Friday, 14 August 2015

A Day off and Dolphins

Many non-sailors believe that life on a sailboat is a floating vacation.  That may be true if you’re only going out for a week or so, but when you’re living aboard permanently for several months, there’s a lot of work to be done to keep your floating home afloat. 

The only good thing about early morning departures is an increased chance of having dolphins come play in your bow wake.
The first day in port typically involves basic boat maintenance and food shopping.  Once you’ve tied the boat up, the first thing to do is EAT.  After a 6 – 9 hour passage, you’ve probably skimped on at least one meal.  The inside of the boat is a wreck:  your sailing gear (boots, vests, life jackets, gloves, etc.) is thrown off where ever you can find space, and everything that wasn’t firmly secured before heading out (which is nearly everything since you weren’t expecting the rough conditions you had) has found its way onto the floor during all those tacks.  You push everything aside to create a space to sit and eat something fast and comforting: spaghetti, soup, leftovers. 

Now with a sigh, you divide and conquer: one person outside, one person inside.  Depending on the weather and sea conditions you just came through, you’ll probably need to hose down the boat to rinse off the salt.  Yes, sailboats are made to sail in salt water but all those metal fittings, anchor, chain, pulleys and hardware – even stainless steel (I scoff at the term) – need to be rinsed or they won’t last very long.  And while you’ve got the hose out, you may as well fill up the water tanks (and it takes awhile to load 330 liters with a garden hose).  To finish, you’ve got to secure all the halyards for the night so that they don’t clang against the mast when the wind kicks up at 2 a.m. 

You have to be going at least 5 knots or they aren't interested in you.

Now that the boat is in good shape, it’s time to think about personal hygiene.  You are salty, sticky, and you are beginning to smell like a cheese shop.  Off to the port office and public showers.  Yes, we have a shower on the boat and I do quite like using it except that you have to thoroughly wipe down and dry the whole bathroom compartment afterwards.  It seems like too much work after a long day, so you break down and go to the public showers, where you can be sure that the water will only be warm enough to avoid outright complaints but not warm enough to take away the chill you developed while sailing. 

So now the boat is clean and you are clean.  But you are getting hungry again and there’s nothing for dinner.  Off to the town to scavenge.  We usually find a bakery for bread and, if we’re lucky, a butcher shop and a small corner store for fruit and vegetables.  Sometimes we just get a take-out pizza.  If there’s a big grocery store within walking distance we’ll take our biggest backpacks and baskets and haul a big load back to store up for several days.

In the meantime, you’ve seen a little bit of the town and maybe a few little things that look interesting to explore.  Tomorrow.  It’s getting late and you’re tired and hungry.  Over dinner, you talk over the question:  “So, do we head out tomorrow or stay another day?”  A quick check of the weather and the currents tell you if it’s even possible, and then you have to ask yourselves if you WANT to leave so soon. 

These guys frolicked along with us for about 20 minutes before spotting a slow-moving fisherman with holes in his nets.

A day off (or two) is needed.  First of all, you haven’t visited the village / town at all, and isn’t that why you’re traveling in the first place? Secondly, it’s important to have a true down day from time to time, where you wake up in the morning with absolutely nothing urgent demanding your attention.  Those are few and far between, but oh so appreciated. Sometimes if the weather window is very narrow, your choices are either to leave the next day or to stay in port for days and days waiting for the next opportunity.

Today is one of those days.  See?  I’m posting photos and blogging !  I’ve skyped with my family.  The boat is clean, fully stocked with food and we’re just kicking back !  Very very necessary.  


Astrolabe Sailing said...

Lovely dolphin photos!