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@ 11:50 GMT
Position: 42° 52.874′ N x 70° 18.133′ W
Course: 11° true
Speed: 6.5 kts
Current voyage: 134 nautical miles
East Coast Expedition total: 152.6 nautical miles

This morning’s sunrise

Night is a special time at sea. It’s generally when I write a blog. No idea why, but about midnight my mind has jelled on some items that I have been mulling during the day. Tonight the last few hours have consisted of lots of lights. What are they? The first was the orange of the moon rising over the eastern horizon. Then as I looked with my binoculars I could see Provincetown tower lit up for the night. Then red and green flashing lights. These are the buoys at the end of Provincetown that I use to mark my approach at night. Then off at sea several white dots. What or who are they? Certainly many will be fishermen but I am approaching the Boston shipping channel so I need to keep an eye out for large vessels.

An hour ago Cepheus was hailed on VHF channel 16, which is the international hailing and distress channel. Sailing vessel Cepheus, Cepheus, Cepheus. I wondered if this was a friend who had seen me and was calling out to have a chat. No such luck. In fact it was another sailing vessel calling to tell me that we were on reciprocal courses heading towards one another. I responded, switched to channel 09 to talk and looked on my chart plotter. But could see nothing. I suggested that we both turned 10 degrees to starboard to avoid collision. You may ask, how could the other vessel see me? Many of us have automatic identification systems (AIS) that send out our boat name, course and speed so that other vessels can see us. The other vessel could see me out about 7 nautical miles, but it wasn’t until they were within 3 nautical miles that I could see them on my chart plotter. By that time I could see their lights. I wondered if they were heading to the Cape Cod Canal, where I had come from, and whether they came from Portland, where I am heading?

Some of the many light configurations at night to indicate the direction the boat is moving, the type of work it is performing, and also the size and type of the vessel.

I break my night into segments. Tonight it’s very important to do so to prevent boredom and keep a good lookout. I am cruising within 30 nautical miles of the shore and there are a lot of vessels – those lights. When I sail 100’s of miles offshore I might not see another vessel for days, but tonight as I look in all directions I can see boat lights. Night time can get a little monotonous so I break the night into segments that straddle midnight. Sunset was at about 8pm and twilight will be about 4 or 5 am. So when I get to midnight I know that I am halfway through the night. I wait to eat until after sunset, this helps take time between 8-10pm. Now, having thought about this blog it’s almost 11:15pm. Wow, almost halfway through the night!

I don’t normally drink caffeine after 12 noon when sailing as I would like to get rest at night. But tonight I am sailing alone and must stay alert to look out for those lights. So after midnight I will make a cuppa tea. That will take me to 1am by which time I will be north of the shipping channel. At 2am I will check fuel in the tank as I have been motoring a lot. I carry three 5 gallon jerry cans to replenish my fuel tank as needed. Based on the current speed I will be just off Cape Ann at 4-5am, daylight will be here and I expect to have enough wind again to get a headsail out. While most people sleep through the night, I plan activities and break the night into chunks. However tomorrow night I will be in port, so there will be no caffeine, no segments, and a full night of sleep.

Ah, I see a new light. Let me check AIS.

View of the chart plotter on board Cepheus during the Cape Cod Canal transit. Cepheus is the black boat shape in the middle of the compass circle. Farther ahead are some black triangles, indicating vessels that are sending out AIS signals.

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