At sea when there are other ships around at night they all display navigation lights, depending on which angle you are looking at them, you will see different colored lights, but they are distinctive so that you can ascertain whether they are heading towards you, passing you, or going away.
Even far off the coast, in the middle of the ocean there is always a chance of not only seeing other ships, but also of being hit by a ship.
Based on your height of eye on a sailing yacht, you can only see the horizon about 9 nautical miles away. So if you are traveling at 7 knots, and a ship is coming towards you at say 15 knots, then you have a closing speed of 22 knots, which means that from not seeing anything on the horizon within 20 to 25 minutes you could be run over, hmmm hence why we always have someone on watch, sensible don't you think ?
Tonight is a full moon night here in the North Atlantic, and a clam smooth night it is. For days as we have headed north from Brazil's Fernando De Noronha, crossed the equator, slipped out of the crippling calms of the Doldrums and are now north of 20 degrees.
The days are now getting longer as we head into northern hemisphere spring time, the waters are now getting cooler again, instead of the tropical blue's with bath water temperatures of 33 degree's Celsius, we are now back at the still pleasant mid 20's. Day times are still wonderfully warm, and the evenings are a beautiful cool, but not cold, well for some onboard ! (compared to Antarctic climates)
With every passage there is wear an tear along the way, which is to be expected, unfortunately on this leg north the only breakage has been a running back stay block, this for non sailors is part of the mast rigging, and needs to be tensioned and changed each time we make a substantial course alteration when the wind changes from one side of the yacht to the other.
Well dear Vincent was the very unlucky one to find this out the other day when we tacked. In applying the needed tension to the running backstay, the deck turning block that the rope runs through exploded. I was near by doing the main sail, when it happened, Vincent went quiet as I reached over to check on him. Luckily, but unfortunately he was hit on the side of the head, the blood that was coming from his head was not large, but I was concerned.
Audrey and I grabbed the medical kits after our initial examination of his head, and as Vincent has said he is a very lucky "Black cat". The wound needed two stitches, and this Vincent managed without local anesthetics and my initial slightly shaky hand (stitching sails are not as stressful).
Now two days later we removed the first dressing and inspected the wound, not too bad a job if I say so myself, and certainly Vincent is back in his normal form.
So tonight's full moon party at sun set had "cheers all round" as Credence Clear Water Revival was playing Bad moon a rising in the back ground. The stars are all out, and eventhough I am not so familiar with these northern sparkling lights, they do remind me of ships that have safely passed us by, because from that aspect you can only see one small white light.
Safe sailing, 1,106 nautical miles to the Azores.