Running at Night

Linesiders

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Wanted to start some discussion regarding vessel operation after dark. I'm in a position that I might be running some considerable distances after dark.

Do you run after dark routinely?

Just when the fishing requires it?

Do you avoid it at all costs cause you hate it?

Any useful advice?

My biggest concern is floating debris. Anyone throw considerable light forward for this reason while running? or too blinding?

Any input / experience appreciated.
 

CEShawn

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When you run at 7 knots, you definitely have to run at night.

A few rules I have is and need to push it more. Once you get within 1 mile of land at night... ALL PHONES OFF. Have a second or more set of eyes out there and watching what is going on.

With a keel and 7 knots have to be pretty protected if you hit something, not to say its no risk. Remember my net story!

Should be interesting because I am sure people have things.

I always try to schedule my arrival/departure for daylight if I can. sounds silly too but I have anchored outside of a dangerous pass before after a 15hr steam to just make sure we were all up to the task.
 

Roy-c

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I have done a fair amount of running at night, mostly on larger tour boats. There are a lot of variables. For instance will you be in familiar waters, inshore or offshore, and what do you have for electronics ? A good course plotter, radar and depth sounder will really reduce the pucker factor and like the man said don't be going faster than you want to hit something.
I really only use the searchlight on very rare occasions. I find they produce a lot of glare.
What type of running are you doing ? IE: return with a new boat or fishing ?
 

Tuna Pursuit

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You definetly get used to it just like running in zero vis. The biggest challenge to me is in & out of the inlet. Once your out there you go slow & a good chart plotter & radar are a must. I cruise at 15-17 in the day light and 10-12 in the dark.
 

Toolate

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Where do you run mostly?

I have run my boat hundreds of times all over LI Sound and I cant count the times I have seen large pieces of debris and (docks, ramps, tephone pole) small boats running around without any lights whatsoever.

I run red lighting in the cabin if need be, preferably locate the lights below my waiste, and in the past I have made smoked plexi covers for my dash to cut the light from electronics and gauges. Cant stand to have anything interrupt my night vision and you just barely need to see any of that stuff on the sound anyway.

I also think that there is much to be done with the lighting on the boat too. White lights way up top of a mast will light the boat where as a light close to the hard top will not. Red/greens should be shielded so they dont light the boat either. I am always amazed at boats running with all kinds of white lights on at night.

Maybe I am nuts but had a near head on collision when I was 13. We were idling (no lights- asshole kids) in my friends 15 whaler and were hit by a 13 whaler at planing speeds no lights for him either. We both turned to P at the last second amazingly and ended up with the bottom of his hull running down the SS rail and rubrail on our boat (his prop made about 20 slices in the chine of ours).

I usually just sit on the bridge with the handheld spot and run slow (<10). Light is not for me but to warn others or illuminate them. There is so much land based light in the western sound you can pretty much see where you are going.
 

Captlvb

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I run a party boat night bluefishing and a few tips I got from veteran captains were as follows:
1. Run the radar all the time until I knew what that entire ride from outside the inlet to the dock looked like on that radar. That paid off big time the first year. On my way in one night saw a target in front of the lighthouse in the channel where nothing was supposed to be and I saw no running lights. Buoy adrift with no light.
2. As was stated already go SLOW. I run 13 knots most of the time but if we are fishing a good distance I need to go 20 knots and I am on high alert.
3. In real rough conditions I will put one of my spotlights on and try and see what waves are approaching. Extra eyes are always welcome too.

Lou
 

chortle

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Slow down. Only lights on are running lights. When sailing offshore (sailboat) it was common practice to follow the logic of the old guys from the olden days of sail and reduce sail to slow down as well as to have some protection from the storm that you might not see in time to get the sails down. I have been halfway between here and Bermuda, 3AM, thunderstorm cells all around, with reduced sail, and WHACK, a cold blast of air and in 30 seconds or so it went from 25-30k to 50k, glad to have had reduced sail and convinced me that the old guys knew what they were talking about.

Where are we going in such a hurry at night?

Despite the size of the ocean there is lot's of stuff out there including the animals that live there. Lot's of stories about boats hitting whales, if I remember right that is what sank the boat that Steve Callahan was in off the Canaries, he ended up drifting clear across the Atlantic in a liferaft. The book he wrote was "Adrift." The raft literally began to disintegrate out from under him because it was never designed to last as long has his trip did (76 days.)

Lots of containers that have fallen off of big ships in storms out there too.

Anybody here ever hit a big fish or whale? Day or night? or the other way around?

whale lands on boat.jpg
 

Bawugna

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I have done a ton of night trips Some ocean but the majority in Delaware Bay.

As others have already said, slow is the way to go. 10 to 12 kt is about all I do at night, most items you may encounter will likely bounce off without punching through the hull or eating your prop.

Knowing your radar unit is key and running it all the time, day and night, to get a good idea of what every type of return is, is always a good idea.

Dark cabin is key and as Toolate mentioned, reducing or eliminating gauge light is a great idea. Turning all electronics to night mode or the lowest light settings is always wise.

Exterior lighting should be limited to legally required steaming lights.
As for spot lights.....I moved mine from the roof to the end of my pulpit. On the roof it lit up the rail and deck at the bow and made a terrible white wash. I only use the spot when I need to clarify something is see or think I see. Leaving it on too much will result in blinding someone else with a random flash.

