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the log-book, for which he is responsible to the owners and insurers, and has the charge of the stowage, safe-keeping and delivery of the cargo. He is also, ex officio, the wit of the crew; for the captain does not condescend to joke with the men, and the second mate no one cares for; so that when “the mate" thinks fit to entertain " the people” with a coarse joke or a little practical wit, everyone feels bound to laugh.
The second mate's is proverbially a dog's berth. He is neither officer nor man. The men do not respect him as an officer, and he is obliged to go aloft to reef or furl the topsails, and to put his hands into the tar and slush with the rest. The crew call him the "sailor's waiter," as he has to furnish them with spun-yarn, marline, and all other stuffs that they need in their work; and has charge of the boatswain's locker, which includes servingboards, marline-spikes, etc. He is expected by the captain to maintain his dignity and to enforce obedience, and still is kept at a great distance by the mate, and obliged to work with the crew. He is one to whom "little is given, and of whom much is required.” His wages are usually double those of the common sailor, and he eats and sleeps in the cabin ; but he is obliged to be on deck nearly all his time, and eats at the second table ; that is, makes a meal out of what the captain and chief mate leave.
The steward is the captain's servant, and lias charge of the pantry, from which every one, even the mate himself, is excluded. These distinctions usually find him an enemy in the mate, who does not like to have any one on board who is not entirely under his control; the crew do not consider him as one of their number, so he is left to the mercy of the captain.
The cook is the patron of the crew, and those who are in his favour can get their wet mittens and stockings dried, or light their pipes at the galley 3 in the night watch. These two worthies, together with the carpenter and sailmaker, if there be one, stand no watch, but, being employed all day, are allowed to "sleep in " at nights, unless all hands are called.
The crew are divided into two divisions, as equally as may be, called the “watches." Of these the chief mate commands the larboard, and the second mate the starboard. They divide the time between them, being on and off duty, or, as it is called, on deck and below, every four hours. If, for instance, the chief mate with the larboard watch, have the first night watch from eight to twelve, at the end of the four hours the starboard watch is called, and the second mate takes the deck; while the larboard watch and the first mate go below till four in the morning, when they come on deck again, and remain until night, having what is called the morning watch. As they will have been on deck eight hours out of twelve, while those who had the middle watch from twelve to four-will only have been up four hours, they have what is called a “forenoon watch below," that is, from eight A.M. till twelve A.M. In a man-of-war, and
in some merchantmen, this alteration of watches is kept up throughout twenty-four hours; but our ship, like most merchantmen, had “all hands” from twelve o'clock till dark; except in bad weather, we had “watch and watch.”
An explanation of the "dog watches" may perhaps be of use to one who has never been at sea. They are to shift the watches each night, so that the same watch need not be on deck at the same hours In order to effect this, the watch from four to eight P.M. is divided in two half or dog watches, one from four to six, and the other from six to eight. By these means they divide the twenty-four hours into seven watches instead of six, and thus shift the hours every night. As the dog-watches come during the twilight, after the day's work is done, and before the night watch is set, they are the watches in which everybody is on deck. The captain is up, walking on the weather side of the quarter deck, the chief mate on the lee side, and the second mate about the weather gangway. The steward has finished his work in the cabin, and has come up to smoke his pipe with the cook in the galley. The crew are sitting on the windlass, or lying on the forecastle, smoking, singing, or telling long yarns. At eight o'clock eight bells are struck, the log is hove, the watch set, the wheel relieved, the galley shut up, and the other watch go below.
The morning commences with the watch on deck “turning to" at daybreak, and washing down, scrubbing and swabbing the decks. This, together with filling the "scuttled butt" with fresh water,
and coiling up the rigging, usually occupies the time till seven bells (half-past seven), when all hands get breakfast. At eight the day's work begins, and lasts until sun-down, with the exception of an hour for dinner.
Before I end my explanation, it may be well to define a day's work, and to correct a mistake prevalent amongst landsmen about a sailor's life. Nothing is more common than to hear people say, Are not sailors very idle at sea ? what can they find to do? This is a very natural mistake, and being very frequently made, it is one which every sailor feels interested in having corrected. In the first place, then, the discipline of the ship requires every man to be at work upon something when he is on deck, except at night and on Sundays. Except at these times, you will never see any man on board a well-ordered vessel standing idle on deck, sitting down, or leaning over the side. It is the officer's
. duty to see every one at work, even if there is nothing to be done but to scrape the rust from the chain cables. In no state prison are the convicts more regularly set to work and more closely watched. No conversation is allowed among the crew at their duty; and though they frequently do talk when aloft, or when near one another, yet they always stop when an officer is nigh.
With regard to the work upon which the men are put, it is a matter which probably would not be understood by one who has not been at sea. When I first left port, and found that we were kept regularly employed for a week or two, I supposed that we were getting the vessel into sea trim, and that it would soon be over, and we should have nothing to do but sail the ship; but I found that it continued for two years, and that at the end of the two years there was as much to be done as ever. As has often been said, a ship is like a lady's watch, always out of repair. When first, leaving port, studding-sail gear is to be rove, all the running rigging to be examined, that which is unfit for use is to be got down, and new rigging rove in its place; then the standing rigging is to be 'overhauled, replaced, and repaired in a thousand different ways; and whenever any of the numberless ropes or the yards are chafing or wearing upon it, then “chafing-gear,” as it is called, must be put on. The chafing-gear consists of worming, parcelling, roundings, battens, and service of all kindsboth rope-yarn, spun-yarn, marline, and seizing stuffs. Taking off, putting on, and mending the chafing-gear alone, upon a vessel, would find constant employment for two or three men, during working hours, for the whole voyage.
The next point to be considered is, that all the “small stuffs ” which are used on board a shipsuch as spun-yarn, marline, seizing stuff, etc., etc., are made on board. The owners of a vessel buy up incredible quantities of “old junk,” which the sailors unlay after drawing out the yarns, knot them together, and roll them up in balls. These “ropeyarns” are constantly used for various purposes, but the greater part is manufactured into spun-yarn. For this purpose every vessel is furnished with a