Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bells - part two

I am shortly about to take a little trip which will entail sailing a catamaran about 500 miles.  There will be four of us to do the work, along with a little beer I hope!  We will work the old naval way of watches and probably these will be about six hours in length.  However the prospect reminded me of when my father and grandfather would get into their stride talking.

They were both naval men, my grandfather a Lt. Commander in the Royal Navy, and my father having served with the P & O for some years.  They had an annoying habit of referring to the time by the naval method of bells, which as a child I could never get the hang of at all.

The other day I worked out the system which had been lying in my subconscious for some time I suppose.  The normal four-hour watch begins at 12 which is eight bells.  Half past 12 is one bell.  One o'clock is two bells, 2:30 three bells, 2 o'clock is four bells, 2:30 is five bells, three is six bells, 3:30 is seven bells, four is eight bells and then the system starts all over again.  I suppose the old expression of knocking seven bells out of someone refers to the last half hour of a watch by which time you would be pretty tired.  According to my watch we're just coming up on one bell!

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