Sailing offshore, hundreds of miles away from land and civilisation isn’t for everyone. It’s been about four days since we last saw another vessel on the chart plotter and it doesn’t take much to realise we’re on a very small boat in a very large ocean.
While this could be a terrifying thought for some, we actually find offshore sailing very peaceful and relish the serenity and change of pace. Our only outside sounds come from the wind and the seas as they romp past the boat.
Being on night watch adds another element to the tranquillity. With zero light pollution, we get to see the sky in a completely different guise and last night was simply out of this world.
As twilight turned into darkness, we took prime seats out on deck and surveyed the atmosphere in all its glory. Ferg’s newly acquired skills in astro-navigation came into their own; he’s now got an amazing grasp as to where all the planets a nd constellations are.
I was lucky enough to have my own celestial guide pointing out the brightly shining planets of Mars, Neptune, Jupiter and Uranus.
As we’re in the Southern Hemisphere, we captured an upside-down Orion – complete with Betelgeuse his armpit, Rigel his thigh and also his belt and shield – and the nearby Canis Major & Canis Minor (Orion’s Big Dog and Little Dog) and later the Big Dipper or the Bear. We watched as the Milky Way emerged and seemed to stretch out its milky fingers as if to lay claim to as many of the stars that it could touch.
We also had our fair share of shooting stars to add to the mix, zipping around the stratosphere as if on an Formula 1 race track. But our highlight was seeing the occasional meteor fire across the sky, each visible for three or four seconds before disappearing. These brightly lit items of space debris were having their last dance, before breaking up as they hit the earth’s atmosphere.
Back at ground level, not to be outdone, the sea contributed with its own show, producing vivid phosphorescent, with colourful sparks of water and light flying out behind as the boat glided through the water.
Sailing offshore at night can be simply magical!
Total miles sailed in 48 hours: 239
Total miles to go to St Helena: 395
Date: Tuesday 21 & Wednesday 22 February 2023
© Two Drifters Travel