One of my colleagues wrote the following article whilst half way between Cape Town and Fremantle. I thought you might like to see how a race sailor spend his day.
If you ever wonder where the day goes then you are not alone. At times the hours at sea seem to pass quite slowly but as every day rolls into the next it is hard to keep track of the days, therefore time periods actually move along quite fast. Our days do not have a start or a finish any more. It is more a series of On Watch & Off Watch periods.
So, every second day we are either on the Morning Watch (6 hrs) followed by 2 night watches later (4 hrs each) or the Afternoon Watch with 1 night watch later on.
14 hours ‘On Watch’ – if we are on the morning rotation, so that leaves 10 hours remaining.
Or 10 hours ‘On Watch’ – if on the afternoon rotation, leaving 14 hours Off Watch.
1.5 hours preparing to go on watch – we get a wake up call 30 mins before we have to appear on deck all kitted out for watch. Depending on weather and how many layers are required (and queue for heads) every minute is precious.
0.5 hours doing watch handover – we have to be on deck 10 mins prior to start of each watch to get a report from the previous Watch. Punctuality is key as everyone is keen to finish and it is not advised to get between a hungry/tired sailor and their food/bed!
1.0 hours eating per day – we have breakfast, lunch and dinner before we begin our daytime Watch so that means a 15 minute earlier wake up if food is involved. Usually does not require too much encouragement to get fellow crew up a little earlier when meals due. The Pavlov theory works beautifully. Those going On Watch are fed first then the off-coming watch can eat at their leisure when they have finished their watch handover. They also get the benefit of seconds – if available.
1.0 hours getting out of foul weather gear/kit and preparing for bed/bunk, visiting heads, brushing teeth, unwinding etc. Approx 20 mins at end of each Watch.
6.0 to 10 hours – split periods of sleeping or resting or Off time depending on your rotation.
It is clear that there is not much time or enthusiasm for anything else besides sleep when not above deck On Watch. Reading books or writing is difficult as you struggle to keep balanced even when sitting in the saloon area. When the weather is calmer and warmer (distant memory) it is more appealing to spend some chill out time up on deck fraternising with the On Watch or enjoying the fresh air while trying to spot dolphins etc. However, that novelty wears off and the call of the sleeping bag is more appealing as the tiredness grows with the passing days.
My thanks to Mary Frawley for her excellent description.