Mountain to Sea: Two Types of Fun
Chris and I recently completed our first ocean crossing across one of the most infamous oceans in the world, the Indian Ocean. There was an (Indian) oceans worth of positive and negative experiences and emotions during the sectors that ranged from two days to 14 days. Despite mixed emotions, upon reaching each destination we were always rewarded by a euphoric high from the relief of arrival and sense of accomplishment.
We first heard about the concept of ‘type one fun’ and ‘type two fun’ while in New Zealand during a mountaineering course. We met a young couple attempting a Mount Cook summit who explained how aspects of mountaineering can be both challenging and miserable at
times(cold, dangerous, potential avalanches, exhausting), but they continue to seek out new mountains to climb because it’s fun. ‘Type two fun’.
‘Type two fun’ is often not fun in the moment (in fact extremely miserable at times) but is fun to reflect on and talk about later.
‘Type one fun’ is fun in the moment and fun and fun to talk about after.
Adventure would never be pursued and boundaries would never be pushed if there was no reward at some point, whether in the moment or afterwards. When pursing lofty goals demanding a relatively high emotional, intellectual or physical investment, the suffering must ultimately be worth it. Upon reaching the summit of your goals and reflecting on your capabilities, the dopamine rush has you coming back for more. It keeps you searching for the next mountain to climb or setting off on the next ocean crossing!
‘Type two fun’ is wonderful to discuss and reflect upon after the event, but what about the enjoyment in the moment? I discovered that offshore sailing and mountaineering share many similar sources of discomfort, and by analyzing some of the sources, they can be mitigated or eliminated entirely.
Since we left the Seychelles, I’ve aimed for more type one fun while on passage, and developed some personal guidelines below. It takes both effort and discipline, but I cannot stress enough how implementing all of these small habits at sea on a daily basis will add to overall enjoyment. If weather or boat maintenance throws you curveballs you will have clarity to handle it. Or if it’s smooth sailing both literally and figuratively, you will feel great while reading, cooking, watching movies or other hobbies you enjoy.
Seven Tips from Skylark for more type one fun!
1. Sleep - Find your sleep ritual!
Sleep is incredibly important and lack of sleep will affect your mood negatively. You will feel like you are just existing rather than truly thriving in the moment. When dealing with activities that continually fall within your window of circadian low or extend over multiple days, it is easy to develop fatigue and burnout. It’s crucial to design a sleep schdule and environment to achieve proper rest so your waking hours are enjoyable.
While mountaineering, It was sometimes difficult to sleep due to external factors such as high elevation, noise or bed quality. I ended up being tired the next day as a result. Some of these negative factors couldn’t be eliminated completely but they could be alleviated with pinpointing each item and finding a solution.
On passage, I aim to make sleep a priority and formed a bedtime ritual allowing me the best possible rest. Early in the day, I seek out the best available berth for the conditions and make the bed with fresh linens. The bed should be inviting and ready for when my break begins. I brush my teeth, shower, put on clean pyjamas then wear ear plugs and possibly an eye shade. Sometimes the conditions are rough and it’s still difficult to sleep, but I try my best with the given conditions.
2. Exercise - You have more jenergy than you think!
Exercise is important for many reasons including improving mood, controlling weight and looking great. During exhausting and fatiguing situations it’s easy to push physical movement aside to be sedentary, but usually it’s ourselves making excuses.
While mountaineering, I realized how much we are capable of moving when I thought I was exhausted. On the summit day for Margarita Peak in Uganda, we woke up at 1am after a difficult sleep, and completed a 16 hour day. After 8 hours of activity, we had to wait to descend a steep portion of a glacier that involved being clipped in and only one climber could descend at a time. On the way down we were very exhausted and sat in the snow while we waited for our turn. I thought I would never be able to stand up. Finally after an hour of waiting, we descended the glacier and managed to continue for another 8 hours of climbing and trekking.
On passage, there are times that I believe I’m too tired or it’s too rough to exercise, but whenever I push through that fallacy it’s never regretted. When I’m tired I schedule a workout, and in rough conditions, I accomplish a cockpit workout with items such as squats (while maintaining a light touch on the back of the helmseat for stability), crunches on a mat in the cockpit, and fitness band bicep curls while sitting down. After every workout I feel healthy and more excited to arrive at my destination slightly more bikini ready.
3. Exciting meals - You are what you eat!
If you don’t eat something fun and nutritious, you won’t have fun and feel healthy, and are less likely to enjoy the experience. When there is no supermarket within walking distance, it’s important to plan ahead and stock up on a variety of goods.
While mountaineering, we aimed to eat properly with the food that was provided.
