Night Watch

Day 104

Noon Position: 44 53S. 81 50E

Course/Speed: NE5 Wind: NW13

Bar: 1023 Sea: NW4

Sky: Overcast

Cabin Temp: 61

Sea Temp: 50

Miles last 24 hours: 107 Longitude Made Good: 92

Total Miles: 14,136

Slowly we drifted northeast, the twin headsails filling and folding in an endless cycle timed to the swell. The night sky, its moon sunk long ago, darkened to reveal its dimmer, more outward secrets. The Milky Way, so bright you could see it bending and twisting, a cosmic river flowing from one horizon to the other. The only sound, the soft crumpling of sails and a very slight tinkling at Mo’s bow. I woke because something had changed. Usually it’s obvious—a heightening of the “hooooar” in the rigging or a more urgent motion as Mo rounds into the swell. Tonight there was no clue, just something, and when I came on deck, I found Mo had turned to the southeast, following the wind as it moved into the north. I should drop the poles and ready Mo for a reach, full main and big genoa, I thought.

The deck was slick with dew; the sails dripped, their rivulets glistening. The sea, so empty, save a man and a boat. The sky, so full. The sails can wait, we won’t lose but a mile or two. I made a cup of cocoa and sat to watch until dawn. Which, as it turns out, was about an hour away. I thought I’d come on deck at 2am, but I’ve not been careful about ship’s time these last weeks, and, more importantly, I’ve been enjoying being 12 hours opposite of home.

Some days ago, back around 58E we passed the southern ocean halfway mark between home and home again. Somehow being exactly the other side of the world from my wife and family makes them feel closer than not quite exactly the other side; somehow being 12 hours away feels more intimate, more connected than 11 hours. So, I’ve been reticent to move the clock.

Tonight there will be no stars. The wind came up in the afternoon and with it, an uneven cloud that now races in front of a yellow moon. Mo carries this wind on the beam and as it has risen, I have reefed, once, twice, and … and still Mo plows the water like there is someplace to be. Someplace other than sailing an endless sea.


3 Comments on “Night Watch

  1. Night Watch pleasures indeed standing watch looking up at an endless river of stars called the Milky Way and knowing we are just ships passing in the night with glimpses of a foremast light above a dark horizon swell knowing they too are on a voyage to a destination somewhere out there or beyond…

Leave a Reply