Saturday, August 8, 2009


Here we go again!

BUCKLER A plate covering the hawse pipe to prevent water washing aboard in head seas.

BUM BOAT A small trading boat that was very common from Suez onwards through the Middle and Far East. Great relationships were sometimes established. I have traded with some as a Deck Apprentice on through to Master.

BUNTING Loosely woven material used at sea to make flags.

BURGEE A house flag used to indicate the vessel's ownership. It may be squared or triangular in shape. The term is now used for private flags of boating clubs. Also greatly bandied about in misuse.

BURGOO An oatmeal porridge, easily made in heavy weather to feed the crew. From Arabic burgbul served in North Africa.

BUY-BALLOTS LAW A rule-of-thumb for figuring the location or at least direction of a storm centre.

CABOTAGE Coastal trading in which Customs and Excise did not board regularly. However one was required to keep a "Cabotage Book" recording cargo's and ports. This was taken to the Customs house for examining and stampage several times a year. Customs could also call it in for examination, generally not considered a good sign! From French/Spanish caboter meaning coastal sailing.

CALASHEE WATCH Sleeping on deck when the off watch was 'On Stand-by'. Never heard this one in my entire 60 year sea career but it was just too good not to put in.

CARDINAL POINTS The four principal points of the magnetic compass namely North, South, East, West.

CARLINGS Timbers laid fore-and-aft between the deck beams to ease compression stresses when the vessel is pitching. Most likely Old Norse as it is heard in Icelandic.

CATHARPINS Lines rigged around the shrouds near the masthead to reduce slack.

CHANDLER Shoreside purveyor to all needs of a ship in port. A chandler was a maker and seller of candles, in French chandelier. Chandlers did not have a good reputation amongst seafarers, once quite justified this is no longer so. In fact in modern times they can be very helpful to seafarers and great sources of port information..

CHARLEY NOBLE Never used this one either, it is the nickname for the galley stovepipe. Source unknown.

CHIP LOG A triangular device used for measuring speed and distance travelled. A sand glass timer was used as the line ran out astern. I have two in the bookcase behind me as I write.

CLEADING Please NOT 'cladding' as one sees used. The casing for a lifeboats buoyancy tanks. Scots English from Old Norse.

COCKBOAT Small handy boat, the word is still used in parts of Britain. Old French, Latin and Greek koykn meaning a small boat.

COOPER A barrel maker who was usually the ship's carpenter. In whalers it was a seperate crew position and a very busy one. My Dad had several dozen employed, but then he ran a brewery!! Origin Dutch/German kuper and Latin cuparius.

COXSWAIN The person commanding a Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Lifeboat. A petty officer in charge of a boat, also a Royal Navy rank. From Middle English coq a small ship's boat and swain attendant.

CRANSE IRON A fitting on the bowspirt for the jib-boom also used for a hinge type fittingfor a yard on the mast.

Enough already!! Lets take a break for now.

Good Watch

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