Today at my house is all about a certain hero who appears above in a portrait that hangs on the wall of my bedroom. That's right. Today is the 227th anniversary of the birth of El Libertador: Simon Bolivar. To my mind he out stripes many of the greatest most worshiped men ever spoken of. If I told you some of the guys I have in mind, cries of heresy would rise against me from all over the globe, including my own dear country. Despite Hugo Chavez co-opting the great man for his own bizarre political agenda, I believe as another political leader once said: Bolivar belongs to all those who love Liberty.
So, in tribute to a righteous man, Sailor Mouth Saturday is again about the word right and its application at sea.
A ship is righted, or her men are righting her, when she is pulled up off her keel and into the water after a careening. For a very large ship, this can be a tremendous undertaking requiring the strong arms of every man Jack available. And a staggering amount of rope and tackles. A ship can also right at sea, presenting her masts vertically once again after listing due to grounding, waves or wind. A frightening experience regardless of the ship's size.
Right is most commonly used in reference to a ship's heading. A ship is right on end when sailing straight ahead in line with her masts. Right way indicates the ship's head is pointing in the desired direction. Right sailing means the ship's course is along one of the cardinal compass points: North, South, East or West and straight on it. Right the helm! is an order to bring the rudder in line with the keel causing the boat or ship to head directly forward.
Right up and down indicates that a ship's cable has gone from horizontal to vertical in relation to the water it is in. This occurs when weighing anchor. The capstan reels in the anchor cable and when the ship has reached the place where the anchor or kedge is set, the cable will literally come straight up to the ship from the water. The call is then: "Up and down, sir!" This lets the captain, master, leadsman and so on know that the anchor will soon be out of the water. When she is, the call "Clean (or thick if the anchor has a deal of barnacles, etc. aboard) and dry for weighing!" is heard. The anchor is set in the cathead, and the ship is free in the water. A glorious moment indeed.
Finally, there is the right whale. These gentle beasts are the ones without dorsal fins such as a baleen whale that were so popular with whalers in the 18th and 19th century. Thanks in large part to fossil fuels, we no longer need to hunt our fellow mammals.
And that is enough for today. It's time for me to get ready for a celebratory evening in honor of Bolivar. First, a toast to that portrait in my room. And to all my distant relatives in Venezuela and Panama, Salute!