How Big Is the Ocean?

Friday, May 27, 2022
Tanvi Dutta Gupta

On a boat headed nowhere, we begin to talk about teleportation. It’s dawn watch, the six hour shift from 1 am to 7 am where the largest event is watching the first lights come to the horizon and the stars wheel out of sight, and we’re two days’ sailing away from Palmyra Atoll and hovering a few miles away from Kingman Reef. There’s more science to do here, more things to uncover in the water, and our only task tonight is to remain within a set box on the map. The Intertropical Convergence Zone has dipped down to our latitudes and the seas have flattened out. An hour ago we gave up on steering and left the helm to itself so our watch can gather on the quarterdeck and drink tea (or, in my case, my latest attempt at improvised hot chocolate – hot water, nondairy creamer, and a spoonful of Nutella). The engine’s off and the sails are down and we talk in low voices while the boat drifts through the equatorial Pacific.

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