Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thoughts on Sailing at night

By Jen

1.30 am on a totally moonless and cloudless night. We cast off the lines that had held Sea Trek III firmly to the pontoon of the brightly lit marina. We motored slowly away from the street lights and into the dense black night. Life jackets on. Our first challenge was to pass between the two unseen break-walls standing ahead of us in the dark. We could hear the crashing waves out beyond. I watched the flashing red warning light positioned on top of the concrete boulders. I was very certain that we were already off course. I fought my panic and urged my sense of reason to take hold. "Red to Port!" I shouted and instantly knew that I was wrong. We were leaving not arriving. I knew that Glenn had charted our departure correctly. I was tormented by the thought of my children living their adult lives beyond my drowning.

Just one red light

Glenn was on the helm and watching the chart plotter. He was now blind to anything outside of the cockpit due to the illumination of the electronics. I had chosen to ride " shot gun" style, seated behind our large starboard winch. On this night sail I will be the eyes for ST3 and the lookout for everything ahead. I leaned out to the side a little. There was nothing to see. Why was there was no moon in the sky? This is a major oversight and I secretly cursed the skipper for placing us both in such danger. We knew that whales were still heading north. We had no way of detecting or avoiding them. Fishing dinghies also bob around out there without lights. Lives at risk. I was seething with frustration as we turned NNE and into the open ocean. Here we go.

We made small talk about the trip ahead in the faint glow of the cockpit. I began to sing old TV themes and relaxed more with the laughter of familiar memories. Then I noticed that the night sky with its trillions of stars had created a gentle light around us. I could see in the dark! So much around us was visible. The water surface was so still that we were travelling in exceptional conditions. No wind, no ripples, no waves and no swell. The brightest star that I could see was close to the horizon. It cast a ribbon of reflection towards our little boat. I had only ever seen this on a pond or quiet river before. The phosphorescence in our bow waves flashed as it rushed past. I was mesmerised. It was beautiful out here. As I watched I pondered on the perished lives of people taken by the water. In these moments of reflection I knew that those lost lives powered the passing specks of light energy. I also understood why ancient faiths studied the shapes of their gods in the stars patterns. The souls of the departed were also visible tonight in the heavens. I felt a wisdom descend.



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