We get many questions about our 2850 nautical miles long Atlantic Ocean crossing which started from Las Palmas, took 21 days and ended in Antigua and Barbuda. “How were your days passing on the boat?”, “What were you doing on the boat?”, “What did you eat and drink?”, “What did you cook?”, “Did you catch many fishes?”, and so on. So I decided to share my experiences about our daily life experience on the boat which also answers a lot of these questions
Our boat’s route was from east to west and we were passing the time zones. Every day we meet sunrise and sunset at different times. Sometimes when we wake up, sun was not up yet.
Our skipper Thomas and his engineer friend Matthias generally kept the night watches. During the night watches, my sister (which also was sailing with me) and I stayed and accompanied them until about 3 or 4 AM. In mornings the one who slept and woke up early took over the watch from the one who kept night watch. The first thing we asked in morning was “Do you want a coffee or breakfast?“ The one who kept night watch generally prefers to drink a hot coffee and go to bed to sleep.
The first work we did on every morning was pulling water from sea with bucket and washing the cockpit. Then taking our coffee with milk or just milk and biscuits and having our breakfast in the silence and freshness. It was a really nice way to start a day while watching the sun rise and having a light breakfast.
When the first person woke up around noon, we were preparing the breakfast. Our breakfast consisted from cheese, butter, bread and sometimes eggs.
After 12:00 the generator was on and it was time for us to turn on vacuum cleaner. Our boat was very well equipped and we were using vacuum cleaner almost every day. While one was vacuuming dusts on the floor, the other was shaking out the rugs. Then we were wiping the floors. Thomas and Matthias were using tobacco to roll their own cigarettes so that small piece of tobacco was flying to every part of the cockpit and the deck. So we had to swipe the mess everyday. Thank god there was not much dust in the ocean. Just in the first week, when we woke up in the morning due to an air flow from the Sahara (desert part of north of Africa), the cockpit was covered with a thin layer of sandy soil. Of course we had to wash and wipe the cockpit many times to get rid of the sand.
After cleaning time around 2 or 3 pm, according the hunger level of us and our mood, we were preparing the lunch. Unfortunately there were no meat products left because our fridge was broken on 4th day and we had thrown all ruined meat to sea. That’s why we were having meals that usually consisted from vegetables and canned food. Sometimes we skipped the lunch.
In the afternoon the sun was getting high and the weather was getting hot. My sister and I were sitting on the side of boat where shades of mainsail come and reading a book or just staring waves or touching the cold waters of ocean by our feet. In a hot sunny day you wish to jump into sea and swim but it wasn’t possible. So we were comforting ourselves by playing with waves.
Sometimes our boat was accompanied by flock of dolphins. Their company put a big smile on our faces. We were asked if we saw any whales but unfortunately we weren’t that much lucky. Another boat Makara which left Las Palmas a few days later than us met a whale and was followed by that whale for two days. How lucky they were. But occasionally we saw some flying fishes. Unfortunately, sometimes flying fishes were hitting the boat at night and dying. We only were throwing dead fishes to the sea and cleaning up its sticky flakes in the mornings.
The afternoon was also cleaning time for ourselves. We turn the generator on to produce electricity and to heat our water. Everyday two people were taking a shower when the hot water is ready. We had a water maker that produces fresh water from sea water so we could take shower with fresh water. We were washing our laundries by our hands after shower. We got used to washing and wearing the same clothes cause we didn’t have many clothes with us. In fact, our clothes were ripped off by wearing the same clothes almost everyday and we throw them away later. But Matthias, the engineer preferred to sew the holes of his old dingy short.
Almost everyday Matthias was checking the engine, pumps, water maker, generator and other technical devices on the boat and fixing them if it is necessary. It is a vital and important thing to have a crew member on the boat who understands technical and mechanical things.
The only time we ate and sit together was diner time . At dinner we usually did not have a rich menu. Most of the time the pasta with sauce and some canned food were our meals for diner. We were eating our food from a deep salad bowl because it’s much easier to eat from a deep bowl because the boat is always swinging. Some evenings we were sitting around the dinner table and eating together and watching a movie or sometimes we were eating on the cockpit and listening to music. Of course, every time we had an eye on the navigation system screens.
The night watch between 2 and 6 AM generally was taken by Matthias. So he was sleeping a few hours before the night. We were accompanying Thomas during his watch. Sometimes Thomas was taking naps during his watch. My sister and I were keeping an eye on the boat and waking up Thomas in an unexpected and unusual situation.
Our days on the boat were usually the same, quiet and restful. We didn’t face any storm, strong winds and big waves like many people expected. On the contrary we didn’t have enough strong wind so we had to use our motor to move on. My sister, Didem, and I spent our time with cleaning, cooking, reading, writing our diaries, observing the sky and ocean. In last week they setup a fishing rod at the end of boat. The only excitements we had was the voice of the fishing road. We got the prizes of running to the fishing road by catching Blue Merlin and Mai Mai.