The sea at night on a small boat is a unique experience; both exciting and scary. The waters of the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of northern Vietnam are warm and typically gentle, and made more so by the protected inlets, islands, and coves that make up the sublime Ha Long Bay.
Our two day excursion into this almost mystical place included a night on a 22m boat with about a dozen passengers and half as many crew members that included a captain who mostly piloted the boat with his bare feet. His semi-tucked dishwater grey captain’s shirt, once crisp white I am guessing, with a 3 star epaulet on both shoulders was my first indication this was to be nautically fairly simple. I was not disappointed as the protected water and calm winds provided less movement and chop than a typical lake in the summer. The Dramamine could stay safely packed for this voyage.
Finding our perch and scattered over every westerly vista on the boat, Alex and I joined our fellow travelers and watched the gauzy sun pass slowly, than more quickly behind the peaks of a cluster of islands. Darkness fell almost immediately but provided us one more curious show before dinner: A strange blue afterglow. Unlike most sunsets with glorious oranges, pinks, and reds, the sea and land began to take on a soft blueness I don’t recall every seeing quite the same way. While my fellow passengers headed in for a pre-dinner cocktail or a change of clothing from our earlier kayaking trip, I stood a while longer and took in the site with my camera.
Like the sunset itself and all good things, it was over quicker than one hoped, while feeling fortunate to have seen it at all.
The dining room looks cozy as the sunset turns to darkness and fresh seafood simmers in the galley below deck.
Lights stare down at the deck giving the boat an almost eerie look as you carefully maneuver up and down decks, the water and sky merging into one and being careful not to fall into the now black sea.