Crew Blog| Nāʻālehu Anthony: Happy to See Venus

Happy to See Venus

Naalehu AnthonyBlog by Nāʻālehu Anthony

It’s interesting to me how the human body works. Every morning for the last three days I get up minutes before my 2 am watch. I lie there in the starboard 4 bunk listening to the voices on the watch to get a sense of what time it is. Wide awake, I stay in the bunk getting as much rest as I can before the long day ahead. It only takes a couple of minutes for the call from outside the canvas, “Lehu, time for your watch.” I don’t know how the body readjusts to the insanely early call time but it does. The first thing I do is listen some more to get a sense of the conditions outside. I can hear the water rushing by. I know we have speed on our floating island. I stick my foot out of the canvas to see if it’s raining. It isn’t but I know the wind is still blowing pretty hard to be going this fast.

Coming up on watch in the dark can be pretty intense. It’s like waking up in the middle of driving a racecar. Especially tonight. The moon is barely visible and so there is really no light on deck. Almost every star is shrouded in darkness of the deep plum clouds that persist all around us. Basically blind, our other senses take over. First, I need to shake off the tired so that I can get stable enough to stand as the deck pitches on two different axis as the waves fight for dominance in a couple of different directions. Next, I have to get a sense of how fast we are going and in what direction we are heading. At this point in my voyaging career I can guess pretty well as to the wind speed and canoe speed just by the feeling on my skin and the sounds that Hōkūleʻa makes. We’re moving quickly (for a canoe anyway) at 7 kts, plus a little more on the gusts of wind that boost us forward.

But unlike maintaining balance and estimating speed, direction takes a bit of doing. The navigation team has to take into account all the deviations that we make in steering so we all try our best to hold a really good and accurate line. Without any visual cues like planets or stars, we’re steering by the wind in the dark night. Mahina the moon glows through the clouds intermittently, but in between, no other stars are available. The telltales we attached to the rigging show us wind direction. Barely visible, we watch the wind and hug the canoe tight to what the wind will let us sail as we go through the night.

Slowly, patches of blue can be seen against the grainy black gray and sky. Below the moon glow, we can see that there’s another bit of light. Venus finally shows herself, right where we anticipated she would be if we are on the right course. The two navigators on the deck literally cheer when Venus appears. The dawn light follows not far behind, which then gives way to the sun, as the new day begins. We are all happy to see Venus.

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