I usually don't sleep if I'm within 4-5 hours of something solid on the chart. Further offshore
, I sleep when I feel like it. Sometimes go below but also often sleep on deck under the dodger
. Seldom sleep more than 4 hours at a stretch but have gotten in a solid 8 hours on occasion offshore. been doing this for nearly 40 years and way more than 10,000 miles. If I have a crew, which I seldom do, will maintain a watch schedule and keep someone on deck at all times. My boats have been set up with self steering
vanes so little if anything to do for the watch stander. When you have done a lot of miles on a boat you become accustomed to its ways. Changes in wind or sea will get your attention even when asleep. It's kind of Zen thing becoming one with the boat.
Personally feel that sleep deprivation is a way greater enemy than hitting anything on that big ocean. Making a quick delivery
from SF to Newport Beach
without self steering
, stayed up almost the whole way. Got really goofy after 72 plus hours awake and finally had to heave to and sleep after rounding Point Conception. Hallucinations can be really interesting. 3-30 day passages you simply have to sleep. Can't believe anyone could make a passage
of many days only sleeping 15-20 minute intervals.
As far as things going wrong, it always seems to happen at 0 dark thirty on a moonless, heavily overcast night. Wouldn't make a good story if it didn't. When I sailed solo from SF to Hilo a couple of years ago, the whisker pole pretzeled at around three in the morning on a moonless night under an overcast sky. Woke up to the sail flogging and the pole banging against the hull
. Tried to pull in the sail and lift
the pole out of the water
without success. Took a moment to think it over and suddenly remembered I had roller furling
. Just furled the sail which brought the pole on deck. Detached the whisker pole, replaced it with the spinnaker
pole and I was back in business. The only time I had to attend to the sails
except for one jibe in about 2,000 miles on that passage
Thinking about it, that is the only time I had anything happen on a crossing at night. Had one boat try and self destruct because of crappy construction but discovered it during the day and it was a coastal passage so just headed into the nearest port. My self steering lost
a bolt and ripped out of the transom but that happened in the afternoon and I was sitting in the cockpit
. Being wide awake and on deck didn't help as I didn't realize what was happening and tried to fix what wasn't broken. Doubt it anything I could have done would have kept the vane from tearing out. That's about all that's gone wrong in all the sailing I've done.