Ever wondered how to use "Scuttlebutt" or "Baggywrinkle" in a sentence?

The history of sailing is peppered with bizarre vocabulary that goes back hundreds of years; many words of which are used regularly in everyday speech, both on and off your boat.

However, there are a number of terms in the sailing lexicon that rarely make it to the surface...

Most of us time-worn mariners like to think we know our way around even the most obscure phrases, but here at Mylor Rigging, we've put together a few of our seafaring favourites to test your knowledge...

#1. Scuttlebutt

You may use this phrase in your everyday life without knowing its off-shore origins. Traditionally, a scuttled butt was a water drinking container that sailors would occasionally chat around and this, in turn, became a phrase to mean rumour, chitchat or gossip.

#2. Moonraker

Perhaps more familiar in popular consciousness as the name of the Roger Moore Bond movie from 1979, a "Moonraker" in nautical terminology is actually the name given to the small sail found on the highest point of a ship's mask. In even stranger circles, the term has been used as a colloquial demonym for the natives of Wiltshire and the folk story tells that a group of men from the south-west county were seen one night raking the moon's reflection in a village pond.

At the time, smuggling was rife in the countryside and, when caught red-handed by the authorities, the smugglers pretended to be insane claiming they were trying to retrieve the moon from the lake when in fact they were actually raking the pond for barrels of French brandy.

#3. Flotsam

This old legal term refers to a shipwreck or cargo that is either floating or washed up onto the shore by the sea. It is often used alongside "jetsam", another archaic piece of legalese that describes goods that have been thrown overboard to lighten the load of a ship at risk of sinking or being sunk.

#4. Rollocks

Rollocks, or "rowlocks", are special grooves or U-shaped attachments designed to let a sailor rest their oars on the side of smaller scale boats.

#5. Widow-maker

The ominous name given to a bowsprit - the protruding spar on the bow of a boat used to attach the forestays. The perilous job of dealing with the sails has led many sailors in the past to fall and die whilst carrying out their on-board duties.

#6. Futtock

If you don't know what futtocks are, you've definitely seen them. These thick, ribbed timber beams make up the rib cage of a boat, creating the curved structure of the hull on wooden vessels.

#7. Baggywrinkle

These soft, fluffy, almost pelt-like rope or cable coverings prevent exposed sails from becoming worn on contact. A baggywrinkle is made from pieces of old yarn attached to strands of marline using a hitch knot. When the marline is wound around a cylindrical shape, it creates a fuzzy cushioning point for the sails, preventing everyday wear-and-tear.


Post By Ed Mason

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