Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 09-14-2020, 01:02 PM   #1
Member
 
City: Denver, CO
Country: United States
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 5
When does a solo skipper sleep?

Hey all,

I'm loving this forum and all the information just ROCKS! I'm considering the liveaboard lifestyle (not because of COVID-19), though I'm not a boater yet. One question that I just can't seem to get an answer for is this:

All the vids I've watched shows another person keeping watch at night while underway. I expect to be a solo skipper alone on my boat. If the water I find myself in is too deep to drop anchor, and I'm tired and need sleep, how do I keep from drifting aimlessly for 8 hours. What if I drift into a shipping lane. How do I keep from getting run over while I'm asleep?

I'm betting this is a stupid question, though I haven't seen it addressed anywhere yet. Any ideas would be awesome. Thanks, and keep up the great discussions.
__________________
Advertisement

RoostersReward is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 01:12 PM   #2
Guru
 
psneeld's Avatar
 
City: AICW
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Freedom
Vessel Model: Albin 40
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 22,171
Whenever practicable.

Planning that you will have to is a pretty important decision.

Though one can argue it is never technically a proper thing to do, it is done frequently, with authorities aware of it, so it is on you to determine when it is safe or not.
__________________

psneeld is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 01:17 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
City: Barrington
Country: Plymouth
Vessel Name: Hippocampus
Vessel Model: Boatless at present
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 464
Have done transits solo on sail. Head offshore away from fishing grounds and well out of shipping lanes. Set radar and AIS alarm zones. Sleep during the day. 1/2 h naps with very brief wake periods to scan horizon, instruments, trim and weather. Do that to get 5- 6 h per day. Found alertness preserved for up to a week without issue. If trans oceanic would think the something similar would serve but would have longer sleep periods as it’s pretty empty. Lastly time landfalls for mornings. Adrenaline gets you through that last day.
Hippocampus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 01:18 PM   #4
Guru
 
City: Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island
Country: Canada
Vessel Name: Capricorn
Vessel Model: Mariner 28 - Sedan Cruiser 1969
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 1,332
The sailboat solo circumnavigators of the earth of course have to sleep while transiting, which they do.

An easy answer for you is - can you afford a cruiser that is approved to transit oceans? Most of the boats you see at a marina, about 99 % can not transit an ocean. Specifications have to be met, blah blah blah. Translation: more money than your average trawler.

I don't think many in ocean going cruisers go by themselves.
rsn48 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 01:34 PM   #5
Valued Technical Contributor
 
DavidM's Avatar
 
City: Litchfield, Ct
Country: USA
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 5,550
It isn't a stupid question and it is rarely discussed because the answer is doing something illegal, but heck the statute of limitations has run out on my actions, so here goes:

I did it once in crossing the Florida Gulf from Marco Island to Key West. That is not really a shipping lane but it does have fishing boats that work that area. I left Marco at about noon and arrived at KW at about 8:00 the next morning. At about 11:00 at night I set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes, took a look around for traffic, did the same on the radar and settled down in the cockpit for a 30 minute nap. I did this about ten times until I got close to the entrance to NW harbor at about 6:00 AM and stayed awake until I was anchored in KW. Thirty minutes was enough to be pretty confident that I would not run into a fishing boat coming right at me at a closing speed of 10 kts. In other words if I didn't see anything within 5 miles I was ok for 30 minutes.

I think most solo passage makers do something similar. Some will just sleep with no timer if they are well away from fishing boats on the open waters. Others will tough it through for all or part of the night if they can get to an anchorage at the end of the night. I did this when going from Cape May to Sandy Hook, where I arrived at Atlantic Highlands at about 2:30 in the morning. There I was very comfortable with following the bouys as painted on the radar around Sandy Hook and down to AH. Not so in transiting the NW passage into KW.

You do what you have to do to be reasonably safe. Not as safe as 2, 3 or 4 crewmen sharing watches, but reasonably so.

