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Old 11-08-2013, 20:25   #1
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Keeping Watch at Night ?

With AIS, Radar, Sonar, AutoPilot etc
With One or Two people onboard do people just lower the sails and go to sleep
Or do people still do 3 hours watch ?

It seems to me that if the sails are low and you are not in the middle of a shipping channel. Then you should be able to get some sleep

With the gear I mentioned above a LOUD Alarm should go off if something were to approach the boat?
I am not saying take your Valium , Rum & zonk out for 10 hours.
Youtube makes it seem That going on a passage is a 20+ day prisoner of war No sleep torture test

Sailing is suppose to be relaxing, but with no sleep after a few days , I would get a bit cranky
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Old 11-08-2013, 20:56   #2
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

Well, do you like to play Russian Roulette? Sure your odds are better than 1 in 6 if you don't keep watch but not being in a shipping channel is no guarantee that there won't be a ship or sailboat to run into.

Twice when sailing offshore, away from any shipping channels I have come close to colliding with another sailboat. No one on the other boats was standing watch and if we had been asleep as well then it would not have been just close it would have been a collision.

Colregs require you to keep watch when you're at sea. If you do have a collision with another boat and no one was keeping watch on your boat guess who will bear the majority of the blame?

By the way, lowering the sails would not be the best way to go anyway. If you have no autopilot then heave to.
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Old 11-08-2013, 21:03   #3
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
By the way, lowering the sails would not be the best way to go anyway. If you have no autopilot then heave to.
Are the chances of collision any less when not moving?
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Old 11-08-2013, 21:31   #4
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

Wow, im very surprised you ask a question like that,really, last time in a delivery to azores i found a crew member sleeping at the helm and the other one close to fail to, almost get a fight in the cockpit, both kicked in their ass in Azores..

No, i dont drop sails , i dont sleep without a competent crew in the cockpit doing their watch, even with crew or my wife at the helm i keep one eye open the other close, is like im almost in standby all the time.

If you rely in electronics to avoid a collision is up to you, a big ship is moving faster than you, even if you are fast putting your pants and starting the diesel the disorientation created is a big risk. Red light where ? oh my !!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-08-2013, 21:49   #5
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

With only one person aboard - well, you have to sleep sometime. Maybe catnap, maybe heave to, maybe let her run but you'll be relying on your electronic warning systems. Electronics can and do fail in the marine environment. Got backups?

Compared to running under reefed sails, heaved to could mean a little more warning time before the approaching craft comes close IF she's coming from "ahead", but less time if she's coming up from astern. Flip a coin.

With two persons aboard - you're better off adjusting schedules depending on each person's tolerance levels and circadian rhythm. "Three hour watches" isn't carved in stone. Example: my wife takes dusk to midnight; I take midnight to dawn. Three, four, five hour watches - you'll get a sense of it after being underway awhile.

If folk start getting cranky from lack of sleep - well, that's asking for trouble besides ruining what should be a great cruise. Intellectually we all KNOW that a sleep-deprived person could make bad decisions. And anyway, who wants a cranky partner aboard?

Do what suites YOUR crew so everybody gets enough sleep.

One last gentle word of advice/opinion: Maybe other than just coming out the backside of a hurricane/typhoon/cyclone, with two or more folk aboard there isn't reason for NOT having somebody awake, alert, and on watch when underway.

And that's my take on things....

James
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Old 11-08-2013, 22:22   #6
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Keeping Watch at Night ?

