Saturday, June 25, 2011
Sailor Mouth Saturday: Moor
Moor means, of course, to secure a ship. The etymology of the word is unclear, even to our old friend Webster who says it “probably” came from Anglo-Saxon. This may only be because the word moor meaning a boggy flatland or fen comes from the Anglo-Saxon word mor meaning a wasteland, but Webster does not elaborate on that. Suffice it to say that the word carried both meanings by the end of the Dark Ages.
In broad terms, a ship is moored when she rides with both her bower anchors in the water. This form of mooring is used in good weather and in large ports, but other conditions may require other types of moorings and the variations begin.
The above form of mooring can also be known as mooring a cable each way. More often, though, the phrase refers to the use of two anchors placed equidistant from one another when the ship rides in a tidal area. In this fashion one anchor secures the ship as the tide comes in, the other as it ebbs out. In smaller tide ways a ship may moor across, securing one anchor on the far side of the river in which she sits. A similar situation is called mooring along and a compromise between the two is known as mooring a quarter shot.
Mooring rings are the large rings, frequently made of iron, bolted securely to buoys and docks to which a ship or boat may tie up. A similar mechanism is known as a mooring bridle. Mooring chocks are peculiar to large ships such as men-of-war. These are hefty pieces of hardwood drilled with holes and secured on deck with iron through which the cables for moorings can pass. Likewise mooring posts are similar hardwood blocks driven into the shore to secure ships and boats via cable and hawser. In the past, these were often called mooring palls.
Though we now think of “moorings” as generally anything that a ship or boat can tie off to, in fact they are – or were – technically buoys used in large harbors and ports for the purpose. They were called swinging moorings if ships attached to them at the bow or all fours moorings if attached at bow and stern. Generally the buoys were held relatively in place by heavy anchors and thick cable which would need to be replaced occasionally, a dirty job if ever there was one.
To moor with a spring on the cable is an old term for warping a vessel by putting an anchor out and using the capstan to pull the ship toward it, thus moving her forward in the absence of wind.
A moor can also be a swamp or bog in a cold climate that is flat, wet, and generally desolate not to mention treacherous to cross. In Britain, particularly Wales and other “west-country” areas, moor gallop is a term for a sudden, windy storm that blows across the moors.
And what more can we say about moor? A hundred things, really, but we’ll leave it at this: the post you’re reading marks Triple P’s 100th Sailor Mouth Saturday. Huzzah!
Header: Rose in her roll as HMS Surprise moored in Mexico via Webshots.com ~ note how she is moored; three cables in all