The Ancients

Day 37

Noon Position: 31 53S 122 35W

Course / Speed: SSE 5…

Cabin Temp: 81
Sea Temp: 71

Miles since last noon: 140
Miles for voyage: 4810

Standing at the boom gallows in the afternoon and watching this lonely run of the sea, lonely because the flying fish of the north have departed and the birds of the south have not yet filled in, I was reminded of Tillman’s quote from Belloc regarding the amateur sailor, “In venturing in sail upon strange coasts we are seeking those first experiences and trying to feel as felt the earlier man in a happier time, to see the world as they saw it.”

And I thought, “That’s exactly it.” Today’s view of those ancient but powerful rollers from the south, the ship gliding smoothly over them, accelerating in the winds at the peak, healing eagerly, lines creaking, and then relaxing in the valley, this view has not changed since its invention.

The coasts have been explored and peopled. Even the remotest villages have cell service. But the deep ocean has retained its wildness since “that happier time.” Out here the vast, untamable waters are the same vast, untamable waters the Polynesians saw, the same Magellan, Drake, and Cook saw. In this way, a link to the early explorers and a world almost beyond time is direct and uncut.

I think this is one of the reasons I like celestial navigation. Beyond the practicality of it, it’s a link to this place and the old sailors who passed by here using tools we barely know today.

Sadly, celestial navigation doesn’t always like me back. For several days I wrestled with “sun-run-sun” running fixes that weren’t producing the customary cocked hat; rather I was getting railroad ties on my latitude line. Only lately did I figure out it’s because I have passed under the sun, who declined at 22S today on her southward march, whereas I have just barely passed into 32S. My sights are at nearly right angles to my course. Thus the railroad ties.

Getting cooler. I’ve put on a shirt with sleeves as I type. Soon I’ll pull socks on before boots.

3 Comments on “The Ancients

  1. We find it so odd that in conversing with cruisers of today very few of them carry a sextant. Ours still sits on the main cabin shelf mostly unused. I do remember the magic of sighting land when only using a sextant but now I just feel like an anomaly of the sailing past when in company of other sailors. I guess it’s a benefit of neing an ancient mariner!

  2. Thank you for that retrospective Randall. Sounds like changes in latitude are becoming more pronounced. Looking forward to tomorrow’s news!

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