Sat/Sun, Aug 9-10, 2014 –
Some friends and family ask what a typical day is on the boat. Good question. Many people seem believe that we sit in the cockpit and drink rum swizzles all day. Not so! There is less of a typical day than there is a typical routine, which will depend on whether we are at sea, at a dock in a new place, or getting ready to set sail for a new destination. When we are at sea a few days or doing the Atlantic crossing, we have a 24 hour watch schedule, which means that someone is awake and in the cockpit for the period of their watch.
On the Atlantic crossing the schedule, with four crew members on board, was three hours on and five off, around the clock, for every crew member. When not on watch there were chores to do, such as cooking, navigation, cleaning the heads, keeping the boat picked up, assisting the chef, and doing dishes. We had a rotating schedule. It was also the time to sleep, do email, and read. In the world of multi-tasking, there was also fishing going on. Sara took the lead on meal planning and Bob took the lead on navigation. Our crew members were also happened to be highly skilled. Jack and Ken were both excellent navigators. Ken and Doug were great cooks. Doug had owned a restaurant. All had been boat owners and done a lot of sailing along with boat maintenance. We tend to have our main meal mid day when everyone is awake. For other meals and snacks, the crew helps themselves to whatever they are in the mood for that they can whip together.
When in port we spend time touring and exploring the area. We have become heavily immersed in Spain and Gibraltar’s history. Visiting the sites really brings the history to life. Being in port is also the time to get boat maintenance done, which includes everything from deep cleaning, defrosting the freezer, changing the oil, and fixing non-working equipment. Boats need routine maintenance and it cannot be ignored. In Gibraltar we were diagnosing issues with Ray Marine equipment and arranging to have replacement parts shipped to us – a challenge when three countries are often involved…where the part was bought, where the manufacturer is located, and where our boat is to receive the part. An example is the replacement of the failed water pump. It was purchased, and still under warranty, from a company in Annapolis. The manufacturer is in Sweden. We were going to be in Gibraltar. The part was shipped to Spain and we crossed the border from Gibraltar to pick it up. After a flurry of emails, it all came together. We also need to refill our cooking gas tanks along the way. Another exercise in finding a place to get it done.
If we are about to begin another leg of our journey, even for a few days, the basic tasks include checking weather, establishing a navigation route, finding the anchorages or marinas we will be using (and making a reservation online if possible), laundry and provisioning. Laundry and provisioning can each take a half day depending on the distance to be traveled.
So, we are now getting ready to leave Gibraltar after two weeks. Gib has been a great place. We work well in English! It has become familiar enough that it now seems a bit like home. Since the Rock takes up more than half of the small land mass, once you walk the streets a few times it is hard to get lost. The time has come that we must move on if we are going to make it to the rest of Spain, France and Italy before November when the cruising season ends in the Med.
Today, getting ready means doing laundry (about 2 blocks from the boat), provisioning (about a mile walk each way, and loaded down) changing the oil in both the engine and the generator, hosing down the decks, and a final glass of wine with our new cruising friends, Charlie and Heather. In addition, we checked the weather, established our route to Cartagena, Spain, and made a reservation at the marina there. It is summer in the Med, the busiest time of the year and marinas are often full. The weather forecast is for high winds from the east which would leave us unprotected in an anchorage, so we will tuck into a marina and wait it out.