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Old 12-05-2010, 17:24   #31
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Sleep
Read
Send e-mail via HF radio
Check radar
Look out when awake
Stay awake in high traffic areas!
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Old 12-05-2010, 17:37   #32
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I read, organize the cockpit, tidy up the deck, and chill. We use an egg timer set for every 15 minutes. If you fall asleep, worse case scenario the timer will go off and wake you up. If it's a dry night I might even try to get some varnishing in. There's always something to do.

I don't use electronics to navigate short of a GPS for fixes and a depth sounder.

Some of the best sailing in my life was with a drifter, a few knots of breeze, and a bio-luminescence trail of algea in the water.
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Old 12-05-2010, 17:42   #33
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I assume you are referring basically to the night watches... Aside from the required... I do a bunch of snacks which keep me popping up and down and a little clean up, and enter the log, or fix something, tidy up the cockpit lines and so forth. The night vision thing means you can't be keeping lights on or even stare a bright radar screen.

If there are lots of stars - new moon - I spend a lot of time looking at them as there's nothing like the stars out there with no light pollution... and count shooting stars.
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Old 12-05-2010, 17:51   #34
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So, other than the obvious, chartplotting, checking radar, scanning the horizon, checking the autopilot and setting the egg timer to repeat, what do you do on night watch to stay alert, awake and pass the time?

Reading (...) Cross-word puzzles, Sudoku (...) Internet surfing ....
At night ? Could be difficult in a completely blacked out cockpit. NIGHT VISION, think night vision.

So, what do you do to pass the time on a night watch?
I am there, why should I do anything else? Bored - never, sleepy - yes, at times. Then I will sing (well, I will hum;-), stretch, design, calculate.

Do you typically spend your time in the cockpit or down below?
Down below is not 'on watch'. On watch is watching (too). Down below only to check the boat and instruments (or put the kettle on) or pull on a piece of clothing that I was lame enough to leave down below while I knew I would need it out in the cockpit.

Do you actually sleep or doze?
Ashamedly, I admit it did happen more than once. One time more than 30 minutes (I think more like 40) and a couple of times over shorter periods.My only justification (???) is that it was far offshore and I was very sleepy - to the point where I simply lost it.

b.
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Old 13-05-2010, 08:09   #35
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I have some skepticism of teh "do your duties" posts. Offshore away from traffic, theres little to do , especially in a nice tradewind. Theres the odd fix on the charts, theres no VHF traffic and the SSB is off to preseve the (relative)quiet below.

I fnd I can watch the stars and the night sea for hours, but I always worry about sleeping while awake problem. The damger is on a long passage the tiredness builds up. Some times on a boat with lots og crew ( ie more then 2), we give each crewmembers a "dayoff" to sleep as much as they like. It recharges their batteries.

I know many couples run the 6-8 hours watch system. I dont know how they do it quite frankly, certainly not over large 7+ days passages.

DAve
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Old 13-05-2010, 09:13   #36
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I know many couples run the 6-8 hours watch system. I dont know how they do it quite frankly, certainly not over large 7+ days passages.

DAve
dave, ours is only 6 hours one watch in the day:

0000-0400 0400-0800 0800-1300 1300-1900 1900-2400

Have a close look at it and see if it can work for you.

At sea we are more rested than at any other time

We are doing overnight hops and day sails at the monet and we are dog tired. We would MUCH prefer to go out for 1 week than over one night.

With good sleep, and I do mean good good sleep, sailing long haul is the ants pantz

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Old 13-05-2010, 10:49   #37
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Usually when on watch I'm just watching and listening , especially close to shore . Offshore you can do whatever you choose , as long as you scan the horizon , looking near and far , every 15 minutes or so , and keep an eye on your sails and the skies.
My favorite on long passages at night is the portable SSB receiver , I can take it to helm station and just scan for stations , you hear broadcasts from all over the World and it does help to pass time. Music is always great , as long as (like FSMike noted) you don't wake the watch below , or have headphones so loud that you couldn't hear that noise....
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Old 13-05-2010, 12:53   #38
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It really is a law that you must keep a good lookout. You must keep attention to finding whatever is out there and interpreting what it is. I can't imagine having time for anything but scanning the horizon, concentrating on my heading and logging in course and speed. I'm always checking the nav lights to make certain they are working.
If you find yourself nodding off just think about what you might want to do if you run into something and there is a hole in your boat or if a tanker runs you down. That should keep you awake.
If I have a 3 person crew I like a 3 hours on and 6 hours off routine. Longer watches are much easier with a windvane or autopilot.
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Old 13-05-2010, 13:46   #39
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I agree with some of the thoughts in here that things can and do breakdown on long passages. I was on a submarine and plenty of people on the bridge would fall asleep while underway on watch. Quartermaster, diving officer, ood, chief of the watch, etc. All dozing. Hell it was a triumph if you could turn the boat 360 and not have anyone notice, and usually once or twice on a deployment you could pull it off.

