Ringing Eight Bells

In the old days of navigation, before everyone had digital watches and handheld GPS’s ships sailed the oceans. In order to determine what time it was or when to relieve the watch hourglasses were used. The hourglass, however, only took 30-minutes to empty. It was the job of one of the sailors, the Quartermaster, to keep time and notify the others what time it was. The sailor’s day is broken up into six 4-hour watches that rotate throughout the day and night. Using the hourglass to keep time means that the glass is turned over 8 times throughout the watch. As soon as the sands ran out, the Quartermaster would flip the glass. To notify the rest of the watch of the time, the Quartermaster would then ring the ship’s bell. The amount of times he flipped the hourglass during his watch would be rung out on the bell. The last flip, the 8th flip, signifies the end of the watch. We keep this tradition today on the TSES from 0800 to 2000. It is the job of the Bow Lookout Watch and it is very important to ring the bells properly. To keep the time straight, the bell is rung once on the half hour, twice when the full hour has passed, twice + once when an hour and a half passed, and so on until the four-hour watch is complete, for a total of eight bells, four sets of two. The bell is struck in pairs of two. 0800 to 1200 watch # of Strikes on Pattern the Bell 8 Four sets of 2 1 X 2 XX 3 XX X 4 XX XX 5 XX XX X 6 XX XX XX XX XX XX 7 X XX XX XX 8 XX

Time 0800 0830 0900 0930 1000 1030 1100 1130 1200

This pattern continues throughout the day on the next two watches. DO NOT ring the bells from 2000 to 0800.

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