Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The Music Forums > Country, Folk & World Music
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-29-2014, 12:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
Account Disabled
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 895
Default Shanties and other songs of the sea

I've always had a thing for the ocean--don't know why. I even joined the US Navy just to live as a sailor which I did for 6 years. It's a rough life--being a sailor. I can only imagine what it must have been like in the 18th and 19th centuries. Do you know what it's like to be so seasick, you wish you'd just die and get it over with? So sick that you are hallucinating? So sick, your head feels like it's been overfilled with a mixture of broken glass and jagged, heavy rocks? So sick, you're ready to jump into the ocean just to get off that godawful pitching ship that rocks side to side for weeks at a time without a single goddamn let up--won't give you 5 seconds of a steady deck so you can orient yourself?

And when you're sick like that, you think anyone cares? You think you're going to go lay down in your rack and moan yourself to sleep? F-uck no! Get your ass up and get to work! I remember being so sick my first time out that I couldn't keep my head up while I was supposed to be watching a capstan breaker during tests. A master chief walked by an saw me--clearly sick and nearly delirious as I was--and chewed me a new as-shole. He didn't give a f-uck how sick I was, my job was to watch that f-ucking breaker and, by god, I was going to WATCH THAT F-UCKING BREAKER!!!!!!!

The reason is that if you mollycoddle a guy whose sick, he thinks he should be sick. So you lay into him and force him to get over it and get to work. After getting my arse chewed, I forced myself to keep my head up thinking, "Come on, boy! Don't let this kick your ass! Other guys work with it, now get with it! Remember what the doc [head corpsman] said, it's all in your damn head!" If I found my head starting to sag, I forced it back up again. And eventually--eventually--I started to come around and my sickness began to subside.

After four voyages, I rarely got sick and could even stand watches and work on equipment in very rough seas with the ship tossing about without feeling a thing. And when I found some new guy in a stupor with seasickness, I'd chew his ass and make him get to work. Eventually, he'd get the hang of it. Sailors call that "getting your sea legs." You learn how the ocean moves and you just sort move with it. Trouble is, you'd get land-sick once you were back onshore. With your body adjusted to ocean movement, it still continued to move with the ocean while you were onshore making it feel like you're walking on a trampoline. Landsickness wasn't that bad, though, not like seasickness.

To be a sailor is to learn how to live with minimal sleep. You just don't get much chance to sleep. You're always working on equipment late into the night or someone's waking you at 0330 hours to get ready to assume the 0400-0800 watch (which you actually assume at 0345 hours) or an emergency goes down and you have to man your GQ station. Always something stealing your sleep. Once I got off the midwatch in the #1 engine room and hit my rack for about an hour--I was dead out when I was awoken. The vent fans in the #2 engine room weren't working and it was my job to figure out why. So I dragged myself out of my rack, got dressed, went down to the #2 engine room and the top watch showed me what was wrong with the vent fans. The only problem was, they functioned perfectly--nothing wrong with them. He said, "Jesus, man, I'm sorry! I swear it wasn't working a second ago! I swear it wasn't working."

"That's alright," I said. "I was having a nightmare anyway." And went back to my rack. That's life as a sailor.

Another time, we were a couple of days from docking in a foreign port--Europe somewhere--and the in-port light wasn't working. I went over and checked the fuses but they were good. The only other thing to do at this point was to check the bulb itself and see if it was burned out. Trouble was, the bulb was almost at the top of the mast and we were in pretty choppy seas. But, the light has to be functional as we approach port so someone had to go up the mast to change it. They tried to get this one guy to go but he went up about 10 feet and he froze--wouldn't climb any higher. "I'll go up," I said. Me and another guy went up--you have to have two guys at all times in case there's an accident aloft. As I'm changing the bulb out, I can see the ship waaaaayyyy down there--guys ondeck watching me looked like ants. I just tried not to look and concentrate on what I had to do. I didn't want to drop the bulb--that would suck. As the ship tossed in the waves, I could see the weatherdeck below swing to the right across my field of vision and then there was nothing but ocean. Then the ship would swing across my vision to the left and then nothing but ocean and this kept repeating. But I get the bulb changed and the in-port light illuminates and so we came back down.


