BD Atlantic Crossing / What Really Happens #2 (Nighttime)

I am sitting in the boat’s cockpit on a dark clear night with the moon not up yet. I watch a vessel slowly passing on my port side, a couple of miles away. We’re going in the same direction on this Saturday night, and I begin to wonder about them. Are they a freighter, a private yacht or perhaps something more exotic … maybe a research vessel? There is little indication on the AIS (Automatic Identification System) – so, it’s up to me to imagine … which soon leads me to wondering what you are all doing on this Saturday night … this the “Twelfth Night” of Christmas.

Over the years, I’ve had the fun of attending a few memorable Twelfth Night dinner parties, and even hosting a few myself. I’ve always regarded the date as the end of the holiday season, and a time to take down the lights and dismantle the decorated tree. I guess this year, I will have to leave it to someone else to pull the plug for me, as I am alone again tonight with the ocean.

Night Sea

Life onboard turns into something of a routine when the weather is as steady as it is, especially so when the course is a direct line for 500 miles. It always takes a day or two to settle in, and to slow yourself to the pace of the boat, but once that’s done, you find yourself addressing many of the same tasks you did the day before and at about the same time. Tonight for instance, at about 5:00 pm, with the sun sinking and the heat dissipating, I grabbed my book and my nightly treats of cheese, apple and crackers and I read a few quick pages. The particular book I’m reading now is about building the “Maltese Falcon,” one of the largest private sailing yachts in the world. Routinely, about this time, I mark the time of day and make an entry in the ship’s log. The sun set a bit earlier today than yesterday, indicating I’m moving north at a fair clip. I notice too it’s a bit cooler tonight as well and I’m sure, within a day or so, I’ll be wearing a jacket at night and maybe even digging out my stocking cap. Presently, I’m close to 500 miles north of Antigua where I had marked the New Year.

I always wait until it’s sufficiently dark out before I allow myself to think about my evening meal. Tonight, about 8:30 I scrounged through the freeze-dried selection, and pulled out a Mexican chicken and rice selection. For some reason, that choice proved inedible to my taste, and so I reluctantly chose another, sweet and sour pork. I’m almost out of propane to heat up water, so I have to convince myself I’m hungry enough to tap the little that remains. Oftentimes, you’re not really hungry, but you know you need to fuel the body. Still, forcing yourself to consume such a meager meal while recalling fabulous Twelfth Night feasts of the past, takes a bit of mental persuasion!

I generally follow dinner with a walk around the boat to look over the fittings – then a review of the latest navigation reports, and some calculations as to how far away the destination is, and when I might likely arrive. I finish up with another entry in the logbook on the day’s happenings – 5 ships spotted today … 2 rather close.

Back up on deck, I scan the horizon for the twinkle of a light that would indicate another ship. I don’t see any. You can’t look directly at the horizon, as some of you know; you have to use your peripheral vision, which is more sensitive to low light, to pick up the faint lights away on the horizon. If you look directly at the lights, you’ll miss them. Only if you look above the horizon, will you notice them. Try it next time you’re out at night.

As it’s a quiet night, I soon turn to working on my nap routine. I’ve had to shorten my naps to 10 minutes duration since leaving Antigua. At the speed I’m traveling and with more ships nearby, they can come up quickly and surprise you. So, through the rest of the night, until the morning comes, I’ll be taking my mini-naps, reading a little, starting the engine to charge batteries, nibbling at leftover dinner, followed by my midnight cookie … and another nap. When the sun clears the horizon, I’ll make note of that in the log and check the distance to the destination again … and so begins another day on the water.

So, what are you doing tonight I wonder? Hopefully something fun.

- Dave and Bodacious Dream

Antigua to the Bahamas
@ (+22.2000 -70.3500)
Boat speed: 9.5 knots
Wind Speed: 14 -20  From 110 South of East
COG (Course over ground):  318-325 degrees
Bearing to way point at Northwest Passage Bahamas:  318 degrees
Distance to way point:  376 miles

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