Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Have you ever sailed at night?

You should try it sometime! When sailing more that 80–90 miles, you will be sailing at night. A 35 foot sailboat can cover about 125 miles in a 24 hour period if there is wind for the entire time (or you motor to keep the the boat at an average of 5 knots).

I have done many passages at night in Mexico on the 750 mile trip between San Diego and Cabo. We are about 40 miles off shore and it can be pitch black out there. The auto pilot is on and you are watching out for other boats and making sure the boat stays on course. If there is something in the water ahead of you, you will not be able to see it and if it is say a stray container from a ship, it could sink your boat. You try not to think about that. You gaze up at the heavens and the stars and planets are glowing brighter than you could ever imagine. Then a shooting star arcs across the sky. Wow! To the east, a full moon rises over the Mexican/Baja desert. Everyone else is asleep on the boat and you have your thoughts to yourself. I carefully head to the bow and feel the boat surging thru the waves as we move south silently thru the night. Out of the corner of my eye, bright lights are streaming towards the bow underwater and moving fast. Oh my, it’s a small school of dolphins lit up with blue green bioluminescence. Double wow! I can hear their squeaks as they use the energy of the boat pushing the water to save their energy. My watch lasts to the sunrise. I head to the bow once more and dream of landfall in Cabo and all the fun we are about to have. I see some flying fish near the boat. Suddenly, one flies right into my crotch! Ouch! He is flopping on deck and I quickly push him back into the water. My watch ends and I head to my bunk. I dream very vividly due to the rocking action of the boat. They say sleeping on a boat is like returning to the womb. However, this is a womb with a view!

I really love sailing at night on the SF Bay as well. We take off at sunset and the bay is quiet. The wind is blowing 20–25 and we raise the sails. With the moon light reflecting off the water and your friends smiling faces in the cockpit, life is good. We are moving quickly and the boat is heeling to port. We can see Angel Island in the distance as well as the SF skyline and the wind continues to build. At night, all your senses come alive. I go below and hit the head. As I am pumping the head to flush it, raw water from the bay is pumped thru. As I look in the bowl, what do I see? Bioluminescence inside the bowl! These are microorganisms (a certain type of plankton) that when they are agitated, they glow in beautiful colors. I head back on deck as we sail into the night.

Sailing at night is one of my passions and I will be doing a ton more of it. We depart in 12 months for a 7000-mile adventure to Australia. We are taking our time and it will be a 12-month journey. Bon Voyage to me!

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