Did you Know that Many Familiar Sayings Are Rooted in the Sea and Sailing?
3 Square meals a day comes from the British Royal Navy where the sailor’s food was served on square wooden boards? Sailors were promised 3 squares (meals) a day when they signed on.
Splicing the Main Brace was of the same origins and ran until July 1970 when the Royal Navy stopped issuing rum on ships of the line. Sailors were given a tot of Grog (Rum) to subdue them and make the fearless in battle. The ration was 1/8th of a pint -0 roughly .71ml.
Cat got your tongue, the Cat o Nine Tails was used as a punishment, it was so cruel that it took the victims breath away and good deal more.
Three Sheets to the Wind, sheets being the ropes that secure the sail/s, usually two per sail. If one was not secured properly it would make the ship hard to control and appear drunken. Three sheets to the wind means to appear drunk!
All at Sea, a state of confusion and disorder. The saying dates from the days of sail, and is used to this day, when navigation was primitive and inaccurate knowing a ships precise location was largely guess work. A ship that was out of sight of land was liable to get lost, or all at sea!
Batten Down the Hatches, prepare for trouble, ships hatches were often uncovered to allow a through draft below decks. In the event of bad weather the hatches were covered with tarpaulins and secured with battens – heavy wooden strips – to keep the water out of the hull.
Broad in the Beam, having wide posterior, a ships widest point is it beam, a person with a large derriere was said to be broad in the beam.
Copper bottomed, made to last and reliable. In the days of sail ships built of wood were inclined to become infested with ship worm a condition that would eat away the timbers from within with the result that the bottom of the ship could collapse. Ships were protected with copper cladding from the 18th century that kept the timbers dry and ‘stopped the rot’.
Cut and run, making a quick getaway, cutting away an anchor or other securing cables in the event of impending high winds or major threats to the integrity of a boat.
Full to the Gunwales, full to the brim, unable to take on any more.
Know the Ropes, having a sound knowledge of something, especially in boating terms by knowing which sheets do what and how to use them to best effect.
Mal de Mer, sea sickness, something that comes to us all and may be slight queasiness or a more serious condition.
Splicing the Main Brace was used in days of sail to cure seasickness, we recommend plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and bed rest, then celebrate when you are feeling better – on dry land!
Enjoy your sailing.
Author: R. Langley