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post #134 of Old 09-24-2012
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Re: Is sleeping OK?

Back to "Is Sleeping OK?"

Two things needed to be considered.

1) Is it desirable?

2) Is it feasible?

Is It Desirable

A well rested alert crew is essential. A single handed sailor must be as alert as any other sailor, so yes it is desirable. If there is a collision, it may prove undesirable as the sleeping single-hander will likely be held, at least in part, at fault.

Is It Feasible?

I can think of three ways in which a single-handed sailor can get some sleep:
1) Maintain the course using an wind-vane, autopilot or some other method.
2) Use a sea anchor or drogue to stop or slow the vessels progress.
3) Heave-to

Maintain the course.

An autopilot can either keep you on a compass course or on a wind angle. The wind vane will keep the same wind angle. A shift in wind angle will cause an autopilot to either follow the wind or result in poor sail shape. A wind vane will follow the wind shift. Either way you are giving up control of the vessel.

Sea anchor or drogue

These will either keep you bow or stern into the wind or waves. They can be deployed with some difficulty, but they can be a struggle to retrieve. Deploying and retrieving whenever you wish to sleep could be problematic. In either case you will slow down, taking longer to complete you passage.


While you may be able to took off all headway (very hard with a fin keel boat), you will still be making significant leeway. If you heave to while going downwind you will, at least be going in the right direction. If you heave to going upwind, you will be headed the opposite direction, lengthening the time for your passage as you make up for lost ground. Remember to heave to from a port tack onto a starboard tack which might make you stand-n to port tack sailing vessels.

So can it be done? - yes, it might be difficult.

Should it be done? - in my mind, no. If you really want to do it, please do it far from me. Just make sure you have the appropriate lights.

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