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TRISTAN DA CUNHA

I sit in urban safety imagining my journey to Tristan da Cunha. I have known about this island for many years, since studying the trade routes in the Southern Atlantic and the rough and fearsome seas of the roaring forties. They call it the remotest island on earth, because it is nearly two thousand miles off the nearest coast and only one boat goes there a year, out of the Cape of Good Hope. It is a volcano risen out of the ocean, where fewer than three hundred people still live, all descendents of the sea’s itinerants—the shipwrecked and the runaways and the naval loners restless at home. They come from the stock of old seafaring nations, like the English and the Dutch, the American and the Italian, and they still have only seven family names between them.

For a long time, I have wanted to go there: to arrive on that boat, the RMS Saint Helena, and to leave on it again a year later. I

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