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Watchleader, Bosun or both?

Date: 01.12.2021
Author: Sara
Position: Almost there…
Geographical Position: 16°18.7’N, 058°29.8’W
Etmal: 137 NM (total: 5436NM)

As our Atlantic Crossing is coming to its end, I write about the question that I heard many many times on this crossing. „What do you prefer, being a Watchleader or working with the bosuns?“ I‘ve joined the bosunary team for the whole three weeks across the Atlantic and I will tell you a little bit about what I have learnt (and done???) during this time. The two main tasks of the bosuns are sailhandling and maintenance. On a crossing there isn‘t so much sailhandling to do, which gives plenty of time for maintenance. I really liked that because with doing maintenance I got a lot of new skills now. This includes for example seizings (putting two ropes together with a twine), splicing (making a permanent loop in a rope by „braiding“ it), mousings (securing a shackle with a wire) or serving (wrap a thin rope around a wire in order to protect it).

Sara as Bosun

On the first part of the crossing we did some work on the bowsprit. We scraped the old varnish off the wood, sanded everything and put new oil and varnish on. For derusting parts of the bowsprit we had to cut off some of the footropes and seize them on again. Seizing means putting two ropes together with a twine, for me it was a chance to practice that. Once we had a group of dolphins swimming in our bowwave while we were working out there. I‘ve not seen dolphins so close before, I could even hear the typical dolphin-whistling-sound. That was really cool.

Another thing that I did sometimes is blacking. Basically all the wires that support the masts have servings around it. These servings are protected by a black, sticky, waterproof paint-mix that has to be renewed regularly. In order to do that, I climbed the mast with a bottle of blacking-mix clipped onto the harness, and a glove and a sock on one hand. Then the blacking-mix goes from the bottle onto the sock and then onto the shrouds (the wires mentioned before). The art is to spill the least possible amount of it because it’s hard to get it out of your clothes. Of course I ended up covered in black paint but with a big smile on the face 🙂

Today Jo (Bosun) and I fixed the sheed from the royal which was a bit chafed. First we had to cut the rope where it was chafed. Then I cut off the old knot and made a new one. To finish it I seized the end on to stop the knot from undoing itsself. Sounds very easy but now you have to imagine all of this in 25m height, standing on a shaking yard and trying to hold on with one hand. I have to admit, in this moment I prefered not to look down but after all I would definitely do it again.

To come back to the initial question. Watchleader or Deckhand? There are pros and cons in either thing. When being with the bosuns, I didn‘t have to get up in the middle of the night for watches. I also learnt many new skills and I generally like practical work. When being on Waches I talk more to people, which I enjoy a lot. Watches are also a lot of fun. It’s a close race to say which one I prefer but I think bosunary wins.

Merci vielmol für de cooli Advendskalender und an alli Friends&Family e ganz schöni Wiehnachtsziit 🙂

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