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Old 09-10-2019, 09:54   #16
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

This is a topic of concern for me as well. I find that I don't do well between 1 am and 4 am if I am trying to stay awake. Just going to sleep always scared me but I have mostly been doing coastal cruising.

When I read the old seafaring stories, I appreciate where most of the fantasies come from since the noise of the hull going through the water seems to stimulate auditory hallucinations in me. I hear all sorts of things when I am exhausted and visually deprived by the darkness of the night. It is like dreaming while I am trying to be awake. I suppose it is my brain trying to organize the sounds that I am hearing into something meaningful.

So I kind of relate to the comment about what you do depends on who you are with.... it may be a cast of characters. Thankfully I don't have any Steven King tendencies.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:01   #17
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

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Originally Posted by jSchooley View Post
Just curious about the options usually selected by single handed sailors. Are you mainly u/w making way under power? Under sail? Reefed? On auto pilot? Adrift?

Or are you mostly on the hook, moored, or tied to a pier?
If you are inland or near coastal then I would highly recommend you plan your trip to be at anchorages each night on the hook. As mentioned, sleep deprived near shore is an accident waiting to happen.

At sea (80-100 nm from nearest shore) is quite a different story. I have found that short (45 min) cat naps are not sustainable over multiple days. One or two - 2-3 hour naps at day, and 1-2 hour naps at night (wake up scan instruments and horizon go back to sleep) were a good balance for me for a 23 day crossing. The closer I got to shore the shorter the duration of those naps.

WRT sail/motor...sail as much as possible. 1st reef in main and reef genoa to 100% at night. Windvane steering as much as possible. if winds die and put the boat into irons or boat motion changes it will wake you up. If motoring use autopilot.

You very quickly become in tune with the motion of the boat and the sounds aboard. When the motion changes, or you hear something out of the ordinary most single handers will wake up.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:10   #18
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

No one else has the conversions with the dolphin? You know the one where it's about the origins of the universal and the dolphin has the better theory.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:20   #19
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

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Sleep hallucinations are a vital indicator of something awful ready to happen. I havenít experienced that sailing yet, but did working a construction project on land. Besides for hallucinations, your thought processes are a jumble. I took myself off the job (benefit of working for myself, the moron client was pissed) and slept for 15 hrs straight.
A lot of things can happen in 15 hrs during a sleep so deep you canít be waken up.
It's been a long time since I singlehanded on longer trips, but had that and it convinced me that lack of sleep was more hazardous than the chance of hitting something or being hit. I heard the voices and the boats approaching I don't know how folks do that 20 minute thing, didn't work for me. 3 days of that and I fell asleep for 10 hours. Fortunately I was becalmed shortly after I fell asleep. Now, if I was worried about it, I'd heave to and get some real sleep. Now that I am quite a bit older, I don't seem to need as much sleep, so maybe there are advantages to age!
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:27   #20
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

Great topic, I usually sail between Cuba and the Fl. Keys, no way i can sleep in the Gulf Stream, not fun but doable.

My questions is, if I sail from Panama to South Pacific, have radar, AIS alarms, am far offshore, then basically set the boat to heave too , then sleep hopefully 6-8 hours.

Or is the 45 min on off ok for long distance sailing? I am not a kid anymore and my body does not do well from lack of sleep.

I understand there are so many variables but what have you done to get a good nights sleep single handed.

Thanks Pop's
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:42   #21
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

I do deliveries on many varied vessels. Below SF Bay I will single handle vessels of appropriate size because the run durations are rarely more than 24hrs. They must have a working autopilot. Not so I can sleep but so I can be a proper lookout which someone fixated on a compass can not possibly be... Staying awake at night, all night isn't that much of a problem if you've spent some time somewhere like the Navy... you do not fall asleep on watch, no matter how long you've been on watch. At night radar is set down to 2nm range to enhance the opportunity to pick up smaller objects floating on the surface. Being able to see small floaters early enough to avoid during daylight is challenging enough, at nite, forget it. I require all vessel owner to verbally and overtly authorize night time running. North of SF Bay there are runs with durations which will require at least one crew.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:05   #22
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

It's a personal thing. I've tried the 20 minute catnap thing and my body just doesn't work that way. A 2 hour nap and I'm good for quite a while.

Coastal cruising is far different than open ocean cruising. Coastal you'll have a lot more boat traffic to contend with as well as that pesky shoreline you don't want to hit.

I have radar and AIS (transmit and receive) so am comfortable when I'm far off shore of just going to sleep at night. If something changes in the boat I'm awake right away.

Nighttime, your eyeballs are great for well lit vessels. Silly running lights 4' off the water can be very hard to spot and often not possible at all so I rely more on the electronics.

