Is sleeping OK? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 220 Old 09-20-2012 Thread Starter
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Is sleeping OK?

Iíve been watching solo crossings/sailing on you-tube. Whatís the rule on sleeping while sailing in the middle of nowhere?
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post #2 of 220 Old 09-20-2012
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Re: Is sleeping OK?

Well, the "rule" says that you are required to maintain a watch. Most solo sailors interpret that to mean that it is okay to cat-nap, getting up every 15-20 minutes or so to check the horizon. Some people insist that this is unsafe and does not meet the rules. Personally, I don't see a problem with it.

Now, if you go off to sleep for hours at a time... That's a whole different matter.
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post #3 of 220 Old 09-20-2012
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Re: Is sleeping OK?

It's the Dirty Harry rule. Do you feel lucky?

The best modern mitigant is an AIS receiver/transmitter w alarm.. Even then, you might get 15 mins at a time.
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post #4 of 220 Old 09-20-2012
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Re: Is sleeping OK?

I am a singehander and break the rules all the time on passage. Section I, Paragraph 5 of the COLREGS:
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Section I
4. Application
The rules apply in any visibility (e.g., in sight or in restricted visibility).
5. Look-out
Every vessel must at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight (day shape or lights by eyes or visual aids)and hearing (sound signal or Marine VHF radio) as well as by all available means (e.g., Radar, Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA), Automatic Identification System (AIS), GMDSS...) in order to make a full assessment of the situation and risk of collision
I use my radar and AIS (transponder) but as soon as I get some shut-eye I am breaking rule 5. If anything happens while I am not actively on deck and keeping lookout then I am either partially or completely at fault.
If I am at fault in a collision with a big vessel then I'm also dead. Even if I am the stand-on vessel but not on watch I am both dead and at fault.


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Re: Is sleeping OK?

Solo sailors have to weigh the risks associated with not keeping a full-time watch and the risks associated with sleep deprivation. Fatal mistakes can occur due to either of these conditions. Ten to twenty minute cat-naps can cover you for shorter voyages, but over longer voyages, the solo sailor has to sleep sometime or he will end up doing something super stupid.

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post #6 of 220 Old 09-20-2012
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Re: Is sleeping OK?

Radar is your friend.

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post #7 of 220 Old 09-20-2012
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Re: Is sleeping OK?

The single handers claim to sleep 20 minutes at a time, for example those in the mini transat atlantic race. However when you read their accounts, you often hear of them going below for several hours to sleep after an especially tiring day (many sail changes, bad weather, etc). They rely on the radar with a beep that wakes you up when it sees something passing nearby. That combined with an AIS tranceiver, radar detector and active radar reflector (though these only work with the older generation radars I have heard) seem to cover you pretty well.

However I know that one of these mini 650's had an issue where the sailor accidentally turned down the volume on his radar and wasn't awakened until it was too late. He lost his rig in the middle of the atlantic after hitting a tanker. He was lucky he didn't hit it straight on or he would have certainly died.

I often wonder how coastal single handers do it, since it will be rare that you will have nothing on the horizon for 20 minutes at a time, ever...
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post #8 of 220 Old 09-20-2012
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Re: Is sleeping OK?

I saw very few boats and ships off the coast of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, on the 3 trips I took this summer, when I slept for 10 - 20 minutes at a time in the cockpit or on the foredeck at night if I could.

What's really sad is the pitiful number of other sailboats out there. I saw 3 on my first trip and none on my second trip, not counting in the immediate vicinity of the Cape May inlet. At 28', my boat was clearly much smaller than the 3 other sailboats I saw - 1 of which I passed going in the Ocean City inlet as it left. Where is everyone? (This true for the Chesapeake, too, once you get away from the Northern Bay and the large marine towns/cities like Baltimore, Annapolis, or Solomon's Island, you really don't see that many other vessels out there, even in the summer).

I saw a dozen large luxury powerboats and sport fishing boats at different times, running up and down the coast, but none at night, and none very close.

I saw only 2 or 3 commercial vessels, and only 1 I needed to avoid, converging near the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay in the early morning hours.

I am sure it is much worse near large cities like New York, but I really didn't see that much vessel traffic on my coastal trips. So the reality is, you can go hours without seeing any other boats, even on a coastal trip. In fact, it was a somewhat unnerving experience for me to be far away from shore, and to not see anything other than the sea and the sky for hours at a time.
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post #9 of 220 Old 09-20-2012
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Re: Is sleeping OK?

Radar doesn't pick up some of the trash out there that can really ruin your day! Have seen logs, trunks, house roofs, etc. that can make nightmares.
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post #10 of 220 Old 09-20-2012
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Re: Is sleeping OK?

how 'bout:
you die, is your own damn fault--just dont take anyone else with ye....

i have a friend who solos and does go below to sleep-i keep telling him this.

even shorthanded sometimes ye get really tired--i will cop short naps in cockpit, not below, and i make sure to sweep horizon before i shut eyes for a second or two. .
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