This course is designed to provide the Ship's Company with basic Seamanship knowledge that you will actually need to know to function on board host vessels during water born events. As naval landing parties brought their naval routine on shore with them, this information will serve on land as well; some more so than others.

Boxing the Compass

During an onboard ship event, all exchanging of directions to give orientation to an object or happening away from the ship will be given in standard compass terms of the AWI era. Use of other than these terms will not to be acknowledged. Below are the correct terminology to use, and both the point system and the compass nomenclature should be learned. Directions for navigation are given by the nomenclature terms, and to give direction to an occurrence is given in the compass point system.

Note that by learning two adjacent sectors, such as North to North East and then North East to East, the pattern repeats itself there after with only the compass points being different, viz. the compass points go from 1 up to 3 in the first sector and then back down in the second, repeating this process all the way around the compass. Likewise, so does the compass terms for direction. This should help simplify the learning process. Thus, the expected answer to the question of "Where-a-way?" would be to use the correct point from the ship to answer.

Watches and Watch Bills

The following graphic depicts the 7 watches of each day. Note in our era, the day starts at Noon, not at midnight as it does in the modern navies of today. There is one bell struck for each half hour for a total of 8 bells per watch, except for the two Dog Watches, there being two hour duration each. By this arrangement, the watch which came on duty at 8 PM the preceding night will be below during the first part of the night. If it were not for the dog-watches, the starboard watch would be on duty every night from 8 till 12 PM and again from 4 to 8 in the morning, thus obtaining but 4 hours sleep each night. The larboard watch would sleep every night from 8 till 12 PM and from 4 till seven in the morning. By use of these half-watches every man obtains 4 hours sleep on watch nights and seven hours on other nights.

The ship's company are divided into 2 watches; larboard and starboard, each of which serves alternately on deck for 4 hours during the day and night. At all times the deck is in charge of an officer (may be a midshipman) referred to as the Officer of the Watch. For ordinary ship's duty each watch officer serves 4 hours on deck and 12 off continuously. The master is not necessarily a watch-officer, unless short of officers. All these arrangements are subject to the directions contained in the "Captain's Order Book," which each captain created for each ship he served as commander of. Thus, no two "Books" were the same for otherwise identical rate ships. The Richmond has a "Captain's Order Book," which acts to supplement the unit's bylaws and be more specific to the needs of an actual water born event. Both of these documents may be found here.

Watch Bills

Life aboard was rigidly structured; this structure was sternly enforced. The means of achieving this was the Watch Bill. The Richmond will also make use of the "watch bill" or roster of duties for both sea and land events. 

At sea, duties would be apportioned and assigned to various men on different watches by the petty officers at the start of each day. At any specific event, the Richmond will decide together who gets what duties and when. This will be based upon how many members are present at the event, how important different duties may be, and how much the world beyond our unit is likely to impact us, (e.g., heavy spectator turnout, interaction with other units in the overall event, battle scenario schedules, &c.). No one should feel that the watch bill is an imposition; its only purpose is to provide a routine framework around which we can function authentically within our own unit structure. Over the years, naval units have made an excellent case for acting independently from the Army units; it is important that we expand this accurate impression to include our daily routine.

Duties on the watch bill include those that involve the entire unit, the watch on duty or a single individual. At the beginning of an event, the ship's company will be split into two watches, "larboard" and "starboard." Assigning individuals to a specific watch on a permanent basis doesn't work because we usually have a different mix of people at each event. Each watch will be under the command of a petty officer; when more than two petty officers are present, duties will be shared between them. These watch officers are responsible for apportioning within their watches those duties that involve single individuals (see below). The watch on duty is referred to as "on deck" and the watch off-duty as "below decks." Changes of the watch are signaled by the bell while summons to certain drills and stations is by the pipe and/or drum.

Events involving host vessels will follow the historic watch schedule from 4 bells into the Morning Watch to the end of the First Watch at night, unless otherwise announced. Watch Bills will be followed for the day's activities. 

