24 hours of being 28

Today it’s my birthday, and as it’s going to be a fairly unusual one, I thought I’d try and capture what daily life entails on Visit Seattle. I find that off the boat, I quickly become blasé about life on the boat, but I’m sure re-reading this in the future, it will look anything but normal. So, 24 hours on Visit Seattle. Here we go:

2nd July 2016

0000: Birthday begins with Emily singing “Happy birthday” to me from companionway as she is Mother. Damp, wet and cold but Woooooo!

0030: Do some exercises to warm up whilst sitting on the floor of cockpit (aka move my arms a bit). Floor quickly becomes a wall as we heel over so instead I stand on what was before an obstacle, leaning back now and then to stay upright when the boat really tips. Better clip on twice for luck. Short tether will stop me from falling from my chilly perch.

0045: We’re flying a kite but the wind has shifted so we’re now broaching. We ease the main out to help us bear away to stop this so a call is made for the preventers to be eased too. Clip, clip, crawl and I’ve moved 2 meters from the back of the cockpit to the front to sort out one of the preventers (lines that prevent the boom from swinging across and wiping us out should we accidentally gybe). Kneeling is required because the boat is still at a stupid angle. I listen out for calls from Amancio who is re-running the preventer on the foredeck: “grind”, “ease”. I wrap the other end of the line around a winch, put the handle in to grind, then have to use my body weight at this angle to turn handle.

0100: Remain perched by the preventer winch in case it needs to be adjusted again. My body is bent over my legs to stop the rain and spray getting into my hood. I can see the clock in the galley from here; nearly time to wake the next watch.

0120: As closest to the galley, I go down to wake the next watch. The first challenge is clipping and climbing over several taught lines to get to the hatch, then unclipping over said lines. Eventually, I end up pivoting on my belly on the companionway ledge to reach stupidly-placed my clip. Oooo my abs!

0125: If I’m going to wake the next watch up, it’s foulies off so that I don’t drip water everywhere. First, off comes the life jacket. Then, off with the woolly hat and undo all the various tabs and straps sealing me into my foulies at the wrists, waist and ankles. That done, it’s off with the foulie smock (always a challenge) followed by salopettes. God these foulies stink. I’m left in my duvet-like midlayers but I’m still bloody freezing. My hands are like ice.

0130: Off I go down each corridor to wake the off-watch. My chosen method is to call their name, say “Good morning” in an enthusiastic manner then put the red light on to get them up. They’re pretty dead to the world at this time of the morning.

0135: Back into galley to put the kettle on. This is pretty quick for once as the generator is on so I can use the electric kettle. I prepare 4 teas and 2 coffees for the next watch. As they slowly emerge into the galley, I let them know it’s cold (not that it’s not obvious of course). Get lots of “Happy birthdays” in return.

0150: The next watch head up on deck, then the rest of my watch come down sodden from the last 4 hours. I nip to the heads whilst it’s free at this point to get out of the galley as everyone else needs the space to get out of their foulies. I then retrieve my huge sleeping bag from its cubby hole at the end of my bunk and wrestle with it to get it flat. I then hoist the bunk up to a more accurate angle to stop me from falling out.

0155: Retrieve iPad from charging in the galley so I can write this blog.

0200: Right, mid-layers and base layers off. I hang them up on a bungee with karibiner clips by my bunk so they fit behind the door nicely. I climb up into my bunk ninja-stylee and try to get into my sleeping bag liner plus sleeping bag. Yes, I’m that cold. Now, to hot water bottle or not to hot water bottle?

0205: Success! I’m in and snug. No hot water bottle though. Time for a quick blog a la bunk.

Tippity tap…

0220: Blog done, ear plugs in from my keeping place in my bra (got to remember these details). Sleep!

Zzzzzzz…

0515: I’m woken by a shake on the arm. Wow I was asleep. The red light has gone on in the corridor and I snuggle down and begin a 60 second countdown; just one more minute. I reach 0 then start again. Then I realise I must get up, so it’s time to shuffle out of my cosy sleeping arrangement and rummage in my centre cave locker to find my extra-warm merino bottoms. I think I’ll need them; it sounds absolutely horrible outside, the sound of rain lashing above me. Merino leggings on, I then pummel my sleeping bag with my feet to the end of the bunk and kick it into the end cave locker. I’ve only recently discovered it’s much easier to get it in there that way rather than rolling it up.

