Nearly every time I volunteer to join the crew for a delivery, I wonder why. The schedule is always tight, the food too often mediocre, and the crew, on rare occasion, at odds with one another. A handful of my delivery adventures required a flight to meet the boat, but even long before the stress of heightened security post 9/11/2001, traveling by air set my biorhythms askew. I’d land, catch a taxi to the boat, stow my gear and we’d cast off — no time to rest and adapt — so I’d spend the first 24 to 36 hours of the passage seasick. I’m proud to say, though, that the mal de mare never kept me from my duties.
My most recent delivery was the best. It originated in my hometown of Newport, Rhode Island. The crew of four — friends all — spent the night before aboard the 65-foot sailing yacht, which helped my biorhythms get used to the idea of being at sea for 25 hours.
We cast off the mooring at 0430 and motorsailed northeastward at 7 knots in less than 5 knots of wind and surprisingly rolly beam seas. During the first hour, we established a watch schedule — of sorts. The owner/skipper would cook and navigate, and the remaining three crew would stand three-hour watches for the duration of the passage to Thomaston, Maine, after we cleared the Cape Cod Canal.
Like school children, who frequently don’t know when to get out of the rain, all of us stayed awake and on deck far too long. I, for one, love being at sea and didn’t want to miss anything. All of us enjoyed chatting with one another; touching on politics, the state of the economy, boats and how to market them to the background music from the diesel auxiliary. A couple of times in the Gulf of Maine, the wind kicked up enough to let us shut down the engine, which is the most satisfying part of sailing.
Aside from a scare about how many gallons of diesel remained in the tanks, the passage was uneventful, but very tiring because we blew the watch schedule. SIGH.
Maybe the next time I have the chance to crew for a delivery, I’ll have the sense to say, “no” — or not.