Water born events will centre on shipboard activities in preparation for the engagement scenario, the battles themselves, and there after dock-side activities mainly interacting with the publick for educational purposes. Such events will track the historical daily routine for those members staying overnight aboard the host vessels as found in the Watch Bills for that day. 

Otherwise, duties that include either the entire watch on duty or the whole unit: Cutlass drill, Repel Boarders / Boarders Away drill, Small Arms drill, Pipes drill (learning calls), Cleanup [ship or camp] detail, Make & Mend / Wash Day (latter in warm weather only) &c.

Duties that involve one or a small number of individuals from the watch on deck: Wood & Water detail (three times daily) Marine Guard duty (ongoing during public hours and when enemy reenactors are cleared to probe each other's positions) Ship's Corporal, Mate of the Watch (ongoing during public hours) Cook's Assistant (pre-meal) Mess duty (post-meal) Loading powder (rolling blanks from unit stores for the ship's reserve of blank rounds)&c.

Do not expect that we will be able to take on all of these duties at an event. Drills such as repel boarders depend on the number of unit members present. Other duties, such as wood & water detail and those involving meal preparation and cleanup are going to be needed at every re-enactment. Standing post (guard duty) should not extend longer than twenty minutes for any one individual, so that the hour of duty for the watch will see three men standing the same post in turn. The watch bill is posted for everyone's reference.

Land events typically open to the public no earlier than 9a.m., with reveille at 6a.m. in most encampments. In this three-hour period of time the Richmond needs to roust all hands, trice up gear, clean camp, have breakfast, and hold sick call. Sick call is used as a forum for discussing anything that any member wishes to bring up to the rest of the Ship's Company. It is informal and is held before spectators arrive. Outside events will impact this routine as officers' and NCOs' calls for the entire encampment also fall within these three hours. Our procedure should become so routine that we all simply do it no matter who is present. At 9a.m. sharp (or immediately following the conclusion of officers' and NCOs' calls), the Richmond musters all hands for morning inspection. Fit outs, equipment, and personal tentage will be inspected (the latter for authenticity to ensure that all non-period items have been stowed). Inspection will conclude with a discussion of the Watch Bill of the day and the battle scenario if known at that time.

This watch system is to be made so as to allow free personal time, during which with a pass from the Officer of the Watch, members may take liberty from ship or camp into "town" to be robbed by the Merchants, sack out, talk with spectators, visit the rest of the encampment or do whatever they please. There are several reasons for getting a pass. For the sake of our portrayal, such a routine is historically accurate. For the sake of the re-enactment and the fact that plans change quickly, it is important that the Officer of the Watch has at least a general idea of where everyone is at all times and allows us to reliably assemble everyone and be where we are needed when plans change.

In preparation for battles (when camp will be unattended or manned by a single individual), the order "Action Stations" will see all members stow their personal gear in their tents (so as to be out of sight and mind to curious spectators), tie up their tents, and then lend a hand stowing cooking gear and artifacts as may be required. This is an informal procedure with everyone helping until the work is done.

As has been the hallmark of the Richmond since its commissioning, the duties of the watch bill represent a cooperative effort to improve our portrayal in whatever way we can. 

Bos'n Pipe Calls

The following pipe calls must be learned in order to be able to understand the evaluations taking place on board our host vessels during events. Deck orders will be conducted through this method alone, followed by verbal commands or information as historically correct. Also at land based events, since we will bring our naval routine with us anywhere we go. NOTE: these calls are wave files and therefore somewhat large in size. It is suggested you save them to disk where they will be quickly available for review later. The Mess Call file is more than 600k, and if you do not desire to download such a large file, you would not be able to mistake this call, as it is the longest used at about a minute in length.

Those without a sample call are not yet available. We are in search of them if anyone knows of a wave file for them.

Word to be Passed...Command for silence, an order to follow. This call is the prelude to every word passed aboard ship. Its purpose is to get the attention of all hands to the announcement to be made.

