At this point in your race planning you have studied all the technical aspects and requirements for sailing in the Pacific Cup Race. Here are a few things to consider that might help to make the trip more pleasurable for all, and might even make you faster in the long run.
For many, this is just another race to Hawaii, but for others it is the challenge of a lifetime. It does not take much energy on your part to contribute to a mood of caring, fun and respect for others. With a little advance thought and planning, you can help to make it the best time people have ever had. Challenge yourself to be there 100% for everyone’s benefit.
As you firm up your planning for the race, make sure to get input from the crew on any dietary restrictions or food allergies. Find out what treats they like to eat and get plenty of them. Things like fruit cups and pudding packs will be in big demand once everyone gets their sea legs. Avoid complex meals, your meals planned should be ones that everyone can easily cook and do not leave the galley a total mess.
As you create a plan for storing provisions, make a list of where everything is stored and post in it plain view. Attaching a 3x5 card on the outside of a storage area with the contents listed will save a lot of time digging for a specific item. Plan at least 4 or 5 back up meals, like heat-and-eat stew, in the event of extreme conditions when no one wants to be a galley slave.
Make sure everyone has a plan for how they will deal with seasickness. Even with the best medication, plan on half the crew being at only 50% for the first 3 days out. For the first 36 hours have plenty on pre-made sandwiches, saltines and cup of noodles type products to get them through it. Dehydration plays a big role at this point in the trip. I have found that Gator Aid or other balanced sports drinks really help to keep hydrated and keep strength up. Avoid anything with high acid content like citrus juices and coffee. If you are a coffee addict, break the habit well before you depart: you never know when you might get in time for a catnap and if you’re amped out on caffeine you won’t slip off to sleep easily.
If you have never slept with the aid of earplugs, go out and buy several types and test them out well in advance so you will have a good working pair for the trip. Believe me, you won’t find it easy to sleep without them. Make sure when purchasing personal items for the trip to avoid any heavily-scented products like baby wipes, deodorant and the like. The crew will thank you for this.
Some of the crew will take to sea life like a duck to water, while others will have a real struggle with it. If someone is having a tough time and starts to get run down with the routine, have flexibility with the watch system and let them skip a watch and get 8 to 10 hours straight sleep. This will make a new person out of them and you will all benefit.
When it comes to the chores no one really likes to do, like cooking or cleaning the head, don’t let the “nice person” always get stuck doing it. “You” be the person that that jumps in and gives them a break. When you’re going off watch in the middle of the night, go down 10 min before the change and heat some water for hot cider or tea for the new watch coming on. They will love the thought and it might happen for you too. Before it gets dark make sure to restock the galley with easy to grab and eat snacks.
When standing the night watches, try to keep the chatter on deck down, as the sounds carry below much louder at night. Try to be as tidy as possible with your personal gear and bunk area. Having to climb over mounds of boots and foulies to get to your bunk is no fun. Keep your personal hygiene up. The boat is too a small space to let odors go unchecked.
Bring along several disposable cameras and have them ready to grab for those Kodak moments, these pictures will help you to keep your memories alive for a lifetime. Every evening before it gets dark police the boat to make sure everything is in its proper safe place. Getting hit in the head by a flying ghetto blaster at 3 A.M. is no fun and very dangerous.
Consider a staggered watch system so that the new watch is not caught off guard by the current conditions (pattern of squalls and the like). This is also nice in that you get to share time with other crewmembers.
Plan for a grand half way party. This is where you pull out the stops with your meal plan. Bring on the big guns! Bring something special to share with everyone. You could have everyone bring a funny wrapped gift, and do a gift exchange after dinner. Onboard Ta Mana we even bring special party outfits like MardiGras, the more outlandish the better. This is truly the time to celebrate, for now you are further from any point of land then in any other ocean in the world, and half way to paradise!
If you like fresh fish and don’t have the proper gear for the trip, get it now. Find a real serious fishing outfitter and get a rig using a heavy handline attached to a snubber, which is attached directly to the rail. You will be trolling plugs, poppers and feathers from this line back about the second wave behind the boat (30 to 60 yards). Remember this line must be attended if you want to boat what you hook. You can start fishing about the time you are able to run with a spinnaker. If you are the first to catch a nice Mahi Mahi you will be a hero with the crew at that night’s dinner.
If you are better at something then someone else, like driving, surfing or trimming, now is your time to shine, take them under your wing and share your skill, the both of you will be better for it.
If at any point on the trip something comes up that bothers you, take the skipper aside and express your thoughts, or concerns before it becomes an issue. The two of you can come with a plan to deal with what ever. Sometimes it just helps to air out what you’re feeling. Just don’t bite your lip and keep it bottled up. It can make for a very long trip.
Above all else remember, this is “The Fun Race to Hawaii”. Be safe, have a blast and I will see you in Kaneohe.
Richard Leevey will be watch captain for this race onboard _Omega 1.