More from Jason on the weird, weird world of life at sea
It’s our ninth day at sea and life on board Besso has become thoroughly discombobulating. At times, I can’t tell which way is up, let alone what day of the week or what time it is.
For a start, there’s the watch system. It plays havoc with one’s body clock. We get up from our bunks three times a day; which is the number of times we usually end up saying “Good morning” to our crewmates.
Then there’s the latitude. This far north, in this grey light, it’s sometimes hard to tell whether it’s four in the morning or four in the afternoon.
I contemplated scratching a tally on the side of my bunk to mark the passing time, but our system of hot-bunking scotched that idea fairly soon. You can go to bed on the port side and wake upon the starboard, with a bleary recollection of having been roused from sleep to shift from one side to the other after a tack.
As for where in the world we are, the grey skies and featureless seas make it hard to grasp. The charts take on an almost abstract quality. Our focus narrows to the boat in front and the boat behind.
The strangeness doesn’t stop there. In the topsy-turvy world of life on board ship, the crew’s supply of chocolate is more zealously guarded than the morphine in the medical kit.
When it comes to food, one willingly consumes meals one would never contemplate eating on dry land, though I draw the line at instant coffee and continue to give the spotted dick and custard a wide berth.
All this makes the yacht feel like a floating island, detached from the rest of the world. We are a strange microcosm, comprised of six different nationalities and who knows how many personality types. Yet, for most of the time, the odd mix of temperaments and humours, strengths and weaknesses, produces surprising harmony.
In any case, our spirits have been lifted recently by a series of landmarks (some of them literal). We sighted land yesterday for the first time since passing the Scillies, six days ago. First, in the afternoon, there was the island of Foula; then, at around two in the morning, we finally rounded Muckle Flugga, the northernmost tip of the Shetlands – and of the race. Now, on the map at least, it feels as though we are heading downhill; every mile we travel takes us closer to home.
Our most recent achievement, however, was possibly even more satisfying. In the early hours today, we finally overhauled those pesky Kids, our main rivals Save the Children, with whom we have been playing an absorbing, frustrating, challenging, and ultimately uplifting game of cat and mouse ever since the Scillies. We may not be vying with the leaders, but on board Besso the race is definitely on.