The Call of the Azores
Orion's Belt

On Watch

I used to think that being "On Watch" meant staying on deck gazing out at the sea, perhaps with binoculars, for hours at a time. That lasted about 10 minutes, so on the way south from Maine, I sat on deck for my entire watch, quartering the sea, looking for boats, going down below every 30 minutes to write in the log, use the head (quickly), and grabbing a snack. All other activities were reserved for off watch times.
Miles more experience, an AIS receiver,and the need for sleep have all resulted in watches that include cooking a pizza, making bread, reading, writing, cleaning -- all while standing watch. I still check the horizon all the way around every 15 to 20 minutes, looking for boats that, like us, don't transit on the AIS. I am on deck most of the time, but below in the navigation station for a third of the time, too.

At sea on La Luna, the person on watch wears a life jacket and tether at all times. We make entries in the log every hour, read, work on learning Portuguese (me) or Spanish (EW), cook, and clean a bit -- all while on watch in our life jackets. I have a friend in a catamaran who told me she wears her iPod with headphones and frequently dances in the cockpit while on watch. We don't have room (or the lack of heeling) for that, but I love the visual.

In our first year out, neither of us liked the store-bought watch books we used. I came up with a new system and we found a rather unique (and ugly)notebook for it in Grenada. This year I modified the pages and we are very happy with it. There are pages for at sea and for being in a port at anchor on on the dock. It gives EW a space to keep track of maintenence and repairs, and lets me note when I last defrosted the fridge and when we took on water. At sea, we now write in the log every hour.

On this trip, we are finally sailing almost in the direction we wish to go. I seriously need to learn how to understand weather reports and grib files, and seek other sources for weather that are available on the SSB. We've had no bad weather, lovely seas, beautiful skies, and companionable watch captains on the ships we've met. I can't complain. (Though I did yesterday.)

As of 0627 (UTC plus 1) on October 5th we are located at North 34 20.67 and West 23 15.11.



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Jim Nixon

Just for the heck of it I plugged your coordinates into Google maps. You are in the Philippines.

With navigation skills like mine, I'd better be content to sit at a desk in Lewiston NY, far, far from the ocean.
Love you both,

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