With Passover behind us and Easter in the offing I'm definitely feeling today's word: full. But once again things are a little different afloat than by land. And the beautiful painting above of USS Rattlesnake gives us just a hint of what I'm talking about.
When one says "full" with regard to ships the first thing that probably comes to mind is full sail. This term is indicative not only of the sails being filled with wind but also of the sails being well set. None of these sheets will fly to the wind. It does not, as many believe, necessarily indicate a ship with every sail set. That would be full spread.
The order "Full for stays!" indicates that the helm should keep the sails full of wind to keep up her speed and is usually used when tacking into or toward the wind. Stays, of course, being another term for rigging. Keep that rope so taught it sings in the breeze, lads. When this is accomplished correctly, the ship is said to be full and by.
Full is also used in regard to pay. A full man in the Royal Navy was someone who was competent, an able seaman, and receiving full pay. Those under discipline for neglect of duty, landsmen new to the service and, of course, a sailor without a ship would usually be on half-pay.
A man might be said to be in full feather: dressed in his very best. Before all seaman were issued uniforms, the term was used of officers in particular. If your Captain and Lieutenants were in full feather, something was up and no mistake.
Other seafaring uses for full have fallen in and out of common use by land over the last 200 or so years. Full drive meant going at someone in anger with the clear intent to do violence. Full due meant you've gotten all your going to get out of a person. The transaction/conversation/argument, etc. is over and done for good. And then there's full swing which originally meant complete power. This has obviously morphed into our full (or total) sway - being in unchallengeable control. We now say of parties that they are in full swing. I'm fairly certain there's a connection there; I'm just not sure what it is.
Happy Saturday, Brethren. I wish you the blessing of the wind in your sails. May they always be full.