Two nights ago…
Both genoas out, surfing at 16 knots on a following sea. In the galley, we hear water whooshing down the hull and dolphins chirruping. We go to the bow and there’s at least 10 of them, maybe more, zooming through the surf, streaming phosphorescence. Giggling as the water displaced by our bow tickles their backs. One jumps high out of a wave, the big show-off. You can almost touch their gleaming backs. All five of us are up on the bow, laughing, howling, riding the waves, egging them on. This is as cool as it gets.
The night before…
Midnight. Everyone’s in slumber-licious rock-a-bye. The swell rocks me in my seat at the helm. The sea gently swooshes against the hulls. Skip snores next to me in the wheelhouse bunk. No other boats around. Nothing on radar. I pray for beacons and ships with lights I can’t work out, something to focus on. Try not to think about chocolate. Creep to galley and make cup of tea. Return to wheelhouse. Finish tea, still hungry so return to galley for nuts. Back to wheelhouse. Still not thinking about chocolate. Get out planisphere which arrived with current issue of Australian Geographic. Strain neck looking at stars. Shine head torch on planisphere and succumb to temporary blindness and total loss of night vision. Abandon attempt at scientific appreciation of stars. Amuse self by spelling out different words using radiotelephony alphabet:
Lima, India, November, delta, tango.
Go to fridge and get chocolate out. Feel more awake now but still nothing happening. There's a game I've got going, it's pretty much the maritime equivalent of I-spy - the last resort when all possible forms of night watch entertainment (stars, chocolate, tea) have been exhausted. You play it by listing nautical terms which have transitioned to common useage. Here’s where I’m up to:
all hands on deck
down the hatch / batten the hatches
cut of your jib
three sheets to the wind
learn the ropes
at the helm
plot a course
toe the line
give a wide berth
I'm sure there are more. And plenty of uneventful night watches...