BD Atlantic Crossing/ Ode to a Kitchen Timer – Day 2

So, Day Two is in the logbook … 282 miles so far over two days can’t be called fast progress. But, we knew from the forecasts, that these first days were going to be slow going wind-wise – but what the heck – they still count to the progress home.

Nonetheless, we’re working the game plan here. I’m motoring towards the island of Madeira now where I will refuel, and do some more weather checks. The weather pros think the winds will be filling in within 12 hours of my being ready to leave Madeira, so I may just have to spend another night in another exotic port of call before shipping out. If that forecast holds true, by Wednesday, I think I’ll be able to say I’ve no place left to stop other than the Bahamas, Florida or Charleston … which at that point will mean, I’ll REALLY be heading across the big “pond!”

Ode to the Kitchen Timer!

One thing people often ask me, is about sleeping when sailing by myself. Well, with that wonderful invention called the kitchen timer, I am able to keep myself from falling asleep for too long a period of time. Typically, we figure that the horizon is about 15 minutes away. By that we mean, at the speed we are traveling relative to the closing distance of a ship still just over the horizon (the curve of the earth) the two vessels would take about 20 minutes to cross each other. That means that any ship that I can’t see that is just over the horizon, is about 20 minutes away. So, I set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes and clip it to the collar of my shirt or coat, so it beeps me awake, at which time, I take a critical look around and if there are no shipping traffic or navigation problems, I set it for another 15 minutes and lay back down again. This works pretty well, once you get used to trusting the timer. I’ve conditioned myself now to fall asleep quickly, and I usually wake up just before the timer goes off.

Along coastal routes, the shipping lanes are pretty much predictable, but fishing boats can appear from anywhere. Once out in the open ocean, bigger ships can be going in any direction, and so more vigilance is necessary. While I only saw one ship last night, I’ve seen a dozen today heading in both directions. I suspect many of them are headed down towards the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa.

Dave's Alarm ClockThis little kitchen timer is great for many other jobs throughout the day too. The way Bodacious Dream is constructed doesn’t afford a great many visual observation points forward, so when I’m doing chores, I keep the timer going to remind me to look out every once in a while. They’re quite useful … so I always keep two of them onboard … just in case!

As far as how I keep track of time, I stay locked into Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) on the trip for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s the same time as Portugal is on, and so my watch is already set to it – and second of all, the weather forecasts come out on UTC time, so it makes it easier to keep track of them. In fact, I won’t change my watch back until I settle into a North American harbor. This might confuse some people, but it keeps me clear and consistent as to what time things are happening. The only problem is the shifting time of the sunrise and sunset … they keep arriving at odder and odder times in the day – but that gives my mind a bit of exercise in referencing what day and time it is.

Right now, it’s 16:00 UTC (4:00pm) and maybe an hour and a half until sunset. The sun sets early here and rises later than at home. Sunrise this morning wasn’t until 08:00 or so. Makes me miss the long summer days back home, when we competed in the Mackinac Races, when the sunsets and the skies didn’t go dark until 22:00 (10:00pm) – and the skies grew light again around 04:00 in the morning!

Here on the ocean this time of year in the mid-latitudes, with the sun working its way to its furthest point south, there’s a good 12 hours of darkness. It makes you have to plan ahead, what you have to do and when you plan to do it. Changing clothes for the night, for instance, is easier done when it’s still light out, as are things like preparing food. Right now, I’m having an evening cocktail hour repast of orange juice, cheese and crackers! It’s always the simple things in life that keep you going!

The only wildlife I’ve seen so far on this trip has been a few dolphins that came by to play this morning. It’s always great fun to see them. They sure do look happy swimming and jumping along with us.

So, with evening coming on, I’m going now to get things squared away on deck. With just a sliver of a moon, darkness will fall quickly … so I better get busy. Signing off for now, and many thanks for following along.

- Dave and Bodacious Dream


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