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Old 13-11-2012, 07:16   #16
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

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Originally Posted by foolishsailor View Post
We don't run radar at all except in limited visibility. It is a huge power hog, but then on long passages I'm not running the chart plotter either, just the display for my autopilot.

During a 15 min recurring scan I do the following:

Visually scan for lights (night) or vessels (day)
Check heading
Scan for imminent weather ie squalls
If Engine running look at temp and pressure
If sailing scan sails or feel boats motion to make sure boat trimmed well
Sleep and repeat

Once every hour or two I do a log entry as part of watch which includes weather, wind, engine, etc...

I'm sure I missed smething but that is generally it
If you are running your motor...you dont have enough power for you radar ?
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:18   #17
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

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Originally Posted by Seaworthy Lass View Post
24/7? Do you mean you are almost permanently scanning the horizon while sailing?
Since the speed of the boat is 6-8kts, one can certainly take a few minute break from watching to handle 'whatever'.
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:22   #18
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

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Originally Posted by Seaworthy Lass View Post
24/7? Do you mean you are almost permanently scanning the horizon while sailing?
One person should be permanently scanning when underway….
That is why we sailors develop such a shifty eye look about us...
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:22   #19
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

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No, 24/7 wouldnt be common. I was surprised at DotDun's comment, I would have considered that an extreme in the spectrum of what people do.

It is not just containers that are a problem though, yachts are often struck by other vessels, so I am also surprised at the opposite extreme view of "all you can do is take your chances"!

Interesting that the first two responses I get are absolutely poles apart!
There is always someone assigned helm duty on my boat. When it is just 2 of us, we still take 'shifts' at the helm, albeit more aligned to abilities (to stay awake) than a clock. When I have a bigger crew, I have resorted to posting a duty roster so all are aware of their responsibilities.
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:27   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motion30
If you are running your motor...you dont have enough power for you radar ?
Of course, but unless there is impending weather I want to avoid and no wind available or I am topping up my batteries I really try to avoid having the engine on on long passages. Leaving and approaching a harbour, sailing between anchorages, etc...but not generally on a multi day passage. When we top up is usually first thing in the morning after a couple of days when a short run of the engine will put through a good oomph on depleted batteries and then let the solar and wind do the rest...
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:29   #21
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

Lassie,

Maybe I just didn't make myself clear. What I spoke about was at night. During the daytime, there is always someone "up top". We have an autopilot so that person, may or may not be at the helm.

But always, check horizon minimum every 15 minutes. Check weather same. Sails ditto (or more often). Every 15 minutes let your gaze wander over the boat to see if anything is not right.

It's ok to go below to "hit the head" or make coffee, but not to stay below for any length of time. If you're feeling fatigue - wake the other person.

AS you can see, we work on a 15 minute cycle.
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:41   #22
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

even with only 2 on board, there is always someone in cockpit on my boat while underway. is not difficult to maintain regular watches and keep yourself safe.
i use eyeballs and enjoy the dickens out of watching the life in the sea--even at night.

yes i have radar, but i only use it rarely, and yes i have......
but i PREFER to be SAFER than alarms can make me--i want to see what is gonna disturb me, up close and personal. not in my sleep, and preferably BEFORE anything gets close enough to be a problem.
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Old 13-11-2012, 08:51   #23
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

We post a 24/7 watch. I prefer couple watches at night, in other words two married couples trading off watches as teams. Usually four off/four on, with everyone getting a good sleep during the daylight hours. We run a radar guard zone at all times, not just at night, with the alarm set at three miles usually. It's amazing how often the radar picks up a target that the watch missed.

I hit a massive deadhead once that we never saw until we collided. Daylight. Speed instantly went from seven knots to two. Made me appreciate all the kevlar reinforcement in the bow, not to mention the collision bulkhead. No damage.

In the old days we used to run the spinnaker at night if the wind was cooperative. Now that we're older and wiser, the chute comes down at sunset.
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Old 13-11-2012, 08:53   #24
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

Most people here do more than cruisers we have come across (and sailed with).

Personally I scan the horizon every 5-10 minutes while on watch (autohelm is usually on, but unless the weather is awful one of us is in the cockpit).

If a boat is spotted I keep an eye on it every few minutes to see if we are at risk (I look to see if it is stationary relative to some point on the boat, with me in a fixed position). If so, I take a compass heading and repeat this every few min (a very useful technique).

We use our engine infrequently (320 hours in 4 years of full time cruising), so when sailing the radar is put on only on if a spotted boat close to being on collision course is within about 5nm of us, or if we are in a busy area and there are lots of boats around.

