A bit more on preparations…

Although I already covered a bunch of the preparations I had made, this is a bit more about the ones I hadn’t mentioned.

Because of the length of this leg and the fact that it was an overnight, fatigue was a real concern. We tend to be at our lowest ebb around 4am, something I’ve encountered a number of times before in my career in computers when pulling all-nighters during “crunch times”. My approach to combating this was two fold. The first is not to overdoes on sugar/carbohydrates. I didn’t want to add on a “sugar crash” to that low ebb. To combat that, I had mostly proteins in the form of beef jerky to eat, along with some dried fruits (very high in sugars… I know) for the occasional “shot in the arm” if I needed it. As a last resort, I also had some Red Bull and some caffeine tablets at hand. That was the first prong of the preparations – the physical.

The second half was dealing with the psycho-emotional aspect. I had pulled some books on tape from LibreVox to listen to and keep my mind engaged. In addition, I set a repeating alarm so that every 15 minutes an annoying alarm would go off that would require me to take off my glove if I were wearing one, and acknowledge the alarm. Trust me, over the course of 18 hours, that alarm became QUITE annoying as it always seemed to be going off when I needed to be doing something else. So, between the alarm, and listening to “Around the World in 80 days” (seemed an appropriate title to me!) I kept my mind awake.

Other things was to make sure that I had enough sleep. You can’t really “bank” sleep, I find. but you can make darn sure that you’re not already at a sleep deficit when you start out and that’s important. I also ate well just before my last sleep period so that I had a bunch of calories stored up. I find I can go for quite a while without sleep (not that it’s a good idea), as long as I have enough calories — and “enough” calories means a lot more than I normally would eat. My guess is that I burnt through 3,000 to 4,000 calories during that jaunt in keeping myself awake. If you’re a scientist and can give me actual information on caloric needs under those circumstances, I’d love to hear from you!

And, yes, I know that wasn’t a healthy way to do things, but it works for me and was only for one night. I’d get a lot more advice on how to do it in a healthy manner if I were going to do that sort of sailing for an extended period of time.

Other things I had planned for was my routing. I was, intentionally, not in the major shipping routes. This meant that I could, theoretically, let Opus drift and take a 15-20 minute power nap if I needed to. I also had a few “outs” I could use to hole up if I absolutely had to anchor and get some longer sleep or avoid some unforeseen weather, though navigating into a sheltered lagoon through a narrow passage at night when I’m fatigued would require a lot of motivation for me to undertake.

Route between Ketchikan and Prince Rupert

The yellow lines are the tracks from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan (northeasterly yellow line) in which we had the mechanical break down east of Dundas Island, and my route back from Ketchikan (route to the southwest). Where it suddenly bends East Southeast is where I took the option of the shorter path because there wasn’t any wind. Otherwise the path would have stayed on the west side of Dundas island, hooked underneath “Knee Hill” and traveled almost due east to get to the Venn passage. Without the wind, I took the more direct/shorter route (by 5 miles, but that’s an hour of travel under motor!)

Some of my outs were in the shallows on the east side of Annette Island, Brundig Inlet, Morse Cove and Foggy Bay. If I passed Brundig Bay, however, it was pretty much “have to go all the way”, so seeing Brundig at my stern quarter was a “decide whether to continue or hole up” moment that took some serious soul searching and checking if I was good to continue.

Obviously, everything worked out and we made it. I’ll be using much of those same procedures for the next jump from Prince Rupert to an anchorage at the south end of Grenville Channel – about 70 miles, where I’ll anchor for a couple of nights to catch up on sleep before doing it again to get to Klemtu. After that it’s easier times with the longest jump being 50 miles or so.

Leave a Reply