The last 33 days at sea seem lost in space. May evaporated like the spindrift from the waves we rode to the Marquesas. Where did those days go? What the hell did we do that whole time? Well, a lot of the same thing.
Mark Twain summed up passage life pretty well: “Being on a boat is like being in prison, but with the possibility of drowning.” We didn’t drown. We definitely lost track of days. And we mitigated the confinement jitters by sticking to daily routines that helped pass the time. Ironically, Rob and I both shun routines back home, preferring impulsive last-minute activities that change as often as the Montana weather in spring.
Out at sea, the routine — boring as it became — was what fended off madness, and allowed us to cope with seemingly endless quantities of time bobbing through the exact same scene. The upshot of making a 4,000 mile passage right off the bat, though, is that the upcoming sails between Pacific islands will feel like a walk in the park.
Here’s a snapshot of our version of groundhog day the past month:
0000 Connor knocks on our berth: “Bri, you’re up for watch.” I mumble and stumble out to trade places with him.
0200 My watch ends, after some yoga, star-gazing, sail-trimming, and storm-watching. I stay up til I get sleepy again, usually around 3:00am
0700 Daily “net,” a radio check-in with ~15 boats scattered over 2,000 miles. We share positions, make sure everyone’s ok, and brag about any fish caught.
0800 Oatmeal and tea. Maybe some granola if it’s the first week. Catching up on interesting night events, like flying fish landing on your pillow.
1000 Read. Or stretch. Or work on a mini-project, like baking bread, macrame anklets, personal grooming, sail repairs, changing fishing lures.
1200 Lunch, ranging from Top Ramen to crepes to three-bean salad.
1300 Naps. Reading. Maybe some guitar playing.
1400 Jumping jacks or yoga or dancing.
1500 Games organized by Gavin, like Scrabble or poker or hearts.
1600 Kids’ game time on the SSB radio. We gathered round to listen to nearby sailboat kids play Battleship, 20 Questions or Hangman. Good times.
1700 Pushups and lunges and situps. Maybe more jumping around.
1800 Dinner preparation: we perfected one-pot wonders onboard.
1900 Story time and stargazing in the cockpit.
2000 Rob’s watch starts, while I read or write.
2200 Rob comes to bed, and I try and nap for an hour or two before Connor comes to wake me … starting the whole cycle over again.
The routine didn’t change much, really. Interspersed at all hours were sail changes (which took up most of the day during the first 2 weeks before we hit the tradewinds), watching birds and flying fish and any visiting marine mammals (which disappeared week 3 and 4 for some reason), and reminiscing about our favorite foods that were currently way out of reach. I’ll write more about a few exceptional events that broke up this routine in upcoming posts.
When I write down here what we did all day, it suddenly sounds like a long, relaxing vacation. Reading, eating, playing games? It makes for a great Sunday. But when you stretch it out to 30+ Sundays with no real choice on ways to break the cycle … well, let’s just say Mark Twain knew what he was talking about.