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Old 08-22-2003
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Single handed

If you single handing across the ocean and you have no autopiolit how do you sleep?/
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Old 08-23-2003
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Single handed

You usually have a windvane or an autopilot. Depending on the design of the boat, windvanes can be quite effective on a wide range of points of sail. There are other techniques that allow a boat to be self steering without a windvane or autopilot but most of these a very sensitive to changes in wind speed.

When single-handing you only sleep for short ''catnaps'' of 10 to 15 minutes each. For some that works well almost indefinitely but for others exhaustion comes very quicly because their physiology and inherent sleep pattern requirements.


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Old 08-23-2003
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Magic_Moments is on a distinguished road
Single handed

Auto pilots use electricity and are prone to breaking so most people probably rely on the windvane for sailing and an autopilot for motoring.

Most of the container ships run between 20 to 30 knots at sea so they can go from under the horizon to in your face in 20 minutes which is one reason for the short sleep periods. When I was younger and less brilliant, I crossed in front of one rather than adjust my course and wait for it to pass and I can say that I think the pressure wave on the bow of that ship looked as tall as my mast. Now I try to always stay 3 or 4 miles away.

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Old 08-25-2003
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Single handed

There was an interesting article in either Sail or CW on Ellen MacArthur''s sleep schedule for her around alone race. Worth looking into. I believe she also got some sleep time every 2 hrs.

Sleep is an interesting question. Generally, you cannot go for long periods of time without REM sleep. That varies from person to person, but I think an average REM cycle (dream cycle) is 40 min. I believe Ellen had one period per day of 2 hr sleep....but check me on that.

More recently, there was an article in CW on the latest around alone race and one contestants sleep (though I think they simply reported the aggregate). You might be able to get some info off the race web site.

They do make radar''s that have an alarm function that can be set at various distances. Also, a good idea is to select a boat that has nice long, wide cockpit benches that are great to sleep on.

The need for sleep cannot be overstated. Being able to function with a schedule of catnaps on a constant basis is one thing that separates solo sailors from others.

Hope this helps

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Old 10-17-2006
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My boat's a Mull 31 ft - sails and single-hands beautifully - and I'm only 72 for what that's worth .

The only things I go forward for are (1) to move my main's'l Cunningham/Reefer up or down onto the appropriate cringle and (2) anchoring. (That's other than racing single-handed when I have to fly the spinnaker!) Everything else goes back to the cockpit.

I use an auto-helm (a/h) and have self tailers on the genoa. I've also conjured up a minor rat's nest of lines and bungie-cord to lock the tiller if the a/h's on the blink for any reason. The a/h will tack me through 90% which is great - once through the tack I fine trim closer to the wind according to conditions.

I usually reef while still sailing - it's not a problem - but I would really recommend practising heaving-to in various wind strengths to find the best setting for sheets and tiller. When I first tried it, I was astonished how the boat quietens down and suddenly the emergency, if there is one, looks and becomes a lot easier to fix! Somebody's already said "reef in time" - always a golden rule - it's a darn sight easier to shake it out if not needed than take in when you've left it too late!

S/H'ing is magic - I use the opportunity to practice on my organ ! I'll rephrase that - my harmonica !

Last edited by Rontoo; 10-17-2006 at 10:31 PM.
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Old 10-18-2006
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original question

Short answer. You Don't. If you single hand, some sort of self steering is nessesary.
Remember what Rontoo says " one hand for the boat, and one for your organ". ROTFLMFAO
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Old 10-24-2006
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I had posted this a couple of days ago on another topic but it seems to apply here as well. Cheers.

I started sailing a couple of years ago and, of necessity, have been solo sailing, some at night. I have completed a couple of two-night passages and a couple of others overnight. My sailing has been in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Shipping has not been much of a problem. I did cross the Cabot Strait a couple of times last year and at times had several large ships within a few miles but nothing worriesome. Mainly good luck.

My personal experience is that I sleep when ever I can. During the day I sleep in the cockpit with no timer. Just cat naps. I never really sleep deeply. At night I set kitchen timers to wake me every 30-minutes. Crossing the Cabot Strait, every 15-minutes. I get tired and am not nearly at my best when woken between 3am and 5am. But, I have always found that to be true. For years I was a maintenance supervisor and would either have to take calls at odd hours or sometimes pull all-nighters. Those hours have always been very difficult, sailing or not.

I left Burgeo at 7:00am headed for Sydney. The first night was blustry and occasioned a 3am sail change. I set the timers for 30-minute intervals. I really got bounced around bad that night. The next night I was across the strait but running parallel to the coast and aware of the shipping lanes.
I set the timers for 15-minute intervals. Having arrived at Sydney at around 7am (a 48-hour beat then calm) I set about putting the boat to bed for winter. I turned in at 10pm that evening. So despite the rough first night and short interval on the second night I was adequatly rested and able to put in a full days work.

On the other hand at the end of my crossing from Sydney to Grand Bank, some 38-hours, I was ghosting into Grand Bank when I saw, for an instant, a three masted schooner arise out of the fog. Then again, and maybe a third time. I thought I could hear the sails luffing but no voices and no motor. The radar showed nothing. I blew the fog horn and got no response. Upon entering Grand Bank the Harbour Master says "Well Be'y, didja see that 100-foot schooner going out? The Mist of Avalon? She just left this morning." Well did I see her or was I hallucinating from lack of sleep? I'll never know.

I'm not happy about solo sailing, but that is my lot and I would rather take the calculated risks attendant than to skip the experience. My wife says I'm nuts and since she is a Psychoanalyst she is emintently qualified to make that judgement.
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Old 10-24-2006
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A friend of mine once likened sailing single handed without some sort of self-steering device, preferably both a windvane and autopilot, as a form of torture or some level of hell.

Sleeping long stretches, while at sea, is a fairly risky proposition.

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 11-08-2006
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katytoo is on a distinguished road
Sleeping while singlehanding

I believe that Robert Manry who crossed the Atlantic in his 13 foot sloop "Tinkerbelle" used a bucket on a line that he tossed off the bow of his boat each night to act as a sea anchor. The sea anchor would cause his boat to basically stop in the water, and this would enable him to catch some sleep each night, though I'm not certain how much. It should also be possible to heave to for some sleep time, particularly if one used a sea anchor in conjunction with heaving to to prevent the boat from drifting backwards.
In today's world, with the greater volume of sea traffic that exists, some sort of alarm system, perhaps like the CARD system which sets off an alarm whenever it picks up a radar signal, could be used to avoid being run over in the middle of the night by some giant.
This system obviously would not work if racing offshore, but for one who is in no big hurry it might solve the sleep problem a bit better than catching catnaps for weeks on end.
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Old 11-09-2006
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anyone heave-to for a nap?
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