Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Battle for Southern Africa

Ready to rumble!!

In the left corner, wearing blue skies,  we have Spring, light weight champion of the breeze and in the right corner, wearing drizzle grey,we have Winter, heavy weight champion of the frost.  They are battling it out for the main title of Season of Southern Africa.  Winter threw the first punch, hitting Spring hard in the stomach.  Spring stepped back covering his face.  

The pounding continues and it looks like spring is going down in the third round.  No wait, he is hitting back hard with a sunny sky hook to Winters chill, Spring still has some fight left. Winter is struggling to keep on its feet, while Spring is throwing sunny skies right, left and centre.  Winter hits back with a snow storm to Spring's upper jaw. Spring staggers back.

Will this be it for Spring? 
It feels like a battle for dominance between Spring and Winter in False bay these days.  Just as we pack away our oil skins and get out our caps and sunblock, winter strikes again.  This morning I woke up to snow capped mountains and white capped waves on the sea.  

It is mid spring and we actually haven't even been able to have one week without rain or occasional snow. I was shivering this morning at my computer will sipping a cup of hot tea and my mind wondered of to the days when I was crazy enough to go sailing in temperatures near freezing.
That got my mind going again on all the ways we tried to keep warm at sea.  No matter how warm you are dressed,in oils skins and fleece the works,  the wind blowing over the Atlantic in winter cuts through everything.  So we have resorted not to only warm our selves from the outside against the chill, but also from the inside.

Brofee - Cuppa Joe with a dash of brandy

Their is always the boring and old time favourite, Cup-a-Soup.  But this just works in the ads on telly.  The local favourite is called a Brofee or Policeman Coffee.  That is sweat coffee with a dash or two of brandy.  Another favourite in South African waters is, well there's no particular name for it, so lets call it a warm me up shot.  This consists of one part sherry and one part whiskey taken either straight for the two bottles or mixed in a mug as a shot.  This one is not advised in a race scenario, since you might forget all about the race and go to the local pub instead. That is all I can remember.  Any suggestions that doesn't involve alcohol for keeping the winter chill out while at office, send them my way.  Back to the match.

Come on Spring!!! Get in there. Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Heads - The history

Many people don't understand Nautical terms. It must be very confusing for people to hear that the boats front is called the Bow and the back is called the stern. And they will hear it if they ever make the beginners mistake of saying right side and left side instead of Starboard and Port. So many of the land lubbers must wonder what a sailor is doing when he is heading down below to visit the heads.

It is probably best to start explaining the terms to them by referring to the origin of the word. If not they may think that the reason the word Heads is used for a marine toilet is because the space is so small and cramp that with the yacht rocking you regularly hit your head. That is true, but not the real reason for the name HEADS

In the older days the square riggers had limited technology and space. The "out-house" was situated on the side of the bow of the boat. Since they used the term of head for the bow of the boat, it became common to say:"I am going to the Heads"

The reason for putting the heads on the side of the boat was very simple:
  • Square rigs sail down wind, so putting the heads at the bow, would let the foul smell be blown off the ship instead of into the Captains beard
  • At the bow the ship is narrower that the stern, so all human waste would fall directly into the water and no need for appointing a janitor
Next time you have a few novices onboard, tell then the story before you say:"I'm off to the heads"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Words of the Old Salts

The olden age of sailing the high seas in search of new continents and new faster routes to India, brought forth an era of experimenting with new boat design. And with that a new language evolved. Modern civilization forgot about this prehistoric dialect called Nautical Terms

I am very interested in all the terms that was used in that forgotten era. Most of them has disappeared over the ages and most of us have no clue into what they meant. I will post a new forgotten word and its description every week so we can revive the language and walk into a bar and start a conversation like. Something like this: I just saw a
Bargue through my Spy glass and have they got a big Donkey Boiler on their deck. I wonder if their Boatswain knows how to use it.

The word for this week:

No, its not what you used to call a sailor that lost an eye in a battle.

It is actually a round block of wood with three holes that is used to receive a shroud or stay and to adjust tension in the standing rigging.

So remeber this word for when you stubble into an old salt at the club again.