Life on Board Pathfinder or Playfair
Day-to-day operation of TS Playfair and STV Pathfinder is governed by the three-colour watch system (red, white, and blue) typically used on naval vessels. Each watch is 4 hours long proceeding in sequence 24 hours a day. To rotate the watches, there are two shorter 2 hour ‘dog’ watches in the afternoon.
Six Trainees are assigned to each watch and report to a Petty Officer that in return reports to a Watch Officer at the head of the watch. All three of the Watch Officers report to the Executive Officer (XO) or First Mate, and the XO reports to the Captain. Pathfinder and Playfair also carry a full-time Cook and a Bosun for managing maintenance and repairs while at sea. This Crew together with the other Officers make up the Wardroom and are generally assigned to one of Pathfinder or Playfair for the entire summer. The Petty Officers are not members of the Wardroom, typically sail on both brigantines, and may sail on only some of the courses offered in the Summer Program. With the exception of the Captain, all Trainees and Officers aboard the brigantine for the sail training course are youth. For more details of the roles of the different positions on board see the pages under The Crew.
As a Trainee you will sleep in the Seaman’s Mess. Since one third of the Crew will be awake and on deck while on watch, the bunks are shared with other Trainees. While on watch your duties will include working and changing sail, manning the helm, acting as lookout, and handling lines as the ship comes alongside or puts to sea.
Life on board is not all duties, however. Every day is a surprise according to the weather and wind, and other activities may include swimming, learning to sweep a dory, and other games only possible on a tall ship.
When off-watch some duties include assisting the cook in meal preparation and clean-up, performing maintenance duties under the guidance of the Bosun, and managing sails aloft where required. There will also be times where your Petty Officer or Officer may provide you with direct training in sailing and seamanship.
When the brigantine is at anchor or alongside, night-time watch service is usually shortened to 1 hour 20 minutes per Trainee with trainees staying awake in pairs. While in port, Trainees that are not on watch may be given shore leave where they are free to explore the port of call.