Standing the 12x4 watch

I was sailing 2nd mate on a container ship standing the 00-04 / 12-16 watch. I was getting up at the usual 1120 hrs call, having lunch then going on watch.

The Chief mate told me that if I wanted to sail c/m I should instead get up early because during the day is when most of the work/planning/discussions takes place.

I changed my routine; got up at 0900 hrs., worked until lunch and then went on watch.

I got most of my sleep after 1600 hrs., I’d have a light supper and then get some sleep. This way the social / recreation time is missed but working when the C/M, C/E and Captain are working.

I felt like shit during the day but the 12-16 is during daylight and more going on. However I did feel more rested on the night watch, felt better, 00-04 went by faster


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My watch for years on a US flag chemical tanker in the days before work hours. Second mate was expected at breakfast, and on deck in the morning. On one or two days on our 20 day run we went holiday routine and just stood watch. Otherwise - 16-18 hour days were the norm for all the mates. and we wore it like a badge of honor. Had a couple of great Captains that would come up occasionally and take the afternoon watch. Mostly if you were needed on deck, but often to send you to bed to get some rest.

Chemical tankers demand a lot from the mates. Dutchie will be with me on this, sailing in tankers with Decca and DF being the only electronic navaids we had, the former only used in the Persian Gulf and Europe. As second mate at sea the Chronometer was wound at 09:00 each day with a radio time check and you took your first sight. In port it was 6 on 6 off plus mooring operations. 18 to 20 hours on was nothing unusual.