Monday, June 1, 2009

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream…

One aspect of cruising that differs from short-term anchoring out is sleep. Pre-cruise, when we would decide to get off the dock and go anchor out for a weekend, we started with two basic criteria—good weather and a protected anchorage—and we slept like babies. Cruising is different in that you can’t always avoid inclement weather, and a perfect anchorage isn’t always available. Instead, you adapt your sleep patterns to the circumstances.

Rather quickly, you become attuned to your boat’s noises and movement, and when it changes, you wake up. This is good when you can deal with a problem as it arises, if necessary. This is bad when the weather conditions are variable but benevolent, and you still wake whenever the boat shifts a different way. But you get used to it, and the benefit of full-time cruising is that you can nap off the deficit the next day (Note: This is an old picture of Chris and Spooky napping. Spooky is no longer with us, and we have new upholstery, but Chris still looks pretty much the same.)

The ultimate example in adapting sleep patterns is making an overnight or multiple-day passage. Someone has to be on watch all the time. This doesn’t necessarily mean on the wheel steering; we use our autopilot (nicknamed Sinbad, because it’s made by Simrad, and one of Anne’s favorite movies is The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad [not the Golden Voyage of Sinbad, that one was pretty bad]). During the day it’s relatively easy to keep watch, since visibility is usually many miles, and both of us are up and about. But after dinner, Chris heads to grab some shut-eye while Anne keeps watch. By 10:00 PM or 11:00 PM, Anne wakes Chris and she goes to bed. When Chris tires, usually between 3:00 AM and 4:00 AM, he racks Anne out of the sack to take the dawn watch (which she loves to have, being a morning person). Both of us catch naps during the day. This is our personal schedule, and other cruisers have their own schedules. We have no idea how single-handing sailors keep a sleep schedule, and we have no desire to try it.

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