Diagnostic

Watches on passage…

Published on 01 april 2016 at 0h00

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We asked some well-known skippers, experienced sailors, novices, family crews and others who only sail with their buddies...and we found THE golden rule for organizing watches aboard. And this rule, from which no one can escape, is that there are no rules! On the other hand, there are numerous parameters to be taken into account and just as many good ideas amongst which you can pick and choose to turn these moments into unforgettable memories for the whole crew.

In the past, the hey-day of sailing ships, the day was divided into four periods of six hours, a quarter of the day. The French have retained the word (un quart) to denote a watch, whatever the duration finally opted for. Opinions diverge between two and four hours, and are sometimes quite firm. And what if, just like the singlehanded sailors who test their optimal period of sleep, you were to try to find your ideal watch duration? Too short, and those off-watch don’t get enough rest. Too long, and boredom starts to set in, despite the wonderful show offered by the sea, the waves, the plankton, the stars, the moon, the ships, the coast, the sails, the washing-up, the bread to be baked, or the latest season of your favorite series! But it is fatigue which you must be able to detect, as this is what reduces vigilance. Similarly, although a majority always prefer the same time slot and get into their rhythm, others like to switch the watch times, so that it’s not always the same people who have to get up in ...

This article appeared in issue 147. To read the article in full, buy this issue individually

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