You do what works for you and your biorhythms balancing that with your conditions and location.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:16   #23
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

Thatís how I sail solo but I never sleep at night even though I have a 4g radar system running I sleep in the daytime with radar running and a safety circle 1mile around the boat in the daytime I sleep below for 25mins a alarm set to wake me up this way I figure boat is visible in daytime and less likely for a collision sometimes I sleep right in the cockpit if in a area with other traffic possible it takes a while getting comfortable doing this but has worked out so far
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:33   #24
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

Never within 10 hours sailing distance at max speed of shore if it's a lee shore.
  1. AIS with a good plotter alarm
  2. Heading deviation alarm
  3. Trustworthy autopilot
  4. Sleep during the day - not at night
  5. Bring the mainsheet down below, where you can yank and let it out it in a hurry
  6. Get at least 6 hours uninterrupted sleep
  7. Heave to when it's ruff. If your boat isn't 100% stable when hove to -- sorry, IMHO, you need a different boat
  8. Be prepared to deploy either a drogue or a sea anchor for the really wild stuff

And.... never ever sleep even a few minutes with a spinnaker or preventer deployed.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:49   #25
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

Are there any good articles from Vendee Globe racers?
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Old 09-10-2019, 13:03   #26
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyEss View Post
Sleep hallucinations are a vital indicator of something awful ready to happen. I havenít experienced that sailing yet, but did working a construction project on land. Besides for hallucinations, your thought processes are a jumble. I took myself off the job (benefit of working for myself, the moron client was pissed) and slept for 15 hrs straight.
A lot of things can happen in 15 hrs during a sleep so deep you canít be waken up.
Hi,
Right on, been there.
In the end your body takes over on strange autopilot. No matter how hard you try the horizon wonít stay in its right place, you canít think or make sense of anything, logic goes, canít plan. No strength. In severe conditions you just canít go on.
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Old 09-10-2019, 13:16   #27
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

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Hi,
Right on, been there.
In the end your body takes over on strange autopilot. No matter how hard you try the horizon wonít stay in its right place, you canít think or make sense of anything, logic goes, canít plan. No strength. In severe conditions you just canít go on.
Woody
I've bee there too. The effect has always been limited to: "voices from the sea" in my case - never a phantom Captain in full regalia offering to steer my ship - like Joshua Slocum wrote about.

There seem to be two groups of long distance single-handers: those who admit having experienced sleep-deprived hallucinations... and liars. There is a very interesting book that covers this and other effects of sailing in the book: "Psychology of Sailing: The Sea's Effects on Mind and Body," by Michael Stadler. It's good reading for anyone who plans to sail single handed.
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Old 09-10-2019, 13:20   #28
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

Closer to shore, it is easier to sleep during the night as there are fewer boats around. Most people who sail at night know what they are doing most of the time. Set your main radar and AIS alarms, set a back up alarm and then you sleep off. Initially it helps to check every 20-30 minutes to make sure that the radar is set correctly, then you start extending the sleep cycle through the night. You clearly want to be awake while crossing a shipping channel but techinically there is no difference, the AIS will pick it up.

Offshore you will be bored of sleep unless the weather is bad.

It also helps to have a second radar display where you sleep so that you can do quick checks in the middle of the night without disturbing your sleep cycle too much.

Another interesting phenomenon I have observed is that if you are awake and spot a ship coming your way, once you start tracking it and following its movements you end up getting close to her, as if the boats have magnets in them. If you leave your boat on autopilot, the chance of a close encounter is very small.

Finally, there is not much difference at night between being awake or asleep. You will not notice a container or a semi submerged object either way. You will see lights but then so will the radar, AIS or even a low light camera if you care to install one.
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Old 09-10-2019, 13:40   #29
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

I only single handed long-distance once - from Seychelles to Indonesia. My sleep regime was one hour asleep, 10 minutes on deck, 24 hours a day. Got into such a rhythm that after a few days I never needed an alarm to wake me. I got enough sleep that I never felt any fatigue.

Day and night merged into one, I had numerous occasions where I prepared meals at 03:00, not because it was a mealtime but because that was when I was hungry. Read a lot of books, listened to a lot of music.

Where I was sailing, there were a lot of fishing boats, a collision with which would never end well. The people on the fishing boats slept through the day, ran on autopilot, kept no watch and AIS in those days was the figment of someoneís imagination. So sleeping in daylight hours and staying awake at night would have no discernible value. One had to constantly check for boats. I had a new Furuno radar but it was next to useless (thatís another story).

The process was, for me, educational in two ways. Firstly I discovered that I could do a long-distance trip on my own. Secondly I learned that I would in the future do whatever it took to never, ever do it again. IMO its a study of insanity.
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Old 09-10-2019, 13:59   #30
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Re: What do single handlers do at night?

^^^^^

Cassidy, did you once own a yacht called Veedon Fleece? Met her, and perhaps you somewhere in Polynesia in 1990.

Just curious!

Jim
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