These are Christmas lights on a guided missile destroyer. The electricians had to string these up and it wasn't optional, a ship in its homeport during Christmas had to have these lights up. Since I was an electrician, I can vouch for how bad it sucked to have to do this especially in that bitter cold wind coming in off the ocean. When we toured northern Europe on a goodwill tour, we had to put these up in every port, stay for 3 or 4 days, and then taken them down again and put back out to sea. If you think THAT doesn't suck, you've probably never done a real lick of work in your life.

But there were good times too. I sailed with some good buds--and with complete as-sholes too--but you only hit the foreign towns with guys you liked. You'd either go to the bars and then the whorehouse or to the whorehouse first and then the bars. A lot of places had the whorehouse and bar in the same place which made it easier. Went all over Europe, all over South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and South Asia. The best port we ever docked in was in this fjord in Trondheim, Norway. Across the bay was this mountain with a white thread winding its way down that ended in a waterfall and at night we had the "nordlies" over us--the aurora borealis--which is breathtakingly beautiful. Pakistan was really strange. Old school Muslim nation with camels and long-eared cows everywhere. At dusk, you'd see bats pour out of buildings and fill the sky. But Kuwait and Bahrain were more modern. Kuwait was almost like America with its nightlife. Brazil, Venezuela and Columbia were a lot of fun. Got to tour the Reeperbahn in Hamburg which is completely wild. The Azores were the most beautiful spot I saw. Jamaica was...ummmm...crazy. Went through the Suez Canal and down the Red Sea which looks like it did 2000 years ago. Some good times.

And life aboard ship? Crowded. There is minimal space for the crew. Any large spaces are strictly for equipment. A person gets only enough to be functional. John F. Kennedy put it best:



Now in the modern Navy, we don't sing worksongs or shanties. Shanties were meant for strenuous work that took teams of hands working in unison to complete such as turning the capstan or hauling yards. Today the capstan is turned electrically and, of course, we don't haul yards anymore. They were structured as call & response. "Shanty" is just a corruption or variant of "chantey" or something to chant.


Haul, Boys, Haul - The Bilge Pumps - YouTube
"Haul Boys Haul" is an old shanty. On the ships, they were sung without musical accompaniment. But as pub singalongs, church hymns and what not they were adapted for instruments and even as instrumentals:


Adventureland - Haul Boys Haul - YouTube

Most shanties still popular today come from England and and Ireland were adopted by the New England Yankees. One of the most popular was "Spanish Ladies" Melville mentions as being sung by the crew of the Pequod in "Moby Dick":


sea shanties - spanish ladies - YouTube

Some American shanties were made up by American blacks such as "Mail Day" which has the structure of a spiritual. Another is "Roll the Woodpile Down":


The Dreadnoughts - Roll The Woodpile Down - YouTube

It is often referred to as being Irish but I find that questionable. Lines as "way down in Florida" and "that brown girl o' mine's on the Georgia line" and a reference to getting with those "yaller girls" would indicate this is an American shanty of black American origin. Also when they sing, "That brown girl o' mine's on the Georgia line" they break into barbershop quartet harmonies (and every version I've ever heard does it) and the barbershop quartet came from American blacks.


The Wabash Minstrels of the flagship the USS Wabash taken in 1863. Certainly they would have sounded very interesting.
Lord Larehip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2014, 01:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
Account Disabled
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 895
Default

Sailing is one of humanity’s oldest occupations, prostitution notwithstanding. In fact, I have learned from extensive firsthand observation and experience that the two occupations are very tightly bound to one another. Wherever there are ports and sailors, there are brothels and prostitutes to service them.


From an 1811 broadside, the term "Jack" was a British term for a sailor who were generally referred to as "Jack Tar" or "Jolly Jack Tar."

