‘We sang dirges in the dark.’ – Don McLean, American Pie
Every once in a while our captain turns his dickhead light on. The one on his head. He’s checking the sails. Jack has definitely transformed into Captain. The wind in our ears persuades us. When we’re not sure, we glance his way. He stares forward. I don’t know – it looks reassuring.
‘Are you overwhelmed by this?’ I ask him. We’re passing Venezuela on our port side. Trinidad’s oil and gas platforms are ahead – Hibiscus and Poinsetta. Sound like Victorian sisters. More like Victorian spaceships. One of them is floating about halfway in the sky – a ring of orange lights.
This is our first night sail in a year-and-a-half. It’s our first passage too in 2019. It’s 2019 and the Caribbean still has pirates. Venezuelan pirates are known to hide under Trinidad’s Hibiscus platform – using it as a navigational marker. Poor Venezuela.
Because of this, sailing boats are encouraged to file a float plan with Trinidad’s Coast Guard. They monitor you via AIS, radar and stand by on VHF channel 16. This encouragement was solidified after an American-flagged yacht was shot at six months ago while travelling from Trinidad to Grenada. It arrived with a number of bullet holes in its hull. The yacht reported that a pirogue had tried unsuccessfully to board north of Hibiscus. It was daylight.
We’re sailing at night now. It’s considered safer. All the while, there’s been eighteen months of no living liquid passing under our feet. No imagining the water world underneath us. Whales the size of buildings powering under Quest. Turning, twisting, taking our pulses. Hidden but still there.
The wind is blowing perfectly tonight: 12-15 knots. For the strong Caribbean trade winds of the winter months, this is turning into an awesome beginning. We’re used to a brisk 25 knots being normal.
Still, we have to keep reefing to slow down. Sailing faster than 6 knots at night and Quest starts feeling overpowered to our heightened senses. Try telling her that though – she keeps trying to race forward at over 7 knots. At this rate, we’ll be in Grenada even before daylight! That’s not ideal – pirates or no pirates.
‘Like pirates would mess with you, Ma,’ Lu says. Jack’s bought a final bumper pack of doubles and we’re munching our way through them. Carefully – to avoid any more rogue stones. Our bodies rock in the pitch darkness. Stars pinprick so much of the sky above us, it’s turning parts grey. Makes Pleiades look understated.
She continues, ‘All you’d have to do is fix them with your middle forehead line. You know – the one that looks like a trident.’
Delph’s gone to bed. When we sail, she turns the fan on and dreams into the morning. Kiki Meanwhile, Lu’s bagged the best bench in the cockpit. She’s lying with our new fleecy PriceSmart blanket. She’s singing and joking. It’s the best mood we’ve seen her in since we left Borth. We’re giggling as if we might be having the sail of our lives. Wait. This might be the sail of our lives. I swear Quest is smiling. You just can’t see in the dark.