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Inaccessible Island

“I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote.”

Such is the wanderlust of Ishmael self-described in the first few pages of Moby Dick. I decided to reread Herman Melville’s classic as I crossed the southern Atlantic Ocean, passing through the same old whaling waters of long ago. In my opinion, the book is lost on high-school students. It’s probably one of the greatest travel stories ever written.

Wonderfully, the same 19th-century longing for the remote is alive and well in 2011. I deal with the scourge of wanderlust daily and have spent much of my life chasing its pull to new corners of the globe. I had found solace in the nearby island of Tristan Da Cunha and then again on the day after, when our ship passed by Inaccessible Island.

Inaccessible Island earns its name from its rather impossible landscape–thousand-foot cliffs that shoot up on all sides, making it quite difficult to land any kind of boat and even more difficult to venture inland. On the afternoon we visited, the swell of the ocean was too high to even attempt a landing in our inflatable Zodiacs, but we were able to sail around its perimeter, which is more than I could have ever hoped for.

To merely see this island was a treat. The clear and bright day made it even better, the island almost glowing green from the southern sunshine. I stood out on deck for as long as the island was in view, taking in as much of the moment as possible, collecting a bounty of mental illustrations to accompany my memories of this oh-so remote island. That way, when the “everlasting itch” comes to torment me, I’ll have this day to remember.

So, for now, Inaccessible will be the island that got away. I’m OK with that. In travel, like in life, the unattainable and the almost-attained can be more important than the easily-acquired.