Coastal towns and seaports have a nautical culture since the sea is the front yard. This is equally true of the Michigan and Canadian towns bordering the Great Lakes (which are not lakes strictly speaking and which Melville terms “freshwater seas” which is far more apt). By nautical culture, I mean that oceanic and sailing themes are used on the businesses in the area even if they have nothing to do with either simply because neither is far from people’s minds in such areas. In fact, more goods and supplies are delivered to Michigan by freighter than by train or truck combined. When the lakes remained frozen well into spring a few years back, there was worry that Michigan would start suffering shortages of everything from food to toilet paper—the vast majority of which are delivered to our state via the Great Lakes rather than highways or rails which supplement the ports more than compete with them. All along the coast, one sees businesses using all kinds of nautical motifs—ship steering wheels, oars, anchors, sails, boats or ships. These are also found in great abundance in residences—decorative anchors in people’s yards, ships or whales as weather vanes, sailboat-shaped mailboxes with the flag shaped like a sail, doormats depicting a ship on the ocean, etc.



But in past centuries, the nautical themes weren’t simply for quaintness but were deeply rooted in the lives of the people that lived within the culture. Their language was peppered with nautical references, children’s songs were drawn from sailor shanties and worksongs, hymns sung in church were also formatted as shanties or specifically geared to nautical themes. Many of the colloquialisms used in English came from sailing:

• “I don’t like the cut of his jib” refers to the jib sail on a ship.
• “I was three sheets to the wind” refers to a sail, often called a sheet, not properly tied down and goes slack in the wind and three such sails makes the ship completely useless as it meanders about on the ocean like a drunk.
• “The cat is out of the bag” refers to the cat-o’-nine-tails used to flog sailors and usually referred to simply as a “cat.” It was kept in a burlap sack while not in use. When a sailor got the wrong person angry, the cat was removed from the bag and sailor was flogged with it. So the phrase simply means some kind of line was crossed.
• “No room to swing a cat” refers to the same flogging instrument and is otherwise self-explanatory.
• “By and large” refers to sailing "large" when the wind is directly behind the ship which sailors refer to as a “bowline.” Sailing "by" was when the wind was not quite behind the ship but slightly offset. It is impossible to sail by and large simultaneously.
• “The whole nine yards” refers to a yard on a mast which holds a sail. There were three yards on all three masts and so if one had a sail flying from each one together, one had the whole nine yards.
• “Mind your Ps and Qs” referred to pints and quarts. If a sailor off the ship in a tavern started getting three sheets to the wind, one of the mates or the master-at-arms might tell him to watch his intake of alcohol by telling him to mind his Ps and Qs…before the cat gets out of the bag.
• “Slush fund” refers to slush which was kept and eventually sold by the cook. In the modern American Navy, lending money with interest is still called “slushing” which is against regulations.
• “I was taken aback” refers to wind conditions in which the sails are blown back against the masts halting all progress.
• “Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey” refers to a device in which cannonballs were triangularly stacked on deck. It was called a monkey and was made of brass. If the weather got sufficiently cold, the monkey contracted enough to cause the topmost cannonballs to fall off the stack. Almost everybody believes this expression to have a vulgar meaning.

There are all kinds of nautical terms peppering our everyday speech: making headway, getting pooped, pipe down, water-logged, locker, rig, between the devil and deep blue sea, the bitter end, overhaul, dismantle, forge ahead, windfall, field-day, at loggerheads, slow on the uptake, scuttlebutt, toe the line—all nautical terms. For these terms to have made their way into our speech long ago shows how important sailing was and still is.
Lord Larehip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2014, 02:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
Key
hi
 
Key's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 12,180
Default

Thought this would be a thread where we could post our favorites songs of the sea, etc. But once again, i'm disappointed in a Larehip thread.
__________________

CWH
Key is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2014, 02:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
Account Disabled
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 895
Default


Sally Brown ( Traditional Sea Shanty ) - YouTube
I sometimes perform “Sally Brown” with guitar accompaniment at open mics but my version is a rather different from this. That’s the thing about shanties, they can vary quite a bit from performer-to-performer.


