Sea Scout Ship 502

We love to sail.

Mar 8 Program: Time, Bells, & Watches – Given by Kim

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Two Mondays ago, (I apologize for getting these minutes out so late) we had quite an eventful meeting. The main matters of interest from the evening included discussing the geocache “Race to the WIK 2010,” voting on a Long Sail destination, learning about the bell and watch system used on sailing vessels, and starting timed knot races.   

This first order of business was receiving the new geocache travel bug for the Race to WIK 2010. For those of you who don’t know what geocaching is, “geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online” (quote from You usually place a small object of some sort into the cache and trade for another small object. The travel bug is a tag attached to the object and is used to track the movement of the geocache object. The purpose of the Race to WIK 2010 is to get our team’s bug to the Koch Cup before any of the other teams. Both of our Koch Cup teams, Nick/Kelly and Eva/Sofia, will participate in the geocache race. Nick/Kelly received their travel bug first and selected, as their geocache object, a rubber duck. This pirate-clad duck (pictured right) underwent the rigorous and top-secret naming procedure to become “Spo,” short for “Spoil Area.” Click “Ducks” under “Pages” in the sidebar to see our other rubber duckies.

Geocaching with Spo/ Starting the Race to WIK 2010

Next, we voted on our Long Sail destination for this summer which is… PADRE ISLAND! yay! Long Sail will be June 6-13.   

The program for the evening discussed “Times, Bells, and Watches.”   

The watch system allows a sailing crew to rotate duties and operate a vessel non-stop over a long period of time. A watch is usually a four hour period of time in which a crew member has a specific activity he or she is supposed to be doing.

The watch system began when ships were powered by oarsmen rather than sails. Rowing was difficult work and one oarsmen could not row for very long without tiring. To solve this problem, an hour-glass would time a thirty-minute period, after which the rowing crew would switch off with another crew and have a thirty-minute resting period, and the cycle would repeat itself.   

Later on, ships were developed that used a combination of sail power and rowing power. This made work significantly easier on the oarsmen meaning they could row longer than before. Each shift, or “watch,” was now two turns of the hour-glass, or one hour, rather than thirty minutes.   

trireme (sail and oar)

When boats became powered solely by sail, there was much less labor-intensive work for the crew members, which allowed for even longer watches. Watches became four hours long and rather than rotating just work and rest watches, each crew member had an individualized schedule with specified watches for working (for instance being lookout or handling a sail), eating, and sleeping.   

 The Watches:   

First Watch                                           2000-2400   

Middle Watch                                       2400-0400   

Morning Watch                                     0400-0800   

Forenoon Watch                                   0800-1200   

Afternoon Watch                                  1200-1600   

First Dog Watch*                                  1600-1800   

Second Dog Watch*                              1800-2000   

                            * Dog Watches are only two hours   

The Bells:      (each ” . ” is a ring of the bell; there are short pauses after every two rings of the bell)   

ex: Forenoon Watch:                                                                              ex: First Dog Watch:    

0800          . .        . .        . .        . .                                                        1600          . .        . .        . .        . .   

0830          .                                                                                           1630          .   

0900          . .                                                                                         1700          . .   

0930          . .        .                                                                                1730          . .        .   

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~                                                                                  1800          . .        . .        . .        . .   

1130          . .        . .        . .       .   

1200          . .        . .        . .        . .   

 After the program, Kim presented the idea of having timed knot races at the end of each meeting. The goal is to have everybody be able to tie all of a list of knots in under three minutes. This will prepare our members for events such as SEAL and Rendezvous and will make sure all members know the knots for regular use, rather than quickly relearning them before a competition. However, at this meeting, we did not have time to hold a knot race…


Written by ship502

March 21, 2010 at 11:40

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