Watch Systems

gjbentley

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Off to Ouistreham next month from Portsmouth. Going through the night, about 19 hrs overall. Have three crew, but only trust one to have sufficient night watch skills.

I want to have the flexibility to be in the cockpit at critical stages of the passage and dip in and out of navigation, (eg crossing shipping lanes, shaping final landfall, etc), rather than as Skipper be held to a regular watch along with the crew. In between it would be nice to catch a few hours sleep, but be on call if needed.

Any suggestions on a suitable watch system for the crew that is not the normal 4 hours on and off ?
 

BlueSkyNick

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19hours in a 35ft boat seems a bit on the high side - although I dont ahve a chart to hand to know the distance.

Anyway, if there is you plus three, just split into pairs with one stronger and one weaker member. You really need to judge the timings on the night, according to your departure time and the conditions, to ensure that you are on deck when crossing the shipping lanes. I would normally go for 2 on 2 off as a starter.

If there is only 3 of you, 4 on, 2off will ensure there are two of you on duty at any time. Its only one night, so you can catch up on sleep at the other end anyway.
 

BrendanS

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Draw up a time line of critical moments. That will show you when you might need to be on watch. Update as necessary.

More important is to let the crew know that they should get you out of bed no matter what if they are unsure.


Put the one person you trust on opposite watches to you, and have the other two wake either of you when required. Wake you if really unsure.
Over 19 hours, you can cope with most things.
 

gjbentley

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Thanks for this.

[ QUOTE ]
19hours in a 35ft boat seems a bit on the high side -

[/ QUOTE ]

You must be joking ?

Did 123 nms last year in June from Portsmouth to St Peters Port overnight, 22 hr passage . Just kept myself awake until dawn, then SWMBO came on watch to give me three hours sleep.

But this time I just want to make it less effort having two more crew onboard. Its about 95 nms from Portsmouth to Ouisteham. Leaving 1800hrs.
 

fluffc

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For such a short passage, I would recommend a 'Mother Watch' system.

You need to be on call all the time, and in your bunk when not at 'critical' points in the passage.

The remaining three crew can go on a 1on, 1stdby, 1off routine.


Short passages less than 24 hours aren't necessarily worth getting too hung up about a watch system, as many people can cope with it with little sleep, although you'll feel it the following night.
 

jamesjermain

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With only one other experienced hand in a crew of four, I don't think you can exclude yourself from watch duty. Any system of three is bound to result in one or more of the inexperienced crew standing watch unsupervised. The only way to do it would be to have watches of three and one and that clearly won't work.

Normally, for passages of over 24 hours, I firmly believe in strict watch keeping but a passage of this length can allow for some flexibility. Over this length of time there is no need to have watches of equal length.

Calculate when you will need to be on deck for safety reasons - departure, shipping lanes, arrival, and work the watch times around this. Make sure you have a decent amount of sleep before the really tricky bits because you need to be alert and capable of making good decisions. For example, you and your watch partner would do stints of, say, one hour on (departure), four off, four on (first shippng lane), two off, four on (second shipping lane)... one hour on (arrival). Provided both watches have the opportunity to enjoy six hours sleep in 19 hours, whether they are daylight hours, graveyard watch or mealtimes is less important than you being refreshed and alert when you are needed.
 

flaming

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My experience with 2 hours on, 2 hours off is that you simply don't get enough sleep.
You need to be awake about 15 minutes before your watch to get togged up and drink a coffee. And It's a very lucky person who falls asleap when their head hits the pillow on a one night passage. So of a 2 hour off watch period I was getting about an hour of sleep.
I'd stick to at least 3 hour periods, 4 if possible.
 

Amphitrite

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Watches of less than 2 hours are close to useless for the person off-duty. I would go for 3 or 4 hour watches with you being one watchleader. Try to time that your are on duty in the more critical passages, and if called / present in your free time, this is the hardship a skipper has to cope with...
 

iangrant

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sleep when you feel like it - whenever you can, mind you it's no great shakes to sail 19 hours, you won't have time to settle into a proper watch system.
 
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