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Old 03-09-2010, 22:15   #16
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On board Exit Only our watch system is a non-system.

I stay awake until I can't stay awake any longer, and then I get someone else up. Because I am so tired, I instantly fall asleep when the next person comes on watch.

My secret weapon is DVDs. When I get my wife up in the middle of the night, she can easily take watch for 3 to 5 hours as long as there is a DVD running in her portable DVD player. It's totally magic. Every ten minutes she checks the horizon, and the DVD keeps her wide awake. If she should get tired, she gets me up or someone else up so that she can instantly fall asleep when she hits the bunk.

Nobody lays awake in their bunk counting the minutes before the start of their watch.

It's kind of a weird way to run a watch non-system, but it works extremely well on Exit Only. I end up taking more hours of watch than the others, but that doesn't matter because I still get my sleep, and I never lay awake in a bunk thinking about going on watch.

Dave -Sailing Vessel Exit Only
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Old 03-09-2010, 22:58   #17
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Over the years we have tried many various systems, also being ex navy we have tried splitting the dog watch's.

Now in the declining years we find the best system suited for us, bearing in mind we sail in the below 40degree latitudes, where the weather can change quickly is for 1hour on/off during night. (8pm-6am) and 3 hour stints the rest of the time with a shared 1 hour for lunch 1200 and tea 7pm.

eg:- 0600-0900
1200-1300 (Both sharing for communication and meal)
1900-2000 (Both sharing for communication/meal and setting
the boat up for night run)

Appreciate this will not suit everyone or for that matter anyone else, works for us.

The bottom line is to experiment and find out what works for you, but the best tip here has been "make sure the day watch is strictly adhered to and rest!


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Old 03-09-2010, 23:27   #18
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Two of us went from Vavau, Tonga to lautoka Fiji and then later on to Vila, Vanuatu with 3 on 3 off from 6pm to 6am then 4 on 4 off but relaxed most of the day time as the weather was easy.

I really think 2 hrs off is not enough to get quality sleep...3 is much better.

Going to Noumea in 10 days with me plus 2 inexperienced crew..that'll be interesting...a t least its only 2 days !!
See you out there ....... Alan S.V. Elyse
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Old 04-09-2010, 00:21   #19
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We do 3 on 3 off all the time, but we're a little more relaxed about it during the day, but we still maintain the same schedule because it's easy to remember without writing it down. The first couple of days are a little tough, but then we adjust. My husband cooks, and I clean up. I agree with Charlie about reducing the sail at night, at least for my watch if my husband wants to be sure of uninterrupted sleep.

I like the idea of scheduling time together that someone else posted. I'll have to look into that.
Shirlee Smith
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San Francisco
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Old 04-09-2010, 01:19   #20
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On passage;

We dont use a rigid watch system. For the 2 of us, I do more of the 'On Watch' and rest when I feel I need it. I get well fed and get at least 10 hours per 24 at rest. My wife likes the midnight to 3 or 4 am anyway, when I like to sleep. She sleeps before midnight when I am wide awake.

During the day, as long as one of us is in the cockpit.

A 360 degree watch at least every 7-10 minutes to ensure a 'steel island' is not steaming up to us. We use an eggtimer [set for 10 min] in pocket to remind when to look around.
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Old 04-09-2010, 03:47   #21
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Two thoughts, don't DVDs kill your night vision? We read with red lights and keep only red lights on in the nav station and the galley at night. And, waiting until you are too tired seems to me a recipe for diasaster, too tired is always one step past good judgment in our experience.
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Old 04-09-2010, 06:13   #22
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Originally Posted by Hannah on 'Rita T' View Post
... We read with red lights and keep only red lights on in the nav station and the galley at night...
Extremely dim light of any colour will preserve night vision, since that what night vision is for - for seeing in extremely dim light. At these EXTREMELY dim levels, blue-green is the light wavelength we are most sensitive to, and therefore can be used at lower intensity levels than any other extremely dim colour.

Red light preserves night vision, at a higher intensity level than any other colour, since the dim light elements of the eye are insensitive to red light. This allows you to operate more effectively with red light, as a result of the greater light intensity possible, and therefore more detailed perception of the environment by the red-sensitive elements, of the eye without disrupting your night adaptation.

See also these articles:

Night Vision: The Red Myth
Night Vision - The Red Myth

Green or Red for Better Night Vision?

EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm) - Green or Red for Better Night Vision?
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 04-09-2010, 06:46   #23
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I've always found that daylight watches seem "easier" than those after sunset. I run 4-hour daylight watches and 3-hour night watches if I'm short handed (or 2-hour night watches if I've got crew). From experience, I've found that 2 hours off at night is too little time, and 4 hours on too long.

Some folks think that long/short watches with watches the same time every day is the way to go, but unless you really like those o-dark 30 watches, most folks like the cycling of the watch. I like the night watches personally so I tend to gravitate to those if given a choice.

I don't allow crew to listen to music or read when on watch and that can impact the "wakefullness" and "attentiveness" as well. Some folks find the cooler temps and a quiet the best time of day.

There are others that are more flexible, letting the crew sort things out. What works best is dependent on the vessel, experience, and conditions.

Capt. Douglas Abbott
USCG/MCA IV/M.I./C.I. 500-ton Oceans
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