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Nautical yarns...

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Nautical yarns...

Old 11th Nov 2011, 09:28
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Nautical yarns...

Anyone care to share theirs or ones they've heard? Despite PPRuNe's aviation basis Jet Blast threads are more often water related.

One to start the ball rolling: BBC iplayer now includes BBC Alba programmes, all of course in Scots Gaelic, with English subtitles. Recently there was a series on the islands and waters of the Outer Hebrides where the fisherman guide related this tale to the interviewer.

A retired fisherman was out handline fishing in his dinghy in the Sound of Harris, a rock strewn series of channels which runs east to west though the island group. Round a headland comes RY Britannia, slows to a stop and drops anchor in an apparently secluded, sheltered location. The old boy rows across to her and warns them that they've anchored over an uncharted shoal and the tide is beginning to ebb. Britannia was rapidly moved to a spot of his recommendation and he's brought aboard and 'royally entertained'. He rows home a few hours later after the party!
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Old 11th Nov 2011, 10:53
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In the shipping line I used to work for some VIP guests from large customers were being shown round a shiny new ship. On the bridge one of them kept prattling on about how easy the crew's job must be these days with all the computers and other electronic aids.

The captain, a large, grizzly Swede close to retirment age, shut him up by saying, "Yes, but the trouble is nobody has modernised the sea."

I think he was the same captain who demanded open bridge wings, as he could "smell the weather".
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Old 11th Nov 2011, 11:06
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This true yarn requires some basic nautical knowledge:

A Royal Navy Corvette is steaming north escorting a convoy up the east coast. The yeoman hands the Captain a signal which he reads and then says
"Number one; commence hostilities against Japan!"
"Aye-aye Sir!" then, down the voicepipe...
"Starboard ten!"
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Old 11th Nov 2011, 11:23
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Here be a poem also requiring some Nautical Knowledge.

There was Port and there was Starboard,
But they used to call Port: Larboard.
And the two dogs on the fo'csle held the chain.
Then there's For'd and there's Aft
Which is (from A'beam,) A'baft,
And the Mizzen never stands A'fore the Main.

There were Farmers (without pigs,)
A-rabs, Lascars, Schooner Rigs,
Lots of (right hand,) feeding after Ramadan.
There was Panama and Mokes,
And a mob of red eyed blokes
From the 12 to 4 Watch, eyeing the Blackpan.

You could Heave To, Broach, Careen,
Two of fat and one of lean
Hungry Harrisons' (from out of Liverpool.)
Or 'buff with black on top'
Where the Bosun's name was Bop,
And both his thumbs were Fids, (a splicing tool.)

You could 'Stand By' or 'Turn To'
Take the Trick from twelve til two'
Rig a Jumbo or just Holystone the Deck;
Chippin'ammer 'cross the Atlantic,
Whitelead'n'tallow the Triatic,
Watch the Stemhead break the ice up near Quebec.

There were Tabnabs, there was Scouse,
Scuppers, Bulwarks, a Wheelhouse,
And drums were lashed A'baft the Lazerette.
You could 'Skin Out' of a Tanker,
Paint the Truck a'top the Spanker,
Soogie Funnels, hung on Gantlines, Fleet by Fleet.

You could 'Sign On' and 'Pay Off',
Turn your head away and cough;
Get the 'Channels' when the orders were Lands End.
Shackle to a Samson Post,
Blame the Liverpool Man's Ghost,
Or there's always an Allotment you could send.

There were Ratlines and Crosstrees,
No Blue Jeans, just Dungarees;
Fifteen hundred 'Girls' for hire down in Recife.
There were 'Plummers' down the 'Mouth',
One of Ropner's heading south,
Where the mail would go ashore at Tenerife.

There were Shifting Boards and Dunnage
And you knew the average tonnage
Of a Port Boat, steaming by at Fifteen Knots.
The Welsh Donkeyman from Hants
And the slack in Trimmer's pants,
And the 4 to 8 Watch, stinking in their cots.

Shonky Bum Boats at Port Said,
Gun'ls, Gimbals and Redlead;
Roaring Forties, Round the Horn and Abadan.
There were Palm and Needle Whippings,
Lots of Mother Carey's chickens,
And a Fine Bone China Tea Set, from Japan.

There were Doxfords and Twin Screws,
And the strangest looking stews
Came from Galleys' where the cook was often called
Names that questioned if his Dad
Had been married, or just mad,
Or just needed all his tackle overhauled.

The Red Duster, Carrick Bend,
Take a turn on the Drum End;
Starboard Helm, now, Steady As She Goes.
Port Side Bitts, Pacific Swells,
1 to 6 HEAVE, Seven Bells;
Get that Stopper on, LOOK LIVELY ON YOUR TOES.

