What Glows of a Clear Night

3 Feb

February 1, 2019/Day 120

Noon Position: 44 51S  138 02E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ExS 6

Miles since departure: 16,713

Avg. Miles/Day: 139

A clear, steady night.

One squall, epic in size and darkness of hue and pouring a Niagara of rain, a squall that had been on the approach all afternoon, a squall that looked to climb up the taffrail and for which I put on foul weather gear and cleared sheets of their coils … was too late!

Ha ha ha ha, laugh I as the sun sets. And as stars begin to wink on, the squall fizzles and spits and melts away like the wicked witch, nevermore to harass the weary sailor.

He who plies the tropics will have no such good fortune. There heat radiates upwards day and night. But here what heat there is quickly vanishes with the sun, and lacking their connection to power, clouds simply evaporate.

Not always, mind you. We’ve been clobbered plenty at night by southern squalls, but often if the wind is light and the air dry, the squalls don’t have oomph past sundown.

And did I mention it was still warm, 55 degrees or so. I took my daily beer on deck for the first time in memory and watched as the constellations emerged upon the darkening stage. Orion right overhead; Leo to the east. Crux and its pointers, Hadar and Rigil Kentaurus, very high in the south.

No moon was due till later, and soon the sky shone such that the constellations receded into the melee of twinkling and were lost. With binoculars, looking upwards was like dipping your hands into a basket of pearls.

One wonders on these nights why we all aren’t astronomers.

I made a quick stew of quinoa, beef, black beans and tomatos and went to bed happy. And slept the night without touching a sheet.

I did come up for inspections, however, and on one visit, the southern horizon glowed neon from the Aurora Australis buzzing far away.

Birds change with the region. Now an albatross of any kind is a rare sighting, and the (chocolate brown) white chinned petrels have also pulled away. But in their place, now we have the storm petrel and the white headed petrel.

For days, a clan of stormies has zipped and skated around Mo, following in her wake for no other reason than that she is there. Pelagics of all kinds I find amazing, but that a bird no larger than a house mouse can live an entire life out here, that it can be seen St. Petering on days like today and on days of the worst weather, passeth understanding.

Then a new animal! A pod of Southern Right Whale Dolphins, fat like penguins and fast, played under Mo’s bow for a time.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage

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