Standing a 24 hour watch, am I nuts?

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

6 Responses

  1. Have never commented here but have followed for years. Foolhardy? Absolutely not. While I don’t often do a 24 hour singlehanded run in our trawler I have done so a few times. I find it is easier on me than a 3 day, 2 night offshore run with my wife splitting watches. It is also a great way to review your boating skills one on one so to speak. No background distractions other than other boats and weather.
    Am interested in a new cell booster so was glad to see that mentioned.

  2. Richard Cassano says:

    Fatigue is the biggest enemy of singlehanded sailing. I did a similar leg last year from Atlantic City, around Cape May, up Delaware Bay, through the canal and down the Chesapeake to Deale, MD. It was 27 hours in torrential rain and wind. At one point in the black of night I could swear there was a building right in front of me but it turned out to be the biggest tug and tow I have ever seen lit up like a Manhattan skyscraper. I moved well out of the channel to give him plenty of room. I would never do a sail like this again. Working the wet deck and trying to see what’s ahead was seriously fatiguing. Any reasonable person would have pulled off, anchored and slept. The saving grace was my new Garmin Fantom 24 radar. With the overcast and rain I couldn’t see a thing ahead, but the radar on my 7612 was what made it possible to move on. I think if you do long coastal legs singlehanded you have to carefully pick your weather and have good harbors of refuge in mind should your eyes become too heavy to stay open.

  3. Given your level of experience, I’d say there was nothing especially hazardous about your trip. You had the planning & resources to cut it safely short if the weather went pear-shaped, you had the tools to know if something was going wrong – and at this point, I would HOPE you understand yourself well enough to know if fatigue would be a problem. 🙂
    The only real concern would be if some negative medical event were to happen to you enroute – this might be the only real “extra” danger. [For those of us who are chronologically challenged]
    FWIW, I’ve found those “5-hour energy” little bottles sold in every gas station and truck stop to be an outstanding way to stop the nods – I’ve only used them while driving, but I have a couple on the boat just in case.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Well, if I was still conscious, I surely had a lot of automated Distress buttons to push. And there are worse ways to go anyway.

      My latest favorite booster is a little energy bar called a BTC, as in Better Than Coffee. I’ve been experimenting with various energy bars for some time, but when I casually munched one of these one evening about a year ago, I ended up still awake at dawn and still productive.

      They contain caffeine for sure, and aren’t very tasty, but It was about then that I actually read about the ingredients and acquired some respect for the power of Guarana and Maca plants.

      But as you and Rich note, fatigue is the real issue with solo running, and I almost provided an example due in part to a geek error. Toward the long watch’s end, well past the traffic lane and storm cell stimulation, I thought I’d set alarms just in case I nodded off during my periods sitting within sight of the helm displays. (Gizmo doesn’t have a lower helm seat, and my legs tire quicker than the rest of me.)

      I was listening to radio and podcasts streaming from iPad to noise canceling Bose Hearphones — wonderful for muting the engine drone — and that’s where I set the alarms. But I did nod off a bit and when I woke myself and wondered what happened to the alarm, it was uselessly ringing away on iPad speaker instead of streaming right into my ear. Doh!

      So Gizmo could have run up on the beach near Atlantic City, and if I were just asleep, it would have been wicked embarassing.

  1. June 27, 2018

    […] was far from shore stations as I prepared to cross the Deleware Bay shipping lanes, as discussed in my 24-hour watch entry (Whose tracking map was provided by FloatHub, includes enough resolution to zoom in deep, and […]

  2. July 13, 2018

    […] around 6:30 in the evening having been on the water for a little over 11 hours.  Not exactly up to Ben Ellison’s 24 hour marathon, but a long day nonetheless, especially with two antsy kids.  Have Another Day has two 50a 240v […]

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