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The thought of sailing at night frightened me until I actually did it. I never sailed offshore at night before I started our circumnavigation. Daytime sailing wasn't a problem; it was nocturnal hobgoblins that stirred up fear.

When we were children, one of the first fears we conquered was fear of the dark. Nevertheless, people who haven't been afraid of the dark for fifty years sometimes go catatonic when they sail offshore at night. They simply can't bear the thought of sailing into the inky blackness.

For those of you overwhelmed by fear, there's good news. Sailing at night is easier and more comfortable than sailing in the day - at least that's the way it is on Exit Only, and here's some reasons why.

1. It dark outside, and it's easier to fall asleep when you're off watch.

2. Your bunk is cooler after the hot tropical sun goes down, You might even need to use a sheet to keep warm.

3. We slow the boat down at night so the ride is more comfortable. There's less bouncing around to cope with than in the daytime when we sail with more intensity.

4. We reduce our sail before sunset. We don't go on deck at night to raise or lower the main. When the sun goes down, we put one or two reefs in the mainsail. Safety is our number one priority on Exit Only, and even with reduced sail area at night, we still get our 150 miles per day. On Exit Only, when the sun goes down, the main goes down, and when the sun comes up, the main goes up. It's safe, it's sensible, and it's comfortable. After all, we aren't racing through paradise.

5. It's easy to see navigation lights from oncoming ships when you check around the horizon. It's much easier to detect ships at night than in the daytime. Their lights warn you of their presence. Our closest encounters with shipping always occur in the daytime when ships sometimes blend in with the horizon. At night, their lights pierce the darkness, and it's easier to detect their presence.

6. Navigation lights quickly reveal whether a ship is coming directly at us or will pass by at a safe distance. When I first sailed at night, I found the different patterns of navigation lights to be confusing. I tried to memorize all the different patterns of navigation lights like I was preparing for a test in medical school. Fortunately, I quickly discovered that ships have fore and aft white steaming lights that instantly tell me whether I am in harm's way. If the fore and aft lights are vertically aligned with each other, then the ship is coming directly toward me. If the white lights are vertically separated, then the ship will pass safely to one side. The red and green running lights are much more difficult to see than the white lights, and I can see the white lights farther off. That gives me more time to change course if the white steaming lights are vertically aligned. In the day time, there are no lights to see, and it's harder to tell the ships course using only my eyes. In daylight, I may need to turn on the radar to see if a ship is coming down an estimated bearing line on a collision course.

7. Night vision binoculars let you see the loom of lights from ships even before they come over the horizon. If the weather is bad or if there is substantial haze, we may use our night vision binoculars to detect ship's lights at night. The light amplification available with night vision binoculars mean that during the night you may be able to detect ships easier and farther away than you could in the same conditions during the day.

8 We run radar at night to track squalls and monitor nearby shipping. You can easily detect rain squalls and follow shipping in your small patch of paradise. Radar levels the playing field and keeps you honest. In the daytime you sometimes rely on your eyeballs when you should rely on your radar. At night, we turn on the radar when there is reduced visibility or squally weather. The radar makes us more aware of our surroundings and keeps us out of denial. If there's something out there on radar, we deal with it.

9. After sunset, we view a DVD and eat popcorn as a family activity before night watches start in earnest. Rather than dreading the darkness, we look forward to a couple of hours of entertainment after the sun goes down.

10. Our night watches are civilized. The most sleepy person climbs in his/her bunk and instantly falls asleep. The person who is the most awake and alert takes watch until he becomes sleepy, and then he wakes up a rested crew member to assume watch.

Sailing offshore at night is both restful and safe. Give offshore night sailing a try. It's safer than you think, and you might even enjoy it.

Dr. Dave

Captain Dave - David J. Abbott M.D.





Exit Only

See what it's like for a family to sail around the world on a small catamaran

Captain Save Our Souls

Awesome music video that captures the essence of what it's like to sail offshore in a catamaran around the world when conditions are less than perfect. David Abbott from Too Many Drummers sings the vocals, and he also edited the footage from our Red Sea adventures. This is the theme song from the Red Sea Chronicles.

Red Sea Blues

Sailing up the Red Sea is not for the faint of heart. From the Bab al Mandeb to the Suez Canal, adventures and adversity are in abundance. If you take things too seriously, you just might get the Red Sea Blues.

Red Sea Chronicles Trailer

If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 1 - When Flying Fish Attack

Flying fish assault Exit Only in the middle of the night as we sail through the Arabian Gulf from the Maldives to Oman. And so begins our Red Sea adventures.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 2 - Pirate Alley

Sailing through Pirate Alley between Yemen and Somalia involves calculated risk. It may not be Russian Roulette, but it is a bit of a worry. Follow Team Maxing Out as they navigate through Pirate Alley.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 3 - Aden, Yemen

Stopping in Yemen was just what the doctor ordered. We refueled, repaired our alternator, and we made friends with our gracious Yemeni hosts. We also went to Baskins Robbins as a reward for surviving Pirate Alley.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 4- Gate of Sorrows and Sandstorms

After you survive Pirate Alley, you must sail through the Gate of Sorrows (Bab Al Mandab) at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The Gate of Sorrows lived up to its name with fifty knots of wind and a sandstorm that pummeled Exit Only for two days. Life is good.

Patreon - Maxing Out

Captain Dave and his family spent eleven years sailing around the world on their Privilege 39 catamaran, Exit Only. During the trip, the crew shot 200 hours of video with professional cameras to show people what it's like to sail on a small boat around the world.

The Red Sea Chronicles is a one hour and twenty-two minute feature film showing their adventures as Exit Only sails through Pirate Alley in the Gulf of Aden and up the Red Sea. The professional footage documents their experiences in Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, and the Suez Canal. It chronicles the rigors of traveling in a remote section of the world rarely visited by cruisers. Exit Only dodges Yemeni pirates, fights a gale and sand storms in the Bab al Mandeb at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The crew explores deserted islands on the western shores of the Red Sea, and learns to check the cruising guides for land mines before venturing ashore.

The Red Sea Chronicles also has outstanding Special Features including an Instructional Video on Storm Management that tells sailors how to deal with storms at sea.

And don't forget the two Music Videos: "The Red Sea Blues", and "Captain - Save Our Souls".

The Red Sea Chronicles is a first class adventure that stokes the sailing dreams of both experienced and wannabe sailors alike.

Red Sea Chronicles

Save A Tree Bookstore

Although I like the feel of a paper book in my hand, I love trees even more. When people purchase an eBook, they actually save trees and save money as well. Ebooks are less expensive and have no negative impact on the environment. All of Dr. Dave's books are available at Save A Tree Bookstore. Visit the bookstore today and start putting good things into your mind. It's easy to fill your mind with positive things using eBooks. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can pull out your smart phone or tablet and start reading. You can even use electronic highlighters and make annotations in your eBooks just like paper books.