Hello, welcome back. I took a short break last week as I was on holiday (St Lucia, since you ask) and I took the opportunity to leave my laptop at home. It was a wonderful feeling.
Lately, the idea of a “digital detox”, of “disconnecting” for a week or so, has become a bit of a millenial-cliche.
While I don’t believe our current smartphone habits are necessary healthy, I don’t buy into the belief that all screen-time is inherently harmful.
It’s just nice to have a break. That’s all.
This story really stuck with me this week. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with it. It’s a short, sharp narrative. And like all good writing, it sticks with you long after you’ve read it:
Scott Moorman grows up in the San Fernando Valley. He watches the TV series Adventures in Paradise as a child and dreams of living in Hawaii. In 1975, he leaves the mainland and finds a new home in Nahiku, on the east coast of Maui, which lives by Hawaiian time: when the weather is fine, no work is done.
So it is on Sunday morning, 11 February 1979, the ocean is as smooth as glass and there is barely a cloud in the sky. Scott and four friends decide to go fishing. They buy new spark plugs for the motorboat, beer and soft drinks for the fridge and ice for the fish that they hope to catch.
At about ten o-clock they pass the rocky island at the mouth of the bay, and steer the five-metre-long Sarah Joe southwards. They have long hair and bushy moustaches, and are wearing sunglasses. One of them is rolling the first joint of the day.
Just before noon, the wind rises, turning into a storm by the afternoon and a hurricane over the island by the evening, whipping the sea up and laying waste to the coastline. The waves are several metres high and the rain is relentless.
At five o'clock in the afternoon, the Sarah Joe is reported missing. The coastguard sends a helicopter and a plane out to the storm, but visibility is too poor. They extend the search area every day. The coastguard searches for five days, and the men’s family and friends continue searching for another week.
They find nothing. Nothing at all. Not a trace of the men, not one piece of the boat. Nine and a half years later, one of the searchers, the marine biologist John Naughton, finds a wrecked boat on the beach of Taongi, the northern-most and driest atoll of the Marshall Islands, 3,750 kilometres west of Hawaii.
A Hawaiian registration number is prominently displayed on the fibreglass hull. It is the Sarah Joe. There is a simple grave nearby: a cross of driftwood on a pile of stones.
A few bones protrude from the sand. These are discovered to be the remains of Scott Moorman. Who buried him here and where the other men are remains a mystery.
From: Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky.
There are currently 1047 of you on this list. 104.7 was the radio frequency for the most popular radio station on the island I grew up on. It wasn’t a great radio station.
On with the show.