Days onboard an offshore racing yacht don’t really have a beginning or end. Yes, it gets light and dark, people go to sleep and get up, eat meals and spend time sailing the boat as fast as possible. But this happens in more of a rolling time, rather than having defined start and end points, and is therefore hard to know where to start a description of what the days have felt like onboard.
I will choose happy hour (2000-2100), when all the crew are on deck, whether or not they are on watch. We have a few tunes on the stereo and get to see everyone, since those not on watch together otherwise would hardly do so. As well as general chat, we also discuss whether there are ways in which we could improve the way we are sailing the boat, and I give the guys a bit of a briefing in terms of what to expect in terms of weather and conditions over the next day.
After happy hour, we have dinner and then the crew settle into their watches again, with two on deck working the boat hard. From around 2200 onwards those off watch tend to be below, either to sleep or at least doze on their bunks. This is the quietest time on the boat where, in a funny sort of way, concentration levels are at their highest because of minimal distractions. The challenge obviously, is staying awake and in some of the conditions we’ve had, staying warm. As people come on or off watch between around 0700 and 1000, they will have their breakfast of porridge, filling and warming after a night on deck.
From mid-morning onwards, when crew are off watch they are up and about, sometimes doing some bits of preventative maintenance, cleaning/tidying the boat, organising food/water or inventing other ways to pass the time.
After nearly two weeks at sea however, the days tend to pass fairly quickly, perhaps as we are more used to the environment or simply have found better ways to amuse ourselves! Towards the end of the day, if conditions are right, someone might sneak the music on a little early, and then we are back to happy hour again.
So, although there is no beginning and end, the days to have a natural rhythm to them, and one which will perhaps be hard to get out of once we get ashore and have to fit back into a more normal routine!