Watches are how shifts are broken up while sailing. The way we do it with the crew on Obelisk is 3 3- hour shifts. I take one shift, Jesse takes one shift, and Nigel and Annie share a shift. During the day everyone is generally awake and on deck, so the shifts are pretty laid back, but theyre much more important at night. The three core night shifts are 9-midnight, midnight-3, and 3-6. The shifts are continual, so you have a different time window each day (if you had 9-midnight on night, you will have midnight-3 the next night). The person on shift is responsible for our course (our desired course is plotted before hand on the computer), setting and trimming sails, making the log book entry, and most importantly making sure we dont hit anything. Everyone is free to do as much as they are comfortable with, but its always ok to wake up Jesse if youre not sure about something. And if you see a big squall coming Jesse always wants to be woken up (its his house were floating in after all).
I love my night watch, it might be my favorite part about sailing. I like the practice of trimming the sails and setting the course on my own, and the alone time is also really nice. Sitting in the cockpit with ocean as far as you can see and the stars above is an awesome feeling and a great way to just relax and let your mind wander. I also spend a lot of time reading in the cockpit with a small flashlight, and will even come down to the nav station and do some writing when the weather is calm. At the end of each shift everyone makes an entry in the logbook. You include technical information like lat/long, wind speed and direction, weather, etc. as well as a couple lines of free text, much like a journal entry about your watch. Nigel even started a watch story, which is a notebook where each person is supposed to write a paragraph of the story during their watch. We just started it and people arent too diligent yet, but it has potential to be really funny. So far Salty is the main character in the story.