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14 Nautical Terms and Where They Originated

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Have you ever wondered why people talk differently once they step foot on a boat?What landlubbers call a bathroom suddenly changes to a head when you are afloat.Left and right become port and starboard while front and back become bow and stern.Here are some commonly used nautical terms and what their origins are as well as some terms we use every day that have their roots in sailing:
Ahoy – This is a traditional nautical greeting and originated with the Vikings.Back then, however, it was not a friendly greeting but a battle cry that was used when attacking the enemy.If you use it today as a greeting, you may want to check to see if the other person is of Viking descent.


Aye, Aye – Aye means “yes” in Old English.A seaman’s response of “Aye, aye” to an order means, “I understand and will obey.”

Bitter End – The bitter end typically refers to the end of a line that attaches to a boat.On older ships (and even some newer boats) there is a post on the deck called a bitt and it is used to secur…

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The Day I Almost Lost My Boat but Bob Marley Was Right

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It was several years ago and it was late fall in Georgia.The water in Lake Lanier had cooled quite a bit but It was a nice day so I decided to take “The Bear’s Den” out for a cruise one weekday afternoon.The water might have been too cold for a swim but the air was warm and the winds were light.After a good day on the water, I decided that it was time to head back to the marina.



As I entered the no wake zone, I noticed a sailboat in front of me that looked to be about 24 to 26 feet in length.There was a lady on the boat by herself and, like me she appeared to be heading for her slip.I did notice something unusual though.She still had the mainsail up.I decided to watch her intently thinking that I was about to get a lesson in handling a sailboat.I figured that if she could put that thing in the slip under sail, then she must be good, definitely better than I was!
Her boat was about 50 yards ahead of me and the wind picked up a little as she approached the dock.I crept along at about 700 …

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If you found this article useful, use the space below to subscribe and you will be notified by email every time a new article is published in The Ships Log. Don't forget to check your email afterwards for a subscription verification email from Feedburner. Your email address will only be used for notifying you when updates are made to The Ships Log.


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Do-It-Yourself Underwater Lighting

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It used to be that underwater lighting was something that you only saw on large yachts but that is rapidly changing.More and more these days, you are seeing smaller recreational boats with colorful lighting below the surface.There is one thing to consider though, the cost.Whether you buy a new boat with underwater lighting installed or add it on after the fact, it can be a rather expensive option for just a little bling.There is another option, however.
When I decided that I wanted to add some light below the surface on my boat, there were two things that I was not comfortable with when considering the traditional method.The first was the cost.At over 2 thousand dollars for hardware, wiring, labor and lifting the boat out of the water, the cost was hard to justify.The other thing that I was not comfortable with was the fact that I had to drill holes into the hull.Sure, a boat hull already has holes for various purposes but I was not trying to add more!
I spent some time looking for othe…

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Visit to The Battleship Texas

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Recently, I was driving through Texas on my way to San Antonio and I realized that I was not far from the Battleship Texas State Historic Park.A few taps on the GPS and I was soon headed south towards LaPorte.In case you did not know, this battleship is the last of the WWI era Dreadnought class ships. Built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Virginia, Battleship Texas (BB-35) was launched in 1912 and commissioned in 1914. She not only served in WW I but also in WW II including the landing at Normandy and the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.In 1948, she was retired and began the process of becoming a museum.The Texas Wildlife and Parks Department now manages her along with monetary support from the Texas Battleship Foundation.
When I first arrived at the site, it was easy to tell I was at the right place.BB-35 loomed large at her berth next to the visitor center.It was a weekday so there were not many visitors around.After paying a reasonable fee, I was excited to …

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Herreshoff Museum - A Gem Beside Narragansett Bay

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Several months ago, I took a trip to Rhode Island and found myself with a few hours to kill.Being that I was in an area of the country that was full of boating history, I figured that I could find a nautical museum of some sort to pass the time away.After Googling on my phone for a bit, I came across the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island.I punched the address in my GPS and was on my way.
I had heard the Herreshoff name before. I knew that the Herreshoff Brothers were boat builders in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and they were renowned for their innovation in the boat building world.Together, they ran the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company.Over the years, they built everything from custom sail boats to steam yachts to torpedo boats.Some of their boats are still in service today and only a few individuals are lucky enough to still own one.What the Herreshoff’s were best known for was their contribution to the racing community.Between 1895 and 1920, Herreshoff designed a…

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