Question asked by Ardross:

When you’re very tired, it’s not safe to do many things such as drive a car. You do not seem to get much sleep so how do you stay safe and make important decisions when you’re so tired? Year 6/7 Room 2 Ardross Primary, Western Australia


Yes, I have not had much sleep at all. My fractured rib was very difficult to lie on, and it was hard to find any position where I could do any more than just doze off  for a few minutes. Since it has started to heal and feel better, I’m able to get into the bunk if conditions are stable, and I can now sleep for 50 minutes at a time. Then I get up and take a look around, and if all is OK, I’ll go back for another 50 minutes.

I have an ActiWatch, which records my sleep, and data files are sent to the Massachusetss Institute of Techology, to Prof. Dava Newman, one of our Experts, for analysis by her and her students. As well, Dr. Czeisler at Brigham & Women’s Hospital is a sleep specialsit, and he will look at the files also.

But the question of how to make important decisions under such tough conditions–you just do the best you can. I know that I am more conservative with my decisions knowing that I am fatigued, and that has served me well over many long voyages. For many decisions on a boat a sea, however, there is no choice, you have to keep going regardless of how tired you are. To stop the boat is worse for the boat and the skpper, because the motion aboard the boat would be more violent. Right now the challenge is dealing with the stress of sailing a boat fast with a lot of wind. Because these boats have such big sails and extreme design, and because they are pushed to near their limits, it can be very stressful aboard Great American III. But she is a great boat and takes care of me as I take care of her.