Molly Mosher of Leesburg, VA asks:

When on open seas and on autopilot, can you leave the bridge unattended for periods of time?

Jeff Leishman responds:

We always have someone in the wheel house on watch. However, if the watch stander needs to use the head or get something from the galley then it's ok to leave the bridge for short periods of time. At night when you really can't see anything outside, you rely on the radar to see. so if nothing is on the radar then you can be pretty sure there are no ships bearing down on you. The scary thing about night running is not being able to see what directly in your path like floating debris or worse yet a container floating just at the surface! I personally have never seen one but I guess they are out here. At any rate it is not good practice to leave the bridge unattended for anything other than a couple of minutes, not only are we keeping an eye out for ships but we are scanning our engine instruments for signs of trouble.

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