Luckily in New Zealand our guide/instructor was a fantastic cook, and made us fresh delicious meals, while we saw some other groups eating dehydrated food. She told it’s important part of the experience to enjoy the food and after a long day you need something to look forward to.
On passage, we have been designating theme meals to give ourselves direction and excitement during mealtimes. For example, from Seychelles to Mayotte we gave ourselves the following themes and made delicious meals.
Day 1 - Thai - (Thai eggs, beef laab, Penang curry)
Day 2 - American (granola, cheeseburger in paradise and fried chicken…)
Day 3 - Mediterranean (Greek omelette, tapas lunch, truffle gnocchi)
Day 4 - Seychellois (chilli eggs, smoked fish salad and Seychellois masala fish curry)
Day 5- Middle Eastern (Masala eggs with Chap, blackened lime lamb chops marinated for 24 hours)
Day 6- Indonesian (nasi goreng, satay)
Other themes on passage included:
-The worlds continents
-Indian Ocean countries
Upcoming: A-Z Atlantic detox
4. Maintain Hygiene - Look good to feel good!
Many times the constraints of being in remote areas forces you to degrade your hygiene and appearance. If you haven’t showered in a week and your hair is greasy, you won’t feel your best. Do the best with what you have and realize you don’t have to completely throw your standards off the mountain or into the sea.
While mountaineering, I didn’t wash my hair or take a shower for over a week once. It was not very pleasant laying in bed covered in dirt, sweat and with gross hair day after day, but I justified it as “mountain life” and something I must endure to reach the summit. It didn’t feel very good.
On passage, I try not to cut corners by neglecting hygiene and justifying it as “boat life” or thinking “we are on passage so who cares?”. I aim to keep my hygiene up to city standards, and even wear makeup during the day on passage sometimes. I brush my teeth minimum three times a day, shower at least once a day, and moisturize regularly with my best skin products to feel radiant and smell delightful. It makes a huge difference in my mood to look and feel wonderful.
5. Hydrate - Drink, Drink, Drink water!
Proper hydration does so much for our bodies. Some of the benefits include removing toxins, improving complexion, increases energy and prevents over eating. Dehydration can be extremely dangerous and can make the difference between having fun and being miserable. Drinking water can be easy to forget when you are busy or in extreme conditions, but that’s when you need it the most.
While mountaineering, I exerted a lot of energy and my body required large amounts of water to maintain proper hydration levels. While at altitude it was even more critical. In Uganda, on the 16 hour summit day, I unfortunately only drank 2 liters of water. I resisted drinking too much water since I only carried 2L in my bag, and the bathroom opportunities on the cold glacier seemed unappealing. I ended up feeling quite terrible as a result.
On passage, we are surrounded by water as a constant reminder to drink water, even when it doesn’t seem appealing such as during cold conditions or in the middle of the night. It’s not physical sailing an Amel, but I aim to drink at least 3L of water a day. This ensures that I never enter the negative effects of dehydration by always keeping hydrated. We keep a pitcher of water in the cockpit or a full water bottle nearby to encourage this.
6. Stay Organized - Don't become a mess!
Order is important to reduce stress and quickly locate items if needed. When your living space or bags are a mess, it’s easy to become a mess yourself. With limited space like on a boat or in a backpack, keep items in their designated space.
While mountaineering, I sometimes become disorganized when living out of a backpack. I didn’t always put my items back in their same place. We carried our day packs and our overnight bags were carried by the porters. There were times I wanted a pair of gloves and I had them in the wrong bag so ended up without.
On passage, I aim to keep everything organized. Items are stowed properly in their designated place. When conditions are rough it is easy for them to fall over and make a mess or damage the wood. It’s also important to be able to access spare parts or tools quickly and know their location.
7. Be grateful - YOU will be grateful you did!
When you are suffering from physical or mental exhaustion it can be difficult to appreciate your surroundings. Studies prove gratitude is the antidote to negativity, and by finding what you are grateful for makes you happier.
While mountaineering, we visited some absolutely stunning locations. In New Zealand, there was the crisp contrast of a bright blue sky next to pure white snow and in Uganda there was a seemingly endless shining glacier. However, when I focused on how endless the glacier felt vs. it’s it’s endless beauty, it created negativity.
On passage, I focus on what we have vs. what we do not have. I write gratitude lists daily and from time to time will look around and say “this is awesome!” Or “Wow” or “What an adventure” and feel any negative emotions melt away. There is always something to feel grateful for.
Ultimately, you can set yourself up for type 1 fun success during challenging goals by following these simple tips (even when you don’t initially feel like it) to make the best of each experience in the moment!
We are off on our Atlantic Crossing, and you can follow us here to see where we are at and what we are up to (also our A-Z Atlantic detox)!