Johnny Collins - Eliza Lee (Capstan Shanty) - YouTube
“Eliza Lee” may have been a railroad shanty adapted by sailors. Lines as “Clear away the track and let the bulgine run” and references to “a-jolting car” would strongly indicate that this was sung by railroad workers. Some have suggested that railroads often passed through shipyards and it might be a shanty for sailors that loaded the supplies from the ship to the rail cars. Sure--could be.


The Maid of Amsterdam (A-rovin') - sung by the Roaring Trowmen - YouTube
“A-rovin’” otherwise known as “The Maid of Amsterdam” is a well known from the 19th century. I sing this one at open mics as well. It has many different verses and mine are thus:

In Amsterdam I met a maid
(Mark well what I do say)
In Amsterdam I met a maid
Who was always pinchin’ the sailors’ trade
(I’ll go no more a-rovin’ with you, fair maid
A-rovin’, a-rovin’ since rovin’ been my ru-I-n
I’ll go more a-rovin’ with you, fair maid)

I took that maid out for a walk
I took that maid out for a walk
I fed her run and did she talk

I put me arm around her waist
I put me arm around her waist
She said, “Young man, you’re in great haste!”

I put me hand upon her knee
I put me hand upon her knee
She said, “Young man, you’re rather free!”

I put me hand upon her thigh
I put me hand upon her thigh
She said, “Young man, that’s rather high!”

(This next verse is my own)
I slipped me hand beneath her dress
I slipped me hand beneath her dress
It felt real nice, I must confess

I gave that miss a little kiss
I gave that miss a little kiss
And back onboard my money I missed

I borrowed a little from every version I’ve heard. I like these particular words because they were definitely written by a sailor. I had just such an experience in Orlando, Florida along the red light district called the “Orange Blossom Trail.” Me and a mate picked up a prostitute, went to this secluded area, took turns boffing her, paid her, dropped her off and went to eat and realized that somehow she had emptied both our wallets. I definitely had money left after I paid her but somehow she got the rest of it before we dropped her off—both of us. I have no idea how. Goddamn hooker magic.
Lord Larehip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2014, 04:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
Account Disabled
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 895
Default

The word “Yankee” probably came from sailors. In England, sailors were called by generic terms as Jack or Johnny. Many shanties have Johnny in the title—“Whisky Johnny,” “Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her,” “Heave Away, My Johnny” and some believe that when the English descendants in the American colonies began to move into New Netherlands (New York) region, that the Dutch referred to the English as Janneke (Little John or Johnny) because they were most familiar with the English sailors back in Europe—the Johnnies. Eventually, Janneke (pronounced “Yah-ne-keh”) became pronounced by the English-speakers themselves as Yankee. This term was originally strictly applied to Americans of English descent as it was in Connecticut as well as to the Quakers of Nantucket who considered themselves both American and English. The New England whale fishery which was run by Quakers was even usually called the Yankee whale fishery (the Quakers, of course, started in England). The original dialect of the white Massachusetts settlers was also called the Yankee dialect, which is not spoken anymore.


Johnny Collins - Leave Her Johnny (sea chantey) - YouTube

One thing that seems to be overlooked is that the punk sub-genre called Oi is partly descended from pub sing-alongs which are greatly influenced by shanties. I noticed the similarity when I was still in the Navy and listening almost exclusively to punk at that time. Years later, when I met some shanty singers I was surprised to hear some of them say that some shanties have a punk-like feel. Indeed they do and for good reason. I’m so used to hearing that from shanty-lovers that it no longer surprises me.


[Shanty] Old Billy Riley - Johnny Collins - YouTube
This one has always struck me as punkish.


The Exploited - Sex and Violence - YouTube
This one by the Exploited certainly sounds like it was derived by the pub sing-along.


