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2017-01-20

Time for some changes

Because it was time for a change, this is my treat to myself for having sold the old sailboat. It's from around 1978 to judge by the serial number, and it's the first thing I've ever purchased on eBay. I'm rating it now prior to putting it in the pilothouse. It's in pretty impressive condition to judge by the outside appearance.
Eight-day windup. I don't expect it to be exact, but I have little faith in the reliability of cheap battery clocks.
The case for a "ship's clock" wound with a key is, in some senses, not a strong one, save for the observation that I've had rather poor experience with the modern replica types which run off an AA- or C-size battery.
Yeah, this is garbage. Sorry, "giftware".
The problem is the cheap, generic, plasticky and inevitably Asian clockwork, which fails to keep time, and fails variably depending on the season. Nnot to mention the pot-metal contacts that corrode even in the air above a freshwater lake. The fact that these are sold with the other anchor-themed tat that fails under "nautical giftware" is really no excuse as even the cheapest models go for well over $100 and the battery operated versions from the higher-end firms, such as Weems and Plath and Chelsea, can go for multiples of that. I don't buy a clock for the boat because brass is shiny.
The keener-eyed will note that apart from the greater number of numerals, this is the same model as I've just bought.
Now, the one above was the sort I really wanted, and was in the even more desirable version of a smallish 24-hour ship's clock that rang the bell, but the seller could not guarantee that it worked, as he had no key for it. Such timepieces are called, variably, a 24 hour clock, a deck clock or 'Zulu' clock, the Zulu having nothing to do with Michael Caine films from the '60s and everything to do with the "Z" in a phonetic alphabet that is shorthand for Greenwich Mean Time or GMT or also UTC. When it comes to time, it's a funny old world, innit?
 
Unfortunately, the 24-hour one on the right took a short tumble and died. Another battery-driven casualty of life aboard.

Why did I want such a near-antique as a mechanical, hard-to-read wall (or bulkhead) clock? Well, one of the upcoming boat projects will be the installation of our ICOM M-802 SSB transceiver and its associated bits. I noticed way back on my Atlantic delivery in 2009 that skipper Bruce Clark kept a nice small mechanical 24-hour clock screwed above his nav table from which he would conduct his comms, download GRIB weather files and have his daily exchange with the alas-retired weather routing expert Herb Hilgenberg
Herb was routing us through this: the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Was a bit bouncy.

There's two concepts at work on a ship (and of which I have written before): local or ship's time, and the time back in Greenwich. Ship's time is useful for planning lunch, but the time in Greenwich, thanks to centuries of maritime convention, is essential to working out one's position at sea with a sextant. Which I own and know how to use and which doesn't require electricity or a network of satellites. Handy, that, particularly as we live in what are arguably interesting times. Seamanlike prudence starts with a Plan B, and besides, for logical reasons, most radio communications are scheduled in Zulu time and so are many official logbook entries. Keeping one clock aboard coordinated with an arbitrary point on the planet is therefore neither pedantic nor unhinged. And the skipper likes 'em.And has an excellent wrist chronometer as backup.