Saturday, June 30, 2012
Sailor Mouth Saturday: Chase
The etymology of the word even speaks to the pursuit of a prize. According to Webster's, the modern English word derives from the Old French word chacier, to take, which comes from the Latin capiare, to strive to seize. Nothing is more eloquent then that last definition; a chase is a vessel that another vessel will strive to seize. The chaser is then the vessel doing the chasing.
To chase is, obviously, to pursue another ship. Another way to put it would be giving chase. There are variations of the chase, as Admiral Smyth advises us in The Sailor's Word Book:
A stern chase is when the chaser follows the chased astern, directly upon the same point of the compass. To lie with a ship's fore-foot in a chase, is to sail and meet with her by the nearest distance, and so to cross her in her way, as to come across her fore-foot. A ship is said to have a good chase when she is so built forward or astern that she can carry many guns to shoot forwards or backwards; according to which she is said to have a good forward or good stern chase. Chasing to windward, is often termed chasing in the wind's eye.
And that, Brethren, is some excellent seafaring language for your next piece of piratical fiction.
Chase is just as frequently used in the parlance of ship's guns. A bow chase is a gun set to the fore, where it can be used for firing on a chase. The chase-ports are the gun ports right fore and aft on a warship. Chase guns then are those that are moved to these ports as the situation warrants. In some cases, chase guns may also refer to small swivels almost always mounted fore or aft. Chase-stern guns refers specifically to guns pointed astern. The chase-sight was where the sight of the gun was placed.
A chase, or in this case chasse, was also a ship. The French chasse-maree, known in English as a lugger, has been discussed here at Triple P in depth.
And so, fair winds and a following sea to all the Brethren this fair Saturday. May all your chases surrender easy and be packed to the gunnels with rich booty.
Header: Sailing Ships in Stormy Seas by Harvey George Wainwright via American Gallery