If you search on Cruisersforum.com you will find some accounts of solo passage makers, not so much here on TF. Here is one thread- https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...es-206147.html

David
DavidM is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 01:37 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
City: Barrington
Country: Plymouth
Vessel Name: Hippocampus
Vessel Model: Boatless at present
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 464
Convinced 3 or more is the right number for passage. If two and one goes down you’re single with no one to attend to the hurt or sick person. In recent years insurance agrees. They won’t permit singling for passage and charge more if just two in my experience.
Hippocampus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 01:48 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
City: Barrington
Country: Plymouth
Vessel Name: Hippocampus
Vessel Model: Boatless at present
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 464
We do 2 a lot if it’s not more than a couple of days In fact 99% of time underway is two. . As captain not admiral sleep in cockpit if there’s a possibility of a crossing or weather during the day. I take the 20-24 and 0-4’ She gets the other night watch. We both take a 3h daytime nap as well. Sometimes 2.
Hippocampus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 02:06 PM   #8
Guru
 
mvweebles's Avatar
 
City: Saint Petersburg
Country: United States
Vessel Name: Weebles
Vessel Model: 1970 Willard 36 Trawler
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 1,498
When I was delivering, many of my deliveries were 5+ days along the Pacific Coast. I usually did it with a single crew. It's a bit grueling if the weather sucks, which it often does headed north.

During the day, I would set waypoints for a couple miles off a headland. As the afternoon winds kicked-up, I would bend-in towards land to get bit of protection from the fetch; often within a couple miles of the surf. At night, I'd swing offshore to avoid crab-pots, plus the winds would have died down. This is no place for a tired crew at-risk of falling asleep. I remember nighttime crew change being a pretty short briefing before passing out.

In close coastal conditions, crew of two can be done, but I would not recommend it. First time I did it with my wife, she got really pissed-off at me (she doesn't handle fatigue well - I slept with one eye open).

I do not believe single-handing in trafficked areas for more than about 30 hours is responsible. Offshore passages well outside of traffic routes? Can be done with acceptable risk. But not many powerboats take those routes.

Peter
__________________
M/V Weebles
1970 Willard 36 Sedan Trawler
Current Location: Ensenada MX
mvweebles is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 02:11 PM   #9
Veteran Member
 
City: Prescott
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Looking
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 53
Having done a number of sailboat trips, West Coast to Hawaii, with only two aboard, have found the best is 6 hrs. on 6 hrs. off. You get enough sleep to operate, and someone to keep watch 24/7. It doesn't matter where in the ocean you are, there may and often are other ships, without good lookouts out there. If a large ship, I'm a retired Ships Captain, hits you, they probably won't know you you even there. Read Dee Saunders book UNSINKABLE. A very telling tale.
Steve Jackson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 02:45 PM   #10
Member
 
City: Denver, CO
Country: United States
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 5
Wow, thank you all for the great ideas. I appreciate it very much.
RoostersReward is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 03:43 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
City: Barrington
Country: Plymouth
Vessel Name: Hippocampus
Vessel Model: Boatless at present
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 464
Find days can be scarier than nights. Usually fish boats are lit up as they work through the nights. You see the glow from cruise ships in the sky just about when they appear on AIS. During the day the fish boats often don’t show up well on radar (low freeboard or wood) and commonly don’t transmit AIS. It’s especially true off PR where they may be ~100nm off shore. So you don’t see them, and they don’t show up on your instruments. Need eyes looking in front and behind you. The non panama container ships and VLCC truly move along at impressive speeds. Often foreign flagged with non English as first language crew. Usually limited in ability to turn or change speed much. Have never gotten a “state intentions” call from them. You want to miss them by miles. We want at least 5. Even they’re passing by is dangerous. They do pop on AIS quite a bit away as it’s a line of sight device and their antenna is very high up. Still someone needs to be watching. If you can sleep through an alarm or wake up slowly even with all the electronic aids to navigation could see you get into real do do.
Hippocampus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 04:06 PM   #12
Guru
 
