Thursday, October 06, 2005

If you sail out there you know. Night is a sky blanket of light and civilization is over the bend of the earth, somewhere in the next century. I love sailing at night. Everything amplifies. Night lasts twice as long as day and the predawn gray fringe in the east brings a prayer to my lips.

Sailing at night is a balancing ballet in the dark. I go instinctively for exactly what I want, clipped on, safe in this little craft in the middle of green phosphorescence and white licks of waves and blackness. I am more glued to the boat’s motion, more aware of the swishy hiss of her through the water, the gentle roll and sway of her to the swells, the chatter of her stern wave and the bubble and shimmer of her wake. A pop and snap in the main’s luff, a flutter of the genny’s leech warn me of wind shifts and her tiller tugs lightly in my hand. The red and green of the masthead light cast gentle glows that mix with the Milky Way above me, and the soft red lights in the cabin call me down to a warm bunk and a hot mug of tea.

At night I can’t stand the engine, as if I would wake neighbors nearby. So I ghost into an anchorage main dropped around the boom, genoa rolled, gliding along as I stand on the bow ready to loose the anchor, way on the boat laying the chain on the bottom in a straight line, the snubbed rode jerking her bow around and setting the anchor deep. Even then the warmth of the cabin lights can’t compete with the sky above, that blanket of dusty stars, and I sit on the fore hatch and enjoy the show.