Ask Capt_Anonymous


My how times change, The price used to be a quarter twice. How does it make you feel? Slightly unreal!


It makes me feel cheap, and unloved.


Dear Captain A.

Much has been written lately in “the forums” on the topic of tuning radars. All quite interesting even to an engineer. However, I wonder if you can shed light on tuning up another piece of bridge gear. The BNWAS.

It appears the unintentional if nonetheless violent, snap of the head and neck forward until it collides with the chest is of such velocity and displacement so as to register as movement of the watchstander.

My intuition tells me there must be some adjustment, perhaps this gain everyone seems so fond of, which would allow the system to recognize - or in this case not recognize - these spasms as what they are, the third mate entering stage 1 light sleep.

Please help us as we are often in navy infested waters and the prospect of the mate on watch entering REM level sleep is disconcerting.

PS I tried looking online for technical information but the results for Ben Wa keep coming up or clinking around as the case may be.

Sleepless at sea


Huh. Keep searching, because you’re using the proper search term. Google doesn’t like “BNWAS” and Bing crashes when you enter it.

So, BNWAS. Like many wheelhouse annoyances, it good in theory and a horrible pain in the ass in practice. Let me tell you a story:

I have a pal who is a captain at Cralley. He was recounting a frustrating two weeks with a 2nd Mate who got dispatched because said captain had just run off another 2/M for being incompetent. So the new guy comes aboard, does his orientation etc and says he feels comfortable taking his watch an assuming the duties of a 2/M. On the 12-4 watch, every now and then the captain would pop upstairs to check on the 2/M. Two days into the trip, the captain goes up to the wheelhouse and it’s empty. No 2/M anywhere in sight. Checking the neighborhood the captain realized that it was safe for him to leave the wheelhouse also, to go look for the 2/M. Quickly he found the guy, back at the winch controls, shirt off, staring off to sea and smoking a cigarette. The 2/M was told to return to the pilothouse and to not leave it while on watch without summoning the C/M or the captain to cover for him.

The next day, the captain wakes up from his morning nap to the sound of the BNWAS blaring away on the bridge. He ran up there, and gosh golly, the place is empty. No 2/M. Captain heads back to the winch controls and there is the 2/M, smoking a cigarette. On their return to the wheelhouse, the captain mentions that the BNWAS was going off. 2/M: “You guys use that thing?”

Two days later, (its a long trip) the BNWAS alarm goes off in the Chief Mate’s stateroom, and at the pre-set interval, starts blasting in the captain’s stateroom. Silly 2/M.

So, given the parameters of that particular BNWAS’s settings, the captain figured that the 2/M had been out of the pilothouse for at least 10 minutes, with targets on the RADAR.

The BNWAS on that vessel was set to alarm in the pilothouse after 12 minutes (!) of no detected movement. The C/M’s alarm kicked in 90 seconds later, and the captain’s alarm 90 seconds after that. So the 2/M had been outside for at least 13 1/2 minutes. Cralley changed the settings after that to 6 minutes, which makes a hell of a lot more sense.

The 2/M left the boat upon arrival at the next port.

Two weeks later, the same 2/M, while on watch on another voyage, executed, somehow, a 270 degree turn to the right at full speed, and T-boned the barge they were towing. Not that the BNWAS could have helped. The investigation revealed that the captain had disabled it.

Moral of the story: The BNWAS, while a pain in the ass, is an essential piece of equipment in today’s maritime labor environment, where mates are more focused on their earbuds than on the task at hand. All it takes to silence it is a wave of the hand and the motion sensor picks it up.

I just searched Ben Wa and my internal BNWAS started blaring in my head. I’m gonna go have some alone time now.

Love and kisses,


If you are having a problem with the BNWAS then how about discussing it with the Master and just asking him what hist requirement are?
Or just make sure that the alarm does not go off by being a standard watchkeeping officer.and look out the windows and at all times remove your head from your arse (sic).
BNWAS is a response (and you have to look at species like BIMCO etc., some really serious high level players) who are sick and tired of their assets being involved in bank busting shit because their little toys are being driven by wankers.
Follow the rules.
If you are not sure then wake the fucker up
At the end of the day it could be worse; you could have your finger on a drone trigger. 15 2 that you bugger


Hornblower are you feeling OK? You might want to try a heavy dose of Monty Python and check back in the morning.