Shift work

A kind reader asks about our helm watches. So here is more than what you ever wanted to read about such things!

Common sense, insurers, and government authorities all demand some someone always be at the helm, attentive to navigation, ship traffic, the radio, and boat status. Besides, even though Peregrinus' autopilots drive the steering most of the time under settings known as "Wind Navigation" and "Wind" or "WindTrim," all of which minimize sail trimming activity, adjustments here and there are still necessary.

And so responsibilities have been split as follows: 05:00 to 10:00 - the Port Officer 10:00 to 15:00 - the Seaman 15:00 to 18:00 - the Admiral 18:00 to 19:00 - the Port Officer 19:00 to 20:00 - the Seaman 20:00 to 23:00 - the Port Officer 23:00 to 02:00 - the Seaman 02:00 to 05:00 - the Admiral

The schedule was drafted up by the Port Officer. The Admiral's 5-hour daylight shift is a couple of hours shorter, on account of her having volunteered as Chef de Cuisine.

The Alférez, one must conclude, must be the real boss, for he gets no watches. He just sits pretty, and purrs contentedly if the sailing is as smooth as he wants.

It is good seamanship to show up a few minutes in advance of one's watch, so the outgoing helmsman can debrief regarding recent events and timely go belowdecks. Generally, this is the extent of the socializing during night watches. During the day, the situation is different, as crew members often mill around the cockpit, either in conversation with the helmsman or just lying about. If crew assistance is needed, one calls the person who is next on watch. Critical items require calling the designated Captain, who on this trip is the Admiral.

All-hands time tends to be lunch (brief) and dinner. Dinner can be a nice sit-down, napkin and silverware affair, when seas are calm, and a good time for story telling. These meals are evidently held on deck in order to maintain the watch.

Current position: 435 NM (500 miles) east of Raleigh, North Carolina, 500 NM south of Newcastle, Maine, 1034 NM north of Santo Domingo, 3050 NM west of Tanger.