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Old 05-08-2012, 00:29   #31
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

CF is famous for repeating threads, ad infinitum . . . But as some posters have mentioned the answer is more practical than legal. If you only have you and yourself on board then staying "on watch" 24/7 for longer than a day or two gets difficult, if not impossible.

So you take your "cat naps" in minutes, not hours, and use electronics to help keep watch and operate the boat.

However, I found that traffic was not the number one concern, equipment failure always seemed to occur whenever the eyelids closed. Anything from minor glitches like autopilot dropping off to pump and hose failures that tend to start filling the boat with seawater rather rapidly. And everything else in the middle.

Sailing in the ocean is a rather tough endeavor on a boat and parts and systems are subjected to extreme stress every now and then. Unfortunately that "then" become "now" during sleep periods.

Having a crew mate to stand watch while you get some sleep is best, but even then the duration is rarely more than an hour or two, especially in the dog watches.
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:06   #32
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

I am not an offshore cruiser, but as a retired airline pilot, here's my 2 cents worth. I flew many an all-nighter with a 3 man crew. My policy in the cockpit was when someone had an unavoidable "sinker" at altitude in cruise, to have that person procure a steaming hot cup of coffee for the rest of us, then take a 30 minute nap.
While that was going on, the other two of us would engage in conversation with each other to stay alert. While I am not sure how this might apply to offshore cruising, it worked pretty well for us. I would much rather have an alert and rested crewmember assisting during a "minimums" approach than one who is dead on his or her feet.
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Old 05-08-2012, 04:51   #33
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

If you absolutely have to catch up on sleep, arguably better to do it during the day when there's (hopefully) an increased level of alertness on the other vessel, and you're (hopefully) more visible.

If you plan to do this, you might consider flying a LONG, lazily flapping, snaking pennant (think voyage of the DawnTreader) from the masthead in a fluoro colour unknown to nature. A full blown, rock-concert laser light show might work, at night....

On a more serious note, I agree in principle that it's riskier to get into major sleep deprivation territory than it is to increase the duration between horizon checks.

However it seems to me that if you routinely put yourself in the position of having to make this devil's bargain, then either you're not managing your itinerary well enough, or not managing your sleep well enough: eg banking enough sleep surplus before setting off, getting to know how best to ensure you do get high intensity sleep (eg power naps) when you need to, etc...

and I personally think you're failing in your duty of care to those who might hit you.
(Or, if you're bigger and meaner, those you might hit.)
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:37   #34
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

We asked one of the Vendee Globe guys how they do it. Their answer: wake up every 20 min to check, trim, change course, then sleep again. One guy mentioned that after a long and rough storm ride he slept through three days of alarms, but that was in the Southern Ocean.
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:58   #35
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

So, catnaps on the dogwatches are the way to go, because cats have nine lives...not sure if these are distributed 50/50 across both hulls or one side is favoured over the other, which would make it a handed cat. As long as it doesn't get too curious, it should avoid screwing the pooch. I'm all at sea......
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Old 05-08-2012, 06:09   #36
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

I think the absence of an awake and alert crew member is similar to not wearing a seat belt while driving a car or truck. How many times has a seat belt kept you from injury or death? Hopefully, not many but most of us still wear seat belts regularly because an accident could happen and it might help keep us safe.

On the other hand, I know a family that sailed from San Diego to Hawaii and every night the entire family would go down to their bunks and sleep the whole night through. It's something I would advocate against but statistically speaking, I think that the odds are favored to where the likelihood of a catastrophe is minimal if no one was on watch.

On Rutea, we always keep a crew member on watch, in the cockpit (unless conditions are too rough) with the radar on at night, regardless of how far off shore we are.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 05-08-2012, 06:52   #37
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

I've done thousands of miles off shore single handed in the 90s... I would set a 20 minute alarm.. check and plot fix... survey horizon and keep the radar on a 2 mile guard zone alarm.

One passage motoring up from St Maarten in a dead calm I timed the arrival in St Georges to be in the AM... and as I was doing a 20 minute snooze I was awakened by the sunrise and the light coming in the ports from the port side.... OOOOOOOOOOOOPS... Apparently the autopilot had *disengaged* and the boat for some reason turned 180 and I was on a reciprocal course... for something under 10 min... And the GPS track showed it too.

This is not a way to get sufficient sleep and it is very grueling... but there is no safe alternative. 20 min I make about 2 miles and the horizon from deck level is about 4mi if I recall.. I need to recalc that. But tall ships punch up over the horizon... and you can see them further.

1. Calculate distance to horizon for target (ship) (1.144 X square root of target's height in feet above water.)
2. Calculate distance to horizon for the boat (1.144 X square root of height of eye of observer in feet above water.)
3. Add the two distances.



sq rt 8 = 2.8 x 1.44 = 4
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Old 05-08-2012, 07:29   #38
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

Quote:
Originally Posted by defjef View Post
1. Calculate distance to horizon for target (ship) (1.144 X square root of target's height in feet above water.)
2. Calculate distance to horizon for the boat (1.144 X square root of height of eye of observer in feet above water.)
3. Add the two distances.



sq rt 8 = 2.8 x 1.44 = 4
Or 5 - 10 miles with a fairly cheap AIS receiver.

