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Old 04-25-2013
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Re: Sleeping While at Sea

We started out doing 3 hr watches, and we still do while around busy shipping areas (windward passage, panama canal, gulf stream). We were becalmed with a dead motor of the Pacific coast of Guatemala and El Salvador. After a few nights with the few ships we encountered spotting us and us being out of their lanes we just both decided to sleep in the cockpit. We didn't use radar or AIS.

In reality the closest encounters we have had are with whales; one surfaced 20 ft in front of us one evening just a dusk. Not much you can do about whales and stray containers in the dark. So our policy now is if we are well offshore we just go to sleep, or sit inside and read or watch shows during the day.

We keep good lights on, even our anchor light. Fish boats outside of north America are plenty and don't have AIS. After many many nights of being on a watch schedule and not getting responses from frieghters, or really ever being very close to them we chose to sleep. After 4 or 5 days at sea, a good sleep makes life much better. If we are in busy shipping lanes we keep a more vigilant watch, but so do the ships.

We have friends who were boarded by the USCG in the Caribbean, they were asleep (in the cockpit) and woke up to a lot of lights shining on them. I think the USCG is more worried about drugs, guns, and people trafficking than sailboats without a proper watch.
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