Atlantic Crossing Part II Days 28 & 29: 10 Seconds before Sunrise

Thursday July 17, 2014

This morning I was able to experience something few people can probably say they’ve ever done. Watched a 4 am sunrise. Although really, it’s total BS because as I mentioned before, we haven’t changed our clocks since we left Miami, and that was two time zones ago. So my 4 am sunrise would have actually been a 6 am sunrise if you want to get into technicalities, but I’m not. I rule the time out here on the seas, and I say it was 4 am.

One thing I’ve noticed, now that this is really the first time I’ve seen both the sunrise and sunset in a consecutive 24 hours, is how indistinguishable they are from each other. If you look at the moments just after the sun has sunk below the horizon, or the ten seconds before sunrise (#awesomesong), they look exactly the same. I am going to go through the effort today of changing the clocks forward one hour, since our early sunsets are starting to get a little ridiculous and I can’t stand them. But at least they do mean we’re making miles east.

sunset on the Atlantic

sunset in the middle of the Atlantic.

sunrise in the middle of the Atlantic

 sunrise in the middle of the Atlantic.

 

We found out something new yesterday afternoon. We must have wandered into some massive North Atlantic fishing area, because we’re starting to come across fishing buoys in the water. 1,000 miles from land in each direction and situated in depths of 12,000 feet.  Yet someone has taken time to mark little areas here and there with what we’re assuming are very large nets that sit just under the water. Yesterday’s was such a shock that we passed within about 100 feet of it just to get a closer look (we could not see the net sitting below it), but the one we saw today was shocking in a different way.

Yet another glass calm day on the seas, we were debating if we should use our engine at all. Since getting ourselves out of the channel in Bermuda we have not turned it on once. If we knew there was wind sitting somewhere that we could motor to, we would, but otherwise there’s no point. We’re content (enough) to just drift. So when it got to the point today that we were dropping down to 2-3 knots of wind and the autopilot had to be turned off since we weren’t getting any forward motion, I was sitting in the cockpit actually contemplating going for a swim. It was sweltering hot out, and if ever I was going to get in the water, this was it. Just as I was scanning the horizon to make sure there weren’t dark clouds poised to pounce on me and kick up the winds just after I got in the water, I saw a bright orange something or other floating out in the water some distance from us. Calling Matt up to check it out as well, I assumed it was another set of fishing buoys. Because of the bright orange color though, he thought it might be a life raft.

Bringing out the binoculars now, we tried to make sense of the shape in front of us. We weren’t sure that it was a life raft, but we also weren’t sure that it wasn’t. And how terrible would that be to miss the chance to rescue someone adrift because you didn’t want to make the effort to investigate it further? One thing was for sure though. We definitely weren’t going to be able to sail our way over to check it out. Flipping the engine on and giving it a few minutes to warm up after ten days of disuse, we put ourselves into gear and flew over the calm seas at a good 6 knots. Keeping an eye on it with the binocs as we neared we did find out that, just like I had originally assumed, it was two orange buoys floating just a few feet from each other. I was glad to find out that it was not in fact anyone in need of assistance, but it begs to ask the question, How much do we miss when we’re not looking?

fishing buoy in the middle of the Atlantic

 

Friday July 18, 2014

This morning I woke up to what has become a familiar scene on Serendipity. Matt will have the wheel locked, stating there is not enough wind for the autopilot to keep us moving forward.  Yet when I come up above deck I find there is 5-7 knots, at least enough to get us going somewhere it would seem. Then I spent the next 45 minutes or so trying to pinpoint exactly where that little bit of wind is coming from and turn the boat, which doesn’t want to turn because we’re only making 0.8 knots, in a direction that I can harness that wind. It’s a little frustrating, but the fact that Matt used to have to fix all my improper sail trims after my night shifts where I didn’t know how to get it right and would therefore just leave it wrong until he woke up, kind of makes up for it.

Before I could even get my morning coffee brewing today I could not stand the thought of us aimlessly drifting anymore and I was determined to do something about it. Spending the first 30 minutes spinning in circles as I tried to catch the wind in our sails, it looked as if I might be just as well off locking the wheel and letting us float south at just under a knot. I was about ready to give up when the wind picked up 1-2 knots, just enough for me to set a course in somewhat the right direction and get us moving again. Once we were on that course for a few minutes and I knew the wind wasn’t going to die out completely again I brought out the heasail and worked on trimming it just so. Getting behind the wheel again I began hand steering, getting a good feel of the wind and how we were moving in it.

Then it hit me. This is fun. I’m enjoying this. I’m enjoying sailing. For those of you who don’t know, I’m not the biggest fan of this sport. I haven’t hated it as much as I used to during some of our earlier passages in the Caribbean, but I’d say over the past year or so I’ve been learning to tolerate it more than I’d say I enjoyed it.

But something about being out here today and making something out of nothing, leisurely cruising along on calm waters with a light breeze on my face and nothing but blue surrounding me, something about this moment was ecstasy. Sailing in it’s purest form. Now I can see what all the fuss is about.

clam waters in the middle of the Atlantic

glass waters in the middle of the Atlantic

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