As day turned to night, however, the weather ahead of us was changing. When Black Watch came up on deck for their 22:00 to 02:00 shift, a very dark grey - almost black - band of fast moving clouds that extended right down to
the water was moving from roughly north to south off to the horizon, in front of String Theory. Above the dark band was a broken band of lightly coloured clouds that allowed the moonlight from a ¾ waxing moon to shine through every now and again. As we sailed towards this dark band, the moon appeared, illuminating a patch of the water dead ahead of us. It was quite the sight, hard to describe, as the light bounced and glittered off of the tops of the waves while the wave troughs remained their contrasting dark blue colour. This patch of glittering light was also in stark contrast to the nearly black clouds behind it. Within about 15 minutes we sailed into the moonlit patch which then changed quickly into a bright line of narrow light that was exactly on our course and seemed to be beckoning us to sail into the dark band dead ahead. It was like a scene out of J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings where the heroes of the story pause for a moment. They're looking ahead knowing they're are about to enter into a place where evil lurks but have no choice because it lies between them and their ultimate destination.
About ½ hour later we had reached the dark cloud band. For a moment, the moon reappeared, completely unobstructed, through a small opening in the upper band of clouds (provided by Mother Nature for dramatic effect, I guess) and then it disappeared as we sailed into the void. Almost immediately upon entering this darkness the visibility went from unobstructed all the way to the horizon to about 3 to 4 NM. The stars overhead also quickly faded away. As we sailed further into the dark band, visibility deteriorated until it felt like we were enveloped in our
own little bubble. Visibility had basically collapsed to just around the boat, about a 45 ft radius. Other than a faint hint of moon light, the only other source of light came from small shows of phosphorescence caused by our bow wave and spray. It was a strange feeling. We had gone from looking out on the vastness of the ocean - unobstructed for 360 degrees - to barely being able to make out the bow of the boat. It no longer felt like we were in the middle of the ocean but instead like we were in a small dimly lit room, bouncing around on the waves.
We had assumed that the dark clouds contained a squall but upon entering we continued to see the same 15 to 25 knots winds that we saw before and there wasn't any rain. I also wouldn't describe this as fog (although it probably was) as there wasn't a feeling of dampness. We continued on this way, in our own little bubble, until the end of our shift. An anticlimactic ending, I know, but then again, I'm no Tolkein.
Signed: Becalmed Amidst Numerous Anachronisms Never Agrees. Better Really Eat and Drink.