How to entertain yourself and others during an Ocean Crossing?

Let me guess. You’ve picked up your device to google search this topic because you are unsure of what to do on your first crossing, fair enough... we did the same before our Atlantic Crossing!

Crossings any of the oceans can sometimes be a bit challenging and potentially long journeys. All experiences are different for each person. This varies on many factors such as: the destination and direction you’re heading; the type of boat and its ergonomics (how suitable is the boat design for persons while sailing);  the type of wind/weather conditions you’re sailing through;  the ability of the crew to withstand adverse conditions doing monotonous tasks; the synergy of the crew and how well they communicate with others.

Not to mention, that our judgement and accuracy can become impaired while sailing as a result of boredom! This poses a serious threat to welfare onboard, so finding ways to entertain yourself is important to keep your mind preoccupied and inhibit boredom.

With that being said… The question still remains. How do we entertain ourselves when doing a series of out-of-the-norm and laborious tasks aka an Ocean Crossing? Well, here are a few ideas:

1. Play games: Bring along some games, digital or non-digital that you enjoy and think others may enjoy as well. Digital games are video games that are portable such as Nintendo Switch and games downloaded on IPads. Non-digital games are those that are board games or card games that you enjoy playing. You can play games with magnetic attachments such as charades, bingo, dominoes, or word games with your fellow crew members, as pieces can fly when the boat rocks from side to side!

2. Bring books to read: Books can be a great way to pass the time on a long journey. Choose books that you are interested in and that will keep your attention. Reading to others is another way to ensure all crew are kept entertained by. Be careful when reading on board as it can induce sea sickness symptoms.

3. Share stories: Whether it’s ghost stories or tales from past experiences, sharing stories is a great way to pass the time and bond with each other better. Not only is it entertaining to hear stories, but you can become wiser and develop a sense of empathy and understanding for your crewmates.

4. Play music, audiobooks or Podcasts: Before the passage ensure that you download some of your favourite music, audiobooks or Podcasts to listen to together with crew during the journey and bring a portable Bluetooth boombox with solar panels to charge them to play the music.  Sing along with the crew and have an impromptu karaoke! This can help you relax and pass the time. Also, it is a great way to set the mood and keep everyone in high spirits.

5. Watch movies: If you’re feeling homesick or bored, movies are an excellent way to entertain oneself and the crew. Remember to download lots of movies on an external hard drive before the crossing. Perhaps ask the crew which genres of movies they’d like to watch during the passage, that way you can download a movie for each person to watch

6. Learn a new skill: Use the time on board to learn a new skill like knot tying, splicing or navigation. Some people may even take the time to learn new languages, or practise for upcoming exams. You can also use the time to practise cooking or baking.

7. Cook together: If you have a galley on board that is spacious of course, prepare some meals together. It’s an excellent way to bond and create some delicious meals to enjoy while sailing. Maybe you may learn a skill or two!

8. Fix things: Something will ALWAYS break on route to your destination as you will spend most times figuring out how to fix things or doing temporary repairs. Entertaining? I’m unsure however, brainstorming and finding solutions together among the crew is a great way to incorporate all hands-on deck/ below deck. In return lots of time is consumed and it leaves the entire crew occupied.

9. Keep a journal: Writing in a journal is an excellent way to reflect on your experiences and pass the time onboard. You can use the journal to jot down any interesting observations or ideas you have during the journey. It can also be used as a learning tool (like a training record book) that helps you to keep records of things learnt onboard!

10. Stargaze: When the sun goes down, take some time to view the stars and the various constellations. If you have a telescope to use, even better! The Atlantic Ocean is known for its clear night skies, and you may even see shooting stars or perhaps satellites posing as shooting stars. #Bummer

11. Take pictures: Sailing offers some of the most beautiful views and capturing them on camera can be a fun way to remember your trip. Whether it be polaroid or digital cameras, encourage everyone to take photos. Don’t forget to tag and share them with each other!          

12. Watch wildlife: Look out for marine life like stingrays, dolphins, whales, and sea turtles. Watching these creatures in their natural habitat can be a breath taking and memorable experience.

13. Stay active: Exercise is imperative to maintain a positive health and energy levels up during the journey. Dedicate some time each day to do some light exercises like yoga, stretching, fitness challenges or even Zumba with crew on deck.

14. Play a game called ‘boat gift’: Here,  each person is entitled to bring 3-4 little gifts for the boat or the crew. The crew is to put them all in one bag and each evening after dinner take one gift out. Based on my colleague’s experience it was “a nice daily excitement, and we had different things – sweets, face masks, games, star maps, question games etc”. I wouldn’t recommend buying gifts for all the days of the journey. It would make you look like Santa Claus going down the dock!

15. Rest: REST IS ESSENTIAL!  Allowing the body to rest minimises fatigue. Fatigue can come in various ways and cause deleterious effects to the body. In hindsight it is important to take measures in reducing fatigue while working in a crude environment as the body can only tolerate up to a certain amount before spiralling. On the flip side, some consider this as a good way to entertain oneself for it allows you to escape reality into a realm of imagination… I suppose it’s a good way to entertain oneself. How do we entertain others with sleep? By telling them to go to bed LOL.  Anyway, sleep is good. I 100% recommend it!

There you have it, ways to entertain yourself during an Ocean Crossing!

Hope these were helpful tips for you! Remember to relax also, take breaks, work efficiently and enjoy the journey itself. Take time to appreciate the beauty of the ocean and the wildlife you may encounter along the way. The quality you get from real life is better than the TV version.

/Blog author – Giliana Matthias, Second Star Sailing Women at the Helm intern/