I'm pretty new to sailing and I just finished my first big long-distance sail on Lake Superior. We started in Duluth and sailed to and through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie.
It was an amazing trip and there was a lot to love for a new sailor, like the Tall Ships that we sailed past in Duluth Harbor and the race boats that were at Sault Ste. Marie for the Trans Superior race. Il Mostro, a Volvo 70! Buadhaich, an IOR 50 newly restored!
But the most amazing part was my first night sail. Sea sickness had disabled most of the crew. Against the forecast the wind shifted 120º and picked up from 10 knots to 20 knots. The waves were 4-6' and their period was short and their motion was confused. The helm was a ****** because every wave wanted to throw the boat a different direction.
The person before me baled before the end of his shift. He had been quite sick and was exhausted. I didn't know before that a side effect of sea sickness is exhaustion, but there it was. I took the helm. The person who was supposed to be my watch mate was also quite sick. He used a tether to tie himself to a winch, because he knew he couldn't stay awake but was afraid that he'd be thrown all over the cockpit if he fell asleep.
So there I was on my first night sail. There was a faint fog that obscured the horizon line. The running lights of the boat illuminated the water so you could see the breakers maybe 20' out, but that was it. Other than that there was nothing.
I got used to the compass, correcting after every wave. Sometimes the waves would gang up on us and we'd drop right off, smacking the bow and sending a wave all the way back.
I became hypnotized by the compass. It was psychedelic, just gaze at the compass, no other visual stimuli, until the bow crashed through a wave and the water streaming back was illuminated by the running lights, so there were great streams of green and red water crashing towards me!
It was amazing. Finally I saw the other guy stirring and unhooking his tether. I thought I had been at the helm for about an hour. I asked him what time it was. He looked at his watch and and it turned out I had been at the helm for over two and half hours! I was completely hypnotized!
We had better weather and we had worse weather, but I will always remember my first night out. Wow!
The attached picture is before dark when it got really windy, and anyway pictures always flatten the waves. But there it is anyway.