14/09/2007 | by Mark Patterson
Words by Ryan
Latitude: 16 degrees, 30 minutes S
Longitude: 145 degrees, 27 min W
Distance Traveled: 3616 nautical miles
The routine this morning was a little different to most mornings, owed the three hour cant-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face rainstorm that has been pelting us. My bunk is so oriented, that I woke up in the darkness to the peculiar sensation of rain falling on my ankles. Once I had sorted out dream from reality, and confirmed that the wet feet were indeed a part of reality, I launched into a stumbling (motor skills still asleep) hatch closing mission, marveling at how much rain had made it into the cabin in so short a period of time… 3 hours later, and with 30l of fresh water in various buckets and pots scattered about, it is still pelting down. We really do need a better rain collection system, as this is enough rain to flood Noah out of his ark.
Amid all the blogs of significant events of this voyage, I think what is needed here is an account of events from our day to day lives, to bring you all a little closer to what life is life aboard our little sailing ship.
During rainstorms, and heavy weather (waves sweeping the decks), we have become to know all the leaky points. For example, the mast leaks. You way be wondering how on earth a mast can leak, but let me tell you, it is a significant contributor to the puddle of water sloshing around our booze bottles in the bilges. We thought the amount of sealant we applied to the mast/deck joint was huge overkill; now we are left to debate if it was not enough, or of incorrect variety. The rail running around the outer edge of the boat leaks, directly into selected cupboards and drawers in the cabin. After discovering salty, damp and mouldy clothes/stores/first aid kits/wetsuits after the Pacific passage, we have the guilty culprits nailed down. These cupboards are now relegated to holding buckets/mops and other items impervious to water. Serves them right. In large following seas, or when we are going really fast, the rudderpost leaks. Sticking your head into the aft locker will allow you to witness a jet of water shooting up the rudderpost, down the outside and into the lazarette (the storage lockers furthers aft in the boat). This gift from Neptune then moves forward under the engine, where it pools. Once it has filled that up, it migrates forward and joins the aqueous result of our mast and rail leaks.
Below decks, we have doodles on our mast. We have decided that the mast will be the amateur canvas for memorable quotes, random doodles, and the names of anchorages visited along the way. Two quotes so far: “Nothing worth doing is easy”, and “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away”. The doodles comprise of some large raindrops directly below the leak mast leak, as well as some scattered portrayals of barreling reef breaks a little stick figures getting tubed. If you come and visit us, you too can doodle on our mast.
Hugh is always the last up in the morning, I am usually the first. The funny thing is that Hugh is often the first in bed too. Sleeping till it hurts. How to get Hugh up before the sun is high in the sky? Coax him out with promises of Bailey’s and coffee. He will then emerge, amid various grunts and groans, to accept his reward.
In the mornings, Brys can be found doing “his PhD stuff”. He manages to get at least a couple of hours in every morning; I take my hat off to him for this show of self-discipline. As for me? I love the mornings, and I love being the first up. After some yoga on the foredeck, which with the rolling of the boat, is more like I am doing some primeval, lurching tropical rain dance, I put the tea kettle on. Then I download pictures, read the navigation books for the next port, write blog entries, update the ships log, read my book, whatever. It is a great time, although after my trip home in September, I will have a more Bryson’eske routine as I start to work on my CFA.
Now, this is the routine while at anchor. Being at sea is a whole different kettle of fish. During a passage, time just seems to pass without the registration of any significant memories. One questions rules your existence:
Am I on watch?
Yes? OK, check the course, look for ships, try and avoid getting saturated by splashes entering into the cockpit, settle down on the low side (the angle of the boat means one cockpit bench is lower, and drier) with a book. Or, just sit and look, and think. Check the course again, scan the horizon for ships again. Rinse and repeat.
No? Perfect. Maybe I’ll take a nap. Although, getting to the nap location is an athletic journey in itself, so maybe I’ll just sit right here, on the high side, and chill for a bit. SLAP!: The unmistakable sound of a wave hitting the hull broadside. SPLASH!: You try and move against the inertia of your body and the boat as you see the water suspended in the air next to you. At this point you have about one nanosecond (which is a lot less than a second) before this glittering sheet of water is collected by the 25kt wind blowing sideways across the cockpit. If you aren’t a ninja (which we aren’t), the third step in the process is DOUSE!: You become the lucky recipient of a salt water SMACK against your back, down between your shoulder blades, proceeding down the back of your pants and filling the seat on which you sit. This is where you really regret not going with your initial impulse of going for a nap. As an aside, these salt-water dousings are particularly fun at night.
The passage watches go as follows: 6am to 10am, 10am to 2pm, 2pm to 6pm, 6pm to 9pm, 9pm to midnight, midnight to 3am, 3am to 6am. The timing ensures a daily shift rotation: One person’s watches of 6am to 10am and 6pm to 9pm would lead into a 3am to 6am, 2pm to 6pm the following day. This also means that every third day you end up with three shifts in 24 hours, and have “two night watches” – 6pm to 9pm and 3am to 6am. You need to put lots of Bailey’s in the coffee to get Hugh up for the latter. After handing the watch over to the next person, you are on “standby watch”. This means that you are the “Go To” person for anything the watch person needs help with: Sail changes, freighter avoidance, tacking, jibing, etc. During this time, the third person is “Off-Off” watch person, meaning that his sleep is the highest priority. He is only to be disturbed during an all hands on deck scenario (the frequency of which, for us, mercifully seems to be decreasing).
The rain appears to be letting up, and the wind is abating, so I am going to wrap this up. Stay tuned for the next installment of “Days of our lives” entitled: Cooking at Sea.
I doubt we will be in the Tuamotu’s much longer – atoll life is great, but getting good surf is a challenge. Also, from a garbage point of view, each island seems to deal with their garbage very similarly, and beach walks have yielded very similar results. Thus, it is time for the OceanGybe expedition to move locations – onwards to Tahiti!