Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal, West Coast
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea
Caution here--I defend commercial vessels for a living, including in collisions where lookout is an issue (meaning at least half of them).
No one wants to "outlaw" singlehand passagemaking, it's something we value both in the accomplisments those sailors have made, and the dream many have to "go it alone" with the elements.
But I do have a problem with the idea that the poor, poor singlehander, after being struck or grazed while below decks by a ship who failed to detect them, has a lesser duty of lookout than the bulker or containership who didn't notice their dim lights at night, or their wood hull end-on in the low sun and reflecting off the water, with a lousy radar reflector that didn't show on radar, and no AIS transmitter nor even a radar alarm.
I've had one incident where the sailor knew a ship was approaching from far astern with the sun directly ahead, yet went below and simply expected the ship to see and avoid him ("he has radar") and his lousy radar reflector. He and his lawyer contended the ship was solely at fault, in spite of the Granholm case clearly saying otherwise. "I'm David, you're Goliath" was the attitude.
So no, I don't think singlehanders who have to sleep should get a break under the rules for doing so, any more than the ship whose mate fails to see a small vessel without any collision-avoiding electronics (or even with).
Obviously. But a solo sailor should have the train to sleep in 20 minutes intervals with visual and radar checks in between and of course an AIS (and a radar) is an indispensable tool for a solo sailor.
Solo sailing is easy, having the train to sleep intermittently (and checking on the intervals) is not. Professional sailors train with the help of physiologists their sleeping rhythm long before each race. That does not mean that they are infallible neither that the lockout on fishing-boats or ships is.
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