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Old 03-03-2024, 14:53   #1
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Signal for hove to?

I plan on sailing out the Chesapeake Bay onto the Atlantic this year. Before then I plan to develop a sleep pattern to permit me to sail at night. However, if I become too exhausted I may have to heave to. If so, what signal should I show? Remain with under sail lights, or anchor light?

Yes, I know I still sails up, but the boat is barely moving. Almost like anchored.
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Old 03-03-2024, 15:06   #2
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Re: Signal for hove to?

There’s no light/shape configuration for something like that. Best you can do is a sound signal of 2 prolonged blasts to indicate a vessel underway, not making way.

Almost like anchored is not anchored. I would still keep normal nav lights on, not your anchor light.
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Old 03-03-2024, 15:14   #3
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Re: Signal for hove to?

There is no special light or sound signal for the situation you describe. If your vessel is under sail even if not making way or doing so slowly the only proper lights under the COLREGS would be for a S/V underway. "Not under command" lights would not be in compliance as the fact you are simply sleeping would not make the vessel unable to maneuver. Likewise, "restricted in ability to maneuver" lights are limited to when the nature of the vessel's work makes it unable to keep out of the way of another vessel. (Rule 3). Hove to does not qualify. An anchor light is never proper unless anchored to the ground; showing an anchor light while drifting or hove to would be confusing to other vessels.
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Old 03-03-2024, 16:41   #4
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Re: Signal for hove to?

Why bother heaving to to sleep? Continue under whatever self steering gear you have.

Trust me, unless you drive yourself to exhaustion, you will wake up when something changes.

Keeping moving seems the less risky path. The more time you spend not watching, the more risk. Extending your voyage by heaving to puts you out there as a target longer.

Otherwise, as everybody has said, you are underway, not making way. There are special sound signals for this case in restricted visibility, but no other changes to your lights and collision avoidance obligations from that of a vessel underway and making way, as long as you are not a fishing vessel.
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Old 03-03-2024, 16:43   #5
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Re: Signal for hove to?

I'd prefer to heave to during daylight hours for short naps and do so with boat on a starboard tack so you are the "stand on" vessel. You can get a visual on the area you'll be drifting thru and don't sleep longer than the distance you know is clear.
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Old 03-03-2024, 16:50   #6
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Re: Signal for hove to?

Extra reef but keep sailing. Use an alarm clock and an AIS alarm.

Also, choose a route where other traffic isn’t expected. Never near shore, not through fishing areas, traffic lanes etc.
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Old 03-03-2024, 16:58   #7
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Re: Signal for hove to?

Is this something you intend to do inside the bay, or outside, and how far outside? Hove to, you are still underway and still have all of those obligations.
I generally measure how far away I am from land by time it would take to reach it if pointed right at it. Sailing at 6 kts, one nm away is 10 minutes. I want to be a couple hours away before I allow myself to sleep. Getting 15 miles offshore is easy to do before you get tired.
Once I am that far offshore, I just let my steering gear do it's thing. Set a radar alarm, and AIS alarm, and an alarm for how long you want between eyeball checks. I don't think heaving too is any safer. If an oil tanker is bearing down on you at 15 kts, it won't make a big difference. Heaving to only make it take 2x as long to get to your destination, which also means you will see worse weather, and be more tired when you get there.
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Old 03-03-2024, 17:26   #8
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Re: Signal for hove to?

I know this won't be popular here, but the reason there's no specific rule for lights in that situation is because that situation is technically a violation of the rules.

I won't judge anyone who chooses to work around this one, but the fact remains that you are obligated, under the rules, to maintain an adequate lookout at all times. If you ended up in an admiralty court I'm pretty sure being asleep isn't going to count.

It's your boat. Your call.
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Old 03-03-2024, 17:38   #9
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Re: Signal for hove to?

I've been surprised being at sea, looking around and seeing nothing, go below to heat some water for some coffee, then stick my head out the companionway only to see a ship passing my bow a half mile ahead of me.

It hasn't happened often, but I've also been awakened by whales in close proximity to the boat.

