Fun and Games at Sea
24 October 2012 | Le Caudan Waterfront, Mauritius
We have arrived safely in Mauritius, one day ahead of schedule - yeah! We had an excellent sail despite a rather slow start the first three days or so. We spent the rest of the trip trying to catch up and pass other boats. We did get somewhat concerned about the named cyclone, Anais, which was about 250 miles north of us as we entered Port Louis, Mauritius. Luckily, the effects of the cyclone were minimal and it passed well northwest of us.
The passage from Cocos Keeling to Mauritius is the fourth passage we have now made with our new crew. Britt and Shadow have been an amazing addition to the At Last team. Mark and I have certainly been getting more sleep which has been astonishingly helpful. I thought people might want to take a look at our new shift schedule while we are on passage:
Janet 7:00 am - 12:00 pm
Mark 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Britt/Shadow 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Janet 9:00 pm - 12:00 am
Mark 12:00 am - 3:00 am
Britt/Shadow 3:00 am - 7:00 am
This schedule far beats the three hours on and three hours off that Mark and I were doing while we double handed the boat. I actually get to sleep from midnight to 7:00 am in the morning. Seven hours of sleep in a row while you are on passage is delightful.
The cooking has been made much easier now that Britt and Shadow are on board. We try to split up the cooking as much as possible with me cooking one night and then Britt and Shadow cooking the next. Mark still has not jumped into that rotation. We did make a majority of our meals while we were in Cocos Keeling and froze them in anticipation of this trip having big winds and big seas. We have had such breakfast delicacies as blueberry and poppy seed pancakes, broccoli and spinach Bisquiche (a quiche made with Bisquick) and spinach/bacon/potato breakfast burritos. One evening for dinner we had artichoke fettuccine with a lemon and Parmesan sauce. Shadow and Britt also eat very healthy (we have decided it's because they both grew up in California). Our snack bin of potato chips and cookies has been replaced with homemade trail mixes, dried fruit and soy beans - much to my dismay. Shadow does not each much meat so we have been doing more vegetarian dishes - much to Mark's dismay. Shadow does give Mark any meat that she picks out of a meal or gives Mark her portion of meat that is served so I think Mark makes out just fine in the end. I have learned much from their cooking and I have introduced Britt to such things as fluff, Bisquick and canned goods. Britt had never eaten much of anything out of the can before this trip. Remarkable!
The first week of this passage was quite rough. Britt, Shadow and Mark can all suffer from sea sickness but everyone has done quite well. Sleeping has been a problem for everyone with the boat rocking so much due to huge waves (12 - 15 feet). Shadow and I are sleeping in the cabins now due to our new watch schedule. We have had countless conversations on the techniques employed to keep us from sliding off the beds at night. We keep joking that we should take pictures of everyone sleeping on passage. All the pictures would fall into two hysterical categories. First, the ones where people are so tired their mouths are open and they are drooling. Second, the ones where arms are gripping and legs are draped over nearby cabinets in an attempt to stabilize oneself enough to actually fall asleep.
We have spent a lot of time trying to entertain ourselves and trying to imagine that we are anywhere other than on a rocky passage through the Indian Ocean. (The most difficult passages of the circumnavigation will be from now through Cape Town, South Africa.) Shadow made us some Mad Libs (Google it if you don't know what I am talking about) the other day and we enjoyed the resulting stories entitled - Blue Times on At Last, One Loquacious Day, and The Indian Ocean is a Coffee Table. Shadow and Britt have a study guide for the GREs on Shadow's Kindle so everyone has been working on strengthening their vocabulary on this passage. When the generator was working on the passage (no longer, it sprung another water leak), we decided to watch a movie. Britt, Shadow and I turned on the air conditioning, popped popcorn and watched a movie in the aft cabin while Mark was on watch. The movie would have been a bit more enjoyable if each of us wasn't constantly on guard for the next big wave that would slide us off the bed. We also had to turn off the air conditioning because we couldn't hear the movie due to the noise from the air conditioning and the generator. It got a bit hot in the cabin by the end of the movie but the popcorn and the movie were fantastic.
On Friday afternoon on the passage, I asked what everyone wanted to do this weekend. We began to come up with amazing scenarios about what we would do for the weekend if we weren't on At Last and in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Mark wanted to go to Ruby Tuesday's for nachos and baby back ribs and then to see the new Bourne movie at the movie theater in Enfield, CT. A simple plan but it sounded absolutely brilliant to me.
Sometimes what one finds to occupy their time can be quite fascinating. Mark decided to start listening to every song on his iPad in alphabetical order by title. Mark's iPad has over 8,000 songs; he was currently half way through the letter "A." Shadow commented that this mission was indicative of Mark's meticulous and dedicated nature. Mark then confessed that previous to this mission, he had been listening to originals and remakes of songs on his iPad. He had come to the conclusion that the originals were always better than the remakes even when the remake was done by the same artist. He gave us the example of the song "Money" by Pink Floyd which they redid multiple times from 1970 on. After much listening, he was convinced that the original was the best. It was hard not to be impressed with his thoroughness.
Mark has been continuing to teach Britt and Shadow as much as he can about sailing. They are very fast learners and are handling their watches very well. They have been managing their shifts completely on their own (sail changes, course changes due to large cargo ships, etc.) They have also enjoyed tracking our progress in relation to other boats. As we say on At Last, a bit of competition between boats is healthy. We have also all gotten quite competitive with comparing the average speed during each of our shifts. Britt and Shadow are now giving Mark a run for his money although with the amount of tweaking of the sails Mark does, I cannot imagine any of us beating him.
Music also plays a very important role in our passage. Britt and I sang a brief song to the fleet over the radio the first night of the passage - "Good Night, World Arc, Good Night." Lew (s/v Brizo) responded on the radio by asking if it was a distress call. I personally didn't think our rendition was that bad. Shadow and I the first day out changed the words to "Here comes the sun" to 'Here comes the wind." Our other favorite song to sing requires some preliminary explanation. Whenever the heads (toilets) aren't working correctly (which seems to be an ever increasingly problem), the green light on the toilet goes off and a red light goes on indicating the toilet has a problem. Whenever this happens, we break into the song "Roxanne" by the Police starting with the line "you don't have to turn on the red light." Mark also played for us one evening, "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple in order to provide motivation for catching up with a boat that was ahead of us. It worked like a charm!
Now, I don't want to give everyone the impression that life aboard At Last during a two week long passage is all fun and games but focusing on the fun and games makes the two weeks go by so much faster...