Sunday, March 19, 2006

Final night on passage

It's another dark night, the moon has yet to rise and it's more overcast than yesterday so fewer stars. One benefit of the blackness is the spectacular phosphorescence. Breaking waves, our wake and bow wave are full of phosphorescent spots of light. Time slips by unnoticed watching the light show around the boat.

We had a dolphin visit tonight. It was nearly impossible to see them, but their high-pitched whistling was unmistakable, very loud in the cabin, as though it was amplified by the boat.

Yet another change of plan. Rather than head directly for the customs post at Puerto Obaldia, we're making instead for Isla de Pinos, an anchorage 15 miles up the coast. Ouf has spent a day there and it sounds fabulous. We were easily persuaded to relax for a day before dealing with Panamanian bureaucracy. As the saying goes, "All plans set in jelly".

We've taken down the main and are sailing just under reefed genoa to slow down and make sure we arrive in the light. I've been trying to work out why the blackness of the night seems more troubling than normal. I think it's because for all previous night approaches there's always some indication that land is near. Such as the loom of a city, more boats than normal, the light of a lighthouse etc. On this section of coast there are no cities, no navigational aids and there don't appear to be any additional boats. There is nothing looming out of the blackness to indicate we are approaching land, just the GPS plot on our chart telling us we only have 40miles left to go. For a normal landfall we could verify our position by crossing checking navigational light bearings. Here we have to trust the position our GPS is giving us. There's no reason to doubt it, but it's still a little unnerving. I guess we'll get used to it as we head to the more remote corners of the world.

Position @ 23.00 18/3/2006 N9°37' W77°32'

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