Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 10, 2011

Night Watch

We beat into the waves day after day.  Pound … pound … pound … the huge waves slamming into our little 42-foot catamaran.  Each crash lifted the helm station a good inch and a half off of the floor I had thought it was nailed to.

“We aren’t beating into the wind, the waves are beating us,” I said ruefully after a larger bash nearly bounced me out of bed for the 50th time… and I had the comfortable bed.  My room was amidships, towards the middle of the ship so when the bow of the boat slapped the waves the cabins at the front of the boat really got it.  They may have had beds bigger than my matchbox-sized cubby, but I wouldn’t trade beds for the world.

I was already out of bed so I decided I might as well start my watch a little early.  Trying to sleep through this was not my favorite part of sailing.  Sailing it generally wasn’t too much fun either, but tonight was different.

“Keep her pointed as close to the wind as you can and keep us going as fast as you can without beating the boat or its passengers to death,” the captain told me before trying to get a little rest on the sofa.

Uncomfortable as the ride may have been to sleep tonight it was fantastic to sail.  As soon as I took the helm the pounding seemed to lessen.  Within moments it was if the boat had sprouted wings.  We fairly flew across the waves.

7 knots … 8 knots … 9 knots…. After creeping along at a snail’s pace for days in our overweight boat the newfound speed was intoxicating.

I climbed up into the helm seat to keep an eye on the control panel and listened to the sounds of the boat.  The autopilot’s intermittent ping pong-like clicking, the waves on the boat’s hull, but tonight the overpowering noise was the wind generator.  The squeaking whir of the generator screamed at top speed sounding like the language of some sort of deep sea monster had interbred with a hamster or the death throes of some alien life-form.

On one hand that noise was a good thing, we were generating quite a bit of energy for the boat.  On the other it was slightly intimidating.  When the generator got going that fast I tried to keep a safe distance.  Just in case.  The fan-like generator did bear a faint resemblance to a throwing star and I didn’t want to fall victim to the long fan blades.

There is always something magical about a night watch, but tonight was simply exhilarating.  I stood out on deck and soaked up the fresh salt air whipping past my face.  Everyone else asleep I relished the sense of liberty that came with having the boat to myself.  The solitude suited me.  I surveyed the boat, checking to be sure everything was in order.  The sails were full and the pale moonlight cast its silvery glow illuminating their white canvas bellies.  Everything was in order.  Everything was perfect.  The night was mine.

Going to the boat’s stern I looked down into the dark waters.  Like a fuzzy blanket being pulled apart on a cold winter night static electricity crackling, the boat’s wake sparked with little points of light.  It wasn’t a chore to stay up on night watch; it was a pleasure.  From the star-strewn heavens to the warm night air, everything about it was a delight.


  1. Captures the atmosphere and mood just right.

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