"Dog Watches" - Ships Nostalgia
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"Dog Watches"

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  #1  
Old 31st October 2012, 10:14
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Hugh Ferguson Hugh Ferguson is offline  
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"Dog Watches"

Why is a Dog Watch so called? How many of us ever kept a Dog Watch, and how many would not even know what a Dog Watch was?
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  #2  
Old 31st October 2012, 10:22
Sailtie Sailtie is offline  
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I was RNR and kept dog watches on Grey Funnel Liners
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  #3  
Old 31st October 2012, 10:53
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I thought the dog watch had only RN usage - as a routine to share overlap when watchkeepers were re-assigned watches. Wiki gives it simply as the 4-8 (1600-2000) split in two. The nearest I saw of anything like this was the Mate getting meal relief. Older (sorry, more experienced) hands?

Last edited by Varley; 31st October 2012 at 17:05..
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  #4  
Old 31st October 2012, 11:16
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They were not usually found on Merchant ships, I always thought it was a Grey Funnel Navy tradition. I have never heard of where the term 'dog wach' came from. In E.D.'s on all ships I was on, the Second Mate relieved the Third Mate for breakfast, the Third Mate relieved the Second Mate for lunch and the Second Mate relieved the Mate for dinner.
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  #5  
Old 31st October 2012, 11:19
Barrie Youde Barrie Youde is online now  
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The 6-8 evening dog-watch was kept aboard the station-keeping Liverpool Pilot Cutters until their days came to an end in 1982.

The purpose was to ensure a rotation of the watches (in a two-watch system) over a 48-hour period.

Watches kept were:-

2000-Midnight.
Midnight-0400
0400-0830
0830-1300
1300-1800
1800-2000.

There seem to be two possible reasons why the 6-8 was called the dog watch:-

1. It dogged an otherwise monotonous system or
2. We were all barking mad, anyway.

Perhaps it should be explained that the main watches were kept by the two Senior Apprentices (1 and 2), whilst the dogwatch was kept by their immediate juniors (3 and 4) on alternate days. Having kept the dog-watch, No 3 (or No 4) would then remain on deck as senior hand-on-deck during the evening 8-12. The dog watch was a good method of introducing the apprentices to the responsibilities of a watchkeeping officer.

Another suggestion for the name is that between 1800 and 2000 generally the entire ship's routine would relax (if only by a tiny amount) everybody would be up and about, with nobody asleep, and it might therefore be suggested that even the ship's dog might be able to keep the watch, with so many people keeping an eye on him.

Last edited by Barrie Youde; 31st October 2012 at 11:45.. Reason: explanation
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  #6  
Old 31st October 2012, 12:54
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The shanties known as fore-bitters were sung in the "dog" watches providing the weather was fine enough to sit around on the fo'c'stle "bits".
This was a fine old forebitter the chorus of which I once sang with Stan Hugill at Outward Bound in 1953. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmPQ7ZrUlxQ This was by Holdstock & Macleod.
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  #7  
Old 31st October 2012, 13:29
Barrie Youde Barrie Youde is online now  
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#6

This concurs entirely with my own final paragraph. The dog-watch was when odds-and-sods of ship's routine were performed.

Apprentice 3 was the bosun.
Apprentices 4 and 5 were designated "puntsmen" with specific responsibility for maintenance of the boarding boats-i.e to ensure that they were full of fuel and that all else was in order. During the dog-watch, one or other would report to the Senior Master, "Both punts are full and running well, sir."
Apprentice 6 would write-up the log-book, transcribing it from the slate (yes, even until 1982!)
Apprentice 7 was oil-round man, responsible for keeping all deck-machinery, winches etc, properly lubricated.
Apprentice 8 was junior-hand-on deck, responsible for clearing away and cleaning all paint-brushes and other gear used during the working day.
Apprentice 9 - the chartroom-hand, kept the Masters' accommodation clean.
Apprentice 10 was the dogsbody who kept the apprentices' accommodation clean.

Happy days.

What happier life for youth than to engage,
To spend a twelve-month, learning pilotage?
Masefield
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  #8  
Old 31st October 2012, 14:47
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All good stuff, given that the use of dog watches ensures an uneven number of watches every 24 hours, thus ensuring that watchkeepers in ships operating in either two or three watch systems do not keep the same watches each day, quite apart from ensuring that middle watchmen can get their heads down in the afternoon.

The most important point to remember is that, whilst the 1600 to 1800 watch is known as the First Dog Watch, the 1800 to 2000 watch is invariably known in the Royal Navy as the Last Dog Watch and never, except by landlubbers, as the Second Dog Watch.

I can't help with the origin, although it is supposed to have originated in the 17th Century, although one ingenious, albeit unsubstantiated, suggestion is that dog watches were so called because they were "cur-tailed"!

So, to answer Hugh Ferguson's original questions:

Why is a Dog Watch so called?

My shot as above

How many of us ever kept a Dog Watch,

I kept lots - and actually rather enjoyed them

and how many would not even know what a Dog Watch was?

Masses, not even if one leapt up and bit them!

Jack
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  #9  
Old 31st October 2012, 15:15
Barrie Youde Barrie Youde is online now  
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#8

This is all vitally important stuff. I wonder if the world is still going round?

By the system under which I served for six years, those who slept in the afternoon kept the First Watch (2000 to midnight) and the Morning Watch (0400 to 0830). The Middle-Watch keepers had been on deck all afternoon and turned in (usually) from about 2030 until being called at One-Bell (2345).

We used to speak of having either "eight hours in" or "eight hours out" ; and the middle watch was thus seen (contrary to much folk-lore) as the softer number. For sure, the best sleep in the entire 48 hour cycle was in the morning watch-below (0400-0830), with the afternoon watch below running second best.
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  #10  
Old 31st October 2012, 15:28
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Not a mention, as yet, of DOUBLE watches of which DOG watches was the method used to break the cycle.

