John, Alamo, CA asks:
I'm interested in short handed cruising and I'm curious as
to how you handle sleeping when it's just the two of you on a long
passage? Do you ever both sleep and put it on auto? Or do you do shifts?
Scott Flanders from Egret responds:
John, Mary and I have a simple watch routine that works for us. We start our night watches at 8:00PM when I come on. Mary is on from 12:00PM until 4:00AM when I come on again. I usually stay up until 10:00 or later. Mary gets as much sleep as she wants then gets up to fix breakfast. For the rest of the day we keep a loose watch schedule and nap as we wish. We find it takes us 1 1/2 to 2 days to fully get into the routine. From this point on we could go forever (as long as fuel lasts). Other long distance cruisers will confirm this, the longer you are at sea, the less you want to make landfall. The sea is your friend, landfall complicates things.
Night watches on a long distance powerboat is a simple issue of watching the radar, visually scanning the horizon from time to time and doing our engine room checks. We do a simple engine room check hourly by lifting a hatch in the salon and using a flashlight to sweep the bilge, service side of the engine for leaks (we keep white 3M bilge diapers under this side of the engine as an immediate tell tale), stabilizer cooling pump (for leaks) and Naiad stabilizer tower reservoir (for fluid level). The second engine room check we perform is during daylight hours (at night we don't want to wake the off watch). We enter the engine room from the master stateroom to check the Racor fuel filter vacuum and use an infrared temperature gun to take engine temps and also shoot the engine room blower to see if it is on (the motor runs hot).