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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 63: 26 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysWe are to land in America today. The long Pacific crossing is abruptly over. I wish I could hope, like Fogg, that 'the most difficult part was done . . . they had left the fantastic countries of China and Japan . . . they were returning to civilised countries'. But I have seventeen days to cross America on an infrequent and neglected railway system, and then I have to find some way of crossing the Atlantic at the onset of winter, when as Captain Amirapu assured me, 'You can almost be certain of running into something nasty'. In short, I don't altogether share Fogg's confidence in 'civilised countries'.

But for now, at eight o'clock in the morning in the Santa Barbara Channel it's a day for optimists. A peerless morning, the best on the Pacific. The sun shines from a clear blue sky, the swell has dropped, and there's a crisp, fresh breeze high up on the bridge deck.

It was in these waters, forty-six years ago, that a Japanese submarine surfaced and fired seventeen rounds in the direction of Ellwood oil field - the only direct enemy attack on continental USA this century. There are now a lot more off-shore oil rigs for them to aim at and a steady stream of tankers heading north for the Alaskan oil. The chart indicates that we are in a Traffic Separation Zone, one lane for north and one lane, further out, for south. Such zones are in operation in all the maritime traffic black spots - the English Channel, the Gulf of Suez, the Malacca Strait.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 63
  • Date: 26 November
  • Country/sea: Pacific Ocean
  • Place: Santa Barbara Channel
  • Book page no: 201

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