Red Sky at Night

Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight – The Federal Asahi

We sit ringside here to a steady stream of boats, some passing up, some down. These boats come in all sizes, from big to small. It is the big boats, lake boats and salties, all freighters that really grab your attention. They ply these waters hauling cargo, both bulk and general. Sometimes the odd salty has its deck festooned with gigantic wind turbine blades, stacked three or more high, headed to some Midwest wind farm. There are a few odd ducks, like the tanker that gases the Canadian north shore, but mainly it is the freighters that sail by, hauling their anonymous cargos. The only indication of which, being how low the boats rides in the water.  

Day or night you can see the boats. During the day they travel visibly pushing a bone in their teeth, their white bow wake and blowing the black diamond, the black exhaust smoke from their stack. Once these boats ran on coal, but coal is long since dead on the Great Lakes, except maybe as bulk cargo. At night the boats are brightly lit and on a still night, they seem to float majestically over the lake. Also, in the stillness of the night, you can feel as well as hear the deep booming heartbeat of their motors chugging along. As soon as that sound recedes, it is followed by lapping waves on the shore, the boat’s parting wake. Sometimes in the dark, you can hear their horns sound, as they signal to each other. Making public their recognition of one another.

The best time of the day to observe boats, is at sunset, in the evening’s magic hour. The cabin affords a perfect view of the westward setting sun. When the clouds in the sky become touched by flame and on a calm night there is fire upon the water, a down bound boat is then perfectly silhouetted against the sky.

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