Packing for one of these sailing trips can be really complicated… or really simple if you prefer. Myself i like to do a bit of both.. and now that ive decided to finally start my blog, im definitely leaning more and more towards the complicated side.
As if being a part time doomsday prepper wasnt tricky enough.. now i have the need and desire to film the entire show from at least 2 different angles.. and describe the stench of the carnage in minute detail too.. so cameras, drones, portable keyboards for my tablet, and laptops for writing stuff all have to come with on my adventures now.
Doomsday prepper is probably too strong a description for what i am. Im not some whackjob that is gonna bury himself in a bunker underneath my garden shed everytime the 7 o’clock news comes on, but i do like to be prepared for as many likely, or unlikely scenarios as i can imagine.
Of course there is the very annoying imposition of the luggage limit, not so much for the yacht, but definitely for the domestic flight to the boat.. and of course the return flight from the Seychelles with all my trinkets, mementos, vagina shaped coconuts… and possibly a lemur or 2.
Obviously during the packing and repacking process, certain items have had to be culled.. and making the decision as to what stays and what goes has been a bit of a nightmare, and on only day 2 of our ocean crossing, i suspect im going to seriously regret at least one of these choices.
Sailing a boat across a vast expanse of sea can be so very different from the usual photos of people lounging about on yachts, soaking up rays and sipping on pino coladas.
Not that you cannot do these things as well, but you have to keep yourself focussed on the task at hand, and when there are only 2 of you on the boat, the task becomes a lot more intensive.
All skippers have a different style of sailing, with different levels of intensity required during your shift, and different styles with regards to the length of shift as well.
For example… many of the other boats i have sailed on, we have stuck to a 3 hour shift system, whereby there are 3 shifts that rotate… if there are 6 souls aboard, then there will be 2 people on duty for 3 hours.. and then 6 hours off duty while the other 2 shifts put in their time.
I have had skippers that require you to keep a vigilant lookout for every moment of your shift… and others that are content for you to sit inside the boat while the autopilot does its thing, as long as you pop your head out every 20 minutes or so to look out for other traffic.
On some boats the helm is very protected from the elements for instance… and in some other instances, like on the boat i am currently on, there is not even a small wind deflector.
You sit right atop the catamaran, entirely exposed to the elements, and elements there are aplenty… and we are expecting a lot worse to come.
The current skipper prefers that an almost constant vigil is maintained, from the helm, and that you almost keep one hand on the wheel in case the autopilot gets overwhelmed and you can quickly steer the boat manually to bring it back in line.
Its not like there is much to hit out here.. but inadvertently allowing the wind to get onto the wrong side of the boat, can swing the boom around with such force that it breaks the rigging, and in some cases, can even demast the boat.
He also prefers that we do 6 hour shifts so that in the 6 hours you are off… you can get some meaningful rest before your next 6 hour shift. This system works great for the downtime… but at 4am in the freezing cold… with 2 more hours of shift to go…. it is gonna get tough for sure.
And herein lies one of my biggest problems. Whilst packing my bags in preparation for my trip.. i soon became overloaded… and had to decide the fate of some of those items.
Eventually it got to the matter of my oilskins. These are the waterproof suits that sailors wear to keep themselves out of the elements, and it soon became a toss up between the waterproofs, my tattoo kit, or my aerial drone.
I have never been to Madagascar or the Seychelles before… and the opportunity of getting some flying footage of the islands was just too great to pass up… and my tattoo kit…. i really considered leaving it this time, but i just couldnt get myself to part with it… so foolishly i left behind one of the most important pieces of equipment a sailor carries with him.
I brought along 2 backup navigation tablets… my satellite communicator.. my laptop for editing footage.. my self inflating life jacket, a dry bag to use as an emergency grab bag in case we have to evacuate the boat in a hurry, and my own pretty comprehensive first aid kit…. but i left my waterproofs… and with the favourable winds and conditions expected to swing for the worst in the next day or 2, i suspect im going to live to regret this decision shortly.