Best Practices in Watch Keeping


Author
Message
Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)
Group: Moderators
Posts: 747, Visits: 148
OCC members have a wealth of experience in all aspects of blue water sailing. We would like to create a repository of best practices adopted by our members, starting with watchkeeping procedures.

Here are a few questions to get us started:
[ul]
[li]What makes a good watchstander?[/li]
[li]What is your favourite watch schedule and why?[/li]
[li]Do you have different watch systems for different weather/sea state conditions?[/li]
[li]Do you do things differently when short-handed than with full crew?[/li]
[li]Have you adopted any special rules for watchstanding?[/li]


Thank you.

Vice Commodore, OCC 
Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)
Group: Moderators
Posts: 747, Visits: 148
[size=5]Ten tips for keeping a good watch[/size]

[attachment=106]Watchkeeping.JPG[/attachment]

1: Follow the vessel 's Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for decision-making
2: Get plenty of rest in the off watch period
3: Wear the right gear for comfort and safety
4: Hydrate and snack to stay healthy and alert
5: Check the course and the sail trim (esp. if using self-steering)
6: Use binoculars to scan the horizon for ships and weather and to check the rig
7: Check electronics (radar/AIS) for ships not seen
8: Update the ship’s log hourly
9: Put on the kettle before the next watch
10: Give a thorough briefing to the next watchkeeper


We sail double-handed most of the time. Our preferred watch schedule is as follows:
- 6 hours on, 6 hours off during the day
- 4 hours on, 4 off at night.

The reason we like this schedule is because neither of us gets the midnight to 4 am shift every day, and both of us get to see the sunset and sunrise every other day. In addition, with 6 hours off daily, we get plenty of continuous time for rest.

Vice Commodore, OCC 
Attachments
Watchkeeping.JPG (143 views, 89.00 KB)
Simon Currin
Simon Currin
I'm into this (235 reputation)I'm into this (235 reputation)I'm into this (235 reputation)I'm into this (235 reputation)I'm into this (235 reputation)I'm into this (235 reputation)I'm into this (235 reputation)I'm into this (235 reputation)I'm into this (235 reputation)
Group: Administrators
Posts: 741, Visits: 86
Daria,
We tend to sail double handed on long passages and do shorter shifts at night. Typically we change every 2 hours during the night. Both of us struggle to stay awake for 3 or more hours at night and prefer this pattern. During the day we stand much longer watches and use the daytime off watch period to catch up with quality sleep. In fact, and perhaps controversially, we don 't have a rigid watch system during the day but tend to just share the day between us according to how we feel and the conditions. It seems to work for us though I know most prefer a more rigid system.
Simon
Bill Balme
Bill Balme
Gaining Respect (104 reputation)Gaining Respect (104 reputation)Gaining Respect (104 reputation)Gaining Respect (104 reputation)Gaining Respect (104 reputation)Gaining Respect (104 reputation)Gaining Respect (104 reputation)Gaining Respect (104 reputation)Gaining Respect (104 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 243, Visits: 1K
We are also double handed and also somewhat loose with our watchkeeping. In general, I do the night watch - normally from about 10 - 11pm until about 5 am. I happen to quite like it, my wife Laurie like 's to avoid all the nocturnal sea serpents!
During the day I catch up on a bunch of sleep, typically in two sessions, one right after my watch and one right before. Since Laurie cannot sleep during daylight hours, this schedule works for us.

I confess (and gather we are not alone) - but it 's therefore probably NOT best practice, our watch does not have to be out on deck all the time. Indeed, often the watchkeeper is sat at the nav station in front of our bigger radar/chart display. A check on deck is done on a frequent basis - time dependent on where we are... mid Atlantic, we might go as long as 40 minutes between popping a head up for a good gander about the place. As we approach land, this will come down to 10 or 15 minutes. Places like the Irish Sea we tend to have someone outside all the time.

Hopefully I don 't get expelled from the OCC from having such a lax system!

Bill Balme
s/v Toodle-oo!

Neil Langford
Neil Langford
New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 0, Visits: 1
AIS
Radar
Good charting system
Binoculars and alert
Refreshed crew making the most of the tools available.
But nothing beats a good set of eyes on watch in the cockpit.

