At around 1030 AM today (Saturday) PRIDE is sailing out of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay with a light NE’rly breeze and small sea swell. Sky party cloudy. Temperatures still cool, but not as cold as yesterday.
Looking forward weather forecasting indicates a disturbance passing Cape Hatteras tonight. Winds from all directions as it passes by…somewhat quickly. Between Virginia Beach and Hatteras is forecast a bit of a boundary between the passing disturbance passing Hatteras and the end of the high pressure that came in yesterday. Forecasting indicates Sunday the disturbance continuing eastward to sea with another cold front passing over…that ought to bring NW-N-NE (favorable) winds of moderate strength for going around Hatteras. So we are not especially in a hurry to reach Hatteras. It would not do to get caught up in the passing disturbance.
Looking behind us we had an easy and steady slide down the Chesapeake Bay that started with fresh NW’rly winds softening late in the day and veering to N & NE. This morning we set the mainsail at breakfast time and passed through the north gap in the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel Bridge and pointed out toward the off shore areas of the Virginia shore south of Cape Henry.
The moderate and steady conditions last night have permitted us to keep steady progress towards Savannah in comfortable sea conditions giving time for crew acclimation to overnight procedures as well gain some rest. Sailing can be exhausting. This comes about most often with rapidly changing weather and lively sea conditions. Steady, moderate wind conditions with relatively smooth seas means the watch cycles go through 4 hour changes without having to disturb the “stand-by” watch to get needed manpower for sail handling. Not calling the stand-by watch means they can accumulate as much as 16 hours of off watch time in a 24 hour day. Several days in a row of such conditions can result in a tiredness of being rested…if you can imagine such a circumstance. Shore life provides lots of distraction for those with a lot of personal time. Shipboard life offers only life in your bunk or maybe back on deck or maybe the main saloon settee. Books and hobbies and more sleep…but no chance to run out to “town” or other away from home distractions. Aboard, you live and work in the same physical space. Coming after a long duration in port with full seven day a week work days of 8-10…maybe even 12 hour work days with shore life not far away…even if one got a day off maybe once every week or two…having no distractions while living aboard offers the first chance for this crew to catch up on rest in a very long time.
Even when sailing is lively and tiring, the regular routine with few external distractions can be a form of mental rest. Work is not usually long hours in a row. Watches are 4 hours long. Then 4 hours of rest. Then 4 hours of maybe rest…but maybe come up and help for short durations. The cycle repeats every 12 hours. The routine can be restful for its regularity and lack of distractions. Come Savannah there won’t be any rest. Lots of public visiting aboard, maybe in the evenings as well. But when time off does come around…maybe a day off as well…what would you do after a long day of work in Savannah…sleep? By the time PRIDE departs Savannah the crew will probably be glad for the isolation of being at sea as a means to catch up on their rest…until the next port.
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II