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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Old 04-17-2008
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Question Watch schedule

All knowing list.

I am planning an offshore trip from FL keys to Houston TX straight across. I would like to do this with a crew of five any good ideas on a watch schedule?

Ed
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Old 04-17-2008
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Ed - Not all knowing...but what I use after various options is a system that is 3 four hour watches from 0600-1800 and 4 three hour watches from 1800 - 0600. This allows for some decent sack time and rotates each watch around the clock as the daze pass by. With five people you have the option of staggering the watchmembers so that folks can spend time with others rather than the constant watch team. (Also - a tot of rum at 1200 and a glass of wine or beer at all hands dinner at 1800 and a grab bag at the companionway with fruit, granola bars, nuts etc for snacking during the night is a good thing.) Hope this helps - it is not the only way, just the system that works for us.
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Old 04-17-2008
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5 wow you got some good friends. four hours on four hours off keep rotating, like that. you'll always have multipe crew wake, and tell them to start the sea sick pills two-three days before.

Tell us how the oil platforms are to deal with.
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Old 04-17-2008
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Just curious...what size boat are you doing this on??? There are several watch patterns you can use... For night watches, especially if some of the crew is less experienced at sailing at night, it might make sense to have two people on watch at all times. It also makes the transitions between watch personnel easier.

However, it is key that people who are supposed to be off watch and getting rest actually do so, so they are not fatigued when they are actually supposed to be on watch.

Good article on standing watch and watch rotation here.

Also, a good idea to require anyone going on-deck at night to clip in and wear a PFD with strobe and whistle. Night time MOBs aren't any fun.
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Old 04-17-2008
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Hi all Thanks for the input.
The boat is a Pearosn 365 ketch 36'5".

The last time I made this trip was in 2003 on a Passport 40 the rigs are not bad until you close on Galveston then you truly have to keep a good watch.
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Hey there, first time writer long time reader.

We take a boat from Astoria to Peuget Sound annually. We use the 4 hr system with a twist. Two hrs on the helm then wake next watch person. While the other watch person takes over the helm. That gives sleepy head time to make coffee eat and wake up. While on watch duties are to take care of helms men as well as help look out.
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Old 04-17-2008
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We've made numerous passages of 250-1300 miles around the Gulf and here's the schedule we use with four people:
Sailor 1 has been at the helm for two hours, sailor 2 comes fresh off of rest period and takes the helm for two hours and sailor 1 stays in the cockpit for two hours as the lookout. Two hours later sailor 3 comes off of rest and takes the helm for two hours, sailor 2 comes off the helm and is in the cockpit for two hours as the lookout, sailor 1 goes off watch. This continues for the duration of the trip.
After dark, everyone on deck wears a safety harness.
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A crew of 5 is great. And I believe in what sailingdog suggested of staggering watch crew-motion is a good thing-especially at night. It's also a great way to get to know the other crew. And two on for night is always good.
Clipping on is a must at night and anytime someone is topside solo, even during the day. My last delivery we had a crew of 4-one seasoned sailor was sick as a dog the first 36 hours and unable to keep his watch. Made it tough for the rest of us. A thermos of hot water is always good-pre-packaged meals in case the weather is bad-lots of protein snacks to grab-chocolate is a must-and we've always had a no booze until we arrive policy. Red light headlamps are a good thing. Make sure you have back up binoculars-charged VHF for ditch bag, also a must.

Last edited by NauticalFishwife; 04-17-2008 at 11:24 PM. Reason: adding information
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I did a passage with 5 once, and used the rotating schedules suggested by Polka and sailingdog. A came on at 0000 hrs, B at 0200, C relieved A at 0400 and so on. There was always one relatively fresh crew on deck. If you plan it carefully, you can also set it up so that there's always one experienced crew on deck.

Good luck.
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Granola or cereal bars... and hot soups are good to have on hand, as NauticalFishwife has said.

Avoid booze, since it really is a bad idea to have anyone drinking while enroute, since it really negatively affects night vision, judgement, etc.
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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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