Wednesday, May 6, 2015, 2:42 p.m. Universal Time Central UTC (Greenwich Meantime)
We switched to Galapagos time yesterday morning to acclimate to the time change while sailing. We want to be ready to jump off the boat and start touring right away. After 17 days at sea, we will be eager to stretch our legs.
Now five full days at sea, we are all getting into a rhythm of our own. Each one of us has had to come to terms with constant boat movement, tropical humidity and the hot sun beating down with a simple awning over the cockpit to provide shade. The slightest of exertion causes a person to sweat profusely. My face has never sweat so much in my life!
Sometimes the ocean is so calm that you can see over 25 feet down. Other times, the wind kicks up the seas and the surface is roiling. The swell seems to come from all directions in a confusing mishmash of waves. There is a small local swell created by the direction of the wind and then there is the large rolling swell that comes from far out to sea and looks like rolling hills approaching the boat. Today, we have both, the smaller ones coming from the Northeast and the large swell from the south.
Eric, who has substantially more experience sailing long passages says that after the third full day for most people nausea disappears and an ocean rhythm sets-in. Since I don’t remember much about my daily living experience when sailing from Hawaii to California for 25½ days when I was 23, it feels much like a new experience for me. Most assuredly, my expectations of comfort and cleanliness are different today compared to 25 years ago. When I was 23, I had just graduated with a BA and was ready to travel, to experience some adventure after all the studying and before working full time. The time commitment I faced was about 3 months. I was planning on finding work in my field of study in Los Angeles. Discomfort was not a big deal. A certain amount of boredom was a welcome friend filled by new companionship, early love, great literature, and forced rest. I didn’t even care that much about hygiene. Since the trip was finite, borrowed money would be paid back later once I got a job. In fact, I was responsible for taking care of myself, no one else.
Today’s experience is so much different. I am the food provider, responsible for the provisioning, determining the menu, prepping, cooking and generally the clean-up for 5 people three times a day. I am co-owner of the boat, responsible for its liability and the potential of losing it. Neither Eric nor I are earning an income. All expenses including boat repairs are paid out of our savings, so when things go wrong, we have to trouble shoot the problem and fix it or have it repaired or replaced. I take care of the bills/money and tax prep. I am a parent, worried about my sons’ physical and mental health along with being their teacher who moves them forward in their studies. I am also their playmate, playing games, watching movies, and hanging out with them. Being half responsible for their safety, I worry about them on the boat, when they are changing sails, taking watches, helping dad with repairs or when they get sick, their cleanliness. When they get hurt or anyone on the boat gets hurt, I am the nurse. I instigate or take care of laundry, cleaning the inside of the boat and making sure things are put away, picked-up. I also predominantly take care of the trash and waste. Then there is the sailing aspects: changing the sails with Eric when he needs me, which is often; doing my own watch; and taking care of myself. It is all so much more complicated with plans to sail much further than from Hawaii to California as a simple crew member on a boat.
Perhaps, my concerns will mollify over time as I completely adopt the rhythm of the cruising lifestyle. These last months since departing Ventura on February 10th, we sailed quickly through California and Mexico. Even in the Galapagos, it will be a short visit of less than 20 days, and then we’ll be off again to the Marquesas for an estimated 25 days at sea. Eric assures me that we will be traveling around much more slowly once we’re in French Polynesia. Both he and I are looking forward to that.
Leslie Dennis Rigney