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Old 02-10-2007, 22:11   #1
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Singlehanding - Sleeping - Good Idea ?

After almost 10,000 miles under my keel, most being by myself, the scariest moment occurred while I was asleep.

I woke to the sound of a fog horn blowing, Odd? I though to myself, I am 10 miles from land and no charted obstructions in the area. So as I crawl out of the bunk, and take a look outside, I realize that I just passed a oil rig, not but 25 yards off the port.

Thats enough to keep you awake for a few hours.

After realizing that I luckily avoided a travesty, I walked to the bow and found a pod of 6 dolphins off the bow. To this day, I believe those dolphins kept me from collision.
Cheers
D

Single-handing is not smart!!! But for some of us thats all we got.
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Few who come to the island leave them; They grow grey where they alighted; The palm shades and the trade wind fans them till they die
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Old 02-10-2007, 23:03   #2
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Kingfish, you've got my respect. By definition single handing isn't good seamanship, but really it is, all things considered. And I think the craziest singlehanders have to be the the Vendee Globe racers. How you can race around Antarctica and remain sane is a mystery to me.

Where is your favourite area to sail?
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Old 02-10-2007, 23:18   #3
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The easy answer is anywhere warm and 5,000 shades of blue under the keel, but Unfortunately I can not answer that question at this time. I have only been able to sail in the pacific, and sea of cortez. But I spent 3 months on Palmyra island ( south of Hawaii ) and I have a difficult time imagining a better place to drop a hook. I look forward to finding other " must see " destinations
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D
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Old 03-10-2007, 03:23   #4
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What is the best way to keep awake? the old alarm clock? How many hours on, and how many off? is it wise to take the sails down...and drift while you are at sleep? what about ships around at 22 kn `s ?
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Old 03-10-2007, 03:31   #5
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The answer is to sleep about 20 minutes at a time which is about how are the horizon is from the deck of a small vessel. Larger ships can be seen when they are further away. Use whatever alarm will wake you... survey the horizon, plot your position, check the trim etc.. and get some more shut eye. It's very tough.

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Old 03-10-2007, 07:36   #6
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I think the best choice is just to island hop or coastal cruise if you're single handing. I never plan to sail anywhere where I can't get to land within about 30 hours or so by myself. I'll grab a friend or a volunteer or just someone who needs a ride if I'm going to be forced to be out there for more than about 48 hours. Still, I say this now, but I may change by tune later after I've had a bad shipmate or two and had to deal with them for a couple of weeks.
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Old 03-10-2007, 07:50   #7
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Most cruising is coastal and not offshore passage making of multiple day duration.

There is coastal single handing which probably does not normally require evening watch keeping... that is you can do the leg with 16--8 hours and then put into a harbor and sleep.

There is also single handed sailing with someone who is incapable of any contribution although they are on board. This can actually be a liability and make sailing MORE stressful and difficult.

Offshore single handing is not a worrisome because there are fewer hazards out there... no rocks, buoys, reefs or submerged sand bars in the middle of the ocean. Of course, there are other vessels, though few, and floating hazards... containers which means you need to keep watch.

I've sailed from the Caribbean to Bermuda or the reverse and seen nothing whatsover when out of sight of land.

But I have also seen super tankers heading at me on a reciprocal course 500 miles from land.

Aside from heavy weather the hardest thing is sleeping and watch keeping when single handing offshore. Oh... and repairs can be challenging too.