Stockholm Tar and Cleaning Tanks,
Liberty Ships and Dogger banks,
Shifting Ship round to the Royal Edward Dock.
Monkey's Fist, Splice with the Lay,
First and Last, Logged two day's pay,
Last Pierhead Jump before She's through the Lock.

Hatchboards, Coamings, Bosun's Chair,
Bowsed right in under the Flair,
New Year's 16 Bells (in Denmark's Esbjerg Sound.)
Mouse that Hook and Masthead Light,
Malacca Straits, Australian Bight,
27 Indian Rupees to the Pound.

Oakum, Sextant, Fo'csle Head;
Maracaibo, Swing the Lead;
Drop the Pilot, Single Up and Spit a'lee.
Capstan Full Strength, On the Rake,
Sounds that sailors used to make;
Merchant Seamen's sounds that floated on the sea.

All these strange sounds; now they're gone;
Merchant Seamen lost their song;
The Iron Ships rust; the Wooden Men quietly gaze,
Reminiscing in their beer,
"Remember: Elson...Hopton...Kear...??"
"I wonder what they're doing, now-a-days."

Reg Kear.
1992. Australia
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Old 11th Nov 2011, 11:36
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Love that FSL.

It also reminded me that I have no right still to be alive as I used to smoke those when I were a lad (although this is a modern pack as they didn't have the namby pamby health warniings on them then).

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Old 11th Nov 2011, 11:40
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Likewise on the Capstan FS. What with those, Senior Service and Disque Bleu it's a wonder I survived.
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Old 11th Nov 2011, 11:47
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She was only the Admiral's daughter, but she willingly let seamen run down to her naval base.

would those be nartickle terms ??
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Old 11th Nov 2011, 11:47
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I blame these as you could buy them in packs of four.

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Old 11th Nov 2011, 11:55
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Smoked one of these at 12! Really rough! Took up pipe smoking at 42,still at it.
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Old 11th Nov 2011, 12:04
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36 years ago yesterday.

Only sailed the lakes once,flat as a babies bum it were,sea like a mirror, so much so there were loads of mirages, ships sailing upside down,islands of floating landscapes that were not there,a strange vision causing the old timers to mumble in their beards and make the sign of the horned one with finger and thumb.
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Old 11th Nov 2011, 14:32
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Dad used to take me out to 'his' minesweeper at anchor on Saturday mornings.

As usual we went out on the MFV on the day before the 1953 floods. The sea was huge and we struggled to get alongside. I went first, and leapt for the rope ladder. I half caught it and thought about stepping back on the MFV. It not only wasn't under my feet any more, it wasn't even visible!

Somewhat unnerving for an eight-year-old.
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Old 11th Nov 2011, 15:09
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Small boat stuff...

Having got through the really boring bit of the northern French canals aboard my 22 foot Freeman cruiser, I had gone through the delightful little canal from the Oise to the Aisne, and was now approaching Reims. The last bit of the approaches to Reims must equal the worst industrial wastelands anywhere in the world; foul mucky water, bits of broken everything, no signposts, dead and semi-dead peniches...blind alleys and general unpleasantness. There was a vast quantity of undesireable lumpy bits in the canal, and – as usual – some of them formed an instant affinity to my rotating propeller. And stopped it rotating.....

Now, this isn’t too unusual an occurrence, and the usual Errol Flynn “knife in teeth and dive over the side” approach works well. Until you look at the state of the water you’d be diving into...! Sadly, there isn’t any other option than to get on with it...although lowering oneself gently in has to be preferable, that way you stand a chance of keeping the Mouth above the Surface....which has to be a good idea, otherwise life can turn out pretty Weil! Now, the first time this happened that day I just grunted and did what was necessary. First thing was to rig a way of getting back out of the water once the offending rope or whatever had been removed.... a loop of one of the stern lines dangling just below the surface to take the diver’s foot, enabling him to haul himself out again, and back to the second thing – a slug of single malt! A towel in the cockpit also adds to the comfort factor. These precautions worked nicely for the first three times....but the fourth one came at about 1900, at the end of a long, long day of getting lost in backwaters and frustrated by the elusiveness of the correct route. I had got cold, and tired, and cheesed off...I had wanted to stop for the past couple of hours, but there was nowhere suitable. No moorings, no sign of life of any sort – let alone human life....so I was hoping to get to the Halte Nautique in Reims, which surely couldn’t be far away now.

