The best sleep in the world
05 July 2009 | The farm in Denmark
If you have followed along with us through our sporadic blog postings then you may recall reading things like "sounds like somebody taking a baseball bat to a car door" and "Every time a wave smacked against the fibreglass hull, it made a sound like a collision".
It is true, at sea you will hear you boat make sounds that are unbelievable from the beating they take.
On noisy nights I sleep with ear plugs so I do not hear a thing. That said; a sea berth on a passage is where you will likely get the best sleep in the world.
That 18 inch wide bed against the hull-side lockers on one side and a lee-cloth (sheet of fabric) on the other is like a cocoon. When laying there wedged in between pillows and cushions, the motion of the boat stops. And that is a good thing. For a few hours at the time, you do not have to brace yourself, hold on to something, or adjust your balance.
But that is not the best thing about the sea berth.
There, you have a feeling of total assurance that nothing can happen to you while you are asleep. You are perfectly safe in your snug bed. I suppose it is like falling asleep in your room when you were 5-years old, listening to the faint sounds of your parent's voices, knowing that they will watch over you in the night.
In the sea berth you know the person on watch is looking over you, and keeping you safe. Radiance is looking after all of us. In the few seconds after putting my head on my pillow, before I fall asleep, I often marvel at the home we have. Radiance, with the help of the tireless windvane Wanda, keeps on going through the pitch black night, keeping steady on her course. When you get up in the morning and make breakfast then it is almost as if she says to you "I am glad you guys had a good night, go ahead and have some breakfast, don't worry about us we'll just keep on going".
It should be said that we always sail very conservatively at night, and therefore only have to wake up the off-watch on very rare occasions.
We have found it useful to have two types of upholstery on our settee cushions. The normal side (nice side) and a bottom side made of heavy vinyl. While in the tropics it can get very hot when you sleep and some of us sweat like crazy, so it is nice to have a cushion that is easy to clean and that does not stain. We have not yet perfected the sheets and covers we use, but I would say that some research into synthetics that do not absorb moisture and salt, and are easy to wash, would be worth looking into.
Let me finish this with a confession. The above statements are only 95% true. There are of course nights when the seas and wind are just such that it is almost impossible (except for Malou) to get any real sleep. That is OK though, as long you are out at sea, since you are not really doing anything the next day anyway.
P.S. Bad weather does not always mean a poor nights sleep. The worst weather we had on our passage from Mexico to Marquesas was just north of the equator. Late one afternoon a large squall caught up with us and stayed with us. The seas were so crappy and ridiculously steep that it made no sense to keep on sailing. So we hove Radiance to with a deeply reefed main and went to bed, all of us. Best sleep we had on that trip.