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Old 30-03-2011, 10:39   #1
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Watch Keeping

During a long passage, what watch schedule works best for you with 3/4 crew on board?
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Old 30-03-2011, 10:48   #2
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Re: Watch Keeping

in a perfect world, three on six off seems to afford maximum rest with a crew of three.
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Old 30-03-2011, 11:08   #3
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Re: Watch Keeping

With 3 to 4 people on the boat... 4 on 8 off is the best. The 4th person is either the cook or a 24 hr on call Captain.
the Captain being on call 24 hour is the best...
But a cook taking care of the three squares and mid rats is good also.

Rule 5: Lookout at all times. daylight or dark & fair weather or foul. At all times.

The watch that just got off is the call out watch when needed and the on coming watch is left sleeping so they will be rested when relieving the watch.

And if the captain is standing watch, then he/she will have the least experience crew member with them. Thus over seeing that person's training.
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Old 30-03-2011, 11:22   #4
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Re: Watch Keeping

I have always done 3 on 6 off with 3 aboard
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Old 30-03-2011, 11:39   #5
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Re: Watch Keeping

With four aboard, we've done two on, six off except a four hour shift from noon to four PM which shifts the watches by two hours every day.

When we've had to hand steer or the weather was particularly nasty, the person coming off watch slept in the cockpit dressed to be immediately available.
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Old 30-03-2011, 12:58   #6
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Re: Watch Keeping

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in a perfect world, three on six off seems to afford maximum rest with a crew of three.
Or a crew of four. Between six AM and six PM (tropical daylight), it's usually less formal, but at night, three-hour stretches rotating forward (Monday: 6 PM, Tuesday, 9 PM, Wednesday 12AM, etc.) seem to distribute downtime effectively.
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Old 30-03-2011, 13:00   #7
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Re: Watch Keeping

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When we've had to hand steer or the weather was particularly nasty, the person coming off watch slept in the cockpit dressed to be immediately available.
I have dozed in the cockpit in such cases, if you can call jamming myself in a corner to keep from rolling "dozing".
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Old 30-03-2011, 13:08   #8
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Re: Watch Keeping

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
Or a crew of four. Between six AM and six PM (tropical daylight), it's usually less formal, but at night, three-hour stretches rotating forward (Monday: 6 PM, Tuesday, 9 PM, Wednesday 12AM, etc.) seem to distribute downtime effectively.
We always had someone "on watch" to be sure that it was clear who was responsible for maintaining the lookout. When it isn't clear, do you run into problems with everyone thinking someone else is paying attention?

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I have dozed in the cockpit in such cases, if you can call jamming myself in a corner to keep from rolling "dozing".
Sounds like we were on the same crew. Especially restful when weather and spray are both cold.
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Old 30-03-2011, 13:14   #9
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Re: Watch Keeping

I agree with Boasun. I run 4 on/8 off with three aboard, and 4 on/8 off with four aboard with skipper/cook (me) on-call but not standing a watch.

In my opinion there is too much attention on the length of watch and not enough on getting enough rest.
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Old 30-03-2011, 13:25   #10
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Re: Watch Keeping

Another vote for the 3 on 6 off for a crew of three. We normally have a fixed watch schedule starting 1900hrs. which is yours truly and back again at 0400. I usually cram myself in the main salon somewhere were I can get on deck quick if needed. My opinion is that if something on deck requires a 2nd hand Iím not going to sleep thru it anyhow. The plus side is that I get to experience sunrise every morning. During the day we have an informal watch. I do have to admit by day 8 Iím pretty worn down and look forward to the end off the trip. This IMHO wouldnít work well on longer deliveries and 4 would be a better number.
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Old 30-03-2011, 19:04   #11
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Re: Watch Keeping

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We always had someone "on watch" to be sure that it was clear who was responsible for maintaining the lookout. When it isn't clear, do you run into problems with everyone thinking someone else is paying attention?
I wasn't clear. Whoever was sitting at the helm seat was "the watch"...it's just that the turnover was every 20 minutes as in "mind if I go below to pee/get a drink/work the SSB?" etc.

There were always "designated eyes", but that was always "one pair plus random extra pairs".

Virginia to Bermuda, we saw quite a few cargo ships. Turning short of Bermuda south to USVI, we saw maybe three in a week.
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Old 30-03-2011, 19:25   #12
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Re: Watch Keeping

over the last 100,000 miles, this works well for me i love cooking,cant sleep for more than 4 hours at a time, so with a crew of 4,including my self as skip.

the three "crew" do all the watches in 2-3 or 4 hour shifts depending on conditions and if hand steering or on auto pilot.

i cook the main meal,navigate and am on call 24/7.

otherwise with only 2 +my self i will do the 4-7 and 6-9 watch.

generally will not keep a strict watch time sched,so if shorthanded and person on watch is not tired they stay on longer then wake the next when tired.

find this works well and crew quickly get in a rhtym,better to sleep when sleepy than to try to sleep when not and wake up tired for your next watch........
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Old 30-03-2011, 22:11   #13
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Re: Watch Keeping

For 4, I use a modified Swedish system

0600 - 1200
1200 - 1800
1800 - 2300
2300 - 0300
0300 - 0600

Two on watch at all times.

Longer watches are easier in daylight. Night watches get shorter. You get longer periods for sleep.
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Old 31-03-2011, 07:05   #14
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Re: Watch Keeping

I am planning a passage from Cape Verde to Tobago with my wife and maybe one more people. I know some people on long passages during nights are reducing sales, setting autopilote and sleeping... Their point is that to hit a sleeping whales or floating container is a very remote possibility and even if they are on deck, it's quite unlikely to see them and change the course. It's even less likely to hit a ship in the middle of the Ocean, they say they don't even see it for days.

Any thought ??

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Old 31-03-2011, 07:11   #15
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Re: Watch Keeping

With three it was difficult for us coming up the Arabian Gulf. We worked 6 on 3 off after dark - this was exhausting; but since we were moving through oilfields with unmarked moorings and bad lighting with the flares in front, we felt it important to have two sets of eyes.

During the day, we reverted to one on watch, with others catching up with sleep on the deck.
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