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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Febuary 16, 2012-Ocean Vast

We know how big is this ocean. The books and the charts tell us: about 3000 miles by 3000 miles. We know that intellectually, but we don't know it in our guts until we're out here.
Out here on the ocean, or anywhere, when you climb higher you can see farther but no matter where is my vantage point on this yacht the horizon is still only about 25 miles away. Anything beyond that is over the horizon. There could be land, or a ship, or anything over the horizon; I wouldn't see it. But when I look around this 25 mile circle of blue day after day, and I never see anything but blue and a constant line of waves marching from somewhere over that horizon towards me, I sense viscerally that the ocean is vast. I know it in my gut. This is a vast blue ocean.
Vast but not empty.
Three hundred miles ahead of us lies an island: Saint Helena. It is steep sided, with rock walls meeting the sea; the tip of an old volcano. And on one side, where a valley has been eroded down to the sea, there is a village: Jamestown. About 5000 persons live there. Once Napoleon Bonaparte was imprisoned there and to that Saint Helena owes its fame. He died there in 1821. Since then Saint Helena's star has been falling, but still there are these people living on Saint Helena. From what we hear they are happy living on this tiny island in the middle of the vast ocean. There is an old fort, a wall, the quaint village, but no airport. Anyone who embarks or disembarks at Saint Helena does so like we will, from a ship.
There are some other islands out here. One thousand miles to the NW is Ascension Island, a communications outpost, for satellite tracking mostly, and about 1000 people are there, working on the island.
To the south, over 1200 miles, is Tristan de Cunha. I don't know much about Tristan, but yachts to stop there if they are crossing on a more southerly course. It is a cold and lonely place, Tristan de Cunha. Mostly the attraction, I think, is the name. What a romantic sounding place, Tristan de Cunha.
And further afield are the South Georgia Islands and the Falklands but we won't be stopping at any of them, only Saint Helena, and we will tell you what we find when we get there.
We continue on our way, but more slowly than before. The wind has abandoned us but we are still moving. We should be there Sunday or Monday.
Fred & Judy (and Randy and Laura), SV Wings, South Atlantic

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