Night Watch

When Sea Turtle departed in 2009, the following was presented to us from a fellow sailor, Carolyn of SV Shannon. Hope you enjoy it as much as we have on the high seas.

Night Watch
by Carolyn Daly

Shadows of loosened halyards, dance on foresails
Shades of grey, light upon light, dark upon dark
New scent on the wind. Land?

Seas roll on, and on, and on - relentless
Big ones roar as they pass
Keel twists, hull shudders, waves punch
Rail to rail rolls of the boat, yet
Tiny sparkles, flash in our wake, streaming behind.

Wind moans through shrouds
Shifting, growing moans turning to shrieks as they build
Constant clanking and clinking of cupboard contents...
Tin cups, silverware, plates and bottles.

Streaking stars blazing through the sky
Brilliant blue-white glow of meteorites, falling...falling
Finally disintegrating into the sea.

What would happen if...?
Could I swim ashore? Probably not
Tethers, linking sailor and ship- a thin strand - a promise of life
Dependant on one knot, one bolt
No one to hear your cries, over the roaring water and shrieking wind
No one could.

Is that Cassiopius? Yes, there she is, high above
And look, another falling star, just in front of us
Do boats ever get hit by them?
Does insurance pay?

Ships passing. White and green and red lights...all a jumble
Behind us, beside us or in front
Lights off or part way on - and then off again
Is this a test? Or a game freighter captains play...
Called "spin the sailboat"?

What's that? There on the horizon
It looks like the sun, but no, it's the moon - magnificent
Peeping out from behind the watery horizontal curtain
Red and glowing, turning a familiar silver...rising quickly
Into a clear and starry night
Not so the other night.

Hours spent dodging thunder and lightning
Billowing balls of black cloud
Filled with sudden, vicious streaks of electricity
Lightening, they say, can blow out your thru-hulls
Where is our life raft?

Tonight is safer
Just the wind and waves
How big are eighteen-foot swells?
Not a problem, save for the four-foot waves crossing them
The wind? Well, you know. Six to ten or thirteen to twenty-eight
It varies.

Are the lines tidy? Nothing to trip over
How's Igor doing? (He's the auto pilot who steers better than us)

Wait...there it is again
A flash on the water
Dolphins, here to play
Look, over there, no it's three of them in parallel
And there, there's another...and another...and...
They're gone. Moved on...bye-bye
Alone again.

Alone with thoughts
Wandering, friends, dreams
Sing a song? Sure. Know the words? Some
Make them up? OK.

'round we go again
Checking sails. Tweaking sheets
Sitting, standing, hangin on
Alone with thoughts and memories.

What's that? Oh "hi"
Yes, it's been a quiet night
Not much to report
Off duty
Good night.

© Carolyn Daly, SV Shannon