A Nautical Glossary for "The Little Mermaid (SH22-Style)"

by Casey (Jedi at aemail4u.com)
1/26/04

Ookay. Making this was very hard because I had to think what other people might not know. I left some out because I'm not certain whether I'll use them later and I know I did a lot, but read through them anyways. My personal commentary should be more than enough to keep you laughing.

The Little Mermaid-SH22 Notes
Definitions and explanations:

1) Trim the sails - This is a phrase that many people often hear when watching a movie involving sailing. Some have an idea of what it means and others have no clue. "Trim the sails" does not mean that you are cutting the sails. First, the wind has either died down or the ship has turned to another angle and therefore, the wind hitting the sails is weaker than it should be. This causes the sails to flap causing a great inefficiency and wear and tear on the equipment. So, the lines on the sails are tightened so that the ship is once again being pushed forward by as efficiently as possible. Crew members will withdraw lines, or loosen them depending upon the circumstances, until the optimum effect from that sail is reached. Hmmm, let’s see. If the wind is in the sails but the angle wrong, the force is concentrated at the bottom and it wears on the sails. If it is too loose the sails flap then the force is concentrated at the top. Both circumstances introduce un-needed stress on the equipment and so you ‘trim the sails.’ Get it? That is a simplified version of what ‘trim the sails’ really means.

2) Lines - Ok now. This is really important. SO LISTEN UP! I SHALL ONLY SAY THIS ONCE! It is called a rope when it is on land. Did you all hear that? LAND. As soon as the rope is on the boat/ship, it becomes a line. I hear people get that wrong ALL THE TIME. Please, if it is on a boat or ship, refer to it as a line. That is the raw definition of it. It does not get any simpler than that. Remember, line. Sorry if I sound a bit overdone here but it really irks me when someone says rope and not line and I repeatedly have to tell them it is called a line when on the water and they still have that wall in their mind and say rope. Nothing is more irksome than that. And come to think of it, other sailors I meet also get annoyed by this. It must be a universal thing.

3) Boat and Ship - There is a reason I’m defining them together. A ship is a huge seaworthy vessel capable of holding other vessels. Now, a boat is defined as a vessel that is able to sit on a ship. The only way that a vessel is termed ship is if it is able to carry boats. If a boat can be placed on it (tied down correctly as well) and it does not sink, it is a ship. You cannot place a boat on another boat. And you can definitely not place a ship on top of a boat. E.g. rowboats and lifeboats are placed on cruise ships.... So, the definitions work together to define each other. I only hope I have not confused you more.

4) Parry - ward off a striking blow, like from a sword. This is a defensive action. Lots of fun fencing is.

5) Boom - Ok, ok. Who knows this one? If you said something extremely similar to this you are correct. The sound the cannons make as you fire them. *snickers* All right, um, the cannons do make that sound, but that is not what I’m talking about. This is what it really means. The boom is a long spar used to extend the foot of a sail. The boom also is able to swing from side to side allowing the vessel to tack more efficiently. There aren’t many huge ships with more than one. The main one, if you are ever sailing, needs to be watched carefully. Many people have been knocked both overboard and unconscious because they just didn’t see it coming. Laugh now, but it’s not funny when it’s someone you know....or yourself for that matter. Ouch.

6) Tack - Wow. I love this term. I use it every time I go sailing. Has any one of you ever wondered why sailing ships tend to crisscross channels? Wonder no more. Casey shall answer your questions. Tacking is when a ship is sailing against the wind, or better yet, when the ship is changing directions to the wind. You are sailing into the wind. When doing this, the closest to wind you are able to sail is 45 degrees in the opposite direction the wind blows. Therefore, since most often a ship is unable to get to a single point by going 45 degrees against the wind, most will often tack or alternate their angles of 45 degrees, sailing back and forth across channels to do this. This is a close-haul tactic. Close-hauling is sailing as close to the wind as you can. This is done by the wind hitting the sails and causing suction to occur in the top part of the sails. It is aided by the keel of the ship that resists being pushed horizontally. The ship is going 45 degrees so half of the force on the sails is being negated by the keel of the ship while the suction from the sails and the force from the keel push the ship forward allowing sailing vessels to sail against the wind. Also, if you are sailing with the wind, you can not go in the exact direction the wind blows without a spinnaker or a square sail. Back in the days when they had only square sails, they could sail fast but only in the direction the wind was blowing. This was why the Vikings and many other people used slaves to row back against the wind. So, yes, ships tack when going with the wind as well though most don’t have to crisscross channels so much because they receive a stronger push when sailing with the wind. Isn’t that awesome? I think it is so neat. I hope you understand that. If you don’t, tell me and I’ll rewrite another, more understandable definition.

