A common perception is that being at sea, particularly night watch equates to the “feeling” of being alone. It can be quite the opposite, as it was the first time I felt “whole”.
These are the questions I’m typically asked: “Why? What is it? Do you get bored? What do you do on night watch? How fast do you go? Do you have access to the internet?” Well, besides pouring yourself a piping hot cup of coffee, you have to simultaneously ensure everything is in working order, plot and maintain course, watch for boats, oil rigs, rocks, etc, as well as any changes in the weather and sea state. It is not a one time check list as you continually do these things during your watch. Watch is serious, as your crew is depending on you to not only make headway, but to do it safely. Special thanks and appreciation if you can do all that without disturbing anyone’s sleep.
Night watch can be 3-4 hour shifts and I believe that these hours of the wee morning are “yours”. It’s a time to fully appreciate the beauty of the moon, the stars, the sounds of the wind and the waves. It’s a time to reflect on where you have been, what you may have been, and what you still yearn to become. It’s a time to reconcile regrets and make new commitments. The ocean, just as life, brings both feelings of euphoria and hysteria. It is a time to untether from Facebook and be in the moment, utilize all your senses, and be at peace with who you are. In summary, it is magical. If you have the fortune to have this experience with those you love, it’s priceless.