Main-Watch Ship Blog III

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The Handover Thing

Hurrah, it is nearly the end of your nightwatch! The next watch has been woken, and the last half hour has begun. Somehow it always feels like the slowest half hour, when time doesn't seem to move at all. But at last, a figure appears at the top of the steps up to the poop deck, and the relief crew is there.

These handovers have turned into their own little ritual between us watchleaders. Course, details of steering ("Like a sullen teenager tonight. I'm ignooooring you... oh FINE!"), anything we did with the sails, anything on the horizon ("We saw a ship!" "NO?!" "We could barely contain ourselves with excitement")

The course is handed over and the new watchleader supplies a helmsman.

Lastly we hand over the little odds and ends of keeping a watch for four hours. Are the doodads strapped down tight? Do we have the thingemabobs at the appropriate angle? Are the whatchamathings calibrated right? (I don't know what the doodads do, but it is apparently very important to keep them strapped down tight. Wouldn't want them to malfunction.)

Then comes the final question between watchleaders - "Are you happy?" which really means "Are you satisfied and ready to take over so I can go to bed?" Affirmative answers can come in variety of ways, from "As happy as I get at Oh-God-O-Clock in the morning" to "delighted. Ecstatic. Delirious!"

If the answer is an affirmative, the WL turns to the officer of the watch and asks if they are happy to let the old watch go. Fierce hope is that the OOTW then says "Excellent, sleep well" and not "Great, let's go adjust sails now we have two watches on deck."

Usually the answer is “Goodnight,” and the offgoing WL lets their watch know they have been dismissed. With a chorus of "Sleep well," and "Have a good watch!" the offgoing watch then troops down the steps and back to bed, content in the knowledge that the next watch is holding down the fort.

It is Main watch's 50th watch soon. We're planning to have a Watchiversary party to celebrate the occasion!

Sail away for a day or a lifetime...

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