Rolling Down the Bay to Juliana - YouTube
Give it a rock band set-up and it’s pretty much textbook perfect Oi.


Booze & Glory - "London Skinhead Crew" - Official Video (HD) - YouTube


Rolf Harris - "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" - YouTube
This, by rights, should be considered proto-Oi. Just give it a standard Oi rock band set-up and it’s not far from being Oi. Yet it is also quite clearly a pub sing-along.


London Pub Singalong - YouTube
A London pub sing-along.


Cockney Rejects - Oi Oi Oi ! - YouTube

The word Oi was coined by Gary Bushell. It just basically means “Hey!” as a way of hailing someone. Note its close similarity to “Ahoy!” which is also a means of one ship hailing another. Yelling “Oi!” across the water at another ship would be too short to hear so it is simply stretched out into “Ahoy!” as the addition of the “A” and the “H” allows the person yelling to release the “oi” syllable with greater volume and power. A few years back I picked up an anthology called “Carry On Oi!” put out by Gary Bushell. Strangely, it was put out of the Ahoy label and the logo was the face of an old-fashioned ship captain. Coincidence or was Bushell giving us a subtle clue as to the true origins of Oi?
Lord Larehip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2014, 09:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
Account Disabled
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 895
Default


A 1926 lithograph called “In All Her Glory” by Gordon Grant that I bought in an antique store yesterday.


Port Isaac fisherman sing Blood Red Roses - YouTube


A 1926 lithograph called “Queen of the Sea” by Gerald M. Burn. I bought this and the lithograph above for a grand total of $10.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voYnAuh7Yhs


The Flying Cloud, a beautiful clipper.


Flying Cloud - YouTube
The Doobie Bros. “Flying Cloud,” a beautiful piece by the band’s bassist, Tiran Porter. Goes well with the above painting.


Mountain. Nantucket Sleighride - YouTube
A Nantucket sleighride is when a whaleboat crew harpoons a whale and gets dragged for miles across the ocean until they are far from sight of the ship. Often, they never returned—no trace of them ever turning up. Felix Pappalardi wrote this and was a resident of Nantucket Island (where I stayed in 1996). He dedicated the song to Owen Coffin. Owen was a 15 yo lad who served aboard the whaleship Essex. It was rammed by an enraged sperm whale and sank in 1820 in the South Pacific. The crew was huddled together in the tiny whaleboats adrift for weeks with little food or water.

At one point, the survivors starving, they drew straws. The loser would become lunch for the others. Owen drew the short straw. The CO, Captain Pollard (I once served under a Captain Pollard), was Owen’s uncle and offered to take the boy’s place but Owen said no. He drew the short straw fair and square and he was willing to die to save his mates. He was shot in the head, dismembered and eaten. A short time later, all were rescued and it appeared that Owen died needlessly although no one could have known that at the time.

Back in Nantucket, a hearing was held and Captain Pollard was exonerated. Cannibalism was deemed legal in extreme instances. However, Pollard was never given command of another vessel. He was brother-in-law to Owen’s mother but she never spoke to nor even looked at Pollard for the rest of her life as though he were invisible. Clearly, she thought he should have been the one to die and treated him as though he had.

Pollard became a lamp-keeper in the city of Nantucket. He still held this job when Melville met him and interviewed him as research for Moby Dick (which was based on the ordeal of the Essex). He found Pollard and amiable but sad man who seemed glad that someone even wanted to hear his side of the story.




Whaleship.
Lord Larehip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2014, 02:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
Account Disabled
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 895
Default


The Padstow May Song - YouTube
This CD, "Blow ye Winds in the Morning," is excellent. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in sea songs and chanteys.

The ancient "Padstow May Song" although observed superficially as a Christian festival has deep roots in Celtic paganism. Folklorists and researchers believe this festival—called ‘Obby ‘Oss is probably linked to Beltane.

