October 26, 2003
En route to Bundaberg on the Port2Port Rally
20° 42 S, 155° 26 E
Night Watch
By Lois Joy       

Oh the stars out here! And the galaxies! When I came on night watch at 0300, Richard, our crew for this Port2Port Rally, pointed out the two puffs—similar to the Milky Way—called the Large Magellanic Cloud and the small Magellanic Cloud. Only 160,000 light years away, they are the closest galaxies. The three stars of Hydra glimmer in between. Totally awesome! During my watch, I gaze at these new-found friends, as well as the ones I’ve known before: the Southern Cross, resting on her side in the wee hours of the morning, Orion still high above, his belt like diamonds. Pacific Bliss is serenely motorsailing at 5.5 knots in light winds of 7 to 8 knots from the northeast, slip-sliding away under her own umbrella of stars. We are deliberately holding back now because we want to meet our Aussie buddy boat Rascal Too at Hershey Bay and then arrive together at dawn. This is a Rally, not a Race, so the pace has been nice and easy. At 0430, we reach the Kenn Reef turn and I change the TRACK function to our waypoint to off Wreck Reef. Gradually a faint orange glow rims the eastern horizon and the galaxies slowly disappear, followed by Hydra, Vela and Pyxis. Only the stalwart stars remain, like anchors holding the heavens in place until the sun holds sway. The red-orange lightens to the subtlest of pink-orange, a backdrop to wisps of cirrus. It will be another sunny, wonderful day on our passage to the Land of Oz.



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