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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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Old 11-29-2006
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Nautical Trivia

Since I am totally locked out of my server and cannot work, I thought I would really waste a bit more time and throw out some nautical trivia. Hopefully I do not screw any of these up, but I am sure the very friendly folks at Sailnet (er, hm) will be happy to point out my errors.

Ok, why is the Head called the head?

Where did the words Starboard and Port originate from and why?

Halyard? Anyone know that one?

Feel free to throw out others. I will give a small hint, they all originated from the old, wooden, ships...
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Old 11-29-2006
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Head - because on the old square rig ships you went to the head (front) of the boat to take a dump.

Port - the side of the ship that tied to the dock

Starboard - Steerboard - the side of the ship with the steering board attached. That is why you always tied the otherside of the ship to the dock.

Halyard - Teach me!

now let me add one. "Splice the main brace" Where did it come from and what does it mean.
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Old 11-29-2006
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The term Halyard comes from the phrase - to 'Haul Yards'.

Used to haul up the yards of sail.
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Old 11-29-2006
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Halyard,

A bit fuzzy, but by memory, it goes something like this:

The old square rigs' sails were measured by yards of sail. Haul-a-yard. Haul-yard, Halyard. Thus, that is where it derived.

PS THe head thing is pretty right. Not Everyone went forward... the Captain had his own head. He was the only one that got to use it.
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Old 11-29-2006
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More info about the head:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_%28watercraft%29
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Old 11-29-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad
Since I am totally locked out of my server and cannot work, I thought I would really waste a bit more time and throw out some nautical trivia. Hopefully I do not screw any of these up, but I am sure the very friendly folks at Sailnet (er, hm) will be happy to point out my errors.

Ok, why is the Head called the head?

Where did the words Starboard and Port originate from and why?

Halyard? Anyone know that one?

Feel free to throw out others. I will give a small hint, they all originated from the old, wooden, ships...
CD
I can answer all of those but I'll let someone else have a stab first.

However on the subject of 'head' the answer is not at obvious as might be thought so I'd add two further questions......

What is a beakhead ?

Where did the English term for a toilet , loo, originate ?

I suppose it's an indication of small mind amused by small things but I love this stuff.
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Old 11-29-2006
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Halyard, Haul Yard that's right CD.

Port was originally larboard but as that was too close to starboard, originally steerboard in the days before rudders, it was changed to port which was the traditional side that ships presented to the wharf for loading and unloading. Why ? I have no idea at all but I'd like to find out.
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Old 11-29-2006
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TDW & thunderfog,

Nope, don't know those, I am curious. Shoot away!
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Though all of these origins are murky, my understanding is the "steer board" was basically an oar tied on one side of the stern of a double ended Viking ship. You didn't want that side against the quay for fear of damaging the rudder. So the side away from the rudder became port.
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Old 11-29-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad
TDW & thunderfog,

Nope, don't know those, I am curious. Shoot away!
Beakhead - was originally a battering ram that evolved into a platform on which archers and/or swordsmen would stand to either strafe or board another ship. It became a logical place for an onboard (overboard ?) crapper and obviously you would use the leaward beakhead to do your business. Leaward is of course pronounced looward, hence the English term for a toilet, loo.

You can expand that a little, the old beakhead would be a pretty bumpy place as sea and hence the origin of the expression "beats the crap out of me". Ahem !!
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