Saturday, December 8, 2012
Sailor Mouth Saturday: Make
Is variously applied in sea-language.
And even that is an understatement. Ships, for instance, can make headway - advance through the water - make lee-way - drift to leeward according to their course - make stern way - retreat - make sail - increase the number of sails for increased speed - and so on.
A ship in dirty weather, as she rocks and pitches and particularly if she leaks, is said to be making bad weather (as if she were responsible for what she faces). A leaky ship is also said to make water, as apposed to take on water which is done when replenishing casks of the fresh variety. A slender thread separates the two terms, but an author using one for the other can be the death knell of otherwise impressive nautical fiction.
Make comes in the form of orders. Make ready! Prepare for what is about to occur. Make a lane, there! A bosun's order indicating that, as the Admiral defines it:
... [the crew at muster] should separate, to facilitate the approach of any one whose name is called.
And the now familiar "Make it so" of "Star Trek" fame which, unfortunately, was too often used incorrectly by Captain Picard. The order was given specifically to confirm the time given to a commanding officer by the officer of the watch, be it sunset, sunrise or the all important noon when the ship's day officially began.
Make fast meant to fasten something and was generally used for securing rope or cable.
Makes was used when referring to something coming in: the tide makes, the ship makes, the officer makes, etc.
A making iron is a caulking tool for finishing a seam of caulk. Making off was a whaling term for cutting up the blubber of the animal so that it would fit down into the ship's hold.
To make the land is to finally catch sight of it; that "Land, ho!" moment so popular in movies. A ship can make free with the land as well, which indicates coming very close to the shore - at times a little too close. Needless to say, this terminology carried over to activities in port, where a sailor - like the men-of-war's men in the above illustration - could make free with the ladies.
Happy Saturday, Brethren; may Saint Olga, in her goodness, intercede for you when your ship makes weather.
Header: "Men of War bound for the Port of Pleasure" late 18th century illustration via Wikimedia