HiDHo's Avatar
 
City: Scottsboro, Al.
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Hi-D-Ho
Vessel Model: 1987 Krogen Manatee
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 1,359
Sounds like you want to stop and sleep. Drift can be slowed with a sea anchor but no guarantee on drift into shipping lanes, commercial fishing, etc.. Lighting up your boat may help, radar alarm warning zone set. I would want to be topside and carefully choose the location.
HiDHo is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 04:24 PM   #13
Guru
 
mvweebles's Avatar
 
City: Saint Petersburg
Country: United States
Vessel Name: Weebles
Vessel Model: 1970 Willard 36 Trawler
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 1,498
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippocampus View Post
Find days can be scarier than nights. Usually fish boats are lit up as they work through the nights. You see the glow from cruise ships in the sky just about when they appear on AIS. During the day the fish boats often don’t show up well on radar (low freeboard or wood)
Once you get out of US waters, pangas can be a problem. Lights? Ha! They carry a flashlight and if they think you might hit them, they wave it frantically in your direction. Whether they could pick-up their gear in time if you didn't respond is an interesting question.

I remember one dark, calm night about 20 nms off the central California coast. I'm asleep and my crew screams for me to get to the helm ASAP. I come up the companionway to see a fully-lit fishing boat that could have illuminated a Texas high school football field. We bear off to starboard, but the fishing boat seems to steer towards us so we aren't gaining any room. So we bear-off some more. A 30-foot workboat comes barreling towards us at 20-kts. No radio, no lights except flashlights. It took me a few minutes to figure out they had gear set and the wanted us out of range. Fair enough - a VHF call would have been nice. Certainly no way to see red-over-white fishing lights given their deck lights.

Another example. There's a 'waiting room' 20-miles off the Long Beach/LA harbors where ships sometimes hang-out passing time for some reason. Last time through, there were two cruise ships, probably doing 3-kts. I defy anyone to figure out the front-end of a near-motionless, fully-lit cruise ship at night. Especially with any degree of sleep deprivation.

I don't think it's practical to drift/sea-anchor. Certainly not along the Pacific Coast. Even calm weather had enough swell that it would put you on your beam-ends. And there are a few stretches where all-weather harbors are up to 100 nms apart.

As the saying goes "If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there!" If you want to sleep, you better be lucky.

Peter
__________________
M/V Weebles
1970 Willard 36 Sedan Trawler
Current Location: Ensenada MX
mvweebles is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 04:36 PM   #14
Guru
 
BandB's Avatar
 
City: Fort Lauderdale
Country: USA
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 19,298
It's all opinion....

We have esteemed forum members who have crossed oceans single handed and slept often while doing so. While I respect them, I can never endorse that. In my opinion, if single handed, it is always wrong to sleep while underway as no one is on watch.

I believe you should always have at least two and that two can handle up to 48 hours. Beyond that, I believe you need three. I consider sleep deprivation a serious risk.
BandB is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 04:45 PM   #15
Guru
 
mvweebles's Avatar
 
City: Saint Petersburg
Country: United States
Vessel Name: Weebles
Vessel Model: 1970 Willard 36 Trawler
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 1,498
Quote:
Originally Posted by BandB View Post
I believe you should always have at least two and that two can handle up to 48 hours. Beyond that, I believe you need three. I consider sleep deprivation a serious risk.
I believe there are many, many cruising couples who do just fine. I do not believe two non-acclimated people can depart California to Hawaii and do fine. My sense is you start out standing very short night-time watches, and eventually you get to 4-6 hour watches overnight. But at first, those mid-night watches are really difficult for a pair.

I do believe longer passages can be done safely by a pair, though the second night at sea is difficult as there's a sleep deficit from the night before. But after that, you start to acclimate. I almost always end up standing longer watches just to give my wife more sleep time, though she get's mad at me for depriving her of doing her responsibility to stand-watch.

Peter
__________________
M/V Weebles
1970 Willard 36 Sedan Trawler
Current Location: Ensenada MX
mvweebles is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 05:14 PM   #16
Senior Member
 
KnotYet's Avatar
 
City: Los Angeles
Country: USA
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 378
Quote:
Originally Posted by BandB View Post
We have esteemed forum members who have crossed oceans single handed and slept often while doing so. While I respect them, I can never endorse that. In my opinion, if single handed, it is always wrong to sleep while underway as no one is on watch.

