Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 15 to FP - The Nightshift

Time: 2330UTC, COG 245T, SOG 5.0kts, Distance Remaining: 785nm

Mark and I take six hour shifts at night. Six hours of sitting in the dark
is a long time. The trick is to turn this big chunk of the day into an
entertaining, fun-filled affair. You want the shift to be enjoyable, maybe
even a bit productive. It is personal time you miss out on during the hours
of daylight, because you feel tired then and there are other tasks to
perform. You want half of that night to represent part of your normal day; a
bit like having a job at night instead of during the day. Being able to keep
your eyes open is key.

It is not easy to accomplish this goal, being used to the "normal"
be-awake-during-the-day, sleep-at-night kind of life. While Mark adjusted a
bit better and quicker (which might have to do with him having the first
shift from 18:30 to 00:30), reading and watching movies along with being on
duty, it took me a good week to utilize my night watch "actively". The first
week, my six dark hours consisted of watching the instruments, nodding off,
checking the clock, watching the instruments, scanning the horizon, gazing
at the stars, nodding off, turning on the radar, looking at the horizon,
nodding off... Even though night and day in the tropics theoretically are
the same length (12 hours), it feels like the days go by much quicker than
the nights. 6:30pm is always right around the corner, while 6:30am is miles

Week 2 brought some more enjoyable and interesting moments, turning the
night watch into a somewhat useful and memorable era of my life. The first
half of my shift was filled with writing, reading or watching movies on the
tablet (of course doing the necessary other watching and staring in
between), while only the last three hours of the shift were a repeat of the
first week. Of course, all this is void during squally nights or periods of
finicky winds, when the mind and body are on high alert.

Maybe week 3 will produce busy, entertaining, fully occupied night shifts,
becoming the most enjoyable part of the day, where 6:30am arrives quickly
and where 6:30pm just lingers in the distance?

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