Questions Answered About The Passage from Virginia to Tortola
05 December 2011 | St Maarten
There have been many questions regarding the trip down from Virginia to Tortola. People have been curious about the details of how the trip is done. So I will write briefly about some of the questions people have raised. Feel free to add comments of other questions you have particularly for all of you following the blog that aren't sailors. I am planning on having a Questions Answered section regularly on the blog.
The Boat Does Not Stop Sailing - there is nowhere to anchor when you are making a passage and thus you sail 24 hours per day. There are many different ways that people do this but we chose to have two people awake sailing and two people sleeping for four hour shifts. Andy and I were one team - Mark and his brother Chris were the other team. Andy and I did the 8:00 pm - midnight, 4:00 am - 8:00 am and the noon - 4:00 pm shift. During the off shifts you would try to get as much sleep as possible. Thus things like eating, showering (or even freshening up), brushing ones teeth, changing clothes, etc. are all done with the understanding that by doing them you lose sleep. This becomes a critical decision making point throughout the passage. Thus it becomes quite acceptable to wear the same clothes and not shower for days at a time. The good news is that everyone around you is doing the same.
Sleeping is Tough - in addition to only having four hours to sleep the sleeping situation can be less than ideal. We have two sofas in the main cabin of the boat. We had lee cloths made for them which are cloths that go from under the seat and around the open side of the couch and attach to rails on the ceiling. What the lee cloth does is keep you from falling off the sofa when the boat is heeled over 15 - 20 degrees. So typically you are either pushed against the back of the sofa or against the lee cloth. Neither is that comfortable particularly when adding to the slant the up and down motion of the boat from the waves. As Andy once said when we were hitting some pretty big waves, "I wish they would stop running into those telephone poles." I would be remiss if I did not add how hot it was down below deck. All of the hatches (windows) had to be closed otherwise water would enter the boat. The engine was running rather frequently and many of the meals were heated up with the use of the stove, both of these add tremendous heat below decks. The sheets we were using were rank by the end of the trip. I have to say when I did the six loads of laundry after the delivery I almost gagged when putting things in the washing machine. Let's just say that sweaty clothes and damp towels piled into one big bag for 8 days is a good science experiment.
Eating - luckily I learned about feeding the crew from a delivery Mark completed with a sailing Captain, Richard and his wife, Eden. She is a remarkable chef and made all of the meals beforehand and then froze them. This seemed like a good idea so my Mom and Dad helped me cook all of the meals ahead of time. We had breakfast at 8:00 am, lunch at noon and dinner at 8:00 pm. The meals were done at these times to accommodate the change of shift. There was also a snack bin which was full of healthy and not so healthy snacks if anyone got hungry between meals. Breakfast was cereal mostly or granola bars and I tried to do real meals for lunch and dinner. We had lots of one pot meals because they are easiest to serve. One of the difficulties we had was that the 8:00 pm meal was in the dark. Andy was shocked one night to find that his meatloaf and scalloped potatoes were actually a chicken casserole and Poppy's banana bread. At least it explained why the meatloaf was cold. The heeling of the boat made preparing the meals quite a challenge. Imagine trying to cook in your kitchen with the floor at a 15 degree angle and the occasional up and down motion of a big wave that would throw you against the nearest counter. I ended up with black and blues all along my upper thighs from hitting the counters and an agreement from Mark that he would buy me the galley harness he wanted to buy me before we left on the trip. I didn't think I would need it. We did have a couple of peanut butter and jelly meals when the sea was just too rough for me to safely cook - the men were quite gracious in complementing these meals.
We asked everyone on the delivery to add their comments about what they thought of the trip. Their responses are soon to follow.