Thanks svmariane
Maybe I am ahead of the curve, But Today we have Self-Driving Cars with NO person inside
Ten years ago noone would believe

In the 1990's I would travel to rural Hospitals for work and ask about Internet and was told they had Dial-Up to a town 100 miles away
Today the same now transmit their own high speed WIFI

I will now say that in 2025, People will Laugh at the Idea of staying up all night worried about some ocean crash
Airplanes have AIS & autopilot and they are not running into each other

When the rule is that any boat out past the sight of land Must have ( %%%%% ) to prevent collisions
The seas will be safer

The ship in active motion should be the one most in need of active watch
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Old 11-08-2013, 22:36   #7
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wkstar View Post
Thanks svmariane
Maybe I am ahead of the curve, But Today we have Self-Driving Cars with NO person inside
Ten years ago noone would believe

In the 1990's I would travel to rural Hospitals for work and ask about Internet and was told they had Dial-Up to a town 100 miles away
Today the same now transmit their own high speed WIFI

I will now say that in 2025, People will Laugh at the Idea of staying up all night worried about some ocean crash
Airplanes have AIS & autopilot and they are not running into each other

When the rule is that any boat out past the sight of land Must have ( %%%%% ) to prevent collisions
The seas will be safer

The ship in active motion should be the one most in need of active watch
Methinks someone needs to understand what COLREGS are all about. Please do yourself and others the favor of understanding and following them. It makes it safer for all.
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Old 11-08-2013, 23:08   #8
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

I think anyone who's singlehanded for more than a few days knows that eventually you're going to nod off for multiple hours at a click. It's much more practical and effective than continual cat naps. With the cat nap technique you end up being constantly exhausted, and then when you do need to stay away for a few hours (landfall, shipping, repairs, etc) you are completely fried to a dangerous degree.

The "problem" with singlehanding as I see it is that you then take that attitude and say "well if I can sleep for five hours underway by myself then why can't I with a crew?"

So, to the thread starter:

- If you're going to nod off underway (or just sitting there, it really doesn't matter) you'll want to avoid shipping lanes, do offshore routes, and favor anything that keeps you away from land and known traffic.

- Don't put too much faith in your alarms (AIS/radar/VHF volume cranked up), but they are pretty damn handy.

There really are not a lot of boats running into other vessels on the high seas, especially if you factor in radar/AIS/VHF/radar reflectors. I'm not trying to make light of it, but if you're short strapped on crew I'd much prefer nodding off and being rested to being a perpetual zombie.

Everyone cheered and applauded a recent youtube video posted from a singlehander on his way to Hawaii from Panama: no one mentioned that he (obviously) was getting plenty of sleep.

I know the rules and have a current master's license from the USCG. But the reality of offshore passage making on small crews is what it is.
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Old 11-08-2013, 23:15   #9
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

Connie and I never have a sleep problem! She do a pre mid watch for 2 hrs and I do the rest of the dark hours. The few times I single handed, I did my sleeping on deck during the daylight! But then I can go a long time on catnaps!
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Old 11-08-2013, 23:19   #10
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

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Connie and I never have a sleep problem! She do a pre mid watch for 2 hrs and I do the rest of the dark hours. The few times I single handed, I did my sleeping on deck during the daylight! But then I can go a long time on catnaps!
Singlehanding I think I averaged maybe 2-3 two hours sleeps per day, one in the day time, then maybe a couple of naps here and there. Those multihour ones were godsends though.
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Old 11-08-2013, 23:53   #11
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

I had all my Nav lights on, The few ships that did pass me, I got the crackle on the VHF,

One ship called, Sailing vessel, I just turned my deck lights on to acknowledge I had heard them and knew they were there,

My deck light, Lights up half my sails, So they can see me easily,

Shipping at sea at night, Looks like a Xmas tree with full lighting switched on, Cruise ship, Think Disco,

You an certainly see them coming, Horizen to crunching over you, is about 20 minutes,

Big ships at 30 knots is quite common,

Sleep, I couldnt even sleep soundly at anchor, About 20 minute bursts, But for me, Thats a mind thing, I am fully rested, even tho I am not sleeping soundly,

Comes from a lifetime of working around the clock, And years of 4 or 5 hours sleep a night or day, Depending on what 12/7 shift I was working, Or 18 hour shifts,

But if your not accustomed to weird work hours, and no sleep, Your just a nine to fiver, workwise, you

will find 24/7 sailing, single handed, very difficult. You do have to go with out sleep, This will

