It’s About Time

Many aspects of life are delimited by time. This is no less true while cruising. In fact, there are some extra time related elements to consider. It has occurred to me that there may be people confused by some of our time stamps. I will take this opportunity to explain time as it exists in our world.

Cruising for us, at least so far, has been more like voyaging. The legs have been longer and almost all have crossed time zone boundaries. This can make time keeping challenging. What time is it? Do you mean where we left or where we are headed? When is it shift change? Enter Universal Time Coordinated (UTC), sometimes called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or Zulu (military). This is a benchmark time used in many applications around the world. Our boat time is UTC and it does not change with the time zones. This simplifies time keeping on the boat while on passage. We also use UTC on the InReach, so our tracks on the location page are stamped with UTC as are any texts we send via satellite. We generally notate this time in 24 hour format and also use it for our log entries.

Since our home is in the Central Daylight Time zone, some things such as my personal email may default to that time. During daylight savings the local time in Texas is UTC -5 or five hours earlier than UTC. For instance, if a tracking point says 16:00, we were at that location at 11:00 am Central Daylight Time. When daylight savings is over it will be UTC -6.

We also have to contend with local time, or whatever time it is in our current location, since that is the time used for working hours, dining hours, etc. We keep our boat time in UTC but convert it to local time to go through our day. If we make a blog post from an internet cafe or send a text, it will likely be time stamped in local time.

The case of my phone presents an interesting item. I placed in in airplane mode on leaving Key West so as not to be surprised by any international roaming charges. Key West was Eastern Daylight Time, or UTC -4. Grank Turk is in the Atlantic time zone, but they do not participate in daylight savings time, so local time was also UTC -4 even though the time zone was different.

For those curious, local time here is UTC minus something. One of our first orders of business in any new location is to determine local time, so until then, we really aren’t sure. We’ll find out once we arrive.

As a final note, though I have not specifically checked, I believe time stamps in Facebook are relative. Basically, Facebook stores them all as UTC and then converts the time of the post to whatever time zone you have chosen in your settings. This means that as far as Facebook posts are concerned, they will always show relative to the reader, regardless of the time zone settings on the device used to make the post. I hope this clears up any questions regarding time stamps on our missives.