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Old 11-05-2010, 05:58   #16
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"One night I gunna start counting the stars."

Be careful they're not sheep, mate!
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Old 11-05-2010, 06:10   #17
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What do you do on watch? Pay attention.

We are ready when our 3 hour watch starts. Have snack, coffee, etc. ready, and a visit to the head out of the way. Life jacket and tether on (that's easy because we usually sleep in them) when making a passage.

The VHF radio is on and volume up, and the non-watch person has learned to sleep with it that way. I don't listen to music because I want to be able to hear the radio.

I sit down for five minutes, and sometimes I'm up in four - doing a 360 lookaround, and check the chart plotter for AIS hits, and the radar (an old green screen) for anything showing up there. I check the gages, the boat speed and the engine rpm to be sure that Laverne and Shirley are in sync with each other. I look at the route to be sure we're still on it.

We take position reports every hour. That's something to look forward to on a 3 hour watch. George makes up a paper sheet in a tablet, and when the passage is over, he transfers the information to his log book. Yes, we do have paper charts, but don't do the positions there.

And for entertainment, as others have said, I watch the sunset (I get the first watch), take photos and write in my journal until it's dark. I watch the sky and the water (one night we had a number of big dolphin right beside us for a long time), and of course watch for boats. For a diversion, I talk to the dog, pet the dog, and try to keep the dog from waking up George.

Paying attention adds to my comfort level while I am on watch, and probably helps me to get to sleep when it's my turn.

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Old 11-05-2010, 06:54   #18
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Like Mark, I never get tired of just watching and listening to the world at sea. Every couple of hours I go make little marks on charts. I especially enjoy dark nights offshore. Feels like flying.
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Old 11-05-2010, 07:10   #19
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I realize that this isn't the military, but I don't see how on a crewed vessel, the "on watch" person could possibly sleep in the cockpit. It seems to defeat the entire concept.

Also, I hope you'll pardon me for ruining the romance of the moment, but when "on watch", you should be doing what Entlie described- your duties, tending to safety of ship. In the beginning, the novelty will make it seem enjoyable, but after a time, the tedium may begin to grind on you. Folks like Mark, Entlie, and Liam have learned to enjoy it and I can tell that they are truly suited for life at sea. You might be like that, but only time will tell.

It's also your duty to get adequate sleep when off watch, and you'll have to train yourself to sleep through the normal noises of shipboard life like galley chores, radio, etc, yet also be responsive if you hear the "off course" alarm, or anchor alarm, or bilge alarms go off.

Please don't think I'm trying to bleed the fun and romance out of your cruising dreams, but there is an element of responsibility and good seamanship that goes with the dream.
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Old 11-05-2010, 07:24   #20
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I do 6 hour night watches double handed. Guaranteed rest. 6 hours is a long time to peer into the dark, though. I choose snack foods that are of little substance, but require vast ammounts of time to eat. Sunflower seeds in the kernel are perfect. I try to master the art of spliting them and extracting the seed without using my hands. Because it takes the longest. Chewing the skin off almonds then slowly grinding the centre takes a good few minutes, too. But the rest of the time, I think about modifications to the boat. Best if you own an old boat!
When you start sleeping with your eyes open, I set a dead man's alarm - to go off every 10 minutes - whereupon I'll do the standard scans: radar, horizon, chart plotter etc.
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Old 11-05-2010, 07:46   #21
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I do 6 hour night watches double handed. Guaranteed rest. 6 hours is a long time to peer into the dark, though. .
You're the first I've heard do 6 hours at night! We do one 5 hour and 2x4 hours and long day shifts.
The long sleeps are whats so important imho to keepiing us happy
A 6 hour sleep at night would be bliss!

Are all your watches 6 hours? 12/6/12/6?


