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Funny Names

by Gary D. Crawford Have you ever sailed across the Atlantic? If so, you know there’s a fairly good stretch of water out there, more than meets the eye when flying over it at 32,000 feet. Even aboard an ocean liner with several hundred of your closest friends, one feels a bit alone, of a sudden, when the land drops out of sight. That first morning at sea one steps to the rail expectantly. There’s nothing to see, of course, yet we scan the horizon hopefully nonetheless. “Nope,” you are forced to conclude, “I guess they didn’t move Ireland any closer during the night.” (Or America, depending on which way you’re going.) It’s all just, well – ocean, isn’t it? Lots and lots of ocean. Oh, yes, a bird or a fish may come into sight from time to time and, very rarely, another ship may heave into view. But it is little comfort because they, too, are the tiniest of travelers on the broad expanse of the sea. The land still lies away – a very far way away – over the horizon and beyond. The horizon seems strangely close, too, especially when you remember what it is, exactly: the point at which the earth’s surface curves out of sight. No wonder the ancient mariners

were terrified of that. The earth is truly vast, after all, a whopping 25,000 miles around. Still, that makes it a mere 8,000 miles through, and so, despite its immense size, its surface is obliged to curve around fairly sharply. In fact, standing on the deck of a small vessel (and they were all small in the old days), the horizon is just eleven miles away. This means that when Fernão de Magalhães sailed around the world.... Yes, “Fernão.” It’s Portu-

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Ferdinand Magellan

June 2012 Tidewater Times  

June 2012 Tidewater Times

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