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Old 03-10-2007, 08:41   #8
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Harbor hopping is the way to go when near land, get to the next port as quickly as possible and get some sleep after you have settled in. If this is not possible and you are doing an overnighter, 20 min of sleep at a time, depending on your speed and weather conditions. My longest time without good sleep was 36 hrs. That was a truly grueling day and a half. Many of thoughts of quitting sailing ran through my mind during that passage, But when the anchor finally dropped, I felt great sense of pride in completing that task, and just made the easier trips more enjoyable.
My suggestion for those who choose to single hand, is to invest in a good radar with collision alarms. This will give you a better 20 minuets of sleep.
Passage making is definitely easier. not much to hit out there, I always shorten all sails while sleeping and still set the alarm to wake me every hour for a horizon and position check. My longest stretch was 34 days, it wasn't awful, but it definitely could be more pleasant. Sleep wasn't my issue, Boredom was!
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D
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Old 03-10-2007, 12:36   #9
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Aloha Kingfish,
The Nature Conservancy has taken over Palmyra. No more visiting yachts in the inner hidey hole, only conservancy "members" are allowed there. They have generators going day and night and someone patrolling telling you where you can and can't go.
JohnL
P. S. You know about the dark history of the island? The fellow who was convicted of the murders and theft of the yacht has just been released from prison.
JohnL
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Old 03-10-2007, 12:39   #10
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The problem was when I had a fellow that was so sick, that he left me at the first marina. back home was 38 hours , and very little sleep. but our main and jib are operated from the cockpit...easly. 20 min of sleep dont help me , I need 60.. I was lucky.
I agree that it is always better to have a friend on board!
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Old 03-10-2007, 14:00   #11
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I spent 10 years single handing, all of it on the Pacific including crossing the Pacific. Of course single handling is not a good idea so the answer is do you accept the fact that you are putting your life in danger? If not, then don't single hand. Now just because you do accept that fact doesn't mean you will not take some precautions: I spent as little time as possible coastal cruising unless I could do it in short hops so I could stay awake the entire time. Additionally, most of the routes I chose were infrequently used by shipping traffic such as from Ecuador to Easter Island. In fact, coastal cruising is where I saw most of the large ships. I did sleep. I knew that if I didn't sleep my judgement would be doubtful under adverse conditions and the truth is I don't believe the long distance single handed cruisers who claim they sleep 10 minutes at a time. No matter how many radar reflectors you have you should be aware that many smaller freighters don't keep their radar on. I certainly learned that between Fiji and New Zealand.
I thoroughly enjoyed those 10 years but I also enjoyed the next five years across the next two oceans with my partner and beloved husband that I first met in New Zealand. He too was single handed.
sailorm, the Antique Sailor
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Old 03-10-2007, 23:36   #12
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Thanks for starting this topic kingfish, I've already learned quite a bit from the few posts in the thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingfish View Post
My longest stretch was 34 days, it wasn't awful, but it definitely could be more pleasant.
Which stretch was that? and.. What type of boat are you sailing singlehandedly?

Also, I wonder what types of boats are best for singlehanded cruising? What are some key features of a boat used for singlehanded cruising (aside from those already mentioned in the thread)?
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Old 04-10-2007, 01:53   #13
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...wind steering and an off course alarm...A button that turns your alarm (crapy noise of your choice) off in the companionway means you have to get up to the point that there is no point not having a look around. If you get very tired then perhaps heave too __ in daylight__ and take the risk of a few hours sleep. In daylight you can see them better and they you. A very tired sailor may make mistakes that have consequences as bad as being run down by a 29 trillion ton super tanker....you have to have a close look at your hand and chose your cards carefully.
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Old 04-10-2007, 05:17   #14
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I single hand a 36 foot sloop. It's small enough that the forces under most conditions are workable for a man in good physical condition. But you need a reliable auto pilot or self steering, a windlass for anchoring and probably roller reefing, and lines led to the cockpit for all sail control. A good SSB rig is also almost essential to keep you in touch with weather reports.

I found a 36' boat had plenty of room for a single person, or a couple for long term "work".

But in heavy weather the forces increase very quickly so reefing and storm canvas are crucial.

jef
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Old 04-10-2007, 09:11   #15
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Quote:
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...wind steering and an off course alarm...A button that turns your alarm (crapy noise of your choice) off in the companionway means you have to get up to the point that there is no point not having a look around. If you get very tired then perhaps heave too __ in daylight__ and take the risk of a few hours sleep. In daylight you can see them better and they you. A very tired sailor may make mistakes that have consequences as bad as being run down by a 29 trillion ton super tanker....you have to have a close look at your hand and chose your cards carefully.
Cooper,
I like your idea of heaving too and getting some shuteye during daylight. That seems to be the best way of avoiding a collision while getting a little sleep. I don't think the brain can function for long periods of time being awaken every 20 minutes, although I have never experienced it personally. It's not big deal if the boat is not moving much for a couple hours while hove too, after all, one is cruising and should not be on a tight time schedule anyway.

This IS an interesting thread.
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