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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Oct 8 & 9, 2018 Morocco to Graciosa

10 am departure. Started the customs checkout process at 8.
Uneventful for several hours. Other than a couple of fishing boats and nets.
These blobs are marking fishing buoys
Into night, there is no moon. I looked straight up and immediately saw a shooting star. I told Frank that is our good omen for a nice little passage. We have about 220 miles and some 33 hours to go to reach Graciosa in the Canaries. It is absolutely black out but the stars are visible through the patchy marine haze. It’s quite damp. Frank is down for a rest I see strange flashing lights off to the port side. Nothing shows up on AIS or radar. They seem to be getting closer but I couldn’t tell what was going on with them as they became erratic seeming to jump from spot to spot. We are off the coast of Africa, Western Sahara and I don’t know why our insurance company didn’t want us to go there so my mind is running through scenarios. Are there pirates around here? If so, why would they use a light...don’t they sneak around in darkness? Maybe it is flashing erratically to throw me off so I won’t know from which direction they are coming? Is it a fishing boat? I woke Frank because although I am not yet terrified maybe I needed some reassurance. 

He came up and told me to go get some rest. Really? He’s not worried about this oddity so I should just go get some rest. Ok, maybe I’m just tired and my mind is going haywire. I go down and try to rest but it’s only about 9:00 p.m. I can’t sleep - came up an hour later and Frank said the flashing lights appeared to be some kind of buoy. Maybe a fishing buoy, who knows but one got real close and he said the lights became very bright, about 4 feet from the surface. We both stayed up for a while until he went back down for some sleep around 11:30 p.m. No way I was sleeping with my mind on full alert now watching for fishing buoys and possibly
nets. I spotted three more of the strange lights around midnight. We sure wouldn’t want to hit one since we don’t know what they are. I’m being extra vigilant.

Around 2:00 a.m., I began so see more and more phosphorescence in the water. This and the stars are my favorite parts of a night passage. The brilliance in the water is mesmerizing. It is as though Neptune himself is down there tossing handfuls of stars up to the surface each time the boat throws a bow wake. They tumble in a sparkling mass, spreading like the tails of comets. I’m tethered into the cockpit, but I can’t get enough of this enchanting display of God’s wonder.   I lean out of the cockpit watching as in a dazed trance. I’m thinking this is like a mirror image of the sparkling stars in the Heavens. I have chills. It is so thrilling to me that I let Frank sleep extra long so that I can stay up for the late show. I don’t want to miss a minute of this miracle of the sea. In my mind, this is God’s gift of a moonless night and a sight that we haven’t enjoyed since leaving the South Pacific. Eventually around 3:30 a.m., I gave in to the fatigue and regrettably woke Frank for his turn at watch. 

Frank woke me at nearly 7:45. No real wind but we expected that. We did sail for a short while and have been motor sailing for 15 hours now. There’s an approaching storm in the forecast and if we keep up the current speed we should beat it. With daylight came visibility and with visibility came the absurdly bundled “blobs” of crudely constructed fishing buoys. They looked like a tangled mess floating out here 100 or so miles from shore. Man would that mess up our prop if we had run over one of those nasties. God only knows how many we missed in the night. 
This is one of the the fishing blobs we saw at dawn.

Providence is getting us through. We continued to spot the odd blobs as the storm ahead began to brew bringing on a 20+ knot headwind and bringing the following seas around to slam straight at us. Every now and then we would get a big angry crash over the bow. Thank goodness there was no thunder boom and no lightning, just a lot of wind and gray sky. We rode the bull for about 5 hours praying for the rain to come and wash our salty decks. Some folks may think we’re crazy because we enjoy these rides. The sails were up on a close reach (about 45 degrees), with the motor giving us forward momentum. This to us is exhilarating and we think Destiny kind of likes it too. It’s as though she is racing to reach the next cresting wave to remind us we are still alive and loving this life. It’s literally like a surfer paddling out into the big waves, ducking under the breaks knowing when he reaches his sweet place, he will turn and ride. This is the gift of the effort. Destiny will get her turn to ride when we leave the Cape Verdes in December. 

Our view of Lanzarote through the gray

End of this story...we made it in, after motoring around to find a safe spot to anchor in Francesca Bay between Isla Graciosa and Lanzarote.

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