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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail > Sailing at night?
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Thread: Sailing at night? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
10-22-2006 03:01 AM
yotphix Brojees said:
"Putting it all into perspective..... you are making what 3, 4 knots? So in a 10 minute, or even a 20 minute catnap you will have gone how far? Far less than a nautical mile? And your visibility is what? Far more than a nautical mile? So exactly how much can happen in ten minutes? "

Actually Brojees, alot. Making three knots you travel exactly 1nm in your 20 min nap and the bulk carrier approaching you at 12 knots plus travels four miles.(The vessel I work on would have travelled 6nm) Add that to your 1 and...well cross your fingers. Make sure your boat is visible to radar and chances are you will set off the alarm on the big boat. They don't want to hit you any more than you want to be hit. Witness all the rescues of cruising sailors effected by commercial shipping to affirm your belief in the kinship of mariners. Just be aware that the danger is greater than your flawed math and logic suggest.
10-21-2006 11:14 PM
hellosailor Yeah, but EIGHT Venuses (Venii?) would be a bit much. We actually didn't see anyone else that night, turned out we were a good #2 in division and the #1 boat was not that much farther ahead--but way further offshore. (Where we probably should have been.)

Gen3 Nightvision, after I win the lottery.
10-21-2006 10:48 PM
sailingdog Funny article in the November issue of Cruising World magazine about racing against a "ghost ship" that actually turned out to be Venus... he lost..
10-21-2006 10:29 PM
hellosailor You do see funny things at night. One night on a coastal race, with two on and two off below, "us chickens" on deck saw four sets of double white lights, very white like LED lights as if they were marking the halfway and full height on four masts or poles, about 4 miles off the coast, not apparently moving. No ship visible under them, no other lights. No good way to judge distance or persepctive in the black.

The night was black enough (no loom from land lights, no moon yet) that we couldn't see if there was anything *attached* to the lights, and with the off watch asleep we weren't going to play signals at them.

We just tacked away well clear, and never found out what it was. Nothing on the charts, nothing reported in that area, no one else in the race ever saw it.

And we *know* we were both awake at the time!
10-21-2006 07:13 PM
hpeer 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.
10-19-2006 12:35 PM
pmoyer In Bill Seifert's (I think) book "Offshore Cruising," he is somewhat dismissive of radar because if you're not well trained on it you can configure it in a way that makes it functionally useless (excessive gain, loss of range while heeling, false echos, etc.).

I think it's like most other equipment on the boat - it's a useful tool as long as you understand the limitations and don't rely solely on the one component. To address Dawg's specific question, I think napping in a shipping lane is a Bad Idea, even with a radar alarm. I'd nap offshore, with the radar alarm, plus a 20 minute timer, during the day. In shipping lanes and at night I'd just stay up.

What the heck, I'm more of a night person anyway....

Take it for what it's worth (given my lack of experience, that would be "not much").

Cheers,
Phil
10-19-2006 12:08 PM
rockDAWG TDW,

Even with the radar on board, I don't think I will to take a nap when crossing the shipping line. I guess alternatively, I take nap during the day time and stay awake at nite.

The question boils down to is:

How reliable of the radar warning system (alarm) is? Has anyone experienced any failure of their radar? Must we install two radar units like ianhlnd because the numerous radar errors?

As always thanks.
10-18-2006 08:03 PM
tdw It's going to depend on exactly where you are. In busy shipping lanes this could be suicide and even outside the shipping lanes a tad risky. It's said that modern commercial shipping can go from over the horizon to joining you for a quick cup of tea in the cockpit in approx 15 minutes. Remember that those suckers are travelling at something in the order of 30 knots. Reality is , however, that in the middle of the Pacific Ocean one might judge the risk to be slight.

[/QUOTE] I would think that if I hook to the jackline, sleep in the cockpit and set my time to wake me up every 2 hours will be sufficient. Your input, please.[/QUOTE]
10-18-2006 02:46 PM
rockDAWG I am not sure if I can able to survive with just catnapped 15 to 20 minutes at a time. I certainly will try to do this on land before I venture out. For those who canít survive with just catnapped, will you feel comfortable if you only rely on radar with an alarm? I would think that if I hook to the jackline, sleep in the cockpit and set my time to wake me up every 2 hours will be sufficient. Your input, please.
10-18-2006 08:32 AM
Brojees
I break both rules

I have long been a solo diver. Simply put, few people are willing to dive as I do. I settle down in the coral heads, slow my breathing, relax and get very still. THEN THE SHOW BEGINS!! I will sit there for a full tank watching what few of you who insist upon dashing about have never seen, nor will you.

And I sail alone as well. But I do it by sleeping in the cockpit in catnaps. Sleeping below is an inport luxury, period.

Putting it all into perspective..... you are making what 3, 4 knots? So in a 10 minute, or even a 20 minute catnap you will have gone how far? Far less than a nautical mile? And your visibility is what? Far more than a nautical mile? So exactly how much can happen in ten minutes?

I have done this for years, including those early days sailing with my Granda when I lived aboard with him on his 45 foot Dutch leeboard schooner, (16" draft!! Florida Keys). He taught me to sleep in that quite refreshing short spurts which leaves you quite ready to react quickly when needed.

It takes time to accustom yourself to cat napping, but I have taught it to others and once accustomed, you will find your life suddenly changed forever because you suddenly will seem to have twice as much time to do everything...including sailing. Oh... I have also catnapped sitting on the bottom as well.
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