I love sailing at night. Actually whenever I have to cover more then fiftysomewhat miles I prefer leaving late in the afternoon, relaxing the day before and arrive at daylight between next morning and noon. That way I get it all: Terrific Stars in the total black of some nights, romantic full moon and somehow it is even a challenging fun to count flashes and blinks on buoys and lighthouses to make the way through narrow fairways. Often this is even easyer at night than it is at daylight. Finally not to forget the next morning: Sunrise and breakfast at sea looks and tastes like an adventure of its own.
Last time I did so was sailing from Drummond Island to Little Traverse Bay a few days ago. Leaving at noon arriving early afternoon. At midnight I passed the spectacular illuminated Mackinac Bridge and the narrows where Lake Huron becomes Lake Michigan and vice versa. A peaceful night and light winds.
Unfortunately most people consider night sailing as something to avoid, sometimes even as something dangerous one has to get around by pulling into a marina latest at sunset. No question: It requires some precautions. But then the night out is the key to a greater range, of way more then just hopping another 20 miles along the coast.
As I love it and try to spread word of how beautiful it is I was even more surprised to find night sailing as a part of the local sailing school‘s program in Harbor Springs. At Little Traverse Sailors they do a Moonlight Sail. Sure, I felt sad for the poor power boater that was arriving that night and found himself surrounded by a dozen dinghies decorated by glow sticks. And of course sending out a bunch of adventurous young sailors having a fews safety boats slowly circling them like sheepdogs do a flock was a smart move.
Even though this way it is not the total „only you, the moon and the boat“-experience but still a great idea to introduce night sailing to the young and youngest sailors. And what a nice event it is to watch them, sitting in the cockpit well anchored in a mooring field nearby under an almost full moon.