(Continued from Part 1)
I’m hungry, so I investigate what we have left in the snack locker. Seeing no cashews or Snickers bars, I choose Saltines and peanut butter.
I’m tired. The last hour of this middle-of-the-night watch can seem interminable. It’s 0147. Crap, the last hour hasn’t even begun.
The ship has passed, and no new ones approaching. The wind has been steady for a while at about 17 knots. We’re doing fine with no reef. A big cloud is approaching, however — blotting out a patch of stars; registering deeper darkness than the ambient moon-set-three-hours-ago-sky. It’s 0158.
At this point of my watch I don’t want to do anything. I’m just hanging out until I can go back to sleep. I hope the wind doesn’t change. I hope no more ships appear. I just want an hour and two minutes to pass uneventfully. I have to force myself to stand up and go out to the cockpit and scan the horizon. Then I put away the peanut butter and crackers.. I check the charge level of our batteries. Our hydro-generator chafed through the line that holds it down, so it is out of commission tonight. So our batteries are getting somewhat low, but the silver lining is that I don’t have to listen to the annoying hum of the generator. Our wind generator is doing well, but it can’t keep up with our usage. It’s 0217.
My eyes are burning. I close them. Just for a minute. I wish I dared to close them longer. How do single-handed sailors survive? Earlier today we sailed past a huge floating drum/float/buoy. It was big enough that it would have done tremendous damage if we had hit it. We didn’t see it until it was already alongside. At night, no chance of seeing such a hazard. All small boats on the ocean are taking a calculated risk. It’s 0228.
Orion is about to set, soon to be followed by the Milky Way. The infinity of stars is amazing. I wish my eyes were sharper, so I could see more of them. An airplane blinks a trail northward. The North Star is lower in the sky each night, marking our progress south. I stare upward trying to keep my eyes open, and am rewarded with a shooting star — a good one, that leaves a trail glowing in the sky for a second before it is gone. It’s 0237.
I close my eyes…and jerk awake! How long was I asleep? Only for a second, I think. Time to make my way to the cockpit for another look around. No ships. No wind change. No big devoid-of-stars cloud patches. I’m on the home stretch now…counting down the remaining minutes until 0255, when I will wake Tim, brief him on the conditions, and go right to sleep.