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Meet the Rough Scientists

Capraia Diary: Mike Leahy



Monday 12th July

Woke up late, if 4.45am can be termed late. Headed down to the port and got into a small wooden rowing boat in which we would enact the landing scene. I was feeling dog rough, and thought that I was going to vom at any minute. Eventually we arrived at the landing point and we prepared to climb out onto the rocks. The sea had other ideas however, and the waves made the jump to the shore pretty tricky, especially with a hangover. Just as we were going to jump, the boat hit the rocks, but we made it. Giovani, the boat owner was not impressed though.

While we were playing around with the boats, Drew filmed us from the cliffs above, but not everyone could get out of the little craft, so we returned to the port and walked back to the landing site to do some walking scenes (several times). As we sat down between takes, ticks climbed up our legs, but none attached. Even so it was pretty amusing, especially as Vanessa later found one crawling around in her knickers.

Following lunch we left for the prison where Jonathan and I started work on our crystal radio and a sextant/quadrant with which to measure our latitude. Before long I had got a monk on. The filming often prevented us from doing any work, and there was little I could do to help Jonathan with the radio because it was very much a one-man job. I became bored and moody, and ended up falling asleep. Finally, when it became dark enough to see the North Star, it was my turn to do something, and we took a latitude reading with the quadrant which turned out to be pretty accurate.

making the sextant

contortions building the radio

Tuesday 13th July

Day Two. It was my birthday, and a relatively late start. My alarm failed again, and I woke at 8am full of the joys of spring, but with no breakfast. We headed straight up to the prison. Today I had more to do, but I was totally dependent on the radio, which was coming together very slowly. As I busied myself putting up a huge barbed wire aerial, thunder started rumbling in the distance further delaying my activities — bummer! Even so, after the storm had passed I made reasonable progress, and by lunchtime had made a pendulum, a North-South transept line, a sundial, and had taken a few quadrant readings from the sun.. Noon came and went, and we still had no radio. By mid-afternoon Jonathan was becoming very tired, but he persevered and started to make progress. Even so there was constant debate.

Plans were changed, then changed back, and for a while I thought that nothing was being achieved but the release of much hot air. Eventually tempers flared,

chilling out

and David suffered a foot stamping attack following a disagreement with Derek. By this time I had nothing to do, so I chilled out on a rock overlooking the sea.



We finally returned at about 8pm after a pretty unproductive day. The evening made up for it. First I was given a birthday card signed by the whole team, then bottles of champagne were presented, and I was given a pudding with a candle in it. I forgot how many times the crew sung happy birthday, but the result was the best birthday party I have ever had.

getting the birthday card    celebrations