March 3, 2015

Collision in the night-day 7 to Sri Lanka

My 12am-3am watch started off with a bang. We were speeding along at 9 knots under spinnaker when our starboard hull collided with something. The banging reverberated through the boat, waking Maia and sending Evan I out to check the rudder by flashlight and to try and catch sight of the mystery object.
The sea is filled with things we don't want to hit. There are half-sunk shipping containers, and their liberated contents, whales, fishing gear and more recently tons of random garbage. Along with all the plastic we've avoided huge timbers, large metal tanks and containers and even a door in the past months. Yesterday we sailed past what appeared to be a wooden stairway railing.
Happily whatever we hit last night was noisy but light weight and our hull and rudder were fine. Reassured all was well Evan and Maia headed off to sleep and Charlie and I hunkered down in the moonlight and peered into the distance.
There wasn't much to see; while the moonlight brightened the waves and made it easy to see the horizon it was impossible to see any submerged hazards. After a while I stopped staring at the waves and went back to scanning the horizon for boats. This is why I only caught a flash of the flying fish when it came soaring in through the hatch.
It landed by Charlie, who must have thought dreams do come true, then started fluttering its way around the boat.
A fish, flying through a window at 2:30am, is a hard thing to process, even on the ocean. Mouse, bug or wind-up-dalek toy all seemed like more likely explanations for the object that had just bounced down the stairs into Maia's hull, with Charlie in cautious pursuit.
The fish woke up Maia and she suggested I catch it and set it free before Charlie got brave enough to approach it. I scooped it up with a paper towel and slipped it back into the sea. Charlie settled in back beside me and stared intently out the window perhaps hoping for another wayward flight.
A half hour later, just before I woke Evan for his watch, I spotted a small boat dead ahead. I steered to avoid it and then headed to bed. When I woke the moon was gone and dawn was breaking and we were one day closer to Sri Lanka.
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