Day 54: Sooty terns

Having crossed another timeline and moved four hours behind South Africa, I noted that there are no real celebrations when crossing lines of Longitude. The celebrations are mostly geared towards lines of Latitude like the equator.
When crossing the equator for the first time on the ocean, there is usually a visit from King Neptune to punish you for not asked not asking permission to cross the equator, followed by some humiliation of sorts as a punishment and then the celebration.
Someone on board would dress up as King Neptune and conduct the proceedings. Usually, it’s the Captain as long as he has crossed it before.
I just received a picture from Ken, who, with two mates, owner Howard and Johnny, were punished by me as King Neptune on our way to Barbados. This was December 1999, when I still had hair that was not grey.
Today the Sooty Terns, thanks for the ID, returned and repeated their yesterday’s performance. It was the same rowdy bunch from yesterday. I know this because they introduced themselves to me. They seem quite curious about this object Osiyeza and its human. They would fly close up to inspect us before swooping off to catch more flying fish. It generally spends most of the time three swells in front of me.
There is a definite art to managing the “black bucket”. It’s not a particularly thick-walled or strong bucket, so you can put your weight on it. Those stubborn kids really cause you to have a full-body workout. Legs and arms fight the pitching and rolling to keep the weight off the bucket and important bits aimed in the correct place.
The depth of the pool is another key element to the overall experience. Too much water, and you risk a splash over or soggy toosh. Too little, and clean up gets messy.
I have a rope attached to the bucket so I don’t lose it when I put it into the water. At my slow speed, it’s unlikely to pull hard enough to endanger me.
On one Rio race, we were about a day out from the finish, and one of the guys was collecting sea water off the stern. He had wrapped the lanyard around his hand a few times so the bucket would not be able to pull away.
We had the big spinnaker up and were charging along at 10kt plus. He tossed the bucket into the sea, but it did not fill, but sort of surfed the wake behind the boat. He jiggled the lanyard a few times until the lip of the bucket caught the water, and the bucket instantly filled with water and turned into a sea anchor. The pull of the bucket was so strong, and with the lanyard held fast around his wrist, the poor chap was yanked off the yacht, following the bucket into the ocean.
It was a very frightening experience for the crew; the only thing that saved his life was his bald head. When we were motoring back and forth, desperately looking for him, someone spotted the sun shining off his bald head like a signal mirror.
If you were wondering, I don’t wrap the black bucket lanyard around my wrist even at ½kt.
The moon rises later each day, so before it does, the stars are quite literally out of this world. This evening I was treated to the school of fish that have been driving the flying fish into the air for the birds to chase, swimming alongside Osiyeza.
There must be just less than a hundred in the school. They are only swimming in the area that the Starboard (green) navigation light is shining on the water.
They glow a translucent white, and they surf each little swell in unison. They are faster than Osiyeza, so they turn around and then repeat the process. I have been watching them and looking at the stars for a few hours, absorbing this very special moment.