« T-Shirts For Sale... Finally. | Main | No Bagpipes »

May 23, 2006 09:54 PM

On Sailing Day to Day

*This post was written by Brian before leaving the Galapagos. It's been set up to publish automatically. We are, presumably, still at sea, slowly making our way to French Polynesia (Marquesas).

BrianSOMEWHERE IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS - Because the little dramatic moments of mechanical failure make for more exciting posts and emails, we tend to focus more on them than the actual day to day ins and outs of this whole sailing venture. We most commonly fail to highlight the fact that the boat, in essence, steers herself. With a steady wind and the autopilot engaged, course adjustments generally happen once every few hours. We occasionally have the pleasure of easing or tightening a few sheets, or even tacking the boat - but again rarely.

At first cleaning and ordering things made occupying ourselves no problem at all. Now, with everything sorted and in place, we more or less view our watches as spare time that needs to be spent on deck. Thinking ahead, the boat is provisioned with an arsenal of novels (all classics) that we intend to get through before the voyage ends. Additionally, we've taken to playing chess (with the pieces and board taped down; current score R 3 - B 2), writing in our journals, and sleeping whenever possible.

The real trouble lies with the night watches. Once or twice a night you find yourself torn tired out of your dreams to a rocking boat whose instruments need some staring at. With little actual sailing to think of, the first ten minutes is usually occupied by a familiar face-slapping, jumping up and down, wake-yourself-the-hell-up routine. Failing that, chocolate, cold salt water, coffee grinds; anything to get up. I usually have lofty reading and writing ambitions which are unfailingly crumbled in less than a half an hour. After watching the sea light up with phosphorescent algae striking the boat, and staring at the stars wondering how people could possibly pretend to navigate by them for a while, the wake up routine tends to follow once more.

A bonus of it all is that we really have time and reason to learn the boat inside out. Ryan uses the GPS charts as a video game console, and each morning the route ahead of us becomes more colourful and complex. I'm systematically scanning all known SSB (really long range radio) frequencies for the odd gem of a station and even (hopefully by now) the BBC. We certainly will be very competent sailing, navigating, and fixing things by the end of all this, but perhaps more significantly - we will never again be bored.