leslie's guiding traditions

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Ships Times/Watches


Sea Rangers tried to run their 'ships' in as nautical a way as possible, adopting as many of the traditions of the navy as they could.  So for many years they divided their crew into 'watches' rather than Patrols, and where possible they sourced a ship's bell to mount in their meeting place, in order to sound 'ship's time' during their 'musters' as the unit meetings were known.  


On board ship, the watch changes every 4 hours, hence the ship's day is broken into 6 sections, and crew members would usually work two watches per 24 hours.  They are:

Middle Watch - Midnight to 4am

Morning Watch - 4am to 8am

Forenoon Watch - 8am to Noon

Afternoon Watch - Noon to 4pm

Dog Watch - 4pm to 8pm

First Watch - 8pm to Midnight.


As the day is divided into these 4-hour 'watches', each watch is divided into eight equal half-hour increments.  Bells are rung starting with the first half-hour after a watch begins.  The striking pattern is:

First half-hour: 1 bell

Second half-hour: 2 bells

Third half-hour: 2 bells, pause, 1 bell

Fourth half-hour: 2 bells, pause, 2 bells

Fifth half-hour: 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 1 bell

Sixth half-hour: 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells

Seventh half-hour: 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 1 bell

Seventh half-hour: 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells.


Thus if a Sea Ranger crew met from 7-9pm, the bells rung would be: 

7.00 pm - 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells

7.30 pm - 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 1 bell.

8.00 pm - 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells.

8.30 pm - no bell

9.00 pm - 1 bell.