Singlehanding is not my thing though, so usually have crew on board.
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Old 03-03-2024, 18:10   #10
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Re: Signal for hove to?

When I heave-to at sea I display side and stern lights, and in addition put a bright light in the cockpit. Since I'm not trying to preserve my night vision, the white light makes my boat more visible, which is all to the good.
An AIS with a readout/alarm down below would be a comfort, if you're so equipped.
If in an area with shipping, I'll nap in the cockpit when hove-to or becalmed, [I]sans[I] the bright light, in case I need to ease a sheet or fire up an engine and scoot.
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Old 03-03-2024, 18:50   #11
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pirate Re: Signal for hove to?

If your going to have a kip you may as well keep sailing.. being hove to does not make you any less of a 'target'.
When solo in open waters (outside sea lanes etc) I reef the main right down and rely on the headsail which can be reefed while half asleep if the wind gets up.
I have also at times put on my steaming light if close to a lane (like crossing the Biscay) to increase visibility as it lights up the sail.. a big bright white headsail is more easily seen than nav lights about 5-6ft above the water.
I see no sense in heaving to to sleep, it's a waste of miles unless for a reason such as to close land in daylight.
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Old 03-03-2024, 19:12   #12
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Re: Signal for hove to?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
If your going to have a kip you may as well keep sailing.. being hove to does not make you any less of a 'target'.
When solo in open waters (outside sea lanes etc) I reef the main right down and rely on the headsail which can be reefed while half asleep if the wind gets up.
I have also at times put on my steaming light if close to a lane (like crossing the Biscay) to increase visibility as it lights up the sail.. a big bright white headsail is more easily seen than nav lights about 5-6ft above the water.
I see no sense in heaving to to sleep, it's a waste of miles unless for a reason such as to close land in daylight.
If you turn on the steaming light, you are no longer automatically the stand on vessel when crossing a cargo ship of oil tanker. So I would most certainly not turn that light on.
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Old 03-03-2024, 19:35   #13
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Re: Signal for hove to?

One time, about 3 days out of NZ, headed for Fiji, both Jim and I came down with the Victoria A flu. We were unable to keep watch, and were pretty sick. We hove to, on starboard tack, and we lit the all 'round white. I really don't know if anyone ever saw us, but Jim got well enough after another 3 days, to head us around, back to NZ. We had Customs notified we were returning, and arrangements were made. By the time we got there, I was well enough to leave the boat.

Our reasoning at the time, was that if the all around white is showing, at night, anyone will stay clear, because it indicates to them that they are overtaking, so they must keep clear. If there is no collision, no one will ever know, because when they can see you they can see the boat is hove to and at night the light obliges them to stand clear.

At the time, we were so d--n sick we couldn't have done more than we did.

For the OP: Most of our friends who singlehand, reef for the night only if they expect there will be reason, but keep going whilst asleep--except when hove to to approach land in daylight. Some couples we know have reefed before the weaker crew's watch. Just keep yourself as safe as you can, then don't worry about it. If you do worry, then maybe it's not time to singlehand, for you, just yet. Traffic places closest to land are most populous and demand attention you may not be able to give. They are also the rocky bits. A few of our singlehander friends prefer to sleep in the daytime, when they are more visible to everyone.

Good luck with it.

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Old 03-03-2024, 20:02   #14
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Re: Signal for hove to?

Being hove to is still underway, technically, and even literally for many boats, just really slowly. Besides running lights you can also shine a spotlight on the sails up high to make yourself more visible. I've done that in the past when I was in the shipping lane at night, for a little extra peace of mind... for added visibility, I wasn't sleeping there!
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Old 03-03-2024, 21:06   #15
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Re: Signal for hove to?

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If you turn on the steaming light, you are no longer automatically the stand on vessel when crossing a cargo ship of oil tanker. So I would most certainly not turn that light on.
I have to agree with the other guy. When it comes to tanker vs sailboat, I much prefer to be seen than preserve any sort of “right of way” out on the ocean.
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