The festival is held in Padstow, Cornwall, England on May Eve (April 30 otherwise known as Walpurgisnacht). It involves two men dressed as “horses” or ‘osses (‘obby ‘oss = hobby horse). One ‘oss is called “Old” and the other is called “Blue Ribbon.” On May Eve, the people gather outside the Golden Lion Inn and sing the Night Song. During the night, people dress in greenery and a maypole is erected.

By morning, men called “teasers” prod the two ‘osses through the streets. As the ‘osses cavort through the streets, they try to grab any young maidens they spy. A band is led through the streets by a man called the “Mayer” in a top hat and stick while people sing the Morning Song (or Day Song). At evening, the two ‘osses meet at the maypole and then are afterwards led to their respective stables. The crowd then sings the ‘obby ‘oss death song. The festival ends until the ‘Obby ‘Osses are resurrected next spring. For clearly, we can see this is a spring/fertility festival.

What has this to do with sailing? Nothing except that the Morning or Day Song contains a couple of notable verses:

The young men of Padstow they might if they would,
For summer is acome unto day,
They might have built a ship and gilded her with gold,
In the merry morning of May.


And:

O! where is St. George,
O!, where is he O,
He is out in his long boat on the salt sea O.


St. George, we remember, slew the dragon:



But Melville stated in Moby Dick his belief that George was a harpooner and the dragon was a whale. I don’t know if Melville was aware of the Padstow May Song but it states that St. George is “out in his long boat on the salt sea…”

This is the seal of the borough of Padstow:




The Padstow sea cadets. On their covers is the word “Petroc” which refers to St. Petroc, a Welsh missionary who founded the town around 500 CE as “Petroc-stow” or “Patrick-stowe” (Petroc’s place).
Lord Larehip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2014, 03:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
Account Disabled
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 895
Default


Cape Cod Girls - YouTube
“Cape Cod Girls” shanty. Cape Cod is an interesting place to visit. I would recommend doing so in the early autumn just after school starts. Otherwise it’s too crowded with vacationing families. When I went there, a lady I know told that she and her husband tried to drive all the way out to Provincetown but could not get there because there were so many cars and the road was jammed. When I went at the end of September, I practically had the road to myself. After reaching, Provincetown, I realized it was a lesbian stronghold. A buddy told me it was like an East Coast offset to San Francisco as a gay male capital on the West Coast.




The Seamen's Hymn - YouTube
An example of the church hymns of coastal areas dependent on the sea for their livelihood.


The dory men of Nantucket.


We be Three Poor Mariners - YouTube
“We Be Three Poor Mariners” was first gathered by Thomas Ravenscroft in 1609 in a work called Deuteromelia as a second collection of King Henry VIII’s Mirth or Freeman’s songs. It quickly became a virtual anthem of sailors complete with a statement that sailors are superior to mere soldiers.

We be three poor mariners, newly come from the seas;
We spend our lives in jeopardy, while others live at ease.

Come let us dance the round, a round, a round
Come let us dance the round, a round, a round
And he that is a bully boy
Come pledge me on this ground, a ground, a ground.

We care not for these martial men, that do our states disdain;
But we care for those merchant men, who do our states maintain.

Come let us dance the round, a round, a round
Come let us dance the round, a round, a round
And he that is a bully boy
Come pledge me on this ground, a ground, a ground.



Scrimshander made from a sperm whale’s tooth.


Stan Rogers - Barrett's Privateers - YouTube
Stan Rogers’ “Barrett’s Privateers.” Rogers was a Canadian folksinger from Halifax who not only sang a lot of sea songs but wrote a great many—this one being of his own compositions. It has become very famous among both the folkies and the shanty-singers (the latter being a subset of the former). It is not unusual to hear it sung in bars around the world. Rogers died in 1983 when an Air Canada DC-9 caught fire while he was still in the cabin. The cause of death is attributed to smoke inhalation. His brother, Garnett, who was part of Stan’s band and a very talented fellow, now carries on Stan’s legacy.


