We used to sail day and night as a normal cruising practice.
This is not a problem at all, and as already said, may be easier in some condition.
Sailing at night meaning reduced visibility and, therefore, deteriorated safety
condition, all the safety
measures must be enhanced accordingly:
: the main rule
is that, as soon you are on the deck
you must have your safety harness on and duly tie to the boat...including when your are at the helm
station or at watch, not only when you are dealing with sails
at the foredeck...
Watches: they must be organize in a way to not be too long...neither too short (people off watch must have time enough to get a rest).
The watch must be permanent...do not forget to look...behind!
is 100% available during all the night.
He must be on deck
everytime it is necessary (tacking, sail change, help or question asked...).
If he is inside having some rest or chart plotting, the first rule
for the ones on deck, is that they must aboslutely call the skipper anytime they see something new, weird or that they have a doubt about the environment
or a close boat...
: red is the color, white lighting
must be used only inside and shaded from outside people'eyes...by people do do not have to go outside in the next minutes.
So, if you are inside to make coffee and intend to bring it outside to the watch, use red light inside.
If the companionway
is open, do not light white light inside, close the hatch
Before departure, consider that the boat will be in sleeping mode, therefore prepare and organise the night period accordingly:
and sandwiches must be ready before departure.
Snacks must be in the cockpit
, ready and at hand's reach.
Coffee, tea, soup (hot) in thermos bottle outside as well.
Cold drinks and water
Some written instructions and infos at helstation can be usefull as well.
schedule and frequency and VHF
ready (an outside VHF
is a good point).
Have some flash lights and floodlight in the cockpit
(check the batteries)
Switch on the navigation
lights before everybody (off watch) has gone sleeping.
Have you engine
ready to be started immediately, just in case...
Avoid going in and out each minutes, speaking loudly or making more than necessary noise
Sail setting: unless the weather forecast
is very reliable, some people find safe to not have the maximum sail area set for a night crossing but prefer having a reef or a slightly reduced foresail to have a smoother ride or being ahead any weather
Doing so, they avoid some physical (and potentially dangerous) job at the foredeck in the night.
for the watch: life harness and tether line, flashlight, if possible a PMR, whistle and PLB.
The PMR is a very good mean to communicate betwen inside and outside the boat, specially on large boats between the skipper (if inside) and the watch.
It avoid to scream and shout to call for help.
In case of MOB
, the MOB with PMR can direct the boat and help for his location.
: The best is to prepare all your navigation before for all the night period.
Prepare and check also for backup solution: possible harbour and mooring
location other than the destination
...security coordinates and numbers.
Another good point is to look for easy landmarks and landing point, clear, obvious, large that can be identify without any doubt (main powerful lighthouse in the area for example).
In case you see a boat, immediately make sure you have understood her route and heading, then assess if a collision
is possible...if you are not sure, go away !
The best way to evaluate the situation is to be able to identify quickly other boats navigation lights...binoculars can help greatly and good navigation light knowledge as well of course.
Stop to monitor
the boat only when you are sure that she is going away from you and that you are safe.
One good point at night, and provide the area has a good navigation aids network with many lighthouses and buoys, is that it is easier to find your location when visibility is OK.
When you arrive in a harbour, go very slowly and make sure you have well identify the surroundings, cities and harbour full of numerous lights onshore are usually confusing.
In such condition, somebody with a powerfull floodlight ahead, can be of a great help to detect dark and low breakwater, pontoon, buoys with no light at your arrival.
Be sure you are not tired before you go, stay warm and alert...and enjoy.
Night navigation is 50% of navigation after all...