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Old 13-11-2012, 06:19   #1
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Lookout - What Do You Do?

There are long and passionate discussions here on the blue water capability of boats, but more boats probably sink from collisions than being unseaworthy.

What technique do cruisers here use for avoiding collision (both on short and long passages)?

It would be interesting to read what techniques are used and I think it would be a useful thread for newbies too.
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Old 13-11-2012, 06:21   #2
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

Human at the helm using eyeballs and all available tools 24/7.
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Old 13-11-2012, 06:24   #3
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

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Originally Posted by DotDun View Post
Human at the helm using eyeballs and all available tools 24/7.
24/7? Do you mean you are almost permanently scanning the horizon while sailing?
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Old 13-11-2012, 06:33   #4
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

Lassie,

I hate to say it, but the chances of spotting a semisubmerged container are virtually zilch. lower than zilch at night. There are all kinds of devices, from infrared heat seekers to camera mounted on the mast.

Just not gonna happen. All you can do is take your chances.

No way any small cruising boat is gonna have someone at
the helm eyeball scanning and using all available devices 24/7.
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Old 13-11-2012, 06:40   #5
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

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Lassie,

I hate to say it, but the chances of spotting a semisubmerged container are virtually zilch. lower than zilch at night. There are all kinds of devices, from infrared heat seekers to camera mounted on the mast.

Just not gonna happen. All you can do is take your chances.

No way any small cruising boat is gonna have someone at
the helm eyeball scanning and using all available devices 24/7.
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!
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Old 13-11-2012, 06:43   #6
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

I ask my crew to do a horizon scan (360) every 10 minutes. Before altering course they need to do a horizon and radar check (especially at night). That helps with vessels. Debris is a whole other issue.
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Old 13-11-2012, 06:44   #7
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

Well I was talking about submerged items. Scanning the horizon for other vessels is a different story. Naturally you keep an eye out for that, plus radar, AIS and everything else you've got.

Most two-handed cruisers I know, use an egg timer (15 minutes) to wake up during the night watch.
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Old 13-11-2012, 06:55   #8
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Jack dale makes a good point there are two types of collisions; vessels and debris.

I always require a set of eyes on deck 24/7. Scans every 15 minutes, with more frequent in heavier traffic areas. At night on long passages with the family I do this with a 15 minute repeating timer attached to my gear and sleep between scans and then get a good 2-3 hour sleep during the day when my wife is on watch. Her night watch consists of keeping the kids safe and happy in the boat.

Regarding debris, as I mentioned in another thread I have smacked large debris twice, one time I was staring right at the water hand steering when we hit a submerged object. We were a day and a half out of the Panama Canal on the Caribbean side and nailed what we think was a 50gallon drum. The collision sound was loud enough and sounded metallic-y, we assume it was a drum based on the shaped of the fibreglass chunk it removed and the fact that the boat survived the impact.

I was staring right at whatever we hit and it didn't even register. Only so much you can do or prepare for, the rest is rolling the dice, just like leaving your house everyday for work.
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Old 13-11-2012, 06:58   #9
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

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Well I was talking about submerged items. Scanning the horizon for other vessels is a different story. Naturally you keep an eye out for that, plus radar, AIS and everything else you've got.

Most two-handed cruisers I know, use an egg timer (15 minutes) to wake up during the night watch.
I am talking about specifics. What do you mean by "keep an eye out"?

And do you run your radar constantly? (We don't have the power for that). If not, when do you run a radar?
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:04   #10
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

One of the benefits of having a larger boat is that you can have more lookouts on long +24hr passages.
I insist on 2 people on watch, one constantly on lookout from the elevated helm position and that they switch every half hour on their 4 hour watch.
Constant visual scanning plus a radar watch set at 12nm
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:08   #11
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

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Originally Posted by Seaworthy Lass View Post
I am talking about specifics. What do you mean by "keep an eye out"?
Horizon scans every 10 minutes and paying attention to what is ahead.

Quote:
And do you run your radar constantly? (We don't have the power for that). If not, when do you run a radar?
I sail OPBs. If there is sufficient power the radar is on at night; always on in restricted visibility. AIS, if available, at all times.
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:08   #12
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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
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:09   #13
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
One of the benefits of having a larger boat is that you can have more lookouts on long +24hr passages.
I insist on 2 people on watch, one constantly on lookout from the elevated helm position and that they switch every half hour on their 4 hour watch.
Constant visual scanning plus a radar watch set at 12nm
I like a similar system. I run a modified Swedish watch with 2 (at least) on each watch.
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:14   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdale

I like a similar system. I run a modified Swedish watch with 2 (at least) on each watch.
Can't wait until our midgets are old enough to be daddy's little watch leader. So we can run double watches on our boat.

Pelagic has the timing right as well, when ocean racing we never let a helm run longer than 30 minutes, concentration levels plummet after this time period...seems same would hold true for watch keeping.
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Old 13-11-2012, 07:14   #15
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Re: Lookout - What Do You Do?

Lassie,

I do what Foolish Sailor does. The only difference is letting the radar scan every 15 minutes at night or in inclement weather. AIS always on

We both do night watches (3 hours on, 3 hours off) so we catch up on sleep during the day.
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