Moonless Sonata

Jupiter is hardly moving on her anchor at Laura Cove in Desolation Sound. Her crew enjoy the tranquil berth, the silent boat, the bold shoreline, in the loom of mantled snowy mountains. Here last August every nearby cove was overflowing with yachts, boats, and bodies and vessels of every size and description.

In January we are alone.

Along Jupiter’s route were seen Sea Lions, Orcas and, most surprisingly, Humpback Whales.

The day’s passage is past and the corduroy waters of the breezy afternoon have settled to velvet.

Owing to the contained anchorage, the protection from surrounding heights, and quiet weather we drop anchor and 150 feet of chain into 40 feet of water, most of which finds itself in a steely pile below the boat, the angle of repose undisturbed by any tugging from the vessel above.

The anchor is buried in a bottom determined years past by a nameless surveyor to consist of mud, sand and shell.

High peaks of Desolation Sound are occasionally visible above the clouds.

Satisfied with our moorage and with the anchor drag geofence that Garmin offers on chart plotters, the crew prepares for night.

Twilight brings a chilling light rain and tailing bands of fog upslope. The evening light decolors whatever hues and sounds remain within the lagoon. Jupiter’s icy-white anchor light blazes on the masthead, eager to warn off any unlikely night navigators.

Night settles, the ship’s log is closed. Systems used underway are deactivated and domestic pursuits engaged. Hot showers, food preparation and music find favor. The quiet warmth of air heaters courses through the boat. Perhaps a glass of wine is at hand.

This is a good time to make a round on deck, checking what was last checked in daylight and to appreciate the boat’s snug and lucent interior.

Jupiter, even at rest and reliably moored, is in constant gentle motion, rising and falling with the 15 foot tides, and nudged about her anchor axis by a light current or a whisper of wind. On a night as dark as this the vessels attitude is difficult to discern so the crew often consults compass and chartplotter to maintain situational awareness.

The evening progresses with dinner at six bells of the Dog Watch, washing up, another tour of the decks, then reading, writing, photo editing, knitting, and dyadic banter.

By two bells of the First Watch, the cozy bunk is calling softly from belowdecks. The silence of the anchorage and the night, the boat’s motion, the soporific rain on the overhead and the satisfaction of a well-found vessel shared is an invitation to sleep.

The crew’s cabin is accommodating and connected with a bedside chart plotter attending all alarms and resources to enable a stirring mariner to understand quickly the time and place, the depth and tide state, the weather, and Jupiter’s position.

In isolated destinations like this, portholes remain uncovered, inviting any glimmer of ambient light outside to enter. The new moon and low weather ensure that on this night the invitation goes unanswered.

Come with me, dance, my dear
Winter’s so cold this year
And you are so warm
My wintertime love to be

Jim Morrison ~ The Doors ~ 1968


  1. Heather says:

    Personal reflections and watery reflections. We can’t wait to see you, but love your writing and photography when you’re away. xxx H

  2. Debbie Deibel says:

    I so love living vicariously through you two. You take me to places I’ve never been and probably never will. I love the beauty of your explorations and adventures

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