My friend Barnaby ( who knows about boats ) and I sat sipping ice-cold cocktails I had made, ( well- it was six o’clock, and as my Dad says, it is always six o’ clock somewhere, )
As we enjoyed them, I told him they were called ‘ Gimlets.’
I love making cocktails and have always looked forward to The Cocktail Hour, as sunset is my favourite time of the day, giving us a chance to kick back and draw a line under the working hours.
One of the things I enjoy, is that they very often have Naval or ‘ boating ‘ connotations, having come from this little isle of England’s long and distinguished Naval history ( ‘ Down The Hatch!’ )
‘ Did you know that this was thought to be invented by a Naval surgeon, Thomas Gimlette, as a scurvy remedy on board ship? ‘ I said to Barnaby.
A Gimlet is made with Gin and lime, and apparently Thomas added the gin to the lime juice in order to persuade the sailors to swallow their ‘ medication’. ( see recipe below)
Of course, sailors soon became known as ‘ Limeys.’
There hadn’t been many reported cases of scurvy on Thames Ditton Island of late, but Barnaby and I felt that it was a good idea to sip Gimlets in the summer just as a precaution.
My love of, and interest in, all things Nautical ( not just Cocktails ) and my fascination with how many of the words and phrases we use in everyday language come from this long and rich tradition, gave me the idea to write this next post about some of the ‘ Boating Terms’ which we may- or may not- have heard of. Some will be very well – known by the more experienced sailors amongst you, but I hope will be a welcome reminder all the same.
I’m hoping they will also prove useful to me- and to my family, friends and guests- as we prepare to climb aboard ANÚ!
On a boat, the ropes used to tie up, etc are known as ‘ Lines.’
Here, I quote Mark Twain : ‘ So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails.’
Which brings me on to…
BOW and STERN- Front and Back
The front of the boat is called the BOW ( pronounced like ‘ wow’ not like ‘ woe’ ) and the back is called the STERN. So when I ask you to ‘ throw me the bowline, ‘ I shall be hoping you will carefully toss me the rope at the front of Anú so we can sail off!
On a boat, this is the loo, or bathroom.
The story goes that the crew always used to go to the ‘ head’ or bow of the boat to do their thing…but, as with most nautical stories, the exact history is somewhat hazy.
GALLEY – Kitchen
Usually quite small, as I am trying to bear in mind whilst unpacking my boxes from the current move.
Apparently, ancient Mariners cooked their meals on a ‘ galley’ of heated stones.
I shall be having a nice gas oven instead.
PORT and STARBOARD – Left and Right
Ever wondered where the word: ‘Posh ‘ comes from?
Well, it is short for : ‘ Port out, Starboard home.’
The ‘ Port’ side of a boat is the left side from the perspective of the captain ( looking forward ) and the ‘ Starboard’ is the right. Aren’t they lovely words?
I always imagine myself lying on the deck of a big ship, hands behind my head and a smile on my lips, a bit like Leonardo in ‘ Titanic,’ as I look up at a clear and starry night sky when I hear ‘ Starboard’.
I’m not sure, but I like to think that sailors of old may have called it this because they felt the same…such is the romance of being on the water, for me…
Anyway, back to POSH ( do try to drag me back, dear reader, I’m of Irish descent, and tend to suffer from making any short story long.)
So, the legend goes that when passengers were travelling between England and India during the days of The Raj, the well – heeled sought to have their cabins in the shadiest part of the vessel.
As Britain and India are both in the northern hemisphere, the berths on the left – hand side of the ship ( so, PORT ) were shadier when travelling out ( easterly ) and the berths on the right, ( STARBOARD ) were cooler coming back.
So the best and most expensive berths were POSH, which is what the upper classes had written on their trunks as they boarded.
Yes, I realise this story may be apocryphal, but I love it, so like to think it is true.
And isn’t it fun, this ‘ boating ‘ terminology? An absolute joy for me, as it satisfies my love of romance, the water, words and history all at the same time.
It seems to me that sailors, who were isolated for months on end, must have developed their own language between themselves, and it grew from there, since I believe that language is always a living and evolving thing.
On to the next!
SALOON- Sitting / Living Room
The ‘ social ‘ area of a larger boat is called ‘ The Saloon’ but is pronounced ‘ salon’ ( In sailing, as in the English language, many words are said very differently from how they are written.)
‘ Of course. How silly of me. On Thursdays they always serve me in the small saloon.’
( Tony Curtis as ‘ Junior ‘ to Marilyn Monroe as ‘ Sugar ‘ in ‘ Some Like It Hot,’ – which is my favourite film of all – time, and now that I think of it, features quite a few scenes on a yacht.)
Sometimes also called a Berth, if it is a fixed bunk.
They are thought to be called Staterooms because originally, only officers or important people of ‘ state’ had private sleeping quarters on a ship. Mine has beautiful built- in wardrobes ( thank you Kieran and Keith ) and incidentally, the pole the chaps have used as a hanging rail for my clothes, comes from the same people who supply Pole – Dancing poles…which I like to think adds a small, slightly racy note.
KNOTS PER HOUR- Miles per hour.
On a boat or ship, speed is measured in knots. Knots measure nautical miles per hour.
I should imagine that when I first take the Helm ( steering area ) on Anú, that my knots per hour will be very low indeed.
I should like to finish with two stories.
The first one is courtesy of Barnaby.
He told me ( over our Gimlets ) that the term: ‘ Son Of A Gun’ has a nautical derivation.
Apparently, sometimes on very long voyages, ‘ young ladies’ would be smuggled onboard to keep the sailors erm…’ happy’.
Of course, Mother Nature intervenes on board ship too, and one of the young ladies would inevitably become pregnant.
The naval surgeon would then curtain off a section of the boat near the guns for the birth.
As sailors would be required to pay for this service, sometimes, I regret to say, they did not own up to being the father!
Any male -child born on board who had uncertain paternity, would therefore be listed in the ship’s log as ‘ son of a gun.’
This story may well be a true one, since The Royal Navy Museum confirms that women did sometimes travel on vessels during the age of sail.
The last bit of boating knowledge for you in this blog, comes of course, from my boat – builder- Keith.
USE OF YOUR HORN: ( see pic! )
If turning right when on your boat- toot your horn once.
If turning left- toot it twice.
If you intend to go backwards- toot the horn three times.
For a U-turn to the right- do four quick toots and then one longer one.
For a U- turn to the left – four quick toots and TWO longer ones ( toot toot toot toot tooooot tooooot )
Five toots of your horn means : ‘ I am unsure of your intentions.’
I have a feeling, that this will prove to be the most useful one of all.
GIMLET COCKTAIL RECIPE – ( Makes 1 large one, double up for two people sipping on the roof of a boat or for parties )
Mix 1 shot of good Gin ( I like Plymouth London Dry Gin ) with 1/2 shot of Rose’s Lime Cordial, 1/4 shot of freshly squeezed lime juice, and 1/4 shot of still water.
Shake shake shake over ice in a Boston Cocktail Shaker, until your hand is so cold it feels like it might drop off.
Pour into a Martini glass, garnish with a slice of fresh lime, and sip with great pleasure, knowing you have most certainly kept yourself safe from Scurvy.
NB: These are so damn good, I’ve just had to mix one as I write!
‘Some Like It Hot.’ 1959- Screenplay by Billy Wilder & I.A.L Diamond
Copyright Amanda Hills 2017, All Rights Reserved