‚Janna, Janna, wake up — it’s half eleven o’clock and it’s your watch. Outside the weather is good but quite cold and no rain, so dress up warm. See you in 20 minutes.‘ At home on a weekend it would be 11am when I decide to get up and nobody would wake me up. I would never put on three shifts of clothing, plus oilskins, before I leave my room and I would never know what a luxury product oilskins, gloves and warm soles in the wellington boots, yeah,and just a Thermos bottle can be. Here on the ship other things are really precious, which in our normal daily life at home maybe seem small.
But what am I talking about:
The watch duty is a big area on board and in our everyday life. We’re all ordered to four different watches (‚watch‘ 1-4) for the whole time of each stage at sea. At the moment we’re on our first stage which goes until Tenerife.
Each watch is composed out of 9-10 students, two crew members and one teacher. One of the crew members is the watchleader and coordinates all tasks of the watch. The tasks and the times to fulfil them are different from watch to watch. All watches have a standing watch two times for three hours daily. My watch for example, ‚watch 1‘, cares for the ship and all people on board everyday from 11pm to 2 am and again from 11am to 2 pm during the day.
The standing watch is very important because these people take the responsibility for the safety of all the people on board. The main task of the standing watch is to bring the ship safely from one point to the next.
In order to do this, two people from the standing watch do a safety round and another two do an engine round every hour. The safety round includes checking if there is fire somewhere, that is very important especially in the night when all people except the standing watch are asleep. Besides, on the safety round you look in the bilges which are spread everywhere on different places on the ship. If there’s water, you have to empty them. You also check all the ropes, so nobody falls in dark. The engine round checks if all parts of the ship’s engine work right. If something is not in normal order, they report it to the watchleader, who will decide what’s the best to do then. At each full hour somebody notes the weather and position of the ship. During these tasks, the whole time, one person steers the ship and two have a lookout for other ships, buoys, fisher nets etc. Because of the concentration, these persons change position every half hour with the people who have done the engine and safetyrounds.
The standing watch still includes much more, but the most important is that it allows the other people to sleep calmly, to cook dinner or to use their free time for something else.
When the standing watch is over, the working day of the watch is not at the end. In addition, for one hour per day, every watch has to clean one special area on the ship. This can be to clean the mess, our dining and living room, the toilets or the navigation room. There are much more cleaning stations and they change every week on Sunday.
Besides these tasks, every day one member of each watch is sent to the galley. This is a full-time job, because the galley service cares for the provision of the whole crew, 50 very hungry people. Enough food is fundamental for a good mood on the ship. So we eat four times a day (just a little cookie at 3 pm), because the air at sea makes everybody very, very hungry. That’s the reason why the big legal ‚exchange-market‘ of chocolate and cookies flourishes. These resources are very rare on board. In the morning we eat in shifts from 8 to 10 am, because of the different times of the standing watches. We eat a warm lunch all together at 12 am, at 3 pm it’s coffee-time: somebody makes a round on the ship with cookies or cake, and at 6 pm it’s time for dinner. The people whose standing watch is in the middle of the night normally go to bed at 7 or 8 pm, because they have to get up just two or three hours later. As you can see, all our day life and our rhythm of sleep is very different to yours.
This is what I learned so far through the watch duty, besides a lot of seamanship and team work.
And I think I can take much more with me in the future – that’s the reason why we’re all here.