The method of scanning is important. Our eyes cannot smoothly track unless they have a target to follow (they move in jerky movements). Our peripheral vision is extremely poor in picking up detail so the most effective way of scanning the horizon during daylight conditions is to deliberately move your eye in small increments (take around 150-200 samples as you go around the horizon). During daylight conditions our acuity is roughly halved 2 degrees off our central fixation, so aim for 180 scans.

This is important even when sailing on short trips. How many of you look behind every 5-10 minutes?

At night our central vision is very poor, so when scanning actually concentrate about 4 degrees from the point where you are looking (either look a bit above or below the horizon or to the right or left of the point you want to examine). One degree is roughly a thumb width at arms length.

After one bad experience (it wasn't a close call, but scared me none the less) I have learned that reading while on watch is not a good idea. Nor is listening to music or talking books (sound is an important cue to many problems).
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Old 13-11-2012, 09:09   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaworthy Lass
I have learned that reading while on watch is not a good idea. Nor is listening to music or talking books (sound is an important cue to many problems).
+1

Appreciate the other info as well.
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Old 13-11-2012, 09:27   #26
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

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Originally Posted by Seaworthy Lass View Post
Most people here do more than cruisers we have come across (and sailed with).

Personally I scan the horizon every 5-10 minutes while on watch
I agree with your scanning technique but not your frequency….. But that is because we are usually 4 to 5 on board.
I am constantly slowly scanning with my eyes about 130 degrees then turning my head.
My experienced watch partner is usually sitting in the cockpit facing aft, so they look up and scan over the stern regularly…. If not…I do

I am not really trying to “track” anything, but searching and sensing for any abnormality in wave patterns, or color.
At night, it becomes more of a feeling, of things directly ahead, within your yaw range, or to the sides where you can use the ambient light.

What keeps me vigilant is the thought of some poor fisherman alone and adrift at night clinging to some flotsam. I have saved some, but wonder how many I have missed!

I guess I separate proper lookout from collision avoidance and navigation, which to me are only the Journeyman aspects of being a sailor
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Old 13-11-2012, 09:35   #27
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

The 5-10 minutes is actually a minimum. Because I am not reading or listening to music/books there is nothing to do but concentrate on the surroundings. The sound of the water, the phosphorescence, the stars, are all the distraction I have at night. I feel with a good scanning technique, the "five minute full scan rule" covers most problems, so I try and stick to that. It is impossible at night to see nets until you are upon them.
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Old 13-11-2012, 10:07   #28
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

My guess is collisions are rare (offshore in blue water that is) Unless you are in a common freighter route. The statistics are probably way out of whack due to the local boating scene/weekend boaters.
Offshore: Egg timer, carefully scan all quadrants every 10-15 mins. Look for the slightest wink of light through the seas. If you think you saw something you likely did, note the bearing and keep looking. or Radar is great if battery supply is capable.
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Old 13-11-2012, 10:26   #29
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My guess is collisions are rare (offshore in blue water that is) Unless you are in a common freighter route. The statistics are probably way out of whack due to the local boating scene/weekend
I agree but it only takes one. Your odds are worse driving to work every day but still...

...once I accidently hit the off switch on my timer and was asleep for a couple hours at night. Woke up suddenly and could see the infamous black wall of a container ship passing less than a quarter mile away. Scared me very badly. I think I must have heard the engine noise in my sleep. I wish I had better hearing and heard it further away as at that distance what happened happened. Closest call I have had, not counting unlit idiot fishermen that is...
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Old 13-11-2012, 12:45   #30
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

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I agree but it only takes one. Your odds are worse driving to work every day but still...

...once I accidently hit the off switch on my timer and was asleep for a couple hours at night. Woke up suddenly and could see the infamous black wall of a container ship passing less than a quarter mile away. Scared me very badly. I think I must have heard the engine noise in my sleep. I wish I had better hearing and heard it further away as at that distance what happened happened. Closest call I have had, not counting unlit idiot fishermen that is...
My scare when reading once was a container ship a nautical mile or so behind me during daylight hours. I heard its engines before I saw it. Cured me for life of reading while on watch.

I remember during my first week long passage how several ships were spotted close by that simply did not reply when hailed on the VFF and two that responded "wait, we will turn our radar on". Made me very aware they were not necessarily aware of little boats in their path.

I hope this thread had made a few people think a little more carefully about what they do, whether or not they are in a boat they consider "blue water capable"!
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