Artist-in-residence studio E


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IN THE SOCIAL HISTORY of England, the English Channel, that proud sea
passage some three hundred and fifty miles long, has separated that
country from the Continent as by a great gulf or a bottomless chasm.
However, at its narrowest point, between Dover and Cap Gris-Nez—a
distance of some twenty-one and a half miles—the Channel, despite
any impression that storm-tossed sea travelers across it may have of
yawning profundities below, is actually a body of water shaped less
like a marine chasm than like an extremely shallow puddle. Indeed, the
relationship of depth to breadth across the Strait of Dover is quite
extraordinary, being as one to five hundred. This relationship can
perhaps be most graphically illustrated by drawing a section profile of
the Channel to scale. If the drawing were two feet long, the straight
line representing the level of the sea and the line representing the
profile of the Channel bottom would be so close together as to be
barely distinguishable from one another. At its narrowest part, the
Channel is nowhere more than two hundred and sixteen feet deep, and for
half of the distance across, it is less than a hundred feet deep. It is
just this extreme shallowness, in combination with strong winds and
tidal currents flowing in the Channel neck between the North Sea and
the Atlantic, that makes the seas of the Strait of Dover so formidable,
especially in the winter months. The weather is so bad during November
and December that the odds of a gale's occurring on any given day are