Offshore I find AIS is wonderful, usually with radar on as well. Yet to see radar pick up a ship which wasn't transmitting. Usually have the alarm set at 5 miles.
It's fairly obvious from reading the posts that most of the doom and gloom merchants have never spent any time offshore solo. With a bit of charging ability getting some sleep and leaving the boat to windvane/AIS/radar possibly isn't top of the list of dangers for a singlehander. Plenty of other things to worry about.

Close to land is a different ball game though..
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Old 05-08-2012, 08:52   #39
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

Quote:
Originally Posted by daddle View Post
An experienced singlehander is more aware fast asleep than half the multi-handed watch standers are wide awake (head down in a book, never actually looking around, too inexperienced to even recognize a situation requiring attention, etc.)
That is so true. I had one newbie show up for his night watch with a laptop, books, headphone and a notepad. I said take all that stuff back down below, you're on watch, not in you den at home. Being on watch means just that, plus the watchkeeper has the safety and lives of the rest of the crew in his hands. He never really got it, even after 21 days at sea.

When I have soloed, I set a 10 minute alarm next to my head in the cockpit or if I'm too tired, do as previously mentioned, heave to and set the radar and ais alarms. I het nerveous just going below for coffee, let alone sleeping.
Just my -.02 cents worth.

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Old 05-08-2012, 09:38   #40
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

We ALWAYS have somone on watch, but we are doublehanders and that makes it possible.

The ocean is really big, but it seems no matter how big, some flotsdam always ends up on our bow. We have avoided large logs, large pieces of trash and pangas(Small fishing Boats) becasue someone was on watch.

Also several people talked about how to caculate the horizon, but more importantly most freighters travel about 20 knots in open waters...

That means in 15 minutes the freighter will travel 5.75 NM. If you are traveling at 7 knots you will cover 1.75 NM in the same time frame...

So in other word,s in a period of fifteen minutes these two boats, traveling head on, will close from a distance of 7.5 NM... Depending on your horizon, 15 minute intervals do not give you much time to react to a danger.
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:53   #41
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

"An experienced singlehander is more aware fast asleep than half the multi-handed watch standers are wide awake (head down in a book, never actually looking around, too inexperienced to even recognize a situation requiring attention, etc.)"


true dat

do not go below to sleep on watch--is stupidity- too much time between trying to awaken once you are hit or hit something and reaction. could be someones life.--no one is able to open eyes for a horizon check when you sleep below and you are solo sailing....
do your catnaps in cockpit. if you need a timer--use one. egg timers are good, wrist watches are good--whatever--make sweeps of horizon regularly so it ingrains--you can teach self how to sleep 15 min or 20 min without any alarm.
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:28   #42
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
We ALWAYS have somone on watch, but we are doublehanders and that makes it possible.

The ocean is really big, but it seems no matter how big, some flotsdam always ends up on our bow. We have avoided large logs, large pieces of trash and pangas(Small fishing Boats) becasue someone was on watch.

Also several people talked about how to caculate the horizon, but more importantly most freighters travel about 20 knots in open waters...

That means in 15 minutes the freighter will travel 5.75 NM. If you are traveling at 7 knots you will cover 1.75 NM in the same time frame...

So in other word,s in a period of fifteen minutes these two boats, traveling head on, will close from a distance of 7.5 NM... Depending on your horizon, 15 minute intervals do not give you much time to react to a danger.
But you won't get any more time to react with someone on watch.

I've never had one head on, though a few which would have been glancing blows. With AIS it takes a few seconds to see if there will be a problem, without checking the log I can't remember ever having a close shave offshore. Often they will change course a few miles away to give you more room. Wouldn't want to go offshore without a BIG radar return though, mines a steel boat so fine on the count. Also I don't know how integrated ais is on cargo ships, radar is certainly watched, from chatting to them they have me from about 15 miles away. Not sure if their ais is on the same screen, don't think it needs to be legally but could be wrong.
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:40   #43
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

It depends.

If you have two or more onboard then someone should always be on watch.

If you are a single hander then sneak in whatever catnaps you can get understanding that single handed sailing is not as safe as having more people onboard. But that's an understood risk that single hander's take.
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Old 06-08-2012, 05:55   #44
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

Quote:
Originally Posted by conachair View Post
But you won't get any more time to react with someone on watch.
I don't understand your reasoning? Are you saying someone a sleep is going to react in the same amount of time as someone awake and on watch?

Also I agree that AIS is a wonderful tool, but it is currently only required on vessels 65 feet or larger. Also fishing vessels are exempt from the requirement to have AIS.

I assume in the UK, most people use navigtion lights and all electronic means to keep a look out. But in the third world, you will be lucky if a vessel even has lights on farless look out.

Since leaving San Francisco in 2010 we have been involved in the rescue of two separate single handle boats, both in Mexico. Both sailors had fallen asleep and woke up on the beach, with there boats being total losses.

Single Handers take chances, but that is their lifestyle and good luck to them... I don't think I could do it!
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Old 06-08-2012, 06:28   #45
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Re: Sleeping while auto pilot is on

ANOTHER single handing and quite frankly DAFT thread.

Sleep? Of course you'll need to at some point.
How long? For as long as you can see that the course is clear, ie, a good look round, AIS, Radar, etc. If I know I have about two hours of clear water around me, i'll set my alarm for an hour to be safe. This gives me a good rest and a good margin of error. Same checks and then another hour, etc.
Go to sleep all night, why, so you are fresh and fully awake when you have to get into the liferaft?

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You need to take a sailing course. It will answer all your questions.
In 3 pages, the very first reply was the best and most usefull.
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