Haul...The most basic of calls, crews of warships were not allowed to sing work songs or shanties so the pipe coordinated the sailors. The low note was for the pause and preparatory, the high for pulling on the line. "Haul" is the pipe equivalent of "Ho! heave! ho! heave! by voice, when the gang is heaving together on a line instead of walking away with it. The low note means "Get another purchase," and the high note means "Heave!"

Belay...A short "Belay" means "Vast heaving." A long "Belay" means "Vast heaving and make her fast."

Pipe Down...The call "Pipe down" consists of "Passing the word" and a long 10-second "Veer," ending in a short, sharp pep in the clinched position. It is piped as "Secure" from any all-hands function (dismissal of all the crew not on watch). It is also piped immediately after the bugle call "Tattoo," just before word is passed to "Turn in. Keep silence about the decks."

The Side...Descends from the tradition of hoisting officers aboard ship in a chair. The higher the rank, the more men an officer received. It is a combination of Haul, and then a command to lower. This call remains in use as a honour given to officers when embarking or disembarking, though the practice of actually hoisting officers had been done away with long before. The officer would still receive "side boys" with a increasing number related to rank, but they would line the gangway and present arms, instead of pulling. This is the aristocrat of all the calls on the Boatswain's pipe. The pipe "Alongside" is sounded so as to finish just as the visitor's boat makes the gangway. During this pipe the side boys and Boatswain's Mate stand at attention but do not salute.

Away Boats...Would be used to order ship's boats to leave the ship's side. Also known as Boat Call, piped to call away a boat, and also to pipe a division to quarters. The call is lengthened in proportion to the seniority of the boat called. In other words, you hold it longer for the Barge than you do for a Gig. After you pipe the call, sing out "Away the gig ( barge,&c.) away!" When piping a division to quarters, after the call sing out, "All the (number) division to quarters!"

Sweepers...The three second intervals of this pipe was a little longer than those used nowadays. The three low-to-high notes generally go off faster, one-two-three. The series of peeps at the end of the third note are pretty much run together, and the call generally winds up now with a short "Heave around" instead of "slurred peeps" as formerly of our era.

Call the Boatswain's Mates...The boatswains gang to report, or Call Mates. Before the days of PA systems aboard ship, every word passed was by word of mouth of the Boatswain's Mates, fore and aft. The word was given to the Boatswain or Boatswain's Mate of the Watch, who sounded "Call mates" to get the Boatswain's Mates together. As they drew near from different parts of the ship, they answered repeatedly with the same call. When they got the word, they dispersed fore and aft to sing it out at every hatch. The call is two short, shrill peeps in the clinched position, repeated once.

All Hands on Deck...While the ship's company were split into two watches that stood four hours on and four hours off duty, unfortunately they could be called at any time that the entire crew was needed for handling sails, &c. This is the call that would be used to signal the ENTIRE CREW to assemble on deck. All Hands is piped as a general call to any event in which all hands are to participate (Viz. to action stations). It is sounded after the bugle call "Reveille," before word is passed to break out and trice up. Click here for Beat to Quaters-Drill without powder. The number of last rolls of the drum told if it was a drill with or without loading blanks and/or shot, or with 3 rolls, this is no drill. It is also the first part of the call which pipes the crew to chow.

Veer...This is the call sounded by the Boatswain's Mate of the Watch to fall in side boys for tending the side. One veer calls two boys; two veers, four; three veers, six; and four veers, eight. In some ships, the captain might require all officers to be present in uniform as well no matter what the time day or night.

Heave Around...This call, piped twice, means "Heave around" on the capstan. Piped once, it means "Mess gear." It is also part of the pipe for "Mess Call."

Dinner or Supper...Called the crew to a meal. The pipe "Mess call" is the longest of the lot; it should cover not less than a minute. It consists of "All hands," a long "Heave around," and a long "Pipe down," in that order.

C. Fisher

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