7) Jig sail - A large sailing vessel without one of these is in poor condition. Well, you could get by without it but the jig sail makes everything go more efficiently. The jig sails are located on the bow of the ships. These are triangular sails (without triangle sails a ship is unable to sail against the wind).

8) Mast - The upright spar (I will define that too somewhere) upon which the sails and lines are tied to support it and the sails. Most people refer to the center mast, the largest one that sits towards the center of the ship as the mast. However, it can be used for any upright spar that the above definition implies.

9) Mainsail - Hmmmmm, the ‘main’ sail? Yeah, yeah. All right, this is the largest sail that the ship gets most of its push from. So, this consists of the largest sail on the largest mast. Most often the center mast as well.

10) Crow’s nest - Right. This is.... You guessed it! Located at the top of the main mast, the crow’s nest was a look out point in olden days for land, other ships, shoals and any other signal or sign that you could possible look for. The lookout would shout down, "Land ho!" or perhaps, "Shoals 25 degrees off the starboard bow" from above and tell the rest of the crew about the ship's general position. Most often, flags were flown from the top of the spar of the crow’s nest.

11) Rigging - How many of you have heard this and have no clue what it means? Be honest now. *looks at all of you with my knowing expression* These are the lines used aboard the ship mainly to correct the sails, and to support the masts and spars. Let’s face it; those spars can only take so much. I remember once in a sailing race, it was a fierce storm and after capsizing on the shoals and hitting bottom about 20 times, we just gave up and sat on top of the ship waiting for the storm to subside rightening the ship naturally on its own. Upon heading in the next day, we lost by the way, badly; the horizon was dotted with ships with broken masts and spars. Many were being towed in. The spars and masts cannot take but so much before they break and the rigging is very important in securing the spars and masts to the deck and the rest of the ship to ensure that the spars themselves don’t take all of the force.

a) Standing Rigging - All lines and shrouds used to support the masts and spars.

b) Running Rigging - All lines used to adjust the sails on a ship.

12) Hatches - an opening in the ship’s deck covered by waterproof canvas (you don’t want your cargo and the inside of the ship to rot and decay, now, do you?). Think now. This would be the familiar hole in the deck with the wooden netting (looks just like a window with a lot of crisscrossing strands of wood). The canvas doesn’t always cover it unless it is unusually misty or stormy.

13) Bally that talk, Stow that gab - Ha, ha. Even back then they had their own version of ‘shut up.’

14) Mate - You’d all better know this. Any Australian fans? Well, it means comrade, oh buddy, oh pal. The guy you work with. I’m sure if you didn’t have it already, you do by now. Matey is sometimes the slang version of mate.

15) Furl/Unfurl the sails - Well, to begin with, to furl the sails is to roll them up on the spar and then tie them well. By doing this, sail canvas is protected from the elements, and keeps the sail canvas from being damaged by strong gusting winds in a storm. To unfurl them is to raise the sails again so that the wind can catch them and move the ship forward.

16) Grog - OH YEAH! I want some of this! (Maureen, please understand that I am not promoting this....it is only being defined with my opinion of it. Tastes awful, guys... It’s not something you pick up for fun... I'm actually being serious on that point too.) This is a strong beer (it is until you dilute it with water....) that you can still get today but most sailors, pirates and seamen alike, drank this during long voyages. Instead of drinking the water first before it grew algae, they drank the grog first so as to not waste it. (They’ve got the right idea there.) This was the seamen’s ale for any who sailed the seas alike. Anyways, anyone played Monkey Island before? Even though most grog isn’t green.......(if it is please make certain that it is not spoilage) I love Monkey Island (TM)’s grog so much that I definitely gave the grog within my story its the aesthetic characteristics of it.

17) Abandon ship - Well, what are you waiting for? Abandon ship! Leave, jump in your lifeboats and paddle away, get off the ship. Any of the above would consist of prime choices.

