Written and researched by Owen Burke, Brian Lam of The Scuttlefish:
Hold written on one set of knuckles and Fast written on the other was meant to give a sailor good grip in the rigging.
A Rope tattooed around the wrist meant that a seaman is a deckhand.
A Nautical Star or Compass Rose was given so that a sailor could always find her way home.
A Harpoon marked a member of the fishing fleet.
A Dragon signified that a sailor has served in China. A Golden Dragon was given when a sailor crossed the International Date Line.
A Shellback Turtle or King Neptune was earned when a sailor made it across the Equator.
Elizabeth, of Green My Bodega, loves the Hudson River: “I thought of getting a tattoo of the Hudson River that ran along the length of my leg. But then I realized it would look like a giant varicose vein.”
Join her and many others at the Festival of Ideas for the New City, May 4 – 8, at happenings around the city. Green My Bodega and Foodshed Market‘s Mapping Present and Imagined Food Systems will be at the StreetFest on Saturday, May 7th from 11:00am – 7:00pm. It is “A presentation of posters, maps, and illustrations visualizing aspects of our present and imagining the potential regional food system.” Here are two designs that were submitted:
A Patchogue captain returning from Boston squeezed through Shinnecock Inlet, and was making good speed when he suddenly ran hard aground in Moriches Bay.
“I don’t understand! I’m in the channel!” said he, as he pulled out his paper charts and peered at his GPS. And—as real life is stranger than fiction—while he was there, a Coast Guard boat came from behind him, picked up the channel buoy, and dropped it about fifty yards east of where he’d grounded, and disappeared.
“Ah, ” he said as he slowly listed 45° to one side, “NOW I’m out of the channel.”
A Port Jefferson greenhorn was a glutton for punishment: electrocution from lightning, several dismastings, near sinkings and allisions were not enough to dissuade the new sailor from the sport. On one early voyage, he managed to bring his wearied self and his disheveled vessel to a dock where he found himself tied next to a fancy boat: “There was a couple sitting on white cushions, they had white-carpeted boarding steps and a white french poodle.” Our sailor wrestled to pump out his holding tank. “It exploded. It went all over everything. It went everywhere.”
Many, many thanks, Capt. Tim of the Flaming Scorpion Bowls!
and thank you, N!
This story is told by Sandy Eames, a tallships sailor, so it must be true:
A schooner came into Cherbourg, France to dock. As it approached the wall, its bowsprit impaled a 2CV. The skipper put her into reverse, but it as the waters would have it, the bow lifted up as it backed out, and the boat took the little car out with it. And as luck would have it, the cafe overlooking the dock was full of diners who could testify that Sandy’s tale is true.
Si vous etiez present lors de cet evenement, merci de nous envoyez votre temoignage pour confirmer sa veracite!
I love the rich colors of Technicolor and Kodachrome! The 1964 film, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, however, was shot on the unstable Eastman negative stock. The director, Jacques Demy, knowing that the negative would fade quickly, had three color bands shot on black and white negative, and thirty years later, created a new color print that is lavish and rich. The entire film’s dialog is sung! it takes a bit of getting used to, all composed by the incredibly prolific Michel Legrand, who also helped to digitally remaster the score for the new version. The experience is something else: elegant dresses matching the wallpaper, beautiful old painted numbers on the bows of fishingboats, sailors in their uniforms, umbrellas, cobblestones, a sweeping, teary score… Probably not shown on a tug flatscreen soon, but here is it, because it is beautiful!
Ah! restoration. It ain’t just for ships.
And, in a “of all the gas joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine” moment…
(click on the youtube link, then on “cc” to view subtitles)
- a ring or hoop of wood or metal.
- not exclusively nautical, but rare is the ship without this; sounds like:
“I dont %&$&# LIKE sailing! Why don’t I go to the crafts festival and just take the train and meet you at the next %&$&# port?”
or “The hosting yacht club is serving ¿%&$&#what???”
or “%&$&#! %&$&#! horse cock for dinner again??”
- wooden (usually) platform buffers between a ship and a pier; way deeper and heavier to move than you think. On this camel by Passenger Ship Terminal pier 90, rope was shredded into a soft nest, eggs were laid, and the parents-to-be waited while warships of Fleet Week 2009 tied up a few feet away.
- a heavy beam projecting from each bow of a ship for the purpose of holding anchors.
-an anchor is said to be cockbilled or a-cockbill when hung vertically by its ring stopper from a cathead ready for use, or, temporarily, during the recovery process.
