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Old 05-04-2011, 08:56   #31
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Re: Kids and Watches

Damn. I am still puzzled. Just twice as much.

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Old 05-04-2011, 11:15   #32
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Re: Kids and Watches

Maintaining night vision is of paramount importance, so any light at all which might interfere should either be turned off or shaded. If I were sailing with kids as part of my crew, I would tend to assign them to early morning or day watches rather than at night where darkness adds one more danger to the situation. I would also suggest that any time spent on reading, drawing, or whatever is time technically not on watch at all; one cannot keep watch and read, play a game, or draw at the same time, particularly at night where maintaining situational awareness is challenging at
best, just as one cannot drive a car safely and without keeping one's eye on the road.

I would also recommend that the most experienced persons be the ones to stand watch at night. While I am sure many a youngster is truly capable and has the level of maturity one would expect of a watch keeper, I would question the physical capability of dealing with a sudden emergency; the watch keeper will be the person of first response and it may take a few minutes or more for help to come up from below. The person on watch should be physically capable of holding his or her own until others arrive to lend a hand.

As to length of watches, it was customary in the navy to set five four-hour watches rather than six, and two evening dog watches being of two hours each for the purpose of meals and to allow progressive rotation in watch schedules. In the merchant marine, six four-hour watches are normal.
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Old 05-04-2011, 12:06   #33
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Re: Kids and Watches

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Originally Posted by Astrid View Post

Maintaining night vision is of paramount importance, so any light at all which might interfere should either be turned off or shaded. (...)


I would also recommend that the most experienced persons be the ones to stand watch at night. While I am sure many a youngster is truly capable and has the level of maturity one would expect of a watch keeper, I would question the physical capability of dealing with a sudden emergency; the watch keeper will be the person of first response and it may take a few minutes or more for help to come up from below. The person on watch should be physically capable of holding his or her own until others arrive to lend a hand.
Huh, I would think along the same lines when it comes to night vision and any lights on deck/cockpit. Read an aviation manual on that and it was an eye opener.

I like what you say about the sudden emergency at night. It makes a lot of sense what you said and how you said it. We do not have kids but I sometimes sail boats with other people's kids so it is a great thought that I never got to by myself. THX.

I like to keep and I also schedule longer night watches - 6 hours unless the weather is bad. I found it pretty individual - some people love longer tricks while others can't stand the 4 hour one. I always try to watch my crew (and myself) and make a scheme that uses all our abilities to the max - not always possible with small crew, but much more so on any bigger / properly crewed boat.

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Old 05-04-2011, 21:45   #34
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Re: Kids and Watches

The lights are not bright enough to cause any major issues, they are only little brighter than a night light that you would have at home, but there is a bit brighter back in the cockpit to allow for reading etc at night. The person on watch can elect to have the lighting on as we usually do or turn it all off or just sections of it. In the end I do not feel night vision is compromised.

Next up safety is questioned. What you have not taken into account is how and why the boat was designed. It **IS NOT** a production boat, it was designed with a family in mind, to be easily handled, while short handed even single handed if needs require, if sailing in single hand mode, obviously there isn't always someone on watch, we leave someone up there all the time to make sure nothing goes wrong, that can make small course adjustments all of which the kids are quite capable of. Short of that the boat sails its self for the most part.

You question their physical ability. There is nothing physical on the boat that they will need to handle short of one of the electric winches breaking down in which case I would be taking the watch. If something totally out of the ordinary does happen they have their man overboard tag they can press quickly which sets off an alarm, we all come running quickly thus far this has never ever happened. When the weather gets beyond about 34 knots he will come and get me to let me know what is happening, when this happens I will take over the watch or take it with him, even in these conditions nothing has gone wrong. The only true thing I can see happening here is getting dismasted, however since we always sail on the conservative side at night there is nearly always a couple of reefs in the main unless there is less than 10 knots about, if this looks like it might change during the night it is quite clear on the weatherfax that there will be a change during the night, if we are under full main I get a knock at my cabin door I come out we reef, I will stay on deck with him for a while if nothing else is happening I will go back to sleep.

If he just doesn't want to do the watch tonight I will take it, or just gets sick of it half way through I will again take it, so far this has only happened when he's had a head cold, he actually really enjoys being out there at night.


