|I took these two pictures at the same time during a morning watch, showing a cargo ship passing in the distance. In the full-size version of the left-hand picture, I can see the ship although it's too small to be seen in this small version. The right-hand picture is zoomed-in. We saw a surprising number of ships, including several at night, and even one that passed closely enough that CiCi talked to them on the VHF to coordinate the passing.|
|Sailing along in decent conditions, later the same morning, no ships in sight.|
We followed a pretty simple procedure when handing over the watch.
If you're going on watch, try to be punctual for your watch, since the previous watchstander may be eager to head below for a rest. Once you show up on deck, be prepared with any food or drink you want, be dressed for the weather (including safety equipment like a harness/PFD), and have a flashlight or headlamp if it's nighttime.
If you're going off watch, try to accommodate the needs of the person coming on watch, for example if they want you to wake them or if they want coffee waiting. When the new watchstander arrives at the helm, fill them in on what's been going on. For example: describe the weather and how it's been changing, point out areas with lightning or dark clouds, maybe even turn on the radar to point out squalls that are approaching, describe the winds and waves and how they have been changing, mention the typical boat speed and how you have the sails set, point out the current route and next waypoint on the chartplotter and indicate the current course, mention any problems or unusual events, fill in the log as necessary, etc. On Night Heron, we also monitor the battery voltage, and when it gets low enough, the watchstander turns on the genset and makes sure the circuit breakers are set correctly to disable the inverter and recharge the battery bank.
On my boat, I like to inspect the rigging and sails during a watch change, but this was a somewhat difficult on Night Heron. Because of the wraparound plastic side curtains, it was difficult to see out of the cockpit. Also, the rules of the boat required a second person in the cockpit if a crewmember wanted to leave the cockpit to walk the deck.
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