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Thread: The demise of boat language

  1. #36
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    For this, 'horse' is correct. It's a metal tube structure that can function as a traveler. A 'hawse' is the port where a line or chain passes through the deck or hull. It's short for 'hawse hole', derived from hawser hole.

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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Well we are not allowed to use real world salty language HERE !

  3. #38
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Don't even get me started. I cringe every time I see or hear the new, fashionable term for mast height (above DWL): "Air Draft"! The decline of our language is clearly evidenced by the new trend of starting a paragraph with the word So... I see it everywhere. Oy Vey!

  4. #39
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    "Air draft" is not mast height, it is bottom of the keel to truck. (see what I did there... "truck").
    For indoor storage,not bridge clearance.
    Mine is in here now, maximum air draft 66'.

    oh, i see google sez its waterline to masthead... i stand corrected.

  5. #40
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    A story I've told here before, but my grandfather - Capt. Ralph S. Stevens Jr. U.S.N (Ret) - was a stickler for correct usage. No "flybridges" on any of his vessels thank you! And he was forever irritated by the use of the word "dock" as a noun. "It's a verb not a noun" he said. "A ship is docked at a pier!". I think he was ignoring several centuries of common usage however.

  6. #41
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    For this, 'horse' is correct. It's a metal tube structure that can function as a traveler.
    Hmm. Our terminology may differ. As I understand it, a horse is an athwartships metal rod affixed to the deck or deck structures, aligned beneath the point on a sail from which the sheet descends to the deck, upon which a traveler slides (or rides, if you want to think of a traveler riding on a horse). A sheet block is then affixed to the traveler. But is my understanding/definition correct?

    As I understand it, this is Bucephalus's mainsheet horse, with the lower mainsheet block attached to a traveler:



    Would others agree, or need I amend my mental dictionary?

    (I have sometimes heard the rope bridle, rigged across the stern of a sailing dinghy to serve the same function for the mainsheet block, also referred to as a horse. Functionally, that definition is correct; thus I have applied that terminology myself, since "bridle" can refer to several different pieces of equipment but "horse" is fairly specific.)

    Alex

  7. #42
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris249 View Post
    Still very common with the people I race with. I'm not sure if boat language is fading - it may just be changing.
    Oh God...I may be in trouble, 'cause all of that made complete sense.

  8. #43
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Alex -

    Sure sounds correct to me!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  9. #44
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Alex and Ian are describing the same thing...and both doing so accurately, as far as I believe.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  10. #45
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris249 View Post
    Funny thing is I've normally seen it written as hawse.
    Most small pleasure boats do not have a "Hawse" or two "Hawse Pipes" that lead through the planking near the stem. They are most often seen on power vessels with an anchor pulled up through the Hawse. Often a ship that is "at hawse" is anchored by both cables that lead through the hawses at the bow.
    Some sail boats do have a" main sheet horse or a jib sheet horse" that can also be called a "Traveler". It is that , often curved thingie that has a pully attached to it that slides sideways across the back of the boat or up in the front to control that little sail in the front part of the boat or the big one on the back side of the big pole that sticks up.
    Bird
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 09-04-2018 at 04:39 PM.

  11. #46
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by cstevens View Post
    A story I've told here before, but my grandfather - Capt. Ralph S. Stevens Jr. U.S.N (Ret) - was a stickler for correct usage. No "flybridges" on any of his vessels thank you! And he was forever irritated by the use of the word "dock" as a noun. "It's a verb not a noun" he said. "A ship is docked at a pier!". I think he was ignoring several centuries of common usage however.
    Nah, he could very well have been correct. You moor to the wharf in a wet dock.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  12. #47
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    "Boat Language" gets automatically edited out by the forum software. Grab that *******rope before we hit that *****. ******. ***** you ******* and don't you ever ********* on my ******** again you *********** ******. ****.

    Inspired by the big fast powerboats thread. And some racing boats I've crewed on, briefly.

  13. #48
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Hmmmm....I think I used to sail with that guy. Finally mutinied one afternoon as we were approaching the leeward mark. Went below, grabbed a beer, hollered up, "Hey Dan, you want a beer?" as we sailed past the mark under 'chute. He got really excited and then calmed down a lot. Got to be good friends after that.

  14. #49
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    For this, 'horse' is correct. It's a metal tube structure that can function as a traveler. A 'hawse' is the port where a line or chain passes through the deck or hull. It's short for 'hawse hole', derived from hawser hole.
    The difference brings up interesting points; is there perhaps also a regional difference between semi-phonetic and other spelling (as is common, of course, between the USA and the Commonwealth countries) and how far can etymology take us when we're dealing with a specialised area? Was there an error in the usage of the term across an entire spectrum of the world or of the activity? Or did someone saw "a hawse is where a line passes through or bears on some part of the hull or hull fittings" in which case the usage is correct? How did the term "horse" come to be seen as correct for a traveller, anyway? I have no idea; I'm just wondering.

