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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 63: 26 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysPlenty of signs now of approaching landfall. A profusion of pelicans, cormorants and terns. Fat seagulls perch proprietorially on the containers. A school of dolphins, small jets of water signalling their progress, arc lazily through the water to the east. I feel concerned about their safety as deep sea fishing boats bob about in these waters, bristling with rods. The sea begins to smell salty, as it never does out on the ocean. The inevitable plastic and polystyrene detritus accumulates, there's a sudden profusion of radio stations and the sound of airliners again. There's also the sobering sight of a low cloud stained brown with pollution, extending about a half mile out into the clear air of the Pacific. It's frightening to see so clearly the mess we live in. It's like stepping from a rock pool into dirty bath water.

By lunchtime we're down to 12 and a half knots and passing Malibu beach. The stars and stripes flies from the masthead, alongside the flags of Singapore and Neptune Orient Lines. We may be an ugly duckling, stacked with boxes, scuffed and yellowing in the hull, but we're 40,000 tons and eleven storeys high. A sailboat flutters perilously close to us, like a moth drawn to a light. Our deep and sonorous horn blasts out and Captain Amirapu shakes his head, 'This is the land of the free, you see. Any rich American can take his boat out right into the lane, without knowing anything.'
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 63
  • Date: 26 November
  • Country/sea: Pacific Ocean
  • Place: Santa Barbara Channel
  • Book page no: 201

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