Another stunning day on the ocean. Yesterday was nicely windy, 15-17 knots, so we made great progress. The sea was unusually flat, the motion pleasant. We kept saying, “what a great day to be on the water.”
We are now about 550 miles north of St. Martin, so over a third of the way there. Our plan is to leave Bermuda 200 miles to starboard and continue straight to Newport. Right now we are 325 miles south of Bermuda and 900 miles from Newport. I am happy to report that we made it through the ‘Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range North 21B” without incident. This area was ominously marked on our chart, but the fish and birds seemed not to mind, so we took our cue from them.
I had the 3:20am-6:00am watch this morning. Stars were stupendously beautiful. I heard a thud at 4:30 am, yet another flying fish landing on deck, only 3 feet behind me. They are endearing little fellows. Usually you find them dead on deck in the morning, dull gray and glossy-eyed. This fine fellow was very much alive, and was an incredible cobalt blue, like the water he inhabits. It is fascinating how color can drain with life. I thought to take his picture before tossing him back, but he looked at me with a terror in his bulging little eye and somersaulted himself over the rail to safety.
Just before dawn broke I began to see ship lights, but no corresponding AIS signature. Often this means fishing boats, guarding their secret spots. Indeed, soon I was weaving through a small fleet of identical rusty Japanese fishing boats. One dodged me, then I dodged a second one. Closest we came was about a half mile, so no worries. They did, however, chat excitedly on the VHF radio in their staccato Japanese. Not sure if they were talking about us or the fishing, but they were most animated.
The remarkable thing about this encounter was that we have gone all day long without a speck of anything on the horizon. We were visited by a beautiful white-tailed tropicbird, the national bird of Bermuda. Dana likes to know things, so he took its picture and researched it. It had a distinctive long white tail and eyed us suspiciously as it hovered nearby. We then spooked up a flying fish and the longtail dove in neatly to nab it. Hopefully not my little buddy.
We paused from our course today to rig a messenger line to the third reef point as well as to fly the storm jib. These are requirements for the upcoming Newport-Bermuda Race, so we though to knock them out on a calm day. Bill, as always, is simply amazing in his knowledge of all things nautical and his patience in teaching.
Dinner tonight is tortellini. The winds have clocked to the East and cooled things a bit, so sleeping conditions are improved.
Rest well, love to all. MJ