Author Archives: Tony Johnson

Nautical Terminator – Tiddley

            Last time we talked about a boat being “Bristol,” but what about the sailor? What do we call the man or woman whose uniform is pressed, shoes polished, and knife lanyard festooned with proper sinnets and Matthew Walker knots? … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Tradewinds (Part 2)

By the early seventeenth century, mariners were calling the steady easterly winds near the equator the “trade” winds. But it was not understood why these winds blew with such constancy, and a full explanation had to wait until the early … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Tradewinds (Part 1)

          Everyone knows that the trade winds, from which our club takes its name, are the reliable easterlies that were followed when most freight was carried under sail. But is this mercantile association the real reason they are called “trade … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Wind Names

Away out here they got a name for rain and wind and fire The rain is Tess, the fire Joe, and they call the wind Mariah I was born and raised “away out here” in California where the characters in … Continue reading

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Knowing The Ropes

It’s an old but puzzling piece of nautical wisdom asserted by self-styled boating experts that “there aren’t any ‘ropes’ on a boat.” Once a rope is put on a boat, it would seem, it ceases to be a rope and … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Plimsoll

            Remember when you were just learning to sail and the boat heeled over for the first time? My instructor was calm, but I’m told I was yelling “Help! Yikes! Eeek!”…although I’m pretty sure it was quite a bit more … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Sun’s Over the Yardarm (Part 3)

            Last time we established that the yardarm is not the whole yard, but just the tip of it outboard of the leeches, and moreover the commentators are all over the map concerning which yard to use. Yet any part … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Sun’s Over the Yardarm (Part 2)

                A “yardarm” is not the entire yard, but just its tip outboard of the leeches of the sails. Some authorities commenting on our phrase suggest instead that we use the “upper yards,” while others recommend the “foreyard,” which is … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Sun’s Over the Yardarm (Part 1)

              It is well understood that sailing while inebriated is a very bad idea. It’s contrary to Tradewinds policy, and it’s against the law. But even on one’s own boat, offshore beyond the reach of society’s sanctions, the notion that … Continue reading

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Nautical Terminator – Fathom

In your intro to navigation you’ll be shown charts that display soundings in feet, fathoms, and meters. These units are entirely arbitrary, generated not by science but by history, the details of which are often murky. Ancient units were often, … Continue reading

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