Ship’s Log: Day Thirteen (Melbourne to Tilbury)

Thirteenth day of the voyage; sixth day of the Pacific crossing.

This is now the sixth day without sighting land, belting along at full steam, 20 knots. We have ten days to go, so we are only a third of the way across the Pacific (from New Zealand). The Pacific is a fucking big ocean, even with a reasonably fast, modern ship. To experience it in this physical sense, day after day with the horizon only the circle of the sea, brings home that sense of vastness as nothing else can. Spare a thought for those who do so in a small vessel under sail …

The map, which I consult often, tells me that we are now in French Polynesia, in that new category of maritime colonisation called the EEZ, or ‘exclusive economic zone’. Tahiti, a stop on the ship’s inward journey to Australia, lies a couple of days to the north, while Pitcairn Island, in the middle of the English EEZ, lies about the same distance due east.

As we neared the Tropic of Capricorn (crossed early this morning), it felt as though we were experiencing an early spring. Forget the abrupt jolt of deplaning in another hemisphere, smack bang in the middle of the opposite season. Here spring emerges day by day, a gentle shift that delivers not a jolt but triggers all those bodily associations of spring: the light becomes stronger, the day lengthens, the temperatures rise and the clothes come off of their own accord. Sap rises …

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