That first crossing, which took 31 days instead of the planned 21, was a classic—two major storms, force-11 winds, 35-foot waves, gear failures of every sort. Ruette and Butruille were exhausted most of the way and fearful for their lives the rest. But through it all, they ate well.
This time, Ruette had four mouths to feed on the way over and a menu that included 25 different main courses—most of them hearty dishes typical of France's traditional bourgeois cuisine. "The sauces of bourgeois cooking help make the packages airtight," he says. Nonetheless, Ruette shows a visitor a packet of tiny haricots verts that look so bright green and fresh they could pass inspection even in Prunelle's decidedly modern French kitchen.
In August Ruette will make the return trip, Le Havre to New York, alone. "I have sailed all my life," he said a few days before his departure. "I love the sea. What bigger dream for a sailor than to cross an ocean?"