ARC 2015 - Day 10 - Nov 29, Disc world
Steve and Lynda Cooke
Tue 1 Dec 2015 12:14
Day 10 | Dec 1
Followers of these blogs may be wondering what it is like to be aboard Nina in the Atlantic. The view from the window (or the cockpit) is of a large dark blue disc stretching to the
horizon which is sharply delineated from the lighter blue sky above. The dark blue disc gently undulates with ripples travelling across its surface creating a wrinkly effect. This disc
travels with us throughout the day and night and appears unchanging. Our only indication that we are moving is from the instruments which tell our latitude and longitude are
continuously increasing or decreasing.
Today, Nina is gently rolling side to side which is great core exercise as we attempt to stay upright. Last week we were living in a washing machine so everyone was moving from
handhold to handhold in order to maintain some sense of balance.
The sky forms a dome above us and is peppered in all directions with fluffy white clouds and of course a large orange disc rising and falling to indicate the passage of a day. At night
time the orange disc is replaced with a white one and the clouds with pinpoints of light arranged in their familiar constellations. The moon waxes and wanes so changes in shape it
also trespasses into the daytime.
In the mornings we have our daily debate about how to set the sails and the optimum course to steer. Due consideration is given to all points of view no matter how wrong they may
be before we reach a decision. Today was to goose-wing with the pole out to starboard, yesterday we went with the coloured sail 9the cruising chute) out front. There is then a flurry of activity whilst the crew pulls sheets, tie off and various other nautical things to achieve our desired solution. This morning Mike, Mark and Peter went onto the foredeck with Steve in the cockpit. Each day we are a little more proficient about which sheet goes where and when.
Now we are in the trade winds we should not need to change the set during the day so we settle into congratulating ourselves on the good decision made at the start of the day.
SOG, COG, AWS, TWS (look them up) and others will be read out in an informed fashion by crew members. We are gradually settling into a ships vocabulary as the crew melds
into an efficent sailing unit - most of us were strangers ten days ago. We even have settled names for the machinery - George the autopliot, Harry the windvane, Victor the engine and
Kurt the SSB. A psychologist would have a field day.
Our lives are governed by the naval watch system which now means we are pretty much disconnected from shore-based sleep and waking. Apart from the changeover dogwatches
we are either on watch or off watch for four hours at a time. At the end of a watch we weigh up the different needs between sleep, eat or just chill. In the hours of darkness sleep
usually prevails but if last night was an 8-12 pm followed by a 4-8 am then catching up some sleep in the morning is important and easily done. Our decision to set ships time to UTC
also has the effect of changing sunrise and sunset times gradually each and every day.
We do try and have one meal a day all together during the two, two hour dog watches which occur between 12 am and 4 pm. It's good to share notes and keep in contact with the
crew members from the other watch. It's also a time to absorb news from the outside world gathered through various sources. Today we have details of boats who have reached St
Lucia and of others damaged having returned to port for repair.
There is quite a bit of free time after doing the watch, eating and sleeping. Some crew enjoy more cerebral pastimes such as reading or setting the world to rights, others are more
pratically minded and spend hours building lures for the fishing lines which travel in our wake. Everyone has chores like washing out some clothing and on special occasions taking
hot showers. Our daily rhythms are unhurried but somehow we are fully occupied - busy doing nothing you might say. For example this morning Mark and Steve have been fishing -
the art of dangling a lure into the water in the hope of catching a fish. Frank is doing some washing after a snooze, Mike is sleeping in his bunk, Chris is relaxing in the cockpit and
Peter is drafting this blog for editing/review by the rest of the crew before transmission later today. At intermitent intervals the cry goes up - anyone want a brew? So the kettle goes
In amongst all of this we have the management of the ship. So regular checks are maintained of the charge state of our batteries, how much water in each tank, how much diesel.
We have ample food so that gets less attention. We keep the ships log with course, position and speed, wind speed and direction and others so we can measure our progress each
day. In a couple of days we should be half way to St Lucia so we are primed for a small celebration.
In the months of preparation before we set sail crew members were invited to curate their own collections of music to bring along. There is a wide variation in taste from classical
through, jazz, rock, pop, and just about all genders. But it's worth remembering that the crew are not young men so we tend towards similar styles but fortunately not identical. All
our tastes have widened as we are exposed to music perhaps not normally listened to. It's fair to say there is enough variety that we don't have a sound track to the journey which all
regard as a good thing. We have noticed that dolphins like Coldplay but that hypothesis probably would not stand up to much scrutiny. When down below the omnipresent rush of
water past the hull is reassuring of progress being made and of such a pitch that it means we are never silent.
All in all Nina is a very pleasant place to spend time with none of the cares and worries of normal existence. We all regard ourselves as extremely fortunate to be here.