Pulling Night Watch Duty

You’re up!  As in it’s now your turn to pull a two hour night shift that may start anywhere from 2200 hours (10:00 p.m.) on and normally ends two hours later, subject to the number of crew on board.   

With this duty comes some big responsibility.   Imagine if only for a moment, since we are on a route that is only 3-5 miles from shore that, for some strange reason the auto pilot suddenly disengages, the waves now begin to determine your new course and heading; you may be on a collision course with land or a charted rock or other obstruction. 

  This is why your job pulling watch duty is so important.   And as Captain Ron always says,  anything can and does happen out there.   Your life and the life of your ship mates on this tiny ship in the big dark ocean is now the most important job you will ever have (but, only for two hours). 

What’s it like to pull watch duty at night on the high seas?

First watch this video!  If it doesn’t load now I”ll keep trying.

Then determine your comfort level at not seeing anything, not even the water ahead,  to the sides or behind,  or your moving boat. 

Having radar on board makes it a much more comforting experience.   Setting an alarm, two miles or as far as you like gives you advance warning.  This extra warning with a loud buzzer in place, in case anything enters your guard zone,  including land,  is a great thing.  

If you have the sentry guard on,  you, your crew and possibly other boaters nearby are much safer – at night.   

Imagine being able to look far ahead,  say for two miles on a pitch black night,  like on the video. 

Having radar onboard allows you to set a guard zone totally around your boat or a quarter or half circle up ahead ; with our 36 mile Garmin HD radar we usually looked out 2 to 4 miles on a half circle ahead,  or anytime the conditions made it necessary,  like at night,  always .

Radar allows you to see on your screen a blip or a dot that denotes land,  a ship or other item far up ahead.   This advance warning let’s you see into the future as to whether the projected outcome is just a passing ship in the night,  iceberg or a near miss or collision on your present course.


See the ship up ahead?   We didn’t either,  till we got closer,  but the radar did.  During Gary’s watch he was about to hit a whale, we were all up, when the whales tail emerged from the portside door opening.  Suddenly up ahead of the first we spot the second whale, as large as the first.    Nothing but a good keel could’ve helped us out if a collision occurred.   Sorry, no photos of the near collision with a whale.

Conditions where having radar gives you a certain comfort level.

Are the conditions getting better or worse?   Always a good question to ask yourself!

About trawlercat

Retired and now moving on from the cruising life jeeps, adventure bike, gardening, and travel. Always in search of the next great adventure!
This entry was posted in Cruising Portland to Los Angeles, California, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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