Can you continuously sail around the Earth?

This question came up after reading about an Italian Flat-Earther couple who tried to prove this by sailing to, well, the end of the Earth. Of course this did not end well and they ended up quarantined on an island off of Italy. But. . . is there a route a boat could take that would lead to it endlessly sailing around and around the Earth? Secondary question: this couple thought that they’d end up at a giant Game of Throne-eque wall of ice that signified the end of the Earth. Is there a place, perhaps at the ice caps, that they could have sailed to that would have proven them “right”? A place of ice cliffs at the poles maybe?

Just idly wondering.

Circumnavigate Antarctica.

At the Equator? No, not really. Near the Equator? You can go from Atlantic to Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal, cross the Pacific and Indian Oceans, sail up the Red Sea and the Suez Gulf, transit the Suez Canal, sail through the Mediterranean, and cross the Atlantic back to your starting point. A little of north-south wiggle going around the continents, but doable.

That route would lead you to endlessly circle the Earth but you’d learn sooner or later that the Earth was round because you’d end up sailing through the same canals after a while. The Antarctic ice cap however. . … You could convince yourself you’ve reached the end of the Earth trying to sail around it and always just seeing ice forever and ever. Maybe. Which would just prove the world was endlessly wide, wouldn’t it? Also, if you don’t encounter the tip of South America over and over again.

Still, if flying in a plane and seeing the curvature can’t convince Flat-Earthers, nothing will.

TBH, “convince Flat-Earthers” with factual evidence is a fool’s errand. But the core question is answered.

As @Biggirl said, you can go around Antarctica over and over. Without much zigzagging north or south.

But the coast of Antarctica is not all just an endless nondescript white cliff. If one was paying attention, one would notice passing the same bays and rock outcrops as they had passed 10,000 miles ago. So they’d discover there’s a really big mostly-ice island out there in the ocean, but they’d also know (assuming they are in fact capable of valid evidence-based geometric thinking, a pretty tall order for flat-earthers) that what they found was not the edge of a Flat Earth.

This discovery would not, by itself, prove there wasn’t an edge to the Flat Earth; they’d need to set off in a different direction to find it though. Good luck with that.

As the Arctic warms up it becomes increasingly possible to also circumnavigate the Earth up there north of Canada and Russia.

Which eventually leads to being able to go in a sinusoidal pattern like North in the Pacific to the Arctic, West across the top of Asia & Europe to the Atlantic, then South to the bottom of South America, then west again into the Pacific and north to your start point. So you could “weave” between the Americas and Europe / Asia / Africa running either east-to-west or west-to-east and doing your northbound leg in either the Atlantic or the Pacific. So 4 main routes of WAG 35,000 miles that will take a very long time to sail in a pea green boat.

See also this article about a circumnavigation of ~26,000 miles by a submerged US nuclear submarine. For our purposes what matters is the route, not the submergence.

One contestant in this race in 1968-1969 actually completed his circumnavigation. Another is best remember for his boat being found vacant, then logbooks being found showing that he had faked large percentages of his voyage, then had a mental breakdown.

They will just conclude that this is the circumference of the circular earth. What will be interesting to explain is why they kept turning in the wrong direction in order to follow the edge of Discworld.

Wasn’t this similar to In Search of the Castaways story? They were traversing a southern latitude 37°S with very few land intersections - IIRC Patagonia and New Zealand?

Tangential to the OP question, here is the longest sailing route in a straight line (almost 20,000 miles without touching land):

I wonder how a flat-earther would explain setting sail heading south from Pakistan and arriving in Kamchatka going north.

The edge of the earth is found in upstate New York along the border with Canada. You can sail a boat over the edge if you like, however the tradition is to do it in a barrel.

The definition of sailing around the world is more than a bit rubbery. Most definitions are implicitly assuming the current coordinate system.

Round the world races, such as the Vendée Globe or the Whitbread/Volvo/TOR end up using a definition that basically says you need to cross every line of longitude and cross the equator an even number of times. This can lead to a race distance less than the circumference of the Earth. They had to instigate ice limits to stop boats trying to cut the distance sailed by going so close to Antarctica that they were in significant danger.

