Life On The Fo’csle Without Any Signal

2,265 views  |   January 30th, 2020 

In today’s blog, a crew member describes what if feels like to be air-gapped from the internet for a month and the challenges of working on the fo’csle. But what exactly is the fo’csle?



View from helm

View from helm


29-JAN and all is well.

Today was a sunny day, something we might otherwise take for granted; but we were not jaded about this sunny day, as it has been a reprieve from the past two days of overcast inundation. It is difficult for spirits to transcend a cold and damp environment.

We are currently less than 400 nm off the coast of Spain and, after a gybe earlier today, our heading is more consistent with Falmouth approximately 700 nm to the north-east.

Midweek, the end game is in sight and it is difficult to stay in the moment and not think of our eminent arrival back home. We have been unplugged for a month – no email, no instant messages, no social media. Mobile devices cannot report on the traffic pattern through the Red Cow Roundabout, there is no fact checking to settle friendly disagreements. No BBC nor CNN to turn to for a daily dose of talking heads endlessly debating the reality show that is politics.

The crew stands watches three hours on, six off, and repeat. Cumulatively a nine hour day, caching sleep in segments. On the helm steer as direct a course as possible, keeping the wind on the aft quarter while wind and wave conspire to backwind the sails and swing the boom (but for the preventer).

Beyond rotating on the helm, a typical watch involves a sail change. Put in a reef, put in another reef, shake a reef out; drop a head sail, raise a different head sail. There is no roller furling, the high cut (yankee) jibs (I, II, and III) and stay are hanked on by hand. Hank on, hank off, secure to the lifeline, drag across the deck, flake into the sail bag, etc.

Each evolution requires a group effort by the on-watch. This effort is often exacerbated, particularly while working forward on the fo’csle (definition – the forecastle, abbreviated fo’c’sle or fo’c’s’le, is the upper deck of a sailing ship forward of the foremast, or the forward part of a ship). The deck rises and falls, the boat simultaneously pitches, rolls, and yaws, water breaking over the bow. Add to this the dark of night and a substantial rain and you have a mini-adventure.

But on this mid-week, mid-transit, thoughts invariably gravitate to the significant others waiting for our return.


Postion at noon 30 Jan

Position at noon 30 Jan


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Posted by: First Class Sailing


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