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Old 10-11-2008, 22:45   #1
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watch while solo

i've done a quick search for this but couldn't find any results,
it may be a stupid question but having never done it before i was curious to know what you do with the boat when you are sleeping whilst sailing solo offshore?

do you set the autopilot and grab short naps here and there? do you heave to and sleep or what?
do you down to a bunk or stay close to the steering etc etc

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Old 11-11-2008, 00:58   #2
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I couldn’t imagine not having someone on watch.
I'm no fan of single handing if it means over night/s with no watch.

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Old 11-11-2008, 01:43   #3
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Depends where you are.Are you near land?Near a port?Near a shipping route?If you are ,your naps should be short ones.I prefer to nap inside,feel safer there.Quarter berths are not so good if you may have to get into the cockpit quickly.I like cabins where you can flop down on either side with all your weather gear">foul weather gear on.The AIS system sounds like it will be good for singlehanders.But I would still have a radar detector if I could get one.If the AIS works as advertised,the chances of being run down are greatly reduced.A collision with another yacht probably wont sink you.I think smaller,badly equiped and crewed fishing boats are the enemy.
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Old 11-11-2008, 01:43   #4
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Yes it can be done safely - although many out there will disagree, its a personal choice!

When I am sailing solo I vary my sleep according to my location. On my last trip I was having 20 min on/off routine and this changed according to my location. When near shipping areas I ensured I was awake, I never slept when approaching close to land, I never slept whilst the engine was running, several other rules but each to their own. I did see several ships whilst out there, and I always saw them first, I believed I was far more vigilant then any ship out there. Remember they will be relying on their radar only so its up to you. I found that I enjoyed resting through the day more than the night.

I will no doubt have comments that it is the rules to maintain a watch at all times, the only ships keeping a true watch will be the Navy/Customs etc.
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Old 11-11-2008, 03:42   #5
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Originally Posted by Tim88 View Post
I will no doubt have comments that it is the rules to maintain a watch at all times, the only ships keeping a true watch will be the Navy/Customs etc.
Or on Swagman

Most who do sail solo at night will take short naps. I've never heard of anyone 'heaving to' just for sleep - it is usually done to take a respite from handing the boat in bad weather.

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Old 11-11-2008, 04:05   #6
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Taking naps is not something you want to do when you are in the vicinity of anything which can be trouble. So coastal singlehanding means no sleeping because of the unpredictable traffic - such as fisherman heading out or in at any time of the day not to mention commercial shipping.

Offshore there is much less going on and you can sail for days and not see a thing ...except of you transit shipping lanes. The speed of commercial vessels is such that they can appear from nowhere to become a hazard in 15 minutes or less.

To be safer use a radar with a guard zone alarm.
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:07   #7
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Numerous short "Cat Naps" is the recurring theme for long distance solo sailors:

British Vendee Globe sailor Mike Golding, 44, has been working with top sleep scientist Dr Claudio Stampi (known as Dr. Sleep), who was commissioned by Nasa to study sleep in high stress environments.

He elected to use single-handed sailors as the most appropriate medium.

Golding says that one of the most powerful strategies is "cluster napping".

"I never take longer than one hour and I quite frequently sleep in bursts of 17-18 minutes," he said.

See; "Sailing in the land of nod" ~ by Rob Hodgetts
BBC SPORT | Other Sport | Sailing in the land of nod

Dee Caffari, the first woman to sail around the world against the prevailing currents and winds, said:
“I fell into a routine where I had four hours of sleep in 24 but I had it in catnaps – 20 minutes, 40 minutes and my long sleep was 90 minutes. I adapted to it very quickly.”
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Old 11-11-2008, 06:43   #8
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Sailing along the coast I would hove to to nap at times. Set the timer, and give myself plenty of time before I could drift far. After awhile you get use to the timer, and will be up before it. You fall into a rythum, unless it is complete exhaustion.

I also found that Frolic would actually speak to me. You can tell a lot by the sounds coming from the boat. Just the sound of water passing the hull will indicate any speed change. You become one with the boat!........i2f
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Old 11-11-2008, 10:55   #9
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Offshore solo

Originally Posted by martinworswick View Post
what you do with the boat when you are sleeping whilst sailing solo offshore?
Offshore I possibly sleep more than on land. Aries windvane aways does the steering, at night the radar gets turned on with guard zone and I get up once an hour to check all is well. Radar is great, picks up squalls as well. Daytime if I'm napping then kitchen timer set to every 20mins or so. Just bought an AIS which I have high hopes for, speed and cog will be handy plus knowing name of ship if you need to speak to them. But after Biscay solo and recently canaries to azores and back I've seen only a handful of other vessels offshore, single figures. Shipping lanes haven't been a problem cos i just don't go near them. Inshore is a different matter, I can do 2 days without too much trouble but you need to be very careful making decisions, sleep depravation can do bad things to your judgement. Offshore I find it best to get away from land and other boats as quickly as possible and spend plenty of time down below, during the day as well as the sun wears me out more than I realised. Plenty of people disagree with singlehanding but offshore I can live with the risks. After a while offshore away from the bombardment of western media I find it hard not to feel awestruck by the immensity of the universe and to live life for a time minute by minute is a rare thing indeed. Atlantic next for me, bring it on

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