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Old 11-06-2018, 01:56   #1
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Using headphones on night watch?

Hi, just wanted to get other opinions around the use of headphones while on night watch. I've heard mixed opinions, including absolutely not, where one headphone in and one out and where both. I personally think noise cancelling ones would be an absolute no! Trying to alleviate the boredom but keep safe.
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Old 11-06-2018, 02:31   #2
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

Personally not for me, sound is one of the senses which may alert you to something going wrong like rigging or sail fluttering, not to mention another ship approaching.

On a dark night 3 decades ago we crossed the busy Solent waterway at night after an evenings dive. We could just hear some big diesels but couldn't see anything until a large portion of the night sky disappeared, the stars literally vanished. Took a little while to work out and then the penny dropped, we were looking up at the fin of a stationery submarine on the surface.

So I won't use earphones.
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Old 11-06-2018, 02:54   #3
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

On a clear night, out at sea, I've used them to pass the time. Your eyes are the primary watching tool. If a ship can get close enough on a clear night that its engine is the first thing that gives it away, you have failed as a watchstander. Near the coast in fog I wouldn't, mostly because I've got an ear open for the vhf and for fog signals.
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:11   #4
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

Wouldn't use headphones in a foxhole either...



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Old 11-06-2018, 03:19   #5
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

“Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.”

Note where ‘as well as’ is placed - it is after ‘by sight and by hearing’. That means that using your hearing is required at all times.
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:31   #6
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pirate Re: Using headphones on night watch?

Its all down to your risk tolerance I guess.. personally I never use headphones anywhere since leaving the RN where as a submarine hunter/killer they were an essential tool.. dislike them and value my hearing too much to abuse it.
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:32   #7
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

What Rupert said ^^^

Listening to a radio on low volume while on watch fine... however..

Anybody caught keeping a night watch on my boat with earphones in lugholes would need to have them surgicaly removed from their rectums at the next port....
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:25   #8
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 664895ss View Post
Hi, just wanted to get other opinions around the use of headphones while on night watch. I've heard mixed opinions, including absolutely not, where one headphone in and one out and where both. I personally think noise cancelling ones would be an absolute no! Trying to alleviate the boredom but keep safe.
Hmm.... I'm not sure if I have ever been bored on a night watch at sea. I've been plenty of other things including worried, tired and such like but never bored.

I don't think filling the time with outside distractions like music is the best strategy, a night watch is after all a duty that serves the voyage; there are there ways (including introspection ).
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:31   #9
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

Bet the OP is getting the expected answers.

Because I assume people are smart enough to not do such a thing in a busy channel etc., far as I'm concerned go ahead and wear them if you are comfortable with doing so.
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:42   #10
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

Guess Boaty is right, it's your own risk tolerance and ability to judge the overall situation if you can or not.
Leave one out is probably a good compromise.

I would worry more about the influence of any electronic device on the magnetic compass. Close is never good.
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Old 11-06-2018, 05:11   #11
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

Your answers all seem very sailboat centric. You hear about listening for diesel engines, etc. What about people who cruise on powerboats. They can't really hear anything outside the boat due to engine noise and yet they are doing so safely. Would putting on headphones really cause you to hear less then a droning diesel engine?
Actually noise canceling headphones don't completely cancel all the noise. They attenuate the constant noise but things that are not constant like a clink/bang/burp seem to get through mine fine. I actually find I can hear changes better in the drone of the engine with the noise cancelling phones then without anything. I actually wear mine to do engine room checks as they seem to make the sound "listenable" instead of painful.
The biggest issue you will have is listening to the VHF radio. You just can't hear it with the headphone on unless you turn it up so loud you are probably waking the rest of the boat. It is why I don't use them. I use a single AirPod to listen to music or podcast and can hear the radio that way.
For those of you who say you never get bored on a night watch: What do you do on watch that keep you busy? Even on the east coast of the US I often don't see anything for hours and even then with AIS I know whether it is anything to pay much attention to fairly early. The moon in usually behind clouds so the water is black and you couldn't possibly get out of the way of anything you saw unless there are lights which can be seen from a distance. I usually end up just looking at AIS and radar and doing a 360 degree scan every 15 minutes or so. I would go nuts without music or podcasts or books on tape to listen to and playing it out loud would not make my wife happy while on the off watch so headphones are the only option. :-)

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Old 11-06-2018, 05:56   #12
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

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Originally Posted by jkleins View Post
..............
For those of you who say you never get bored on a night watch: What do you do on watch that keep you busy? ........

Jim
Think, consider, question, contemplate the now and the future, remember past things but mainly just be with yourself.

Can be as simple as deciding a new way to eat the next meal or a another way to sail or working on a theoretical nav problem; the list is endless when you start thinking about stuff
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Old 11-06-2018, 06:02   #13
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 664895ss View Post
Hi, just wanted to get other opinions around the use of headphones while on night watch. I've heard mixed opinions, including absolutely not, where one headphone in and one out and where both. I personally think noise cancelling ones would be an absolute no! Trying to alleviate the boredom but keep safe.
Standards of watchkeeping vary across an incredibly wide range, so you'll get different answers to this.

COLREGS require an attentive watch by sight AND BY HEARING at all times. My opinion is that you are per se failing to keep a proper watch, if you have headphones on. YMMV.

Even with the engine running, hearing is an important source of information. Very often I am first aware of ships by sound. Also shoals, tidal races. The wind changes note. The ocean is alive with sound, and I can't really imagine how you can be properly in charge of a vessel if you cut yourself off from all the sounds and immerse yourself in something else.

And what about the sounds of the boat? Something creaking, something chafing, a sail starting to luff, the engine note changes, the pilot starts to make a new sound? The bilge pump is suddenly running continuously? Can you really be in charge of the vessel and not listen to her?

Definitely not in my opinion.
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Old 11-06-2018, 06:27   #14
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wotname View Post
Think, consider, question, contemplate the now and the future, remember past things but mainly just be with yourself.

Can be as simple as deciding a new way to eat the next meal or a another way to sail or working on a theoretical nav problem; the list is endless when you start thinking about stuff
I take fixes every hour, both hand bearing Compass and confirming with GPS and entering that into the ship's log every hour. I also tend to steer by the stars. I have a planisphere on board to check the constellations. Being on the east coast of the US, the light signatures of the boats are a real time and real life quiz of the Colregs. Personally, I like the sounds of the sea.....birds, the sound of the water, the wind, fish jumping. It's why I go out there. Would never think to drown it out. I agree with Wotname.....be with yourself and your thoughts.
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Old 11-06-2018, 06:34   #15
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Re: Using headphones on night watch?

Wonder how many read on watch, messing up their night vision? Or gone below to pee, or get a drink, or check the chart. How many have just plain nodded off on watch?

I’ve done all these things.

I’m amazed by those that follow “the rules” so well they are at the helm constantly scanning the horizon at all times etc on watch!
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