I'm relatively new to SH3 but it seems like the seas are too lonely... is it normal to have entire patrols in which you have not a single contact??
I've had a few like that, leaving me a little baffled ... where is everyone?!? Are some campaign starting ports more action-oriented than others?
Even before I installed a number of realism mods (mainly Rub), I always had enough contacts to keep me busy, whether I was based in Kiel or in the Bay of Biscay.
Are you using your hydrophones (you - not the less qualified AI) often enough to check for sounds during your patrol?
Are you looking at the map that came with the came, showing you the major convoy routes?
The Avon Lady
It can happen the sea is dead but if I haven't had a contact in 48 hours I move. Some parts are supposed to be dead. Move around and make notes about where you made kills, then return to those areas, draw line btween ports and also look at the map you got with the game, you will figure out some obvious places where to park and listen for a day or two. Think "If I were a merchant captain" ....
You won't get any radio contact reports unless your are at periscope depth or surfaced. Also listen to the sonar yourself once and a while, you can sometimes hear contacts the A.I. can't. Zig-zag patrol across a shipping lane, you'll have pleny of merchants hurling themselves at you.
For those times when you are letting your hydrophone operator do the listening, make sure to have radio qualified personnel doing so. Also, invest the 300 renown for the upgraded hydrophones. It is probably the best value for price upgrade in the game. My opinion.