Drain you, Mentally and Physically, Longer voyages, the worse it will get,

Shipping channels are clearly marked, so stay well away from them,
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Old 12-08-2013, 00:38   #12
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

interestingly, the start of the vende globe solo round the world race had 3 yacht collisions in the first 3 days. 2 with fishing vessels and one with a stray super buoy. The professional sailors were all asleep at the time and all had the latest electronic bells and whistles.
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Old 12-08-2013, 00:43   #13
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

It's insane to just go down below and get some extended sleep and rely on your alarms. We regularly pass big ships here in the Med that don't have AIS or have it turned off, yes even a container ship and quite a few mega yachts. Sailing alone you're only putting yourself at risk and all other boats out there doing the same thing, but sailing with a crew on board and deciding to do something this stupid is just plain idiotic.

I would never ever count on AIS after the many experiences we've had first hand using it this summer. Radar is far better, but still not perfect.

If you get "cranky" after a few days of little sleep, maybe you've picked the wrong pastime or maybe you should do like us, and not go on long extended overnight passages unless we have ample crew on board.
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Old 12-08-2013, 01:16   #14
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

Expanding on my previous note, yesterday morning about 6am, just as the sun was coming us we found ourselves heading towards some knucklehead who was obviously doing as the OP has described. We took evassive action to avoid a head-on collision with his or her 40ft sailboat four miles off Formentera which had it's sails set in a hove-to arrangement while sailing on a broad reach. What caught our attention, was that the vessel did not appear on our radar screen (it needed a minor adjustment) and no... it was not transmitting AIS and neither were we, and nobody was on deck. But we were on deck keeping watch and able to avoid the other boat. He probably went to bed at the tail end of a long passage and set his boat up in a hove to but apparently left his auto pilot on, so now his boat was continuing to sail towards the island at about 2-3 knots with a back winded genoa.

Eventually his luck will run out... hopefully, he woke up before running into the island which also wasn't broadcasting AIS.
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Old 12-08-2013, 01:27   #15
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Re: Keeping Watch at Night ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by svmariane View Post
With only one person aboard - well, you have to sleep sometime. Maybe catnap, maybe heave to, maybe let her run but you'll be relying on your electronic warning systems. Electronics can and do fail in the marine environment. Got backups?

Compared to running under reefed sails, heaved to could mean a little more warning time before the approaching craft comes close IF she's coming from "ahead", but less time if she's coming up from astern. Flip a coin.

With two persons aboard - you're better off adjusting schedules depending on each person's tolerance levels and circadian rhythm. "Three hour watches" isn't carved in stone. Example: my wife takes dusk to midnight; I take midnight to dawn. Three, four, five hour watches - you'll get a sense of it after being underway awhile.

If folk start getting cranky from lack of sleep - well, that's asking for trouble besides ruining what should be a great cruise. Intellectually we all KNOW that a sleep-deprived person could make bad decisions. And anyway, who wants a cranky partner aboard?

Do what suites YOUR crew so everybody gets enough sleep.

One last gentle word of advice/opinion: Maybe other than just coming out the backside of a hurricane/typhoon/cyclone, with two or more folk aboard there isn't reason for NOT having somebody awake, alert, and on watch when underway.

And that's my take on things....

James
Well said James.

Nil solo long passage-making here so we can't comment on that. It is, however, a very firm rule on this vessel that there is always someone on watch...and really watching too, not reading a book. The electronics are great, but like others here we've certainly come across big vessels with no AIS...and then there's all the fishing boats and other yachts.

So it's 'by the book' (COLREGs) and no Russian roulette on this vessel.

For the OP, our long voyage (Italy to Sydney, via the Panama Canal) was 3-pax with 3hrs 'on' and 6hrs 'off' watches; that worked easily, but of course it needs at least 3 pax. Now we're mostly 2pax and our night watches are more along the flexible lines of what others posted here...but there's always eyes open.
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