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Old 30-07-2020, 05:46   #1
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Sleeping as a couple?

The wife and I are considering getting a 35-40 foot sailboat in the next few months. One of the things we were wondering about is how couples handle sleeping? I'm assuming you take shifts sleeping when sailing? Does it depend on conditions? Does anchoring somewhere eliminate the need for "keeping watch?"

Is there a guide or resource that would teach us what we need to know? We've been on the forums and watching YouTubers but need more concrete information about how to sail and realistically what to expect.
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Old 30-07-2020, 05:59   #2
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When sailing we generally take turns snoozing during the day as needed/desired while one stays on watch.
At night its a more dedicated watch.. 10pm till 2am, 2am till 6am.. then back to day routine where both are awake or taking random snooze breaks.
At anchor the rules state an anchor watch must be kept.. However these rules were written largely for commercial vessels with our little boats an addendum more recently.
Ships often used to anchor in roadsteads or near/in channels hence the need for lookouts.
We anchor in shallow bays close inshore so the need for keeping watch is nil.. unless your paranoid.
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Old 30-07-2020, 06:10   #3
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

What you should do, what is good practice and what people actually do are 3 different things.

Underway:
-What you are required to do is have somebody on watch where they can see all around the boat at all times and paying attention at all times.
-What is decent practice on passage is for the on watch person to stick their head out of the cabin every 7-10 minutes, and do a thorough scan of the whole horizon, ie all around. That means somebody is awake 24/7. Coastal sailing watchkeeping will be a bit more often.
-What really happens varies from full time watch keeper to sailing thru the night with everybody asleep (offshore) with the windvane or autopilot steering the whole time.

At anchor.
-You are required to have anchor lights, and maintain a full time watch on deck.
-Good practice is to have anchor lights, anchor out of any fairway, be ready to get up and check things if you hear somebody approaching. A lot of folks rouse easily when they are on a boat an hear anything unusual like a motor vessel in the vicinity, or the boat motion changes. If there's a storm coming thru, you probably want to have an anchor watch thru the night in case your anchor breaks free, the anchor line starts to chaffe thru or another boat starts to drag towards or into you.

You can look up watch systems on your own. Try several for several days each to find what works best for you and your crew.
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Old 30-07-2020, 06:19   #4
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
...We anchor in shallow bays close inshore so the need for keeping watch is nil.. unless your paranoid.
Or if it's blowing a bloody hooley.
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Old 30-07-2020, 06:22   #5
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

Depending on location, you can do a lot of cruising with few overnight passages.
Keeping an anchor watch as in someone awake on deck is foolish, and not realistic.
Use all chain, (no chafe) and have a good anchor alarm.

You can blow a lot of money Chartering, and I’m not sure what it would teach you as that’s vacationing and not life, and there are all kinds of classes you can spend money on, and again I’m not sure what that will teach you either as it’s not real either.

Or you can buy a boat and start taking baby steps, start out Marina living and doing some day sailing and slowly begin to take longer and longer trips until one day you decide to keep going.

Some weather classes might not be a bad idea, or a couple of books etc. The rest in my opinion you can figure out.

Full disclosure, I took no classes, and didn’t charter. I think Chartering to see if your going to like living aboard isn’t realistic at all, it’s like going on a Honeymoon to see if you’ll like Marriage.
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Old 30-07-2020, 06:47   #6
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

over the past 4 years of cruising we have been on long passages for more than 250 nights ( longs passages = more than 7 days)

Like Boatman, at night we have a formal watch schedule, 4 hours on, 4 hours off. The person on watch is in the cockpit keeping watch. During the day we are both awake and one or the other takes a snooze as they see fit.

We've never had to keep a anchor watch - our Mantus keeps us safe
At anchor we set the anchor alarm.
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Old 30-07-2020, 06:50   #7
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

I'll agree that in many places, keeping an anchor watch is a bit ridiculous. There are only a couple of times I do: particularly bad weather, or if I'm anchored somewhere that's not really a great anchoring spot and has a potential for traffic. That second situation only ever occurs for a couple hours during the day (such as to watch a sailing race), so being on deck isn't a big deal. I wouldn't spend a night anchored somewhere that I felt I had to keep watch unless there was truly no better option.
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Old 30-07-2020, 07:36   #8
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

Underway my wife and I have no sleep "schedule". When one of is tired enough to sleep, they sleep. If the other gets sleepy then they get the other up and go to sleep. I am more interested that "someone" is rested than I am about each getting equal amounts.

