Duties of a watchman
Denis Korablev
  • 21.10.2021
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Duties of a watchman

The main task of the captain is to ensure the safety of any vessel. When planning a voyage with long, as well as night transitions, it is necessary to draw up a watch schedule. A clear organization of watches is the most important element of safety. On yachts, whether personal or provided in yacht charter, four-hour shifts are predominantly assigned, allowing sufficient time for rest, which reduces the physical and psychological crew fatigue.

Written instructions should be developed and made available to team members taking over the watch. The watchman must clearly know his duties and strictly carry them out.

Duty officer is obliged:

  1. Be attentive (don't close your eyes). Look around 360 degrees every 5 minutes in order not to lose sight of a malfunction on the yacht or spot an approaching ship on the horizon in time.
  2. To steer as directed by the captain (verbal or recorded in the logbook).
  3. Observe the change in wind speed. When the apparent wind speed increases to 20 knots, immediately inform the captain. Then inform the captain about the change in wind speed every 5 knots (25, 30, 35, etc.).
  4. On a sailing yacht, regularly monitor the setting of the sails, correct it if necessary. In the logbook, note changes in sail settings, indicating the reasons for them.
  5. Maintain the engine speed at a certain level in accordance with the instructions of the captain. It is permissible to exceed the cruising engine speed only as a last resort.
  6. On the open sea, once every 3 hours and every hour near the coast, write in the logbook:
    • yacht course;
    • ship speed;
    • engine speed;
    • atmospheric pressure;
    • wind direction and speed;
    • coordinates (from satellite);
    • events affecting the safety of navigation (equipment failure, the appearance of dark clouds, etc.).
  7. Enter logbook entries:
    • all changes in external (other vessels in line of sight with bearing indicated) and internal (switching of water tanks, gas cylinders, etc.) sailing conditions;
    • about messages on emergency channels and frequencies (16 channel on VHF and frequency 2182 kHz on MF / HF);
    • about suspicious instrument readings detected during periodic monitoring of the yacht's dashboard.
  8. Inform the captain immediately if:
    • the state of the sea has changed;
    • storm alert received;
    • the distance with another vessel was reduced to 2 miles;
    • the pressure has changed by more than 1 mbar within 3 hours;
    • vision range dropped below 2 miles;
    • something is suspicious;
    • the watchman doubts the appropriateness of his actions.
  9. Monitor the presence of all crew members on board (at night and in limited visibility). In the event of an emergency, ensure that everyone donned life jackets in time.
  10. If 2 people are on watch, then one of them makes a round of the yacht every hour. Unusual sounds can signal a malfunction (accident). You should also make sure that everything is in order: hatches are closed, the hold is dry, the gas is turned off, order in the cabin and on the deck, etc.
  11. Check, while taking and turning over the watch, the readings of the sensors on the dashboard and the presence of: an EPIRB emergency radio beacon, a floating emergency buoy with a lantern (Danbuoy), lifebuoys, ends for emergency lifting of a man overboard, a transponder radar beacon (SART), emergency dry bag.

Experts 2yachts emphasize that a watchman is a responsible, experienced person with certain knowledge. In his hands is the safety of the yacht and the life of the crew!

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