I spent the last week on a boat, learning to sail. It was far more physically demanding – and I was far better at it – than I expected. Pictures here.
The thing that struck me was the astonishing number of nautical terms which have entered common parlance. To illustrate:
I was literally at the helm, looking for tell-tale signs. I was constantly checking that everything was above board. If, while adrift, I spotted another yacht, I would remain aloof, perhaps hoping to be allowed a little leeway. Although the sea was sometimes rough, there was never any need to batten down the hatches or bail out the bilge – I simply changed tack. I turned a blind eye to the poor behaviour of my shipmates, never allowing the cat out of the bag. Indeed, we started a clean slate each morning after an evening of tapping the admiral for grog. I liked the cut of my jib, which kept me out the doldrums.
I could go on forever. I won’t. You get the idea, right? One thing I didn’t get to the bottom of was whether or not the question of what should be done with a drunken sailor was ever satisfactorily answered.