Blue Funnel and Glen had a ruling for double watches to be kept on the bridge during all British Coastal and Continental passages. I sailed with only one master who refused to adhere to that ruling: that was Captain Simmonds of the Glenroy, and he always maintained that if two officers were needed then one of them should be the master!
But I do recall one wartime passage in convoy, across the Western, when we four middies in the Empire Capulet kept double watxches for about eighteen days: fortunately it was summer!
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  #11  
Old 31st October 2012, 16:02
vickentallen vickentallen is offline  
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As a boy seaman RN the dog watches were when you went back to school or instruction.
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  #12  
Old 31st October 2012, 18:25
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Hugh,
On Barber Blue Sea, it was a full officer complement on duty during runs up through the Straits of Hormuz and up to Kuwait during the Iran/Iraq War. The reason was unanchored mines and pot shots with missiles from the coastal islands. We also had to wear lifejackets and safety helmets. We also had double watches during extremely bad weather with the Chief also covering a watch.

I have no idea where the term Dog Watch comes from nor have I ever kept one!

Rgds.
Dave
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  #13  
Old 31st October 2012, 19:04
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Greetings,

Wikithingy has an explanation HERE which includes the origin of the name.
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  #14  
Old 31st October 2012, 19:14
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The last dog was best as you got all night in(your scratcher not with a lady of the night) before the forenoon next day. That said when steady steaming 1 in 4 we would swap the dogs so that the middle watch man would have a longer make n mend.

No I don't have an answer to the original question.
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Old 31st October 2012, 19:15
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when I was on two watch supply boats we worked as follows:

0800 - 1200
1200 - 1700
1700 - 2200
2200 - 0300
0300 - 0800
0800 - 1200

And so on. It was a compromise between four on four off and six on six off and ensured that you weren't stuck on the same watch all the time. I thought it worked pretty well.
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  #16  
Old 31st October 2012, 21:52
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Spent many hours on dog watches when trading UK/Norway. Norwegian coast pilots worked the same dog watches as us. When working cargo by day and steaming by night between the various ports, dog watches only added to the misery. I understand dog watches were being worked in the 1700s.
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  #17  
Old 31st October 2012, 22:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat Thompson View Post
Greetings,

Wikithingy has an explanation HERE which includes the origin of the name.
Thanks Pat,
To continue with the bad puns, that's a "fur" explanation!
Rgds.
Dave
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  #18  
Old 31st October 2012, 23:58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodend View Post
They were not usually found on Merchant ships, I always thought it was a Grey Funnel Navy tradition. I have never heard of where the term 'dog wach' came from. In E.D.'s on all ships I was on, the Second Mate relieved the Third Mate for breakfast, the Third Mate relieved the Second Mate for lunch and the Second Mate relieved the Mate for dinner.
In all the bank line ships I sailed on the third mate had breakfast at 0730 and went on watch at 0800
the second mate had had a seven bell lunch and on the bridge for the noon sights(he also went up for sights at about 0830)
Third mate also releaved the mate for dinner(whilst on the Isipingo with passengers the third mate would go up at 1830 to let the mate go down and change for dinner)So for two years the 8-12 was increased to a 5.5 hour watch.

jim
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  #19  
Old 1st November 2012, 02:01
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Never kept a dog watch but know all about ' two dog nights'
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  #20  
Old 1st November 2012, 02:08
garry Norton garry Norton is offline  
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We had dog watches on 2 mate coasters in N.Z. in 1960's
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  #21  
Old 1st November 2012, 06:46
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dog watches

Trinity House kept Dog Watches in the Engine Room, was 1600 to 1720 , 1720 to 1840, 1840 to 2000. watch keeping would be 0800 to 1200, 1840 to2000, 2400 to 0400, then 1200 to 1600, then 1840 to2000, then 0400 to 0800, then 1600 to 1720, then 2000 to 2400, then 0800 to 1200, then a continuous cycle, drove you crazy, all ended when unmanned ER was introduced, 1800 onwards unmanned
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  #22  
Old 1st November 2012, 09:37
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I have probably sailed in more two watch ships than three, with 4hrs, 5hrs and 6hr. watches but have only once sailed in a ship that we worked dog watches as routine, the Lucian, one of Ellerman Papyanni Line, the Market Boats, the system seemed to work well, this was sailing from London, I am not sure if the other ships sailing out of Liverpool used the same watch system. Bruce.
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  #23  
Old 1st November 2012, 10:55
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Wikithingy has an explanation HERE which includes the origin of the name.
Thanks Pat


To continue with the bad puns, that's a "fur" explanation!
Rgds.
Dave


To continue to continue with the bad puns: "You can't be "Sirius"!

Jack
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  #24  
Old 1st November 2012, 13:53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh Ferguson View Post
The shanties known as fore-bitters were sung in the "dog" watches providing the weather was fine enough to sit around on the fo'c'stle "bits".
This was a fine old forebitter the chorus of which I once sang with Stan Hugill at Outward Bound in 1953. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmPQ7ZrUlxQ This was by Holdstock & Macleod.
Stan's last verse for this shanty, which I prefer, was:-

To you young ladies in this room, I've only got one word to say,
If ever you meet a sailor hard-up,
Just give him a leg up on his way.
For if you do, you'll never rue,
He'll have some money another day,
And he'll pa'ya back when he hoists his jack,
For a pilot d'ahn to Tiger Bay.

Ch. Wack fer aloora...............
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  #25  
Old 1st November 2012, 15:32
trotterdotpom trotterdotpom is offline  
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Liberian ships used to keep a lot of dog watches, allegedly.

John T
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