Saturday, January 5, 2013
Sailor Mouth Saturday: Jaw
Jaw generally refers to semicircular end of a boom or gaff which presses against a ship's mast. The points of the jaw are called horns. The jaw-rope is a line or cable attached to the horns of the jaws to keep the gaff attached to the mast. Admiral Smyth notes that the line is usually finished with bull's eyes, specific types of blocks usually without a sheave, to ensure that the jaw-rope can run easily against the mast.
Along those lines, blocks with sheaves also have a jaw. This is the place in the hull of the block where the sheave turns.
Any line can be said to be long jawed if, through the strain of use, it begins to untwist and eventually breaks or otherwise fails.
Often, though, jaw when used at sea has more to do with men than equipment. A man is said to be jawing when using language generally thought of as reserved for sailors. Jaw breakers are the words we're referring to. A man who speaks this way on a regular basis is said to have brought his jawing tacks aboard us. He may also be labelled a jaw-me-down, particularly if he is prone to argue.
As an interesting if unrelated aside, javels were the "dirty, idle fellows, wandering about quays and docks" in times gone by. That would be a nice little addition to a piece of historical fiction, I think.
Happy Saturday, Brethren. I hope you feel better than me and that the winds are fair where ever you're at sea.
Header: Sunset Seascape with Boats by Franklin D. Briscoe via American Gallery