Leg 2, Day 61 – Day & Night

Natalia Cohen By

Day & Night

Whenever we need help, hope, inspiration or strength, we naturally look up. I’m not sure if that upwards glance is to connect with the ‘presence’ or ‘universal energy’ we all believe in (in whatever form that comes) or by looking to the heavens above we feel the space to breathe and the opportunity to clear our minds. The one thing that connects us all no matter our destination or circumstance, is the sky and atmosphere surrounding it. I have never spent so much time studying the sky as I have out here in the almighty Pacific and I have developed a deeper adoration and amazement for what is so freely on offer to us all and that embodies the impermanence of everything. Daytime
I’ve always been a fan of the blue sky as it gives a good bright light and background colour to photos and makes any place seem happier and more alive. However, I do also believe that a cloudscape helps to add drama to a landscape and also aids in producing some of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen. One of our favourite pastimes out on the oars is cloud watching.

So much so in fact, that we decided that we were going to create a cloud appreciation society on our return and were completely dismayed to find that someone has beaten us to it!!

Shapes, sizes and textures constantly shift, merge and break. Huge towers climb upwards and wispy tufts streak across the sky. Cloud colours Include white and varying hues of grey and blues during the day and pinks, oranges and reds during sunrise and sunsets.

Clouds

There are numerous types of cloud and although I am yet to educate myself on all of them (which would be an amazing thing to know)…here are a handful I can share:

– Cumulus – are the fluffy cotton wool type of clouds that drift happily across the sky on sunny days. Normally this type of cloud does not produce rain and so they are also known as fair- weather clouds. They can however form a tall tower which is then known as a Cumulus Congestus and can give short showers.

– Stratocumulus – is the most widespread of all cloud types. This is a low layer or patch of cloud and normally what you see when the sky is overcast. Stratocumulus comes in many varieties and can be thick whereby it blocks the sun or moon completely, has more than one layer, is quite wave like in appearance, or thin and therefore shows the outline of the sun or moon.

– Cirrus – are those beautiful clouds that form the tufted wispy streaks and are usually found high in the sky. These usually turn an iridescent pink during our sunsets out here.

– Stratus – is the continuous horizontal sheet of cloud that forms and more than often comes with rain. We’ve seen a lot of these in the doldrums.

Rather than point at clouds and shout “look, a stratocumulus opacus”, we do what everyone else does and find as many shapes, forms and stories as we can hidden in the clouds.

LP and I are definitely the main cloud namers. Between us we have seen elephants, dogs, cats, mice, angels, robots, rabbits and camels, to name a few. We had a cat and dog, one in front of each other, watching the sunset one evening and I have seen a couple dancing the tango, with the woman’s leg placed high on the man’s shoulder.
Leading on from the lack of testosterone theme of my last blog, we have on more than a few occasions also spotted certain male body parts shaped clouds!

Daytime treats in the sky include: – rainbows – birds (Boobies, Frigates, Terns, Petrels, Shearwaters)
– sun halos Nighttime The cycle of the moon creates variety for us at night out here in the middle of nothingness.
With a new moon and clear sky, the galaxy stretches above us shining infinite starlight down upon us. The more you stare, the more you see. As the moon waxes (gets bigger) or wanes (gets smaller) you get varied skies and light. With a full moon our oceanic world is lit up as if a giant torch is shining on and around Doris and everything from the waves and clouds to the dolphins and whales are more easily seen. Only the brightest of the constellations are visible and depending on the moon’s position we are either bathed in small moonlight sparkles or are rowing in a white gold shining pathway.
When we have agreeable sea state, night time rows are some of my favourite times to be out on the oars.
A simple highlight during a night shift is either seeing a boat (has only happened 3 times this leg) or an airplane. On spotting an airplane, someone usually cries “airplane, airplane!” while explaining the direction to look and then waiting for confirmation from the other rower. Once both have see the flying object there is always great excitement and a chorus of “yaaayyy!”
I think it’s just good knowing that there are indeed other life forms out here…as most of the time it feels like we are all alone.

Nighttime treats in the sky include:
– moon halos – shooting stars
– satellites
– strange unidentifiable lights
– airplanes

*Make time when you can every day to stop and contemplate the sky and then think of us. Also remember, that however thick or dark the clouds, there is always blue sky and sunshine or stars and moon above them. Stay strong. Keep positive. Be happy x

Light on oar

UPDATE:
As if the universe knew I was writing this blog, tonight LV and I were treated to the most magnificent night sky. An almost full moon was surrounded by a burnt orange thick halo, thin cloud and then around the halo was a rainbow (moonbow?!) Surrounding the moon was an impressive collection of small broken clouds creating a patchwork effect. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and it looked almost other worldly. It was magical.

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5 Comments

  1. As we are reading your blog it was announced on the news that tonight we have a supermoon lunar eclipse, the last was in the 1980’s and the next will be 2030……..so we will take a look at it later and think of you four girls out there in the great outdoors!

  2. Just read that the total lunar eclipse will take place just after midnight on September 28th in the pacific, so something really special for you to see from Doris……..

  3. Pimo says:

    It was great to see Prince William (with Kate) and Harry up in the stands cheering for Wales & England respectively. The sight of Kate & William celebrating ‘their’ win, while Harry looked on somewhat dejected, was captivating. Nice!

  4. Simon TY says:

    You have talked of star gazing, but who is the star expert. By now the Southern Cross must be clearly in view and the Pole star recedes. Have you got a book ? Or these days there are brilliant IPad apps that you can hold above yr head. Have you tried any navigation by the stars ? Facing backwards you will not be able to chase down a star ahead. But watch individual stars set ? Can you immediately identify the planets ? Have you seen the International Space station ?

    Hope you having a good day. Samoa looks quite close now. I know hundreds of miles, but on the map…..a lot closer than Hawaii suddenly.

    Be good, be safe, be careful

    Xxx

  5. Jim Andrews says:

    What a beautifully written piece. Having the time to appreciate the natural beauty on offer, without the light pollution that goes with modern civilisation, is enviable. I love to sky gaze and daydream and use my imagination to create sky art I think what you see in the clouds is indicative of your current state of mind. Probably why we all see different things?
    As requested, I spare several moments each day with you all in mind, I fear for you, because of the enormity of the Pacific and your quest. I admire you all for the same reason and despite my fear I have total confidence in you all. Stay safe. XX

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