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Old 12-02-2010, 02:58   #1
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First Night Sail

After several months of day sailing (weekenders) around the bay I think I'll plan my first night transit. Aiming to take a route I know well, and to an anchorage I've been to several times with good GPS anchor spots. Might just motor so I have good visibility. Have a good radar.
The Moreton Bay has comprehensive nav markers etc.
What are the main issues to manage or to prepare for?
Any special new procedures or steps to take - additional safety gear etc?

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Old 12-02-2010, 04:27   #2
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Originally Posted by FraidNot View Post
What are the main issues to manage or to prepare for?
I have no clue regarding your specific waters, but for me night sailing is pretty much like day-sailing – it’s all about spatial awareness. The challenge is at night your spatial clues are less visible, and the unknown seems greater. But with modern GPS there is no serious reason to be terribly concerned. Make your pre-plots (I forget what sailor-speak is for that; still use jargon from another life…) and once you hit the first couple of your plots your confidence will go up and you’ll slip along just fine. About the only rule I make for night time is that no one leaves the cockpit unless there are two on deck – or course for solo work that doesn’t matter. Motor if you must, but I think you’ll be missing most of the enjoyment…

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Old 12-02-2010, 04:39   #3
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thanks Larry - that is helpful.
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Old 12-02-2010, 04:51   #4
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I paln to do my first night sail is season also. There was an article in the recent Boat US magnazine you may wish to read.
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:25   #5
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Do not be scared of the night, put them rags up and have fun.

When I head out to the Atlantic from here on the st Johns River I like to travel it more at night and plan my trip to arive at the MayPort inlet at day break, I normally drop the hook for a short nap a mile or two from the inlet so I am fresh heading out.

The only problems I have come across by Traveling at night are crab pots and one time going down the ICW, I put my trust into the chart plottor and went aground after that I went by the Nav. aids (markers) along with my depth gage.

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Old 12-02-2010, 06:19   #6
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Night sailing is a magical experience, very different from daytime sailing. Your senses seem heightened. The sounds, the feel of the boat, the stars, perhaps some phosphorescence in the water, etc. all combine to make it almost seem that you're in a different world. At least that's the way it is for me! I love to sail at night.

To make it go smoothly, pay extra attention to your preparation. Have everything you'll need laid out and ready to go, including food and hot drinks. Be sure to have an extra pair of eyes available if anything looks "odd". And stay clipped in with your harness at all times.
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Old 12-02-2010, 08:37   #7
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A few other suggestions.

Safety - the crew should be wearing pdfs with strobe lights and whistles. Run jacklines; as per Huds advice, everyone should be tethered while on deck.

Night vision - it takes about 20 minutes to get accustomed to the dark. Use red lights to mitigate against vision issues. Judging distance is very difficult at night. Logs and other debris are very difficult to see; a full moon helps.

Nav aids - make a list of the nav aids and light characteristics in advance and know to which side you will leave them.

Vessels - review the lights found on various vessels.

Have a great time, I love sailing at night.
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As I sail, I praise God, and care not. (Luke Foxe)
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:35   #8
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To me night passages are easier.

I think the main issue is that if you do day sailing for a while and then go for a night passage you may get very sleepy very soon and find it difficult to manage. Maybe sleep up the day before and take very strong coffee in your thermos. When we do a lot o night sailing I never go to bed before 02:00 because that is when my night trick normally ends.

Ah, thermos, yes - it may also be cooler at night, so get warmer clothes ;-)

Good luck, tell us your findings afterwards!

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Old 12-02-2010, 10:13   #9
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Hi all: I'm a day person so not too keen on nite sailing.Have spent many offshore on a transalantic and a number of deliveries in Alantic and carribean. Yes the night is beautiful and I can name many of the stars, but night sailing means missing the day and even though I have excellent night vision,I am still am handicapped in every aspect of the various sailing chores .Ite is almost impossible to see floating debris when moving along at a good clip with spray and the bow pitching into the blackness.Don't like fog?,well, there's lots more of it atnight. It is axiomatic that one should use multiple inputs for your navigation but I have seen most depending exclusively on ther chartplotters after dark with out so much as a glance ahead. Yes the night can be enchanting in the earlier evening but by 2 a.m. we are all much less alert and prone to mistakes,Give me my bunk that is warm and dry and I'll pass you tommorow when I get up early while you are still sorting out the mistakes made from fatigue the night before; if you are even awake to see me go by. BTW I don't singlehand offshore at night, but have picked crew solely an their ability to go all night. And off course far from land,it seems that some of the issues mentioned may be somewhat reduced,but never eliminated.
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Old 12-02-2010, 14:17   #10
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Night sailing...cautious yes...weary no...with planing and care you will join other sailors who have added another dimension
to their sailing. Just a few items, all may not be applicable to
your location or conditions on your overnight passage.
You and your crew(if any?) Must be well rested.
Make sure crew knows the importance of maintaining night vision, not only you.
If you are plotting a popular route buoy to buoy, I offset route
some especially in less than ideal conditions, others may have
plotted that exact route.
Never use only one reference, use all available to you gps,
radar, depth contours, again especially in less than ideal conditions.
Lay out warm clothes/foulweather before hand.
Have flashlight(red) spotlight,handheld radio, snacks drinks
paper charts all handy.
Will there be only one standing watch at a time? Require
certain entries/checks be done and entered in log...plot progress
on paper chart, check bilge, scan I,m not capt bligh, this will keep the watch(including you) more alert and time will pass faster in the wee hours...oh and some upbeat rocknroll music, if all else fails. And don't pee over the lee rail. And if your comfortable put up those sails, you will never feel more alive!
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Old 12-02-2010, 14:43   #11
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My radar is my friend at night. I start on the 6nm scale and make sure every light I see off in distance, I can see on the radar. Like mentioned, human depth perception at night is non-existent. (M)ARPA is wonderful! I even use the radar to verify the channel markers. If you can overlay it on a chart, it's makes it even better.

We routinely do a ~100nm crossing at night. SW Florida to Dry Tortugas tiptoeing thru the shrimp boats!

If you can time it with a full moon, it's even more magical.

Good Luck!
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Old 12-02-2010, 14:44   #12
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I think that this rule applies either in day time or night but make sure you know where you are with at least two different sources of information, preferably three. GPS and radar and soundings. Buoy, lighthouse and GPS. Radar, GPS, and buoy. If you don't know where you are stop figure it out and then start again. By following this rule you will have little chance of striking something in the day or night. Night sailing is different but fun. If you can do your first night sail on a full moon. This will help you learn to adjust to the differences between day and night.
Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 12-02-2010, 17:01   #13
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As said above, night time sailing is great and nothing to be afraid of as long as you pay attention.

I would add that a lot of people sail overnight because they are trying to cover ground and plan their trips so that they enter the harbor during daylight. Entering a harbor and anchoring are often the riskiest things to do at night. Make sure that the harbor you pick is straight forward and having lighted buoys is extremely helpful. In addition, make sure that the mooring field is well defined, there is nothing like finding a moored boat as you are looking for a place to drop the hook.
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Old 12-02-2010, 17:10   #14
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Eyes & Perception

If the Nav aid turns from Green to Yellow then Red - it's not a Nav aid or insanity

Best nights are with a bright full moon - just amazing how bright it can be
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Old 12-02-2010, 17:14   #15
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I would ditto what Hud and jackdale said above. We always take off on Friday night from Seattle to the San Juans every summer and it's one of the best legs of the trip, almost magical in someways especially if it's a clear night.

craig in the windy, rainy NW this weekend

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