Aug 29

Sleeping on passage

Tag: Passages,tripsJonathon Haradon @ 9:11 pm

(refers to events that happened August 12th – 20th)

We are currently in the middle of an eight day passage from Huahine to Beveridge Reef.  After a three or four day stop there, we will be headed on to Tonga, requiring another three days of sailing, and then another four days of sailing to Fiji.  While on passage, we have split up the watches so that I’m on watch half the time and Matt and Karen are on watch half the time.  The reason for the seeming inequity is so that I get the experience of being on watch half the time.  So that when Matt and Karen depart, if someone else joins me, friends or crew I pick up, I have a better feel for what the passage will be like with me as captain.

I’m on watch from 4 pm to 8 pm, midnight to 4 am, and 8 am to noon.  I’ve developed a routine for each watch, and each watch is different.  For example, on the midnight to 4 am shift, other than the required check for boats, tend to our sails, and keep us on course, about all I do is watch T.V. series on the computer.  Right now, I’m in the third season of ’24’, with Kiefer Sutherland.  Once this season is done, I’m going to start watching ‘The West Wing’, on of my all time favorite T.V. shows, which Karen’s mom brought for her.  Matt and Karen have been watching extensively and I’ve sat in on a few.  ’24’ is low brow, mindless enjoyment.  When I watch ‘The West Wing’ I actually feel like I get to have mental stimulation.

But this post is supposed to be about sleeping.  Because when I’m not on watch, pretty much all I do is sleep.  Each off period is four hours.  I frequently cut into that period and stay on watch for thirty minutes or so.  Maybe I need to finish changing a sail, maybe I’m hanging out with Matt and Karen.  I might be finishing an episode of ’24’  So that within that four hour period, I probably get three hours of sleep.  Three hours of sleep per off-watch times three equals nine hours of sleep.  Plenty right?  It doesn’t seem that way when it only comes in those three hour chunks.  I do think though, my body has gotten more used to falling asleep when I tell it to.

On passage, I sleep on the settees instead of my V-berth.  The V-berth, being in the very front of the boat, gets rocked up and down the most.  Matt and Karen frequently sleep on the settees as well.  They closer you are to center line on both axis of the boat the less motion you feel and so presumably more comfort.

But are the settees particularly comfortable?

The first issue is the width.  Each settee is two feet, six inches wide.  Do you remember the twin bed you had growing up?  This is narrower.  I like to toss and turn around a lot.   I barely have enough room when I’m by myself in a queen size bed. Two feet six inches precludes such tossing and turning.

The next problem is the motion.  Even in a small swell of one meter, you can still feel the boat rocking around.  Imagine lying in a hammock with an evil child pushing you around.  She rocks the hammock gently back and forth, back and forth, through a larger angle than you might like, but it’s O.K.  Then sometimes the evil child will jerk in one direction or another as a particularly different wave in either size or direction hits the boat.

The motion is insidious.

Sometimes we have lee cloths up.  Lee clothes are a netting you can raise on one side of the settee so that you don’t roll off the settee and onto the floor.  These only serve as a reminder that the boat is pitching about even more wildly.  With the lee cloth up it looks like you are in a cocoon.

You can move the back cushions of the settee if you’d like.  This gives an extra three to four inches of width.  But then you are simply rolling into wood cabinets from time to time.

Then there’s the noise.  Sails popping.  Lines banging the mast.  The main snapping against the shrouds. Water rushing by.  Hanging nets holding various foodstuffs lightly swaying back and forth hitting the cabin top.  Creaks.  Groans.  Cans of food sliding and banging against each other.  Is this an insane asylum?  Or should I be put in one because I hear all the noise?  I even wear headphones, though I keep the music so low to still hear everything.  The sweet melodic sounds of Sarah McLachlan are an engram for my brain to fall asleep but she does not cover up her new accompanist: boat noise.

To top it off, sheets feel damp/dank.  Airflow is not superb.  And if you are Matt and Karen, you have to worry about being doused with water, full buckets of water through hatches or rouge waves that break over the boat into the cockpit.  It has not yet happened to me.  I am simply, and only, lucky.  A drenching is, I’m sure, somewhere in my future.

So I sleep between 9 and 11 hours each day.  I still feel lethargic. I am ready to get to Fiji and for passages to be over for a while.

2 Responses to “Sleeping on passage”

  1. Gord Wedman says:

    You guys should have added a pullout bottom to the port side settee and then you would have a single with a decent width. Easy to do, just another layer of plywood trapped by rails forward and aft. Pulls out as far as the mast.

  2. Jonathon Haradon says:

    Gord, Actually we did! There’s probably something about it on our maintenance website, but I’m not positive. It’s definitely nice when at anchor. For some reason we’ve never pulled it out when on passage… the way we set up our lee clothes and redid our table doesn’t allow for a fairlead for the lee clothes, but it’s probably not that big a deal. You would think we would have at least tried pulling it out. Don’t know why we haven’t. Do you have a Valiant as well?

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