Dear WSC Sailors, boaters and kayakers
The next sailing, kayaking and fishing season is just around the corner. On Sunday 7th March 2021, we plan to hold our AGM – COVID permitting. Please join us especially if you want a space in the boat park next year. On Sunday 21st March, again COVID permitting, it will be All hands to the pumps for the Boat park clean-up please for the season and on Wednesday 1st April the boat park opens again.
The English language is full of hidden words and phrases that originated from those who spent their lives at sea. The following are common terms that you may not be aware connect you to the world of the ancient mariners!
Toe the line: This first emerged as a phrase used on ships when a captain called the crew to gather in a straight line with their toes meeting the edge of one of the planks on the deck. This “toeing the official line” was born.
Son of a Gun: As the story goes, the sailors in the 17th and 18th centuries were a rowdy bunch. So much so that every so often a lady friend of the crew would end up giving birth on the ship. This usually occurred on the gun deck where there was the most space. When the child was not claimed by any of the sailors, which happened all too often, it would be referred to as “the son of a gun”!
Hunky-Dory: This phrase is believed to have been invented by American sailors who used it to describe a particular street in Japan called Honcho-dori. This street was known to lonely sailors for the services it provided.
Turn the Corner: This idiom is believed to have been first used by sailors who had passed the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa and/or Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America.
“Turn a blind eye” This is a phrase commonly associated with Admiral Lord Nelson on the occasion of him having wilfully ignored a signal telling him to withdraw from a naval engagement. However, there is evidence to suggest that this expression was used years earlier by yet another admiral, this being Admiral Sir Hyde Parker at the battle of Copenhagen in 1801.
Feeling Blue The phrase “feeling blue” has been used as a cultural reference for years, ingrained in the language of music and in reference as to how we are feeling. The phrase stems from the event of losing a captain at sea; when arriving back in port, ships would fly a blue flag and the ship’s hull wore a blue band.
Show a leg: Girlfriends could have an extra half hour in bed when the ship was in port – but they had to ‘show a leg’ to stay in the hammock while the sailors got up.
On the fiddle: The fiddle was a raised lip round sailor’s plate. It indicated how much sailor entitled to. If he took too much, food touched lip and sailor was said to be ‘on the fiddle’, which was a flogging offence.
Grog: Admiral Vernon, who was known as ‘Old Grogram’ from his habit of wearing a grogram coat, he supervised dilution of daily tot of rum (57% proof, 1/2 gill rum to 1 gill of water); and ‘Feeling groggy’meant that the sailor had too much grog!
Slush fund – A slushy slurry of fat was obtained by boiling or scraping the empty salted meat storage barrels. This stuff called “slush” was often sold ashore by the ship’s cook for the benefit of himself or the crew. The money so derived became known as a slush fund.
The WSC are looking for nominations for the 2021 donations preferring to award to a charity or organisation with a local connection. If you have a charity, organisation or individual that you would like to nominate please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe on the water. Andy Brown Editor – WSC Wembury Review