Late last night the National Geographic Explorer officially crossed the Tropic of Cancer that this year lies 23 26’ 16” north of the equator. There was no bump in the night, as this is an imaginary line so named because when the sun reaches its zenith on the northern summer solstice at this latitude, it is entering the astrological sign of Cancer. This is no longer true due to the phenomena known as the precession of the equinoxes. The International Astronomical Union tells us that the sun is now actually in the constellation of Taurus at the boreal summer solstice. The southern hemisphere counterpart is named the Tropic of Capricorn. When it was named, the sun lay in the astrological sign of Capricorn on the austral summer solstice, December 21. These imaginary lines are not fixed, but vary in a complicated manner over time. The area that lies between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are officially known as the tropics, with the equator mid-way between the two.
With the changes of latitude came a noticeable change in attitude. Warm weather prompted sandals and shorts, with time to enjoy being on deck. Even though it’s October all on board soaked up the sunshine as if it were a summer’s day. The northeast tradewinds were light and provided a comfortable breeze. Overall it was an exceptional day to sail in the Atlantic.
In short, the conditions were perfect to be on the bow for glimpses of passing marine life like the occasional sea birds and flying fish.
Falling into the easy rhythm of the sea, the day slipped by.