New Bedford, MA in winter.
Lord Larehip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2014, 10:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
Music Addict
 
William_the_Bloody's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Sunnydale Cemetary
Posts: 2,093
Default

Ah good show, I love sea shanties as they have that traditional British isles sound to them, which of course was also a staple in North America during the late 18th and 19th century.

I see you served your country as well. I have to respect that. I had friends who tried coaxing me into joining the Naval reserves years ago, but I couldn't stomach the idea of four hours sleep aboard a ship for weeks...that and sleeping with a cabin full of guys. Besides I was a fly boy when I was younger, switching to the Navy would be a downgrade
William_the_Bloody is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-30-2014, 11:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
Born To Be Mild
 
Lisnaholic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: He lives on Love Street
Posts: 2,905
Default

Lord Larehip must spend a lot of time compiling a thread like this, and I found this section of it particularly interesting:-

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Larehip View Post
Many of the colloquialisms used in English came from sailing:

• “I don’t like the cut of his jib” refers to the jib sail on a ship.
• “I was three sheets to the wind” refers to a sail, often called a sheet, not properly tied down and goes slack in the wind and three such sails makes the ship completely useless as it meanders about on the ocean like a drunk.
• “The cat is out of the bag” refers to the cat-o’-nine-tails used to flog sailors and usually referred to simply as a “cat.” It was kept in a burlap sack while not in use. When a sailor got the wrong person angry, the cat was removed from the bag and sailor was flogged with it. So the phrase simply means some kind of line was crossed.
• “No room to swing a cat” refers to the same flogging instrument and is otherwise self-explanatory.
• “By and large” refers to sailing "large" when the wind is directly behind the ship which sailors refer to as a “bowline.” Sailing "by" was when the wind was not quite behind the ship but slightly offset. It is impossible to sail by and large simultaneously.
• “The whole nine yards” refers to a yard on a mast which holds a sail. There were three yards on all three masts and so if one had a sail flying from each one together, one had the whole nine yards.
• “Mind your Ps and Qs” referred to pints and quarts. If a sailor off the ship in a tavern started getting three sheets to the wind, one of the mates or the master-at-arms might tell him to watch his intake of alcohol by telling him to mind his Ps and Qs…before the cat gets out of the bag.
• “Slush fund” refers to slush which was kept and eventually sold by the cook. In the modern American Navy, lending money with interest is still called “slushing” which is against regulations.
• “I was taken aback” refers to wind conditions in which the sails are blown back against the masts halting all progress.
• “Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey” refers to a device in which cannonballs were triangularly stacked on deck. It was called a monkey and was made of brass. If the weather got sufficiently cold, the monkey contracted enough to cause the topmost cannonballs to fall off the stack. Almost everybody believes this expression to have a vulgar meaning.

There are all kinds of nautical terms peppering our everyday speech: making headway, getting pooped, pipe down, water-logged, locker, rig, between the devil and deep blue sea, the bitter end, overhaul, dismantle, forge ahead, windfall, field-day, at loggerheads, slow on the uptake, scuttlebutt, toe the line—all nautical terms. For these terms to have made their way into our speech long ago shows how important sailing was and still is.
At last various expressions like swinging a cat makes some sense, though I would dispute the one about the cat out of the bag, which I have always taken to mean "the secret has escaped and cannot be returned to concealment," the same way you can´t easily re-bag a panicking animal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ki View Post
Thought this would be a thread where we could post our favorites songs of the sea, etc. But once again, i'm disappointed in a Larehip thread.
^ HaHa! I don´t see why not, Ki - that´s what I´m doing anyway, for lack of anything more erudite to contribute :-

__________________
Did you ever hear of having more than you wanted? So that you couldn’t want anything else and then started looking for something else to want? It seems like we’re always searching for something to satisfy us, and never finding it. - Susan Eloise Hinton, 1967
Lisnaholic is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



© 2003-2019 Advameg, Inc.

SEO by vBSEO 3.5.2 ©2010, Crawlability, Inc.