IN THE OLD NAVY
THE BLUE BONNET U. S. S. Houston- 1- 7- 37- 900.
NAUTICAL WORDS AND AVAL EXPRESSIONS
" IT'S VERY odd that sailormen should talk so very queer."
- Ingoldsby Legends.
Caulk, To Take A- To take a sleep or nap; came from the days
when it was taken on the deck, and one's back became marked by
the pitch of the seams.
Charlie Noble- Sailor's nautical name for the galley smoke- pipe.
Derived from the British merchant service Captain Charlie Noble,
who required a high polish on the galley funnel. The funnel of his
galley was of copper and its brightness became known in all ports
The Old Salt spat at a passing cat, and borrowed a
match from me,
Then scratched a light where his pants were tight
and spake quite fHventIy:
" I'll swear, by gum, that it strikes me dumb, this
kind of a navee
With not a sail, not even a brail, and dog watches
' Twas some years back that I took a crack at serving
And ' tain't the same, ' cept maybe the name, as ' twas
in them days, by damn!
We went aloft if the Old Man coughed or if it began
And got a root from the government boot if maybe
we went too slow.
A trick at the wheel took an arm 0' steel, and lots 0'
But now it's did by a high school kid and patent
We got our rum an' slap 0' slum ' most every day or
And mouldy bits 0' ship's biskits if stores were ronning
Today I seed how these youngsters feed- the mess
what they got each day,
An' strike me pink if I didn't think I'd went to a
They give ' em ham an' a lot 0' jam, an' butter an'
toast an' pie;
An' serve ' em prunes with officers' spoons now
scuttle me if I lie!
It's kind 0' strange, this turrible change what's come
to an honest trade:
They print the log, an' instead 0' grog drink sody an'
An' tell me true, like I'm telling you, they wash
' most every day
Which only shows how a sailor goes clear mad for a
It used to be that a man at sea was a sailor. It makes
To see the way they cruise today, with radioms, gas
An' not content to remain in sight, on top where a
ship should sail
They go an' man a sheet iron can an' dive like a
They think they are smart but fruzzle my heart an'
shiver my timbers too,
If under sea's any pace to be for a self- respectin'
The Old Salt spat and donned his hat and hitched
those pants of his.
He'd had his say, so he creaked away, all stitches and
For sailor- men, since the Flood began, and Noah put
Have raised the pliant, " Oh, the Navy ain't what
the Navy used to be!"
Cutting a Dido--- A rather
r.. nd one used considerably
in some sections
l- y shorefolk. H. M. S.
Dido, a very smart and
clean ship in commission
about thirty years
ago in the British Fleet.
The Dido crui sed around
the fleet often
as a " show off" before
anchoring, hence " to
cut a dido."
Show A Leg- An expression
by boatswain's mates
and master- at- arms to
arouse and turn out
sleeping men. " Rouse
and shine" has been
corrupted to " rise and
shine" in the American
The call " show a leg"
is derived from the days
when women were carried
at sea, " the wives
of seamen," the women
who put out a purser's
stockinged leg for identification
were not required
to turn out at
To Catch a Crab- To
fail to keep in stroke in
rowing and often times
thereby to jam and foul
other oars. The Venetians
call a green hand
cr novice at rowing a
Devil to Pay-" The devil
to pay and only
half a bucket of pitch"
was the original expression.
This is understood
when it is known that
I TERESTING FACTS OF THE
( Continued from Palre 1.)
rigging of the ship. At first I offered
them money. ' Oh,' said they, ' give us
grog, what good will money do us
here?' Then I told them I would pay
my footing in their own way, if they
would get permission from the first
lieutenant ... I thought this would
stagger them, but was mistaken. ' Poh!
Poh!' they replied, ' never mind the
first lieutenant, send it up by a boy
and call it water.' More than two years
afterwards, I asked the captain of the
top if I didn't owe him a glass of
grog. ' Yes Sir, I believe you do, Sir.
Why, Sir, I believe it's to pay your
footing in the main top, Sir.' "
One evidence of the change in sailormen
lS the disappearance of tattooing
or skin decoration. Time was when
every seaman looked like a walking
picture book. Some of them had the
name of every port at which they had
visited tatooed upon their bodies. It
was the inveterate custom, practically
bordering on tradition, of sailors to
acquire as many tattoo marks as principal
seaports visited by them on
their cruises. Geisha girls, ships and
even religious pictures were used in
this rather unique method of body
adornment which has its origin in the
days of cave men and still practiced
by uncivilized tribes of the South Sea
Islands and other lands. Tattooing is
" out" in the modern navy.
the " devil" was the longest and most
difficult seam to pay and was found
near the garboard strake; hence, " between
the devil and the deep blue sea."
" Pay" is from the French word poix,
meaning pitch, " to pay the seams" or
to " pitch the seams."