Cabo de Sao Vicente

Fri 14 Sep 2012 09:44
37:00.88n 09:01.77w

We set out about 4pm, each day we had been waking up to a flat calm and, gradually, during the day, the Northerlies had built up. They were nicely set in as we left; Lochmarin was pulling on her anchor chain, seemingly keen to get out of the bay and off to sea again. We felt the same way!

The swell was following us as we crossed the bay; in the late afternoon light I watched the dark waves rushed ahead of us, spilling into a white froth as they passed underneath us, swooshing us forwards. We were making over 8 knots with just the mizzen and jibs up. Lovely sailing...

The moonless night watches were dominated by a sky full of sparkling stars, and someone had spilt a bag of tiny tiny diamonds across the middle of them, leaving the smudge of brightness from Northeast to Southwest that was the Milky Way. They were so bright and clear that it was hard to see the familiar constellations, seeing so many stars that we didn't usually see in rural England's light smeared skies confused the picture when one is used to just seeing the brightest. All the while shooting stars streaked down around the rim of the world, burning themselves out with their own brilliance. I made out Orion in the confusion, rising bow first from the horizon, followed by Jupiter, casting a pathway of light onto the sea instead of the absent moon.

Not to be outdone, the sea showed her own jewels: every wave that broke under us was tipped with sparkling pulses of phosphorescence.

As the hours passed and the time for the next watch came, the whole sky slowly wheeled and tilted, until, by the time Venus rose, casting her own brilliant pathway on the waves, Orion was upright and the saucepan of the Great Bear was standing on it's handle. Sirius the faithful dog had followed Orion, and at past five in the morning, the orange sliver of a moon finally rose, just at the head of the path of light that Venus laid, as if she knew that she didn't have the power to light her own path. Venus' glow caught her upper edge, making her into a disk of silver with the bottom edge dipped in gold.

It was only with the blush of dawn that the smaller, less bright, stars retreated, leaving the familiar sky we knew. I found Cassiopeia and Triangulum had been there all along, just lost in the crowd. It was then that I started to see the satellites, a familiar sight when sleeping out as they beetle across the sky in England, but I'd not been able to spot any in the bright confusion during the night.

By morning the wind had dropped and we motored around Cabo de Sao Vicente, the goaty beard of Portugal's 'face', another landmark rounded and another couple of degrees further south.

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