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Old 17-09-2015, 11:42   #16
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

I have been a long time solo sailor in the Great Lakes. The first night out is the most difficult when single handed as it requires great organization. First: give youself enough day light that you can set yourself up for the worst case situations, weather, traffic, waves, harness/safety, route, etc.
I have an old windup alarm clock that I set for 15 min intervals. That is about the time it would take for something beyond radar or visual to do me harm.
I start my sleep intervals at dusk waking and scanning for traffic/danger, then sleep for 15 min more.
Protein bars once in a while during the night promote an equalized blood sugar during the sleep/wake periods.
Good luck with your passage making.
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Old 17-09-2015, 13:44   #17
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

Hi Northoceanbeach,

Good question. I think I had a romantic idea of what it might be like before my first trip (no, stop it, not that sort of romantic!), but reality was quite different.

You are so excited the first time you go out for an extended trip like this that in reality you can't get a snooze during the day and normally only get your first couple of hours sleep when you are absolutely shattered...Its a combination of the excitement of the adventure and a fear of what might happen when you fall asleep that stops you from dozing off.

I am still having trouble with this as a relative newbie to ocean sailing. I tend to do passages with a friend, who doesn't sail as much as me and is less familiar with my boat...The passages are short (3-4 days) and I don't give me a chance to build up enough trust in his ability and knowledge of the boat to get a proper sleep at night, so I doze during the day.

When things get a little bit hairy (25+knots), the bangs and clunks you hear down below tend to get you thinking about what might be chaffing on deck,what is not tied off properly or is the rigging holding up etc....You know that if you were upstairs you would check the things that you know were potentially threatened, because you know more about how your boat behaves in different conditions and what to do about it.

That said, i love it. We are about to do a longer passage and no doubt after 4-5 days I will settle down.

Good luck...Don't let the advice and wisdom of CF members stop you going. Its fantastic fun.
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Old 17-09-2015, 14:10   #18
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

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Originally Posted by cabo_sailor View Post
A quick question for the big ocean travelers. I was under the impression that shipping lanes don't really exist anymore and that routing services determined the course. I suppose taking into account weather, currents and so on. So are you safe, relatively speaking, outside the traditional shipping lanes?

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Our experience is that there are still shipping lanes, or at least routes that are commonly used by ships. In some places you see many freighters; in other places you can go for a couple of weeks without seeing any. Heading towards Mauritius from Bali we had a steady stream of vessels going from Singapore toward the Cape - probably 3 or 4 each day within AIS range. Similar, although somewhat fewer vessels, heading towards the SE Caribbean from Ascension. There do seem to be lanes since in one case it was all overtaking vessels, in the other vessels coming south. We talked to an officer on a Chinese tanker and he said they left Venezuela with a load of oil and set the autopilot for the Cape and away they went. I assume all vessels coming from oil ports in Venezuela and heading to Asia would do the same thing from a starting point within a mile or two of each other.
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Old 17-09-2015, 14:12   #19
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

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I have never been overnight, and I was thinking and trying to picture what it would be like, to set the autopilot or windvane and with the wind blowing, in some seas, and then just go below and sleep.

What ISO it like? Is it impossible because you are scared for the first night and then you get so tired you just pass out the next night?

Are there any YouTube videos or anyway to accurately portray what it is like and how you feel? Especially singlehanded.
Yes and yes. Actually it will depend on where you are and the sea conditions and how fast you are going and if you are near a shipping lane and, mostly IMO, how much you trust your boat. You have a great boat. If the sea is calm and you are poking along at 3 or four knots, you'll sleep like a baby. If seas are rough and winds are up, and you've been trying to stay awake for 48 hours, you'll sleep like a baby. IMO fatigue is much more dangerous than the chance of hitting something. If you are really worried still, get a radar or AIS with the alarm to wake you near ships. (I know that is not your question, but that is part of getting your rest!)
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Old 17-09-2015, 14:23   #20
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

sleeping on watch is suicidal for the single hander unless you are WAY offshore and out of the shipping lanes. autopilots are great but are no substitute for a crew.
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Old 17-09-2015, 14:24   #21
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

I have AIS. I will play with it more today. Because so far I can't figure out how to turn it off! When I go out there are always a couple boats in port that have an AIS transmitter, and I sail out close to them so I am constantly getting alarms!
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Old 17-09-2015, 14:39   #22
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

AIS is wonderful, but don't rely on it.
Memorial day weekend I was out sailing and noticed the Coast Guard out, now you know they have AIS surely, but if they do, it wasn't turned on as I didn't pick then up


