Drying Out a Reindeer
Reykjavik Harbor, Iceland
Reindeer's 1976 Transatlantic Crossing
Sunday, June 28, 1976
Blog Entry #18
After finally having rediscovered the pure joy that soap and hot water afford in a prolonged fresh water shower, I felt reasonably cleansed and human again. While I didn't garner the greatest sleep on the hotel floor, I had at least experienced some semblance of slumber without some huge cold waterbed splashing under me tossing me around like some hot potato while I was trying to catch some shuteye. On that count, I felt relieved.
I was also relieved on another level when I had discovered my personal plumbing was back in working order. Still a mystery to this day where I could possibly have hidden the waste from close to 25-26 meals in my 170 pound body during those ten days. And as Newbold noted about my eating habits; I had a ravenous appetite. While I never was able to weigh myself on the boat or at the hotel, I don't think I gained any weight. Most likely, I just had burned most of my food intake with all my constant efforts to hold on to something. Every act on board had burned my energy: donning and undressing foul weather gear, climbing the companionway, steering Reindeer over mountainous waves, winching in or changing sails, raising or lowering a halyard, crawling around the deck while connecting and disconnecting a harness, even sitting down to eat, even attempting to use the head, climbing into a damp down sleeping bag and even sleeping below during 4 boisterous and bouncing gales. A hot hotel breakfast had also helped restore my faith and hope that a few days of R&R were on the docket. Nope....we had work to do and Reindeer needed fumigating as well.
A day after our arrival, I was anything but eager to return to Reindeer so soon. Returning to her after the first decent night's sleep in over a week, I felt an indignance and resistance to the impending task at hand. After all, I had just extricated myself from the same sweaty, smelly clothing I had worn for 10 days at sea and now I finally felt clean. I now could not believe I was facing and smelling not only the prospect of cleaning my own gear, but also the stench left behind by the departing crew. It is one thing to clean your own mess, but to clean others' almost bordered on disbelief. While a part of me resented their departure which meant I would be one to clean up most of their messes, I shelved my lukewarm enthusiasm. When I looked around, I knew I was the only crew member remaining who would be assigned this task...and, after all, cleaning had to be done for health reasons alone, but then there was simple sanity from from once again feeling like a pingpong ball in a lottery cage. I had been so relieved to reach land that Reindeer was only halfway to Scandinavia. I had relegated the fact to the dark recesses of my mind that Reindeer still had two weeks of sailing ahead to reach Norway. And, if those next two legs of the voyage would be any more bearable, I concluded I had better take some personal interest making Reindeer shipshape. After my self-pep talk, I embraced the gross and disgusting chore.
To say Reindeer below deck needed "airing out" is a blatant understatement. As a 26-year-old who had never really cleaned a full apartment much less my room when I was living at home with my parents, I had the audacity of comprehending Reindeer as inhabitable. Until it was washed, dried out, fumigated, sanitized, sprayed, scoured and scrubbed, it would carry a stench of warm human sweat, damp dishrags, soggy socks, dirty dishes, pots and pans. Then there was and Paula's perpetual seasickness sleeping bag that I swore crept like slimy worm whenever I touched it. Gas masks, nose plugs or rubber dish gloves were not part of Reindeer's inventory, but they were what I craved most during this torture. Eventually, I cringed through the experience and got into the spirit of the clean-up. The main consolation was I knew fresh air was only a few steps up the campanionway. And when I realized that my hotel room and a shower would be awaiting late that day, I finally became reacquainted and reflective of our 10-day ordeal. Smell greatly enhances memory, but a warm shower and a stationary bed were priceless!
Even though the sun seemed foreign to this part of the world, at least in the short time we visited it, the air outside, though a little damp and chilly was far better than below or deck. Misty and foggy at times, the harbor didn't feel like any place where drying could occur. But almost at the same time we began the boat cleansing, the breeze picked up and with it some actual drying took place.
Hauling everything fabric-like up on deck was more arduous than I anticipated. Because I was not wearing a gas mask nor could I hold my breath long enough, I had to endure the odoriferous pillows, the soggy sleeping bags, the soaked seat cushions while dragging and heaving them up on deck. Everything was heavier and bulkier because of the moisture, but the main challenge was finding enough deck space to hang things to dry. The sun had not shone itself for almost two weeks in Iceland so a cool breeze was better than nothing.
Eventually when the wind died and it actually got warmer in the mid 50 degree Fahrenheit range, we decided to raise the sails and dry them up the mast. That freed up some deck space. As the afternoon wore on, I had remembered that daylight was close to 24 hours long which meant that everything on deck could have more time to dry and consequently all won't have to be moved down below unless a rain squall surprised us. Thankfully, we only had one brief drizzle.
How drying and cleaning personal belongings would happen was of concern to me when Newbold announced that we would pack all our "dirty laundry" in pillowcases and we would take it back to the hotel and arrange to get them cleaned by the following day. That was another relief, as I had envisioned carrying around dirty laundry when I departed Reindeer in Norway.
As I am view these photos which I took over 40 years ago, I must have been either awfully effective at cleaning Reindeer or really good at avoiding it. How else did I take so many pics if I was doing all this cleaning I claim to have done?