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Old 23-10-2007, 18:29   #46
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The problem I had... was after ten hours at the helm, I zoned out... looked up and saw my own jib and thought it was the bow of a cruise ship.

Went from glazed over to full standing gybe ho!!

(About the same time I learned about dehydration... )
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Old 23-10-2007, 19:56   #47
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As far as how to stay awake when you have to?

An overland trucker gave me this tip - Chew Ice.

It works - Don't suck it - Chew it. It is impossible to sleep while chewing ice. Now, where to get 36 hours worth of ice on a sailboat - that's another problem - LOL.
I have done the same thing with raisins and cherries.
Anything small - take a long time to chew and swallow each one.
It works, but.
When you stop you usually have to GO GO GO!
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Old 23-10-2007, 21:01   #48
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Sleeping at the wheel (I have a wheel, anyway) is part of the trip. The boat always wakes you up when she gets off her feet. I guess I fall into the microsleep camp. Grab a bunch of tiny naps, and they can keep you going for a long time. I do need a solid 2-3 hours in any given day, though, and try to grab those during daylight hours. My biggest solo passage was Fiji to Aus nonstop, about 13 days, and I was definitely getting a bit squirrely after a few days. Had a really long conversation with a fin whale. It didn't talk back, but God what a beautiful blowhole.
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Old 24-10-2007, 12:20   #49
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Fog Horn Blowing Dolphins

Fog Horn Blowing Dolphins. Wow!

Kingfish, when one plots their course before a cruise most captains would note on their charts such navigational obstacles and mark a rhumline to avoid such obstacles by a safe distance. Did your chart not show the presence of offshore oil wells? Or was this well too new to be noted on charts? How far offshore were the wells?
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Old 26-10-2007, 21:52   #50
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Did I tell you about the time I ran out of gas on a buddies sail boat under the Lions Gate Bridge at 11:00 PM at night with some freighters coming in....now that was interesting. For others reading this, your not allowed to sail under the Lions Gate Bridge; there was no wind anyways.
::loud uncomfortable grumbles:: We do not want to talk about first and second narrows bridges, traffic, or currents while night sailing just now. It took three attempts to get under the second narrows last night, and the *&^%ing tide tables are ^*%$, and if you ask my opinion... [various muffled noises from keyboard as someone wrestles it away from me]

And another thing, the [various expletives deleted] night tug skippers have their own ideas on COLREGS, traffic separation schemes, and what constitutes a good joke after midnight.
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Old 27-10-2007, 22:34   #51
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I think yesterday, as you refer to, was a full moon, or the day before so the tides would have been strong. I took my dog to the Cove today for his usual swim and I was surprised at how far out the water was - haven't been down for a couple of weeks.

One of the first times I did a tide thing for the bridges, I forgot about adjusting the time for one hour, due to day light savings time - and that was an interesting Lion's Gate traverse.

"Hey Bob, look the guys walking the sea wall are going faster than us."
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Old 28-10-2007, 00:09   #52
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I have a little box called "watch commander" that has a loud
siren, can set it for up to 30 mins. Oven countdown
digital timers are really loud enough, but I have one that I clip to
my collar as backup.
TJ
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Old 28-10-2007, 23:59   #53
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Info on sleep studies I read recently suggested there are two basic types of people. Those who can catnap for short periods vs those who can stay awake for very long periods but then must have good sleep to recharge. I am definitely in the latter category.

But as I've aged my ability to do long stretches has declined dramaticaly. I don't need 8 hours sleep, but 4 hours after 12 if multiple days of activity works well for me. I can go for many days like that. Otherwise I can do about 24 hours straight before I feel mental ability dropping off signifigantly. At 30 hours I'd hate to be in a situation requiring a lot of comprehension and consideration of unfamiliar circumstances.

Coastal and inland cruising is done with my energy pattern in mind. In blunt honesty, if offshore I will rely on watch standing radar and 'big ocean' luck. (I know I am not alone in that). I plan not to enter congested areas, or make landfalls during what I can predict will be a must-sleep period. Getting sleep before reaching the limit is important so that reaction is possible if awoken suddenly.

Regarding heaving-to, I would only do so if necessary to stand offshore before entering port. During passage I see no advantage to being stationary. No reason to think I will be less likely to encounter another vessel. If I should have a meeting, I think that being underway allows the best chance of taking immediate evasive action if I wake up with little time to react. I'd hate to be releasing the jib sheets and trying to fall off and gain speed as a big bow comes down upon me.

Bearing in mind my patterns, if necessary to buy time before landfall I'd rather ease up and slow down beforehand. With GPS we should not be far off in predicting arrival time.

