Story

Watch System

Once at sea the Dutch Tall Ships sail 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sail handling can happen at any moment, so the crew takes turns in being awake and sailing the ship. The ships are registered as sail training vessels and as such you will be mustered as voyage crew. This means that, more so than on a passenger ship, you will get extensive safety instructions and we ask you to join in the watch system. Participating in sailing and running the ships is part of the overall experience on board. The level of participation will depend on your interest and physical condition.

The watch system consists is constructed in such a way that you are “on” watch for 4 hours, and “off” watch for 8 hours. One of the watches is a split “platvoet” watch, due to which you will have watch at different times every day. One day you will see a sunrise and the next day you are on deck while the sun sets. The watches are named after the colors of the Dutch flag and follow up in the same sequence. While on watch you will take turns at the helm, stand lookout and help with sail handling.

The trainees are encouraged to participate in a three-watch system, with four hours on and eight hours off and a split ‘platvoet’. Following this system you will have watch at different times every day so you will see a sunrise one day and a sunset the next. The watches are named after the colours of the Dutch flag and follow up in the same sequence. While on watch you will take turns at the helm, stand lookout and help with sail handling and maintenance.

When going on watch you will be woken in sufficient time to get ready, have some food, or perhaps some coffee (particularly when you stand up in the middle of the night). When arriving on deck, you will receive the handover from the previous watch. There always has to be a watch on deck, so it is very important to be on time; the previous watch cannot be stood down until you have surfaced. It is your responsibility to be awake and ready for action on deck! Not everybody likes to be woken up so it is important to go about the wake-ups with some sensitivity. If needed, some extra encouragement can motivate slow risers like “we’re under full sail”, “full moon”, “pancakes for breakfast”, “it’s finally stopped raining!”

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