June 24, 2018
Noon Position: 35 00N 158 20W
Course/Speed: NNE8 (must have a current with us)
Bar: 1030, dropping
Sky: Overcast, drizzle
Cabin Temperature: 72
Water Temperature: 67
Sail: All plain sail
Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 159
Miles this leg: 818
Avg. Miles this leg: 136
Wind veered into the E and stiffened after sundown. We’d been pounding into a hard sea all day, a hold-on-with-five-hands, punch-you-in-the-gut kind of sea. I was worn down, so I put two reefs in the working sails and began sleeping right after dinner.
Around midnight, alarms started going off, first the VHF radio and then the chart plotter. Each device has its own loud speaker in the main cabin, where I sleep, and they are both purposefully obnoxious as hell. A person would have to be half dead to sleep through either. Both together are enough to make Beethoven’s ears bleed.
The reason for the alarms was a ship, the Manifesto, a tanker bound for Balboa, making a perpendicular course to our own and passing but a mile ahead. I could see his twin white lights at nine miles, and at 16 knots to our seven, his stern light within twenty minutes. Nothing exciting at all, and I was headed back to my bunk when the radio spoke.
It started with a blowing sound, “hoof, hoof.” Then, “Sailing vessel Moli, this is the Manifesto.” The voice came through clearly but quiet, as if respectful of the hour, and carried a gentle Spanish accent.
I responded quickly, by way of proof I hadn’t been sleeping.
“Yes, sir,” said the voice, “I just wanted to know if everything is alright on the Moli. Are you in need of any assistance?”
I thanked the officer of the watch for his concern and assured him the crew of the Moli were fine.
“Ok then,” said the voice. “Ok.”
And that was it.
Why the question? I almost rang up again to explore. But it is my experience that ships, solid and true of course, don’t know quite what to make of small sailboats that bob and weave on their scope as if drunk. That seems the likeliest reason for the call. I let it go at that and returned to sleep, thinking warmly of the politness of the officer and his professional concern for the less fortunate urchins of the sea.