I learned how the turning of the day becomes meaningless, only the turning of the watch counting out the separation between waking and not.
I learned how to sleep when the ship sounds as though it is being slammed with asteroids, and rolls and yaws in a cosmic wind – when gravity is no longer down but sideways as the ship heels over and digs into its course, knots building.
I learned how to move about a cabin, hand over hand, when gravity is tossed about like dice.
I learned the crucial art of getting out of my bunk, dressed, limbs through my Arctic suit and boots, and out on deck, in under the time it took my body to start registering a tell-tale queasiness.
I learned to live without brushing my teeth for a couple of days – my priorities reset to either being warm and dry in my bunk, or neither on deck.
I learned how to forget to shiver when the sheet for the fishaker sail snapped half an hour before the end of a nightwatch – (one of those ‘almost never happens’ things that does happen onboard a boat in the middle of the North Sea) – and we all became wide-awake and gratefully distracted from the cold.