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Old 03-17-2007
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Sailing terminology

Seems that there are a lot of smart members here with a good knowledge of sailing, its history, and terminology. Terminology is what this thread is about. Sailing has a lot of strange words/phrases and sometimes with even stranger meanings. Examples: Why do we use "knots" instead of "MPH"? Whats a gunwale, and why is it called that? We don't "way anchor", we "weigh anchor". So anyone who's got some interesting tidbits, feel free to share.
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Old 03-17-2007
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My guess on knots being used as a measure of speed may come from the old chip log that was used to estimate the speed of a vessel. From the Wikipedia entry on the Chip Log:

Quote:
A chip log is a navigational tool used by mariners to determine speed through the water - a combination of speed over ground and the effect of water current. A chip log, literally consisted of a piece of wood. The rope tied to the log had a number of measured knots tied in it. The speed of the ship was indicated by the number of knots passing over the stern during a certain period of time. The unit, knot, for nautical mile per hour, was derived from the knots tied in the rope of a log.

A chip log consists of a piece of wood, most often cut in the shape of a quarter circle, or "quadrangle", and a length of rope or line with knots tied every 47 feet and 3 inches (14.4 meters). To determine a ship's speed, the chip log would be placed into the water aft of the ship, line paid out, and the number of knots paid out in 28 seconds counted, giving the speed in knots. A number of considerations had to be taken into account -- the amount of following sea, stretch of the line, and inaccuracies in the measurement of 30 elapsed seconds. Time passage was most often marked with a "30 second glass", a small sand filled glass, which would often run fast or slow based on ambient temperature, humidity, and sea state. Frequent measurements helped in mitigating some of these inaccuracies by averaging out individual errors, and experienced navigators could determine their speed through the water with a fair degree of accuracy. Mechanical chip logs, operating on physical principles in a manner similar to a car's odometer, were eventually developed and replaced the traditional chip log.
The Gunwale was originally the term used for the bulkhead used to support guns in the older sailing ships. The word wale is defined as:

Quote:
One of the heavy planks or strakes extending length-wise along the sides of a wooden ship. As in upper, middle and lower wale.

Hence the word gunwale is a descriptive term.

The word Halyard is probably a corrupted form of Haul Yard, which is a description of what the line was used for—hauling the yards up the mast on old sailing ships.


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Last edited by sailingdog; 03-17-2007 at 09:59 PM.
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Also, a knot is a nautical mile per hour while 'mph' generally refers to a statute mile per hour. A nautical mile is defined as one minute of longitude at the equator and, as such, has a spherical trigonometry significance. A statute mile does not.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21
Also, a knot is a nautical mile per hour while 'mph' generally refers to a statute mile per hour. A nautical mile is defined as one minute of longitude at the equator and, as such, has a spherical trigonometry significance. A statute mile does not.
BTW—1 nautical mile = 6076.1155 feet = 1.15078 statute miles = 1.852 kilometers = 1852 meters
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

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Old 03-17-2007
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Also remember that we do not say "Knots per hour." It is simply "Knots" as in "It was blowing 40 knots out of the southeast."
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Old 03-18-2007
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Old 03-18-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21
Also, a knot is a nautical mile per hour while 'mph' generally refers to a statute mile per hour. A nautical mile is defined as one minute of longitude at the equator and, as such, has a spherical trigonometry significance. A statute mile does not.
A nautical mile is more correctly one minute of latitude. Since the latitudes are parallels, there is no difference between minutes of latitudes between the equator and the poles and so the latitude scale can be used on any chart as a nautical distance scale.

As sailaway says, at the equator you can use either scale, but of course the meridians converge at the poles. Not many of us are on the equator very often.
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When you use the latitude scale you are measuring a length on a meridian.
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Good site for origin of many naval terms - http://www.navy.mil/navydata/traditi.../navyterm.html
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"Posh" is an acronymn used by Brits traveling to the Middle East who wanted their cabin to be on the shaded side of the vessel on the way there and back -- a luxury they had to pay extra for. Anyway, posh stand for "Port Side Out, Starboard Home." I don't know how Posh Spice got her name.
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