“You've earned it, guys,” said Lionel. It is midday Monday, and for the first time since casting off, we can now ditch our oilskins. For the first time, we aren't getting buckets of seawater dumped on our heads; for the first time, Gitana 13 is running under full sail. The ocean has gotten smoother, and, cruising along at “only” 20-22 knots, we are soaking up the tropical mildness. It's amazing how much easier things get when sailing on a calm surface. With the can of peanuts back next to the coffee grinder, discussions are lively here on the left hull, where all the action has been since the start.
“Vacation's over.” It's now the middle of Monday night. The big gennaker has been stowed, the small one is ready to go up, and the solent is pulling the boat southward. Less than 10 miles away stands a squall line, picked up by the satellite photo just sent to us by Sylvain Mondon, also on the alert at his computer in Toulouse. According to Dominic Vittet, the Doldrums are exhibiting “textbook behavior,” i.e., violent, with powerful, ink-black squalls separated by zones of dead calm. “The door isn't open, it's only half open...got it boys?” That's Zolive, the one who never misses a chance to crack us up. You're right Zolive, even if you are a first-timer to the equator: now more than ever we need to remain humble in this zone where, like Asterix and his fellow Gauls, you feel like the “sky is going to fall on your head.”
I would like to take advantage of this moment of calm (30 knots, 1 reef in the solent) to relate a very important culinary event that took place onboard Gitana 13. Today, the most adventurous among us, the winner of the Route du Rhum, our skipper—yes, I'm talking about Lionel Lemonchois—has taken a firm step forward on very shaky ground: he tasted the freeze-dried omelet.
This requires some background. This mustard-yellow powder, to which you add three parts water, is not very appetizing at first glance. In fact, it immediately elicited serious reservations among my fellow boatsmen relative to its gustatory value.
However, I can now inform you—thanks to one man's daring—that this omelet made of dehydrated eggs has surprised everyone. Dotted with bits of ham and cheese, this concoction will surely, in the future, be the origin of more than one conflict among the crew. We need to find a solution.