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Meal Schedules and Division of Labor

Posted by on September 13, 2013

From the log of Seraffyn, during her 49 day passage from Yokohama, Japan, to Victoria, Canada

This afternoon, I found some tomatoes that had split because they rolled out of the basket. I used them to make a spaghetti dinner, a real at-sea favorite for us. I love spaghetti; Larry loves the chili and beans I make with the extra sauce. If we have ground beef, we use that, but, made with canned corned beef it tastes almost as good. When I’m not trying to use up overripe or bruised tomatoes, I use a can of peeled tomatoes plus a can of tomato paste for this recipe.

After I cleared up dinner dishes, I put a cup of dried beans in freshwater to soak for tomorrow. I prefer canned beans—not only because they are already soft and ready to use but also because they don’t take extra freshwater to prepare. You can’t soak or boil dried beans in saltwater—their skins stay tough. So preparing three cups of beans requires a quart and a half of freshwater plus a cup of dried beans. But I couldn’t find any type of canned beans in Japan for under $2 a can (the equivalent of $18 in 2013 dollars); dried pinto and brown beans only cost 50 cents a package and yield as much as four cans of beans would have.

Larry and I don’t have any formal breakfast plan at sea. There are several reasons for this. When we are making a passage on board Seraffyn, there are just the two of us. We always stand night watches of three hours on, three hours off, usually starting about 2000 hours. Larry sleeps the first three hours, so his day starts at about 0500, while I sleep on until 0800 or 0900. Rather than wait for me to get up and feed him, he makes a snack for himself—coffee, bread and jam, a piece of fruit. He usually makes a cup of tea for me when he sees me stirring.

This casual breakfast works well for us, since it eliminates one set of dishes and gives our mornings at sea a more leisurely schedule. The rest of the day’s schedule goes like this: After the casual breakfast, Larry takes a morning sight and checks the rigging while I spend some time cleaning up the boat. Then, just after Larry takes a noon sight, I record the noon-to-noon run on our small-scale passage chart and enter it in our log. Then I serve lunch.

We have tea, coffee or a cool drink together at about 1600 if neither of us feels like taking a nap. Then, at 1730 or so, we have cocktail hour, when we get together and practice the guitar, watch the birds fly by, or play our favorite music on the stereo. This is an important part of each day because, as surprising as it may sound, it may be the only time we really get to discuss our plans and schemes.

We eat dinner about 1830. Then Larry helps me wipe the dishes and goes on deck while I clean out the sink and galley. After a final check around, he brings in the oil lamps and I clean the chimneys as he fills and lights each one.


Interestingly, we used the same schedule for the next thirty years of voyaging. The unchanging regime seemed to work well for us and ensured we each arrived in port feeling well rested. This Is vitally important for a well-rested crew makes far better decisions. For more on ensuring your crew gets sufficient sleep, read the extensive section on sleep in the new 4th edition of Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew. click here.

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