A Gallimaufry of Nautical Terms, redux

February 25, 2019, steaming towards Tahiti — You haven’t heard from me because we haven’t set foot on dry land in ELEVEN days! This long wet spell would have been broken by an excursion on to Easter Island but, as you read last week, rough seas prevented our landing there.

We’ll dock in Papeete, Tahiti, this afternoon for an overnight, then steam on to Bora Boar tomorrow night for arrival there on Wednesday. I shall submit my usual report after both stops, as snorkeling among sting rays and reef sharks will no doubt exhaust me.

In the meantime, here’s a ‘filler’ from the very end of last year’s cruise, which I wrote as I was sitting at Heathrow, about to fly home. It was a popular post, so it’s back by anticipated popular demand.

The same onboard naturalist gave his same Nautical Term talk last week, though I didn’t go since I can read it all here! Plus I’d added terms that our then-Captain told us every day at the end of his ‘noontime report from the bridge.’ To wit:

‘Ship shape and Bristol fashion’ — Bristol had particularly high standards and insisted that ships in port be well cleaned when they docked — to improve smell and remove disease

‘Cut and run’ — cut the anchor line to escape danger (thereby losing the anchor)

‘Cut to the chase’ — cut the anchor line to pursue the enemy

‘Crack on with it’ — a ship traveling fast may make a crack-ing noise

‘Footloose’ — when the bottom of the sail is loose and flapping

‘OK’ — au quai, ergo, safe in port

‘Tidy’ — from the word tides, which are orderly and generally predictable

‘The whole nine yards’ — 3 masts with 3 sails on each

‘Whistle down the wind’ — to abandon something or let it go

‘Scuttlebutt’ — ‘a cask on shipboard to contain fresh water for a day’s use,’ ergo, a shipboard ‘water cooler’ where people collected to gossip

‘Nail your colors to the mast’ — will not surrender

‘Rope yarn Sunday’ — sailors’ personal time, when they could mend their clothes or hammocks (U.S. Navy)


Thalassocracy — ‘a state with primarily maritime realms, an empire at sea (such as the Phoenician network of merchant cities) or a seaborne empire’ (Wiki)

Triskaidekaphobia — fear of the number 13 #

©2018, 2019 Susan Nash/PassePartout
This site was designed with the
website builder. Create your website today.
Start Now