Sunday 6 October 2013

Day Three: Changing Of The Guard And A Visit From The Dolphins

Today dawned quite cloudy and cool. The wind still cold in your face. We sailed through the night, the wind blowing steadily on our port quarter at ten to fifteen knots. Beautiful sailing weather indeed.

After sunrise the wind abated and at present we are motoring merrily along. The wind changed from south west to east, then died completely. Late this morning we had a visit from the dolphins. Always a pleasure to host these creatures around the boat.

They frolic in the bow wave as if there is nothing else in the world that they care about. Quite entertaining. And they do things to draw your attention. Once they have your attention, they keep you spellbound with their antics. Every now and then one would swim on its side and look at you with a beady eye. As if to ask why you are not joining them in the water.

Last night the watch system changed. As in "changing of the guard" or something. We are now working in four watches, working three shifts of four hours in the day and four shifts of three hours in the night. That gives seven shifts in a 24 hour cycle shared by four watches. This causes the watches to rotate, giving eveybody the opportunity to experience each part of the day on watch.

We still have the rule that whoever is on watch from 14h00 to 18h00 has to cook dinner for everyone. This is the only set meal of the day, the others being pretty much each crew member's own indaba. Sometimes we pool and make a lunch salad for whoever is awake at the time. In a three or four watch system, the only time when everyone is awake is around sunset anyway.

In a four watch system there will be more awake time as one has more time to sleep during off-duty hours. You get to sleep longer hours, giving your body chance to relax.This is also helpful for when the sea is choppy. Your core muscles work a lot more in such conditions and you tend to be more tired at the end of your watch.

We use the time after dinner to socialise, thus taking care of morale on board. We have our famous UNO card league, where everybody gets to let off steam. After that, around seven in the evening, it is lights out and back to work or to bed, as the case may be.

And lights out really means lights out. All cabin lights and the saloon lights are doused and the only light permitted is the obiquitous head lamp that is so polpular nowadays. Which is not to be shined in your shipmates' eye when they come on deck. This regime is to preserve the night vision of the crew on watch, as they need to be able see ships' lights on the horizon as part of their 'keeping a proper lookout' duties in accordance with international anti-collision rules for ships at sea.

We are all settling into the routine on board and our bodies appear to be adjusting as well. The slight stiffness in the tummy from the extra muscle activity is gone and our working routine is coming along nicely. The only remaining aspect is the sleeping patterns. Soon, you have more awake time for yourself. You can sleep only so much, even at sea.

But that will come.

Along with the knowledge that everybody is now familiar with the boat and its operation. Every new boat has some teething troubles and idiosyncrasies. This one, number one hundred and fifty seven in tis model, being no exception.

Of late the boat has developed the idea of resetting the instruments all by itself. And there is no switch-mode power supply on board, just normal batteries. This was after discovering a leaky pipe joint on the port side engine cooling system.

Lots of things to keep you on your toes while on watch.


Authored by Johan Zietsman.

Last updated on 2013-09-25





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