Night Crossing: For The Unitiated Harder Than It Sounds


The crew has survived their first night crossing. Traveling through the Philippine Islands at night was an “invigorating” experience according to some, perhaps my word would be “scary”. We took two hour shifts; Jenny 10-12, Brian 12-2, John 2-4, and Kathleen 4-6. As the person in charge, your primary responsibility is not to run into anything in the pitch black. As a general matter, the auto pilot follows our preset way point route so that running into an island shouldn’t be a problem (with a nod to Ray not to be too dependent on the map plotter). In addition to the auto pilot, the night watch was not without aids. Radar shows indiscriminate blips that could indicate anything from a roaming banka boat to a 400′ freighter. Also, an AIS transceiver is an automated tracking system that identifies the location of a boat, its size, its direction, its minutes to Laysan’s nearest intercept path. A great system but only if the other boat has an AIS that is sending its information. Many times in the night, very large boats would pass with no AIS at all. In that instance, all the night watch can rely on is “visual sightings”. Using binoculars, we stare into the black to find the ship’s red, green, and white lights which indicate if the ship is coming toward you, away from you, or directly at you. Our learning curve was pretty rapid on visual identification. Our night crossing included the Verde Passage wihch is a narrow area that managed to kick up some 22-23 knot winds and some good slamming waves. I would estimate how big the waves were but we couldn’t see them. As a final spectral element to the night, we were treated to some extravagant lightning display that lit the sky and sent bolts right down to the ocean. Fortunately, the storms were all in the distance.
This morning, we have been treated to lovely flat seas, beautiful clouds against green mountains, and a close up visit from 20+ dolphins and later about 100 false killer whales in the distance. Besides the dolphins and whales, the big entertainment is to look at the passing freighters with binoculars. Invariably, as they pass, the freighter crew is looking at us with their binoculars and we all wave at each other. Good fun. Our plan had been to make Romblon Island, but adverse currents in the Verde Passage have slowed us down. After evaluating the situation, we have opted to continue towards Romblon which we expect at about 6:00 pm Philippine time.


Note from the captain:
Sound boat, strong crew,and fair weather makes for a smooth start to our cruise. Time and distance are melding into a comfortable rhythm with the rumbling engine droning beneath us. Each day we steer into the sunrise and watch the longitude tick by. All is well aboard M/Y Laysan, bound for Honolulu.

Current coordinates 12 45.17 N 122 00.66 E
Philippine time 3:11 pm
UTC time 07:11
Date 10/23/11

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4 Responses to Night Crossing: For The Unitiated Harder Than It Sounds

  1. Jarmes R Langworthy says:

    Dear John and Kathleen, I am enjoying your trip vicariosly. We went out on the Chiarra de Luna,
    in front of Waikiki, which seems pretty tame, compared to your adventure

  2. Barbara Fox says:

    So glad to hear you are through your first night, sounds “exciting”! Worried a bit to not hear for a while. That passage is supposed to have the most diverse marine life and amazing diving in the area. Wow 100 whales!! all the best.

  3. Wendy Atherden says:

    Sounds as though you have had an excellent and interesting beginning -great to hear.

  4. Steve Noufer says:

    Glad to hear that progress is being made. Sounds like boat and crew holding up well. Quite an adventure. You will see things that most of us never will.

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