Ocean College

From the Blog

How to be a Watchleader

Date: 02.11.2020
Author: Malina
Position: Atlantic
Geographical Position: 33° 47,5’N , 014°09,5W
Etmal: 195 NM (total distance: 2476 NM)

Malina – Foto von yannickmonphotografie

Our big family on the Pelican of London consists of nine people of the permanent crew, three teachers, the 29 students and us, the four watchleaders.

Our position

As a watchleader we are the link between the students and the crew. When one of the students has a problem or is homesick, he or she can come to us. In the Ocean College family we are like a big sister or brother.
We take more responsibility for the ship, but we also have fewer rules. We are allowed to go into the saloon. This is a room for the crew and the teachers and us! In this room we can chill and play games with the crew. This is really cool.

As well, we take part at the staff meeting with the complete crew and the teachers every day in the morning. When we are at sea, we do this meeting at the bridge and the duty watchleader – me – takes the helm for the time of the meeting. In this meeting we talk about the plan of the day, the ETA (estimated time of arrival) in the next harbor and problems like blocked toilets or the untidiness in the messroom. It is a big benefit, that we are allowed to take part in these meetings because we know everything earlier.

The watch-system

The students are divided into three watches, the Fore-, Main- and Mizzen-Watch. Every Watch has its own watchleader. Our job is to help the Officer of the Watch. My watch is the Main Watch (best Watch ever!) and at the moment we have the watch from 8 o´clock to 12 o´clock with our captain Ben. All watchleaders did their A-Levels this year, that’s why we do not have school. When the school will start in total in a few days and the students will have four hours of watch and four hours of school each, we will still have eight hours of watch.

We are four watchleaders, but we have only three different watches. That’s why every time one of us is deckhand. At the moment it is Clara. She learns a lot about seamanship and sail-handling. As well she helps the Bosuns Sam and Pete with repairing many things at the deck and aloft (in the rigg). A benefit of being a deckhand is, that you can get your Monkey-Certificate earlier. That is a certificate, that you climbed to the top of the Mast. When you have your Monkey, you are allowed to climb by yourself. I am a little bit upset, that I have not got my Monkey yet. I hope I can get it in the next days.


Ten minutes before the watch starts, we have to muster on the Welldeck. I have to check that everyone is on time and decide who starts at the helm and the lookouts. During the watch, I make sure that the students rotate their positions, do their voyage crew logbook every hour and wake up the next watch on time. Furthermore, I delegate jobs, we have to do in the watch, for example cleaning up dirty cups in the galley or making a cup of tea for the captain.

Often the Officer teaches me something and after that I have to teach it to the students. In the last weeks I learnt to plot our position at the charts and today I taught it to two students of my watch. When we have to handle sails in the watch sometimes, I am the person in charge. That means that I lead the setting or handing of a sail and give the commands. This is really nice because we learn how to lead a group. As well we learn everything about the sailing faster than the students. But sometimes it is really hard to be a watchleader. We are responsible for our watch and when the students are not motivated, it´s difficult to motivate them.

keeping the group together and motivated – a job, that is learned as a watchleader

Benefits of a watchleader

At the moment Sophia E. has to make me a cup of tea whenever I want because she left her jacket somewhere on the ship. Stuff that is laying around is put into the lost and found box. If someone wants to get it back, he or she has to earn it. The watchleaders can think about a job they have to do to earn it back. As well we have the best cabin on the Pelican. In our room, we have much space for all our stuff, a bench and a WINDOW!!!

All in all, we are all very happy to be watchleaders and it is very cool that we are a part of the crew. But we all hope, that we can have duty in the galley sometime, too, because we see that the students have a lot of fun in the galley.

PS: Liebe Grüße an alle meine Freunde und Familie.
Ich hoffe euer Allerheiligen war mit Corona und ohne mich nicht zu traurig.
Ich vermisse euch alle schon ganz doll.

Nora, Malina und Lukas

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