On Attila we do not have the hyped-up environment of an ocean racer. Here each crew member participates in the actual running of the boat, according to their desire and skills. We are humble servants of the boat’s needs: We set and reef sails as the wind requires, we set our courses with maximum safety and comfort in mind.
Normally we are using three sails at a time: A jib out on the bowsprit, a stay-sail and the mainsail. Every time the wind increases, we reduce the area of our sails, to maintain the boat balanced, and well powered, but we never push the boat or ourselves to the limits.
At sea, we maintain a 1 person watch , on a volunteer-based system. A crew member stays on deck to keep an eye on vessel traffic, sails, weather and the self-steering., for two hours at a time. The captain is always ready to step on deck to help you out, and to make the decisions regarding sails to use, course to steer and gear to be used.
A normal day starts at sunrise, a hot coffee steaming on the stove, with crew members waking up as they may. The captain marks last night’s course on the chart, crew members writing up their diaries, and discussing our progress.
Usually the mornings are busy with organizing the boat, inside and out, checking the vegetable baskets for ripe veggies and fruits for the day’s menu, maintenance of the rigging and sailing gear. After their hearty lunch, some guys prefer to take a siesta, while others do other stuff, like reading, listening to music, or writing up their correspondence.
In the afternoons, we have discussions or debates on wildly differing topics, from sailing, careers, politics or arts. Each day a different crew member is encouraged to bring up a new discussion topic. In all areas we cruise, we will do a throughout research on the country’s history, anthropology, geography and other aspects we find interesting. To help this, we have an offline version of wikipedia on the ship’s computer, and a nice library on board.
Late afternoon we assign the watches to the crew members, organize everything on deck and below for the night’s sail, secure all hatches and ports, set our navigation lights and brew a good thermos of tea or coffe for the watch-standers.
The last days before landfall are always full of anticipation, with every eye scanning the horizon frequently to catch the first glimpse of a new land, a long dreamed-of island or a famous landmark. It is a truly unforgettable experience to catch a glimpse of Pitcairn Island, Easter Island or the Andes of Southern Chile after weeks on the sea.
The vessel also needs to be prepared for landfall: The suitable anchors have to be rigged with their chain and rope, ready to be deployed , sails and ropes have to be sorted out with utmost care, to not cause a worst-moment tangle in the approaches, while the given country’s authorities have to be notified of our arrival, the last port’s documents and the crew passports have to be ready for inspection.
After arrival and check-in we clean and organize the boat, have great discussions about our trip, and catch up on our online activities.