A watch from 8-12 is divided into eight periods of 30 minutes. The watchteam is divided into different groups. The galley rats are in the galley, the posts do their job and the workforce does all the hard work. Today I was stationed as a post. Each 30 minutes the posts switch positions. The posts consist of a lookout, a helmsman and a lifebuoy guard.
After a bad night's sleep I was woken up at 7.00 AM. As usual the breakfast was served at 7.15 AM, and my whole watch stod ready for the change of watches at 7.55 on the quarterdeck. I am thankful for starting this journey with the 8-12 watch, since it is the most normal one for me.
After the change of watches the 4-8 watch went down to sleep and we took over everything on deck. I started as a lookout, which means that my job is to stand at the stem and look for stuff in the water or boats. So there I stood for 30 minutes, looking for boats, lifeboats, containers and more, and of course dolphins. Sadly, I am still one of the few left who hasn’t seen dolphins yet, even though they have visited a couple of times. After 30 minutes the ship’s bell was struck one time to signal that 30 minutes had gone by. I answered with one strike of the other bell. Then we switched posts. The lifebuoy guard came up to me and I reported everything worth reporting, which was not much.
I then took over as helmsman and the helmsman took over as lifebuoy guard. As helmsman your only mission is to keep the boat at the right course for 30 minutes. Our captain and I had a nice chat before the bell struck twice to signal that one hour had gone. Then we switched positions again. This time I was the lifebuoy guard and your most important mission is to know if someone falls into the water and throws the lifebuoy to them. That is why you also are supposed to always know how many people there are on deck or in the rigging. That is why everybody always shouts, first their name and then “On deck” “Off deck” or “In mast” after nightfall or in storms. The other big mission is to keep track of the time and strike the bell every half an hour. After another 30 minutes of standing and watching it was my turn to strike the bell. I struck it three times since it had been one and a half hours since our watch started. Two strikes, a short break, another strike. One and a half hours. Then we switched posts again and I was back as a lookout.
In the middle of the watch, at 10 o’clock, it is “fika” time. “Fika” is Swedish for a coffee break. We often get bread, butter, cheese, ham, vegetables, juice and sometimes fruit. At the 10 o’clock “fika” in the evening we often get pastries or sweets. We call it the sweet “fika”. That is probably the best time of the day, together with going to sleep after a watch.
Tindra Dahlström Portside