18) Mutiny - "Well, I ain’t gonna listen ter you no more." That’s a double negative........ Ah well. A crew or members of the crew band against the captain, whether for right or wrong, and attempt a takeover. Punishment for mutiny often consisted of hanging the men on the horizontal spars, walking the plank, and land councils to decide other punishments. A captain has full authority to execute a mutinous crewmember. Many often either try to rile the crew to revolt or murder the captain instead. Either approach is immoral and not necessary. Captains are such as they have the experience to comprehend the risks and advantages for any situation and they are able to keep the crew in check. Without a captain, the crew is disorganized and unless a quick substitute is found that everyone would look to for guidance, the ship falls apart from the seams. Distrust is a dark enemy indeed.

19) Melee - A fight, brawl, or other incredibly fun fist throwing, sword slashing, or wit kipping experience. In other words, gotta be close up and personal. No cannons are allowed in this fray!

20) Loot, Booty - Aye, that’s treasure, me mates. Gold, jewels, and any other spoils I take. (This sometimes included women.....). Anyway, what more could a pirate want than a cove full of loot?

21) Keelhaul - *nods* I do hope no one reading this ever has to experience this. *heavy sigh* This is a practice of tying someone, most often other crewmembers, to a line and hauling (dragging) them beneath the keel of the ship as a form of punishment and or torture.

22) Rum - Mmmmm, what else would any seaman survive long weeks out at sea on? Webster defines rum as - an alcoholic liquor (is liquor really alcoholic?) distilled from a fermented cane product [molasses]. Yeah, you don’t have grog, you’re gonna have rum.

23) Barrels/Kegs - Ah yes. The large cylindrical, with the belly curving outward, wooden containers that stock the ships for their voyages. Barrels and kegs most often held small amounts of rum, food, water, gunpowder and the like. They are most remembered by people rolling them up/down the gangplanks. Much easier than lugging them around, wouldn’t you agree?

24) Casks - Large quantities of water and rum/grog could be stored within these huge barrels. These are most often found in the bottom of the ship in storage. They are also held on two x shaped legs to keep them from rolling around and possibly crushing a crewmember.

25) Cannons/cannonballs - You have a cannon port, you load up and you shoot. I think you all know what cannons and cannonballs are.

26) Fire and Brimstone - In other words, "Give ‘em hell!"

27) Keel - Imagine a sailing vessel out of water. Especially the really old ones. Yeah. Those would be good. The keel is the long large timber that is located at the center of the hull of the sailboat that also stretches from the foremost of the bow to the stern. It is the backbone of the ship, literally. It often is deeper than the rest of the hull, or so to say jutting out of the hull. The keels of most sailing ships are deep and very heavy so as to counteract the force of the wind on the sails. Without this, the ships would by pushed over by the wind and never once move from their positions. Keels have a very large resistance to horizontal pushing.

28) Stern - This is the back of the ship. It is a broad section of the ship that is very stable. The rudder is located at the very back as is the helm. By the way, if any of you ever have seasickness, just head to the stern of the ship. The ship rocks less at the stern because the bow is cutting through the waves and the angle of displacement is much smaller at the stern. Also, find a spot on the horizon to stare at and try not to stay in the sun. Heat tends to worsen seasickness.

29) Bow - this is the front of the ship. The ship narrows at this end and most often figureheads are placed just beneath the bowsprit (I guess I need to define that one too....). Help you out with the placement?

30) Starboard - When facing the bow of the ship, the starboard side is the right side. This (and the next) is universal terms for this. If someone fell overboard and you shouted, "Man overboard on the right!" everyone would run to their own right, not necessarily your right. So, by using these directions, people can tell exactly which side of the ship other crew members are speaking of.

31) Port - When facing the bow of the ship, the port side is the left side.

32) Bowsprit - large spar that projects forward from the bow of the ship. The figureheads are often either a part of the bowsprit or located just beneath them.

33) Spinnaker - A light-weight, spherical sail used in reaching and running.

34) Spar - fight and hold mast part.

35) Galley - Ooh. Now I know I love visiting this spot.....though I really shouldn’t. It’s the kitchen. The name came from the brick and stone ‘gallery’ that was used as the stove aboard the ships. Sort of like a fireplace with no chimney.

36) Logbook - Every captain keeps a log book. The positions, affairs, and anything that might come up are recorded in this book. If the ship sinks, many captains bring their logbooks with them as evidence of their misfortunes and to document their wrecks’ location. The captain of a certain ship that carried a queen’s cargo wrecked and kept the ship’s exact coordinates in his logbook. It was used to prove his innocence and later, treasure hunters used his log to find the sunken ship. However, since it was within a certain country’s borders, the nation itself had claim over the wreck. They were less than a mile from the international water line.

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