“Goodmorning.. and good luck!” is what the outgoing Watch will whisper to you as you crawl out of the foxhole (or the makeshift bed I made in the cargo hold) and enter the deck covered in a drizzly night sky at 4am. They will go to bed now, and at least for four hours, it’s your turn to take over the helm and blink your eyes, re-assess the weather and wonder whether four layers of clothes will suffice this night or day or what day is it again? Or should I try to contain my body heat a bit more and done another layer of plastic raincover and go “Full Condom Mode” as Portside Watcher Boris likes to call it? Aboard the Tres Hombres we all transform into well-packed, Gore-Texed, rustling and damp plastic penguins, some of us dealing better with the disturbed sleeping patterns than others. Welcome to the place where they take your precious sleep routine and cut it merciless in six pieces, where you will be awoken by a cheerful “Goodmorning!” at least three times each 24 hours, be it at 8 am, 8 pm or 4 am..
Today my day starts at 03:45 am, but until 00:00 I served in yesterday’s evening watch, and before that we started the day with a morning watch at 07:30 am. It’s breaking me up. Physically, as I notice that I cannot access enough energy to take the slack out of a rope and fasten it, while this task seemed to be not a burden at all to my fastly growing muscular arms a couple of days ago. But also mentally, as the short stretches of sleep don’t go well with my ingrained insomnia. If I only have 3 hours of sleep ahead of me, I don’t sleep. At home, I already need 3 hours alone for my personal bedtime ritual, consisting of steamy cups of tea, a hot bath, an evening read and Netflix. Aboard, there’s no Netflix, and certainly no bath.
It’s also the sounds that keep me alert and awake. The continuous sound of rocking waves, just a few inches from my head. The sudden shouting of orders and rambling of boots overhead when a sailing maneuver is being executed by the other Watch. The distressing shrill of an iron saw piercing those precious hours of bright morning sleep.
And of course, the movement. For days on end, it was impossible to walk, sit, chill, cook, pour a cup of something in a normal steady way. Imagine sleeping. I constructed a makeshift cabin of plywood in the cargo hold to keep my matrass in its place. It helps against the sudden danger of catapulting your body through this massive room when the weather gets rough. But my body is still in a constant state of tension as I lie swaying in bed. After a few days, you get used to the continuous presence of muscle ache.
But where there’s drizzly darkness, numbing and aching bodies, small underslept eyes and signs of snappy grumpiness, there’s also bright moments of joy.
There’s the mouthwatering tiny taste of freshly caught mackerel, garlic and seasalt seasoned and grilled, shared with the anticipating crew of 17.
The quick and easy comfort of slipping a hot water bottle under your damp clothes while you stare into the bright starry sky.
The sudden and unexpected gift of good conversation with the people you’ve only just barely met but sharing the same misfortune with of peering hours into the misty night at the bow to spot any oncoming fishermen’s boats.
A sudden windless day of sunshine and the captain’s decision to let everyone take a swim.
The complete and utterly shameless singing out loud of any song that springs to mind, be it 4pm or 4am.
Sober and solar powered dancing parties which erupt during the daytime maintenance hours when the sun breaks through on deck.
The adrenaline rush of climbing the bow spritz to unfurl the flying jib sail while the sea is rough and the bow keeps banging onto the towering waves and splashing water into your boots.
Stupid word jokes.
The realization that suddenly every mundane, ordinary task turns Extreme in hard wind and rainy weather conditions that turn your world upside down and make you fear for falling over board executing them – Extreme Woodworking, Extreme Dishwashing, Extreme Toothbrushing!
The unexpected sharing of your Watch mates’ private snack supply in dire times of need.
The joy of First Mate Shimra when her Starboard Watch has finally mastered another sailing maneuvre.
The sudden gasp of surprise when you flush the tiny onboard toilet in the middle of the night and the fast vortexing water turns into a mesmerizing cosmic swirl, displaying glow-in-the-dark aquatic bioluminescence flushed back into the ocean.
The feeling of your head touching your pillow three times a day.
The living of life on Tres Hombres time.
Simone Tenda, Tres Hombres “Summer” Trip 2018