I believe you should always have at least two and that two can handle up to 48 hours. Beyond that, I believe you need three. I consider sleep deprivation a serious risk.
Three really is the magic number. I've done an 18 day crossing with a crew of
three and the rhythm of four hours on and eight hours off is quite civilized.
We arrived at our destination in pretty good shape.
KnotYet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 05:19 PM   #17
DDW
Guru
 
City: San Francisco
Country: USA
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 1,324
Solo, you have no choice but to sleep. 30 minutes is a very long time, if you are doing 10 knots and the other boat is doing 10 knots, closing speed is 20 knots. That means the traffic you will meet at 29 minutes is still below the horizon on last check. And container ships are doing more like 20 knots. AIS and radar alarms can help but are not perfect or fool proof. When solo, collision avoidance depends heavily on the "big ocean" theory.

Having done many multi-day two person transits, I believe the first two or three nights are the worst and very fatiguing. After that you get into the rhythm of the midnight watches and it becomes sustainable, at least until the weather turns bad. 3 makes it more tolerable, and 4 makes it a party.
DDW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 05:31 PM   #18
Senior Member
 
City: Barrington
Country: Plymouth
Vessel Name: Hippocampus
Vessel Model: Boatless at present
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 464
Yup W it’s all scary. But it sure. Is fun. Remember having the wife wake me crying. I had a bad cold and wasn’t at my best. We were just doing a simple overnight to Maine. She got us stuck between a host of trawlers at night. All lite up and going slowly every which way. Ask her to get on the VHF and chat up the closest one. He was so kind. Heard the fear in her voice . Explained the trawl pattern he was using and even that of the boats we would pass near. Even gave her a course to steer through. He watched us and talked her through the gaggle of boats. The commercial guys are usually like that. Still, you hear tight sphincter stories even during the day with all our fancy dan electronics. Been told crossing the English channel can be most intimidating. Or getting into Rotterdam. Hell even our naval craft can’t stay out of trouble.
Hippocampus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 05:37 PM   #19
Guru
 
Fletcher500's Avatar
 
City: San Diego
Country: USA
Vessel Model: Helmsman 4304
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 1,415
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
Another example. There's a 'waiting room' 20-miles off the Long Beach/LA harbors where ships sometimes hang-out passing time for some reason. Last time through, there were two cruise ships, probably doing 3-kts. I defy anyone to figure out the front-end of a near-motionless, fully-lit cruise ship at night. Especially with any degree of sleep deprivation.
Peter
Peter, I believe those cruise ships in that vicinity are (were) on the Catalina to Mex run. They meander around in that area all night at slow speeds before they pull into Cat in the am. Agree, they are quite a sight in the middle of the night when they are lit up and can be disorienting. Trust in the instruments, not what the naked eye is saying are key as you know.
Fletcher500 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2020, 05:45 PM   #20
Guru
 
mvweebles's Avatar
 
City: Saint Petersburg
Country: United States
Vessel Name: Weebles
Vessel Model: 1970 Willard 36 Trawler
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 1,498
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher500 View Post
Peter, I believe those cruise ships in that vicinity are (were) on the Catalina to Mex run. They meander around in that area all night at slow speeds before they pull into Cat in the am. Agree, they are quite a sight in the middle of the night when they are lit up and can be disorienting. Trust in the instruments, not what the naked eye is saying are key as you know.
Thanks Fletch - that's good to know. I hadn't seen them when I was delivering in the early 2000's so assume this is relatively new. I saw them when I was headed from SF to Ensenada 2-years ago. I have to admit, I had a helluva time figuring out what they were doing.

While I had radar, that was it. Before leaving SF, my old CRT Furuno took a dive and I replaced it 2-days prior to departure with the Simrad system I will fully install. Bottom-line - it was barely installed. No AIS display.

I still defy anyone to tell which end of a cruise ship is the bow and the stern at night if it's not moving

Peter
__________________

__________________
M/V Weebles
1970 Willard 36 Sedan Trawler
Current Location: Ensenada MX
mvweebles is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off





All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:51 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
Copyright 2006 - 2012
×