05 August 2013

How Long Can You Hold Your Breath?

How long can you hold your breath for underwater? This is a really important question so think carefully before you answer.

Are you ready? Do you have your answer? Good. The correct answer is 2 minutes.
And how do I know this? Well, as a very supportive wife, I thought I should do some more reading about sailing so that I can show an interest in Scott’s passion. So I was reading through Beth Leonard’s book, The Voyager’s Handbook, when the following passage caught my eye:
“An offshore boat needs to stay upright. It if is rolled by an exceptionally large wave, a monohull needs to come back upright within less than 2 minutes, the length of time most of us can hold our breath.”
Holy buckets!! Are you kidding me?!

A couple of years ago, Scott gave me a copy of a glossy brochure entitled Cruising into the Sunset with Your Partner. I read it very carefully especially the small print. Scott is very crafty and twists words and phrases with the polish of a politician so it is really important to read the small print carefully. I read the brochure multiple times including the small print. It described walks on moonlit beaches, tropical drinks served in coconuts, relaxing with a good book in the cockpit and had lots of pictures of dolphins and Narwhals frolicking in the ocean. 

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, did it say anything about boats rolling over and needing to hold your breath underwater for two minutes. If I wasn’t married to him, I would report him to NZ Commerce Commission for violations of the Fair Trading Act. (Note: If Scott ever hands you a glossy brochure with a mischievous smile on his face, I implore you to read the small print very closely. Then read it again. Then consult your attorney and have him/her read it too.)

I have absolutely no idea how long I can hold my breath underwater or if I can hold my breath at all. Clearly, I need to test this out. I thought about filling up my bathtub with water and trying it out there. But then I remembered that the apartment I live in is roughly the size of a shoebox so I don’t have a bathtub. I then thought of filling the kitchen sink up with water and sticking my head in. Seemed like a good idea but then I realized I won’t know when two minutes are up because my head will be stuck in a sink full of water. So, my next step is to buy a kitchen timer so that I can hear it go off when two minutes are up (this is assuming I can hold my breath for two minutes and I’m still conscious by the time the timer goes off). 

I headed down to my local Warehouse store to buy a kitchen timer. For those who don’t know, Warehouse is New Zealand’s answer to Target. Well, it is actually New Zealand’s answer to a down market type of Target. It is the type of store that generally never has what you’re looking for and the pricing information on the shelves doesn’t actually correspond to the merchandise displayed on those shelves. They do however have displays up front of weird and wonderful products on special, such as tubes of toothpaste for $1 each. Upon close examination of the writing on the toothpaste box, however, you’ll note that the toothpaste was intended for sale in Malaysia, not New Zealand. 

By the way, if you were ever wondering what happens to all of those containers which fall off ships, they wash up in New Zealand where they unpack them and sell the stuff in the Warehouse accounting for the randomness of their inventory. On the particular day I went to the Warehouse there were no kitchen timers. There was a price tag on the shelf that said “Kitchen Timer - $5.99”, but no actual kitchen timers. I did, however, walk out with five tubes of toothpaste.

So with no reliable methodology to test whether I can hold my breath underwater for two minutes, I’ve decided the next best thing to do is to learn more about sailboats. There are two great benefits to this:
  1. When Scott is rambling on about sailing enthusiastically imparting his sailing expertise to me, I’ll have some sort of clue as to what he is rambling on about sharing with me and on what points he needs correction.
  2. I’ll have a better idea about what to look for when we upgrade our boat, in particular, ensuring we buy one that won’t roll over.
To that end, I’ve decided to do a series of blog posts about boat buying. It should prove to be educational and amusing (well probably more amusing than educational). Some of the scintillating topics I'm thinking about covering include:

Skin & Bones, Tails & Toes

Did you ever wonder what was underneath  a boat's skin (aka super expensive marine paint)? What exactly are boats made of and how are they constructed? I had assumed that they're made out of balsa wood so that they can easily float in the water. But then I started worrying about what would happen if we hit an iceberg in the Arctic while searching for Narwhals. Hopefully they're made up of something stronger. Let's find out.

Unlike cats, humans don't have tails (some of us wish we had tails, but that is another post entirely). But sailboats have something tail-like, namely their rudder. We'll find out more about how the rudder works so that we can keep our boat out of the way of icebergs. And toes, where would we be without our toes? They're those cute little things at the very bottom of our bodies and essential to getting around. But sometimes we trip and stub our toes. Ouch! Instead of toes, boats have keels at the very bottom of their bodies. Sometimes they stub their keels when they run aground. Double ouch! There seems to be quite a debate about different types of keels which we'll need to explore. Hopefully, the debate is as simple as the one you might have at the nail salon trying to decide if you should go with hot pink or red nail polish on your toes. I'm considering hot pink for our keel.

Siamese Twins: Freak of Nature or an Evolutionary Step Forward?

Ah, the great monohull vs. catamaran debate. Is it better to have a "normal" boat with one keel with one engine attached to one mast? Or should you go with the Siamese twins of boats - the catamaran?  They have two keels (each with their own engine) fused together in the womb (aka shipyard) and they share one mast. I'm pretty sure I know which way we're gong, but there is a lot written on this topic so we'll do some investigating just to be sure. It should be fun!

Does My Bum Look Big in This? 

Or alternatively, how big is too big. We currently sail on a 26' boat and are looking to upgrade to a larger, blue water cruiser. One of the big questions is what size of boat we should go for. It will definitely be bigger than 26' but how much bigger should it be? I don't like to parallel park large cars, so I suspect I won't like mooring large boats. But I do have a lot of DVDs which I need storage for so I may have to compromise here.

The Digestive Tract 

One of the key areas on a boat (to my mind at least) is the "galley" (or kitchen). This is where you conjure up all sorts of yummy treats and meals to eat. Since my favorite pastime is eating (my second favorite is thinking about eating), I think researching galley set-ups and accoutrements will be my favorite topic. But unfortunately, what you eat ends up meandering through your digestive tract and, well, has to come out somewhere. This brings us to the "head" (or bathroom). And although this sounds like a really gross topic, it is a pretty important one to get my head around.

Gizmos & Gadgets

Oh my goodness, there certainly are a lot of gizmos and gadgets that you might want on a boat. Some of which you might need, some of which you just want because they look shiny and have bright colored flashing lights to keep you entertained during night watches. We'll work our way through these and put together a wish list for our new boat.

How to Keep My Mom from Having a Heart Attack 

My mom, like all moms I suspect, worries. If she has read this post she is probably really worried now as I don't think she realized boats can roll-over. Heck, I worry too about sailing in gale force winds and falling off the boat. So perhaps the most important topic to explore is safety equipment. This may be dull, but it will keep my mom happy. And if she isn't happy, she might ground me and tell me I can't go out to play sailboat with Scott.

So there you go, coming up soon for your entertainment - a series of posts about how to buy a boat when you know nothing about boats.

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