    I tend to be a stickler for "correct" terminology where it illuminates, but for the same reason neologisms are also very useful. Just don't get me started on the over-use of the term "skiff" for fast small sailboats.

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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by cstevens View Post
    And he was forever irritated by the use of the word "dock" as a noun. "It's a verb not a noun" he said. "A ship is docked at a pier!". I think he was ignoring several centuries of common usage however.
    Yes, haven't the Brits been using dock as a noun for centuries? If so, who gives who the right to say what is correct?

    I can recall the WW2 vintage Royal Navy finding the USN's creation of new terms was hilarious and probably unseamanlike, so some considered them anything but sticklers for the right terms.

  16. #51
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by Pitsligo View Post
    Hmm. Our terminology may differ. As I understand it, a horse is an athwartships metal rod affixed to the deck or deck structures, aligned beneath the point on a sail from which the sheet descends to the deck, upon which a traveler slides (or rides, if you want to think of a traveler riding on a horse). A sheet block is then affixed to the traveler. But is my understanding/definition correct?

    As I understand it, this is Bucephalus's mainsheet horse, with the lower mainsheet block attached to a traveler:



    Would others agree, or need I amend my mental dictionary?

    (I have sometimes heard the rope bridle, rigged across the stern of a sailing dinghy to serve the same function for the mainsheet block, also referred to as a horse. Functionally, that definition is correct; thus I have applied that terminology myself, since "bridle" can refer to several different pieces of equipment but "horse" is fairly specific.)

    Alex
    I have seen a device like yours referred to in an old magazine as a pony - because it was a little horse.

  17. #52
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    Most small pleasure boats do not have a "Hawse" or two "Hawse Pipes" that lead through the planking near the stem. They are most often seen on power vessels with an anchor pulled up through the Hawse. Often a ship that is "at hawse" is anchored by both cables that lead through the hawses at the bow.
    Some sail boats do have a" main sheet horse or a jib sheet horse" that can also be called a "Traveler". It is that , often curved thingie that has a pully attached to it that slides sideways across the back of the boat or up in the front to control that little sail in the front part of the boat or the big one on the back side of the big pole that sticks up.
    Bird
    But why is "horse" a recognised term? If it's not a corruption of the term "hawse" being applied to the item, why did the term "horse" suddenly gallop onboard a boat and find itself affixed to something through which a line runs?

    Is it really a coincidence that a fitting through which a line runs is known by a homonym of the word for fitting through which a line runs? Or did people just say, with reasonable logic, that hawse is the name for a hull fitting through which a line runs and therefore can be applied to the ancestor of the traveller?

    After all, "hawse hole" itself is a case of a transfer of sorts - hawse is an old term for a bow.

  18. #53
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    In around where I'm from, we still call it half mast although I have noticed that the language is dying. I myself, because I am so young, find myself tripping up or having to reread a sentence. What really gets me is when somebody says rope. Revive the Old. Filter the new!

  19. #54
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris249 View Post
    The difference brings up interesting points; is there perhaps also a regional difference (as is common, of course, between the USA and the Commonwealth countries) and how far can etymology take us when we're dealing with a specialised area? Was there an error in the usage of the term across an entire spectrum of the world or of the activity? Or did someone saw "a hawse is where a line passes through or bears on some part of the hull or hull fittings" in which case the usage is correct? How did the term "horse" come to be seen as correct for a traveller, anyway? I have no idea; I'm just wondering.

    I tend to be a stickler for "correct" terminology where it illuminates, but for the same reason neologisms are also very useful. Just don't get me started on the over-use of the term "skiff" for fast small sailboats.
    There are always regional differences. On one UK estuary "skiff" is the accepted term for a clinker built stem punt.
    This:
    An universal etymological English dictionary

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=VuYIAAAAQAAJ
    Nathan Bailey - 1737 - ‎English language
    Refers to the sheet horse of a spritsail (The square sail under the bowsprit) being a rope with a bullseye spliced into its end. So a horse is a mechanism for controlling a sheet and has been for decades.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  20. #55
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    From John G. Rogers' Origins of Sea Terms:

    Horse - (1) A low iron or steel bar, parallel and fastened securely to the deck, along which the lower block of a fore-and-aft sail's sheet moves. It is also called a traveller. (2) An older name for a footrope. (3) To pound, harden, or otherwise repair caulking, usually said "to horse up". The word comes, in all three senses, via Old English, via Old Norse, bross; these nautical connections to the quadruped are not clear.


