30 December 2013

After the heat of the day we had a fine sunset last night. The last blue of the day blended seamlessly into a swathe of red that stretched across the southwestern horizon. I sat on deck, relieved to get some coolness at last, and watched the day come to an end. Gradually the night fell over our little world, all the colours slowly changing to black like a dark cloth being draped over a birdcage. In a book I read recently twilight was described as the hour between the butterfly and the moth. Out here it is more starkly the hour between the blue and the black.

The stars in the eastern sky come out first, as it gets darker there earlier with the sun setting in the west. The brightest stars are the first to appear. Sirius, the brightest of them is the first with Canopus not far behind. Then a bluish white Rigel in Orion’s right foot and the supergiant reddish Betelgeuse, 400 times the suns diameter, at Orion’s left shoulder. Because the eastern horizon darkens first it’s easier to begin star sights on that side before swinging around to see what is available in the west.
Last night Venus was still brilliant in the southwest. It will cease to be an evening star soon and by the end of January I’ll be seeing it in the morning sky for most of the coming year.

We hit something last night just after dark. I heard the thump on our port side and looked out aft but it was too dark to see anything. It doesn’t seem to have done any damage.
We had two visitors aboard during the night. I think they were terns of some kind but I only saw them in silhouette. They were both sitting on the rails aft. I had to go out several times during the night to alter the Aries and they were so near to me I could have touched them. They left a few deposits for me to clean up in the morning and a feather for a souvenir.

Today has been swelteringly hot again as the sun climbs ever higher in the sky. We’re not too far from Rio de Janeiro now so it must always be scorching there at every New Year. I was going to have my lunch on deck but it was just too hot. When the temperature is nearing your body temperature it’s a bit too much. It was 33º C inside the cabin but at least there was shade there. It was certainly hotter outside.

The wind shifted to the north and I had to gybe, for the first time in what seems like a long time, in order to hold our course.  I dragged all the onions, tatties and garlic out on deck to have a sort through and pick out any bad ones. I have banana shallots as well as onions and they have lasted really well with barely a bad one among them. The tatties are sprouting and some onions, which I have stowed down aft, are as well. The bag of onions, which were stowed beside the tatties haven’t fared so well and I had to throw out about a quarter of the bag. They haven’t had as much air around them as the others and this may be one of the reasons. The garlic is lasting well and I have enough to keep me going for a few months yet.

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