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I hadn’t planned on getting this drunk so early in the flight. The inevitable consequence is you wind up wide awake, with about three hours left, with a mild wine hangover, and a battle with LAX to look forward to.

The first time I crossed this ocean, it was at a pace roughly one-eightieth the one we’re doing now. The surface of the ocean is hidden now under the requisite equatorial overcast, somewhere south of the Solomons, and a succession of squalls has built updrafts that are shaking my red wine strongly enough to require me to chug it, or face decorating the Macbook with cheap American Airlines swill. It was annoying at sea level, too.

I can keep tabs on my old work, a Royal Huisman ketch, via the AIS system, a global yacht positioning service. Private yachts aren’t really required to have it, but it helps keep them noticeable by shipping traffic. She hasn’t left the Med since I left it in Hong Kong, where they shut her down, loaded it onboard a specialised vessel intended to ship yachts long distances, and sailed for Antibes. What a fucking waste – in my haste to cash in, I missed out on what was essentially a two-month paid holiday while they moved the boat, although it would have shat me to no end seeing her loaded up like a shipping container, rather than making the passage the right way. A circumnavigation would have been grand. It’s on me now to finish the trip, one of my life’s goals.

But that year is a great example of how we deify the more adventurous aspects of our youth. It was a good year, a lucrative year, one full of challenges, thrills, and travel. But apart from the transpacific trip and a transit of the South China Sea, we were mostly harbourbound, and yard work was duller than a box factory. The money was good, but only because I had no personal space aboard, no flat of my own, and nowhere to spend it. My mind was going soft for lack of a challenge, keeping me awake at night, relentlessly aware that I was drawing a wage by polishing another man’s toy. Rediscovering proper food, challenging work, regular sex, and inspiring conversation kept me from considering a return in all but my most poverty-driven moments.

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