On our voyage we took our time, but still explored as much as possible. So while we had many days at anchor we were also continually moving onwards. Days when we sail are extremely different to days when we are on anchor.
Here is how these days usually go:
We often had to do long day sails to be able to get to the next safe anchorage. We were trying to cover anywhere from 30 to 60 nautical miles in a day depending on where we were. Our lovely vessel isn’t the fastest so we would have to often leave in the dark so that we could arrive in day light at these new anchorages we were going to.
The night before we set sail, we get the boat as ready as we can. That means packing away anything that can fly around the cabin when we are sailing. We also make a big meal the night before so that we have it ready for lunch and dinner the next day ( curries, pastas, lentils etc.) We set the alarm sometimes as early as 3 am and try to get an early night in before hand.
Leaving an anchorage in the dark is a bit of an eerie feeling. You have to keep reminding yourself which way is ocean and which way is land, since you can’t see anything. The chart plotter helps but it’s good to make sure you’ve got you orientation.
Base pulls up the anchor and I am on the helm. We head off. We raise the sails set our course and we are on our way. Depending on the oceans conditions really depends on how the day goes. Since it’s still a few hours before the sun rises we both stay up and keep each other company in the cockpit. Cups of tea get drunk and we get to see the beautiful sunrise over the land.
Once the sun is up we start our two hour shifts. The person off shift goes down and has a sleep and the person steering either turns on some tunes or picks up an audio book where it left off. I personally like early morning dance parties as I steer the boat, so I opt for the music. If the conditions are rough it takes all your focus and energy to keep steering the right course. If the conditions are mellow, you can sit down and steer with one hand or foot as you keep a watch of everything.
Whales, Dolphins, Manta rays, Sea Snakes are often spotted and so we keep the camera handy in the cockpit for any chance sightings. We very rarely saw other boats on our sails. Sometimes we saw ships in the very distance, but it wasn’t busy, no matter what we always kept a really good watch out.
By noon we pull out our leftovers from the meal last night for lunch and usually eat together as one person steers.
After a couple 2 hour rotations we both stay up and enjoy the beauty of day sailing. We talk sometimes about life, adventure and any other topics that tickle our fancy. Other times the ocean lures us into a comfortable silence as we both soak it all in. We can go hours with out talking out there.
There are a few books that I read out loud to Base as he steered during the trip. These were books we both wanted to read and with the time on our hands we could. One book that we got a lot out of was called ‘ Sea Sick’ by Alanna Mitchell – looking at the global health of our oceans. I couldn’t read more than a chapter before I broke down in tears each time, so it took us the full 7 month voyage to finish the book. We are so glad we read it as it has inspired us immensely to do more for our Oceans.
If we had no fish in fridge then we would trawl the line out the back and see if we were lucky enough to get some added food! And sometimes we did! Spanish Mackerel is super tasty and one often supplied us with fish for a week.
By the late afternoon we are checking how close we were to our destination, since we wanted to get there before the sun goes down. The timing of sailing plays such a crucial role to safety and I am pretty lucky that Base is a great navigator and always got us to our next destination before dark.
Besides steering and sleeping these day sails give you so much time to just be. You can’t do much else. I would try writing since my day dreams lead to some great ideas that I would want to get down on paper, but the rolling of the swell lead to some pretty illegible journal entries. ha.
The feeling of getting to your new anchorage and dropping the pick, is one the best parts of cruising. A new place to explore, discover and enjoy. We would crack a celebratory beer on sunset, have dinner and usually call it a day early so we could get up and go on an adventure in the morning.
If we were sailing to an anchorage that we couldn’t reach within a day sail, we would go through the night.
Night sailing is whole other kettle of fish. It took me a while to embrace night sailing and there are still times when I get spine tingles thinking about the dark nights and ocean depths beneath our boat. You can read all about my description of Night Sailing here.