Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sailor Mouth Saturday: Low/Lower

Today's word can distinguish many an item and action aboard ship. From weather to great guns, from stem to stern, there is no shortage of uses for low and lower.

Low and aloft indicates a ship with every sail out. She is the visual equivalent of the phrase: "There is not a moment to lose." I am always brought to mind of the great clippers, making all speed around the Horn to the gold fields of San Francisco.

Low sails, conversely, is a ship under courses and close reefed topsails. In this position she may be preparing for dirty weather. A low masted ship is one whose masts are short for the size of the hull.

Low latitudes are those 10 degrees north or south of the equator; high latitudes being the poles. Low tides can be described as low water, which is also a sailor's term for being in dire straights and/or without money.

Lower lifts are those which sustain the main, fore and crossjack yards. Lower breadth sweep refers to shipbuilder's draughts. It is, for the most part, an estimate of timber needed for the building of the widest part of the ship's hull.

Lower hold refers to the space in a merchantman where cargo is kept, often also referring to purpose built "in between" or 'tween decks. Lower hold beams are those that prop up these lowest decks.

Lower deckers are the heaviest cannon carried by a man-of-war, and are therefor generally positioned on the lower decks of these ships. Lowering is a term for a sudden bank of clouds or fog, as if the sky itself seems to lower onto the ship.

Lower handsomely! An order best described by Admiral Smyth himself:

To ease down gradually, expressed of some weighty body suspended from tackles or ropes which, being slackened, suffer the said body to descend slowly.

This order is opposed to lower cheerly, which indicates the need for expedition in the handling of the load.

And so we'll leave low and lower alone and go forth on our course. Fair winds and following seas to one and all, and a mug o' grog to warm you on yer way.

Header: Sunset on the Beach Arsene Chabanian via Old Paint


Timmy! said...

Is it lower cheerly or lower cheerily, Pauline? I'm just curious...

And I'm all for a mug o' grog, too.

Pauline said...

No; it is actually "Lower cheerly". Go figure.