We keep 6 hourly watches when passage making, 8pm till 2am, 2am till 8am, then loose, but not slack, watches during the day. Neil can go to sleep easily, so I always do the first night watch. But if either of us are tired we just wake the other person up earlier. I find a snack every 2 hours aids the concentration. I make Neil a hot drink when I wake him and leave out a stash of snacks for him as well. All meals are taken together and this 6 hour sleep with a nap each during the day works well for us.
DzerWogs
DzerWogs
New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 0, Visits: 1
[attachment=110]P4090773small.jpg[/attachment]

For us, as doublehanders, we do a six (6) hours on and then six (6) hours off watch schedule at night. We like the long stint of sleeping. Starting at 1800 or 1900 and going to either midnight or 0100. I start on watch as it is hard for me to actually get to sleep. Don can sleep on demand. About 0700 is when most of the radio nets get going, so we are both usually up then. Breakfast together and then Don goes for a morning nap. Lunch together, then an afternoon nap for me, dinner together and off Don goes to bed.

We have radar and just gotten a used AIS system and are looking forward to using it on the next passage. I 'm sure it will be a big boon.

One trusty tool we use is a wrist watch on board (cheap water resistant Casio LA-11W) that has a very easy function for an alarm. With three clicks of a button, the alarm is set for ten minutes and it reminds us if we are not already in the cock pit we should be, to look around. We then quickly, with another three pushes, reset the watch. We would hate to be without it.

D & Don Wogaman
SV SOUTHERN CROSS
Attachments
P4090773small.jpg (151 views, 54.00 KB)
nbryant
nbryant
New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)New Member (0 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 0, Visits: 1
Top of our list is AIS. Everything that has been written is essential but it is also necassary for the watch keeper to have easy access to someone off watch to call for help. Someone must be in the cockpit 24/7. We had friends run down by a ship in the south Atlantic when he went below to make a cup of coffee. Fortunately they survived (only just) to tell the tale.

Nick and Helen Bryant
s/v Ursa Maris
Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)I'm into this (271 reputation)
Group: Moderators
Posts: 747, Visits: 148
Here is a good article about keeping a log, which is an essential part of watchkeeping procedure. Were you aware that a ship 's log is a legal document?

http://www.skippertips.com/public/1707.cfm?goback=%2Egde_781317_member_274164593#%21

Vice Commodore, OCC 
David Tyler
David Tyler
New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 168, Visits: 833
When Tystie sailed two-handed, we used a 4- on, 4- off system, with no dog-watches. I, as skipper, took the graveyard watch, and let Fran have the first and morning watches, when she got the sunrise and sunset. Watchkeeping would be more relaxed during daylight, with the nominal off-watch maybe in the cockpit snoozing, if it was too hot below. The main meal would certainly be during the 1600 to 2000 watch. I think the 4 hour watch ties in with the science of sleep - the sleep cycle from light sleep through deep sleep to REM sleep takes 90 - 100 minutes, and the first two such cycles are when most of the good work of renewal is done. So you fit two such cycles neatly into four hours, with enough time to get to sleep, and to rouse yourself for your watch.

Being junk rigged, deck work is minimal, and the watchkeeper has little to do but look around every 15 minutes, reading and listening to music the rest of the time.

I disagree with keeping watch in the cockpit. A warm dry watchkeeper is a better watchkeeper. Tystie has a Hasler pramhood, and the watchkeeper is sheltered, yet with the eyes, ears and nose outside, taking in all that 's happening. Every serious cruising yacht should have one.

Now I 'm single-handed, and I 've made a watchkeeper 's alarm using a clockwork run-back timer, activating a bright red LED and a 90db piezo buzzer when it reaches zero (with a dim green LED to tell me that it 's active and counting down). All components can be found at RS components.

[attachment=111]image.jpg[/attachment]

I also make much use of my Vesper Marine AIS and my CARD radar detector.
Attachments
image.jpg (139 views, 24.00 KB)
David Tyler
David Tyler
New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)New Member (31 reputation)
Group: Forum Members
Posts: 168, Visits: 833
[quote="DariaBlackwell" post=1122]Here is a good article about keeping a log, which is an essential part of watchkeeping procedure. Were you aware that a ship 's log is a legal document?

http://www.skippertips.com/public/1707.cfm?goback=%2Egde_781317_member_274164593#%21[/quote]

I think that 's an important point. In the event of an accident, a well-kept and up to date log provides some evidence that the vessel was being well-run and a watch was being kept.
GO

Merge Selected

Merge into selected topic...



Merge into merge target...



Merge into a specific topic ID...




Login

Search