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Fear of sailing at night?

Dec 29, 2008
798
Treworgy 65' Custom Steel Pilothouse Staysail Ketch St. Croix, Virgin Islands
I've seen many more amazing things at night than during the day. Probably the most glorious was the Supernova that Nikki and I saw on the voyage between Bermuda and St. T.
Good point, Capta. Reminded me that we get to see the Southern Cross down here at night, just above the horizon.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,146
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Night Sailing - Racing about Whidbey Island…

We were a crew of 5, Captain Hayden and Admiral Sue Watson (best galley Admiral ever), Mates John, Jim and Claudette.
1626195458789.png

Aboard Papillion (Capt. Hayden’s Catalina 30) for the 2019 race around Whidbey Island.

We had our moments of excitement as we neared the lead having charged down the west side of Whidbey Island rounding Partridge point in 3rd place. And then there was the afternoon challenge, which tested our patience, circling in the Marrowstone Gyre with Nemo floating past us on the whisps of a breeze.
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But the grandest of time was the 11PM to 3AM helm watch ghosting up Possession Sound with the currents. The soft snoring of Hayden coiled up in the front of the cockpit by the companion way.
I was sitting in the cockpit stern looking for the puffs, moonlight reflecting on the ripples of the water. The Harvest moon rose about 2330 above the hills on the East shoreline. The brightness of the moon magnified by the darkness of the water.
Do we head across the channel to drift in the 1 knot current? If we get across will there be a counter current hindering our progress? Or should we hug the western edge of the sound and catch the puffs near the island shore as the breezes bounce off the island’s cliffs.
No need for flashlights as the moon provides light enough to read the charts.
Sue comes up from the galley at 0110 offering a sip of coffee and support in seeking the breaths of air propelling us. At times it seems if we could harness Hayden’s snores we could power ahead of the fleet.
Racing in the dark is so much fun.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,146
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Perhaps you need to remove the sun glasses.

My trick in running at night is to follow a cabin cruiser and follow the wake. Those guys usually are traveling at a much higher speed and tend to use line cutters in their twin props. Like a down field blocker, I let them run interference clearing out the crab pots and logs that find their way between the navigation markers.
 
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May 24, 2004
6,799
CC 30 South Florida
We were motor sailing on a night passage up the Gulf Coast of Florida Around 1:00 AM we picked up a stray crab trap which killed our engine and slowed or speed under sail to about 2 knots. It was dark and the water was too choppy to dive. We dragged the box for about an hour before with the use of a torch we could see the line trailing from our stern a couple of feet under the water. With the help of a hook we were able to capture it and put the boat in irons to stop it. We raised the line and cut it dropping the trap to the bottom. Now free of the drag we could sail and our speed jumped up to about 5 knots. At first light we were approaching the entrance to Ft. Myers but had to settle for anchoring on the outside as the wind direction prevented us from entering. Decided to call on Tow BoatUS to tow us in but after talking to the local boat and explaining our predicament he said he had a former Navy diver that could take care of it. Half an hour later the Boat approached and asked if we had ran aground, we responded indicating our depth meter indicated we had 3 ft under our keel. The Diver jumped over board and came back up and said he was surprised because two days before he had dove in that same spot and there were only 4 ft of water and now he calculated there were at least 10ft. He proceeded to free the line from our prop shaft and we heard the clunk as it receded to its normal position. We inspected the packing gland and the hull and there were no leaks. We pointed the boat offshore and continued on our passage.
 
Jun 2, 2004
3,160
Hunter 23.5 Fort Walton Yacht Club, Florida
I've always enjoyed sailing and flying at night. The only issue that concerns me is when close to shore particularly when returning to port is getting navaids confused with on shore lights. One in particular was returning from Ship Island to Biloxi the channel runs pretty much due north towards the lighthouse. There is an intersection with a stop light very near the lighthouse that lines up with the lighted markers and will confuse the hell out of you as it turns from red the green until you realize what it is.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,146
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
There is an intersection with a stop light very near the lighthouse that lines up with the lighted markers
I understand your experience. When entering Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island WA one evening there were several confusing lights to align so as to miss the shoals. Red, Green, RED RED, RED/YELLOW/GREEN, WHITE. took me a couple of minutes and some serious Binocular time to distinguish the various lights.
Red = starboard shoals marker.
Green = port channel marker
RED RED. = Christmas lights on a home
RED/YELLOW/GREEN = Traffic light at intersection
WHITE = porch light on the home near the bay.

Thank God it was a clear night.
 
May 24, 2004
6,799
CC 30 South Florida
We were navigating from Chesapeake City through Delaware Bay with Cape May as our destination. We spent the previous night at anchor in Delaware Bay by the power plant and were confident that we could reach the Cape May Canal during daylight. We had been warned about the square waves and the strong currents and how it was imperative to time these currents. We did make the Cape May Canal around 8:00PM with still some daylight but made an error in not considering the tidal height on the canal and how it came affect our ability to go under the two bridges. Anchoring in the canal was not permitted and there were no docks that we could tie up. We decide to go back out into Delaware Bay and anchor. After half an hour of the boat jumping up and down we gave up and decided to go back into the calm waters in the canal. After checking the tides chart we calculated we could go under the bridges around 12:00 PM so we cruised up and down for about a mile of the canal for the next 3 hours. Every time we approached the bridge we would look at the depth markers to gauge how fast the water was going down. Finally around 11:40 PM we felt we had enough clearance. We swallowed hard as our radio antenna scraped a lamp under the bridge. Unfortunately this was not the end. We cleared the 2nd bridge with no problems and our Marina was exactly to the starboard side after that. Then we see there are no markers, no lights and could barely see what looked like an entrance. Once again we are going up an down seeing if there were any other approaches and exploring where to anchor for the night if we could not get in. It was now like 1:30 AM and to our fortuned two guys in a dredge boat happened to be cruising by and we asked if the knew where to enter. They said it would be easier if they showed us in. We finally made it to the marina and just tied up at the fuel dock, opened up the hatches and went to sleep. Around 7:00 one of the marina guys woke us up and showed us to our slip.
 
