Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sailor Mouth Saturday: Home

Home is a place in the mind of a sailor that, if he was to be honest with himself, does not exist. At home, on land, safe from the ocean’s fickle whims, the sailor imagines himself at peace. There is no scut work – no work of any measurable kind if possible – an endless supply of drink and a woman to look after him. Two, if he can work it out. The British sailors of the Napoleonic era had a name for it: Fiddler’s Green. As Dean King informs us this was:

A sailor’s imagined paradise, free of the hardships of the sea and rich with wine, women, and song.

Perhaps this is why the word home has a sturdy place aboard ship.

The Sailor’s Word Book points out that home is:

The proper situation of an object, when it retains its full force of action, or when it is properly lodged for convenience. In the former sense it is applied to the sails; in the latter it usually refers to the stowage of the hold.

As to the sails, it is said that they are home when they are set to receive the wind most favorable. Sheet home is the order to extend the lower clues of a sail or sails to the yardarms. With the hold, her cargo is said to be home when it is in the most favorable spots for the ship’s best running.

The gunner will call home when he has determined by touch that the charge in his cannon is home and no air is escaping the touch-hole.

The anchor is said to come home when it loosens from the ground it is in and is dragged along by the ship moving under current or sail. This can also occur due to an inadequate length of cable. The wind blows home when it skirts land and water with equal velocity. It does not blow home when the wind hits high ground close to the water as in the case of a high-set island such a Gibraltar and this can play havoc with a sailing vessel.

A ship is said to be on home service when she is stationed in waters belonging to her own country. In Britain this was sometimes referred to as Channel service. Likewise a home trader is a merchant vessel not from a foreign country.

A ship is homeward bound on her way to back to her own nation or, more specifically, the harbor or shipyard where she was launched. A homeward-bounder, then, is one such ship underway.

Finally, for your entertainment and really almost completely off the subject, here is my favorite song about home. “Everybody really needs a home…”

Header: The Sailors Return by Toby Edward Rosenthal c 1880


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! Home is the best to be if you ask me...

Pauline said...

It is.