Sea Scout Ship 502

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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

2010 Long Sail Options Redux

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 Since the last Long  Sail post, there have been many other suggestions of possible destinations. The complete list of proposed long sail ideas include: Padre Island, Mobile AL, Canyon Lake, and the Ouachita Lakes in Oklahoma and Arkansas. However, we have been advised that we don’t travel more than 400 miles. So that narrows down the choices to Canyon Lake (190 mi away) and Padre Island (270 mi).

I’ve included a poll at the end of this post to gauge general interest, and perhaps, if there are enough votes to travel more than 400 mi, there might be a reconsideration.

Canyon Lake (New Braunfels, TX)

As for Canyon Lake’s pro’s, it is the shortest drive of any of the destination ideas. There are many campgrounds to choose from that include the usual restrooms and showers and on site water spicket and even electrical outlet. Also, there are many other things to do there in case we can’t/don’t go sailing on the lake one day. Things such as SCHLITTERBAHN and other attractions in New Braunfels.

However, Canyon Lake is just like any typical hill-country lake. This means it will most likely be very hot in the summer (albeit early summer; remember we’re going in June) and, although I haven’t found any evidence regarding this, might not have perfectly consistent wind. Think of Lake Travis to get an idea of what it might feel like.


Padre Island

North Padre was suggested because of the beautiful beaches and the idea of sailing on the open-ocean, rather than in protected water ways with which we are so accustomed.

However, the last time we tried that (on 2008’s Long Sail) it did not go so well. In 2008 we stayed on Galveston Island with the intention of sailing sunfish everyday on the ocean. In addition to exposing me (I have no idea how others felt about it) to my open-ocean related phobias:

 …it was also nearly impossible to do. According to the log of Long Sail 2008, the first day we tried, it was “[too] difficult to get sunfish into the ocean.” The next day was “another day too strong for our small boats.” And all subsequent days were “still [too] harsh.”

Luckily, at that time, we had the option of sailing on Lake Como located five minutes away on the protected side of Galveston Island. On the other side of Padre Island is the protected, “hypersaline” Laguna Madre. I haven’t found anything that mentions small boat sailing on the Laguna, but I do know that swimming and windsurfing are among its popular activities, so sailing there shouldn’t be that out of the question.

Another issue is that most of the campsites are designed mainly for RV-style camping and offer detailed reports of dump stations, water refill stations, and paved sites close to the water, but don’t provide as much information regarding the tent camping amenities. Only one campground I found, the Malaquite Campground, offers restrooms and “rinse showers.”

More Information:

For Padre Island I came up with this plan: stay at (A) the Malaquite Campground (because its right on the coast and has restrooms). If the ocean conditions are too strong for some reason, we go down that Bird Island Basin Rd. to sail on the more protected Laguna Madre. (see map below)

We shall discuss these options at the Quarterdeck Meeting and vote on them at the Monday meeting. I apologize for not getting this out sooner, but take the poll and tell us which one you want to go to. Remember this poll is only to gauge general interest and will not be used to decide where we’re going for Long Sail. We will take an official vote on Monday.

Written by ship502

March 7, 2010 at 10:42

Posted in Info

2010 Long Sail Options

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Following our tradition of alternating big boat and small boat long sails every year, it is time again to have a small boat long sail. For all of our past small-boat long sails, we have spent a week during the summer camping at nearby lakes or at a beach house in Galveston. However, this year we wanted to do something different from the nearby lakes and perhaps something less expensive than renting a beach house. I researched some new potential locations and while these options might be a little more lengthy and costly transportation wise, I think they should still be considered as something different from our usual long sails.

So sit back and ruminate, whilst I illuminate the possibilities!

Canyon Lake, TX (near New Braunfels)

Canyon Lake is quite a drive, but is still relatively close. Has lots of small boat sailing, boat ramps, and the yatcht club that holds the Wurstfest Regatta every year. If for some reason we didn’t go sailing one day, there are still plenty of things to do in the area like go to SCHLITTER BAHN!!! or check out the Heritage Museum of Texas Hill Country (which actually looks pretty interesting). The only concern was that even though there are many campsites and cabin rentals, they might not be right on the water, they might be a short drive from the lake, which might mean loading the boats on trailers every day. However, I certainly haven’t exhausted every option and we might find a camp ground right by the lake.

More information:



Lake Texoma, TX OK border

A little farther, has sailing, but definetly seems to be a more motorboat-friendly lake. I haven’t found that much about it yet and I’ll keep looking.

Lakes in the Ouachita Mountains

Okay, so these are pretty far, but they are supposed to be BEAUTIFUL and have lots of small boat sailing. These lakes don’t allow housing development around them which means it will be really pretty/naturey and there are a bagillion campsites to choose from right on the lakes. The lakes in the Ouchita Mountains include:

Lake Ouachita, AR

Lake Maumelle, AR: located near Little Rock, AR so of all the lakes it is the farthest from us, but it is also the most active in small boat sailing.

Lake Wister, OK

Broken Bow Lake, OK: closest to us of the Ouachita lakes; one thing to note though is that this lake holds an annual Owa-Chito Festival of the Forest on the third weekend of June with concerts and other such events, because of this, it will most likely be very crowded around mid-June, so that might be a time of June to avoid going there.

More clickies:



These were the options I researched. Tell me if you have any other locations to recommend.

Written by ship502

February 7, 2010 at 17:49

Posted in Info