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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 very 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 (shown here), 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 shift, 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 during the day, the student stands anchor watch.

Galley: The student helps prepare meals, clean dishes, and otherwise assist 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.

Fire and Bilge: The student regularly patrols the lower decks of the ship, searching for potential hazards such as 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 will. This duty continues whether or not the ship is underway, and is handled by anchor watch at night.

Maintenance: The student helps with whatever regular maintenance tasks that may come up. The primary chore is to clean the head, which we do every hour. As one might well imagine, with two dozen people using a single bathroom, it's crucial to keep the head spotless. This duty continues whether or not the ship is underway.

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