Waterlines: A Day on Passage

Why is my family instantly starving the moment we head out to sea? Erik claims it is brought on by boredom, but honestly! We left the anchorage just six minutes ago.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
The author’s family, sailing through the lagoon into New Caledonia

The author’s family, sailing through the lagoon into New Caledonia

“Sails prepped?”

“Mizzen, main and jib are ready to go.”

“Ready on the windlass?” “Ready.”

“Have you taken your meclozine hydrochloride?”

“Seasickness pills taken, captain.”

“Then let’s sail.”

As we turn away from land, I secure the anchor for passage. I have hardly put a toe in the cockpit when the first request comes.

“Mom, I’m hungry.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Why is my family instantly starving the moment we head out to sea? Erik claims it is brought on by boredom, but honestly! We left the anchorage just six minutes ago.

I grab a bag of cookies and dole them out to the ravenous hordes. I have learned the hard way to prep four days of meals and treats before we go on passage. Until my seasickness fades on Day 5, I don’t dare spend time below cooking.

By now everyone has settled into their favorite spot. I sit in the cockpit and watch a flock of birds fishing to starboard. Martha makes a nest of blankets and settles in to read. Audrey plays with Legos in the saloon.

Erik, who pretends to relax on passage with a book, adjusts lines. He eases the jib an inch. Then he brings it in an inch. Then eases it out again, maybe 7/8in. “I think that gained us a quarter knot,” he reports with satisfaction. Three minutes later, he is back to his fiddling.

Soon we have lost sight of land, and the water is a deep indigo. The salty breeze blows through the cockpit. Before long, Martha cries, “Dolphins!” and everyone scrambles into their offshore life jackets, clips into the jacklines and hurries on deck. A pod of 30 dolphins settles around the bow, easily matching our 7 knots. As we watch them dive and play, I remember to scan the horizon now and then. It would be poor form to get run over by a container ship while goggling a bunch of marine mammals.

After that, everyone needs another snack before we start school. Martha tackles some long division, while Audrey practices writing her lower-case k.

A bowl of chili, a slice of cake and endless crackers-with-butter later, everyone settles into the cockpit to listen to a book as the sun goes down in the west. Sometimes we turn on an audiobook. Sometimes Erik and I read. It occurs to me the girls could now share the reading duties, too. It is hard to believe Audrey was barely a toddler when we started out.

Later I tuck Audrey into bed, leaving Martha to help her dad begin the first night watch. I close my eyes, and before I know it Erik is gently shaking my shoulder. “Amy. Time to get up. Your turn.”

Already? Erik is halfway into his pajamas, though, so I guess it’s true. “Nothing to report,” he says. “We passed a cargo ship earlier, but no issues. Sky looks clear. We have 17 knots on the port quarter, so we’re in good shape.”

I climb into the cockpit and do a scan. Erik wasn’t kidding about the clear sky: the Milky Way is putting on a good show tonight. I find the Southern Cross and Alpha Centauri as I start working my way around the constellations I know. Before I get too absorbed, I set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes to make sure I remember to watch the horizon, too.

Four hours later, it is my turn to wake Erik. I fill in my log entry and work my way to our cabin. “Erik, you’re up. The wind dropped a little and shifted south, but we’re still on a good course.”

When the sun rises, a small hand pats my face. “Mom. Wake up, Mom. It’s time to make me breakfast.” Audrey disappears again as I open an eye.

I start a pot of tea and give Erik a wave. “Did she wake you?” he asks. “I’ve fed her once already.”

“You know Audrey. The sun is up, so everyone should be up,” I say, as I set up the SSB to receive a weatherfax and then escape to the comfort of the cockpit.

Her hunger forgotten, Audrey is back at her early morning station: the bow. She clears the flying fish from the scuppers, grasps a stanchion and revels in every dip of the bow, every bit of sea spray in her face.

A short while later, Martha emerges from below and pushes between Erik and me.

“Morning, honey.”

“Morning. Mom, I’m—”

“Hungry, I know.”

By the time I’ve prepared breakfast, everyone is seated at the cockpit table, ready to dig in. Audrey gives her report on current sea conditions, Martha tells us about the book she is reading, and Erik abandons his breakfast for a moment to—you guessed it—adjust a line.

As for me, I think about how much I like being on passage with my family. A little seasickness is a small price to pay.

Related

101218BTSC-9887

Just Launched: Little Big Boat

Peter Nielsen looks at Beneteau’s latest entry-level boat and a new cruiser from Tartan Group Beneteau’s commitment to entry-level boats has been reaffirmed over the last year with the assimilation of the sporty Seascape line of pocket cruisers and the ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more