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Old 23-11-2014, 19:33   #1
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Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

Folks,

I'm trying to formalize the watch switch process on our boat. I am wondering if anyone has a tried and true watch change procedure they would care to share.

- z
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Old 23-11-2014, 22:11   #2
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

My instinct is to look at why you want a formal process. Zoom out a little and see if the desire for a specific process is really trying to fix a broader problem in teamwork or communication.

My leadership style is to stress teamwork fundamentals. I feel those are more generalized and yield a stronger group of folks on board.

My gut feeling is that formal processes are a kind of entropy and avoidance of deeper problems. They lead to less independent thought and initiative.

Everyone is different in their leadership style and situation. I'm not judging, and don't know your situation, I just want to give you a different perspective.
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Old 23-11-2014, 23:34   #3
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

I disagree... I think it is a very proactive question and is discussed at length in Marine College.

Handover deals with items like making sure your relief is well aware of present circumstances, focussed and has acquired their night vision.
Obviously not drugged or drunk and you should finish any potential avoidance situation before leaving the bridge.

http://www.witherbyseamanship.com/ch...cket-book.html

The OOW should not hand over the watch if there is any reason to believe that the relieving officer is unfit to, or is temporarily unable to, carry out his duties effectively. If in any doubt, the OOW should call the master. Illness or the effect of drink, drugs or fatigue could be reasons why the relieving officer is unfit for duty. Before taking over the watch, the relieving officer must be satisfied as to the ship's position and confirm its intended track, course and speed, and engine controls as appropriate, as well as noting any dangers to navigation expected to be encountered during his watch.

The relieving officer should also be satisfied that all other members of the bridge team for the new watch are fit for duty, particularly as regards their adjustment to night vision. If a manoeuvre or other action to avoid a hazard is taking place at the moment the OOW is being relieved, handover should be deferred until such action has been completed.
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Old 24-11-2014, 00:09   #4
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

When you wake me (and I WILL be deeply sleeping) I'll want to know how long I have to get ready, what the weather is, and if anything unusual is going on so I can be ready when I come on deck. Then give a summary of our situation, and anything remarkable that happened on the last watch. A heads-up on what could go wrong would be nice too. A definite "I've got the watch" completes the change.
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Old 24-11-2014, 00:54   #5
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

I favour a briefing along the lines of:

Course:
Heading
Time/Dist to next mark
XTE
Approaching Navaids
Any significant current

Hazards:
Vessels
Reefs/Other obstacles

Weather:
Recent
Forecast

Other:
Any other important information
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Old 24-11-2014, 01:36   #6
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

All sounds a bit complex !
I cover 21-00 wife does 00-0300 I do 300-600 and so another day starts!
She will wake me if anything strange happens.
Thats it and its worked for years :-)
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Old 25-11-2014, 08:17   #7
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

This is all very great information. As master of my vessel, I have a huge gap in education and training in formalized processes in this topic, and its embarrassing. This leads to stress and mistakes. While trying to fill my own knowledge and skill gaps I am simultaneously training and assisting my wife on the same material. I want to make sure we are establish "good bones" on the process from the beginning so I have confidence in our skills and process and that I have given her all the information she needs to do a good job.

My request for materials on the watch handover process is my means of mitigating this gap. I certainly do not want to put my wife on watch expecting her to excel on that job without giving her the tools to accomplish the job.
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Old 25-11-2014, 08:37   #8
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

in sloops with wheel autopilot, 4 on 4 off. whatever is to be done is mandated by the happenings of the passage.
in my boat, i have hydraulic otto pile it... i have 6 hour watch "scheduled" and whatever is needed is done is dictatered by my boat's needs.
i often do 12 hours on and more on watch. depends on needs of this boat. before i trust anyone at my wheel i will do a 24 hour stint..watching the watch as well as backup watch.
is my home.
i trust no one with my boat until i know how they respond and react to situations.
handing over watch to someone who has been asleep for a few hours, i splain what if anything is happening, what our course is at present and where we are aimed to go....
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Old 25-11-2014, 08:58   #9
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

Interesting question. We have evolved a system as we have sailed(especially at night):

Person who is relieving is woken up and has 15 minutes to make coffee, grab a sandwich, hit the loo, get dressed and anything they need to do(get their night vision going) (we are flexible on the 15 minutes).

