There’s more sheep in the paddock! Yells Sharon.
Ami bears away five degrees and Lucy eases the kite.
Sharon is speaking New Zealander for the little white peaks to waves that appear when the wind is over 15 knots. You might also hear them called white caps, or white horses – depending on if you’re getting a translation from the Americans or Brits on board.
Our differences in language between our international crew keep us laughing, scratching our heads, and even inventing new phrases when the mood is right. Sharon’s version gives Lucy and I a chuckle so we keep talking about the quantity of sheep around us long after Sharon goes off watch.
We differ as well with how we handle sleep. Our daily routine is probably different from yours in that we are living 4 hours at a time. Our eyes open to a crew member waking us. If you’re me, you stumble out of bed to add a fleece or change a base layer. (I’m not much of a morning person!) We ask to be woken up at a time that allows us to dress and be alert by the time we get on deck. This ranges from 15 to 30 minutes depending on the person unless we need a reef or sail change, in which case it’s as little as 60 seconds to get your life jacket on and get on deck!
Despite living each day in short segments of time, on dark night watches I watch the brilliant stars and reflect on a larger time scale. It’s incredible that what we observe in the night sky is often ancient history: Most stars are so far away that due to the time it takes for their light to reach our naked eyes, we only see them thousands of years after they exist. In the face of that larger scale, time then seems even more arbitrary – almost irrelevant when all that matters is your four hour slices of life and keeping Maiden sailing along in the right direction.
That feeling of time being arbitrary is heightened by how we are handling the changes in time zones on this passage. We started the trip with our ship’s clock set for Palma, Mallorca, which is UTC +2. As we travel west the sun is rising and setting later every day. Rather than change the ship’s clock halfway we are keeping Palma time for the duration of the journey. That means that now, as we approach Miami, the sun sets at midnight and rises at noon! What started as my dark night shift is now light until the sun sets in the last hour. My sunrise shift is now a graveyard shift with a bit of moonlight for relief to help us look for clouds and gusts. It feels a bit like being in a Nordic country – so with some imagination we are traveling through time and space on this passage.