Marina’s Impressions of her night watch

Impressions from a midnight watch 9pm to Midnight / Singapore – Miri (Borneo) 24. to 28.03.2012

While writing this, I am sitting underneath a breathtaking night sky somewhere between Singapore and the northwestern tip of Borneo. We’ve been on open water for more than 24 hours – maybe that accounts for all the philosophical thoughts you start to have and feel need to share on a blog. I apologize in advance….

The stars above shine so bright. They seem so close and are so many that I sit here just stunned. Venus is shining… right next to the moon and most nights she is visible as the first planet before it even gets dark. It looks like a blanket drawn over us and looking up I sense eternity; feeling small and unimportant and protected at the same time.

Being out on the water I realize how little practical knowledge I have for being on a boat. Star signs? Constellation of planets? Navigation by stars at night, without compass or radar? Not possible. But how well my western civilized knowledge still sticks after one year of being away. I can still name and draw Germany’s most important Autobahn routes and tell you how to navigate around traffic jams on the way from Frankfurt to Munich. Doesn’t help me much out here!

I am in full responsibility for the boat and its crew, Brian and Amy. Thank goodness there aren’t a lot of these little, ill-lit fishing boats. Once in a while a BIG tanker or container ship shows up on the radar, and I watch it closely and try to estimate which direction it’ll take. These guys are so big that they would never get the idea to change their course for us, a ‘small’ 50-foot boat. Oh well, I’ll change ours then – you shouldn’t discuss to long with someone being five times your size.

“Wake me before they come to close” Brian’s words are in my head. Nervously, I fiddle with the autopilot and sometimes change course miles ahead just to realize afterwards that we would have never met. Going around Singapore was a nightmare when looking at a radar screen. ‘Sleeping Giants’, as we call them, were all over the place. It was like playing one of the computer games from the 80’s with low pixel graphics and having to navigate around undefined obstacles.

Have you ever seen a sunrise on open water? I wonder if fishermen have as many words for water then people from Seattle for rain or Canadians do for snow. What number was it again? Something around forty? The ocean will come in any color from charcoal-grey early morning, just before dawn to greenish-blue and dark blue late afternoon, when the sun is up. Not even starting on the turquoise colors it’ll take around the tropical reefs. And then, just when you think nothing can top this sunrise, a school of dolphins begin to dance at the bow. The three of us stand there, amazed, shouting of joy, all excited and emotional. Suddenly, the dolphins decide to skip away, and just like that they are gone. Left behind, we are all still excited and deeply touched… as happy as you can only be on a boat. And for moments like these, we know exactly why we are travelling.

Happy travels to all of you, Marina

1 thought on “Marina’s Impressions of her night watch”

  1. Marina… this was beautifully stated! Thank you for sharing… I loved hearing about the stars!! In Seattle they remind me of confetti, there they must be like huge, clear diamonds. Keep writing!

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