While cruising at night off the coast of Spain, I stepped out onto the balcony to look at the stars. While the ship offered less light pollution than the mainland, it still interfered with the view of the dimmer stars and constellations.
Yet while standing there, perhaps five or six decks over the water, the darkness shrouded all but the whitest of whitecaps swirling from the side of the ship. One heard the waves but needed to adjust to the lack of light to see them.
This brought to mind those who once sailed these oceans in ships lacking any illumination except the occasional torch, fire being a risk on such a vessel. The stars must have seemed overwhelming to those voyagers offering some reassurance in the impenetrable darkness surrounding them.
And the sounds…While I heard the faint but distinct hum of the ship’s engines, they would have heard nothing but the wind snapping the sails, the eerie sound of a whale’s call, or perhaps nothing at all in a becalmed sea.
It is little wonder their imaginations conjured all manner of sea monsters, witches, or siren’s songs in the inky blackness of the night. How welcome the first sight of dawn must have been, chasing away the terrors and uncertainty of the darkness.
Disappointed in the dearth of stars but fascinated by imagining life on the seas in the early days of seafarers, I settled for enjoying a moment of solitude protected from the sound and fury of modern life.
It isn’t very often one gets the sky and the ocean all to oneself.