The Vendée Globe just sails out from France, goes straight down the Atlantic as far South as they are allowed, sails around Antarctica, then sails back up the Atlantic to France.

Not everyone considers this a true RTW race.

The Panama and Suez canals make life easier to do a more clear circumnavigation if you allow them.

Best answer it to get yourself a globe of the Earth and decide for yourself what constitutes a good circumnavigation. Everyone should own one. It helps make sense of a lot of geopolitics that simple maps fail to convey.

Hear, hear.

I remember Ellen Macarthur’s description of her stretch in the Southern Ocean - a month of only being able to sleep for 20 minutes at a time for fear of hitting an iceberg and dying a thousand miles from the nearest human being. It sounded unbelievably harrowing.

My husband got his Blue Nose [going north of the Arctic Circle] and his Magellan [circumnavigating the globe] on the same cruise in 1984, and he brought home a spiffy vial of North pole water =)

The standard I prefer for a circumnavigation is that the trip must start and end at the same point, and the route must include at least two points antipodal to each other.

I puzzled by the people in the OP’s perception of the current flat Earth “model”. The “edge” is interior exterior to Antarctica which you can’t sail to.

The easiest way for flat earthers to demonstrate this is to charter a plane (a GoFundMe of a buck each from a fraction of the US flat earthers would pay for it in no time) to fly over Antarctica. Their excuse, and I’m serious, is that planes flying over Antarctica are teleported from one side to the other without seeing the edge. Now that’s Science!

One thing you can do sailing around-wise is to circumnavigate Antarctica and note how long a journey it is compared to the round Earth maps. Of course this means navigating the roaring 40s but isn’t risking your life worth proving the Earth is flat?

Your comments leave me baffled. Not disputing you, just not understanding you.

What does “The edge is exterior to Antarctica” mean? Either in real-world geometry or in the FH cloud-cuckoo “geometry”?

I also wonder why FHs think Antarctica is in any way special? It’s just another continent or very large island. No different from e.g. Australia or Greenland. Clearly our standard lat/long coordinate system is arbitrary in a world without an axis of rotation. And is especially unsuited to organizing the map of whatever shape they think the Earth really has.

Or are you suggesting they believe the Earth is flat as if we drill a hole at the south pole then peel the surface off the sphere starting there and stretch it out as a disk w the conventional north pole at the center, and 90S latitude as the perimeter?

Of course circling Antarctica with the continent to e.g. port would be traversing westbound. And you’d be slowly altering course to port to keep a constant distance. OTOH if that was the wall at the edge of discworld, you’d need to slowly alter course to starboard to stay inside the edge.

360 degrees to port vs 360 to starboard to effect a circumnavigation is a pretty significant difference. Then again, geometry is by definition not these folks’ strong suit. :wink: :moron::moron:

Eh, on the scale of circumnavigating an entire continent, the constant adjustments to your course would be far smaller than the noise from wind and waves and so on. You wouldn’t be able to distinguish between “constantly turning slightly port” and “constantly turning slightly starboard”. And while you could project the spherical globe onto a plane with the “edge” hole at any point, for flat-earther purposes, it needs to be somewhere inaccessible, lest the edge be a well-known tourist attraction, and the interior of Antarctica is about as inaccessible as it gets.

The obvious clincher, of course, is that sailing around the antarctic coast is a much shorter trip than it would need to be, if that coast were at the periphery of the world.

But they used SCIENCE! Nuk-u-lar science. And a good navigator.

Fun fact: they didn’t submerge all the way - they had to drop off a sailor with appendicitis, so they came up enough to get the sail out of water to transfer the guy. So it is technically correct they made the voyage submerged, which is the best kind of correct.

I loved the National Geographic article about the trip. it both made me want to be a nuclear officer, and to stay as far away from the Navy as possible. Those crossing the line ceremonies are too effing weird.

Minimum altitude for discerning the curvature of the globe is 35,000 ft. but if they’re seeing a recording they hand wave it away, proclaiming “fisheye lens” or if seeing it in person, distortion of the window’s optics.

In the documentary, Behind the Curve where flearthers tried to prove a flat, unrotating planet, Bob Knodel bought a $20,000 laser gyroscope to prove the unrotating part and found a 15-degree per hour drift, exactly what the globalists predicted. It did not convince him.