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Old 27-02-2008, 21:10   #1
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Singlehanded Watchstanding?

I recently read an article about some guy who crossed the Atlantic in a small sailboat. He didn't have a crew to keep a watch schedule, and he would have needed to sleep at some point on the trip. How did he do it? Have modern electronics progressed to the point where sonar and radar can safely keep watch for a few hours at night, waking the singlehanding skipper when the boat is on an intercept course with a radar target or sonar detects a submerged danger? Was this guy just lucky not to hit anything?
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Old 27-02-2008, 21:17   #2
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Yes, there are people who do this. Personally I would not think about it. It's like paying Russian roulette.
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Old 28-02-2008, 04:17   #3
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Yes, this guy just lucky not to hit anything.
Modern electronics has progressed to the point where sonar and radar can keep watch for a few hours at night, waking the singlehanding skipper when the boat is on an intercept course with a radar target - but NOT ASSUREDLY so (not “safely”).
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Old 28-02-2008, 05:24   #4
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I’ve occasionally wondered about this, never having done it myself, sailing… At least in earlier years, from the accounts I’ve read (and until the boom in publishing, I’d read most of them up to about twenty years ago…), the accomplished single-handers seemed to, first stay well clear of known shipping lanes (harder to do today) and when they arrived in shipping lanes were rested enough that they were able to do the 20 min- nap, look around, 20 min nap routine for an extended period…

It intrigued me, because shorthanded (a couple for instance) one is still in a position where staying fresh is a challenge and seems to require planning and some discipline… Solo sailing without the supposed assistance of questionable techno-gadgetry doesn’t bother me conceptually or philosophically, I am just fascinated by how they manage to do it for weeks on end – we used to do the nap/scan, nap/scan thing with 2/3 man recon teams years ago and one can stay amazingly alert, but I’ve been intrigued by how single-handers manage especially when in heavy shipping areas, unknown land-falls or in heavy weather when “not doing” intermittent watch-standing simply isn’t an option…
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Old 28-02-2008, 05:53   #5
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I guess it all depends on his course,If you sail "AROUND" known shipping lanes,which are well documented nowdays,It is possible to some extent to lesson the likely cause of a major incedent.You ask if he was lucky,he might well have been,but he might have also had a higher risk factor due to unducumented vessles in the area and the proper time needed to respond to the warnings of any onboard equipment to an impending danger while asleep.WARNING...Don't try this at home!!!!Systems may fail!!!But then again,he made it,thays not to say he will next time.Maybe his ability out weighed the danger of it all happening.I don't plan to cross oceans and never will but there are others that will and succeded.Mudnut.
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Old 28-02-2008, 07:21   #6
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I've only done one-nighters (no radar or AIS) along the East Coast. What I do, is determine any known fishing areas, as well as the deep water port inlets, and then time my naps around them. The biggest problem I've had, to this point, is determining the course of traffic I do spot. A lot of the ships are so lit up, it's hard to tell at first if they are coming or going.
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Old 28-02-2008, 08:21   #7
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Going to sea will always be a risk. It's all a matter of how much risk is acceptable to you.
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Old 28-02-2008, 09:54   #8
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Absence of sleep is a disaster waiting to happen.

Try to use a radar with a loud guard zone alarm to wake you in time to do something. Ive done 20min on and 20 asleep. It's hard but I was not comfortable with being asleep longer in some areas of traffic.
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Old 09-03-2008, 09:03   #9
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Sleep during day

I have never done but I have read. Most of what I read says they try to sleep during the day when they are very visible to other craft. That way they are less likey to get run over and are more alert at night when things get dicey.
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Old 09-03-2008, 13:11   #10
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Years ago, having grand ideas about long range single handed cruising,I started to test the waters literally...up to 2-3 days with cat naps tolerable, but not safe!
Beyond that, "cumalative" effect of fatigue became very dangerous on many fronts not the least of is judgement and reaction time. Oddly enough hardest time to stay alert was during the day. At night always seemed to be more on guard, few of the methods used to stay alert...crushed ice chips...jelly beans...smoked cigars (bad ones)...egg timer, just in case nodded off...singing along with upbeat rock n roll...
singing along...maybe thats why I was alone?
Longe range alone not for me, 1-2 days alone ok, after that need anchorage and nights sleep. Takes a special person, would'nt want to be one.
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Old 10-03-2008, 04:43   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
Going to sea will always be a risk. It's all a matter of how much risk is acceptable to you.
I have a very low tolerance for the risk that accrues to me, due to the activities of others.

Putting others at unacceptable risk is irresponsible, and an abuse of your right to engage in personally risky behaviour.
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Old 10-03-2008, 12:15   #12
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If you mean your vessel hitting another vessel because you are asleep then yes...absolutely. But if your sailboat is small enough (which tends to be the situation with solo sailors) and you are the only one on board...then whose life are you risking other than ones own life? Perhaps someone in a life raft, but what are the chances of that?
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Old 10-03-2008, 12:18   #13
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Quote:
But if your sailboat is small enough and you are the only one on board...then whose life are you risking other than ones own life?
If a big ship hits you and you die they could end up in jail. It's happened. If you consider the sailing routes that are preferred for sailing are preferred also by commercial ships. The odds of getting hit is not so small.
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Old 10-03-2008, 12:30   #14
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I was never promoting the idea of solo sailing. What I meant that is that one factor is how much risk one is willing to take for themselves....which is true unto itself. The other factor, that I never mentioned, that you and Gord are mentioning, is the factor of other people. Because I omitted the other people factor, does not mean I do not believe the other factor does not exist. It does exist.
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Old 10-03-2008, 15:04   #15
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In my humble opinion, I feel anyone sailing solo is being selfish.

It is dangerous. For both the person choosing to do it. For anyone else out there on the water. And for the rescue services who might be called upon to save some souls if there was an incident.

There's hundreds of routes to find crew etc so no need to take the risks - or impart them on others.

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