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Tips and Nautical Terminology

Look here for boating tips. Shared boating tips help fellow boaters. Please leave your comments so others can benefit.

Posts of different nautical terms will appear from time to time giving you a chance to leave your explanation of the meaning and history. It is interesting to see the different explanations of the terms and the origin. Feel free to add your comments.

crowWhat is a Crow's Nest and what is the origin.

Please leave your answer/comments below.

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What is a Binnacle List and why is it called a Binnacle List?

Binnacle is defined as the stand or housing for the ship's compass located on the bridge. The term binnacle list, in lieu of sick list, originated years ago when ships' corpsmen used to place a list of the sick on the binnacle each morning to inform the captain about the crew's health. After long practice, it came to be called binnacle list.

Thanks Tom for your answer.


What is a "Holystone"? Why was it called a "Holystone?

Please leave your answer in the comments below:

A holystone is soft sandstone, often used to scrub the decks of ships. Sailors had to kneel as if in prayer when scrubbing the decks. Holystone was often called so because it is full of holes.

As Frank says in his comments below, think 'olde tyme' sandpaper.

What are "limber holes and limber chains"?

Thanks Frank for your great answer (below).

The only thing that I would change, is that the limber holes would be through the frames along both sides of the keel (the lowest point where the water would lay) as opposed to the area between the garboard and the start of the turn of the bilge that I would describe as the chine.

I will accept your explanation of the light. It makes good sense.

Question: What is the seafaring origin of the nautical term "son of a gun"?

Thanks for your answers. It is difficult to know the exact origin of some of the old nautical expressions and like many others, there are often several explanations. This is one of them.

The description we have is "Aboard merchant vessels, it was not uncommon for prostitutes to be kept aboard ship. In the event that one of these women of ill repute became pregnant and carried to term while aboard, the most convenient place to deliver the child was often between two of the ship's guns, which the lady would lean on for support during the delivery. Upon delivery, the child's name along with the name of the father and mother would be recorded in the ship's log. If no paternity could be established, the child would be entered as "son of a gun".

Please leave your comments below.

If you know the answer, we'd love to hear from you. If you know the history behind it, we'd also like to know.

Just enter your answer below in Comments.

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If you have done everything, but your head still smells, it could be an aged hose allowing vapor to pass through the rubber. To check this, tie a wet rag around the hose for a couple of weeks. Then, store it in a sealed plastic bag for a couple of days. Open it and, if the rag smells of septic, it is time to replace the hoses.

The Kuchs, Ontario

What is a rope? What is a line? What is the difference? Many boaters think that these two words are interchangeable--that a rope is a line and a line is a rope. This is not true.

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Did You Know?

Flares carried on board are only good for 4 years from the date of manufacture?

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If you are shopping for a boat, read "Buy a Boat With Confidence"-everything you need to know about buying a boat.

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