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  21. #56
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    From John G. Rogers' Origins of Sea Terms:

    Horse - (1) A low iron or steel bar, parallel and fastened securely to the deck, along which the lower block of a fore-and-aft sail's sheet moves. It is also called a traveller. (2) An older name for a footrope. (3) To pound, harden, or otherwise repair caulking, usually said "to horse up". The word comes, in all three senses, via Old English, via Old Norse, bross; these nautical connections to the quadruped are not clear.


    Make of this what you will.
    Thanks, my googlefu failed to turn that one up.

    Most British nautical terms seem to trace back to Norse.

    The quadruped was hross, so why the "b" changed to "h" is the puzzle.
    Old English hors "horse," from Proto-Germanic *harss- (source also of Old Norse hross, Old Frisian, Old Saxon hors, Middle Dutch ors, Dutch ros, Old High German hros, German Roß "horse"), of unknown origin.
    https://www.etymonline.com/word/horse
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  22. #57
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    fter all, "hawse hole" itself is a case of a transfer of sorts - hawse is an old term for a bow.
    And hawser is a synonym for rope or line. So hole through which a hawse runs became hawse hole ( I've heard hawse pipe as well) and eventually just, "hawse."

    I've a lot less clear vision of how, "horse, " came to be used, but picking up MMD's supplied definition above, I am going to give it go. I'd say that the sheet is akin to the rein; it is the the line used to control movement. Such a line ( rein) leads to a horse.


    Kevin
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Thanks chaps - I should have looked it up myself.

    Nick you are of course 100% correct when you say that "skiff" and other words have regional meanings. However, in terms of its modern usage as applied to small fast racing sailboats, "skiff" has a clear etymology. That means, putting my pedant's hat on, it's rather sad and confusing to see it applied to boats that have no connection with that etymology. For example, I've seen the International Contender referred to as a "skiff" when its designer was quite clear that it was actually inspired by European craft such as the Flying Dutchman and 12 Square Metre/Lightweight Sharpie. To use the term as widely as it currently is obscures the history and technology involved, rather than enlightening us.

  24. #59
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    is there perhaps also a regional difference between semi-phonetic and other spelling (as is common, of course, between the USA and the Commonwealth countries) and how far can etymology take us when we're dealing with a specialised area?
    Is it really a coincidence that a fitting through which a line runs is known by a homonym of the word for fitting through which a line runs?
    But "horse" (horss) and "hawse" (hawz) are pronounced very differently, in the dialect I learned them in. Is this different elsewhere?

    The one that boggles me is how on the east coast (where I'm from) the process of driving cotton, etc., into a seam is called "caulking", where here on the west coast it seems to be universally "corking." Corking? Really? It makes me flinch every time. I don't think I'll ever get used to it.

    Horse - (1) A low iron or steel bar, parallel and fastened securely to the deck, along which the lower block of a fore-and-aft sail's sheet moves. It is also called a traveller. (2) An older name for a footrope. (3) To pound, harden, or otherwise repair caulking, usually said "to horse up".
    Perfect! And I had forgotten that the short, outermost section of footrope on a yard is a "Flemish horse." Why Flemish?

    Refers to the sheet horse of a spritsail (The square sail under the bowsprit) being a rope with a bullseye spliced into its end. So a horse is a mechanism for controlling a sheet and has been for decades.
    And yet I've heard of a line with a bullseye in the end that is used to direct the course of another line being called a "lizard," too. So when is a lizard a horse, or a horse a lizard?

    There are always regional differences. On one UK estuary "skiff" is the accepted term for a clinker built stem punt.
    In Maine, a "skiff" is a small working boat powered by an outboard motor --OR it's a narrow vessel for use under oars alone, which is ALSO called a "pulling boat". A small, flat-bottomed rowboat boat that everyone here in WA calls a "dinghy" is, in Maine, universally called a "punt" --unless it has a square bow, in which case it's a "pram"-- but I've heard that everyone everywhere else calls a pram a punt.

    I have seen a device like yours referred to in an old magazine as a pony - because it was a little horse.
    I may need to use that.

    I LOVE LANGUAGE!!!

    Alex

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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Ok just to be contrary... I sometimes see the hull line that I have always known as the "sheer" referred to as the "shear". Drives me nuts. But is this just a regional difference? And don't get me started on scarf vs. scarph.

    And as I've always used the terms, a dinghy is a small tender regardless of hull form, unless it's a small open sailboat in which case it can be a dinghy without also being a tender. A punt is flat-bottomed (and typically poled rather than rowed) while a pram is round or v-bottomed. Oh, and I'd call any small oar- or outboard-powered boat a "skiff" as long as it has a purpose of its own (that is it is not being used primarily as a tender) and as long as it wouldn't be better described by some other term, like pram, dinghy, pulling boat, wherry, punt, etc.

    But I'm sure many authorities will disagree with me on all of these usages. It's just what I grew up with.

