Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I said "Larboard Matey"

Last month my senior daughter as in "not a senior in high school any more" gave me a few books off her boat's book shelf. The books were placed on my boat's book shelf for later reading. She has more book shelf's on her vessel than I do. She has more of everything on it except sails and I win that battle. The contents of any of her grog lockers would cause my tender to list. The first item to read was Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander which the cover say "the best sea-story I have ever read ." Sir Francis Chichester. My marina has a very nice library of books for lending and reading. O'Brian's saga of Captain Aubery R.N. and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon is a multiple book series containing fifteen novels so over five thousand pages can be used to fill in passage when the wind is still and the fog is heavy. The marina was missing Post Captain the second in the series so I picked up and started another series of naval battles by Douglas Reeman that was on the shelf. To find the remaining books about happy Jack I turned to E-Bay and won the bid on ten books of the series so I am now only missing four. Reeman book are quick to read and does not require a constant search for a reference. Oh, for those book by Willy that have a zillion footnotes. When I find an obscure word or expression to turn to my father's trusty OED that is half a zillion years old with thin pages and a torn cover. Oxford can cover most words and some expression but Google is available too. When searching Google you will often have the desired match plus many others which are often punk band names. Last night the "blue Peter" was ran up and now I also know of the longest running children British TV show.

It is difficult to interchange naval expressions or British navy slang in conversing unless you are talking to a pirate or speaking to someone three sheets to the wind after wetting a swab.

Of course you can use a strange word or expression and impress with your brilliant knowledge another person after you have to explain your cleverness. Most ropes on a boat have a specific name and I often explain their names to the mutant teenagers pressed aboard in lieu of gaol. All my sheets and lines are the same color (old) and I can't yell "grab the green or red one" when in a hurry but maybe after I have taken a few prizes like Captain Jack I will be able to had some color to the decks.

On my book shelf there is a sailing dictionary and in many cases the definition is shown as US or British. My theory is the different usage comes from the naval fighting in the fog, it would be easy to hear a Frog or a Spaniard across the water and figure friend or foe but after the tea party the colonist and the King's men spoke the same tongue.

For the unlikely hood that you have nothing to do figure out what these mean:

a farthing dip

bowl of neeps

run seaman

lascar crew


mumping villian

sponging house



Greta Green




brass rags

and figgy-dowdy

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