The Watches, Ranked

March 8, 2020

Oscar Zahner, C Watch, University of Washington


Corwith Cramer



Ever since the apocalypse proved to be a little bit of an inconvenience and we had to divert our course away from the shores of Dominica and past the really fun-looking white sand beaches of Saint Martin, we've all fallen into the maritime rhythm of things. For the uninitiated, that means our days are scheduled into periods of 6 hours of watch and 12 hours of rest. Since I spent my 12 hours sleeping and my watch time scrubbing the deck and hanging out at the helm, I've got a pretty uneventful day to blog about. So I've decided to do what any respectable reporter does on a slow news day: I'm going to write a listacle. My hope is that this will give you all at home a taste of what the maritime rhythm of things is really like. Anyway, here's the top 4 watches on the Corwith Cramer. You won't believe number 3.

1. Afternoon watch. Lovingly known as "lazy watch," afternoon watch is kind of a lull in the schedule. You get to wake up late, eat a nice lunch for breakfast, and in the middle of watch, you have class, which is like a siesta because you get to sit down. Also, everyone has to do class even if they're not on watch, so you don't have any kind of responsibility added to your between-watch time. Plus, the sun's out, so you can bring your guns out and get a sick tan - provided you never ever take your shirt off and reveal to everyone that you have the most heinous tan lines imaginable and it looks like you're wearing basketball sleeves. Afternoon watch's biggest downside is its opportunity cost. Afternoon is a very fun time to not be on watch because you can relax up on deck and read and watch the sunset, which is stuff you can't do if you're not allowed to sit down and you're hauling lines or hanging out in the lab poking copepod #83 with the probe. Also, there's no neuston deployment, so if you're on science and the morning watch folks pull up a netful of Sargassum, the next six hours is going to require a lot of patience.

2. Evening watch. I'm a big night owl, as my people back home might be aware, and y'all might be a little surprised to not see this in the number one spot. Evening watch definitely has a lot going for it, like the stars, and the fact that it's at night when it's nice and cool, and even just the fact that you get to hang out kind of late. But it gets knocked down a peg because your evening watch is always the same day as your dawn watch, and 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep is a whole lot different than 3 hours of sleep followed by 6 hours of hanging out in the lab writing haikus and, I guess, doing science, and then 4 more hours of sleep and then lunch. So then midnight feels a lot more like 4 in the morning for someone on a regular sleep schedule, and you kinda gotta soldier through those last couple hours. But it's still a good time. Plus, your next watch is afternoon watch, so you get to hit the hay hard, and falling asleep aggressively is truly one of the simple joys in life.

3. Morning watch. Apparently, some people are fans of getting out of bed at 6:00 am. I'm not really one of those people, but I've exploited a very clever loophole I call "sleeping through breakfast" in order to squeeze up to 15 more minutes of rest out of the time you have before you have to be on deck. The wakeup is really the only part about morning watch I don't like, but I dislike it strongly enough to put morning watch in second to last place. There's a little bit of a silver lining though, and that is the dejected look on the afternoon watch science team's face when you pull 10 pounds of Sargassum out of the ocean to get them back for being able to sleep until noon. Heh. Take that.

4. Dawn watch. I won't lie to you, dawn watch has its fair share of silver linings. For one, it's probably the only time of the day in which you get some peace and quiet. The stars are very nice, and you can see a lot of Southern constellations when Orion sets, like Scorpio. Also, our watch officers for this most recent rotation have a very nice tradition where we all take a tea break at 4:00 am, which is very relaxing. And since the boat is quiet, the time you spend at the bow on lookout really feels like time for yourself and your own thoughts. Course, that all loses a little bit of significance when those thoughts are all just variations of God, I wish I was asleep, but that's just how it is sometimes. There are some people who are of the opinion that all of these positives make dawn watch not the worst watch. Unfortunately, that opinion is wrong. The human body is not meant to be awake at that time, at least, not without copious amounts of redbull and no class in the morning. But even the toughest watch is fun in its own way. It's a type two fun kind of thing. Like going for a strenuous hike or participating in a voluntary team-building exercise for your collegiate social circle.

Anyway, I hope you all got a feel for the parts of the day our schedules revolve around. That's the long and short of my list-based article. Hit my email if you hear that Buzzfeed is hiring.

- Oscar Zahner, University of Washington

PS: Miss all of you at home! Cover your mouth when you sneeze and keep away from Starbucks haha. Can't wait to see you guys soon! Also, shout out to Karin, Dillon's girlfriend, for the kind words.

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