CHAPTER 8: The Bay of Vigo
THE ATLANTIC! A vast expanse of water whose surface area is 25,000,000
square miles, with a length of 9,000 miles and an average width
of 2,700. A major sea nearly unknown to the ancients, except perhaps
the Carthaginians, those Dutchmen of antiquity who went along
the west coasts of Europe and Africa on their commercial junkets!
An ocean whose parallel winding shores form an immense perimeter
fed by the world's greatest rivers: the St. Lawrence, Mississippi,
Amazon, Plata, Orinoco, Niger, Senegal, Elbe, Loire, and Rhine,
which bring it waters from the most civilized countries as well
as the most undeveloped areas! A magnificent plain of waves plowed
continuously by ships of every nation, shaded by every flag in the world,
and ending in those two dreadful headlands so feared by navigators,
Cape Horn and the Cape of Tempests!
The Nautilus broke these waters with the edge of its spur after
doing nearly 10,000 leagues in three and a half months, a track
longer than a great circle of the earth. Where were we heading now,
and what did the future have in store for us?
Emerging from the Strait of Gibraltar, the Nautilus took to the
high seas. It returned to the surface of the waves, so our daily
strolls on the platform were restored to us.
I climbed onto it instantly, Ned Land and Conseil along with me.
Twelve miles away, Cape St. Vincent was hazily visible, the southwestern
tip of the Hispanic peninsula. The wind was blowing a pretty
strong gust from the south. The sea was swelling and surging.
Its waves made the Nautilus roll and jerk violently.
It was nearly impossible to stand up on the platform,
which was continuously buffeted by this enormously heavy sea.
After inhaling a few breaths of air, we went below once more.
I repaired to my stateroom. Conseil returned to his cabin;
but the Canadian, looking rather worried, followed me. Our quick
trip through the Mediterranean hadn't allowed him to put his plans
into execution, and he could barely conceal his disappointment.
After the door to my stateroom was closed, he sat and stared
at me silently.