Breverton's Nautical Curiosities
by Terry Breverton
Reviewed in SAILING September 2010:
You've heard the expression 'Above Board' haven't you? Of course you have.
And what about 'Kick the bucket' or 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey'? Youšve no doubt heard those too, and know, more or less, what they mean.
But did you know that those three, and a hundred more expressions have their origins in maritime lore. It is believed 'Above board' comes from the days when pirates hid 'below board' if they were sneaking up on an unsuspecting merchant ship. Pirate ships carried many more crew than a merchantman, and hid them. Thus, if all the crew could be seen 'above board', then all was fair and square.
The bucket? In the absence of a scaffold, men were sometimes hanged standing on a bucket, which was simply kicked away to effect the drop. The brass monkey was a small brass tray used to hold a pile of iron cannonballs next to a gun. In extreme cold, the difference in expansion of iron and brass meant that the neatly piled cannon balls would sometimes move and roll out of the tray.
Then there is a phrase like 'deck cargo' and who doesn't know what that means. Wrong. Only an Old Salt would really know, for it is Naval slang for 'large breasts'. And so it goes, a real A to Z of Sea Slang, sometimes humourous, and always interesting.
Chuckles over, you can move into the more serious, ever more curious material in a collection of maritime miscellany that is absolutely absorbing. There are snippets and stories about the wind, the waves, the skies, the seas, ships and their parts, ships of special significance, sea battles, mutinies, piracy, navigators, explorers, sea heroes, creatures of the sea and much of the material deals with the biggest, the best, the widest, the longest, the highest, the deepest etc.
It is quite a remarkable collection that will entertain and inform endlessly.
Price: - available on request -
Book ID (for ordering): 2635