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Old 11-05-2010, 08:09   #22
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Play the guitar. If you're good at it, the rest of the crew might join you and begin a party. If you're bad, it put's them to sleep, which is where they should be anyway. Either way it's a great past time. It certainly is difficult falling asleep while
playing guitar .
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Old 11-05-2010, 08:19   #23
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4 hours during the day. Rotates the night watch. Night watches from 8pm to 2am, then 2am to 8am. The person off at 8pm makes a hot soup at 7.30pm and we enjoy an hour or so of hanging out before the grind begins.
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Old 11-05-2010, 08:28   #24
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my worst time to be or even try to stay awake is the 2 am to 6 am period. Once the sun comes up I'm good for the whole day!. I can handle the evenings up to about midnight and then I fall apart. I guess I'm not too much fun to go bar-hopping with. LoL
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Old 11-05-2010, 21:50   #25
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Too much faith in electronics for my taste. What about a weak echo, within your sea clutter and the gain not tuned to optimum...?
Electronics are your eyes and ears at night. Obviously you need to be able to tune and interpert the radar. The device is worthless unless you take the time to use it and learn how to "see" with it. "Weak echo" is no worse than "weak eyes" due to being tired. It takes several sweeps of the radar to really resolve if anything is out there. As the boat rolls and pitches the radar is getting slightly different angles on any possible targets which with experience is a lot easier than trying to find something in the dark with the naked eye. And a good radar like a Furuno can pick up targets you will not even see visually until you are right up on them. Practice during day passages until you build confidence in the equipment and your ability to "read" it.
- - In fact, the hours on watch will fly by if you are using them to practice navigation and keeping a radar watch. Learning to use the various features like range alarms, EBL's for closest point of approach and time; even set and drift when you have a land target. There is an enormous about of versatility in modern radar equipment. Learning to use it will make the night and day hours fly by and at the same time increase your confidence in yourself and your ability to safely voyage.
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Old 11-05-2010, 21:58   #26
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G'day all,

Another system: approximately 6 hours on/off continuous. When Ann and I started out cruising offshore I was somewhat a night person and she was more a morning person. Thus, I do the 1800-2400 watch, she does the 0000-0600. In the SW Pacific area, we join in a ham net at 2040 Z which is usually just after I go on watch, and she often stays awake to listen. Then sleeps 'till she wakes up near mid day. We have lunch together, then I try to have an arvo nap. I'm not good at daytime sleep, but it usually works out ok... the 6 hour slab in the night is great.

Over the years this system has become second nature to us, and we don't usually feel shortchanged on rest while at sea. If vile wx intervenes, all bets are off, and we modify the schedule to fit the circumstances -- flexibility is sometimes required!

Cheers,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiabl II on the hard at Bayview Slipway, Pittwater NSW, Oz
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Old 12-05-2010, 01:13   #27
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As we usually sail double handed, SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) and I usually run a 3 on 3 off system. If not much is happening in the morning watch, we usually let whoever is off watch have a lie-in. Also, we don't have much of a system during the day

At night, we tend to hand steer a lot of the time, boat sails faster and it passes the time.
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Old 12-05-2010, 09:27   #28
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Electronics are your eyes and ears at night. Obviously you need to be able to tune and interpert the radar. The device is worthless unless you take the time to use it and learn how to "see" with it. "Weak echo" is no worse than "weak eyes" due to being tired. It takes several sweeps of the radar to really resolve if anything is out there. As the boat rolls and pitches the radar is getting slightly different angles on any possible targets which with experience is a lot easier than trying to find something in the dark with the naked eye. And a good radar like a Furuno can pick up targets you will not even see visually until you are right up on them. Practice during day passages until you build confidence in the equipment and your ability to "read" it.
- - In fact, the hours on watch will fly by if you are using them to practice navigation and keeping a radar watch. Learning to use the various features like range alarms, EBL's for closest point of approach and time; even set and drift when you have a land target. There is an enormous about of versatility in modern radar equipment. Learning to use it will make the night and day hours fly by and at the same time increase your confidence in yourself and your ability to safely voyage.
Totally Agree and my post was rather more directed at those who have utter faith in all things electronic! Having been trained up in radar in the navy (the days when the valves had to warm up and you used an eye shield during the day time!) and having followed it on through to where you have really huge amounts of sophistication and are not burning as many amps as you used to in to-days modern sets; I have seen utter faith in, for example, MARPA, and then utter confusion when the results differ wildly, either due to a missed sweep (the boat rolled at the wrong time or the transmission lobe missed the target) - leading to utter confusion!

As you say - (and as my 12 yr old geek says, RTM) - Read the Manual!! Finally, the Colregs say that radar is "an aid to navigation" but, if you have it, you are Required To Use It....(in periods of reduced vis etc, etc) Tony
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Old 12-05-2010, 15:47   #29
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While on watch I never tire of listening to the voices in my head, especially when they are talking about me.

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Old 12-05-2010, 16:31   #30
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A variant on listing to music is listing to e-book or such. We are accumulating a collection of them currently (life of Pi is great listening!). They have the advantage in that I usually don't play them quite as loud as the music.

I don't snooze while on watch. Too much to enjoy. I usually take the 11 pm or so watch and stay on until I get too tired. My wife doesn't like sailing in the dark! She doesn't mind if it is getting a bit lighter out, soon, thus the timing. If we ever spent more than a week off shore, we'd have to do something else.
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