Transatlantic crossing 2021 - the daily rhythm

John & Susan Simpson
Wed 1 Dec 2021 12:00
Life on board during the crossing soon fell into a very regular pattern.  With four people able to take a watch each we had a shift pattern of four hours on watch during the day and three hours at night.  The watches from 2300 to 0200 and 0200 to 0500 were the least popular but the compensation was that every few nights you could be in bed from 2300-0800 and that felt like a real treat!  We would set the boat up for the night in time for the start of the 2000-2300 watch and then took it in turns to watch over the boat and the sea/weather conditions until handing the baton to the next person.  Often there was not much to do on watch except look at the stars but sometimes there were other boats to avoid or changes to sails or the course to be made.  The sound of the kettle being filled and tea being made for the next watch keeper became a signal of time passing in the night.  
After 1,000 miles at sea yacht Aphrodite, another boat in the rally, crossed our bow.

ARC boats fitted with SSB radios were assigned to groups for a daily radio net call.  At 1300 each day we would tune in to Channel 25 to hear our group members relay their positions, share interesting stories or ask for advice.  Even though we’d met many people in Gran Canaria prior to the start, most boats in our group were previously unknown to us.  After a fortnight of this daily catch up it was lovely to meet up in St Lucia and put faces to names.  Everyone becomes known by their boat names so people would be approaching us on the pontoon in St Lucia saying ‘Hi Casamara …. I’m Juno (or other boat name)’.   It was comforting to know that other people could be contacted if necessary.  One of the boats in the ARC fleet suffered steering failure and eventually the crew put out a Mayday and were rescued by one of the other yachts.  The damaged yacht was left to drift and is in the process of being salvaged by the insurance company.  There was plenty to talk about on the radio net the day we heard the story!

We also had a rota for lunch and dinner duty so that we shared all the tasks, and we enjoyed the friendly rivalry of serving up our speciality dishes.  Noa’s ’Tuna Pate’ pasta sauce was a little unusual, but then even she was surprised that the tin she opened to make it didn’t contain tuna steak!  It tasted good though and we wouldn’t have known about the secret ingredient had she not confessed afterwards.  Laura’s signature ‘garlic cubes’ recipe for potatoes was equally delicious, despite much banter about whether the name properly described the dish.  Our provisions lasted remarkably well and we were still eating fresh melon on the day we arrived in St Lucia.  A latecomer to our diet was the humble cabbage, which languished in the fruit net until the last moment but was actually surprisingly tasty served raw in salads towards the end.

The actual acts of cooking and eating were quite a challenge in the rolling sea and we got used to drinking from cups with lids and holding down our plates of food as the boat lurched.  Spillages were quite frequent!  We often marvelled at how amazing it was to be sitting down to lunch or dinner together in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  

For the crossing we were a ‘dry’ boat with only soft drinks on board but at the half way point we marked the occasion with a bottle of champagne very kindly given to me as a leaving present from work.  We celebrated with the bottle of Bubbly and dinner of steak of chips.

Laura and Noa had written a half way poem which they recited after dinner, whereas I’d prepared three Limericks during my watches the night before - one for each of the my fellow crew members.

There once was a skipper called John
Whose boat we are sitting upon
His jokes were quite rude 
But kept crew amused
So the voyage did not seem too long.

There once was a student called Noa
Whose revision got slower and slower
Her laptop had died
From the water inside
And now it's no longer a ‘goer’

There once was a lady called Laura
If you saw her you could not ignore her
She’d been in the sun
And whilst it was fun
Her face just got redder and sorer