Voyage of Traveler / Blog

September 27, 2009

Traveler Postcard from 0 Longitude

Buenos dias,

We finally departed Bar-the-lona, with Traveler’s refit completed, on September 23, and enjoyed sailing a hundred miles through the night to Palma, Majorca, where we celebrated my 56th birthday with a Captain’s Dinner.  That’s when I set the table with the Waterford crystal and china and we fix a special meal.  Brain barbecued the salmon, Jake made the ravioli and salad with blue cheese dressing, and I poured the sangria.

The following day we cruised over to Ibiza, the No. 1 party town in the Med.  Jake and Brian went out to a night club that didn’t even open until midnight, and really got into the full swing of things at about 2:30 or 3, until dawn.  I flamed out at midnight, after three beers.  Just can’t stay up late like I used to when I was 20.

We are sailing through the night again, this time between Ibiza and Cartegena. It is 0300 and the wind and seas are building.

Here is our weather report:
“Easterly 5 to 7, becoming cyclonic in west later. Severe gusts.  Moderate or rough.  Thundery rain.”

The “5 to 7″ part is the wind speed on the Beaufort scale; a Force 7 means winds up to 33 knots, which is classified as a moderate gale. The “moderate or rough” part refers to the sea state.  Should be a fun ride.

We just put a double reef in the main and completely furled the jib to slow the boat down, and we are still doing over 7 knots.

And it is very dark.  The moon set hours ago, and the clouds block out all the stars.  You look outside and it is like being in a cave when you turn off the flashlight.  From the cockpit, you can hear the waves breaking all around you, but can’t see them. Wouldn’t want to fall overboard.

Also, we just crossed the Prime Meridian, which is 0 degrees longitude, and in so doing re-entered the Western Hemisphere.  Interesting about the placement of the Prime Meridian.  It is completely arbitrary (not like 0 degrees latitude, which is of course the equator), but it has to be put somewhere on the globe.  For the 15th through 18th centuries map makers placed the Prime Meridian through the capital of their home country.  For example, the French maps had 0 degrees longitude running through Paris, which Dan Brown managed to work into the plot for the DaVinci Code, with the dividing line running through the center aisle of a church.  Spain was an exception.  For their maps the Spanish placed the Prime Meridian at Isla Hierro, the western most of the seven Canary Islands because, they believed, that was the end of the known world. It stayed that way until, by treaty among the world powers of western Europe, the Prime Meridian was awarded to England, then the most powerful country in the world.  The Brits placed it in the London suburb of Greenwich at the Naval Observatory, home of the Admiralty’s Charts.

Viviendo el Sueno,

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