Last thought for now, a friend who retired from the military and then became a merchant mariner tells me that "shipping lanes" are a concept of the past, although there are the coastal traffic separation lanes in some places. These days apart from avoidance of hazards it is pretty much rhumb line between ports, he says.
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Old 08-11-2007, 13:42   #54
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I have to be honest, I am sceptical of some of the claims here to catch some micro sleep, etc. I used to believe that in critical circumstances I would hear a loud noise that would wake me up. From experience I've learned I don't wake up like I thought, especially, especially if I am in a deep sleep.

At one time I was a graduate student working a semi-graveyard shift to make financial ends meet. I was "guarding" a ski slope for a company. I had been putting in long hours on research and working, I was definitely sleep deprived. I feel asleep at the post so to speak and when some one came from the security company to make sure I was okay, I didn't answer the door for quite some time of his knocking on it loudly - I was in a deep sleep. Fortunately I was able to BS my way out of this embarrassment.

Recently, I was tired from working on the computer, took a short 40 minute nap in the living room. In the 40 minutes, I missed a call that my phone messenger picked up. I was only 10 feet from the phone when it rang, again in deep sleep. Until these incidents occurred I sincerely believed I could wake up a critical moments, I no longer believe that of myself.
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Old 08-11-2007, 14:49   #55
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I understand the sentiments about waking up.

I slept through a fire alarm at a hotel, thankfully it was a false alarm... but it was one of those red bells mounted on the wall above the bed.

Gave a moment of pause.

On board I'm a bit different, evidently I get up to check how things are going in my sleep.
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Old 08-11-2007, 21:08   #56
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I've done three singlehanded transpac races, 2120 miles from San Francisco to Hawaii. A sleep pattern that has worked well for me is to *always* bank sleep when possible, and never sleep more than 20 minutes at a time. I can keep that up for 5-6 days, and then usually sleep through the alarm and wake up after 2 hours - surprises me when I sleep through the alarm. If I set the alarm for an hour, I still get up at 19 minutes. As an alarm the Screaming Mimi alarms are great - extremely loud and harsh. They train you to get up just before it will go off!

The most interesting part is the arrival at the finish line and I believe that I'm perfectly fine and capable of coping with anything. At the end of one race I walked up the road to the local general store to get chocolate ice cream and cold beer (I desperately wanted chocolate ice cream in a cup with a spoon and a chilled ale), only to discover that when the lady at the register asked for eight dollars and fifty nine cents, please, that I couldn't figure out how to pay for it - the simple mathematics required to convert the dollar bills and colourful coins retrieved from my pocket into what she was asking for were beyond comprehension... so I finally handed the lot to her and said, "Can you please take out what I owe you?"

As an aside, over the prior 4 days leading up to the finish I had been happily running on 20 minute sleeps, then done a 30 hour push to the finish - which definitely runs the batteries down to near zero. A big part of the singlehanding racing, in my opinion, is to know what your limits are and time the push to the finish such that you arrive with flat internal batteries. The folks that really get hurt are those that push either too hard or too early, and run out of steam before they cross the finish line, get into the anchorage, and have the hook down.

- beetle
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:01   #57
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Need for sleep

The need for sleep over-rides all survival instincts. People fall asleep at the wheel of vehicles traveling outrageous speeds on the highways all the time. My experience is that serious, life-threatening errors occur continuously the more sleep deprived one becomes, usually not even recognized or registered by the sleep deprived person. Not far into sleep deprivation people begin to hallucinate, usually only minor un-reality bits like being firmly convinced the running lights are on when they aren't, or visual delusions like the rise of mars is the port light of an oncoming vessel (which involves a time-dilation delusion.)

Beetle: you pulled in and anchored, went ashore, and were unable to calculate change. How were you able to calculate tide and scope for your anchoring?
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:39   #58
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My experience is that serious, life-threatening errors occur continuously the more sleep deprived one becomes, usually not even recognized or registered by the sleep deprived person.

Years ago I read a 1970's US Army report on sleep deprivation (their interest was how staying awake continuously affected a person's ability to be an effective soldier), and their observation was that cognitive function dropped 25% each day the person stayed awake and after 4 days their guys were basically non-functional and represented a high liability (e.g., they had become a danger to themselves and others). As a result the Army decided it was important that sleeping time be incorporated into their plans as prescribing drugs to keep a people awake only worked within a limited time frame.

