Grownups love statistics

138 miles to Baiona, Spain

“Les grandes personnes aiment les chiffres” – Antoine De Saint-Exupery observes accusingly in the Le Petit Prince. It’s a story I never tire of reading. I’d like to think that I’m not one of his grownups, but I’m very guilty of the accusation. Crew members are requested to enter a slew of data into an excel spread sheet at the end of each watch:

Time,
Distance to destination,
Air & water temperature,
Latitude & Longitude,
Boat speed and heading,
Wind magnitude and direction,
Engine time, sail configuration,
Battery levels,
Refrigerator/freezer temp,
Barometric Pressure

Routinely added to the above are readings of the gauges for the diesel, water, and the holding tank. Some of these are motivated by more than just a love of numbers. It’s important to monitor the limited fuel and water supplies to ration their usage, and it’s very important to monitor the level of the holding tank for the toilet, as you might imagine. Not a good idea to try to pump from the toilet into a full holding tank.

Some of the other data in the log are also critical. The temperature of the freezer or the level or charge on the battery will dictate an action. But the rest are mainly because I like statistics. On night watch I’ll intently monitor the chart plotter as the latitude ticks down to the next self-imposed objective or get excited when the speed indictor breaks 7 kts. But while watching statistics change at 1:30 AM, even a grownup can’t help but notice a brief break in the overcast and the faint reflection of Jupiter on a dark ocean casting a narrow pathway of light stretching from the boat to the horizon.

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