Re: Tips on Watch Standing
Lots of good stuff in this thread!
Caveat, I have lots of time on submarines and plenty of time looking at sailboats from the deck of a sail boat and one delivery Florida to VA vial Gulf stream then to Connecticut.
20 minutes between checking the RADAR and scanning the horizon is way too long. Do some math, how long does it take a 600-foot ship and your boat to close from his horizon-distance to a collision? Bow-on, there could be over 30 knots closure, if you turn 30 degrees, you still have 90% of your original closure rate!
Horizon scans ought to be every 5 minutes. the RADAR ought to be on continuously at night - it probably draws less amps than refrigeration or the autopilot.
Speaking of which - don't use the ap except for brief periods. Hand steer! How else are you going to know how the boat is really performing. Staring at the kingpost will just put you to sleep or hypnotize you.
As for Radio, I found that channel 13 is at least as useful as 16. Norfolk Shipping channel proves This. those guys were _very_ happy to work it out with you to keep everybody clear. but it was on 13, not 16! Another time, I was hailing a boat I'd had visually for an hour and didn't get him on 16 ever - then switched to 13 and there he was!
Don't become overly reliant on any single method for contact detection. I've had very large merchants on visual (daytime) that I just couldn't get on RADAR (no matter how I tweaked gain, interference rejection & PRF/range scales and vice-versa!
Tethered at night _has_ to be a rule, you never know where that next rogue breaker is coming from. Rule - stay with the boat.
Have full foul-weather gear at-hand for the watch - Murphy says that when you decide to go find it, the bad things will happen and it will all go sideways before you can get back to the cockpit.
Carry a knife that you can operate with one hand in every layer of clothing that you have on! Just in case you have to deviate from the previous rule.
Cary a waterproof light of somekind in every layer or on a lanyard around your neck.
Have the crew practice sleeping with background noise - I sleep with NPR on all the time - not a problem.
Make sure that your relief is up to it! I once got relieved while the sub was on the surface & my relief lasted 5 minutes - got seasick. On the delivery, the skipper went to take a nap after dinner, came up 5 minutes later, thought he'd been asleep for an hour, looking very groggy. I declined the relief & he _then_ got 8 hours of sleep! No complaints! An alert watchstander is a happy boat.
They should visit the entire boat and review all logs since their last watch _and_ spend 15 minutes in the cockpit eating, re-hydrating - remember, they've been asleep for hours without a drink - probably - then a head-break before finally suiting up to take the watch - even in the daylight.
Someone else already said it, but it bears repeating. Keep the extraneous sounds down. You need to hear the boat and the environment. I really can't sail well with the stereo blasting or ear-buds in my ears. Conversation or VFH radio is not a problem, but music just covers up too much.
We also had a rule that the off-going watch were the first-responders. They knew the conditions the best and though tired are the best equipped to step in. whether it be head breaks it trouble with equipment. OK, some things are all-hands, but if it's a sheet caught up on something or something else that someone has to work that out the watchstander should ask for help before getting caught up in it too much.
Make sure their head is in the game. I can go to sleep after 15 minutes of reading, listening to news, etc. on a good evening at home. If I have to actually think about something, make calculations, etc. I tend to stay awake long after I should have gone to bed. How long to the next tack? how long till cross-track error is too high? If I change course 30 degrees, how will that change CPA? If I slow down 5 knots? How long till I have to wake the skipper & give them that answer? Keep asking the watch those things till they tell you before you ask.
It is by Will Alone I Set My Ride In Motion.