Under a mackerel sky

It’s 0020 and Bernice has decided to brave a solo night watch. Rather than change all the watch system right away we’ve elected to split our 3 hour watch up into two 1.5 hour stints. See how it goes we’re probably only two nights more away from our initial destination of Mindelo, in Cape Verde so a couple of tries at it, see how it goes.

This is the first night probably since leaving Baiona that, believe it or not, we haven’t had clear skies at night with a big moon shining down on us – that I can remember anyways. The moon is now high in the sky at about 70% according to our celestial navigational instrument but it’s only just broken through the clouds. So it’s been quite dark for most of Adam’s watch before me.

I view my surroundings with new eyes. In charge yet not sure what of. Am sure the weather knows of my naivety and is surely more in charge than I. All the same I know I need to be familiar with the speed we are doing (we’re averaging about 5.6knots) the wind direction, true and apparent (between you and me they still confuse me a little) and keep an eye on the sky – what is it up to? Are there dark squally patches? Is there wind and/or rain on its way?

I see no ships. There are (unlike every night till now) no other vessels around. No other yachts (the ARC boats will have turned right by now) and no cargo or tankers…. The AIS (a cross between RADAR and GPS that tracks the location, speed and direction of other vessels) is blank, the radar (sees vessels which have a radar reflector and also we have its sensitivity set so we can identify rain on it’s way too) is blank. I am alone…..

Save that is for the sounds and movement around me. The lapping of the water on our hull. The occasional gently breaking waves that you sometimes think are fish, hope are dolphins. The creaking of the main as the boat meanders through the water. It doesn’t feel like we’re moving hardly and yet all at the same time it feel like we’re flying. This is a great boat to sail in and we’ve been really lucky to find ourselves onboard. There’s the occasional squeal too from the wind generator as it whirs and whizzes and darts about moving this way and that as it chases the wind to power it’s paddles.

But most amazing of all is the total stillness and yet constant changing of the night sky. As it quietly alters before my eyes. Clouds parting and forming. Stars tiptoeing across the sky as the earth rotates, glinting and calling to me as they do. The occasional shooting star. Earie and serene, I feel I’m being watched. But not by my fellow sailors. I like to think it’s my mum. I feel close to her out here as I look up at the stars. That she’s there, enjoying the adventure with me. I can feel it as if she’s right by my side. I can close my eyes and feel her cuddling me. It’s a special place to be and until now I’ve held these thoughts all the way down, kept them to myself as if by voicing them I’ll burst the bubble. Every night watch I’ve shared with Huw I’ve been searching the night sky not for clouds but for her. Guiding my thoughts giving me confidence and strength of character to relax and enjoy the ride.

Thanks mum, please stay, I miss you dearly xxx

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