Sierra in the water at Millineum Atoll working
(photo by R. Dunbar)
“Sleep” is really such an overrated luxury. People can survive just fine on two naps a day, right? And don’t think that you need it just because you’ve been awake for 22 hours and on your feet for five and a half hours, or because you’re running to strike a sail you set a couple hours ago and you keep dozing off while collecting pH samples. This is all character-building.
2. Embrace sweating.
Sweating has two meanings on a tall ship. One is sweating a line, which means pulling extra inches out of a line (rope) that has nearly been pulled as tight as it can go. Doing it well can require about three people. Embrace it. Love it. The other kind of sweating is more familiar to people ashore, except that the variety here is the kind that pours into your eyes and nose while checking the engine. It’s the kind that comes back five minutes after a shower, that clings tenderly to your back and shoulders no matter what time of the day or night you wake up. After all, the lowest temperature of the entire trip has been in the low 80s so far, in the dead of night.
3. Shower every day.
This one is related to #2, and seems pretty straightforward. But it’s easy to skip a day, especially when trying to maximize your naptime. Don’t do it. One day you’re getting a whole 15 minutes extra sleep, and the next day you’re yanking on the clumped, salty knot of your hair as you attempt to brush it. And it’s easier on the other 36 people you live with if everyone tries to follow this rule.
There’s no better time than 4AM when you’re on lookout to discover your long hidden talent of belting out songs from the sixties. Or when you’re surrounded by about ten people playing ukuleles, guitars, harmonicas, trumpets, violins, and drums as the sun sets. Or really any time at all. If singing isn’t your cup of tea, try humming. It goes a long way towards keeping you entertained and relaxed.
5. Find private time.
Climb the mast and watch the sun rising. Write in your journal on the headrig, the netting at the bow of the ship, while some flying fish zoom by underneath you. Take thirty seconds to lean over the rail at night (clipped in of course), and watch how the bioluminescence in the boat’s bow-wave looks like the Milky Way has been poured into the sea. You’re never really alone aboard the Seaman’s, but taking some alone time will keep you excited and ready for each new day.