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Old 19-10-2013, 20:34   #1
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Question for those who sail at night or solo

If you are sailing on blue ocean overnight or on an extended trip how to you keep lookout for other vessels/objects? I'm sure its even harder when you travel solo? Do you use radar or just go to sleep and pray?
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Old 19-10-2013, 20:43   #2
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Re: Question for those who sail at night or solo

Most people I know going solo sleep during the day and keep watch at night. Either solo or otherwise, at night I usually run the radar at timed intervals (a couple of minutes on, 20 minutes off) to conserve power. I tend to change that ratio somewhat when I'm crossing a heavily trafficked shipping channel, like the one into New York.
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Old 19-10-2013, 20:51   #3
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Re: Question for those who sail at night or solo

There are many ways, none is 100% safe

1. Keep alert at nite and sleep in day time.
2. Set alarm using radar and AIS
3. Some set alarm clock every 20 min and take a scan on the horizon and get back to sleep. But I tend to sleep 30 min and wake for 2 min cycle. I need my RAM sleep.
4. Stay out the shipping lane
5. Bring DVD and watch "All is Lost"
6. or just stay home and bitching anyone who actually go sailing.

Frankly, it is not as dangerous as riding a motorcycle these days.
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Old 19-10-2013, 20:56   #4
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Re: Question for those who sail at night or solo

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I tend to change that ratio somewhat when I'm crossing a heavily trafficked shipping channel, like the one into New York.
I would never go to sleep when doing costal sailing, too many barges and fishing boats. But everyone has their own safety margin. The captain makes the call.
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Old 19-10-2013, 21:24   #5
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Re: Question for those who sail at night or solo

When more than 50 miles offshore or as traffic dictates, I sleep when I feel like it. Uusually sleep at night but I naturally wake up every couple of hours and take a look around and go back to sleep. If I have any concerns will sleep on deck under the dodger and often do it 'cause I like sleeping there. Been doing that for many many thousands of miles.

When less than 50 miles from anything I wouldn't want to run into, I stay awake. Have done that for longer than 72 hours but wouldn't suggest making a habit. You get really really weird when that sleep deprived. If sleep is a necessity, head offshore and/or heave to in areas with possible danger.

I'm really surprized at the people that think they have to keep watch at night rather than in the daytime. Ships and other boat traffic that are running lights, and I am, are way more easily noticed at night. As far as unlit hazards in the water, at night you have virtually no chance of seeing them so why stay up?? Ask the Titanic Captain about that. To each his own but the reality of actually making a long solo passage and just talking theory are two different things.
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Old 19-10-2013, 21:37   #6
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Re: Question for those who sail at night or solo

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I'm really surprized at the people that think they have to keep watch at night rather than in the daytime. Ships and other boat traffic that are running lights, and I am, are way more easily noticed at night.
I think others sleep in the day time and watch at night because their tiny boat can be seen easier in the day than at night. At least that is the theory, does it work? Who knows. Let each one makes their own decision.
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Old 19-10-2013, 21:46   #7
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Re: Question for those who sail at night or solo

Make friends with your radar and ais ....if nothing is going on , close your eyes day or night for 20-30 minutes every chance you get. It adds up. Do the extra mileage and move 20 miles away from shipping lanes, the traffic reduction is well worth it. You sleep all the time, but never really sleep, you're in the twilight zone. Once you get a good routine you can go on forever.
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Old 20-10-2013, 01:20   #8
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Never ever go 72 hours without sleep. Rest do very short naps. Throw out your idea of a work shift. Get something near sleep. But never think its okay to try this.
You have to train to shift your alert time. Shift the routine. At 72 hours your really screwing with your body and its chemistry. If you get through this time you will be wiped out on the other end.
Much better to cat nap and preserve energy. Be routine and systematic. Unless you are truly exceptional at 72 hours you won't be making good choices.
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Old 20-10-2013, 01:36   #9
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Re: Question for those who sail at night or solo

I sail long distances with a full crew, and we keep constant watch. But sailing at night, I have no illusions about being able to see and avoid debris -- we rely on the laws of probability.

During the day it's often possible to see floating junk, but unless we have a crewperson standing at the bow, we usually see it as it floats past. We've sideswiped semi-submerged timbers, and I know other boats who have sailed through floating lines and net debris (and fouled their props), but so far nothing worse than that.

On the ocean, radar might show you the really big stuff, but when the swells are up there's no way you're going to detect a floating telephone pole or the like. I doubt if forward-looking sonar would be any better in the swells.

For ships, I use visual and AIS, and radar if we've got fog.
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Old 20-10-2013, 02:26   #10
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Re: Question for those who sail at night or solo

If I were along I would more or less follow Roverhi's routine. With someone else aboard and I were skipper we would run watches around the clock.
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Old 20-10-2013, 02:41   #11
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Re: Question for those who sail at night or solo

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Originally Posted by donkey_jaw View Post
If you are sailing on blue ocean overnight or on an extended trip how to you keep lookout for other vessels/objects? I'm sure its even harder when you travel solo? Do you use radar or just go to sleep and pray?
You should have two, three, or preferably four onboard so to keep a proper, 24-hour watch. Otherwise, you're a risk to yourself and others, as well as breaking the rules.
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Old 20-10-2013, 03:12   #12
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Re: Question for those who sail at night or solo

I turn on the watchman on the radar and set it for 15 minute intervals. It beeps when it turns on and scans the horizon for a minute or two. After a while I can catnap almost immediately after closing my eyes. Lotta catnaps as this will typically go on all night.
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Old 20-10-2013, 04:51   #13
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If you are sailing on blue ocean overnight or on an extended trip how to you keep lookout for other vessels/objects? I'm sure its even harder when you travel solo? Do you use radar or just go to sleep and pray?
Singlehanding..
Not off the shelf - pay attention.

Off the shelf and not in any shipping lanes- ais and radar, both with alarms. Have a look once an hour. When you only see another ship once a week or so it gets a bit easier to relax.

Drawing a great circle line between major ports on Google earth can sometimes show where there might be more shipping. And marine traffic can sometimes pick up targets quite far offshore and show where the big boys go before you leave . (like Biscay)
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Old 20-10-2013, 04:54   #14
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You should have two, three, or preferably four onboard so to keep a proper, 24-hour watch. Otherwise, you're a risk to yourself and others, as well as breaking the rules.
What level of risk is it when you see a ship or 2 a week and ais/radar picks them up before they appear over the horizon?

Still breaking 5 though.
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Old 20-10-2013, 06:44   #15
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Re: Question for those who sail at night or solo

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I would never go to sleep when doing costal sailing, too many barges and fishing boats. But everyone has their own safety margin. The captain makes the call.
I was talking offshore. I would never sail 24 hours a day, when solo, going coastal, unless absolutely necessary.
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