The elusive equator

Geronimo was supposed to reach the Equator on Monday, but the wind gods are still not smiling

Tuesday February 26th 2002, Author: Geronimo, Location: Transoceanic
At 14:30 this afternoon, Geronimo was still just 70 miles from the equator.

The following message was received from skipper Olivier de Kersauson today at the race control centre:

"Nothing new is happening here - it's like the Gobi desert. The horizon's empty and the clouds don't even move. There's bright moonlight at night and the day brings blue sky and sunshine. The boat's reflection is hardly disturbed by the surface of the sea. Sometimes there are flashes of summer lightning during the night.

Violent calm.

In the heavy air of the night, an African turtledove landed on the starboard float then disappeared. In these latitudes, birds often land on boats to die after being ravaged by storms.

You can give them bread, water and rest, but it's no good: they're just so exhausted. Who could withstand being sucked eight or ten thousand metres up through a cloud column to be thrown out again over a thousand kilometres from where you started over an element you've never seen before? It looks like a lake, but it has no shore. So they just fly, fly, fly.

The same thing happens off the coast of Brittany when we have strong easterlies. It's not unusual to see a blue tit or a robin fifteen or twenty miles offshore.
I once managed to save one by positioning the boat so it could land. It worked and I was really proud of that.

Everything about Geronimo is a bit depressed today, because these winds that hurl the birds from the sky aren't even ruffling the sails of the boat.

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