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4-8 was the best watch for wheeling definitely, and about everything else as well. Except sleep, you never got any, or very little.
8-12, there was no social life really, but good for after watch gatherings, and bronzying.
12-4 was generally the punishment watch, you couldn't do much, but it engendered a camaraderie between the lads.
But above all it depended on who was the watch prior to yours. If they were useless, and left the job in a state, it was work to get it settled down again.
If they were good, you could rest assured a good 4 hours recovery time until the next onslaught on decks.
You didn't mention 'day work' which was the lecky's lot. Good most of the time, but it was job and finish so sometimes we had very long days and couldn't even attend Captain's Cocktail Parties!
The only watchkeeping was 24 hour cabin watch to cover anything 'out of hours' and the odd 6 on 6 off when some major problem occurred, like ID fan bearing failure.
Interestingly, majority of P&O ships have moved away from the 4 on 8 off watch system to 6 on 12 off........... Some operating 10 till 4, others operating 12 till 6............ I experienced all three systems as Chief, interesting to say he least !!
Sep 1, 2016 - 6:07AM
Re: 4-8, 8-12 or 12-4?
The 4 hour watch came about from the old sailing ships. They changed the tack every 4 hours, they worked 4 hours on, 4 hours off.
I did the 4 to 8 watch once in 12 yrs of going to sea. It was the 1973 Xmas cruise. Dave Twining was relief Chief and he put the day shift on as an extra watch, so we did 4 on 12 off. We did 12 to 4 Xmas eve afternoon and 4 to 8 Xmas morning.
I think it was Ken Worsfold, Glyn Dodson and myself. We sitting having a couple of beers after watch before having a tub.
The Chief comes in and says "Where the ladies you were with last night?".
"In bed I suppose Chief" was the reply.
He then says"well go get them".
So within 10 minutes there was another party rocking in the Engineers accomodation rocking at 8.30 am Xmas morning, Best cruise I ever did.
Just sitting here shaking the memory cells I think it might have me, Ken and Dick Stone on watch. I was the Junior and went to call the watch. As I was about to get into the lift I heard this roaring voice say "Junior get in my cabin".
I looked down the alley and there was Dave Twining's head sticking out of his cabin.
I was crapping myself. In I walked, shaking.
"Get 2 beers out of the fridge" he says. I hand both to him, shaking. He hands 1 back and says "Merry Xmas, Junior ".
A true Gentleman.
Where are you from: South wales
Sep 1, 2016 - 11:14PM
Re: 4-8, 8-12 or 12-4?
Kevin, I had a similar experience sailing with Dave Twining as chief engineer. He didn't mind what we did as long as the Captain didn't find out and work wasn't affected. At one stage I remember he had some women in his cabin and wanted some of us to help him out! I was second lecky on Iberia at the time, 1967.
I have been on many P&O cruises, as a passenger, over the last 20 years and rarely saw officers 'on deck'. Do they now live a different life to that we had in the 1960's, i.e. no wheeling in, etc.? Does anyone know what goes on these days?
Breathalyser, CCTV, etc etc have changed life at sea for ever, let alone cost of drinks on deck !!
Dec 7, 2016 - 4:27AM
Re: 4-8, 8-12 or 12-4?
Over the years I spent time on them all - and the associated jobs; boilers/compressors/purifiers. 4-8 I suppose was the best apart from lube oil reports which never changed trying to explain where it all had gone to the satisfaction of the C/Eng. Then came day work which was great until something fell off and it always seemed to be at night or when you were just getting ready to go out. I'm glad I was there when the regulations were less rigid - sailed with some great people and would not have changed that even if one could. Tucked up on a ferry now, dry ship, no excitement about the ports of call (same as yesterday) - but three week trips don't give me the sinking feeling that I used to get when four months beckoned.
Nothing to do with watch keeping and preferences, your comment set me thinking about Himalaya, Dave Twining and some of the great characters we sailed with. I recall the first lecky, Adam I think his name was, EX BI from memory who I think use to sail from Indian to possibly Medina for the Haj and had his own steward who even went on leave with him to work in his house. Like Dave, somewhat old school and to a first tripper a real Burra Sahib. Anyway he went on a bender, one where he would lock himself in his cabin and his steward just brought him bottles and took away the empties for a number of days. The instant i recall he was in mess kit and walking across the crowded ballroom at, I am sure was Captains Cocktails and he went arse over tit in the middle of the floor to a hushed crowd and an enbarressed old man. I don't think we saw him again and was shipped off home shortly after that
Where are you from: Glasgow, and actually at home (as its approaching the weekend)
I thought I was lucky as a burragh char sahib I was on the 4-8 for several years , when on the Chusan in 1958 1959, as we were cruising in the summer Allan Clarke 2nd Eng put me on day work with three juniors and had the Boilermaker doing my watch . We did all the stand by in and out of port ,and any job down below, was job and finish. that gave us time for a few jars at lunch time,and most of the evening on the dance space .
8-12 Aussie cruising with a fine team on watch...it never got any better for being out on decks...but 4-8 same region if you wanted to get ashore..SS Oriana ..brilliant ship..worked bloody hard & played even harder!! Good team generally!!
Hated 4-8 with a passion. Standbys were great but that was about it. 8-12 was brilliant, ashore in the afternoon, back for an hours crash before watch, quick shower and a couple of beers before going out to trap the last one left in the disco. But I must say I did like the 12-4 and had the best Christmas cruise ever with Rooster as third, Stu Drew as boiler room 4th and Mark Steel and me in the engine room. Never had so much fun in my life.