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Old 12-06-2004, 07:18   #1
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First Passage

We are planning to begin our first 3-day passage next week, going from Ft. Lauderdale to Charleston. Although I've crossed the Gulf Stream from Florida to the Bahamas numerous times, that is only a 12-hour overnight. And we usually nap during the day that we leave so we are not too tired.

Although we have come up with a watch schedule that we feel is workable (3 hours on, 3 off, with the night owl one of us taking the later shifts), I have some real concerns about my ability to stay awake once I get sleepy (usually around 11 p.m.). Does anyone have some tricks to help me stay awake?

For those of you who have completed multi day passages, any other advice for a newbie?

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Old 12-06-2004, 07:26   #2
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Get a kitchen timer and set it to go off every 5 minutes . It will force you to turn off the ringer and stay awake , or catch 3 minute naps.
I live for the longer passages as it is easy once you get in the swing of it.I like longer watches and Carol likes shorter watches so we do a 3 / 5 watch. It works for us.

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Old 14-06-2004, 05:37   #3
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The timer is a good idea, though I set mine for 15 minutes. A watch with a settable timer is good too.

Your first day you're likely to be so anxious that you'll not sleep all night. It's the second night that's tough since you didn't sleep the night before. Try to nap during the day.

Make sure you have something to do - just sitting around at 0100 is boring. Check the GPS every 15-30 minutes, check the radar, go below for a minute and listen, stand up once in a while, look at the stars with a star chart, read with a very dim light (led's don't seem to ruin your night vision as much), trim the sails, scan for ships, look at the phosphoresence, drink some coffee or tea from a thermos, eat a light snack, take a picture, whistle for dolphins, write in your journal, listen to a cd/tape mp3, revel in the first light of the morning.

It seems to take us 3 days to get into the groove - not much fun on a 3-day passage.
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Old 14-06-2004, 13:12   #4
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We use the kitchen timer and set it for 10 minutes. Every time it goes off we check the headings and surroundings very thoroughly. We also check the engine if it's running. The timer depends on where you are traveling. Also, we found a short ring to be better and less likely to wake the off watch than a long ring.

I use a CD player with headphones to keep myself up and active during the later watches. I tend toward seasickness, so reading is not good for me. I also do stretches and knee bends while holding the pedestal guard.

We always have granola bars for watches - easy to grab and eat. As well as making hot tea or chocolate, before we come on duty. Some folks prefer protein snacks, and hardboiled eggs are great for this. Others must have cookies. Slices of salami are easy, apples are healthy.

We keep red-lensed, pen-size, flashlights in our pockets at all times. We trade off on a watch for the on-watch crew. We try to bring out as much as we can when we take over, so as to keep movement below to a minimum. (This is for off-watch comfort.) Obviously, this is weather dependent.

Even in the summer it can be cool at night, expecially if you are tired, so be sure to have a jacket or sweater handy.

The shorter passages are the harder ones as you are not acclimated. The near coastal passages are difficult due to more things to be careful of.

Nap as much as you can, even if it's only 20 mins. I've found it easier to fall asleep if I try meditation - concentrating on my breathing.

Enjoy the passage, you will be someone new at the end. (I also find personal growth during these times.)
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Old 19-06-2004, 13:46   #5
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Thank you all for your helpful suggestions.

I am happy to report that we arrived in Charleston 2 1/2 days after leaving Ft. Lauderdale. We had beautiful weather, good winds, and some of the best sailing I can remember. We even enjoyed two pods of dolphins playing around the boat.

In fact, although we planned to take the ICW from Charleston to Norfolk before heading on the outside to Long Island Sound, I suggested an outside hop to Beaufort, NC. It's so much cooler on the outside (the temp in Charleston today is 93 with a heat index of 105) and you don't have to motor as much. I can't believe I am even saying this. But it's so good to be able to face a fear and work through it. Salty is right - you emerge a different person.

Because of my initial nerves and not very good night vision, I spent a lot of time glued to the radar screen. I have to admit it is becoming my favorite piece of equipment, even better than the watermaker! We didn't keep to a particularly rigid schedule, but it worked for us. When the captain was really tired and I was doing OK, I let him get an extra hour of sleep. Now that I can relax a little more, I will try the exercise suggestion, as I get of watch feeling very stiff and sore.

Thanks again. I hope I can help a newbie along when the time comes.
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Old 19-06-2004, 20:11   #6
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Congratulations on the passage Harriet. Personally, I would find going outside much less stress than passing through the "rockpile". You certainly have the wind direction in your favor this time of year. Why not take it all the way around Hatteras.

Regards, Woody

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