We are organized into three teams and we rotate on a four hour schedule that ensures that our daily life runs smoothly. In addition to the scientific data collection, we take turns cooking and cleaning, help out with the sailing, and also take part in night watches (midnight to 4am, 4am to 8am). The hustle and bustle contributes to the deepening of our friendships and in spite of the pace there is still room for discussions both serious and silly (ie lengthy night watch conversations which consist of ‘Would you rather…’ scenarios, in addition to charades!). We have enjoyed some dolphins alongside our boat and also regular appearances by flying fish, many of which unfortunately end up stranded on our deck and remain undiscovered until morning…
From day 1 we are taught how to use the winches and to help adjust the sails, we also get to experience the helm, and complete log book entries describing the sailing conditions. Only a few of the ladies aside from the professional crew have sailing experience, for the rest of us it is a steep learning curve to grasp the basics on top of the rest of the exciting activities we get to engage in.
It has become immediately obvious that this crew is a very talented and perhaps somewhat competitive bunch! I cannot complain about the result of this, especially when it comes to our meals which by my standards when doing outdoor activities, could only be characterized as gourmet. We are fortunate to have a healthy supply of fruits and vegetables on board, and while breakfasts are fairly standard (Cheerios are my go-to!), lunches and dinners tend to be more elaborate, consisting of dals, curries, risotto and other tasty options. I have suggested that eXXpedition produce a cook book filled with the best recipes from the various legs, which would be an unanticipated but exciting additional outcome of this endeavor!
One of the most challenging aspects of life on board (for me at least) relates to the heat; trying to cook and sleep can be tough enough as the boat sways back and forth, but it can be especially difficult if like me you prefer -30 to 30 degrees! On some days it feels like we approach 40 degrees down below and this has resulted in some nausea. A few of the ladies have suffered with sea sickness, but there hasn’t been any heaving over the side of the boat. I was concerned about this initially, but after day 1 of experiencing drowsiness due to the meds, decided to forego them in order to feel fully alert. Thankfully my stomach has been able to cope!
Stay tuned for the next posts which will describe the crew and their backgrounds, as well as some of the exciting scientific studies we have been collecting data for!