Friday, 13 March 2009
come away with me
To celebrate the second Friday the 13th in a row, and because I feel like its time to get off my soapbox and take a breather, today I'm getting away from it all. Well, virtually and vicariously anyway.
This is Bassas da India, an uninhabitable atoll in the Mozambique channel between Africa and Madagascar. Uninhabitable because it is underwater for the three hours before and after high tide.
According to Wikipaedia, "Bassas da India (also called Basse de Judie) is an uninhabited, roughly circular atoll about 10 km in diameter, which corresponds to a total size (including lagoon) of 80 km². It is located in the southern Mozambique Channel, about half-way between Madagascar (which is 385 km to the east) and Mozambique, and 110 km northwest of Europa Island. It rises steeply from the seabed 3000 m below. The reef rim averages around 100 m across and completely encloses a shallow lagoon that has a maximum depth of 15 m.
"The atoll consists of ten barren rocky islets, with no vegetation, totalling 0.2 km² in area. Those on the north and east sides are 2.1 to 3 m high, and those on the west and south sides 1.2 m. The reef is completely covered by the sea from 3 hours before to 3 hours after high tide. The coastline of the reef measures 35.2 km. The region is subject to cyclones. The atoll has long been a maritime hazard and is the site of numerous shipwrecks.
"Bassas da India was first recorded by Portuguese explorers in the early 16th century. It was first named Baixo da Judia, "Shoal of Judia". "Judia" was the name of a Portuguese ship that ran aground on this reef. This ship was named "Judia" (Jewess in Portuguese), because its owner was a Jewish trader from Portugal. Apparently this reef was renamed Bassas da India by subsequent cartographers owing to mistakes in their writing the word "Judia" by confusing letters while copying former maps".
The only reason that I know if its existence is because my son Ben is there at the moment with a group of fishermen. The yacht The Adventurer that he works on as assistant engineer and chef (strange combination, but its ok, his mum taught him to wash his hands before touching food) is there at the moment.
You can read more about The Adventurer here and here. It held the record for the fastest round the world but is owned by a different guy now and spending a bit more time at interesting places.
I know Ben will be baking fresh bread every morning and I suppose they are also eating fish, although most of the fish that are caught will be thrown back. Scarred, surprised but otherwise unharmed.
Wanna go there too? The Google Earth coordinates for Bassas da India Atoll are 22º15’02.06” S - 37º18’19.70” E
There are some pretty amazing islands in the area. Go here to have a look. I think I'd like to be whisked off to Îles Glorieuses. Who's coming with me?