I'm not sure how much racing people here have done, be it inshore or offshore, I get involved with kids development programs where I can mostly with 12 years and older. A couple of times I have had a mixed crew of adults and kids, both of which are still learning to sail but are quite fine with the basics, sailing a Davidson 34 last year I was skipper for a weekend offshore event, we were out for a total for 4 hours, after 2 hours we coped a knock down in a 38 knot gust, the older guys were like a pack of stunned mullets that really had no idea what just happened or what to do next, the kids on the other hand got themselves back on their feet and just started doing what they needed to.
Given the choice between a child such as my two sons or an adult that is physically stronger but with less experience and capability I will leave my son on the watch every time with complete confidence in him knowing if he needs me he will call me.
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:15   #35
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Re: Kids and Watches

Whichever colour night light you choose; to preserve your night vision, you want to use the dimmest light possible, whilst still providing enough to safely perform the desired task.

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 interesting articles:

Night Vision: The Red Myth http : //stlplaces.com/night_vision_red_myth/
Night Vision - The Red Myth

Green or Red for Better Night Vision? http : // www . equipped.com/nitevision.htm
EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm) - Green or Red for Better Night Vision?
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:41   #36
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Re: Kids and Watches

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Originally Posted by JJB View Post
The lights are not bright enough to cause any major issues, they are only little brighter than a night light that you would have at home, but there is a bit brighter back in the cockpit to allow for reading etc at night. The person on watch can elect to have the lighting on as we usually do or turn it all off or just sections of it. In the end I do not feel night vision is compromised.
What you are saying runs contrary to what I was taught at school. It was a marine school and I was taught to become a bridge officer. It also runs contrary to whatever practices I have seen on any boat I have sailed at night, including our own boat. It also runs contrary to what I gathered from reading manuals for pilots and for mariners, including some reports from marine accidents at night, like e.g. the sinking of Uozo.

Not to say 'you are wrong, I am right' but perhaps you will want to consult a specialist on the subject.

Cheers,
b.
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Old 06-04-2011, 06:03   #37
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Re: Kids and Watches

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
What you are saying runs contrary to what I was taught at school. It was a marine school and I was taught to become a bridge officer. It also runs contrary to whatever practices I have seen on any boat I have sailed at night, including our own boat. It also runs contrary to what I gathered from reading manuals for pilots and for mariners, including some reports from marine accidents at night, like e.g. the sinking of Uozo.

Not to say 'you are wrong, I am right' but perhaps you will want to consult a specialist on the subject.

Cheers,
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:53   #38
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Re: Kids and Watches

JJB,

I note after perusing this thread that I don't recall any post beginning with "we are a family of xx and here's how we handle watches with the kids", although there have been a lot of posts.

Anyway, we are a family of four with two boys, ages 11 and 14. We haven't made any 1000 mile passages, but we have made several in the 600 to 850 range (at least 4 or 5 of five or more nights at sea), the first when our kids were 5 and 8 and the most recent when they were 10 and 13.

The way we do offshore night watches on Liberty is a first watch from 8 pm to 3 am, followed by a night watch from 3 am to dawn or later, with less structured daytime watches. I stand the first 7 hour watch, while my wife and older son sleep. The younger boy stays up with me as long as he is able, and we talk, play games, and occasionally watch a movie on a laptop in the cockpit. We have a separate chartplotter, and the chartplotter, wind display, autopilot display, compass, etc. are all in night mode/soft red lights/etc., and the only other light is our masthead tricolor when sailing and deck level running lights when motoring. Our night vision suffers when we watch a movie, but we stop every 10 or 15 minutes to tightly clench our eyes shut, scan the horizon, check the chartplotter (for AIS displays that may have popped up that we're not already tracking), turn on the radar for a quick scan if there are squalls or Navy warships in the area, etc. The first night of a passage the 11 year old will stay up for most of the watch, on second and subsequent nights he may poop out a little earlier, or stay up, however he feels. A 7 hour watch may seem long, but my wife needs quite a bit more sleep than I do, whether we're on passage, anchored, on vacation, or back home in the 'burbs (thank Heaven its been a few years), and my professional training as a corporate lawyer following a stint in the military has well prepared me to stay up all night if necessary, on many successive nights, with little sleep, plus I generally need quite a bit less sleep than she does, whether we're on passage, anchored, on vacation, or back home in the 'burbs and office. Around 3 am, or sometimes a bit earlier or later, I wake up my wife and my older son, and they take the watch til dawn or as long as I can sleep. During the day we spell each other for naps as required or desired, and we usually have an evening meal around 7 pm, after which the night watch schedule begins.

