Life and routine on board

Our day is split into watches which means that the day is split 6am to noon and noon to 1800h. During the night from 18h to 22h then 22h to 0200 and from then until 0600h.

Crew must be on deck ten minutes before the watch officially starts for a full watch handover. This entails finding out what happened during the watch, what sails you’re flying as well as which winch is being used and with which sheet (rope attached to the bottom of the sail) or halyard ( the rope that you use to hoist a sail). Plus finding out whether anything was discovered during the deck; safety and chafe checks.

Today I am off watch 6-noon will be on deck this afternoon, sleep 18-22 then be up for the next four hours. And tomorrow it’ll be the opposite in that at 6 am tomorrow I’ll be on watch.

For the 6 am/pm and noon watches we’re woken up 45 minutes before the watch so that you can eat before going to work or just as you come off watch.  For the others it’s just a half hour call to be on deck in 20 minutes.

Good job there’s no hair styling to be done nor any great decisions about what to wear!

Mother watch is something different altogether.  If you happen to be on the 2 am watch then you’ll find yourself bread making and, when you have water that’s not rationed , making copious cups of tea; coffee or hot chocolate.


You wake up the off watch at 515am. With breakfast ready for them as they appear in the galley/saloon area in various stages of awakeness.
We have quite a few Italians on this leg and enjoy proper espresso coffee each morning. The glorious smell of freshly brewed coffee is heavenly.

Lots of washing up followed by a quick preparation of lunch and hopefully a few hours power nap before lunch.
Once lunch is served another major wash up and onto preparing dinner which has to be ready for 1730h. Occasionally what was going to be something vaguely yummy turns into a lukewarm plate with only a vague resemblance of its originally intended state.  All this depends on weather and in particular, sail changes.

We often have 1730 to 1830 eating as a full crew which is good fun with silly games or quizzes as well as an update as to how we are performing in the race.

If you started mother duties at 2 am then you have the chance of going to bed after dinner and waking up at 6 am for your watch, if you were on mother watch from 5 am you are lucky enough to be off until the following day at noon.

I had a vague idea that mother watch was some kind of rest day…….doh! Give me a dozen headsail changes any day.


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