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Old 04-11-2019, 10:04 PM   #1
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Cell phones on Watch

Good Evening All,
I took a quick trip to the Bahamas last week, and my crew and I discussed how much attention to a cell phone is permissible on watch. It might depend on traffic, and location. It seems to me that one should be able to go three hours without using a cell phone, and that it is bad practice to use one while on watch.
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:14 PM   #2
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Agreed. There is enough responsibility and electronic stimulation on watch, especially within mobile phone range of shore. Gauge scans, engine room rounds, deconfliction with commercial traffic, etc...IMO more fun than the phone anyway.
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:16 PM   #3
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Interesting, cell phones have never been an issue for us. Other than an occasional phone call or looking up a quick fact phones are mostly ignored. Maybe it’s because we have too many obstructions in the water up here.
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:48 PM   #4
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If you are on watch, part of that job is looking out for debris in the water, other boats, and the events that happen aboard. Your life isn't on a cell phone. Grow up. Don't go to sea until you do.
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:51 PM   #5
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Geez!! Such seriousness!

When on watch I read books, or occasionally watch a movie on my ipad. Often times I am visiting one of the several great forums I frequent.

At 8 knots you will flat die of boredom if all you do is stare at the ocean and your nav system.
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Old 04-11-2019, 11:14 PM   #6
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Agree Kevin. I work from the boat and wife is retired so underway we both watch or she watches while I work. 7.5 knots is slow and in many of the areas we transit traffic is rare. If we can see two boats that would be a lot except during a commercial opening.

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Old 04-12-2019, 02:00 AM   #7
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I'm going to be the waffle in this black and white discussion so far...they aren't banned but need to be limited.

I agree there is no place for losing focus on the safety of the boat. (A part of my work is at an airport with an FAA control tower. There are no cell phone even ALLOWED in the cab. They get one daily newspaper and that's it.)

At the same time, 7 knots is pretty dang slow. You really have to slouch to miss things, assuming you have a layered lookout. (That 30 kt Northriver full of drunk guys can close on your 7 kt boat in a hurry!)

That said, on our recent trip, I spent the first 4 hrs at the helm, because there were narrow passages and ferry boats and a lot of turns to make, plus I've got a new-to me radar and a new AIS system to learn. Even when we got to a large expanse if water, there was still that other boat, that commercial ship to clear before I turned the helm over to the admiral and took a break for a bit. It was busy enough I wanted to stay focused at the helm. (Later I'll get the admiral more engaged in the busier navigation times, she's letting me have all the fun right now!)

But I'll look at my cell while at the helm. I'm not posting on facebook, but returning a text, or switching the tunes to a new playlist (yes, there's an app for that!) or something.
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Old 04-12-2019, 06:45 AM   #8
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I think it all depends on the situation, and calls for judgement. If you are in an active waterway, dodging lobster/crab buoys or debris, then put down the phone, stop carrying on conversations, and pay attention. If you are in open water with nothing around, then reading TF, texting, email I think is fine as long as you are looking up with some frequency. Heck I have even stepped down to make a sandwich or throw something in the microwave. But I do return to the helm while whatever is heating up, then go back to get it when done.


Here's one thing to consider. I have been on multiple night runs where it is pitch black out. You can't see anything. And I mean nothing. There could be a brick wall in front of you and you wouldn't know until you hit it. In that situation you are operating solely on radar, and faith that the ocean is reasonable clear of debris. It's a calculated risk. I think this helps put a pee break, or use of a phone in perspective when there isn't traffic or other active maneuvering required.


What I very much object to is taking a nap while at the helm. That's not stepping away, or looking away for 1-2 minutes. A lot can happen during a nap. This in turn rules out single handed operation longer than one can reasonably stay alert. I think all these single handed races and other distance feats should be scorned, not celebrated.
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Old 04-12-2019, 06:53 AM   #9
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#firstworldproblems

Is a cellphone any different to a kindle, a book, a logbook, a chart, a chart plotter?
As long as you are alert and watch is maintained.
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Old 04-12-2019, 07:06 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twistedtree View Post
.


Here's one thing to consider. I have been on multiple night runs where it is pitch black out. You can't see anything. And I mean nothing. There could be a brick wall in front of you and you wouldn't know until you hit it. In that situation you are operating solely on radar, and faith that the ocean is reasonable clear of debris. It's a calculated risk. I think this helps put a pee break, or use of a phone in perspective when there isn't traffic or other active maneuvering required.


.
And to go a step up again i have sailed catamarans and trimarans in several hundred mile races where speeds have peaked in the 20's day and night, no radar, just observation of the blackness.
Hell, we even sailed our own 30ft cat 1000 miles to Vanuatu doing double figures most of the way with nothing more than paper charts a hand held GPS and half a clue.
Looking fwd copped a face full of water more often than not, couldn't really see squat.

Back to where we are now doing overnighters at 7.5 knots, reality is we are not seeing anything in or on the water unless its big, like a 12 ft boat big and even then.......
Its just the way it is. Deal with it or stay home I guess.

