Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hoisting the Hook

The California Stem Cell Report will be in the middle of the Sea of Cortez for about the next week, making it impossible to file reports. We will be on a passage from the Guaymas area to Mazatlan, both of which are on the mainland of the west coast of Mexico.

By popular demand (at least one or two requests), we are providing a few more details of the cruising life, as it is known. This passage will involve at least four nights at sea, perhaps more. The entire crew of our vessel, Hopalong, consists of two persons. We stand watches 24 hours a day while we are at sea. This is required by maritime law as well as by common sense. There are other vessels out there. Some of them are not lighted at night. Others, including large commercial ships, simply set their autopilots and proceed without keeping what is known a proper watch. So we must stay out of their way.

Our watch schedule consists of three hours on, three off during the dark hours. That means one person tries to sleep while the other keeps an eye out. During daylight, we keep a six-on, six-off schedule, but this time of year does not provide 12 hours of daylight. We also have an autopilot that takes care of the actual steering for us. Hand steering becomes tedious at the very least and sometimes arduous under rough conditions, although we hand steered for 2,000 miles one year when our autopilot was down. Those were not consecutive miles but parcelled out over a period of months. I once made a passage from Hawaii to San Francisco, which involved hand-steering nearly the entire distance on a Santa Cruz 40 called Gandy Dancer. However, we had a crew of six, which made life much easier.

We hope to be filing reports again in a week or so from Mazatlan. Sphere: Related Content

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