Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sailor Mouth Saturday: Heaving/Heavy

It probably goes without saying that things can get heavy at sea and that heaving is not just something that poor green guy at the bow does. So let’s get right into it, mates.

Since I’ve already mentioned seasickness, I’ll bring up heaving and setting. This is that ubiquitous and violent roll of a ship in a very heavy sea, which by the way refers to basic “dirty weather”: high wind and waves.

Heaving a strain is pushing on the capstan bars with inordinate force. A “strain” until the late 19th century was a common name for a hernia, thus the inference. In such cases one might be participating in heaving ahead; advancing a ship in water by heaving on a cable fastened to a fixed object before her. On the other hand, the action might be heaving astern; doing the same thing but in the opposite direction. This procedure is often necessary when a ship has run aground on rock or shoal.

Heaving taut is turning the capstan until the cable is straight and, as The Sailor’s Word Book so poetically puts it, “ready for action.” The capstan and the men working her are said to be heaving through all when the cable does not hold and slips within the mechanism.

Heaving in stays is another way of referring to tacking, this because the wind blowing from the fore puts a great deal of pressure on the stays. Heaving out refers to unfurling a sail or sails. With topsails this is sometimes spoken of as footing the sail out of the top.

Heaving down is putting a ship at sea into a similar position to the one she would have on land while being careened. This is done using boats and a series of ropes on her masts to expose part of her hull that would normally be below the water line and is usually resorted to only when repairs are urgently needed. Another phrase for the ship’s position while being careened – with her keel completely out of the water – is heaving out.

We already noted the phrase heavy sea, which may be caused by a heavy gale: a very strong wind in which emergency measures must be taken by reducing sail. Heavy drift-ice is similar to a large iceberg. This is ice which may look small above the water but is in fact massive, and dangerous, beneath the surface. When heavy metal is spoken of aboard us, it is the same as heavy ordnance; balls or other projectiles of a very large caliber.

Thus we have done with heave, heaving and heavy. Happy Saturday, Brethren. So far my Federal Jury Duty does not require me to be away from the ship, but sixty days is a long time. I’ll keep you posted on how my civic duty might impact Triple P.

Header: Ship in Storm, artist unknown, via


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! “Ready for action”... that is rather poetic.

I also like that heavy metal is the same as heavy ordinance...

I'm glad you don't have to go to jury duty this week too. Hopefully you will not have to go next week either.

Pauline said...

There were some good turns of phrase in that one, I agree. And I'm happy to take jury duty one week at a time; hopefully next week, as you note, will work out just like this one.