The Endurance Crossing Continues
Seven Days at Anchor

La Luna and her Moonbeam

On our last night at sea, I had the 1800 to midnight watch -- the watch with the moon. It was so lovely, that I got my notebook out and wrote under the stars.

"We are sailing on a moonbeam of brilliant light from a wisp of a La Luna moon, a curved sliver of moon that still somehow creates an impossibly brilliant night. Except for the moon, the stars, and La Luna's sails it is a grey night. The sea is a darker grey than the paler sky. We are reaching, powered by the wind and pushed a bit by lovely swells, so it's a quiet sail. It is our last night at sea and this is the longest time I've spent voyaging -- 26 days by the time we finish.

They have not been easy days. But tonight ... tonight we have gentle ocean swells, lifting La Luna and moving her forward along the path of the moon. Tonight we have stars and constellations. We have a boat at sea and a star to steer her by. But I'm not steering and Casey, the auto-pilot doesn't need that star, he corrects our course during every swell, ignoring the moonbeam and stars. It is a beautiful night at sea. I do like this. I do.

I can imagine sailors from long ago -- or even 40 or 50 years ago -- noting the beauty of the stars and the moon, but also using them to steer their course. We have electronic and mechanical gear that some of them couldn't dream of. Mostly that's a blessing, but sometimes the blessing is mixed. Our navigation software tells us how many miles we have left and how long it will take to reach our goal. For the past 25 days, time is measured in Days:Hours:Minutes. This number is finite only for that one moment in time. X Days:Y Hours:Z Minutes from this point to that point at this speed. When the boat slows or quickens, the Days:Hours:Minutes change. I have left a watch confident that we have 10 Days:13 Hours:8 Minutes left in our trip, and then take the next watch 6 hours later to find that we now have 11 Days:4 Hours:43 Minutes left to go.

Too much knowledge is a dangerous thing. During the last week or so we stopped leaving the laptop on, instead relying on the GPS for our coordinates and the VHF for AIS information regarding nearby boats. We realized that we didn't have to have a visual on our exact location every quarter hour, and didn't need to know the system's estimate of our completion time at every moment. We were at sea and we would remain at sea until we were done. Still, once or twice a shift I would fire up the laptop just to see the numbers. 8 Days:23 Hours:4 Minutes. In reality, I also checked our location and our course, like a good navigator, but I really wanted to see the numbers. 6 Days:17 Hours:23 Minutes.

As we neared Guadeloupe I began to plot and plan our arrival time. If we reached our mark too late in the day we would have to wait until daylight to enter the harbor, which was 20 miles from that first mark, or 4-5 hours of being "at sea" in sight of land. On our last night at sea, during my shift, I saw 0 Days:14 Hours:12 Minutes, and figured that we would be anchored in early afternoon."

In reality, the wind abated in the morning, and we once again eeked our way along the course. I adjusted the course, heading closer to shore and saving about 2-3 miles of distance traveled, and we anchored just before dark, eerily close to the mark I had made when I had plotted the course in Graciosa. We had crossed the Atlantic twice in one year. We dined on cheese that had survived without refrigeration, shrimp spread on crackers, and smoked oysters. For roughage, we enjoyed rum and pineapple juice with canned pineapple and mandarin oranges. We celebrated quietly and went to bed early, sleeping for over seven hours at a stretch for the first time in 26 days.

Good-night, Moon.

And thanks.

Just so you know, we are anchored at North 16 Degrees 12.30 Minutes and West 61 Degrees 32.46 Minutes. You can now reach us on G-Mail. Well, you can when we are in shore.

Comments

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Moby

Congratulations! Great reading about your journey!

kirk

Well played!

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