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THE words “ watches ” and “bells” are familiar to all readers of voyages or sea literature, but a practical acquaintance with them is scarcely necessary to the yachtsman who does not aspire higher than a five or ten-tonner. It will be well, however, that we should say a little as to their uses, for some yachtsmen like to have strict discipline on board their tiny ships as far as the opportunities of their command allow.
Watches are only set when on a cruise which includes night sailing, and their object is that a proper number of the crew should be awake and ready for duty, for it is evident that a ship cannot sail herself while everybody goes to bed. In order that the work may be fairly divided among the men, they come on watch in relays. At eight o'clock in the evening the first watch is set, and during the next twenty-four hours there are seven watches, so arranged by means of an unequal division in time that the same watch does not come up again at the same hour. In large yachts, and also in small ones, if there is any apparent necessity, an anchor watch is set while at anchor or moorings, and one man is sufficient for this, as all he has to do is to call up the regular watch if any emergency should arise, such as dragging an anchor, or a boat or anything getting adrift. Where
make a port at night or anchor, of course watches are not necessary, and when sailing through the night in a ten
tonner it will be a matter of arrangement as to who should do duty while the others turn in for a snooze.
“Bells” are to mark the passage of time, but we candidly admit that nobody has troubled himself to keep up the practice on the small yachts in which we have sailed. In default, therefore, of practical experience in the matter, we quote from Mr. Dixon Kemp's book :
As a rule, bells are only struck on board yachts between eight in the evening and eight in the morning, but on large yachts they are regularly struck all through the twenty-four hours, whether the yacht is at sea or in harbour.
The bells are struck in this way: One stroke (or one bell) is half-past twelve; two strokes struck quickly (or two bells) one o'clock; two strokes struck quickly, followed by one (or three bells), half-past one ; a double two (or four bells), two o'clock; a double two and one (or five bells), half-past two; a treble two (or six bells), three o'clock; a treble two and one (or seven bells), half-past three ; four double strokes (or eight bells), four o'clock. Then com. mences one bell for half-past four, two bells for five o'clock, and so on ; eight bells being struck every four hours.
The number of the crew which a yacht should carry is an important consideration in large yachts, but in small ones it settles itself by the amount of accommodation there is for them. Thus a five tonner will take two men at least to work her, and the owner and a capable friend can do well by themselves. But it is well to have a man, if it were only to do the odd jobs and dirty work. He can sleep in the forecastle, where there will be just room for him, while the two gentlemen sleep in the cabin, which they can make a very tidy, and, indeed, luxurious abode. A ten-tonner requires two men in addition to her amateur
and there will just be room for the two in her forecastle. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and ten and twenty tonners are not only manned but sailed long cruises by amateurs only. But amateurs frequently think, if one may judge by their actions, "where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise," and they
are continually, by some happy chance, performing feats, in safety, which more experienced sailormen would hesitate to undertake. It is our place to deprecate any rash attempts, and although fools sometimes rush in safety where wise men fear to tread, yet the exploit is hardly fair to the wives or families of the adventurers. It is better to err on the side of safety, not for the sake of ourselves, perhaps, but for the sake of those whose prospects are imperilled by our pleasure.
DOMESTIC ECONOMY OF A SMALL YACHT.
LIFE on board a small yacht can either be made
uncomfortable or very jolly, according as the owner is careless or careful in his habits. If a man pitches the things into the first convenient corner when he has done with them, instead of putting them tidily in their places, the cabin, and, indeed, the whole boat, will be nothing but a lumber room, where nothing will be at hand when wanted, and dirt and discomfort reign supreme. Every article should have a place assigned to it, and should be kept in its place if not in use. Every available space should have a locker—under the seats and bunks, and wherever the room is not wanted for moving about. There should be little racks for wine glasses and tumblers, and all the crockery should be so carefully placed that it will not roll about, let the boat lurch never so badly. Your bottles of beer and other liquids can be stowed away under the floor boards, which should be made to
The bread and meats should be kept in one of the side lockers of the well, and which have holes bored in it, or have an aperture covered with perforated zinc, in order that the air may have free access to the meat. If this is not done the meat will very speedily be tainted.
The seats on each side of the cabin (the bunks) are covered with cushions more or less soft-generally the latter, and are utilised as sleeping places at night. There is rarely room to
swing a hammock in these small cabins, otherwise hammocks are by far the most comfortable beds, in our opinion, next to a feather bed—they adapt themselves to every bump on one's body. The hips, knees, and ankles are the places where one feels the rub of a hard couch, and even the softest cushion available on board a boat has scarcely give enough in it to be comfortable to a thin, angular man, though it may be well enough for one whose bones are well covered. Where the forepeak is open to the cabin there will be space enough to swing a hammock; 10ft, is about the requisite distance. Nothing can be better than the form of hammock used on board ship: this is an oblong piece of very stout canvas, technically called “hammocking.” At each end are rows of holes, each worked round with a buttonhole stitch. Two clews are necessary—one for each end; these are metal eyes, with a number of cords worked round and dependent therefrom. These cords are made fast to the holes by a couple of half hitches, taking care that each cord bears an equal strain.
The eyes are hooked on hooks placed in convenient positions, and the hammock should be stretched as straight as possible, or the body of the sleeper will assume the shape of a bow-head and feet up, and the heavier portion down. A very
comfortable form of hammock, and one well adapted to small cabins, is an oblong one with an eye at each corner, and strongly bound with rope all round. Four hooks are let in to the beams at head and foot of cabin, so that the hammock can be stretched out flat. Such a hammock can be slung on each side over the bunks, taking care that it is not slack enough to bend and let you down on the seat.
For bedding, sheets are a bother, and the best way is to have a night suit of linen made after the fashion of the "combination garment” in vogue among the other sex.
You can put other things on if you are cold. Then have a blanket made into