Try to avoid bumpy seas.

Be ever vigilant for those who have no clue and share the water with you. Vessels on auto pilot with the occupants making a sandwich (experienced that), boats with no lights, boats without radar, boaters who think a GPS takes the place of radar (experienced that), and all the other potential boneheaded things people may do in the dark.

Try to make a few night runs with someone who has done it many times.

Know the lighting scheme in the near shore areas you will be sailing, all those lights can be confusing and very misleading.

Be safe and enjoy the serenity of the night. :)
 

Lion's Paw

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Running at night does raise the stress level a bit but can be some of the most memorable and rewarding time at sea. Nothing like the dark of the ocean to really see the stars.

Main thing is a bit of planning on your part. Need to think out the deck lighting and task lighting for the bridge. Red is good, and after some time in the dark, very little gauge and instrument lighting is needed. I find the lowest settings on electronics often too bright, but you are sorta stuck with that. My night vision goggles even though old tech early generation are the bomb! Newer units are even better. Rarely use the spotlight with the goggles available and you see the waves almost like daylight.

The earlier post by Lou about running the radar in the clear daytime is right on. If you run it when you can see the targets, then you understand what you are seeing so much better when the pressure is on. Same goes for being very familiar with the charts of where you are heading. Prep takes out the guess work.

Sometimes the tuff part is staying awake. Better have a plan for that too!
 

blackdiamond296

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We do a fair amount of nighttime running to fish the tides for St.Bass. This is mainly running out to the inlet and back, which means running through channels that take you through the salt marshes.

I do it with a GPS route and an interface with the radar. I have a waypoint saved for each bouy from my dock to the head bouy, and have them linked in a route. The Northstar has the option for auto-switching: meaning it will jump to the next waypoint as soon as you've passed one. This lets you navigate the whole route without ever taking your hands off the wheel- important in a tight channel at night.

We also have the radar and GPS interfaced, so that you will see a dotted line to, and a little circle around, your waypoint's location on your radar screen. This really gives me an extra level of comfort because when you see that radar target show up in the little circle you can be much more confident that you've found your next bouy- the more targets you can positively ID on your radar screen the better!
 

pugsley

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we mullet fish a t night all the time, turn off all the lights, put her in the corner, and look out for duck blinds. :eek:
 

captainlarry84

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Running at night is always a stressful time. Radar is a must. You should always use your radar during the day when running. This way at night you a familiar with what things look like in the dark. Running lights must always work. On each trip out always make sure they all work. There are times that the lights will fail. A good quick fix is to always carry red, green & white glow sticks. If a running light fails you simply crack the glow stick & tie wrap on to the missing light. It is a great quick fix. Also if your boat has trim tabs put the tabs down so the front of the bow makes contact with any floating objects and pushes the debris away from the running gear. Slow is always good.

March photo 06 355.jpg
 

backman

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One of the many reasons I switched to a DE after 15 years w/ CC's and sportfishers offshore was to be able to run at 12-14 knots in the dark.

We can argue all day what is the right and safe speed for a THUNK in the night, but the fact is that in a sportfish hull its 6-8 knots or 16-20 knots,with no in between option.

Many many mightnight to 2 AM canyon departures and 4+ up hours of steaming at 18-20 knots puckered up the whole way. Dont miss it at all!
 

Toolate

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Dont cut corners either. I dont usually use the GPS and dont have radar so dead reckoning and land basedlights are all thats left but I make sure to get to the buoy I am using as my "waypoint" and not just near it or where I think it is because I want to be absolutely sure that I am where think I am (past the reef).
 

Blacktide

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We seem to always be running at night. I'm always concerned but its part of the deal. I have had a few near misses with boats cutting me off ect. Radar is your only friend , learn to use it. I had a mate wake me up one night yelling that there were boats all around us. I figured out that the range was on 6 miles and he thought it was on 1/2. It turned out the tArgets were hi flyers. Point was he didn't know the machine well enough.
 

hntrss

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When we were fishing hard for tuna, 90 % or more of the running was in the dark. You really just get used to it and it becomes second nature. Always on full alert till we passed Thatchers or got outside the lobster gear heading south from Gloucester. IN the cape it was passing Monomoy first, then getting east of the shoals. When its calm its actually pretty enjoyable. Know your boat, know your electronics. We also went the same speed day and night. Slowing down to 10knots is just not going to save your ass as opposed to 15. Last thing we wanted to do was prolong the steam, and get any less sleep than we were already getting!
 

hntrss

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We seem to always be running at night. I'm always concerned but its part of the deal. I have had a few near misses with boats cutting me off ect. Radar is your only friend , learn to use it. I had a mate wake me up one night yelling that there were boats all around us. I figured out that the range was on 6 miles and he thought it was on 1/2. It turned out the tArgets were hi flyers. Point was he didn't know the machine well enough.

At least he was smart enough to wake you. I always told everyone, I will never be mad if you wake me. There were too many stories. Bobby Laroux got tboned by someone sleeping with the autopilot on in Chatham. I am sure you sleep with one eye open like the rest of us!
 
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