Feb. 3, 2008
By Ken Krayeske • 12:00 PM EST
Gavin the deckie displays the two essential tools of the trade, a chamois and a 'tude.
Midnight – Report to the bridge for four hours of watch duty. We've been on delivery for three days now. We should arrive at our destination by 10 a.m.
1 a.m. – Perform a visual engine room check, on the odd hours. On the even hours, we do a written engine room check.
Walk down two flights of stairs from the bridge to the engine room, swing open a massive 150-lb watertight door and inspect the engine's health. Look at the engine oil pressure gauges, the fuel level in the day tank, the fuel centrifuge that primes the engines, and the stabilizer, which prevents us from rolling left to right too much. Finally, make sure the blowers are feeding fresh air into the engine room, and take a second to check the generator is running.
If anything is amiss, contact the engineer immediately. Usually, it is fine because the engineer is on the ball.
2 a.m. –Watch partners change. Our captain has instituted staggered watches, so for the first two hours, we have one watch partner, and the second two hours, we have another. It makes it interesting conversation wise. Everyone has two four-hour watches daily while on delivery. Mine were 12 to 4, midnight and noon.
2:10 a.m. – Spot a weird dot on the radar on that is not on the AIS, the satellite-based ship's registry that inputs vessel course and heading data into our navigation software, Nobeltec. It is run on a normal p.c., but the screen sits mounted into the control panels of the ship, and at night, to preserve a sailor's night vision, the screen turns red.
2:15 a.m. – Start scanning the horizon with binoculars to find the mystery vessel, which we bet is a fishing boat.
2:25 a.m. – See the lights of the ship on the horizon, and realize that the two white lights mean that it is a fishing boat, which we had assumed.
2:45 a.m. – Change course of the boat by 10 degrees to starboard (right) side because of the fishing boat moving at about 2 knots an hour. In the rules of the sea, an oncoming vessel has to avoid the fishing boat.
4 a.m. – Relieved by crew member for watch. Go below to the crew mess, relax for a minute. Or maybe just brush and floss and go straight to bed.
7 a.m. – Wake up because we are heading into port. Wear good shorts and boat polo shirt. It is a general rule that no matter how bad the delivery was, come into port looking good. Grab a quick snack and head onto deck.
7:25 a.m. – Hoist the courtesy flag of the country we are approaching, as well as the nautical flag "Q," a yellow field which indicates quarantine, that the yacht has yet to clear customs.
7:30 a.m. – Blow up the fenders, which prevent us from hitting the dock, and unfurl all the dock lines. Since there are three deck hands, we usually switch who gets what duty, bow, midships and stern. While uncoiling the lines, don't forget to look up and catch the views of the new lands approaching.
8 a.m. – Step into the bridge and grab a walkie-talkie. Set to channel 78A on the VHF, the captain and the three docking stations can communicate about distances between the boat and stationary objects, when to throw lines, and when to tighten lines. Usually, an agent or marina representative will meet us on the dock to catch our lines.
While the dockmaster ties off the lines, pry him for information, like where is the trash bin, the best local bar and what voltage are the dock power boxes.
Depending upon where we are, we may have had to pick up a pilot, or like in the Maldives, we didn't go to a dock, and we dropped anchor, which takes a bit less time to do.
9 a.m. – Docking is not done until all the dock lines are neatly wrapped around the cleat or draped over a cap rail, the lines of the fenders are knotted into chains and the deck is clean. The boarding ladder may or may not be needed, depending upon the dock and the tide. In an industrial harbor like Salalah, drilling holes in a wooden rail to host the boarding ladder will take more time.
Alex the mate and I try to wash the side of the boat in Bermuda, while other crew members from above throw ice at us. (photo by Chef Rubi McGrory)
9:30 a.m. – Chef has prepared an egg breakfast for the crew. Go downstairs and enjoy a well-deserved breakfast. The chef normally doesn't cook underway, preparing all the food in advance and then just reheating it.
But since the owner is on board, the chef has been cooking every day, and not liking it. The goal of a delivery is to transit the ship and crew safely. But this owner thinks he is on a cruise, and will complain that he wants fresh squeezed orange juice, or that the soup for lunch wasn't good enough, could he have some sliced proscuitto.
The chef replies that she doesn't feel safe taking out a deli slicer in four-foot seas, would deli ham be okay? Sure, the owner says, and when the stewardess cleans the dishes, he didn't eat any of the deli ham. When we get to Islamic countries, the requests for ham continue, but the grocery stores won't comply.
9:45 a.m. – The captain and the agent have cleared customs, so hike three flights of stairs to remove the "Q" flag from the mast.
9:50 a.m. – Take all the trash from delivery, about three bags worth, and step on land for the first time in a week. Find the dumpster discussed previously, walking slowly as possible to soak in the foreign atmosphere. Return to the boat just as slowly. At the boat, change out of polo and shorts into t-shirt and swim trunks because wash down is a wet affair.
10 a.m. – Jump right into wash down mode. After five days at sea, salt encrusts every inch of the outside of the boat. A normal washdown with three people takes about six hours to go from the mast to the hull.