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Grotius 07-08-2008 01:26 AM

Learning to ... sleep?
Hi all,

I've been daysailing off and on for years. I started in Seattle, where I took a course on sailing Lasers, then fooled around with beach cats and Sunfish, then took private lessons sailing a 19-foot boat, and finally group lessons sailing 35-foot monohulls on Puget Sound. I feel reasonably comfortable in a smaller boat; I never did get as comfortable with the 35-foot boots. And then a dozen years ago I had kids, and I haven't done much sailing since, other than the occasional romp in a beach cat or some such. I now live in the DC area, about an hour from the Chesapeake.

I've always loved the idea of overnighting, maybe doing some weekend cruising with the family, maybe working my way up to longer coastal cruises. I have two kids who might like sailing, and a wife who hates all boats as she gets VERY seasick, but she wouldn't mind the peace and quiet if I were to take the kids for a weekend. :) I have fantasies that a cat might change her mind, but I'm doubtful.

Anyway, I'd love to take a cruising course, but my biggest worry is: the sleeping. I honestly doubt I'd enjoy sleeping in any monohull; I'm claustrophobic, and an insomniac. And I snore -- loudly -- which would make me even more self-conscious. Ideally, I'd like to try sleeping in a cruising cat for a weekend, but again I worry that I'll get out there with a class and either freak out from claustrophobia or keep everyone up all night with snoring or insomnia or both.

Is there a way to charter a boat to...sit at the dock? :) Or, maybe more realistically, a way to learn enough cruising skills so that I can take a boat out with just the family (no instructor or other strangers) and then learn how sleeping is? I think I could handle the settee in the salon of a cat. I think.

I realize this is an odd question, but it's honestly the thing that worries me most about taking any cruising lesson. Any advice?

Packrat 07-08-2008 02:25 AM

Sleepless in ?
I was a little worried about the tight quarters in a mono hull at first. Surprisingly, with the hatch right above the V berth and feet first in the tightest area it is fine. These experts will have some answers but I may suggest you contact someone who is selling their boat and ask them if you can rent it for a night or two to get a feel at dock. If they are selling they wonít be as concerned about letting a stranger sleep in it. You may be able to get private lessons too but at a larger expense. Donít let this problem divert your dreams or desires. Find a way. Life is too shore for regrets. Good luck!

sailingdog 07-08-2008 07:36 AM


Take the basic ASA 101, 103, 104, 105 courses, and you should be able to qualify to charter a small sailboat. Also, some people who can't stand normal sailboats do quite well on multihulls—the motion is very different and many people do not get seasick on them.

chucklesR 07-08-2008 07:49 AM

For snoring, I have been diagosed with sleep apnea - and it sounds like you have it also.
They have a device called a CPAP (Continuous Pressure Air Provider - I think). It's a face mask that blows air up your nose, which causes a vacuum in your mouth if you try to breathe using your mouth (which you must do to snore) prevents mouth breathing and alleviates snoring. That's a layman's definition. It is sadly only available with a perscription, see your doctor. Not getting good proper sleep is a causal factor in MANY other aliments.

Mine works on 110, 220, and 12v. It draws all of 1 amp per hour and is roughly the size and weight of a half loaf of bread. My wife loves it. Took no time at all for me to adjust to wearing it in bed, now I can't even nap without it because it doesn't feel right to sleep and it not be there.

I learned to sleep anywhere, anytime while I was in the Navy - aircraft being catapulted off the deck 10 feet from your head (forward comm berthing on USS America); ballast tanks venting into your berthing space (forward operations berthing USS Ponce) or blowing holding tanks 5 feet from your nose (crew berthing USS Will Rogers) - nothing stops me from sleeping when I decide the time is right. It's a learned trait of many in the military.

As to monohull sleeping. Buy a catamaran. That's how I fixed the problem - PM me when you are in the Annapolis area and I'll take you out for a day sail sometime.

sailingdog 07-08-2008 08:13 AM


I thought that face mask was because you're an alien and need to breathe your native atmosphere when sleeping. :)

Gary1 07-08-2008 09:19 AM

I'm sure there is somewhere that you can rent/charter a sailboat on the Chesapeake. Rent one for a weekend, enjoy a Saturday out daysailing and then head back in to the Marina for the night. Tie the dock lines, grab something to eat and then call it a night.

If you find you can't handle it, you're right next to your car and can go home. Personally, I sleep better on a boat than in any landlocked bed I've ever been in. The typical little noises on a boat (creaking, water slapping the hull) are very peaceful, and sleep inducing to most.

The reason I mention going back to the marina is because if you aren't used to it, sitting at anchor might keep you awake all night. I've been sailing for more years than I like to admit, and I never sleep really well at anchor. There are just too many things to go wrong, and Murphy is always a passenger. Why borrow trouble?

As to the claustrophobia, a girl I dated many years ago suffered from that. We spent a night on the boat (at the marina--there was a barbecue and party that night) and when I woke up at 0600, my usual waking hour, she was curled up in a ball in the cockpit, covered with dew. I asked her why and she explained the boat was too confining.

I had her talk to a psyche friend of mine over drinks that week, and my headshrinker friend said, "Just think about this the next time: You're not closed in a tiny place, you're surrounded by something that is keeping the heat, cold and especially the bugs off of you!" She also offered some other tips: don't crawl into that cozy quarter berth. (Cozy being the operative word!) Don't sleep in a sleeping bag. Don't tuck the top sheets or blankets in. Try and pick a place where you'll see more of the boat than just a bulkhead, hull, and overhead when you open your eyes. Don't spend any more time below than you have to. (Boats shrink. After a two week cruise on a 56 footer, I wondered where the last 20 feet of the boat had gone! For someone who doesn't like confined spaces, being below is the worst of all worlds.

Good luck, and I hope you eventually share in the magic of spending your nights at the boat.

sanctuarysam 07-08-2008 09:45 AM

having slept on boats all my life
i can't imagine a more restful sleep, than on a boat...unless you have sleep apnea or claustrophobia:D .
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure)will eliminate the self conscious aspect of snoring, and will improve the quality of your sleep measurably. you will need a sleep study, and if deemed medically necessary, insurance picks up a significant portion (YMMV).
i'd avoid any of the quarter berths, instead opting for saloon or, cockpit sleeping (i still prefer sleeping on deck, just not as comfy as down below).
if you can work through these two issues, you'll be golden...
good news, you didn't say the thought of being on a boat made you nauseous for days:)

RestlessWind 07-08-2008 09:47 AM

Grotius; As a nurse I have to second Chuckles' assertion that sleep apnea may be a concern for you. It is Very common among people who snore, and is linked to many other health concerns such as obesity, high blood presure, heart disease and stroke. These conditions may or not be caused by sleep apnea, but they seem to be greatly alleviated once treatment (generally CPAP or BIPAP) are instituted. The diagnosis is easily made with a sleep study usually lasting only one night, and I would highly recommend that you consult with your physician about this. If this turns out to be the case, both you and all who sleep in proximity to you will benefit from the easily tolerated treatment. You will soon be getting the best sleep of your life!

Grotius 07-08-2008 09:54 AM

Many thanks for all those helpful replies! I'm about to get on a plane, but will check back in tonight to reply in more detail.

djodenda 07-08-2008 10:03 AM

Perhaps you could sleep in the cockpit?

I'm sorry, I misunderstood your question.. I agree with the others, get checked for sleep apnea. The positive ventilator thingys seem to work well for those who use them. Somehow I thought you had claustrophobia

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