Quote:
. . What I very much object to is taking a nap while at the helm. That's not stepping away, or looking away for 1-2 minutes. A lot can happen during a nap. This in turn rules out single handed operation longer than one can reasonably stay alert. I think all these single handed races and other distance feats should be scorned, not celebrated.
So I guess I shouldn't mention the thousands of miles single handed on our cat and the plans to be the first single handed circumnavigator of Australia in one. (-;
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Old 04-12-2019, 07:25 AM   #11
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Wow. Timely. And from the other end.

I started getting texts today from a boating friend and while I was at home, and I knew he was supposed to be somewhere between Vancouver and Ketchikan. He's on a recreational inside passage trip in marginal weather. The gist was it was so boring, that some communication aided in focusing and staying centered.

He's an experienced skipper and large boat owner, though actually crewing on this trip - so why not let him judge his limits and needs? He darn well knows what it takes to keep the alert at the right level. If texting me back in Seattle to b**ch about things or share jokes keeps the attention up, why not?

Quote:
Geez!! Such seriousness!

When on watch I read books, or occasionally watch a movie on my ipad. Often times I am visiting one of the several great forums I frequent.

At 8 knots you will flat die of boredom if all you do is stare at the ocean and your nav system.
Exactly. I almost once went flat-out mad going outside from Atlantic City to Block Island delivering to race week when the wind died on a bag-powered NY 36 racer/cruiser. I think the NY 36 one-design came with a single-cylinder diesel and a 3 pint fuel tank, so - ughhh. I think we were able to keep Moriches Inlet in sight for about a day and a half. If there had been heroin on board, I think I might have done it (joke). Had I cell coverage and a phone, things would have been much more stable, pleasant, and safer.
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Old 04-12-2019, 08:30 AM   #12
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There's a difference between a periodic distraction and a dependence (addiction). When it becomes the "Cellular Leash", it's time to turn it off for a while.

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Old 04-12-2019, 08:49 AM   #13
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So I guess I shouldn't mention the thousands of miles single handed on our cat and the plans to be the first single handed circumnavigator of Australia in one. (-;

No, mention it all you want. I know my opinion isn't going to change anything. And I'll try not to harp on it.
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Old 04-12-2019, 08:51 AM   #14
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I'm curious whether the 'crew' the OP is referring too are teenagers or millennials. This seems like it would be one of those conversations that if the captain or boat owner said "No phones while on watch" whether I agreed or disagreed the reply would be "OK"

This sounds like there was pushback on the watch rules.
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Old 04-12-2019, 09:36 AM   #15
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So which "evil" is worse, falling asleep of boredom on a passage or using other outside stimuli to stay awake.. texting, books, movies, talking on the phone.. or vhf for that matter?


Some of it is dependent on the person at the helm.. I have had crew aboard that could loose focus looking out the window and run into stuff without ANY distraction.. I had to catnap in the bridge to make sure they didn't do something stupid. Of course this no doubt dropped off my sharpness as fatigue is cumulative.


Offshore I often watch a movie when on watch, mostly I listen to it and keep an eye on the ship but I do glance at the screen at times. I believe it keeps my brain active and engauged which keeps me more attentive. Would I do it entering the bay of Panama at night with 30 ships moving about in all directions.. nope that would be just stupid.



I have seen some skippers decree some of the dumbest ideas to their watches in the name of keeping attentive that it actually works in the opposite direction.



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Old 04-12-2019, 10:52 AM   #16
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Quote:
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What I very much object to is taking a nap while at the helm. That's not stepping away, or looking away for 1-2 minutes. A lot can happen during a nap. This in turn rules out single handed operation longer than one can reasonably stay alert. I think all these single handed races and other distance feats should be scorned, not celebrated.
As a single hander that is rapidly approaching my ability to activly cruise long distances your statement above is something I am having to put into my trip planning.

Fortunately in my profession I work a 12 hour shift and bounce between days and nights constantly. This means I have trained my body to be up for 24 hours at a time and still make life or death decisions and handel complex situations. This ďbody trainingĒ will help when I leave Alaska but age will start to be an issue as well.

Really single handeling means route planning that does not require staying at the helm longer than ones body can stay alert. I agree napping is not acceptable, at least for this sailor.
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Old 04-12-2019, 12:52 PM   #17
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There are solo artists blowing their way across the Pacific as we sit here. I wonder if they are on their phones during these 20 day crossings? When they are awake, that is....
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Old 04-12-2019, 01:47 PM   #18
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Is a cellphone any different to a kindle, a book, a logbook, a chart, a chart plotter?
As long as you are alert and watch is maintained.
Excellent point!
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Old 04-12-2019, 03:04 PM   #19
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There are solo artists blowing their way across the Pacific as we sit here. I wonder if they are on their phones during these 20 day crossings? When they are awake, that is....

Where was this girl when I was looking for crew?



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Old 04-12-2019, 05:03 PM   #20
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There are solo artists blowing their way across the Pacific as we sit here. I wonder if they are on their phones during these 20 day crossings? When they are awake, that is....

This ☝️
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