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Old 10-23-2014, 02:25 PM   #1
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Do you keep a Constant Lookout?

MarkPierce started this very interresting topic at the neighbours.

What happens on Trawlers/Motoryachts when sailing at night and specialy under/single handing on the blue water.

Keep in mind COLreg 5.

Happy to here from you all and especialy from Dauntless.

(Thanks Mark)

CeesH
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Old 10-23-2014, 03:33 PM   #2
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On Bay Pelican we are much more cautious at night then during the day. Our nighttime voyages are in open water, with what we assume is nothing that is unlighted ahead of us.

Whereas during the day in open water with nothing around I might leave the helm for the head or the refrigerator, this is almost never done at night without calling the admiral to the helm. If there is a perogue (always unlighted) or a piece of debris in our path the warning time will be seconds, not tens of minutes. Radar will pick up neither. At night radar and AIS give me comfort. I would prefer sunlight.
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Old 10-23-2014, 03:51 PM   #3
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Oh yes,

Even w both of us looking over the bow we hit an 18" X 12' log in Clarence Strait.......BOOMMMMM. It was such a loud boom I was almost sure we were holed ... but no. We saw the log come up under the stern.

At Cape Fanshaw I was headed straight for a big rock that was sticking up 2 or 3". I thought is was floatsam but Chris didn't. It wasn't.

Can't be doing too much lookout.
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Old 10-23-2014, 03:56 PM   #4
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There's so many crab traps in my area you have to stay on top of things. Especially the traps that have been out so long that the float turns black, or when its rough the floats are harder to see till up close. I never run at night.
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:03 PM   #5
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Even in broad daylight(pardon the pun), there can be significant distractions!!!
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:12 PM   #6
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I try not to run at night but it's sometimes necessary. I slow down and always keep a watch and the spotlight gets used to spot channel markers and any debris that I may luck out and see. I hate anchoring after dark and that is the main reason I try to avoid any cruising after sunset.
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Even in broad daylight(pardon the pun), there can be significant distractions!!!

I live in Brazil

Difficult boating........ at night

But seriously I am a thrue single handling sailor, crossed the pond a few times and know that far out there I do sleep now and then for over 2 hours. Of course not in coastal waters, I then try to have a sceme of 15 minutes take a look and go again for 15-20 minutes sleep.
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Old 10-23-2014, 05:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Even in broad daylight(pardon the pun), there can be significant distractions!!!

Nice bow belles Baker
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Old 10-23-2014, 05:11 PM   #9
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Yup. . . even during the daylight hours, always someone at the helm on watch.

Besides other boats and marine activity, the PNW is heavily forested, has an active logging industry, river flood erosion and many beaches covered with drift wood and "logs". After storms and tidal fluctuations a lot of wood is found adrift in the water ways. Not uncommon to dodge 5 or 6 logs on a short 25 mile trip from Anacortes to Friday Harbor
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Old 10-23-2014, 05:34 PM   #10
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We are a crew of two.

Coastal/near coastal shipping lanes as much as is practical for a 24/7 watch; someone is almost always at the helm.

For open ocean passages we are more diligent during the day than at night but we do not always maintain a constant watch. At night, ship lights are great and the lights help keep the watch keeper alert trying to figure out where the lights are going/coming from. Someone is always awake but not necessarily glued to the helm. I sometimes use a 20 minute kitchen timer at night just as a reminder to scan electronics, do a visual (plus make sure I haven't dosed off) and to do a walk around.
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Old 10-23-2014, 06:36 PM   #11
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Yes. Always when underway.
Too many close calls for us and others we know running to the tuna grounds between 3 am and first light. I can't imagine running without someone awake.

For example:
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/nj-superi...t/1142399.html
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Old 10-23-2014, 06:48 PM   #12
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Abso f'ing lutely. When sailing at night we set an intrusion alarm on the radar and AIS is always on. Never leave the helm unattended. During the day we are probably less intense, but still.............
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Old 10-23-2014, 06:48 PM   #13
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I reduce speed at night because you just can't see everything as far away as you can during the day. I reduce speed further to bare minimum (where the autopilot can still maintain course) when visiting the head or the fridge. As a crew of one, when you have to go....you have to go.

