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The watch systems on the Sea Stallion

When we are on an expedition with the Sea Stallion, it is necessary to have some watch systems so that the crew knows when they are off-duty and when they are on-duty. It is clear that attention to the ship and the voyage is of primary importance. When necessary, everyone has to play is or her role. The watch system during the voyage makes it possible for people to be able to sleep and rest. It is only possible to provide proper sleeping places for half of the crew. The others have to be ready to manoeuvre with the sail and do the other things necessary, although not more than that sailing by night will always take place on the same tack. If we are to tack, it would a much too disturbed voyage with a risk of trampling on the sleepers. Unless sailing dead before the wind, we would always go on the one tack, i.e. the ship would lie slightly higher on the windward side, and on this side we would spread out the oars over the thwarts to make a kind of floor, from the fore room to the stern with space for 16-17 m/fs. The other 13-14 people will sleep on the floor in the forepart of the ship and the stern respectively. The crew on duty will sit on the leeward at their posts. Named from the forepart of the ship: look-out, bowline, tack, middle sheet, heaving-rope, prier (ropes which pull the centre of the sail to the mast), downhaul, halyard, sheet and, of course, the after deck, from where the ship is navigated and steered.

Starboard and port watch. The crew is divided up into a starboard watch and a port watch so that we have a half-crew on each. Each person has his or her regular seat and thwart to sit on. Under the seat is fastened a sack with the survival suit and a kitbag with the most essential personal equipment and rainwear. Everything else is stowed away under the floor. Those sitting to starboard have the starboard watch and those sitting to port the port watch. To keep check on the resting/sleeping place for one’s time off-duty, one changes places with the mate who has the same seat on the opposite side. We call this for one’s “sleeping buddy”. Each 24 hours is split up into 7 watches. 24-4 we call the middle watch. Then follow morning watch from 4-8, forenoon watch from 8-12, and what we call the dog watch from 12-16. Then two short dog watches in the English sense of the word called 1st and 2nd plat, each of 2 hours. This is so that the changing of the watch can be shifted over two days so that one does not have the same watch all the time. After a longer spell in harbour / for anchor, it is skipper who decides who is to begin when we set off under oars or sail.

Anchor watch. On arrival at our anchoring place /harbour a different watch system comes into action, the anchor watch. This goes in rotation between the 6 rooms into which we are divided on board: The fore room, the tack room, the midship room, the halyard room, the stern room and the raised after deck. In principle the watch starts at 8 in the morning and ends the following day at the same time. But naturally always when the anchor is dropped or we have gone alongside the quay. The task is, as the word says, to ensure that the anchor holds or at the quay that the mooring is securely fastened. This is particularly important in bad weather and not least in harbours with high and low tides. In addition the anchor watch has a number of practical tasks, for example putting up the ship’s tent, erecting our posters and telling people about the ship and the voyage. It is also necessary to keep order on board and put water on the gas-jet ready for breakfast; porridge and coffee/tea.

Created by Claus Laage-Thomsen