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The Farthest Place From Land 🗿
Despite being invisible, Point Nemo has a lot of special qualities (🗿Amazing Places)
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In This Post:
This Week’s Video: The Farthest Place From Land: Point Nemo
Other Point Nemos: Poles of Inaccessibility
What the Heck is the Ocean Race?
The Farthest Place From Land:
Say you fall overboard in the middle of the ocean. Whoops.
Your best chance to survive is to find the closest land. But there’s one spot where there is no single closest land, a location in the middle of the ocean that is the farthest you can get from land.
That’s called Point Nemo: the precise spot in the middle of the Pacific that is as far away as possible from land in any direction, and the absolutely worst place to fall overboard.
Land in any direction is just under 1700 miles (2700 km) away here. There’s nothing there. Its coordinates are calculated mathematically, and it’s possible no one had ever been there until the Volvo Ocean Race passed by in 2018 (they found plastic unfortunately). (note: it’s technically calculated as the point that is equally distant from the 3 closest land vertices - see below)
Despite being totally invisible, Point Nemo has special qualities. When the International Space Station goes by, astronauts are closer to it than humans on earth. It’s also ground zero for decommissioned space junk, because, well, it’s least likely to hit anyone. Hundreds of satellites, rockets, and space stations from dozens of countries sit at the bottom around Point Nemo. (note: that also means there’s most probably some government surveillance and spy secrets buried there also, which makes it the subject of conspiracy theories too).
It’s also surprisingly lifeless, bc it’s at the center of a giant whirl of ocean currents that not much can get to (called the South Pacific Gyre).
There’s also The Bloop, a weird loud low sound in the water that microphones picked up in the late 90s. No one knew what it was for a while, but now the guess is that it’s the sound of giant icebergs breaking off from Antarctic glaciers.
Or maybe something else hitched a ride on one of those satellites…
Other Point Nemos:
Poles of Inaccessibility
As fun as it is to say, poles of inaccessibility aren’t all exactly inaccessible. In geography terms, it means a point that is, usually mathematically, the greatest distance away from the edges/shore/sides of whatever you are trying to measure. Most often it refers to the greatest distance away from a coastline, either in the ocean or on land (like a continent).
On land, it’s essentially the most interior you can go; In the ocean, the most remote. If you were walking from the Pacific side to the Atlantic side of the US, somewhere in the middle would be the North American continent’s pole of inaccessibility (Actually, it’s in South Dakota, at 43.36°N 101.97°W, there’s a monument there at marks it).
There’s a lot of mathematically complex formulas that scientists use to precisely calculate a pole of inaccessibility, but for us regular joes it’s essentially the point that is equally as far from the 3 nearest vertices (since the earth is sphere, we need 3 lines to pinpoint a distinct point). Alternatively, it can also be the center of the largest circle that can be drawn within the space.
Here’s the major poles of inaccessibility:
Northern Pole of Inaccessibility: 85°48′N 176°9′W. In the middle of the icepack of the Arctic Ocean. Because it’s on constantly moving ice, there’s nothing stationary to mark it. A few explorers have reached it.
Southern Pole of Inaccessibility: 82°06′S 54°58′E. There’s a lot of debate about where the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility actually is. That’s primarily due to the fact that there’s not one true solid coast on Antarctica to measure it: is it from the physical landmass or the edge of the ice shelves? Today, most use a Russian research base to mark the point. The station is aptly called “Pole of Inaccessibility Station.” It’s no longer in use, but there is a statue of Lenin that apparently still stands, facing toward Moscow.
Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility: This is the infamous Point Nemo (see above)!
What the Heck is The Ocean Race?
The Ocean Race is an around-the-world sailing race that is considered one of the most extreme, definitely one of the longest (if not the longest), and one of the toughest races of any kind in sports.
It takes place once every 3-4 years, and amazingly, it’s happening right now! (More on that below)
The Ocean Race is a competition to circumnavigate the globe across the world’s oceans in a sailboat. Granted, these aren’t just your standard sailboats - they are multimillion dollar custom-made wonders of technical achievement - and these aren’t just your standard sailors - they are the top of the top of the yacht racing universe. (note on the boats: there was a time when anyone with $$ could make the best performing yacht to beat out the competition, but organizers have since stopped that unfairness and now require all entries to fit into a specific class of yacht).
Each boat carries a team of about 10 hardened sailors who race 24 hours a day in what can be a multi-week journey from one port to the next. The race route usually consists of 7-10 legs from one port/city to the next, with a few day break at each port (sometimes there are short mini-races in port for the fans). The whole race, from start to finish, lasts 6 months!
Most legs are intense trips through open ocean that can take weeks. Crew get sleep when they can (and when there not falling out of their bunks) and eat freeze-dried meals to save on weight and time. The
The 14th Ocean Race is actually happening right now, and you can watch it in all its intense ocean waves and big winds glory! As I write this the boats are on the third leg of the journey from Cape Town, South Africa to Itajaí, Brazil, which started on February 26th. That’s the longest leg of this year’s race: 14,672 miles (23,613 km) through the notoriously hazardous Southern/Antarctic Ocean, around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope AND South America’s Cape Horn. Apparently this is the longest leg in the race’s history. It also passes by Point Nemo! (at the time of this writing, sailers have passed Point Nemo and are almost at port in Itajaí).
The current iterations of the Ocean Race are very media-savvy. There are video reports from the boats, a weekly recap show, satellite tracking maps , and continuously updated blogging about what’s going on (recap show, with vlogging from the boats while on in the Southern Ocean, below). The race’s media materials like to say its one of the most-followed sporting events in the world (that may be true, but so would the Superbowl if it too was 6 months long).
It’s also conservation-focused, with a mission to build awareness around ocean and climate issues. Many of the boats carry with them scientific goals and research missions they can carry out/collect while on their journey (this is how we found out there was plastic at Point Nemo: the last Ocean Race went by and collected samples).
The Ocean Race began in 1973, and has been going every three or four years since. It was called the Volvo Ocean Race for 20 years in honor of its main sponsor, but apparently that is no more and we’re back to plain “The Ocean Race.”
If you’re interested in learning more or following the boats in action, there’s a whole lot to dive into on the Ocean Race official site:
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