Meteor Fizzle in Boquerón

Next to man-made fireworks I like celestial ones, too. Early this morning (Jan 4) there was supposed to be a super meteor shower from 2 a.m. on. The Quadrantids shower was hyped up to have upwards of 80 to 100 “shooting stars” per hour. I set my alarm for 2:30 hoping to see some pyrotechnics to possibly rival what the locals put up on Christmas and New Years Eves.  Well, it was a washout here, if, indeed, anyone could have seen them in Panama to begin with. It was heavily overcast with clouds and only three or four stars were visible through tiny holes in the sky. Oh, well.

I’ve seen one before. Often when I tell people about my single-handed cruise on my beloved “Nancy Dawson” back in 1992 people ask, “Don’t you wish you’d had someone with you?” Well, the answer, for the most part is “Not always, but there were some events it would have been nice to share with someone.”

One of those times was when I was anchored out off the tiny island of Ranguana Caye at the edge of the reef in Belize. It was a lovely, isolated spot and everything a tropical islet is supposed to be. Small, at the edge of a coral barrier reef with a long line of breaking surf off to seaward, and covered with dozens of coconut palms. I was anchored in about 7 feet of crystal clear water on the leeward side of the island. A gentleman I’d met in the small town of Placencia owned the island and was building three tiny cabins that he hoped would earn him his fortune renting them out to dive tourists. He and a couple of helpers would come out during the week to work on the cabins but most of the week I spent there I was by myself.

One night I was lying out in my hammock that I’d strung up between the mast and the fore stay. I had finished off the last of a righteous bud I’d bought a week before from “Dancing Sam the Rasta Man” who had a small house beside the town’s famous “sidewalk.” I reclined there in my hammock miles and miles from the nearest artificial light. There was no moon, even. Just this wonderful canopy of a gajillion stars in the sky above. Marcia Ball, Doctor John and the Neville Brothers drifted up from the boom box in the cabin below.

And then the light show began, as if just for me. It was early August and the earth was moving through the Perseids belt. Shooting stars blazed all across the sky. For the next couple of hours not a minute went by without at least two or three and often dozens of meteor trails shooting across the heavens. And when I’d look over the side of the boat long luminescent trails ran in all directions as medium-sized fish chased little fish and big fish chased the medium-sized ones all intent on a fresh sushi night cap. THAT’S when I wish I’d had someone along to share the moment with.


Filed under boats, Boqueron Panama, cruising, Microcruising, Minimalist Cruising, sailboats, sailing, Small boat cruising, Small Sailboats, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Meteor Fizzle in Boquerón

  1. Alex

    It sounds like an awesome experience to have seen estrellas fugaces in Belize!

  2. Hello, I have enjoyed your blog for a long time and have a link to it on my own. I must comment that the night you have described above is exactly what I hope to experience when we finally making it “out there”. I can only pray we find the same conditions.

    Thank you for sharing the experience. It brought back memories of laying on the ground, under mosquito net, in the Northern Michigan wilderness, early in August, as a youth. My God Father and I would drift off to sleep while watching similar shows.

    All the best, Everett

  3. What a wonderful experience – and to have phosphorescence AND shooting stars? I’m sure you’ve told that story a time or two and ended, “I guess you had to be there…”

    We missed out on the meteor show, too. It was vaguely foggy, although even with clear skies I would have had to drive at least to Galveston to find really good viewing conditions. All that neon and streetlights, you know. Some heavenly phenomena can shine through it all, like Comet Lulin, but for the most part, we’re limited to bright consellations straight above and the planets.

    On the other hand, I do have a Starbucks within walking distance. Some people would put that in the “plus” column. 😉