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Old 17-09-2015, 15:10   #23
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

Well, brownoarsman, I reckon my singlehanded cruising days are over. I just have my Bulova with the enormous face so I can make it out diving watch.You gotta love those Casios. One of the true bargains in life.I had a Rolex Submariner that didn't keep as good time. On one round the world voyage on a super tanker, I compared the two and the Casio beat up the Rolex.
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Old 17-09-2015, 15:19   #24
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

When commercial fishing salmon and tuna off the US West Coast it was common for boats to drift at night while fishermen slept. Boats with larger crews would have a watch, others usually had someone get up and scan the ocean and check the radar every hour or so. When we could, two or more boats would run together, taking turns. If we were on the fish, we drifted at night, otherwise ran to the next fishing grounds on autopilot. With more than one boat, we turned up the radio volume and turned the squelch so only close radios would come thru. That way the other boat could wake you. Now that I'm old, and use the head every two hours, I'm use to short sleep cycles.
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Old 17-09-2015, 15:27   #25
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

What about the motion below? Is it hard to sleep with the pounding through waves or is it usually more gentle?
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Old 17-09-2015, 16:24   #26
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

If you are hard on the wind, there may be some pounding, but not so bad with your boat. If it is still bothering you in the v-berth, switch to the salon berth leeward side of course. I don't think you have quarter berths in your boat, right? Those are the best IMO. Again it depends on seas, wind and how much you trust your boat. If you are worried something on the boat can't take the conditions, you won't sleep well on a dinghy or an aircraft carrier. If you are worried about hazards ahead then you SHOULD not sleep until the threat is reasonably gone. What one calls "reasonably" depends on the person. Again, you have a solid boat; the sound of the water rushing by should lull you happily to sleep!
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Old 17-09-2015, 17:28   #27
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

I think It would once I got used to it. It sounds great! A lot of it I would think depends on how rough it is, it you are going downwind with 15 knot wind and long period swell it would be more restful than pounding upwind.

I just think it would be so weird , even out in the middle of nowhere, no land in sight, to go below and leave the self starring driving. P I trust my boat, I'm going sailing now in a stiff breeze and learning the sounds and everything I can about it. I'm in no hurry, just taking it one day at a time.

I've just always been curious about the sleeping part and especially the sleeping while only self steering is working. I would probably feel a lot better about it if I was sailing with the autoPilot or a windvane sai,in general with the wind direction instead of a compass heading. Sailing with a compass heading would worry me the wind would swing around and accidental gybe you and that can be very damaging.
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Old 17-09-2015, 18:03   #28
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

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I think It would once I got used to it. It sounds great! A lot of it I would think depends on how rough it is, it you are going downwind with 15 knot wind and long period swell it would be more restful than pounding upwind.

I just think it would be so weird , even out in the middle of nowhere, no land in sight, to go below and leave the self starring driving. P I trust my boat, I'm going sailing now in a stiff breeze and learning the sounds and everything I can about it. I'm in no hurry, just taking it one day at a time.

I've just always been curious about the sleeping part and especially the sleeping while only self steering is working. I would probably feel a lot better about it if I was sailing with the autoPilot or a windvane sai,in general with the wind direction instead of a compass heading. Sailing with a compass heading would worry me the wind would swing around and accidental gybe you and that can be very damaging.
There are software tools that can trigger an alarm when conditions change (wind speed / direction, boat speed / course, AIS, depth, etc.) The freeware program I wrote, NavMonPc (NavMonPc), is one of them. There are no doubt others.
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Old 17-09-2015, 19:05   #29
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

Some folks on passage heave to at night, have dinner and go to bed and continue on in the morning. I should think with AIS ,this would be preferable to seeing how quickly you can get the "trip " over with and get safely to your destination. Of course, you have to have the time available. Crossing from the Canaries to Antigua December of '86, we came across a medium size tri hove to in the middle of the ocean, at night, with his running lights on. We were making seven knots about and saw him for a long time as he wasn't moving and this around only seven feet above sea level. From a ship he would have been sighted much sooner. We hailed him on 16 and inquired as to his well being. He told us he routinely did this off soundings and, since he was never in a hurry, he preferred restful sleep at night to hurriedly concluding a pleasant journey. Sensible AND well rested sailor.
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Old 17-09-2015, 19:33   #30
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Re: What is it like sleeping your first night out?

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sleeping on watch is suicidal for the single hander
and homicidal otherwise. Maybe even homicidal for a single hander if they manage to take out another vessel (but they aren't going to be more than a bump in the road to a freighter, etc.).
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