0520: Leggings on, I partially swing myself out of my bunk and try to reach my seal-skin socks that are sitting on the generator pipe, but the bunk is hitched up too high. I can’t reach them so Ros kindly passes them to me as she goes by. Socks go on to seal in the leggings and stop me from getting wet feet from the floor. I then climb down and put on the long sleeved merino top over the short sleeved one I’ve slept in to stay warm.

0525: I retrieve my midlayer salopettes from behind the bulkhead door where they are hanging, pop them on and seal the leg tabs before putting on my rather damp boots. It’s then off to the heads before anymore layers go on, a mere 3 steps away. Zip, curtain closed!

0530: Another 3 steps from the heads and I’m in the galley, standing on the starboard side by the wet locker where our foulies are stored. We still have some fresh bread left from yesterday that Rachel baked as a treat, so rather than crazy sweet cereal, it’s lovely soft wholemeal bread with a thick dollop of peanut butter on top for breakfast; probably my healthiest breakfast to date on this boat. Be gone foul Cheerios…at least until tomorrow.

0540: A few steps back to my bunk and now the midlayer jacket goes on over my salopettes, only after tying my hair in a low ponytail and putting on my buff though to make sure I’m sealed in again the horrible weather I can hear. I contemplate adding another layer after being cold in the night but decide against it.

0550: It’s all back and forth, back and forth getting ready for deck. To the wet locker: I retrieve my foulie salopettes to keep me dry on deck. Off come the boots again, on go the salopettes over my midlayers and then back on with the boots, my foulies sealed over the top with tabs. I then wrestle myself into my foulie smock. Woolly hat is put on too, then hood up to allow my life jacket to go on. I then seal myself right in, doing up all of the neck and mouth flaps so that you can only see my eyes. Raaaaaaah…bring on that weather!

0600: Up the steps and up on deck. It’s not quite as bad as I thought up here: not absolutely horrible as anticipated, but only moderately horrible. Maybe I didn’t need quite so many layers. I undo the piece of my smock that goes over my mouth so I can breathe. The other watch are all still on deck as they’ve been asked to remain to help us gybe. The wind is pretty strong which could make it tricky: the more people on deck, the more people to (hopefully!) make it go smoothly.

0605 – 0700: Gybing. I first go to the starboard side of the boat to help bring the new spinnaker sheet across to be run for the other gybe, handing it to Ana at the stern and then back across the pit it goes to the primary winch. Huw then tells me to go to the port stern winch to ease off the preventer and then bring on the running back stay as the gybe goes on to support the mast. Huw is always on deck for changes such as this. I ease the preventer as before. Then I pull the running back stay line by hand around the winch to move it the 6 or so meters from its current position at the shrouds to further back on the boat. To do this, I’m also supposed to free the tricing line that keeps the back stay at the shrouds but I forget to undo the coil of rope – I always do this. The line gets stuck as the pulley system it runs through isn’t at the right angle. Huw kicks it, it runs, I continue pulling, sat wedged between the spinnaker sheet and those grinding on the pedestal. Gybe done, I help attach the wrap net at the gate. Off go the other watch for a sleep, our watch settling in for the next 6 hours.

0700: I settle in the cockpit by the grinders ready to grind or trim where needed. I love grinding (purely in a sailing context). Aaaaaand chat…

0715: I’m about to take over trimming the kite from Chris when Amancio calls me to helm next. Apparently I’ll be OK in this weather as I’m strong (HA!). Time for a bit more helming practice it is in strong winds then *gulp*. I navigate my way across the deck back to the helm, then clip onto the high side next to Amancio. He tells me what we need to do: 50-60 degrees on the compass, 120 apparent wind angle, juggle the waves. I step behind him in the helming cage, take the wheel and he shuffles out. I’m in control.

0715-0745: I’m on the helm  for 30 minutes trying to keep the spinnaker flying downwind in the swell with the wind coming at an angle of 120 degrees. My shoulder muscles kill after half an hour from combating the waves to keep us on course. Jesse stands with me at the helm to make sure I’m doing it all OK. I manage to pretty much keep on course but it’s taking all of my concentration. Focus…

IMG_0757
“Focus…”

0745: Hand over to Dana on the helm as Amancio did to me. Phew, time to give the arms a break for a bit. I sit infront of the helm and gaze out over the starboard side of the deck at the sea. Grey, grey, drizzly grey. It’s like being back in the UK!

