Ahoy There: Nautical Terms We Use Every Day

When you have a 321 Boat Club Membership you may find that you think about being out on the water more than most landlubbers. You think about what the weather means for the cruise you want to take this evening and how the manatee migration will affect your choice of boat for the weekend. Something that you may not already know is that our everyday vernacular is filled with nautical terms. So this week when you’re not day dreaming about the Indian River Lagoon, whether you know it or not, you’re still going to be talking nautical.

Here are a few nautical phrases we use every day.

By and Large – Back in the day when sailing was a major mode of transportation By and Large was coined. When then wind was blowing extremely hard it was said to be large, when it was blowing the way you wanted to go, sailors would say By in Large. Now its connotation is more of “all encompassing” but back in the day it was a directional phrase.

Close quarters –  When we say close quarters, we mean we’re going to be in close contact with others, when sailors of yor, think 18th century, it meant close enough to fight with another ship in hand-to-hand combat. When “Quarters” Came into the phrase they referred to the wood that would stretch between the ship when one ships’ occupants would board another. Now it just means “close to”

Hand over fist – this expression today means quickly and continuously, but it’s in reference to sailors pulling rope to move sails as fast as possible to catch the wind and be on their way.

High and dry – Leaving someone high and dry means leaving them stranded with no hope of saving them. It meant the same back in the 1700s too. High and dry was a phrase used when ships were beached and were thought to have to stay that way for a long while.

Taken aback – you may be taken aback by the emergence of manatees in the water this time of year, but back in 1600s nautical times the term was used when the wind would change direction so fast and push against he sails causing the masts and spars to support them. The ship would then be taken aback.

The bitter end – if you were thinking the bitter end was the sad, sour end of an event, you’d be partially right. But, if you were talking to a sailor in the 1600s he’d think you were talking about the end of the rope wrapped around a fixed point on the deck of a ship.

Now that you know the origins of the phrases you have six more catalysts to entice you to call this week and make your boat club reservation. Happy boating! And remember you won’t be forking over money hand over fist because you’ve already got a membership.