Beat Him Round The Head With An Oily Kipper

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.

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2 Responses to Beat Him Round The Head With An Oily Kipper

  1. Dan says:

    Sounds like you’ve woken a latent desire for empire. Looks like good fun too — I spent a fortnight on a yacht several years back with a friend and his aunt and uncle, though we did very little of the boat business. Did the pull of the afternoon nap get you, every day?

  2. recoder says:

    I couldn’t help but think of empire as we sailed in and out of Plymouth harbour. No afternoon napping for me – we worked pretty hard. Something always needed tying, loosening, unfurling, furling, letting in, letting out, ad nauseam.

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