Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sailor Mouth Saturday: Private

Private, privateer, privateerism, private property, private signal. It's all sailor speak and it's all interesting. Let's see why, shall we mates?

Private is, of course, a rank in the army. It is also a rank in the Marines so you could reasonably expect to find more than one type of privates aboard a man-of-war. You knew there would be a penis joke at some point. I'm just getting it out of the way early.

All the Brethren are well and duly acquainted with privateers. It goes without saying that a valid and current letter of marque and reprisal makes your prize taking right legal (provided you're taking ships from the nation or nations outlined in your commission). It's all above board. Except if you ask the enemy. They will certainly call you a pirate.

Privateerism or privateer practice is naval speak for disorderly conduct aboard ship. It's basically a term with which men-of-wars' men can denigrate privateers and one another. Right back at you, sailor.

Private property by land is specifically excluded from privateering commissions. The raiding and taking of towns and goods is illegal in these instances. Someone forgot to tell Henry Morgan about that, evidently.

A private signal is an agreed upon offering - a word over the decks, a flag, a lantern - between two ships that would be known to the persons involved but would mean nothing to anyone else. Obviously these come in handy during battle or in a crowded foreign port.

Finally, the beautiful frigate at today's header is Gloria. She is used by the Colombian navy for sailing training. Without the power lines I can imagine my own ancestor, Commodore Beluche, on her quarterdeck preparing to embark on another mission for the great Liberator, Simon Bolivar. Privateering has its privileges.

Happy Saturday, Brethren. Come on back for more next week!


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! I wonder if Blogger will let me post comments today? Anyway, what I was going to say when I tried to comment the other day was simply the old adage, "One man's pirate is another man's privateer". Am I not correct in saying that, Pirate Queen?

Pauline said...

Ahoy, Timmy! Blogger hears you again! And yes, if you ask the Spanish, Henry Morgan was a pirate. The Governor of Jamaica, however, would surely call him a privateer....

"Ye stinkin' frog!"