24 hours on a boat

So what would a typical 24 hours be like for a crew member on a boat ? If you are on a long journey then you will have rotas in place for watches, cooking and cleaning. I’ll try and give a break down of what a normal routine would be like for a crew member and what its like experiencing life at sea.

The Mornings.

You normally wake early as the motion of the boat wakes you, unless you have just come off night watch or are still on night watch !!

Quick wash and scrub, no chance of showers every day as you obviously have a limited amount of water to carry.

People will be getting up at different times so you normally have breakfast when you feel like it. There maybe another 1 of 2 with you and another 1 or 2 still sleeping. The kettle will be on, you munch on your cereal and chat about your nights sleep (or not). Discussions will revolve around the night watches, anything particular seen, change of weather, the moon, stars and the galaxy. The fishing rod/s will be put out and you are ready for a new day.

You never know you maybe lucky enough to catch a fish !!

24 hours on a boat
Good size barracuda caught in the morning !


Mid morning.

Everybody should be up and chatting about the night sail and other things. Skipper checking the ETA, weather reports and casting his/her eye over the log. The log is normally an hourly record of such things as position, course, distance travelled, wind speed and direction, etc,etc.


Everybody is around for lunch so its normally all together for a lightmeal and tea/coffee. Easy meals to make for lunch would be something like pastas, salads, or sandwiches. I’m obviously talking about sailing in warmer climates here. You may well be making soups, stews and boiling the kettle frequently in colder areas !

Mid afternoon.

Some people maybe catching  up on their disrupted sleep from the night before, reading their ebook, sitting by the fishing rod waiting for the ‘big one’, simply gazing out to sea and wondering about the meaning of life (and catching up on their sun tan) and there will obviously always be somebody on watch.

24 hours on a boat
Me doing the gazing out to sea bit…….


Late afternoon/early evening.

Talk turns to the evenings sailing ahead and the night watches. Dinner will be prepared by whoever is on the rota or likes doing it the most.  Fishing rod/s will be put away as very little is caught after dark.  Dinner will be had together, washing up done, tidy away everything, and people have their own plans depending on what night shift pattern they have.

If you are coming on watch at around 9 o’clock for a 3-4 hour shift you are probably going to try and get some sleep in before hand.

If you are coming on watch around midnight for a 3/4 hour shift you are probably going to stay up a bit longer with other crew members,  or the person currently on watch before catching some sleep a bit later.

If you are coming on watch around  3 o’clock for 3-4 hours then you are probably the person currently on watch so you are quite busy anyway !!

Late evening.

People are doing their own little routines. Catching a nap before their watch starts, reading an ebook, getting ready for bed, already in bed.

Night time.

This is the bit i like the most (normally). There is something special about sailing at night, mystical, spooky, magical, eerie, spiritual, i don’t know just special.

If the moon is out and the stars can be seen it can be a special time. You need to be observant even though you could be in an area where you know there is a 99% chance of nothing happening. Its always the 1% you have to avoid and which can cause you trouble.

Once i was sailing at night and every few minutes you take a good look around the boat, in front, behind, to the left and to the right, and then well everywhere. Something caught my eye over the side, every so often a white streak would appear in the water and then go just as quick. Sometimes at night your mind can play tricks with you, you think you hear things, you think you see things, always need to double check. But it happened again………….and again………..another flash of white in the dark, dark sea.

Dolphins !! Dolphins were swimming near to the boat and causing the white streaks to appear in the water. As soon as they caught my eye they were gone again.

You might finish your watch at midnight so go straight to bed, or finish at 3-4 in the morning so still go straight to bed, if you had a later shift then you may still be up as dawn breaks and others greet you with frowning faces and squinting eyes.

So as you can see plenty of time for chatting, reading, fishing, dreaming, sleeping and thinking.

24 hours in the life of a crew member. Like it ?!


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Travelling the world by sea……..(and a bit of land)

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