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Full Circle

Day 244: Nome to Wales

Michael Palin - Full CircleIt's so close to the end of the journey that none of us can really concentrate on anything but getting there and spirits slowly sag as a night on the schoolroom floor becomes increasingly likely. Then, preceded by a sudden flurry of radio messages, the US Coast Guard cutter Munro, distinguished by a red stripe running diagonally across her bows emerges from the off-shore cloud like the hand of God or the US cavalry.

From now on things happen fast. We receive word that the weather in the Strait is deteriorating. To speed matters along the Munro will not dock. We must pack our overnight bags and be ready to be picked up by ship's dinghy as soon as possible.

We can all see the ship's dinghy lowered and we all see it set out. A squat, robust orange-coloured boat, bobbing and bouncing against the waves. We all see it making heavy weather of the approach to the shore, disappearing altogether behind the bigger waves. And we all see the dinghy return to the Munro, unable to find a way through the low sandbars across which the waves are breaking with increasing force. The captain has one remaining option, which is to use his on-board helicopter to take us off. It will take a while to be made operational, but if the weather holds he will send it out within half an hour.

We film by a graveyard in amongst the sand-dunes. By the time we have finished the wind is howling round the cape and whipping sharp stinging grains of sand across the face.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 244
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Wales - Alaska
  • Book page no: 319

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