0745-0800: Nod off on deck whilst sitting. So much activity after all (not every day is like this). Whoops.

IMG_0772

0800: Chris asks if anyone wants coffee. COFFFFFEEEEEEEEE! Milk with a sugar to wake me up please. Now where was I…

0810: Coffee arrives, passed along the deck from person to person in the little blue plastic cups we have on the boat, cracked on the inside from 1000s of hot drinks and so offering you a little taste of everything they’ve contained before. Sugar was definitely the right move. Yum yum yum.

0815-onwards
So after 8.15, I totally failed at blogging due to getting caught up in the excitement of birthday. It’s now all blurred into one, but roughly, here’s what went on:  

  • I’m still sitting by the helm chatting to Dana and Jesse occasionally when Amancio appears at the galley hatch with what looks like a water balloon. What is that? Whatever it is, apparently he’s aiming for me but he misses and it slides off the boat. It was a water balloon!
  • 2 more water balloons are hurled by Amancio at me. This time I’m ready *assumes ninja pose infront of the helm*. The first one lands at my feet. The second one lands near Jesse and Dana behind me but we’re not sure where. Perhaps it’s in Dana’s hood for later?
  • Emily cracks out the glittery tattoos that Dionne gave me. Unfortunately, they’re not terribly effective at adhering to faces, so people sit around with jay clothes held to their faces for 20 minutes or more. Is it a tattoo, is it a horrific injury to the face?
  • Dana finds the eye patches her Mum gave her. OH YES!
  • Add eye patch to my sailing kit. Commence birthday pirate photo shoot! Lets see if any of these are posted by Clipper – I’d love it if they were.
IMG_0758
Serious sailing with an eye patch. And not actually steering. Just posing. Arrrrrr.
  • Emily has come out on deck in the rain following her mother-duty sleep. Emily definitely doesn’t like rain. Rain is bad. Her foulies are not her friend in this situation.
  • Sometime around 1100, I go downstairs for the first time this watch to discover balloons and “happy birthday” banners adorning the galley. Brilliant!
  • 1200 and it’s luuuuuunch cooked by Jon as Lucy. Quesadillas, nom nom nom. So many wrap-based meals on this boat.
  • After lunch, the other watch go upstairs whilst we eat ours, but they then come back downstairs to sing happy birthday to me. It’s then cake, and not just any cake : an amazing multicoloured cake made by Ana with candles and sparkling candles. Yaaaay!
  • I’m given multiple cards from the crew, my New York apartment buddies, Emily and then also my very own packs of Oreos from Emily. Even the ‘Double Stuf’ ones. Very lucky Mia!
IMG_0716
Birthday love!
  • 3 pieces of cake later (well, it is my birthday) and it’s definitely time for bed
  • I open and read my cards from home, attempt to hang them above my bunk and fail. Write a birthday email to Steve to let him know how my day has gone. There I discover emails also from both sets of grandparents and Sarah. Very, very lucky Mia!
IMG_0738
My first piece of cake. Or perhaps my third judging by this expression.

1300: Sleepy time

Sometime in my off-watch: Restless sleep. Too hot and can smell burger cooking. Mmmm Burger…must be nearly time to get up. Write blog for a little bit then…

1715: Ergh. “Good morning” means I should get up. Just a bit more blog…

1800-2200: Similar to my earlier watch but involves some birthday bilge cleaning to spice things up. Woooo bilges! Chris very kindly did my antibac duties on the previous watch. I then have to tend to media duties, aka writing a birthday blog and uploading photos from the last few days to Clipper. This involves me going down to the Nav station at the back of the boat and squeezing in behind whoever is on the Nav PC to work on the Media PC. Out comes the memory card from the camera, on go the photos to the PC. I then select the best to upload to the Clipper server, switch over the Internet from email to media and tadaaaaa off they go. I send a couple from my birthday pirate shoot. It’s worth a try.  Right, time for my final stint on deck for the day.

2200: The watch is over and the bed time ritual starts all over again! Foulies off…

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