The only time we have ever stayed up for an anchor watch was in a tight harbor during a gale when we had already dragged some.
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Old 30-07-2020, 08:14   #9
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

Ours is similar to Boatie. Underway there is always someone on watch. For day hops we alternate "helm" duties. For passages of more than 18 hours we follow a more formal watch system. We've settled on a 3-hr rotation.

Off-watch crew are free to do whatever they want. At night off-watch tends to sleep. During the day we're more lax about sleeping, or not. But the point is the off-watch crew is off-duty, and can relax as best befits them.

We rarely keep a formal anchor watch. We anchor well, and once secure are confident of our staying power. That said, when nasty weather rolls in one of us is regularly checking our status.
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Old 30-07-2020, 08:23   #10
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
What you should do, what is good practice and what people actually do are 3 different things.

Underway:
-What you are required to do is have somebody on watch where they can see all around the boat at all times and paying attention at all times.
-What is decent practice on passage is for the on watch person to stick their head out of the cabin every 7-10 minutes, and do a thorough scan of the whole horizon, ie all around. That means somebody is awake 24/7. Coastal sailing watchkeeping will be a bit more often.
-What really happens varies from full time watch keeper to sailing thru the night with everybody asleep (offshore) with the windvane or autopilot steering the whole time.



You can look up watch systems on your own. Try several for several days each to find what works best for you and your crew.

This notion that it is okay to be underway and not have someone in the cockpit is foolish. As sailors, we should not be promoting this approach.
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Old 30-07-2020, 08:27   #11
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

If the boat has single bunks , there is seldom a problem, but with double bunks an old style bundeling board is required so both do not roll into each other.
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Old 30-07-2020, 08:28   #12
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Depending on location, you can do a lot of cruising with few overnight passages.
Keeping an anchor watch as in someone awake on deck is foolish, and not realistic.
Use all chain, (no chafe) and have a good anchor alarm.

You can blow a lot of money Chartering, and Iím not sure what it would teach you as thatís vacationing and not life, and there are all kinds of classes you can spend money on, and again Iím not sure what that will teach you either as itís not real either.

Or you can buy a boat and start taking baby steps, start out Marina living and doing some day sailing and slowly begin to take longer and longer trips until one day you decide to keep going.

Some weather classes might not be a bad idea, or a couple of books etc. The rest in my opinion you can figure out.

Full disclosure, I took no classes, and didnít charter. I think Chartering to see if your going to like living aboard isnít realistic at all, itís like going on a Honeymoon to see if youíll like Marriage.

Great post and spot on with the feedback for both chatering/sailing and marriage.
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Old 30-07-2020, 08:54   #13
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobnlesley View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
We anchor in shallow bays close inshore so the need for keeping watch is nil.. unless your paranoid.
Or if it's blowing a bloody hooley.
We sleep 'normally' at night on anchor, unless it's blowing on the high end of Small Craft and into Gale Warning (high B6 into B7). Then I 'sleep' out where I can I can keep an eye on things with one eye open.

So ya, slightly paranoid.
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Old 30-07-2020, 08:55   #14
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

One other thing to consider for long voyages is the food preparation.

I admit I like to cook and gladly (usually) take charge of the meal. But I found that after my assigned deck watch, it was taken for granted that I would get the meals ready. And the night watch snacks, and and and. You get where I'm going with this.

So make sure that everyone knows where the food is, and make/buy some snacks (I call it "hand food", no fork required) before you leave on a long voyage. Smoother sailing that way.
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Old 30-07-2020, 09:04   #15
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Re: Sleeping as a couple?

The real world practices for a cruising couple is no different than any combination of two people on board a boat. Here's what we do-

- Underway- someone is on watch all the time, 24/7. An autopilot or windvane makes the job easier, but doesn't mean you both can sleep!

- At anchor in an anchorage you can both sleep, just be sure you have an anchor alarm set. We have one on our chart plotter/MFD that has a loud external alarm buzzer, and I also use my smart phone anchor alarm app close by when in bed.

- At anchor in a gale (for us the threshold is over 40 knots of wind) or if anchored in an iffy area with traffic or hazards (typically in an emergency), we keep an anchor watch at all times.

You asked "Is there a guide or resource that would teach us what we need to know? We've been on the forums and watching YouTubers but need more concrete information about how to sail and realistically what to expect."

Sure, lots of books and trainings out there, but you've come to the right place for real world advice! Just use your critical thinking and know that what other people do or say is not necessarily right for you and your situation. The beauty of CF is that you will get all kinds of perspectives from all kinds of boaters, and you'll usually get at least one POV or piece of advice that works for you. After awhile you learn who you resonate with more strongly and respect their experience and advice more than others and will look out for and even ask for their responses.
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