Monday, November 8, 2010

Ode to the Southern Cross

There are nights at sea when all you want to do is see the sunrise. Nights when you just hold on waiting for the next wave or blast of wind to shake your world. You just want it to end.

Then there are nights like tonight. There is no wind. The Pacific lives up to its name. The Milky Way blazes and is repeated in the surface of the sea. The horizon disappears as sea and sky blend into one. Any slight movement in the water—whether the slicing of the water as the boat drives forward or just the ripples on the surface—set off a light show of pixy dust. Countless microscopic critters glow and sparkle with any movement in the sea setting off their bioluminescence.

Everything is alive and glowing, yet all is at peace on the sea.

These are the nights sailors dream of. This is why we bash into head seas and put up with hanging onto to anything within reach just to get a cup of coffee or make it to the head.

Tonight, the Southern Cross is right in front of us near the horizon. Yes, the autopilot and GPS are taking us straight south to New Zealand, but it is easy to imagine the early sailors following the heavens on nights like this.

There is nothing around us that the sea doesn't provide. No boats on the radar no distant lights. As far as we can tell, there is not another person within hundreds of miles. It is so dark that the slightest light from our boat can break the spell, so I dim down the instruments and turn off the running lights. Now, the world around us seems to explode with pinpoints of light in the heavens and deep into the sea.

Ahead are the distant guiding stars. Behind us, our wake glitters and sparkles showing us we have been following a magic path. Soon, the first glow of the rising sun will break the spell. Luckily, these are the nights we remember.

—From the blog of Nordhavn 6409 Oso Blanco