I don't wear a watch.
I once wore one daily. But then the battery died and it cost more than the watch to replace the battery and then cell phones were invented and since phones now act as ALL small appliances, well, why bother.
But, I have noticed that on each sailboat there is at least one person, usually the captain, who wears a watch.
Most likely because they got tired of fishing iphones out of the water, but also because the traditional method of sailboat time keeping is ridiculous.
I am talking about ... Bells.
You've heard the saying: Four Bells! All's well!
All's well because no one really knew what time it was so why argue...
Time aboard a boat was marked in 4 hour watches starting at 4am as such:
Middle Watch: midnight (0000) to 4am (0400)
Morning Watch: 0400 to 0800
Forenoon Watch: 0800 to 1200
Afternoon Watch: 1200 to 4pm (1600)
First Dog Watch: 1600 to 1800 (6pm)
Second Dog Watch: 1800 to 2000 (8pm)
First Watch: 2000 to 0000
Why First Watch is last on the list and Middle Watch is first should give you a clue as to the next confusing part of this process.
Why the 4pm-8pm watch is broken into two watches was to allow for the evening meal. Why it is called the 'Dog' Watch I do not want to know.
Now this is where the 'Bells' comes in.
In order to mark the passage of each watch a bell was rung for every half hour.
0030 – one bell was rung.
0100 – Two bells were rung
0130 – Two bells, pause, one bell
0200 – Two bells, pause, two bells
0230 – Two bells, pause, two bells, pause, one bell
0300 – Two bells, pause, two bells, pause, two bells
0330 – Two bells, pause, two bells, pause, two bells, pause, one bell
0400 – Two bells, pause, two bells, pause, two bells, pause, two bells.
Making 8 bells at the wee hours of daylight 4am.
Or, 8 bells late afternoon 4pm.
It was important for the crew to know when their watch was up or starting. And important for navigation as before the days of GPS, travel was done with a sextant and the stars and time was very important in knowing where a constellation should be.
Which makes me wonder...
Was this really the best system they could come up with?
How did they not lose track of how many times they flipped that hourglass and how many bells they were ringing?
It would be like making a triple batch of cookies to take to work at 10pm while watching a particularly exciting episode of Chopped and forgetting if you just measured 5 cups of flour or 6 cups of flour as Ted announced that there were only 15 seconds to go and now you wonder if you actually added 14 cups....
or so I have heard...
According to Rob, they probably made hash marks on the crows nest. But that would be an awful lot of marks on that lovely wood. And wouldn't you lose track of which hash mark was yours? Why couldn't they just use a chalkboard?
When did they invent chalkboards?
I could go on.
But thankfully I have a much better method of timekeeping.
I present to you Laura's Real Time Sailboat Timekeeping:
1000 – Leave the dock and hoist all
appropriate sails to a perfect wind.
|Time to sail. You can tell we are just starting out by the unrumpled appearance of the sails. And me.|
(Blue Skies, our 15 foot wooden sloop.)
1010 – Wish you had a soda, which is below, so you don't say anything.
1012 - Captain is ready for a soda so now I have an excuse to get two sodas and a handful of chips.
1025 – Ipod playlist is started up.
1028 – Captain is asking for a snack.
1103 – Begin regretting the soda and wondering how much longer to restaurant for lunch so I don't have to use port-a-potty.
1108 – Finally ask how far with usual response being 'about 15 minutes' which in driving time is the equivalent of 'just over the next hill'.
1130 – First visual confirmation of existance of restaurant. Wind dies.
1600, or one hour before you need to be back at the dock to clean up and meet friends at the wine bar - Wind becomes perfect, boat is flying with just the right amount of heel (lean) and spray leading you to the decision to make one more run.
1615, or furthest distance from dock – Wind dies.
1617 – Peevish looks pass between captain and crew. Crew threatens to call friends and decry captain's horrible job of controlling the boat and cheapskate need to not use motor.
1620 – Motor started, sails dropped.
1620:05 – Wind becomes perfect.
1837 – First glass of apres-sail Cabernet served with delightful appetizer of Spanish peppers stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with balsamic glaze served.
1840 – Plans for sail the following day finalized.
Please note, these times are generalized.
In all honesty, unless you are truly circumnavigating the world, attempting to outrun that threatening lightening bolt on the NOAA app, or have rezzies at the Snook'sBayside, there is absolutely NO reason to tell time on the sailboat.
It is one of those very few places where time can stand still and life truly is in the moment.
|Seriously, do you really need to know what time it is?|
Come back on Tuesday for C – Catamarans, Cool Change and Cruising – I can't decide....
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