FROM 1-13. Across the Equator

May 05, 2005 – 0600hrs UTC

0600hrs 05 May 2005 UTC Map Ref 201

Is there no end to this guy spouting on about the night sky? do I hear all y’all moaning into your cornies/ Well, here’s a bit more – on these clear moonless nights the Bowl of Night is so intensely beautiful that it can’t be ignored. Sometimes when dolphins play around the boat at night, they spear through the water in brilliant trails of phosphorescence which linger for a few seconds as softly glowing faintly spiralling vortices. Lovely. And when the Dolphins arrived one Sunday afternoon to take over the world from the Mice, they came spearing in through the atmosphere leaving trails of glowing stellar phosphorescence which still linger as the Milky Way. Also lovely – it has two distinct branches directly above us, closely packed with stars and dust and gas and looking just like a dolphin’s trail.

And meteorites – there have been several big ones during the last week or so, coming from the south and leaving long trails across the sky. Tonight, though, I have been watching a series of very bright apparently smaller ones coming in from the south east high in the sky. One in particular was very bright – almost like a whits parachute rocket flare way up there. Is it the time for Oort showers and all that?

[ed: This is a message received from Barry D that Alex thought would be of interest to all:

Through the hole in the studio roof you have been watching the meteor shower known as Eta Aquarids, which is visible from April 21 – May 12. The peak was May 5.

We missed that show. What channel was it on?

I just looked up the program and the next strong meteor shower is not until we all pass through the South Delta Aquarids, July 12 – Aug 19. Peak July 28.]

Clear nights – haze around the horizon, so still Polaris not visible, Big Dipper now appreciably higher than the Cross. Slight hardening of the haze to the north east – becomes black and lumpy with arms – closer, bigger, better defined and with a hard black line beneath and a hint of grey rain. Blacker still, the arms hard and low and clearly defined against the glowing Bowl and just a bit ominous. Then seriously ominous with attitude – close the hatches, party jacket on, put cushion below and take the tiller away from Kevvo. The wind softens to 10 kts, the black line is intense, hard and darkly threatening almost overhead and then whammo! the wind backs in an instant through about 50 degrees and rises to 30 knots and it’s on – drop the traveller to feather the main, steer down wherever the wind wants to go to keep it at 60 degrees off the bow and WOOHOO what a ride. More phosphorescence, spray, black black black above but the far edge visible and stars appearing again. And the wind slowly veers again and back to 18 kts. The black cloud is away to the west and the stars are twinkling and back to kevvo. They arms are generally about a mile wide but if we go through the middle of the depression, it gets very wet and takes a bit longer.

Been thinking about how we can second guess the potential for rig failure – I’m looking at the possibility of going up the mast and attaching 8mm spectra at the cap tangs and at the intermediates and taking it round the spreaders and down to a block so that if another swage goes, we have backup already in place. Already have the main topping lift set up as backup backstay and we have an outer forestay that should buy us time if either main wire goes. Anyone care to comment?

Just been up to do a shipcheck – there’s a little Leunig quarter moon just arisen above the horizon. We are waiting for a potentially highly visible ISS pass at 0700Z – we don’t get clear skies too often when they are around and we’ve only managed one good sighting. They can’t see us when we can see them, because they are in full sunlight – so we get the reflection down here.

Debra – how could I forget? Glad you’re along for the ride. Are you still being a paramedic? When do B & J get back? And all boats do sail a bit sideways – it’s called leeway and it is the result of the sideways pressure of the wind on the sails and hull. Really efficient hulls make less leeway – Berri is pretty good. But I agree – 639 miles takes immense skill and concentration and you should certainly celebrate the achievement with medicinal potions. As often as you like.

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