All at Sea – Night Time

2160 ish miles and roughly 14 days at sea to go before we reach Granada…
Three hours on, three hours off, night watch. My night watch hours are midnight till 3am and 6am till 9am. I really struggle getting up for the 6am watch.

Night Time Off Watch – Sleep
Off watch I try to sleep – I go to bed early at sea, by 9pm or earlier. Our usually luxurious (for a boat) king sized bed has been altered for sea. The matrices unzipped and a board secured the length of the bed between them to stop me rolling and sliding the whole width of the bed with every wave that passes beneath the boat. Still, sleeping on passage the first couple of nights I do not find easy. The berth is still quite wide, so I pack it out with pillows – one at my back, one cuddling into my stomach. Even packed out like this I still roll and slide a bit with every wave and have to sleep curled up in the foetal position with knees and feet wedged against the Lee boards either side of me, or the recovery position to try to anchor myself. The boat rolls from side to side and sometimes up and down too with a horrible corkscrew motion – my legs leave the bed at regular intervals as we come down off a wave, jolting me out of my light sleep or preventing me dropping off. Sleep disappointingly does not come in a big three hour chunk, it come in fleeting stops and starts and less so when I get annoyed that I can’t drop off. Eventually I’m so cross that I can’t sleep that I’m wishing my precious ‘off watch’ away, too stubborn to just get up, and longing for William to come and give me a shake for my turn to sit in the dark cockpit, looking out for ships – it is a relief when he does – although I am always surprised when he shakes me, maybe I did drop off after all…give it a couple of days of this tedious non sleeping and I know I’ll be so tired I’ll sleep like a baby.

On Night Watch.
It might be hideous o’clock, but this is my Me Time. I do not have to be that chameleonic character of the wakeful hours. William wakes me and hands me a cup of caffeinated earl grey tea (rationed strictly to night watch – it’s running out!) in my travel mug – my drink and cup of choice at midnight when I need a little help to wake up. This is our routine, when I wake Will in three hours time I’ll hand him a cup of coffee in a robust china mug – his drink and cup of choice. It’s not every boat though that has to warn it’s on coming watch of the dangers of My Little Pony’s scattered on the floor just where we step out of bed – the four year old has no concept of ‘Stowing for Sea’!
I sit and sip my tea, plugged into one of the many, many podcasts I downloaded before we set sail on this passage. I love a podcast to wake up to on night watch – my iPad is at its storage capacity with podcasts galore. I have various BBC ones; Desert Island Discs, Women’s Hour and Late Night Women’s Hour, The Documentary, Friday Night Comedy, Clair Baldings Ramblings, Comedy of the Week and some others; Boat radio, On the Wind Sailing and my laugh out loud guilty pleasure podcast – Scummy Mummy’s (they’re pretty potty mouthed, but hilarious). If anyone can recommend any other podcasts please do let me know – I’m addicted from midnight till 3am!
After tea and a podcast or two I’m awake enough to try and do a bit of writing – most of the blog has been written between 12-3am. During the day time the ‘Cockpit Kids’ are too demanding of time and attention to bother trying to write a single whole sentence without several interruptions – but in the dark, my time is my own.
When I’ve come to a natural pause in the writing (one finger iPad typing!) I try to do some yoga. Usually ashore I’d swim and jog two or three times a week – but that has been hard recently. I wasn’t comfortable enough in the Cape Verde to go running alone and I feel very sedentary and sluggish right now, and after the rogue wildlife incident (aka massive shark – see previous blog post ‘Close Encounters of the Animal Kind’) swimming hasn’t been quite so appealing – so some boat yoga it is. It’s Really quite a challenge at sea – I only attempt the seated poses, anything else would be asking for injury, and even then I can’t stop myself chuckling at the ridiculousness of doing this on a boat rocking violently from side to side! – whoever invented the ‘Full Boat Pose’ clearly had never set foot on any such vessel – I find myself perched on my behind, legs raised up strait in front of me (or attempting to) sliding from one side if the saloon floor to the other and back again and I find myself idly wondering if Davina Macall would be interested in making a boat fitness video?
I might plug into our ancient iPod and listen to some tunes from a previous life – but I have to be in the right mood for this, listening to music seems to throw me back in time and I end up thinking a lot about my late sister…I often avoid music because of this, but alone in the dark at sea is a safe place for me to indulge in some home styled music therapy.


I save reading whatever book I’ve got on go the till my 6am morning watch – it’s hell getting up at that time but after the first hour it’s light enough to read and then the kids will be up wanting breakfast before I wake William at 9am and then I crawl back into bed for another hour or two before the day really starts.

Postscript – We’ve arrived in Grenada after 14.5 days at sea! What a relief…

3 thoughts on “All at Sea – Night Time”

  1. Wow, that is certainly some routine. And here we are most last lubbers, I think that’s a word, dealing with a mere 8 hour day, and generally at least 6-8 hours sleep. I Hope you get plenty of rest when and if you can.
    You do seem to have a knack with words Alyssa, I do enjoy reading your blogs.
    I’m not great at keeping up correspondence, but I hope I will makes some responses to your blogs, that you might enjoy reading.
    As I think I mentioned before, I’m going to Dave Grists dinning out 24th Feb, it’s a surprise for him, and there will be a few of us oldies who will be there. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the old crowd.
    The following weekend is the 15 year Iraq reunion in York. Looking forward to seeing old faces again.
    I hope to tell you more of the occasions, if you want to know.
    I will sign off for now, Take care.
    Tina xx

    1. Hi Tina! It’s always really nice to hear that people actually enjoy my ramblings! I enjoy writing them so it’s all good! Can’t believe it’s 15 years since we returned from Iraq – I am very sad to miss the reunion, I’m sure it will be a lot of fun and probably a little messy too! You must give me the low down afterwards! And I think us girls should have our own reunion when I’m back later in the year! Xx

  2. Dear Alyssa, Will and girls,
    congratulations for making it to Grenada!
    And thanks for letting us share your night watches and everything else on your blog. I also need some exercise and yoga when we are on passage and I know exactly how ridiculous it can look trying to keep up a pose. Good to do it at night with only the moon and the odd dolphin watching…
    Have a great time in the Caribbean!
    Lots of love
    Rita and Walter

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