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Beetle: you pulled in and anchored, went ashore, and were unable to calculate change. How were you able to calculate tide and scope for your anchoring?
For whatever reason that part was easy - I just looked at the depth, multiplied by 7 and set the anchor. I also know that tides in the Hawaii island chain are minimal and can be ignored. Perhaps I've memorized the scope table over the years and calculate scope without thinking about it, 30=210, 25=175, 20=140, 15=105, 10=70 - it's difficult to miss.

After anchoring I tidied up the boat, folded up sails, ate a sandwich, talked with other skippers that were already in and on the beach, hopped a dinghy ride to shore - everything seemed totally normal. If the bill had been terribly simple, such as an even dollar or half-dollar amount, I might have been ok. It wasn't until I was confronted with something unusual that I wasn't expecting, such as multiple colours and coin shapes coupled with a not-simple math problem, in an unfamiliar setting (off the boat) that it all fell apart. Perhaps I was completely distracted by the ice cream sitting there on the counter in front of me.

The big surprise was realising how far gone I really was; at least I was smart enough to know that I should not be driving - I asked one of the Race Committee if they would give me a lift to another shop about 10 minutes drive up the road, even though I had my own (rental) car sitting in the beach parking lot. No way did I want to try and pilot a car; after several weeks of 7 knot speeds, traveling at 25 miles an hour looked suicidal.

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Old 09-11-2007, 10:54   #59
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::chuckle::

Ah! see I always calculate bow height, so 30 = 234.5, 25 = 199.5... plus relevant tide data...
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Old 09-11-2007, 11:45   #60
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Amgine, you raise an issue that has interested me for years. I have always been active at night, walking, running, walking the dog etc. Recall the "rods and cones" of the eye, I'm convinced that some hallucinations are a result of rods being absent from the centre of the eye. There are approximately 120 million rods in an eye and roughly 6 or 7 million cones. The rods are much more sensitive to light but don't see colour very well, the cones are what give us our colour commentary on the world. As you recall, there is a centre spot in the eye where the rods don't exist. When viewing a scene apparently the brain fills in the picture of the missing centre spot; this has always fascinated me - how does it know what to fill in?

Anyways moving along on this boring diatribe, it is my belief that in certain situations when the brain isn't sure of the picture it is seeing, it will substitute a picture it thinks is accurate, kind of like your Mars example above. Two instances stick out in my own mind, the first one was me walking my dog at Kits point near the Planetarium. It was about one in the evening, I'd just finished an evening shift at VGH and was taking my dog down around the area where the coast guard is. I saw a couple standing and making out, somewhat in the dark. I started to move a bit out of the way as I walked forward to give them some privacy. The couple turned out to be two posts wired together, one taller than the other.

The other incident scared the crap out of me. I was driving from Montreal to Chicago (I attended college in Elmhurst, Ill) in 1970 and was on a major freeway just past Cornwall, Ont at about two in the morning. As I was approaching an underpass, my brain saw a solid brick wall just past the other side of the underpass. I hit my brakes hard, only to realize it had been an hallucination. Fortunately no one was by me or I definitely would have been rear ended. It was this hallucination that had me interested in the rods and cone thing.

In the Canadian Forces, you are trained to look at an object at night, then move your head about 15 - 20 degrees off and while looking straight ahead, again look at the object - you can definitely see it better out of the side of the eye. In fact I recently used this tactic walking my dog near Seycove high in Deep Cove when I knew there was a stump on the path, I look slightly away from it and saw it clearer. The military says it is because of the rods, or the non-existent rods at the centre of your eye. You actually have better vision to the side of the centre as the rods can take in the whole view.

Sleep deprivation was used a great deal in officer training back in the early 70's in the Canadian Forces. We would go four or five days with no, or only one hour, of sleep. I saw one guy, while marching along a road at night, hallucinate thinking he had seen a castle and began running to it. His teeth connected with a rifle sloppily slung over the guys shoulder in front of him, the impact took out two teeth.

Another officer cadet, due to stress and sleep deprivation, stood at the end of his bunk at attention, asleep shouting loudly. Another guy got out of his bunk and thought he had walked to the urinal, but instead was pissing on the top of his bunk.

I think the "rods" thing does explain some hallucinations, even if not tired; being tired amplifies the phenomena when a confused brain tries to make sense out of a scene that isn't making sense to it.

And here is a trick militaries around the world teach. If you have night vision and don't want to lose it, close one eye while working on a simple task involving momentary light, then open the other eye after you are done; you will still have most of your night vision. For example, in the military you're on a ground march somewhere along the road at night, a vehicle approaches with its lights on. If you keep looking at the vehicle you'll lose some of your night vision, but if you close your dominant eye, then open it after the vehicle has passed, you're basically still good to go in the night.
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