- not well known, but according to Hervey Garrett Smith, author and illustrator of the wonderful book, The Arts of the Sailor (1953), the constrictor knot is superior to most comment seizings or stoppings: “…quicker, neater, and can be drawn up more tightly. The harder you pull the two ends the tighter it grips, and it will not slacken when you let go…It can be set up so tightly that is is almost impossible to untie, and makes an excellent whipping. (The slipped version is easy to untie.) …Its superior construction and usefulness leads me to believe that it ultimately will achieve the popularity it rightly deserves.”
- also known in days of old as a lanyard hitch, the cow hitch is today more associated with any knot which is not a recognized maritime knot as used at sea; a lubberly hitch. Folks must be forgetting to use those lanyards.
- sideways maneuvering into a cross current or wind to compensate for drift.
To “catch a crab” is to make a faulty stroke in rowing that causes the blade of the oar to strike the water on the recovery stroke.
- pilings lashed together with heavy cable upon which vessels land to moor. Usually, one piling is called a dolphin, a group of more than one pile is called a cluster, as in “put out a line over the second cluster off the bow.” When neglected, provides fine nesting for birds of the harbor.
- a steam-powered winch to hoist sails and anchors on old schooners; an auxiliary engine on a sailing craft (which does propel the vessel) is still sometimes informally known as the donk.
elephant table – (help! cannot find this one!)
- a large hook used to assist in maneuvering the anchor from under the cat-head, and brought to the side or gunwale, or to launch and recover boats.
- a triangular steel plate used as a central connecting point for the tows, bridles, and towline.
- the wedge-shaped part of an anchor’s arms that digs into the bottom. Sometimes painted yellow to lure full frontal admirers.
- made by twisting together two or more rope-yarns. A Spanish fox is made by untwisting a single yarn and laying it up the contrary way. (But, why? ¿por qué?)
- the state of a vessel when, by any strain, she is made to droop at each bow and stern, bringing her center up. Opposite of sagging.
- “phoney baloney”. Mmmmm.
marlinspike, a marlinspike hitch
- a tool for opening the strands of a rope while splicing.
- a weighted knot wrapped around lead or a ball, found at the end of a heaving line. Illegal in NYHarbor. ME variety is especially lethal: you really won’t know what hit you.
- a seizing to prevent hooks from unshipping. Sling hitch on the hook’s back, go around the bill, make turns, wrap with frapping turns, then a set of riding turns, finish with a square or reef knot. Notice how Hervey Garrett Smith draws the same hook three times; that is love.
- a hook-like device for holding the link of a chain or similar, and consisting of a long shackle with a hinged rod which is held closed by a ring.
- a screw hook having an eye in the form of a spiral for holding a loop, chain link, etc., at any angle. I am not fooled: this was designed to snag my sweaters.
- rope running across the shrouds horizontally like the rounds of a ladder and used to step upon in going aloft.
- curved cut in edge of sail for preventing chafing
- slips through a hole in the bow ramp of the LCU or LCM to hold the landing craft in position while vehicles embark/debark.
- a valve to open a pipe to allow suction of sea water into your vessel either to supply fire pumps or for cooling if your engine is cooled with raw water. Also used generically.
- a kind of hitch or bend, used to shorten a rope temporarily.
- snaking protects against chafing of turns on whippings at the end of ropes.
- fenders that were once upon a time real whale bodies, but today, are BIG black, heavy industrial strength rubber bumpers. One captain’s fender story is here.
- oops. another wildcat coming up…
- rigging of old ships were wormed, parcelled and served and lasted as long as the ships, or longer. Worming is the laying in of small-stuff between the strands of rope to fill in spaces to prevent moisture and rot. Parcelling is spirally wrapping rope with narrow strips of old canvas soaked with rigging tar, overlapping to repel moisture. Serving covers the rope by tightly winding marline or hemp against the lay. Heavily tar, and maintain regularly.
Worm and parcel with lay
Turn and serve the other way
- a “sacrificial anode.” Metals (e.g. your propeller) in salt water, experience a flow of electrical current. The slow removal of metal is called “electrolysis”. Zinc is used as it has a higher voltage in the water so the current will tend to flow from it than from your props.
beasts of weather and water conditions:
dog days, ox-eye, mackerel scales, mares’ tails, white horses…
other waterborne beasts:
Look here for a beautiful post of hardworking animals here on the USCGC Escanaba!
Thank you, again for everyone’s help! drawings will be added, and please report any missing strays. Thank you!
Happy Thanksgiving to all! Gratitude and homage to those working today, and a peek at the beasts of burden that aid them on the water:
This post is being updated with all your suggestions–Thank you! I’m stumped by some of them (Jed!!), and cannot find a few of the ones mentioned. The new post is “a nautical bestiary“.