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Monday, April 11, 2011

Thoughts on Night Watches

Not my usual travelogue entry, but days blend into night aboard on long passages, and one gets to thinking...

Notes while on watch -- 0200 am, 11 April 2011

It’s truly the middle of the night…2 a.m. I’m on watch until dawn, just enjoying the solitude and quietly listening to Radio Margaritaville as the stars slip past, hearing the faint hiss of the sea as the Equinox slices through the waves. We’re now in the Exuma Sound, and have enjoyed a truly lovely weather window thus far. It’s a fair 2' gentle swell, and a following sea at that! We are rocketing along at 9 knots, so there is a current giving us a push too. The chart plotter is nearly a blank page --- merely blue but for a few straggly lines of depth contours – literally nothing but sky and sea around for miles. The radar is showing the same, although I have it dialed in closer for more detail. Yet it's showing no contacts anywhere, save that I can still discern the tip of Long Island, Bahamas behind us about 12 miles past.

I love this time of the watch; I have a cup of hot coffee, and it’s so smooth on the water tonight that I can’t quite detect much motion of the boat as it moves forward. It feels almost disembodied, like Equinox is floating along on air through the inky darkness, rather than pushing through the water. Only the steady underlying thrum of the engines anchors me to the boat, while the stars swirl about – above and alongside me. I could reach out and touch them, they are so crisp and clear tonight. The night breeze slides past my face as I sit at the Portuguese bridge rail. I wish I could smell the salty air – does salt have a smell? I can feel the air, cool and damp, breezing past my bare arms and face. There is only the now of the moment and I love this! The faint, white foaming of the water against the hull glistens as Equinox moves forward, and I lose myself listening to the sighing of the sea as we slide along. There is a calmness, a serenity that envelops me, as if the sea is enjoying this quiet night as much as I am.

There is a touch of sadness here too, for I realize this moment is so fleeting, so transient. Being here, at this moment in time, is ... ethereal. This beauty is so rare – so few get to see it, this solitude and immensity of the ocean, the beauty and the clarity of the stars. The sea and stars feel both constant and yet ever-changing: constant, filling my entire view throughout my watch, always there and substantial. Ever-changing, as the waters move, flow and swirl past, while the stars slide through their rotation through the sky. 

Again, this is why we cruise...boats bring you out into the elements, and put you in touch with the physical world in a magical way. The wine-dark sea, brilliant array of stars, dolphins sighing as they surface near the hull...Did I mention I love being on watch at this time of night? I do!

1 comment:

  1. Can I just say "JEALOUS"..... Thanks so much for sharing what most of us will never have the opportunity to do.

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