FROM 1-22. Still heading south south east

Sep 30, 2005 - 1400hrs UTC

1400hrs 30 Sep 2005 UTC 21’20”S 026’09”W Ref 399

First, a quiz question for the geniuses at Belmore South. I expect you all know that the sun sets in the west. This means that if you stand on a beach anywhere except in one place on the entire east coast of Australia, you will see the sun setting over land. It goes down behind trees or sand dunes or houses or cliffs. To be on the beach and see the sun setting red over water, you need at least 20 km of water to the west of you and there is one place where this happens. One of my friends has been there and he says it’s true. I don’t mean right at the north end of Cape York, which isn’t really the east coast and even there, I think Horn Island gets in the way. So where is it? No prizes, but you might be interested in having a look.

It has been a transformation week – the boat now has more space, all the remaining fuel is inside and low down where it ought to be, we’ve traced a leak that was giving us something to think about and we’re getting ready for the sleigh ride in a couple of weeks time. We’ve been on the port tack since the Cape Verdes and I’ve been cutting barnacles off the hull under the starboard quarter with a long knife. There are hundreds, all about 3 cm long and growing fast. The topsides at that end are already covered in green slime.

Half way in days on our schedule happens on October 14, but I think we will have a bit of distance to catch up. On the way there, we will pass quite close to young Henry Knight and we will leave him some chocolate and a jelly snake – a century and a half too late, but I think his father and mother might have felt some tiny comfort if they had known that someone would pass by and remember him.

I think it’s most unlikely that any of us will be remembered in 150 years – Henry’s memory has survived because his story was written on paper. The noise the human race is making now, mostly digital, radio and optical, will, I think, be unstorable and unreadable but not necessarily irrelevant in a much shorter period. Which reminds me of a lovely SF short story by, I think, Robert Heinlein called ‘Beep’. Heinlein’s mind picture was that every radio and optical transmission ever made from the earth fills a sort of expanding cone with a hemispherical base, racing out into the universe at the speed of light and the speed of the earth’s passage around the sun and through space. ‘Beep’ was the idea that at some future time it could be harnessed into a single ‘beep’ and if you had the right equipment, you could delve into it. There’s a lovely line about a cry for help from the captain of some lost space freighter out on the edge of the known universe – I’ll have to find it and read it again.

Harrumph. Bring on the goat.

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