Light winds again today, but I made reasonably good progress with what I had, though it came at a price as I had to pick the boat up on every stroke, which make for some grueling hours on the oars. Crossed 47W about an hour before nightfall, which at this point comes a little before 10PM GMT.
I'll be happy to get this quarter of the trip behind me when I cross 50W in a few days' time. The let-down after hitting halfway at 40W was much more troubling than I expected, and I've since had to readjust mentally to return to the outlook that "I'm moving in the right direction, but I still have a long way to go." I'll try to wait to think about Antigua until I cross 60W, which is just about 100 miles from the finish.
OK, on to the stars. I've thought a lot about how to describe them for you, but I'm still not sure I'll be able to do them justice. As many of you know, I probably spend more time than most staring at the night sky (and have since I was a kid) so the landscape is reasonably familiar. With that said, the views I see out here feel like I'm looking at a completely different sky compared to what I've seen at home, even on the darkest nights.
Imagine walking around a familiar room with the lights off. You know your way around, can make out the general shapes of the furniture, and won't bump into things. Then one day as you're feeling your way around someone flicks on the lights and WOW! Amazing! Incredible! All of a sudden you can see the color of the couch, the books on the shelves, and the pattern on the rug. Who knew this room was full of so much stuff?
Well, if that analogy makes sense to anyone but me, that's what it's like looking at the stars out here. The stars blanket the sky completely--enough to convince me that there isn't an inch of sky that doesn't contain at least one dim star.
The constellations are dramatic and dominating. You don't have to look for Orion. He dominates the scene from the very center of the night sky, his arrow pointing West just after nightfall. The big dipper is enormous and swings a wide arc around the north star, which at this latitude is lower on the horizon than I'm used to, having lived in the 40N latitudes all of my life. I find it impossible to look at one star or one constellation without immediately being distracted and drawn to another one nearby--a process that is repeated until I have to give up trying to look at them all.
Hopefully this gives you some sense of the night sky out here. It's really one of the highlights of the trip for me, and a real treat after a long day of rowing.
Quick shout-out to the brothers of Theta Chi Fraternity at Colgate University, who are throwing a fundraiser/party on behalf of Row for Hope, complete with rowing machine races by the brothers, which will be entertaining for sure. For anyone betting on the outcome of these races, my advice is that, no matter the relative size of the competitors, always bet on the experienced rower.
Wow, longest update ever. I might have earned myself a day off with this one. Bed time!
Thanks to all who have supported this expedition and important research at Yale Cancer Center with a donation to Row for Hope. If you haven't donated, or if you would consider donating again, it would be much appreciated. To donate online use the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page or visit www.rowforhope.com.