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 Timekeeping at Sea
Sharpie
 Posted: May 4 2014, 11:20 AM
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Curator of Marines
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Let's start with something important, yet relatively simple...

The day at sea was divided into watches, each watch being four hours long, apart from the two dog watches, which were only two hours each. (This allowed Stephen Maturin to joke that they were cur-tailed...) This gave seven watches, allowing the crew to rotate which hours they were on duty from day to day. The crew were divided in half (confusingly, into starboard and larboard watches). One day, the larboard watch would be on deck during the Middle Watch, the next night it would be the turn of the starboard watch.

Although all the various sentry posts had to be covered all the time, the Marines didn't stand watches; they could luxuriate in a treasured 'all-night in' when they weren't on duty overnight. Apart from the Marines, the only other people aboard who regularly had 'all-night in' were the idlers, who worked during daylight hours, and the Captain, who was expected to be called at any time of the day or night if something was serious enough to demand his attention.

Until late in 1805, the ship's day ran from midday to midday, signalled by the middies and lieutenants taking the noon sight. (This explain's Jack's "Call noon, Mr Hollom!" in M&C; he was marking the start of a new day.)

The watches were:

Afternoon: 12:00 noon to 4:00pm
First Dog: 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Second Dog:6:00pm to 8:00pm
First: 8:00pm to 12:00 midnight
Middle: 12:00 midnight to 4:00am
Morning: 4:00am to 8:00am
Forenoon: 8:00am to 12:00 noon

Each half an hour, the glass was turned and the bell struck. There were eight bells to each watch, apart from the two dog-watches.

So, "Two bells of the forenoon watch" meant nine am.

Simple, when you know how!

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user posted image


Boy 3rd Class Terry Button, Royal Navy
Rifleman Gabriel Cotton, 5/60th Rifles
Private Tom Oxley, Royal Marines drummer
Able Seaman Sam Oxley, Royal Navy
Private Finch Robinson, Royal Marines
Corporal George Thompson, Royal Marines
Captain Hereward Thorburn, Royal Navy
Captain John Vickery, 5/60th Rifles
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Sharpie
 Posted: Nov 17 2015, 05:20 PM
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Curator of Marines
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Posts: 63
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Also, have a very belated addition and useful table/diagram thing:

user posted image

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user posted image


Boy 3rd Class Terry Button, Royal Navy
Rifleman Gabriel Cotton, 5/60th Rifles
Private Tom Oxley, Royal Marines drummer
Able Seaman Sam Oxley, Royal Navy
Private Finch Robinson, Royal Marines
Corporal George Thompson, Royal Marines
Captain Hereward Thorburn, Royal Navy
Captain John Vickery, 5/60th Rifles
PM
^
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