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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    I'm blessed by SabreWife being interested in all this stuff and wanting to learn (and use) proper terminology. I haven't advanced her to "athwartships" yet, but she is starting to get "abaft."

    Things I've noticed in the past 10 years....

    Boats advertised as "liveaboards" rather than being identified as a motor yacht, sailboat, or having any mention of manufacturer, length, etc.

    Boats having a "bathroom" and a "kitchen" and "bedrooms."

    Boat operators who rely upon electronics with no knowledge of navigation, piloting, rules of the road, or proper use of the VHF, much less etiquette.

    The world's going to hell in a handbasket...but then SabreWife often refers to me as "Gran Torino."
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  27. #62
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    but then SabreWife often refers to me as "Gran Torino."
    Ha! Yeah, I have those tendencies too.

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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by LawrenceOfAlbany View Post
    The decline of our language is clearly evidenced by the new trend of starting a paragraph with the word So... I see it everywhere. Oy Vey!
    This cracks me up. New? Seamus Heaney's 1999 translation of Beowulf (ca 900 ad) starts off this way:

    So. The spear Danes in days gone by
    And the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
    We have heard of those princes' heroic campaigns.
    Tom
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by Sabre View Post
    I'm blessed by SabreWife being interested in all this stuff and wanting to learn (and use) proper terminology. I haven't advanced her to "athwartships" yet, but she is starting to get "abaft."
    Whoa, away too much information.

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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Had a read through the comments here--amusing. No era has been free of those bemoaning "the decline of the language" and what-not. And yet we keep on talking to each other, and mostly understanding each other. Even if someone aboard a boat says "behind" instead of "abaft."

    Time to lighten up a touch, perhaps? Take a deep breath, calm down, and realize that language does not stop evolving until no one speaks it anymore.



    Tom
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Not only is the language going to hell in a handbasket, but kids these days are all lazy good for nothings that have no idea what the word "work" means!

    [Gran Torino is a great nickname]
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Twenty five years ago or so I worked with a deaf couple who wanted to cruise the oceans. They had done some sailing at Gallaudet, learned ASL sailing signs, and were not wildly happy about it. They's heard that I had tried and failed to recover the special sign that fishing people from Chilmark and the Vineyard in general must have developed. A good deal is known about Martha's Vineyard Sign Language (or Chilmark Sign Language), which gave rise to ASL, but the seamanship terms have been lost.

    As we got to know each other and the couple showed me what they'd been taught, I saw the problem: Many terms or commands required two hands and very few could be signaled with either hand facing away from the recipient.

    Here's the point, for those unimpressed with the value of nautical terminology: The key nautical terms evolved to be vocally quite distinct and easily given inflection and volume to carry to the main truck in a gale. This is in contrast to the language of landsmen trying to come up with sailing terms. In my opinion, the Gallaudet seamanship language (at the time, they may well have moved on effectively in quarter century since I dealt at all with this) was what you'd expect if a bunch from Kansas had built a boat and were trying to figure out how to talk about it. Our task was to make sailing sign that worked for these two.

    There are, of course, many terms with multiple and confusing meanings. "Tack" for example has nearly as much versatility as the most frequent anglo-saxon obscenity with it's many noun and verb, adjective and adverb gerund forms, and creative uses of no recognized grammatical form. But in the main, terms evolved to make sense of the myriad boat parts and lines any one of which may require adjustment or repair without ambiguity or confusion.

    You don't expect a surgeon to tell an assistant to "Hold that red thing."

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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    I much enjoyed reading the entire Horatio Hornblower series. I'll admit that much of the terminology was new to me, however just as much, I understood. My sailing background certainly added to my enjoyment of those books. I lent one to a friend who is a voracious reader with much interest in military history. He enjoyed the read, but told me that most of the boat handling descriptions and related terminology he glossed over.

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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    Here's the point, for those unimpressed with the value of nautical terminology: The key nautical terms evolved to be vocally quite distinct and easily given inflection and volume to carry to the main truck in a gale.
    I can shout "behind" in a gale just as easily--and in just as many syllables--as I can shout "abaft!"

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    You don't expect a surgeon to tell an assistant to "Hold that red thing."
    Ah, Ian, you aren't playing fair here. I'm not advocating the replacement of specific terms with non-specific non-concise phrases. To put it another way:

    You don't expect a physicist to pull out a slide rule.

    You don't expect a novelist to use "quoth" as a dialogue tag.

    Language is not a dead thing pinned to a board like a butterfly behind glass. Language gets used. As it's used, it changes. Fight that if you want, but you will surely lose that fight. Meanwhile, I've sailed thousands of miles and never once said "abaft" on a boat. As far as I can tell, I've suffered no horrible consequences.

    Yet!

    Tom
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    Default Re: The demise of boat language

    Devil get thee abaft me!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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