The person coming on watch reads the logbook

Then:

position
weather
wind
wave patterns
any major changes in sail trim
together we check the AIS and discuss anything on it.
If close to shore - anything ahead or nearby we need to keep an eye on
If there are any lights visible - what are they etc.
any unusual noises or vibrations on the boat(rig)
any ETA coming up (have to change tack) buoy or markers
anything else we can think of

Final words from the relieving watch are:


"I have the boat"

I think you'll find that you evolve your own system, but the above are pretty basic (as are the points the other posters have made)
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Old 25-11-2014, 12:43   #10
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

zboss,

Since you both are just beginning with this, I'd actually suggest you try different watch schedules to find which is most compatible with your bodies. But first, little of what I will write will apply to day hops, because as a couple, you'll be informally sharing during the day and sleeping at night.

For longer passages, what we have done (having started with a 4 on 4 off like Zee) is push it up to 6 on, 6 off, and catch the remaining sleep during our off watches. The system originally was based on the facts that Jim, who found daytime napping difficult, was more of a night person, and myself, more a day person, so he got 6-midnight, and I got midnight to 6, or 7, if he could sleep in. It takes about 3 days to get used to it, and we've been doing it as a routine practice now for many years, so that we use it even on overnight passages.

How we do the hand-over, is he comes to wake me up, and makes me a large insulated mug of tea, tells me what of interest is happening, particularly traffic and weather trends. We keep a deck log and record position, SOG for the vessel, wind direction and strength, sea state, swells, sail changes, current changes, if we have to run the engine for any purpose and for how long, and bird sightings (for a friend) in it. He tells me "where we are", nowadays, using Open CPN, rather than paper, though on ocean passages, we still plot on paper. The GPS has the course to the next waypoint (which can be hundreds of miles), and tells speed over the ground. All the other changeovers are informal on our boat. We just try and stay within our tried and trusty sched, because we do not take crew, and it is only us, and we need to keep our rest working for us. However, the long standing agreement is that if anything at all bothers me, I should wake him, and now that we are aging, we have agreed that no one goes on the foredeck at night without the other being up and watching.

Safety practices vary extremely among sailors, and you and your good lady will work out what works best for you. It will partly depend on how athletic and self confident both of you are, and your personalities. Don't take any advice you're uncomfortable with. It'll mess with your confidence.

Ann
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Old 25-11-2014, 13:36   #11
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

Change of watch process is a good one because many I have been forced to endure as a crew on offshore racng boats could never, ever be done for more than a few nights before mutiny would ensue.

I HATE being woken up long before I need to be on deck wasting my precious sleep.
I HATE being left waiting in the cockpit for my change of watch to appear.

When I hve someone on board if its 12 midnight change then I wake the person at 11:59 and expect them to come immediately on deck where I give them a very brief brief, andthen we both head below. Me to head to bed and her to get her kit on, make her coffee, check the charts and generally stuff around in a nautical fashion (!) whilst sticking her head out every few minutes to guage whats going on.

The watch system I use for two handed passages:
0000-0400
0400-0800
0800-1300
1300-1900
1900-2400

It works

The person ON watch does the cooking
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Old 25-11-2014, 13:48   #12
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryon View Post
When you wake me (and I WILL be deeply sleeping) I'll want to know how long I have to get ready, what the weather is, and if anything unusual is going on so I can be ready when I come on deck. Then give a summary of our situation, and anything remarkable that happened on the last watch. A heads-up on what could go wrong would be nice too. A definite "I've got the watch" completes the change.
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Old 25-11-2014, 14:00   #13
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

"...i trust no one with my boat..."


Exactly, which is why I always keep at least one eye open when I'm off watch, then sleep once I come on watch, secure in the knowledge that there's someone, reliable, responsible and trustworthy in charge.
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Old 25-11-2014, 15:10   #14
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

Longest passage I made was 27 days due to heavy weather and adverse winds. If it were not for training and developing a watchkeeper system that I could trust.....I would have become the biggest liability on board.
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Old 25-11-2014, 21:43   #15
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Re: Comprehensive Watch Change Process and Checklist

For the few overnights we have done, we first started with a rigid schedule and then found that loosening it worked well. My wife knows when I am getting good sleep and vice versa, so we let each other sleep if we are still good to go.

However, what I did not know was how detailed a change over should be. Do you write down the engine temp, oil temp, etc... in the log book? Do you discuss VHF or SSB interactions? What about gear that broke? Do you tidy the lines? Make food? Discuss the upcoming four hours? What about AMPS and battery charge?

I think that once we identify a formal process, we will identify where we each have gaps and then focus on those for the change over. For example, if she notices that I fail to keep an eye on the engine stats, my wife will make sure we check that out together before the switch over.
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