Then it happened...that dreaded CLONK! that tells you that Watermota’s finest 45 horsepower marinised Ford Anglia lump is being stressed beyond endurance and is about to have a hissy fit. So I started to look for somewhere I could put a line on, to hold the boat whilst I plunged the unwilling body back into this foul fil d’eau..”thread of water”, indeed... There was only one place possible...it was an old sort of gantry thing, with some angle iron in a rectangular section projecting out into the canal, about three feet above the surface, supported by a couple of triangular end pieces which went from the lower bit up to the blank wall to which it was attached. Wearily I prepared to go “feet wet” again...rigged the line to get out with as before, got the knife and went in. Clearing the prop didn’t take too long...but getting out again was a different matter. As I said, I was cold and tired and by now the degree of shivering told me that hypothermia wasn’t far away...so when I found that I couldn’t drag myself back on board, it was pretty bad news. I made several attempts with no success..so stopped to have a think. Still nobody to be seen, one side of the canal a blank wall and the other deserted manky allotments. As usual...I was going to have to rescue myself. Again.

But what to do? I wasn’t getting any stronger immersed in the cold water...and I’d managed to make the rope loop just the wrong size to get me back on my boat. The only alternative was to get out onto the angle iron structure to which I had moored. I swam to the edge of the canal by the wall, and found I could at least stand up! This was a great improvement on hanging on to a fender or treading water. If I reached up, I could grab the angle iron structure....so I had a go or two at getting out of the water and on to the lower rail, which was about 4” by 4” and about three feet out of the water. It was hopeless...I didn’t have the upper body strength to manage it, and I wasn’t about to get any stronger. Things weren’t looking too good...time for a bit more thinking. It seemed to me that I HAD to get myself onto this angle iron edifice....I needed a bit of a leg up, as it were. Then the subconcious came up with a memory of a film showing a Polaris missile launch. When a submarine launches a Polaris, it is pushed out of it’s lair by a bubble of compressed air, and rises to the surface with such acceleration and force as to burst right out of the surface of the sea so that the rocket bit is quite a long way above the surface before it starts to burn, generate thrust, and depart on it’s mission to end civilization as we know it.

That was the answer!! Moley had to take a leaf from the Polaris book and launch himself at the rusty ironwork.... A VERY deep breath, and I squatted down on the bottom of the canal...a short pause to summon up the strength, resolve and timing needed....and I shot myself up with all possible force...burst out of the canal going UP at quite a rate...saw the rusty angle iron, grabbed at it and heaved...and there I was, laying over the thing like a stranded whale. Some mad scrabbling and I was standing on it with my back to the wall...most indecorous it was, I was quite glad there were no witnesses(!). Part One of the Self Rescue had been achieved!! However, I was standing on a 4” wide piece of wobbly angle iron with nothing to hold onto with the hands...and ten feet or so from my boat, warmth, safety, a towel and a slug of single malt. Now, I’m not very good at this sort of thing; but there were no alternatives, so I simply walked along the rusty iron thingy and straight into the cockpit. A bit anticlimactic, I know; but I was very glad of it at the time!
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Old 11th Nov 2011, 23:05
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I likes this one,writ by a lady as well.
Old Anchors, Cicely Foxx Smith

In a breaker's yard by the Millwall Docks,
With its piled-up litter of sheaveless blocks,
Stranded hawsers and links of cable,
A cabin lamp and a chartroom table,
Nail-sick timbers and heaps of metal
Rusty and red as an old tin kettle,
Scraps that were ships in the years gone by,
Fluke upon stock the anchors lie.

Every sort of a make of anchor
For trawler or tugboat, tramp or tanker,
Anchors little and anchors big
For every build and for every rig,
Old wooden-stocked ones fit for the Ark,
Stockless and squat ones, ugly and stark,
Anchors heavy and anchors small,
Mushroom and grapnel and kedge and all.

Mouldy old mudhooks, there they lie!
Have they ever a dream as the days go by
Of the tug of the tides on coasts afar,
A Northern light and a Southern star,
The mud and sand of a score of seas,
And the chuckling ebb of a hundred quays,
The harbour sights and the harbour smells,
The swarming junks and the temple bells?

Roar of the surf on coral beaches,
Rose-red sunsets on landlocked reaches,
Strange gay fishes in cool lagoons,
And palm-thatched cities in tropic noons;
Song of the pine and sigh of the palm,
River and roadstead, storm and calm —

Do they dream of them all now their work is done,
And the neaps and the springs at the last are one?

And only the tides of London flow,
Restless and ceaseless, to and fro;
Only the traffic's rush and roar
Seems a breaking wave on a far-off shore,
And the wind that wanders the sheds among
The ghost of an old-time anchor song: —

"Bright plates and pannikins
To sail the seas around,
And a new donkey's breakfast
For the outward bound!"
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Old 12th Nov 2011, 09:17
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... even the Breakers Yard will be long gone, Mr.D.

I passed over the Forth Bridge a couple of months ago. The shipbreakers at Inverkeithing used to be hooching with work. These days the only thing being dismantled were old cars.

