Good question which made for very interesting reading! Here is what I came up with,
Long before twelve o'clock, all these, and various other minor
preparations, have been so completely made, that there is generally a
remarkable stillness over the whole ship just before the important
moment of noon arrives. The boatswain stands near the break of the
forecastle, with his bright silver call, or whistle, in his hand, which ever
and anon he places just at the tip of his lips, to blow out any crumbs
which threaten to interfere with its melody, or to give a faint " too weet!
too weet!" as a preparatory note, to fix the attention of the boatswain's
mates, who being, like their chief, provided with calls, station themselves
at intervals along the main-deck, ready to give due accompaniment to
their leader's tune.
The boatswain keeps his eye on the group of observers, and well
knows when the " sun is up," by the stir which takes place among the
astronomers, or by noticing the master working out his latitude with a
pencil, on the ebony bar of his quadrant, or on the edge of the
hammockrailing; though if he be one of your modern neat-handed
he carries his little book for this purpose. In one way or other the
latitude is computed, as soon as the master is satisfied that the sun has
reached his highest altitude in the heavens. He then walks aft to the
officer of the watch, and reports twelve o'clock, communicating, also,
the degrees and minutes of the latitude observed. The lieutenant
proceeds to the captain, wherever he may be, and repeats that it is
and that so and so is the latitude. The same formal round of reports is
gone through, even if the captain be on deck, and has heard every word
spoken by the master, or even if he has himself assisted in making the
The captain now says to the officer of the watch, "Make it twelve."
The officer calls out to the mate of the watch, " Make it twelve."
The mate-ready primed-sings out to the quarter-master, " Strike
And lastly, the hard-a-weather old quarter-master, stepping down the
ladder, grunts out to the sentry at the cabin door, " Turn the glass, and
strike the bell!"
Being in Aviation my whole career, it was fun to get my feet "wet" !
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