My brother sails across equator, toasts King Neptune with cheap cava

Last fall, my younger brother, Conrad, sailed from France to Brazil. By himself. In a race. On a 20 foot boat.

He set off from Brittany, where, aged 25, he was living in a used electrician’s van. He sailed about ten days to Madeira where the fleet stopped for fresh supplies before setting off again for Brazil. However, the degree of difficulty was raised for him when he lost one of his solar panels, and had to choose between the long-distance radio or the GPS. Needless to say, he kept the GPS. But that meant that he only talked to a few freighter ship captains over the twenty days from Madeira to Recife, Brazil.

When he crossed the equator he had a half bottle of “some cheap cava” that he uncorked to celebrate. He said he was more concerned about it being small and light than being good. But that said, it was “absolutely fantastic.”

The video of him toasting the boat and King Neptune is above. (To clarify, we are half-brothers and he was raised in New Zealand, which explains his jubilation of about being “home” again in the Southern Hemisphere.) You can check out his site and read about his preparations for his 30,000-mile around-the-world race that he starts next year. Hopefully he’ll have some nice bubbly to celebrate the end of that accomplishment.

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10 Responses to “My brother sails across equator, toasts King Neptune with cheap cava”

  1. Incredible focus and dedication. I imagine you’re setting aside some bubbly for him.

  2. Looks to me like a mini-bottle of Freixenet Cordon Negro. Extra dry or Brut?

  3. You should put your research skills to work and find him the nicest Champagne in the lightest bottle for his next trip. That said, I guess that the celebration for that one would be making it back to where you started, so maybe you should arrange for a large format bottle awaiting his return on the dock. Just sayin…

  4. Even alowing for the fact that your brother’s a Kiwi, and that Neptune is a no longer an A-list deity, offering cava just will not do. We are enjoined to give only “the firstlings of our flock [Grand Cru Champagne] and the fat [good vintages] thereof.” Recall what happened to Cain when he offered up “the fruit of the ground.” Drinking cava on shipboard is worse that shooting an albatross and will lead to a similar fate!

  5. Great video! Thanks for sharing. You must be a proud brother.

  6. Beside the whole cheap Cava issue. What I really want to know is was I the only one whose immediate thought upon reading they stopped in Madeira for supplies was to question, “did he pick up a barrel or two for ‘ballast’ while he was there?”
    Common at least a barrel is required for a 20-footer, sure it’s in the nautical rules somewhere. Neptune would ensure a safe journey with that sort of cargo on board.
    Idea for the next trip maybe. Mmmm some 30k mile Madeira anyone?

  7. Robin – Yes, it is an amazing accomplishment and I will set aside some good bubbly for his next one. (Or maybe even some still wine since I have an ’83 Bordeaux to share with him–his birth year.)

    But in a way, the wine angle on this story is that when you have a moment of euphoria, such as sailing across the equator solo, the accomplishment itself is so sweet that you really don’t need great wine to savor. If he had had ’96 Krug, would he have been any happier than is two euro cava? Probably not. But it is certainly an experiment I’d be willing to participate in.

    GR – yes, that’s what it looks like.

    Jerrod – yes, indeed. But see my comment above to Robin. What do you think about context trumping the wine itself?

    John – Very funny about King Neptune! Perhaps I will have to reconsider my comment to Robin. 😉

    Castello – yes!

    Stefan – Yes, that’s what I thought of too. And despite my suggestion, he didn’t even try any Madeira in Madeira! But he was really trying to throw off ballast and any extra weight, hence the small bottle of bubbly.

  8. I din’t think that it matters one bit what you drink when you’re sailing alone acorss the Equator. It’s all good! What an adventure. I’ve been to Recife before. Did you’re brother stay in Brazil at all? Or did he have to sail back to France right away? It sounds like he took the route that the Portuguese did when Brazil was still a colony. So romantic!

  9. One more thought on that: Perhaps he should have honored the moody and vain sea goddess, Yemanja, like they do in Rio de Janeiro on New Years Day, by throwing tiny mirrors and cosmetics overboard. Then he could drink whatever he liked and nobody would complain.

  10. Dr. V-

    I know exactly what you mean about context. I traveled in France and Spain for a few months when I was on the “Dean’s Vacation” from University after my freshman year of school. The wine I drank during those frugal months backpacking was some of the best I’ve had to date.

    I definitely wondered about the Madeira factor


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