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Kernix 12-21-2006 03:52 PM

sleep while solos cruising?
Newbie here - will be taking my first sailing classes in the spring may buy a cheap 12-16' sail boat to practice on during the summer - anywho

If you are sailing solo do you always stop somewhere to sleep, or do you take a nap while the cockpit is unmanned. Also, I hear of peeps who sailf from the US to say the Mediterranean - even if it's a couple that's making that trip, does each person take 12 hour shifts, or unmanned? I mean there's no where to anchor.

I was reading an article about the Velux solo race around the world where one guy was taking a 4hr power na[p when he was awakened by a distress call - another competitor behind him capsized as they were both in rough seas rounding cape hope - just happened a few wks ago. Now I'm sure these guys have top of the line boats (with sponsors for all the best equipment and their boats gets some serious performance tests) but man how could you fall asleep in rough seas knowing no one is maning the ship?

camaraderie 12-21-2006 04:03 PM

Kernix..out at sea and away from shipping lanes, most single handers sllep comfortably while the boat continues on under wind vane steering. Closer to shore or in the lanes, many use a radar range alarm to alert them when anything is nearby. Others power nap continuously using a kitchen timer to wake them every 15 minutes for a look around. Some will heave to and others will keep sailing. Everyone is different as is every boat so sailors work out what seems to be best for them...but we all need sleep.
We we are double handing on a passage in our boat, my wife and I will take turns napping during the day which we find very important to being alert at night....but not on any set schedule...then we take 3 hour watches generally at night but if I'm wide awake I'll extend mine so she doesn't have to get up and she does the same. In heavy weather we cut the watches down to 2 hours in darkness and I often will sleep in the cockpit to be close at hand. set rules...just what works for us.

Kernix 12-21-2006 04:06 PM

Cool - thought it was something like that - and I imagined having some kind of radar alarm but figured such a thing doesn't exist - wrong - so I guess the chance of 2 solo cruisers sleeping at night and not hitting each other is rare, right? Or does the radar handle that scenario as well?

mandovai 12-21-2006 04:21 PM

I think that every singlehander has his own way. When I was on crossing alone, I was trying to get short naps of half an hour all the time. Once outside of the shippng lanes , I was getting naps of about an hour. Nevertheless, many times I was waking up because the sound of the water along the hull had changed, or a flapping sail or some new sound unusual for the boat...and sometimes just because I felt there was something dangerous outside (twice a collision course). The fact is that all your senses develop a bigger sensitivity, and you get awake easier. When weather was getting very bad, I was hoving to and going to sleep, as there was nothing better to do. Now that my girlfriend and I sailed together fo six years, we got used to take a 4 hours watch each, except in long offshore crossings where we sleep happily together and wake up occasionally to check that everything is ok (no ships, no nasty clouds and boat on course under windvane). Occasionally you get awaken by a nasty squall and you better handle the reefing in seconds. If sailing along a coast we keep a strict permanent watch.

Kernix 12-21-2006 04:27 PM

Yeah, I'm sure along the coast you're always on watch, or can anchor somewhere out of the way. 2 near collisions, huh? With shipping monster ships or other cruisers?

mandovai 12-21-2006 04:34 PM

Shipping monsters not answering on the vhf, so I guess not on ME!

sailingdog 12-21-2006 05:54 PM


It depends... if you're sailing along the is often possible to find a nice small anchorage and stop for a few hours to sleep on the hook. However, if you're doing an openwater passage, and have 400'+ beneath the keel... taking short naps during the day is your only real option. Most singlehanders suggest sleeping during the day, when you're most likely to be spotted, and staying awake at night, when you need to be much more observant of other boats/ships.

hellosailor 12-21-2006 06:40 PM

Kernix, it's like shooting craps in Vegas. Some people do it, some people don't. Some people win...others lose.

Technically, if you are the only person on board and you are sleeping, you are "failing to keep a proper watch" and that's against both US and international laws regarding vessels and seamanship.

Racers have special needs and take special risks. They also sometimes get away with it, and sometimes don't. A radar set with an "alarm" function will pick up a large target, it may not see a small one at all.

The bottom line is that you do what you are comfortable with, it is your freedom and your responsibility over yourself and your boat.

tgabriel 12-21-2006 11:08 PM

Here is a link to a journal of a sailor who circumnavigated
Take a look. He worked his sleeping problems out however he could. The journal is fascinating

Kernix 12-22-2006 09:06 AM

Too many chapters to opne and print out, otherwise I'd read it - I don't like reading large articles/storeies online.

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