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Shipcraft: The Duty Roster

Our student crew is divided into two duty watches, which in maritime tradition are referred to as Port and Starboard. Port watch is on duty from 6 to 12; Starboard duty relieves them from 12 to 6. Note that these times count for both A.M. and P.M., though we rarely work at night during Voyages of Discovery.

During a watch rotation, the members of that watch cycle through five crucial positions; the duty roster, kept posted on the orlop deck, always lets a crew member know if and where their presence is required. With six students per watch, the schedule also allows each individual student to get an hour off during their watch, though they remain on duty and need to be readily available on demand.

The five watch positions are:

Helm: The student mans the whipstaff in the helm hutch to steer the ship under the command of the Quarter deck. If the ship is anchored or docked, the student has the hour off.

Lookout: The student stands at the fore mast on the foredeck, scanning the waterway ahead for traffic and potential hazards, calling back what they see to the Quarter deck. This is necessary because, due to the method of construction of 17th century vessels, the Quarter deck officers' view directly ahead of the ship is obstructed by the foredeck itself. If the ship is anchored or docked, the student maintains anchor watch.

Galley: The student helps prepare meals and clean dishes, and otherwise assists the ship's cook as needed. This duty continues whether or not the ship is underway, since the galley is always active throughout the day.

Maintenance: The student must be ready to assist in case the senior crew are working on any maintenance tasks, which may range from whipping lines (binding the end of a cord to prevent it from unraveling) to carpentry work. The primary responsibility of maintenance, however, is cleaning the head. With one bathroom servicing two dozen people, it must be kept spic and span with hourly scrubdowns. This duty continues whether or not the ship is underway, for the obvious reasons.

Fire and Bilge: The student regularly patrols the lower decks of the ship, searching for potential hazards to the ship: smoldering fires and/or rapidly rising bilge water. We've never had a fire or flooded deck on the Half Moon, and these constant, preventative patrols help ensure that we never do. This duty continues whether or not the ship is underway, and even continues during anchor watch.

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