Northern Child – Daily Log 13

By December 8, 2013 Uncategorized

Canapes handed out by Uli

Distance to go 949nm

Dstance travelled so far 2115nm

Lunch:  Beef burgers with caramelised onions (NOT HAM BURGERS)

Dinner:  Chicken curry indian style with garlic enfused chapati breads and basmati rice acomapied by mango chutney

Desert:  Choclate cake and cream (if there is any cake left)


Night Watch – From Les Chambers

An angel comes to me in my dream. “Hello Les.” The presence persists, demanding a response. “Hello,” I reply. Then it’s gone. The sound of my own voice snaps me awake. I open one eye hoping to catch a glimpse of halo and wing in the hallway but all I can see is a dim light reflecting off Matthias’ leg in the bunk opposite. Reality intrudes, I’m not in heaven but in an upper forward bunk of Northern Child on a beam reach in a rough patch of the Atlantic ocean 100 nm north west of the Cape Verde Islands – and that was no angel (in the pure biblical sense of the word that is). It was Kate, duty watch leader, rousing the off duty watchmen for their 10 pm start.

We’ve been on an uncomfortable point of sailing for three days now with angles of heel in the range 15 to 30 degrees, motivated duty watches wringing every last knot of boat speed out of Northern Child. After all this is a race. Above deck it’s exhilarating, below deck it’s hard: moving about, even thinking. Surfacing from a deep sleep I plan the exit from my upper bunk. We’re on the port tack. This is good because I’m on the starboard side where there are more flat (sort of) vertical surfaces to slide along. I throw my legs over the side, hunch over and sit up. I’m in luck Uli and Matthias have their head torches on (the angel got to them first), I can make out the hand hold to the right of my cabin door. I grab hold and drag my ass over the lee cloth, place my left foot on the edge of Jonny’s lower bunk (he’s on watch so I don’t have to worry about stepping on his face) and drop my right foot to the floor straightening up immediately and pinning my back to the edge of my upper bunk and my calves to the to the side of Jonny’s. So far so good, I’m stabilised port to starboard with the boat in a nasty 30 deg heel.

At this point I should explain the dynamics of below deck travel on a keel boat in race mode. Static heel is not the problem, it’s ballistic changes in heel angle that break body parts. It can change from 15 to 30 deg in less than a second. One moment you think you’ve got a grip and the next your anchor point is ripped out of your hand by a violent convulsion of the boat. And there is a further complication. Convulsions are not confined to roll (port to starboard rotation); climbing, surfing and falling off waves results in pitch motion (fore and aft rotation). The resultant forces can throw you in any direction without warning. Some notice from the duty watch would be nice: “Hey guys we’re about to fall off a wave,” or “Look out here comes a 30 knot gust.” But it’s not going to happen. It’s the doctrine of separation-of-concerns in action. On deck you race the boat, below deck you look after yourself. The two activities are orthogonal. As far as the duty watch is concerned there is no one below but bilge rats (the skipper is one exception, especially when cooking dinner.  Below deck the human body is therefore in thrall of a three dimensional force field varying randomly in magnitude and direction over time. Stabilization therefore requires a minimum of three hands and, given that you are often carrying something, a fourth would be good.

Stabilized in my cabin I make my first move: transit to the forward head which luckily is next door. I lean out of my cabin door and grab the hand hold above Matthias’ bunk. This allows me to heave my body into the hallway, take a quick step to the left and lean against the six inch wide strip of wall between the two doors. I plant my feet one metre apart on the opposite side of the hallway and feel the reassuring pressure of my body weight all up and down my spine. Stabilised again I pause to check head availability and to wilfully drive up my state of consciousness (I am at this point only 60 percent awake).

The head is free. I make my next move reaching through the head doorway and grabbing the handhold inside just above the wash basin with my left hand followed by a grab for the door jam with my right and a quick sidestep into the head, my left foot landing at the base of the toilet. I reflect briefly on what a great thing an operational-next-door-head is. The aft head on the port side is unserviceable due to the 30 deg heel. Sure, you could take a dump but you would not be able to pump it out of the boat. Explain that to the skipper.

I wait for a brief moment of calm, change hands on the hand hold, reach behind the door, unlatch the door keeper and slam it shut. Privacy at last. Its sublime, the single solitude possible on a 51 footer with eleven crew.  I brace my back on the forward head wall and plan the work flow for dropping my shorts.

Thumb in waist band … Ok then I’ll leave it there, for at this point I am assuming you are in need of a break. I’m happy though, I’ve progressed a full and productive metre on my journey to duty on the midnight watch.

Tune in to future blogs for tales of a night watchman’s progress including an encounter with Mr Poo and a readout on what follows when you coat the skipper’s nav station with milk soaked musley.  


Skippers notes

Please all bear in mind this is one mans view of his experience over previous days my memories of the last few days are flat sailing calm seas and glorious broadreach sailing all be it in rather light airs the afore mentioned injury in the forward heads requirred no first aid so i feel a tad of exageration maybe in the above blog but hopefully you all find it entertaining and encouraging to come along and join in the fun on this luxury sail across the pond (thats what all the salty old sea dogs call the Atlantic).

Christian’s notes:  Some people want things to happen; some people wish things would happen;  SOME PEOPLE MAKE THINGS HAPPEN – thank you Mark, excellent Skippering!  If sailing across an Ocean was easy, everyone would do it.  Those that have, know they are a select few who have endured, persevered and triumphed – all credit to those who truly DO, make things happen…….

From the crew of Northern Child, till tomorrow……