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Saturday, March 30, 2019

It Was a Dark Night

It was a dark night on a black sea that knew how to keep its’ secrets. I’d trimmed the mains’l and jib smartly; on the open water there’s no room for dumb. A brightly illuminated chart plotter told me there were no other vessels within 100 miles in any direction. Also told me I was on course for the Dominican Republic. All alone in the dark. A red headlamp on my forehead and and only my pair of bare feet on the cockpit floor. 

Hdg-330 degrees; Boat speed-7.971 kts

The trade winds were blowing through my head and on to the place where they  are no longer the trades. Heading toward their own undoing. The thought appealed to my sense of melodrama; aren’t we all moving closer to our own undoing? But my coffee had gone cold long ago and without a fresh cup of joe, I couldn’t tease out anything more from that thought.
My empty coffee mug at the helm

So began the process to find the thermos of hot coffee in the cabin below. One of the mysteries of the night passage is the shifting of obstacles from wherever they had been placed in the daylight hours. Oh, there were clues of the shifting, certainly. The clanking, clunking, swooshing, ka-knock knocking of metal, glass bottles and floor baskets that didn’t like where I’d chosen to put them. Even I myself, was tethered to the boat to prevent my own displacement from where I belonged.  
author's feet

First order of business—stand up. While bracing myself of course, for the two or six tentative steps that put me into the companionway. Lurching unexpectedly forward, backward, sideways I can finally lean against the leeward wall to descend the steps to the galley. Ceiling handholds are what save me from flopping toward the port or the starboard once below.
Position of our boat, north of Bonaire
using an iPad

If memory serves me, which it does not always do, I had quite definitively wedged the huge thermos of hot coffee into a space in one of the stainless steel sinks and then stacked other things snugly around it. By rights, there it would have remained until my return. If “by rights” were to be applied, I would not have become entangled in a line hanging off the coach roof. I would not have missed the central handhold suspended over the galley and been forced to lunge for the other handhold in a moment of panic.
authors' silhouette in cockpit

As I said at the outset, there’s no room for dumb on the water. And so I proceeded cautiously, right foot braced against the step, left foot finding the floor as the left hand grasped the handhold and the right hand? The right hand was left to connect with the thermos by the light of the red glow of my headlamp. 

torso brace attached to safety bar
Now here’s a conundrum. With two hands holding the thermos and mug, there are no hands left over for hanging on to the boat. Problem solved by buckling myself into the torso brace which some clever person designed just for that purpose. And which was cleverly purchased for my use in the galley. That accomplished, my entire body was braced while I opened the thermos, and then the mug, and oh so carefully poured the hot coffee from one to the other. 
Sailing from Bonaire to Dominican Republic.  A nice sail.

Then once again, finding myself short a hand or two, wedging the thermos in the sink in order to attend to the cover on the mug, then wedging the mug while capping the thermos. The return up to the cockpit was at least as precarious as the trip down. But it is somehow accomplished.

And there I was once again, in the dark night on a black sea that knew how to keep its’ secrets. Trade winds were blowing and….what was that thought I had pondered before the coffee trip below? That profound thought that I had been about to unravel......? 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh dear Ardys, You sure captured my imagination as I ready your blog! I wasn't really sure what was going to happen. So glad you were safe, that you are so "boat" smart and capable of night duty! I so admire you and all of your many skills! So glad I know you. Love,Jeanne C.