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Emily Morgan - Day 18 - Last Day at Sea!

December 8th Wednesday Noon Position (Ship's Clock): 14 degrees 36 minutes North; 059 degrees 29 minutes West. Day's run: 175.5 nautical miles

Last night was our final overnight (we hope) at sea. It was a beautiful starry night with the crescent moon, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter all lined up on along the mainsail on the port side. We discovered an alternative to the noon-sight method of determining our latitude. This involved measuring the angle between your horizon and Polaris, the North Star. The simplest way of doing this is to use your hand stretched out in front of you and lined up with the horizon. When your thumb is behind your four fingers and they are parallel to the horizon, your hand measures 8 degrees. With your hand fully spread out the distance from your thumb on the horizon to your little finger pointing up into the sky is approximately 23 degrees. This way you can roughly estimate your latitude anywhere in the world. As we sailed through the night we noted the odd cloud in the distance, but none came near. It was a calm peaceful night and the squalls, sheet lightning, Force 10 winds and mountainous waves were a distant memory. The dark, empty sea stretched out in a vast circle around us and touched the horizon in the distance.

For days on end there had been no other boats visible. We were alone on the ocean with the sounds of the wind in the sails and the hum in the rigging and the creak of the teak deck relaxing after a day in the hot sun. Emily Morgan's bow cleaved her way through the dark water and a stream of white frothy fizz with a dusting of sequined phosphorescence sped by the hull each time we crested a wave.
In the morning light we saw a bird lazily circling the boat. A sign of land nearby. It was a brown boobie, a bird only found in the tropics. In the water we noted signs of Sargasso weed. This sea weed also belongs to the tropics. Along with the sun, stars and planets, mariners of old used these clues, the temperature of the air and water, the direction of currents and swells and the prevailing winds to navigate the oceans. In these days of GPS positioning, satellite navigation and chart plotters, the knowledge these early navigators possessed is a source of awe and wonder.

We are becoming excited by the prospect of the end of the voyage. It is incredible to think that we will soon accomplish the goal of sailing across the Atlantic. To realise a long held ambition will be a personal achievement for each of us on board. As we head closer to our destination we notice signals from other boats appearing on the AIS and radar. Finally, some of the 200 boats that set out from Las Palmas are nearby! We are all converging on St Lucia. Time to keep a careful watch throughout dusk, twilight and night.

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