I’m afraid I am something of a nerd. A sad but true fact.
The Langorian pirates have invaded my novel Song of Leira, and as a result, I have been doing some seaworthy research. I have always loved the sea… and ships (wooden ships from the age of wind powered sailing!)… and pirates… and anything sea related!
In fact, one of my favorite family vacations ever was a a trip to Mystic Seaport (The Museum of America and the Sea) in Connecticut! We went aboard several ships, including a 19th century whaling vessel, the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world. I loved every minute of that trip.
For Christmas this year, one of my presents was a beautiful old copy of Knight’s Modern Seamanship!
Anyway, so when I was researching ships yesterday, I happened upon a glossary of nautical terms in Wikipedia! Needless to say, I was incredibly excited! I think I said something like “Wow, this is so awesome!!!” So my sister asked me what it was and when I told her that I had found a complete glossary of nautical terms, and started expounding upon some of the more interesting ones, she gave me a look which I could only interpret as meaning “How in the world did I end up with such a crazy sister?” :)
But, on the merest chance that there are some sea-loving-nerdy-crazy people out there like me, I am posting a link to the website! Glossary of Nautical Terms
Some of the interesting things I discovered:
Midshipmen (from the 18th century on) were non commissioned officers below the rank of lieutenant – think of the little boy officers in Master and Commander – and were so called because of where their living quarters were positioned aboard ship. The berths of regular seamen were located in the forecastle of the ship – the fo’c’sle. Sailors were referred to as being “before the mast” (i.e. not officers) because their berths were in front of the foremast. Since the fore part of the ship was the roughest place to be while sailing, the nicer quarters in the stern were naturally reserved for officers.
In point of rank, (at least from the 18th century on) Midshipmen came between seamen and regular officers, so their quarters corresponded with their rank, and were located amidship between the seaman’s quarters in the fo’c’sle and the officers quarters in the stern. Thus they were called midshipmen.
Pipe down: Has anyone ever told you to “pipe down there” and be quiet? This phrase is also a nautical one, stemming from the bosun’s pipe signals – the pipe down whistle was the ‘lights out and everybody quiet’ whistle at the end of the day.
Taken aback – She was taken aback by the strange result of her experiment. Believe it or not, this phrase had its origin at sea as well! According to Wikipedia’s Glossary of Nautical Terms, “An inattentive helmsmen might allow the dangerous situation to arise where the wind is blowing into the sails ‘backwards,” causing a sudden (and possibly dangerous) shift in the position of the sails.“
Awesome seafarin’ movies and books:
The Midshipman Quinn Collection by Showell Styles record the exciting tale of the adventures of one unlikely British Midshipman – Septimus Quinn – during the naval battles against Napoleon. Septimus finds himself in a variety of exciting adventures from battling highwaymen to warring with the French, participating in daring escapades into enemy territory, consorting with spies, and striking such dreaded blows against the enemy that he earns a place on Napoleon’s “most hated” list! Septimus meets each strange chance with a “cool hand and spectacled eye.” These are some of my favorite historical fiction books.
Master and Commander – the movie! An exciting movie, again set during the era of Britain’s valiant fight against Napoleon. For Captain Jack Aubrey of the HMS Surprise, what started out as a simple mission becomes a personal quest and a struggle to maintain the balance between pride and duty! A heroic tale full of bravery, exciting battles, and thrilling sea chases, as well as memorable characters! A must see!
And of course, there’s always the Pirates of the Caribbean movies for any time you want to sit down and enjoy an evening of exciting swashbuckling fun full of battles, epic sword fights, hilarious crew, trickery… in short, pirates!
Ready all hands t’put about and sail into the sunset!
~ A Servant of the King