There's a balance. The quartermaster nodded off because there's no navigating to do, but the sonar guys stay awake because they're the ears and the only ones who will pick up any contacts. Just make sure you're attending to the basics all the time. Every 10-15 minutes, look around for any contacts.

Give yourself something to do. Have some books on tape (or mp3, these days), hell you can even nod off. Just make sure every 10-15 minutes you're scanning the horizon. If you're near shipping, have any contacts, or are within 100 miles of land, don't be so lazy.

There are solo sailors flying around the world obviously crashed out with their boats going forward so it's not like you can't have a safe voyage being passed out half the time. It's certainly a double standard in watch keeping that every vessel is supposed to maintain a sharp lookout at all times and then we celebrate people who spend weeks asleep on boats flying along at hullspeed with an autopilot engaged.
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Old 13-05-2010, 14:08   #40
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It's certainly a double standard in watch keeping that every vessel is supposed to maintain a sharp lookout at all times and then we celebrate people who spend weeks asleep on boats flying along at hullspeed with an autopilot engaged.
There are certainly double standards, and I think we all end up deciding what corners to cut. While I personally never doze while on watch, I give myself permission to crank up the cockpit speakers and enjoy some great tunes. Admittedly, I'd stand a better watch if I were listening intently as well, but the music certainly helps the hours zoom by.
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Old 13-05-2010, 14:08   #41
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I know many couples run the 6-8 hours watch system. I dont know how they do it quite frankly, certainly not over large 7+ days passages.

DAve
What is the 6-8 system?

Ours is a non-rolling, 6 hour. However, offshore I keep a longer, up to 10 hours day watch to allow for my first mate's culinary exercises. In result my day is often 14-16 hours watch, hers is 8-10.

Is the 6-8 with a longer night or day watch? And is it rolling? And who takes the 8?

PS I share the view on giving a day-off, crew number permitting - a day just for the lucky one - to eat, sleep, read, etc.. Nearly the same can be achieved if you park the boat mid-ocean, turn all your alarms/light on an have one snug in the cockpit, the other sleeping up comfortably down below.

b.
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Old 13-05-2010, 14:11   #42
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"You should . . " and such things in regulations and guides are all fine and good and valuable - but - reality is a whole "nuther" thing. In reality, long distance cruising on a sailboat is probably -IMHO- 50% unconsciousness; 49% conscious semi-boredom and maybe the last 1% or so is stark terror. Sailing boats normally follow wind and current patterns and as such avoid most commercial freighter "direct routes." That is what "saves our butts" during those "unconscious" periods.
- - Day-in, day-out of the same thing/routine for 2 weeks, 3 weeks or a month or more set you up for a natural "mental numbness." This is where the electronics come to your aid. They provide something to "play with" and learn and explore how to use them. They don't get "bleary eyed" due to lack of continuous sleep. But like the human eye they do have "blind spots" where targets are hidden by waves or missed by a heeling or pitching boat antenna. So multiple sweeps are needed to establish a consistent/persistent target. Working on something or just doing something is a great antidote to boredom and sleepiness.
- - In the Pacific Ocean where huge amounts of it are not surveyed and do not appear on any charts it is critical to use supplemental information to plot and resolve the locations of these "uncharted" obstacles and reefs, rocks, islands, etc. Such information is available from sources such as Penniped's Waypoints for the Pacific or other lists of actual sighted and logged hazards to navigation. If the Pacific is in your plans then surely review the wealth of data available at the Pacific Puddle Jumpers web link courtesy of Lat38.
Pacific Puddle Jump Official Web Site
Just reviewing and working with that material will take up a lot of your "boredom" hours on watch.
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Old 13-05-2010, 15:01   #43
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Thanks for all of your thoughtfull replies. I always learn something new by reading or asking questions here. I can't wait to actually be on a night watch and try out some of your suggestions.

To ally anyone's concerns, yes I plan to keep a proper look out, scan the horizon, check the radar, charts and all that. But I was supposing that that activity doesn't necessarily take up 100% of your time on watch. So if you assume that this activity takes up say 50 - 70% of your time on watch and the remaining 30 - 50% of the time is semi-boredom as osirissail says, it's that portion of time that I was trying to figure out what you all do.

You have provided some great ideas. After years of work, chasing kids and keeping up the errands of daily life, I am most looking forward to just being and observing my surroundings as some of you have suggested. Perhaps, I will count those stars.
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Old 14-05-2010, 05:06   #44
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I like to steer. I realize that most people use the autopilot but steering is a good way to occupy yourself and it is fun.
I, too, like to steer. But I also like to watch stars and use them as 'land'marks; but they refuse to stay still. There was a time, on passage from Kuwait to Bahrain, when I did both, but forgot to keep checking the compass also. Skip wasn't too happy when he came to check on things, and we had changed course for Saudi.....
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Old 18-05-2010, 22:48   #45
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night watch

I always liked catching up on the news on the BBC short wave, reading a book while having the radar alarm on and turning off the reading light every 15 minutes (only on long passages).

It was my own private time during our circumnavigation with two young children.
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