Anyone who's done a day sail is somewhat acquainted with working in a rocking galley and doing contortions in a small head. Anyone who's done some overnights on the sailboat is more experienced with these two activities, of course, but there are others, such as comfort in a berth. Week long? Well, there's garbage and recycling. And holding tank issues. Longer yet? Well, you are now sailing with the big dogs!
Here are some suggestions for how to prepare yourself for anything from a day sail to an extended cruise. It is recommended that these exercises commence no later than a year before your cruise.
1. Sleep on a shelf in the closet. The shelf may not be any longer than 6' and no wider than 4' (3' is more realistic). Use of a sleeping bag with a damp towel spread where you will lie adds realism. Extra credit: place 1 gal. sand inside, at the foot of the sleeping bag.
2. Every 3 hours, have someone shine a 250W flashlight in your eyes and announce, "Your watch."
3. Go without sleep for 48 hours. Have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on stale bread while you try to stay awake for 8 hours more.
4. Install a 10W bulb on the underside of your coffee table. Read War and Peace every evening for 2 hours for 2 weeks. No extra credit for reading it in Russian; you are just being a show-off.
5. Make instant coffee with dry granules that are no younger than 4 years. Extra credit if you have to scrape the top of the caked mass to yield enough to make a cup of coffee. You must drink it black. The water temperature may be no more than 105 degrees. If there are some undissolved granules, be thankful that this exercise is exceedingly realistic. Extra credit for drinking it with 1 t of cooking oil floating on top of the liquid.
6. Fry an egg using the heat of 3 candles.
7. Freeze a case of beer and put it in the bottom of a [new] diaper pail. (It must be tall and narrow.) Place the other refrigerated goods from your meal plan on top of the beer. Kneeling, get yourself a beer several times a day (drinking all these beers is not recommended) so you can learn how to unpack and re-pack your icebox. Pray for refrigeration.
8. Renovate your home bathroom so the toilet enclosure is 4" wider on each side than the seat of the toilet. You must choose a toilet the size of the ones found in pre-schools and mount it so your knees touch your chin. Set the water-flush level to 2 T per flush. The ceiling above the toilet must be no higher than 5'5". When using your new toilet area, ladies, wear a 4" heel and one foot and a 1" heel on the other. Men: Try liquidation stores for larger sizes.
9. Whenever there is a thunderstorm, sit outside in a rocking chair and rock like crazy. For more pragmatic training, aim as many fans as possible on the chair. Set fans on "high" and aim at the back of your body. Wear a long wig that is unsecured so you can experience trying to keep your hair out of your eyes. Stand in 4" heels, for the following exercises. (Marines are excused from the wig portion.) (1) Stand and balance on one foot. Change legs. (2) Balance on one foot and brace against the rocking chair. Change legs.
10. Monthly, take apart your refrigerator and stove completely. Reassemble. Advanced: dis- and re-assemble by flashlight. Extra credit: put Vaseline on your hands.
11. Scavenge two cardboard wine cases and remove the partitions. Extra credit for flimsy boxes. For one week, use one for garbage (you'll learn how to pack it efficiently) and one for recycling (same). Lift full boxes, stand on rocking chair, and place in cabinet above your refrigerator. You must open the cabinet doors while holding the full box. Store boxes beside your bed, exactly where you put your feet in the morning when you get up.
12. Have a kindergartener give you a haircut. Scissors are recommended, but only the kind with the safety blades. Knives are forbidden, but fingernail clippers are allowed.
13. Stand in the rocking chair, wearing the 1"/4" heels. Take a shower and wash your hair with 1/4 c dish soap. Someone else may assist by dumping a bucket of cold water on you, as desired. (Extra credit for ice water.) You are allotted 2 gal. of water. No more - - unless you want to catch rainwater in another bucket prior to this drill, in which case you may use as much as you catch. (See thunderstorm discussion, above.) Using the same fans as in the thunderstorm exercise, allow your body and hair to dry without the aid of a towel, t-shirt, or similar item. You may face into the wind if desired, although you should know this will not be an option during your cruise. Note: Unless you are living in isolated sylvan splendor, please wear a bathing suit for this exercise.
If you prepare yourself with these exercises, cruising will be fabulous! Fair winds and following seas!
copyright 2008, Martha Beth Lewis