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Towards Panama

December 4th, 2012

Tuesday morning dawns bright as Picton Castle rounds and shapes up on a SWly heading past Columbia on our approach to Panama. Our position is 10Deg57’N 17Deg45’W, speed over ground 8 knots, and we have topsails set as we motor sail through these uncharacteristically light winds. Temperature is a steady 30 degrees Celsius, and people are reminiscing about what it used to feel like to be cold.

These last couple of days have seen some wonderful marine wildlife passing by our ship as we glide through these Caribbean waters. Whales and flying fish have passed near by, and yesterday Brody caught our first decent fish of the voyage – a good-sized mahi mahi which was quite delicious when Donald cooked it up for supper.

Last night the 8-12 lookouts were entertained by dolphins phosphorescing as they leapt in the bow wave of the ship. There was, apparently, slight concern that the glowing green streaks may be alien sea monsters or giant eels, and thus much relief and delight when they resolved themselves into gentle, playful dolphins.

There have been books on astronomy, ancient myths and legends, the stories behind the constellations doing the rounds of the aloha deck and the hatch on this passage. There is something magical about these big open skies at sea: seeing the great circle of the uninterrupted horizon; watching the sun rise and set day after day; and at night following the stately procession of the stars and planets across their celestial stage. Not surprising it makes our thoughts turn to ancient people and ancient ideas, makes us share some of the wonder they must have felt watching this same cosmic light show. And we look for patterns and stories and science to make sense of it all, just as they did.

Brody shows off a freshly caught mahi mahi
steering the ship in the moonlight
sunset over the port bow

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