Standing watches while underway was one of the best parts of being on the Niagara. It made doing the final one a little bitter sweet. For our final watch, my division drew the 5-8 a.m. watch. We were actually really happy about it.
It might seem like a bad thing to draw this watch, but its actually one of the best ones to get. You get to sleep for the whole night, then do your watch, eat breakfast first and go back to sleep until noon when you go back on watch.
Our watch was pretty uneventful. We made some adjustments to the sails when we came on and that was about it. I did a “Brig” check, which is an hourly check of the entire ship. We check bilge water levels, safety equipment, navigation lights and record the ships position and the weather conditions in the log book.
As the sky began to lighten with the coming dawn, I found myself on lookout. As I watched the sun come up, I was happy that I would be ending my final watch doing my favorite watch. It was therefore with some disappointment that I rotated off and was told to report to the officer of the watch.
As I walked aft toward the Con, an elevated platform at the stern where the officers stand, I saw the other trainee in the watch being rotated off helm. We were both being sent to the third mate.
When we reported to the third mate, he explained that it was our last watch underway and he wanted to give us a chance to come up onto the con. I had been dying to get up there since day one. From the Con you have an entirely unimpeded view of the deck and what lies in front of the ship.
As we stood on the con, watching as the sun slowly inched higher into the sky, I realized what I was seeing was the same view an officer on the Niagara would have had in 1813. The ship was the same, and from so far away the land looked the same. I felt as if I had really stepped back in time. Cliche, but true.
I am thankful to the third mate for giving us that chance. It is unique experience I am not likely to forget. And this ended ended my final sea watch aboard the U.S. Brig Niagara.