5 days to go
Thursday, 30 April :Day 19
Dear Deirdre, I think I may be guilty of using my friends. Does this make me a bad person? This is the dilemma I find myself facing yet I fear that Deirdre is perhaps not one of the regular readers of these fascinating annals. I shall explain…
Over the last few weeks, and increasingly in the last fortnight, I have been quite actively soliciting the friendship of some of the heavenly bodies around me. It started as a passing fancy. I glimpsed them across a crowded room, as it were, and thought to myself “You look rather pretty… I wonder what your name might be?” So, one by one, I sidled up to them and, with the help of my trusty almanac, I got to learn their names, their declinations, their magnitudes… in short I discovered pretty much all a young bachelor could wish to know. What with their being only one me and rather more of them, and what with them being largely nocturnal ladies and me more of a day-boy, the process naturally took some time. However, the nights passed and a before too long, I found myself saying goodnight to each of them, in turn, by name – “Goodnight Bellatrix, Goodnight Nunki, Goodnight Hercules β” and so on. I did not wish to forget a single one of them, so beautiful were they all, and I certainly didn’t want to provoke any jealousy, so I found myself staying up well past my bedtime saying all my goodbyes. Night after night they would come out to see me and we grew closer and closer: I don’t think it’s a lie to say we became bosom friends. One of them, Zeubenelgenubi, I was particularly fond of. She’s not as bright as some of the others. I don’t know whether she was teased about this when she was younger, I suspect she may have been. But she proudly – if modestly - holds her own every night, always one step ahead of the wicked clutches of Antares and his gang. She is an inspiration to us all.
Anyway, a couple of nights ago, I was reading another book of mine – a racy thriller called “Rapid Sight Reduction, Vol. 1: Selected Stars”. It told me that I could use these new friends of mine to tell me exactly where I was. It was simple, the book said: just hold up your sextant to them and pull them down to the sea – that way, you can measure exactly where they are and so deduce exactly where you are in return. It all sounded devilishly tempting: I have been feeling a little lost of late – all at sea, one might say - and the prospect of finding some direction in my life was too good to pass up. I did as the book suggested. My first attempt two nights ago was a bit of a disaster. I tried to pull the moon, seven stars and one planet. I think I was too eager, too hasty: I failed with most of them. The moon and two others dallied with me a while, but the information they gave me was pretty poor. I felt more lost than ever. This morning I resolved to try again, just before dawn. I suspect they must have been tired, because one by one they all succumbed to my trusty sextant. Venus, Jupiter, Hadar, Vega and Formalhaut. I bagged them all. Only Deneb got away and she was only saved by a pesky cloud. This time I was more careful and I got what I wanted from them. I felt joyous. I felt a delight I had not felt for many years. Shortly afterwards the sun rose gloriously from the sea and I pulled him as well. I was on top of the world (not to mention well and truly sated).
Now however, I don’t feel quite so good. I realised that in my eagerness to catch them all, I didn’t really talk to them. I didn’t thank them once, didn’t even bid them goodnight. Have I used them? Have I ruined our relationship forever? Will the stars come back and forgive me? Will Saturn ever show me his ring again?
My Tool Of The Day was going to be the sextant. In the current circumstances, I feel it more appropriate to shelve the column for a while.
Guy is getting very excited about the constellations but I still find them very confusing. The trusty plough is there and I have spotted scorpio but the others just seem to do a lot of twinkling.
Anyone following or progress will spot that we have slowed down…The wind has dropped to about 6/8 knots but there is only 570 miles to go and we are using our precious diesel to help us along as well as charge the batteries so we are getting there.
It is very comfortable now with a peaceful ocean.
It had to happen of course, wind very mch down 4-7 kts, we do however have enough fuel to motor slowly all the way (500nm) even if it doesn’t pick up. All else ISQ.
ETA Tuesday morning.