Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Overnight Passages

I never really minded overnight passages - well, most of them.  This picture was of a sunrise on the way to Trinidad one year - unfortunately, a motor trip, total lack of wind.  It was a very uneventful night.

But then, we had the passage from Margarita, Venezuela one year - the first 36 hours were horrible - confused seas, no rhythm at all AND to top it all off - the autopilot was broken!  By the third day, it was decently calm - but then, we had a call from the US Coast Guard cutter off our stern - they wanted to board us.   Here we were, a day away from land and they want to come over for an inspection and a drug swipe test.  Obviously, since I'm writing this - everything turned out fine.  We were really happy when we anchored after that trip.

Those were two extremes, and there have been others like them - maybe not just like them, but similar.  We were only boarded by the Coasties that once. 

One of my most memorable overnight, multi-day passages was from Margarita (again, different year) to St Thomas.  It was my first solo trip of multiple days.  The plan was to rest as much as possible during the day and at night, take 10 minute naps, get up and look around for other vessels, and take another nap.  It worked out pretty well, and the weather was behaving nicely, seas were a bit high, but they were coordinated with the wind and the boat was sailing along nicely.  I love having the motor off, nothing worse than that diesel chugging all the time! 

It was a bit cool, so I had sweats and a jacket on - yes, in the Caribbean, but it was winter!  And at night, with the wind blowing, it was chilly.   OK, I'll admit it, I'm a wimp and I like to be warm!  I was getting enough sleep during the night with my little timer buddy waking me up every 10 minutes or so, and I became very adept at falling asleep quickly after my search for other lights.  I think I saw only one other vessel, and he was miles away. 

The second night was totally moonless - but the stars were so bright you could actually see the reflections on the water.   There are so many more stars you can see without any ambient light, and they seem so much closer, and  so much brighter.  In spite of my need to sleep that night, one time I woke up, I just sat there and stared at the sky, marveling at the brilliance of light in the sky - it reminded me of glitter.   The Southern Cross was hanging perfectly over the solar panels mounted on my dinghy davits at the stern.  It was an amazing sight, and one I'll never forget. 

Now my plan is to go west in an RV and visit mountains, deserts, canyons and caverns.  I'm hoping I'll see a night sky as brilliant as the one I saw in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.  For those of you who want to follow my travels, join my page on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/LandCruisingAdventure   My wanderlust continues to control my life.

Betty Karl


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