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post #1 of 11 Old 04-10-2008 Thread Starter
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A Short Essay from the New York Times

I stumbled on this and thought it was a nice read. The topic is "the mystery of nautical language".


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/09/op...in&oref=slogin

"Part of the trouble is that I have never seen a vang. But it’s also that “vang” doesn’t sound like a noun to me. It sounds like the past tense of “ving,” which sounds like something you might do to a “vong.” And those are words with no meaning — nautical or otherwise."

Feel free to name a nautical term or process that you've never been quite sure about the meaning or the origin. Even in these days of Google, some words are just too obscure to understand.
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post #2 of 11 Old 04-10-2008
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I never understood the usage of the term "HEAD"...

Quite frankly when you hear the term "He's gotta a good head on those shoulders", you think - powerful thinker or a good doer - it is like someone you might want to know...

Go use the "Head"... however, I mean really who wants to think during the act of excrement of whatever form..

Now to give that < that sexual connotation > I understood because that is the role men and women should share - to absorb thoughts and feelings completely but never with the words...

But sorry, go to the "Head"....its still a crapper and as a result no matter what the deposits are it will still stink...

The only reason I can make for it being called a head is that after one is done - they want to "Head" away from the stench one leaves behind or compounds upon......

interesting article Val!

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post #3 of 11 Old 04-10-2008
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In the old days of wooden ships and iron men the crapper was at the head of the boat, and was basically an open hole to the sea below. Hence, "I'm going to the head..."

At least they never had to deal with holding tanks and smelly hoses.


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post #4 of 11 Old 04-10-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonfish View Post
In the old days of wooden ships and iron men the crapper was at the head of the boat, and was basically an open hole to the sea below. Hence, "I'm going to the head..."

At least they never had to deal with holding tanks and smelly hoses.

Thanks and so glad hemp didn't come with the reply.... (you have time)...


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post #5 of 11 Old 04-10-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonfish View Post
In the old days of wooden ships and iron men the crapper was at the head of the boat, and was basically an open hole to the sea below. Hence, "I'm going to the head..."

At least they never had to deal with holding tanks and smelly hoses.
If they were lucky. My understanding was you just hang out over the side and go. Worlds largest bidet.
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post #6 of 11 Old 04-10-2008
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The reason the crapper was at the "head" of the ship was the location of the captain's cabin at the stern. The captain wouldn't be too pleased to see bottoms hanging over his stern although I expect the crew may have enjoyed it.
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post #7 of 11 Old 04-10-2008
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Origin of term "Head"

cat·head
"A beam projecting outward from the bow of a ship and used as a support to lift the anchor."

The netting underneath was eventually replaced on some by purpose built seating.



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post #8 of 11 Old 04-10-2008
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Back before you were even a twinkle in your Great granddaddy's eye let alone your father's and long before steam. The ships were square rigged. Using square sails on all three masts mostly. Thus the wind from a reach to astern. Those square riggers didn't sail close to the wind like today's sloops, cutters and ketchs. So to alleviate the aroma of doing what is necessary, they had the simple commodes (a plank with a hole in it so you can sit) in the bows of the ship between the stemhead and the trail boards. Since this place was at the head of the ship. The expression: "Going to the head" became thoroughly ingrained in maritime terminology. Making the bathrooms aboard vessels "Heads". And to wipe?? A bucket of sea water and a rag.
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-10-2008
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Unhappy Please stop referring to the "head of the ship"....

its embarrassing on a forum of this caliber;





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post #10 of 11 Old 04-10-2008
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To clean this thread up a bit, let me say, "Good post!!"

Inspite her newbie status I think the author of this piece demonstrates great insight in her description of sailing:

"You find yourself at sea, awash in the natural world, and yet at the same time you find yourself immured in a vigilant kind of properness, a clear sense of how things should be. It’s not just a matter of proper names. It’s a matter of proper actions and responses, without which there is a world of trouble. There is something deeply ethical about it..."

As Henry Higgins said, " I think she's got it! By George, I think she's got it!"

Last edited by billyruffn; 04-10-2008 at 09:39 PM.
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