Not the most inspiring of titles but I thought I’d write something a bit more practical to share a modicum of daily life on Grace.
An ocean passage for us is primarily about keeping the boat moving. It’s a constant balance between speed, comfort and looking after the stresses and strains on the boat and ourselves. It may be possible to go quicker but if it makes life unduly uncomfortable because you’re living at a funky angle all the time, it’s not much fun.
Keeping a constant eye on the strength and direction of the wind dictates how much, or what sails we have up. During the day we generally feel more comfortable with more sail up. While at night – and it does get pretty dark out here – putting some sail away reduces speed but can make for a much better night’s sleep
We constantly keep an eye on how much power we’re using. Doing your batteries over is not a good idea. We run instruments to tell us stuff like wind speed and our course over the ground. We’ve kept the chart plotter on more than we anticipated and at night we often run the radar with alarms set to inform us if there’s anything out there. Our experience so far has been not much! One yacht which came past us, and three large container ships. One we saw on the horizon. The other two we didn’t even see but they showed up on the chart plotter. The radar also shows up rain showers which is pretty handy.
Our fridge / freezer uses constant power. Charging iPads, the camera, the Big Torch, cabin lights, et al also eat amps. The solar panels replenish some power during the day, but we are in a routine of running the generator in the morning for a short time to top up the batteries. With the added benefit of water-making.
Food wise, we normally sort ourselves out at breakfast time as we’re on different schedules depending on night watches. Lunch and dinner we eat together. Dinner is normally around 7.30pm with the night watch starting at 9pm. The watch is around 3 hours but not set in stone; the ‘sailor’ wakes the ‘sleeper’ when they are ready to swap over. This gives flexibility – no alarms – without disturbing sleep too much. Although being gently shaken awake at 3am from a deep deep sleep is not always the most pleasant.
Onto food, particularly freshies. Almost 4 weeks in, we have plentiful onions and potatoes from the sack of each in Panama. Every five or six days, we empty the sacks, check their condition & get rid of rotters. We also have plenty of green apples, having wrapped these individually in paper before leaving and they’ve lasted really well. There’s a handful of satsumas left, garlic, ginger, some tomatoes, 2 big squash, around 10 limes and about 1.5 trusty cabbages still going strong.
I cooked and froze about 8 meals before we set off so if we had crappy weather or neither of us felt like cooking, there were good meals to go. I think we’ve used about 5 of these. At the start of the passage, you’re often easing into the situation and cooking is not always high on the agenda of things you fancy doing.
During the day, there’s no watch pattern. We just go with the flow, with someone keeping an eye on things in the cockpit. Daily life needs servicing. Cooking, showering, keeping the boat clean, checking things over visually for signs of stuff going wrong. Fishing (helps if you don’t drop your primary favourite rod into the sea), reading, writing, napping, mending things, card school. Doesn’t sound like much but the day gets filled pretty easily.
It’s a simple existence. We do have the sat phone which gives us basic email and the ability to download weather / current predictions. We both love having this as it means we can stay in touch with folks.`This may sound a bit wired, but we don’t really feel disconnected even if physically we are!
Right, that’s enough. Time to check the course and make a note in the log book of our position. Oh, and finally we don’t actually steer the boat ourselves. We have machines to do that for us.