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Thread: Watches & Bells

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Watches & Bells

    Watches and Bells go back to the days of sail. In those days, anyone working daywork, but not on watch was known as an "idler". For merchant ships in the 70's bridge watches were mostly 4 on 8 off which can change to 6 on 6 off when doing tank-cleaning. This was to cover for the Mate who would go on deck to supervise the work. In those days we also "stood watch" ie there were no seats, so 4 or 6 hours standing could, in bad weather, be quite tiring. I won't mention the Pilot chair!!!! These days, there's regulations regarding recording hours of work and maximum hours permitted, but it's honest to say that these records are often pure works of fiction. Most deep sea ships are sufficiently automated that the Engineers are "idlers" with one man designated on call for times outside normal hours. From a social perspective, this has caused quite a change in social arrangements, separating the lives of watchkeepers from dayworkers. With so few now keeping watches, it is the cause of serious mental stress.

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  3. #12
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    Default Re: Watches & Bells

    Lesley, As someone mentioned these go back to sailing ship days, the bells were the crews clock, they were made very half hour, first bellow the watch at 00:30, 04:30, 08:30 etc was one bell, 01:00 2 bells etc up to the watch end which was eight bells. A later Merchant Navy tradition was "little one bell" fifteen minutes before watch end. The dog watches are a sail throwback where the crew was split in two to handle sail, to give them a change of watch, by only completing a two hour watch, probably/possibly had something to do with meals and catering routine. The bells for the dog watches were 1-4 for the first dog and 1-8 for the second dog. These of these terms fade away as the use of bells, and indeed the timing of watch keeping, but some of us oldies still us the terminology!

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  5. #13
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    Default Re: Watches & Bells

    I still tended to use the term of the bells if someone asked me what time it was and it was 1540 hrs I would say it was coming up to 1 bell for the first dog watch , and if same question at 1625 hrs would say coming up to one bell in the first dog watch . Same answer but at different times. Today donít think they would know what you were talking about. As most know 1 bell was also rang 15 minutes before the the end of the watch which was also 15 minutes before the commencement of the new watch.If was caught short and were constipated were likely going to be late to relieve, which was a problem you had also to face
    JSÖ.
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 15th February 2024 at 10:18 AM.
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    Default Re: Watches & Bells

    Quote Originally Posted by j.sabourn View Post
    I still tended to use the term of the bells if someone asked me what time it was and it was 1540 hrs I would say it was coming up to 1 bell for the first dog watch , and if same question at 1625 hrs would say coming up to one bell in the first dog watch . Same answer but at different times. Today donít think they would know what you were talking about. As most know 1 bell was also rang 15 minutes before the the end of the watch which was also 15 minutes before the commencement of the new watch.If was caught short and were constipated were likely going to be late to relieve, which was a problem you had also to face
    JSÖ.
    most important bells

    4 bells = rum
    7 bells = chow

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    Default Re: Watches & Bells

    Tinker bell ? Still looking for her . JS
    I’ll leave Quasimodo for you Tony.
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 15th February 2024 at 11:10 AM.
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    Default Re: Watches & Bells

    Some ships I was on rang time, but others didn't. I would imagine the bells were used before wrist watches, or clocks in the mess were thought of, when sailors had no idea of the time. I went on a couple of courses in navy ships, and the bells were always dinged. The only bells I rang, were one for starboard, two for port, and three for dead ahead. Oh! and when it was foggy.
    Ding dong here we go again, up on the wheel or lookout "lights are bright", or even farmer.
    Last edited by Johnny Kieran; 15th February 2024 at 11:01 AM.

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    Default Re: Watches & Bells

    31st December 1955, we arrived at Aukland NZ too late ot dock, we had been round the NZ coast loading wool, butter & frozen lamb etc, for the UK,
    Aukland was 0ur last port of call before heading for home, we had sailed from Lyttleton and hoped tobe in Aukland for the New Year celebrations but
    had to anchor outside the city . As the eldest aboard, the Lamptrimmer rang out the old year with eight bells, and as the youngest I rang in the New Year 1956, with eight bells,
    somebody gave me a bottle of Pilsner lager and we all sat on the hatch having a laugh but it was sad to see all the city lights twinkling in the distance
    and missing out,, so near yet so far. cheers.
    Last edited by John F Collier; 16th February 2024 at 12:26 AM.

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    Default Re: Watches & Bells

    On cruise ships when at sea at noon the ships bels will ring and the skipper, or officer of the watch if he is not available, will give details of position, distance covered, distance from nearest land, weather conditions and forecast. Some will also give a small talk on aspects of the ship such as why a bell is used to indicate time of day etc.

    But had it not been for Quasimodo it is quite possible the importance of the bell may have been lost for ever.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: Watches & Bells

    All that information would have been collected and Colerated as to the same position before 1200 hours John . 1200 hours was only the broadcast time for the passengers. The actual position would be an estimated position from an actual fix 10 minutes or so before , the actual noon position before 1200 hours being used. In other words is not pinpoint navigation like dropping a computerised bomb on a target. That probably appears as clear as mud to some of your passengers . Real or local time rarely matches up with ships time in the real world. JS
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    Default Re: Watches & Bells

    i went to sea in 1954 on deck.we would keep watches 4-8 ,8-12,and 12-4.which was 4 hours on watch and 8 hours off.except for a couple of coasters i was on the whitfleet and the rattray head where we did 4 hours on watch and 4 hours off with a dog watgh in the evening.
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