Foul weather can complicate things, but we generally stick (or return to) this schedule when the weather passes, and we've never been at sea where the weather's been foul for days on end. If we ever go transatlantic or into the pacific, we may adjust how we do things, but for now it works.

We have also tried having the boys overlap our watches (I wake up the older son an hour or two before his mom), and on our longer passages we have tried to have a third adult on board (usually my brother), as we've found that a third watchkeeper makes all the difference in the world in how much sleep everyone gets.

Finally, I believe my 14 year old is ready, or near ready, to stand watch alone at night, and if we have any multiple overnight passages come up (we may, as we look to transit the eastern seaboard north soon), he may find himself at the helm alone at night for a few hours.

As for the night vision purists, I suppose it depends on what you're looking for out there. Ships, we see on AIS, except warships and fishing vessels, and we see their lights if they want to be seen. We haven't yet sailed in areas with lots of little local unlighted fishing or other craft, so not much experience looking for those. We sail well offshore at night, so reefs should not be a problem, but nevertheless we look for those too. When a pod of dolphins shows up, we look for them, of course, often aided by phosphoresce trails in the water. As for other small dark floating things (the infamous partially submerged shipping container waiting to hole the boat at the bow), I wonder just how easy it would be to see something like that at night with good or bad night vision. For me, part of offshore night sailing involves a whole lot of faith, and I guess I just have faith that we'll miss whatever is floating or we'll be able to recover from the consequences of hitting it.

At any rate, I'm sure the jury on this board will have a hard time determining whether I'm a worse captain or a worse parent, or both. But at least I began the post with "we are a family of four, and here's how we do it", which is what, I believe, the OP was looking for.

Dave
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:00   #39
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Re: Kids and Watches

Well, I can't start of this post with "my family of xx kids" etc but I do know of a family that let their 16 yr old daughter not only stand a night watch alone but then she went off to sail around the world and returned a hero(ine).
FWIW.
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:27   #40
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Re: Kids and Watches

Didn't a 14 year old just solo circumnavigate the world? Or nearly so? It sounds like you have a working plan which is better that the "dock captains". Thanks Gord for the night vision article.

For solo passages there is often NOONE at the helm. NO ONE can maintain a comstant watch 24 hours a day for weeks and survive. I would rather have my 8 year old at the helm than NO ONE. He is at least smart enough to yell if anything strange happens.

A 14 year old has navigated solo for weeks at a time. In some states legal to drive a car. It is up to the captain to insure that the course is good for the next 8 hours before turning over the helm. In poor visibility we couldn't see an oncoming freighter if we wanted to, that is why we have radar and AIS. In a perfect world I might not see that partially submerged object in the dark anyway. It is a big ocean, the chances of encountering an object is small. Anyone know of a ship that sank from colliding with a floating container at night?

It sounds like his son will be an experienced and proficient sailer by the time he is an adult, I would be happy to crew with him.
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Old 08-04-2011, 05:28   #41
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Re: Kids and Watches

Hi Svliberty..
Nice reply, it's what I had been looking for from others.
The way you are sailing actually sounds fairly typical of cruising families with older kids. When you come up for your next passage I am sure your son will excel with a night watch given the chance, even loosen the rules a little for him with time if he is making good decisions. My boys made better and better decisions all the time as time went on, they have made a couple of not so great ones but nothing that would threaten our safety.
Everyone in the family will get between 7 and 10 hours sleep in a day but it's often broken at sea, my wife when she was still with us would sleep 10 hours straight after coming off her night watch though, interestingly enough she was the only one to be on watch when we coped a knock down at night and the only one to ever go over board at sea.. Two different shifts of course.
Interesting you only turn your radar on for short bursts, ours is always on at night, just on the odd chance we do run across a boat that doesn't have AIS. I can understand not running it all night if power is an issue though.
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