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Old 10-23-2014, 07:06 PM   #14
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While the original question seemed more to do with passagemaking/open ocean type stuff, even in coastal waters we feel it's important to keep a constant lookout, rules or no rules.

As Edelweiss wrote, there can be a lot of debris in the water in the PNW and on up the BC coast into SE Alaska because of the logging, rivers bringing branches, stumps, and even entire trees down and dumping them into the coastal waters, and commercial fishing/crabbing.

We removed the autopilot from our boat within days of it coming off the truck from California and have not replaced it or even contemplated replacing it. So we hand-steer the boat all the time. This automatically provides a lookout when we're underway.

But when we're in confined waters like many of the passes up here, or if we're in an area of active crabbing, or we're negotiating a tricky bit of water, whoever isn't steering comes to the helm and looks out, too.

When it's foggy, we boat in the fog. We have never not gone somewhere because of fog as we are quite comfortable running the boat "on instruments" in near-zero visibility. Under these conditions, one person steers and concentrates on holding the desired heading while the other person operates the radar as well as looks out for other vessels and obstacles in the water near the boat.

While we have been caught out after sunset a few times at the very end of a run due to my miscalculating the length of the day, we do not deliberately run at night because of the debris in the water and the potential for damage to our exposed props, rudders, and shafts, let alone the hull from a log or something. We do have a set of "log lights" that can be mounted on the jackstaff holder on the the bow rail, but we have seldom been in a situation that warranted their use.

And while not directly related to the original question, when weather conditions warrant it, we keep an anchor watch when at anchor, in additon to using the Drag Queen alarm on our iPads and iPhone. For anyone who doesn't know, Drag Queen is a downloadable app from the Active Captain folks.
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Old 10-23-2014, 08:20 PM   #15
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We always keep a watch. Texas/Louisiana have more platforms offshore than you can believe. Crew boats that cruise at 25 kts, barges at 4 kts, rigs under tow etc kind of mandate it. We do have radar, AIS and all the toys but I am not leaving the dock without my autopilot!
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Old 10-23-2014, 09:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
I reduce speed at night because you just can't see everything as far away as you can during the day. I reduce speed further to bare minimum (where the autopilot can still maintain course) when visiting the head or the fridge. As a crew of one, when you have to go....you have to go.

Ted
Same here. Single handed, I use the glasses to take a long look ahead and around before I use the head or make a fridge run, and then I hurry. Maybe on a Bahamas run with nothing in sight I wouldn't hurry as much, but I'd still move along smartly.
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Old 10-24-2014, 06:12 AM   #17
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For me the autopilot is a safety issue. There are only two of us, but the autopilot makes three so that the person at the helm can spend his or her time observing everything, the gauges, the electronics, the sounds, and most importantly the view through the windshield.
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Old 10-24-2014, 07:11 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bay Pelican View Post
For me the autopilot is a safety issue. There are only two of us, but the autopilot makes three so that the person at the helm can spend his or her time observing everything, the gauges, the electronics, the sounds, and most importantly the view through the windshield.
...it's pretty well been proven that the helmsman makes a less than perfect lookout in the big scheme of things...so turning some of that concentration over to the autopilot makes sense...

Thus the maximum automation in most large vessels and commercial aircraft...divide the tasks up and monitor.
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Old 10-24-2014, 08:37 AM   #19
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I have no autopilot so obviously someone is at the helm when we are underway. Even if I had an autopilot I think it would be very foolish (and illegal) to leave the helm while underway. There have been some documented collisions where a boat operator set a boat on autopilot and left the helm only to run into another boat.

We seldom run at night but when we do, my wife and I are both on the lookout for crab pot floats and other obstructions. I also reduce my speed to where I can stop in the distance I can see.
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Old 10-24-2014, 08:58 AM   #20
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I agree with Bay Pelican. I feel the auto pilot is an essential piece of safety equipment. Not having to steer means I can keep a good watch and not get fatigued. However, I never leave the helm unattended. First Mate always takes over while I go below for engine room checks, head visit, snack run, etc. Lake Erie has lots of fish nets that can be difficult to see until you are right on top of them. A good storm will generate quite a few logs from rivers feeding the lake. It is amazing to find them miles offshore. We never run at night. Don't have to, don't want to. Too many idiots out after the bars close down.
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