Last edited by Lon More; 12th Nov 2011 at 15:49. Reason: plessing
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Old 12th Nov 2011, 15:18
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Lid
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Old 12th Nov 2011, 16:22
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Here are a number of them, some serious (at the bottom of the page), others not so.
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Old 12th Nov 2011, 22:43
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Years ago (so the story goes) a mate of mine was sailing in the Whitsundays with a group of friends.

As was his way, he had had a few drinks and become a bit obnoxious, or so the rest of the group felt.

They banished him to the trailing dinghy with some liquid provisions. His response to this slight was to remove all his clothes and tie his right wrist to the end of his 'manhood' with a length of cord.

Then when another vessel would sail past, he would stand and salute.
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Old 13th Nov 2011, 06:37
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I'm guessing that some of you might not have seen this before despite it doing the rounds for a few fair years now.


To: Owners
Shipping Company Y

Dear Sirs,
It is with regret and haste that I write this letter to you; regret that such a small misunderstanding could lead to the following circumstances, and haste in order that you will get this report before you form your own preconceived opinions from reports in the international press, for I am sure that they will tend to over-dramatize the affair.
We had just picked up the pilot, and the apprentice had returned from changing the 'G' flag for the 'H', and being his first trip was having difficulty in rolling the 'G' flag up. I therefore proceeded to show him how, coming to the last part I told him to 'let go'. The lad, although willing, is not too bright, necessitating my having to repeat the order in a sharper tone.
At this moment the Chief Officer appeared from the chartroom, having been plotting the vessel's progress, and thinking that it was the anchors that were being referred to, repeated the 'let go' to the Third Officer on the forecastle. The port anchor, having been cleared away, but not walked out, was promptly let go. The effect of letting the anchor drop from the 'pipe' while the vessel was proceeding at full harbour speed proved too much for the windlass brake, and the entire length of the port cable was pulled out 'by the roots'. I fear that the damage to the chain locker may be extensive. The braking effect of the port anchor naturally caused the vessel to sheer in that direction, right towards the swing bridge that spans a tributary to the river up which we were proceeding.
The swing bridge operator showed great presence of mind by opening the bridge for my vessel. Unfortunately he did not think to stop the vehicular traffic. The result being that the bridge partly opened and deposited a Volkswagen, two cyclists and a cattle truck on the foredeck. My ship's company are at present rounding up the contents of the latter, which from the noise I would say were pigs. In his efforts to stop the progress of the vessel the Third Officer dropped the starboard anchor, too late to be of practical use for it fell on the swing bridge operator's control cabin.
After the port anchor was let go and the vessel started to sheer I gave a double ring Full Astern on the Engine Room Telegraph, and personally rang the Engine Room to order maximum astern revolutions. I was informed that the temperature was 83 degrees, and was asked if there was a film tonight. My reply would not add constructively to this report.
Up to now I have confined my report to the activities at the forward end of my vessel. Down aft they were having their own problems. At the moment the port anchor was let go, the Second Officer was supervising the making fast of the aft tug, and was lowering the ship's towing spring down into the tug.
The sudden braking effect of the port anchor caused the tug to 'run in under' the stern of my vessel, just at the moment when the propeller was answering my double ring Full Astern. The prompt action of the Second Officer in securing the shipboard end of the towing spring delayed the sinking of the tug by some minutes thereby allowing the safe abandoning of that vessel.
It is strange, but at the very same moment of letting go the port anchor there was a power cut ashore. The fact that we were passing over a 'cable area' at that time may suggest that we may have touched something on the river bed. It is perhaps lucky that the high tension cables brought down by the foremast were not live, possibly being replaced by the underwater cable, but owing to the shore blackout it is impossible to say where the pylon fell.
It never fails to amaze me, the actions and behavior of foreigners during moments of minor crisis. The pilot for instance, is at this moment huddled in the corner of my day cabin, alternately crooning to himself and crying after having consumed a bottle of gin in a time that is worthy of inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records. The tug captain on the other hand reacted violently and had to forcibly be restrained by the Steward, who has him handcuffed in the ship's hospital while he is telling me to do impossible things with my ship and my person.
I enclose the names and addresses of the drivers, and insurance companies of the vehicles on my foredeck, which the Third Officer collected after his somewhat hurried evacuation of the forecastle. These particulars will enable you to claim back the damage that they did to the railings of number one hold.
I am closing this preliminary report for I am finding it difficult to concentrate with the sound of police sirens and the flashing lights.
It is sad to think that had the apprentice realized that there is no need to fly pilot flags after dark, none of this would have happened.
Yours truly,
Master X
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Old 13th Nov 2011, 23:24
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Canvas springs immediately to mind ....
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Old 14th Nov 2011, 00:13
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I don't know about a yarn, but I bet this prompted a few swear words.

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