I rose from my berth in mid-afternoon, having been on watch from 11:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. and again from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Emerging from the relative warmth of Ombre Rose’s cabin, I looked instinctively outward, beyond our tiny island of fibreglass and teak. The four-cylinder Westerbeke thrummed routinely in the distant reaches of my consciousness. Four miles or so to the west, the ragged, blue coast inched toward the equator. Atlantic City, still somewhere in my future, crouched on the horizon off the port bow. She was, in her own way, still asleep.
With more than three weeks of the northward passage over the stern, and my mug of coffee still steaming, I slipped easily into the on-board routine, adjusting the jib sheet and glancing seaward for signs of other vessels.
After dinner, the iconic city slid silently past the port beam, as the sun eased imperceptibly into her bar-graph landscape. The gaudy pinks and mauves of the evening sky melted gently into darkness behind the growing, glamorous glare of red neon. She awakened, brilliantly adorned in the language of electricity, and within the hour dominated the night. From my privileged point of view, I watched, seduced by her scarlet halo. Creeping snail-like, along the horizon over the next few hours, she faded into my past below a sprinkling of pinpoint lights. By the time that I was relieved at 1 a.m., only a distant dome of pink haze marked her passing. Few others can know what I saw that evening, and I will forever cherish the gift of that memory.