Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Nautical trivia and ephemera

In trying to be more constructive with my filler posts, I'm starting a new focus on occasionally listing nautical jargon, terminology and trivia. Mostly because I have the morning to myself and can both type and eat leftover Chinese food from the comfort of my kitchen counter.

1) Advance and Transfer.  

       This refers to a ship's turning circle, how she maneuvers at speed. Picture a ship traveling due north at speed, and preparing to make a 90 degree turn. Once the rudder is put over, advance is the distance travelled north from the moment the rudder is turned until the ship is on her new course.  Transfer is the distance to the side that the ship needs to make a full 90 degree turn.

 This is actually REALLY FUCKING IMPORTANT to know when you're maneuvering in channels. It's so important that it's required under international law to print out a diagram of the ship's advance and transfer characteristics and have it available for use on a ship's bridge.

2) Origin of the term "The Devil to Pay."
        The Devil is the seam on the ship between where the main deck lies and the hull of the ship. (Some will argue it refers to the garboard strake, but I say that's bullshit, as the Devil was worked on while underway, and the Bristish, masters of sailing ships, called the longest seam in the ship's planking the Devil during Nelson's time). 'Paying' refers to caulking the seams with oakum and pitch between planks.  The full expression is "The devil to pay and no pitch hot." It was shitty, messy work to begin with, but without hot pitch, it got worse.

3). Splice the Mainbrace!  To have an alcoholic drink. Traditionally offered as a thank you or reward for all hands after onerous, dangerous or miserable work.

4). Origin of the term "Mayday."   Mayday started out from the French  -M'aider means, literally, 'help me.'   It became popular because it's not a real word, and therefore can't be confused by being used in a non-emergency situation. "Help me" can refer to being out of beer and asking anyone in shouting distance to hook a brother up, after all. Saying the word "Mayday" 3 times, like calling Beetlejuice, is to ensure that it's very clear, and there's no mistake, you need rescue.

5) If you are swinging around on one anchor, you are Anchored. If you have put out 2 anchors to steady your position, you are Moored. 
          And yet, if you pick up a pre-positioned anchor affixed to a buoy, you are On a mooring. 


Ebb Tide said...

Coul you explain the term WAFI?

Paul, Dammit! said...

Hahahahaha! Wind Assisted Fucking Idiot- a sailboater. That's worthy of a mention next time I do this.

Jill said...

cool into!

I've been working at sea for over 30 years and never knew that about the devil to pay. I had always been taught the uppermost was the sheer strake, the garboard strake next to the keel.

I got serious about working at sea when I went as a cadet on a couple of big square riggers. I never heard those terms, but they weren't British ships or sailors. One was German (Ariadne) and the other was Irish (Phoenix). I love learning about the old days at sea and different traditions.

doubletrouble said...

After Splicing the Mainbrace you get Three Sheets to the Wind!