on sailors, cooks, and more
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • Time is very relative on the open waters

    Posted on March 13th, 2009 Michiel de Boer No comments

    With the return of Daylight Saving Time last Sunday, my mind went wandering off to the meaning of time on the open waters. Time is very relative out there.

    On the one hand, time is taken pretty serious. Sailing a boat on the open waters is a 24 hour job, usually driven by a watch schedule clearly telling who is doing what for any given time slot. Watch schedules come in many different flavors, depending on the number of crew, day or night time slots, the kind of handling required by the boat, which in part again is driven by the weather conditions.

    You could for instance be two hours on, followed by six hours off. While you’re on, you are the crew member responsible for driving and navigating the boat. You monitor the instruments, check the course, plot the map, and keep the log. While you’re off, you could be taking a nap, preparing dinner, or doing maintenance. Until you’re on again. Or you encounter a bad storm that (temporarily) upsets the schedule. Or you encounter land, which ends the schedule altogether.

    Alana Rose watch schedule, heading for Madeira

    Alana Rose watch schedule, heading for Madeira

    In a more fundamental way, time is of little meaning though. There are no buses or trains to catch. There are no meetings to show up for. There are no store opening hours to keep in mind. However, just like when taking a flight, on any East-West travel you do cross time zones of course. Which means that every couple of days you have to adjust boat time. Not necessarily at the exact crossing of a time line, because that time line really has no meaning. Again, there are no people, events or other time-bound elements to readjust to anywhere in sight. Literally. It’s just water.

    So, you kind of decide per time line crossing when to adjust boat time, and accordingly, the watch schedule. Which brings me back to Daylight Saving Time. On the open waters, boat time is mostly based on optimizing daylight time. Just like the people on land did when there were no clocks yet to control bus departures, meetings, store openings, and basically everything else. As I said, time is still very relative out there.

    Tweet this!

    Post to Twitter

Twitter links powered by Tweet This v1.8.1, a WordPress plugin for Twitter.