The life-changing magic of night sailing

Our first ever sail through the night was in late April of this year in Portugal, when we sailed from Sines to an anchorage near Faro. I had sailed in the dark once before but that was only for a couple of hours until we came into harbour in Den Helder, The Netherlands for the night with a sailing class.

It was SO exciting to enter that first night. That moment after dusk when it became too dark to use my eyes to look out over the ocean and I had to start relying on the navigational equipment, I felt a little like being blindfolded while driving. But after a bit of adjusting and playing with the radar and AIS where I could clearly see the shore and surrounding boats, I felt calmer and a little more at ease. Having our instructor Jan-Paul with me in the cockpit as a backup helped a lot, too. I did worry about those uncharted fishing buoys though (I still do!).

I will never forget the moment I sat on watch that first time and suddenly noticing something different in the black sea next to the boat. I could clearly see the foam from the bow wave next to us but it was pitch black out. Then I saw something resembling glitter in the foam.

There was bioluminescent algae in the water. It was truly magical! I had never seen anything like that before. The glow was of a pale blue/greenish glittering color and it was hard to focus on, because it was so fleeting, yet coming back wave after wave. Such an amazing sight!

I must have told about my experience to just about everyone I met up with after we came back, my heart was just overflowing with the AMAZINGNESS of it. I haven’t been able to take pictures of it myself, but to give you an idea what it looked like I did a little Google search and found this wonderful photo, which comes closest to what I’ve seen that first night:


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