Sleep deprivation does the funniest things to you....
08 May 2014
We all remember pulling all-nighters in college. We'd stumble into the exam room, bump into the door, slump into the chair, try to focus on the exam questions only to realize that we had been staring at the question for five minutes and had no idea what it was asking. I have no clue why I ever pulled all nighters in college.
You really don't have much choice if you want to sail to the Bahamas. Overnight passages kind of go with the territory. Chrisy and I did a really good job of taking 2 1/2 hour shifts through the night, but it was pretty tough to go to sleep when you go off watch and you know that there is a container ship two miles away. Well, sleep deprivation certainly plays funny tricks on you when you're sailing.
We saw a blip on our radar about six miles out and over the next half hour it steadily closed on us to about three miles at which point we began to see a blinking white light that we were certain was the stern light of another vessel. Fortunately, the target on the radar wasn't too big and it didn't seem to be closing on us too quickly, but it was still a concern.
When it was two miles out we decided it was time to hail them on the VHF to identify ourselves and find out where they were going.
"This is the sailing vessel Sanderling at 32 degree 12 minutes north and 80 degrees and 21 minutes west hailing the vessel approximately two miles off of our starboard bow."
Another sailboat responded to our hail and when I asked them to look over their port stern and they didn't see us it was pretty clear that they were not the vessel that we thought we were looking at.
Time to go back to the drawing board and rethink this situation....
Hum - a brilliant idea - let's take a look at the chart. Sure enough - big as day approximately two miles off of our starboard bow is a big fat buoy - a flashing six second buoy none the less. Imagine that - We had been trying to hail a buoy. Silly thing - why didn't they respond to our hail. Did we have a good laugh over that. Wonder if the other sailboat ever figured out that Sanderling was trying to hail a light buoy. Maybe that's why they kept their distance from us when we entered Charleston Harbor. This obviously would never have happened if I had only invested $2,500 in an AIS system that gives the identity of the other boats. If I continue to hail light buoys it might be worth it.