Mar 1, 2012
2,182
1961 Rhodes Meridian 25 Texas coast
Now about the unlit gas platforms in the gulf. That will keep you awake.
Ive found that all of those have howlers. I've crossed the gulf a good many times at night (once single hand) and the howlers are weird to hear
 
Apr 5, 2009
1,622
Catalina '88 C30 tr/bs Oak Harbor, WA
I understand your experience. When entering Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island WA one evening there were several confusing lights to align so as to miss the shoals. Red, Green, RED RED, RED/YELLOW/GREEN, WHITE. took me a couple of minutes and some serious Binocular time to distinguish the various lights.
Red = starboard shoals marker.
Green = port channel marker
RED RED. = Christmas lights on a home
RED/YELLOW/GREEN = Traffic light at intersection
WHITE = porch light on the home near the bay.

Thank God it was a clear night.
Yep, that is what it is like every night entrance. After I while your mind settles on the right lights and filters out the other.
 
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Apr 5, 2009
1,622
Catalina '88 C30 tr/bs Oak Harbor, WA
Night Sailing - Racing about Whidbey Island…

At times it seems if we could harness Hayden’s snores we could power ahead of the fleet.
Racing in the dark is so much fun.
Sue will not let me sleep below deck any more on the RWR because everytime I go below the wind dies to nothging. Maybe there is some hanested power there after all.
 
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PaulK

.
Dec 1, 2009
817
Sabre 402 Southport, CT
Night train across the gulf of Maine in 2018.
View attachment 196131
We had a night train across the Gulf of Maine, leaving Harpswel at noon on a Saturday, headed home via the Cape Cod Canal. Easterly breeze came up off Portland, and increased as it got dark. We put in a reef for the night and rolled up the jib. We were surfing down 4-5 foot waves at 10-11 knots with a full moon rising when the dolphins showed up. They hung around long enough to have their spray glisten in the moonlight, and were gone. The wind built to about 25 knots and stayed there as the waves built. We had been worried about getting to the canal in time to catch the tide, but we ended up arriving early, blasting into the entrance at 10.5 knots. Wind stayed with us all the way to Southport CT, where we arrived Monday morning. Too busy to take pictures.
 
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HMT2

.
Mar 20, 2014
883
Hunter 31 828 Shoreacres, TX
Now about the unlit gas platforms in the gulf. That will keep you awake.
Ive found that all of those have howlers. I've crossed the gulf a good many times at night (once single hand) and the howlers are weird to hear
Charlie, my experience, I’ve only run down the coast to Port Aransas and back...several times is that there are some that are unlit and some that are unlit but are a part of a number of platforms with maybe one larger one with lights. I may have heard one, but am not sure exactly what a howler is.
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,952
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
I am afraid of night sailing, but it is definitely my favorite time to sail. The last watch of the night is my favorite watch when it goes from black sky sprinkled with stars to slowly bringing up the deep blues to the chrome blues with just a tinge of gold on the horizon and watching that last star fade out.

The most exciting things happen at night, torpedoed in the middle of the Atlantic (the speed and phosphor trail racing straight for us looked like a submarine was using us for target practice when it was just an Atlantic dolphin using us for wake surfing), submerged completely by a rogue wave (the entire 56 foot schooner was below the water, just three masts and my head and shoulders visible above the water for a second or two. The lightning was what lit it up enough to see that from my position at the helm in the center cockpit), boarded by a curious coast guard 82.

I was in third grade and we were taking a break from the fishing season to make the trip to the Bahamas with a bunch of friends on board my father's head boat. Very rough at night and everyone was sick except my father, one guest whom my father didn't trust at the helm, and me. I was a horrible helmsman at nine-years-old. The truth is, I'm still a horrible helmsman. However, since the Old Man needed to attend to something, he needed relief at the helm and his choice was me. To improve my helm skills, he gave me a star to steer for instead of the compass. I was suddenly right on. The snakey wake I usually leave behind became straight and true. It felt good.

-Will
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,146
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I was suddenly right on. The snakey wake I usually leave behind became straight and true. It felt good.
:plus:
Thrust on responsibility, a sudden revelation and a positive outcome. A wonderful moment in a lifetime. :biggrin:
 

WayneH

.
Jan 22, 2008
868
Tartan 37 Pensacola Shipyard, FL
Charlie, my experience, I’ve only run down the coast to Port Aransas and back...several times is that there are some that are unlit and some that are unlit but are a part of a number of platforms with maybe one larger one with lights. I may have heard one, but am not sure exactly what a howler is.
Mike,

You have probably heard one. I know there is a howler platform east of San Leon in Galveston Bay. IIRC, it is closer to April Fool Point. I could hear it while running up the Houston Ship Channel heading to Kemah. It was lit up with yellow flashing lights but visibility was dropping and we lost sight of it a long time before we quit hearing it.
 
Oct 29, 2005
2,188
Hunter Marine 326 303 Singapore
I've no problem sailing at night. What I find useful is the integration of my Vesper AIS data to Navionic chart on my mounted mobile phone display (specifically for navigation use) at helm station.

Ken Y
 
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