To sail at night is to experience the most intense, spiritual joy that sail cruising affords. Between the dandy sun’s swaggering exit in the west and it’s opulent rise in the east, everything is transformed during night sailing.
The soft wind sighs on your skin like worn leather as senses heighten to a synaptic crescendo. Away from land’s gaudy dazzle, you’re an outsider, a nomad with a quest beneath a billion stars that gossip in galaxies as satellites and shooting stars slide and streak across the majestic roof of the night.
At sea level red, green and white lights blink and sweep the monotonous messages like distant satellites across the undulating plane of your private cosmos. The sense of getting away from it all, living an adventure, is utterly exquisite.
That’s all good, but night sailing require an extra cautious approach, so here are some night sailing ideas, tips and advice:
Night Sailing Tips
Have a good searchlight and know where it is
(it should an item on your sailing checklist)
The searchlight can be used for:
- Man overboard
- Checking the sails in the dark
- Lighting up the sails occasionally to help other boats be aware of your presence.
- Coming into harbour or an anchorage.
Clip on at night
No one goes forward of the cockpit at night without a safety harness
Run a watch system
Ideally 3 hours on 3 hours off. 4 hours is usually too long for someone to stay awake and happy, and 2 hours is too short for the off-watch crew to get a decent sleep. With just one person on watch, the other can be woken if need be.
The person coming off watch at night should make the new watch a cup of tea or coffee.