Saturday, September 8, 2012
Sailor Mouth Saturday: Hove
When a ship is hove out she is ready for careening. In some cases this is referred to as careened or hove down. In this position, she is heeled on her side not necessarily for careening but for repairs as well. She may also land in a hove down position when wrecked, as in the above painting. A ship is hove up when she is brought into cradles on the docks and hove off when she is suspended completely above ground. She is hove keel out when she is virtually on her side at sea, with her keel above the water.
A ship is hove in stays when in the process of going about. Hove in sight means the ship's anchor is in view, but it can also mean that a sail has been spotted. Hove short indicates a taught anchor cable while hove well short refers to a ship drawn to her anchor be the action of men at her capstan.
Hove to, perhaps the most familiar sounding term of this batch, is synonymous with heaving to; i.e., the ship decelerating and coming to a halt at sea. Admiral Smyth makes a good point about this turn of phrase in The Sailor's Word Book:
It is curious to observe that seamen have retained an old word which has otherwise been long disused. It occurs in Grafton's Chronicle, where the mayor and aldermen of London, in 1256, understanding that Henry III was coming to Westminster from Windsor, went to Knightsbridge, "and hoved there to salute the king."
The term in this instance had nothing to do with seafaring. It simply described public figures waiting to see their King. Seamen, in some cases to this day, continue to use hove to or hoved to mean stopping.
Hovellers were boatmen or pilots, usually unlicensed, in the Cinque-Ports regions of England. Though they were, in theory, only ferrying people from ship to shore or piloting larger ships through dangerous shoals, much of their business was illegal. They engaged in the plundering of wrecked ships and in smuggling. In fact the act of smuggling was often referred to as hovering during the Tudor and Stuart eras.
With that, I'll hove to and wish all the Brethren a fair Saturday.
Header: The Wreckers by Charles Henry Gifford via American Gallery