to be on board by noon, as the ship was leaving at 2pm.

In Montoir a new captain came on board. The previous on had finished his two month stint and was going home.

We had lunch and wandered around the boat, eagerly awaiting the moment where we would leave land behind us.

At 2pm the pilot came on board and manoeuvred us out of the port. Under a big bridge down the Loire towards the Atlantic.

By 4pm we could no longer see land, so we opened Sjón's letters. Sjón is an Icelandic writer (he wrote the script for Dancer in the Dark), and he is part of this project. He is not with us on the boat, but he wrote each of us a letter.
We all sat around the coffee table in the living room and opened the big brown envelope. 8 smaller envelopes of various sizes, colours and thickness fell out of it.

All Kjell had given Sjón was our names, nationality and a very brief biog. Apart from Kjell, none of us have ever met him.
Each letter contained a different world, a different story, different imagery. It felt like being a child in a toy shop.
Some examples:
Margit got a letter from a watchmaker in Germany, saying that her order of a space/time continuum defeating watch had been received, with a request for more specific instructions of the requirements of the watch. In the envelope was also a small box with inside it a pocket watch with a collection of tiny gold cogs and the hands of a watch. They were all loose inside the pocket watch. It was beautiful.
David got a letter from the Zambia River Guard Old Boys Club, nominating him as Friend of the Year and asking him for advice on sea monsters.
Liz got a letter from a man asking her to look for his father and 10 brothers who were lost at sea since their boat couldn't turn back and kept sailing west many years ago. Included was a picture of a boat with 11 men on it.

After distributing the letters we took some solo time to think about possible responses to the letters.
I mended the stone penis and carried on with Marie's camera.

At dinner we got the standard basket of fruit as desert and Kieran called Speedy over. 'Do we have any...' (I like the 'do we have'. It implied some sort of joint ownership of the kitchen, or maybe even the whole boat). 'Do we have any... ice... you know, ice cream...?'
Speedy laughed, raised his eyebrows, shook his head and left the dining room. As I mentioned earlier, Speedy is a man of few words.
Oh well, worth a try.
Two minutes later Speedy came back with a single serving of chocolate ice cream and a big smile.
We all burst out laughing. As Kieran was eating his ice cream, he said he was not so fond of chocolate ice cream. He should have been more specific then.
But it would have been rude not to finish it, so he enjoyed all of it.

After dinner we started the second round of sea shanties and played some board and card games.
We were now too far away from land to have any mobile reception. This was it.
The Atlantic.

We had some pastis to celebrate my birthday, and as the ship was rocking, Liz used the plantpot to stabilise her drink. The coffee table had an antislip mat on it, but no other surface did.

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