We continue to plod eastwards with less and less need for the engine which is nice. Today started with dismal weather but it has now cleared to blue seas and 50% cloud cover. The nights are colder with little moonlight and for the last three no stars as it is low visibility lots of cloud cover and the occasional shower. I am now wearing my fleecy undergarments. We are in the benign part of the trip where lots of reading gets done as well as sleeping and day dreaming. Some of the crew might actually start to enjoy it!
When you skipper these trips you are not only the person in charge of navigation, weather routing, provisioning, crew hirer but are also a phychologist and last but not least the biggest thing you are responsible for the safety or the boat and crew.
When I first started to do this the responsibility seemed to weigh on my shoulders a lot more. Maybe it is because I have come to these trips more prepared and are more aware of what can go wrong so I try to sort the problems out before they become a large issue or maybe it is because I am just more mature.
Either way I was trying to explain to Luke the other night about the sleeplessness of being skipper. When I am off watch my body is constantly alert very very rarely do I go into a deep sleep. I pretty much know what is going on around me at all times. I might be asleep but somehow my mind will register conversations going on around me and I will wake up if it is something that I need to sort out. The other night the guys on deck were reading down the compass number on the B and G and the guys down below were reading off the VHF COG and they were wondering why things were different. The heading I had given them was meant to be gaining latitude not losing it. The number on the port B and G read latitude so they should be able to figure out pretty easily if they are gaining latitude or not. It had been fine on my watch when I left deck 2 hours before so what was different. My mind decided I should get up and check to see if there was anything different stored in the aft bunk next to the gyro compass. I got out of my bunk and low and behold a tool kit had been moved when food was being accessed and it was nicely stored next to the compass. Upon removal the compass changed and the heading worked fine.
Every time the engine gets turned on or off or the rpms are changed I wake up (not fully eyes open) register this change feel the motion of the boat and decide whether I need to fully wake up or not. All this means that I need more sleep than the rest of the crew because what I am getting is not the same quality however, with the many little jobs this doesn’t happen. When I am off watch I might be downloading weather/emails, sorting out a boat job (like today resaling the main fine tune cleat so it doesn’t leak into the aft bunk), organising the food and putting out the days lunch, making dinner, bailing out the bilge, cleaning the head, participating in roll call the list goes on…
So the other night Luke turned on the engine then turned it off then called down and woke me for watch then turned on the engine then called down because I hadn’t got up. I was motified as being late on watch is the worse sin to commit on a boat and doing it as skipper shows a bad example. So I thought about why I had been late and it came down to this. I was asleep then woke when the engine was first turned on and mentally said to myself the wind has just died it is nothing to worry about. Then the engine was turned off and I felt the heel of the boat and woke and again told myself wind has got up go back to sleep then a few minutes later luke calls down I respond ok but don’t immediately sit upright (that is my mistake), I lay there for a few minutes not fully awake and then the engine goes back on and I think ‘nothing to worry about wind has died go back to sleep’ except I was meant to be on watch! Oh well I was up 8 minutes late so I got up 8 minutes early for my next one and it all works out in the end!
The sleep thing is a funny thing. The watch system we have right now of 1.5 on and 4.5 off is luxurious. The one my brother and I did round britain was 3 on 3 off. Oddly the more exhausted him and I became the more our minds started to play with us. Several times in the two last legs we would crawl into our bunks and sleep soundly for 45 minutes to an hour and then get up and start getting dressed. The person on deck would call down and say ‘what you doing up’ – ‘coming on watch’ – ‘you have another 1.5 hours off’ – ‘well why didn’t you tell me earlier’ – ‘well I thought you were using the head or something’ – ‘go back to sleep’!
Anyways we are under 700 miles to go and are at 38 10N 137 29W. See those of you in CA this time next week.