An A-Z Quiz of Sailing Slang for 2016

Post by: Dee White
25 January 2016

Do You Know Your Baggywrinkles From Your Gollywobblers?

How many of these do you know? – answers at the end.

  1. What would you do with an AZIPOD?
  2. How could a BAGGYWRINKLE help you?
  3. Is a CATBOAT crewed by cats – or what is it?
  4. What would you keep in a DITTY BOX or DITTY BAG?
  5. When an ENSIGN is not the national flag flown from a boat, what or who is it?
  6. Would you play a FIDDLE or does it have some other function?
  7. How would you use a GOLLYWOBBLER?
  8. What was a HOLYSTONE used for?
  9. Why might you get into trouble by having IRISH PENNANTS?
  10. Who used to be referred to as JACK-OF-THE-DUST?
  11. Where might you encounter a KNEE-KNOCKER?
  12. What might you find in a LUCKY BAG and why might it not be so lucky for you?
  13. Why would you not want to be on MAIL BAG WATCH?
  14. What is meant by a NAVY SHOWER?
  15. Who might be known as the OIL KING?
  16. Where would you find a PINTLE?
  17. What is, and where would you find a QUARTER KNEE?
  18. Which commonly known part of a boat comes from the old Anglo Saxon word ROTHER?
  19. What is a SNOTTER and how is it used?
  20. Who might be known as a TWIDGET?
  21. What does the abbreviation UA stand for?
  22. If the expression VERY WELL is not used to indicate your state of health, what does it mean?
  23. What became known as a WIDOW MAKER? You may be able to guess this one.
  24. What would you be doing to data if you were caught XOXing?
  25. What would a vessel be doing if it was YAWING?
  26. Why would ZERO DARK THIRTY be unpopular?

Answers below

How did you do?

Here are the answers

  1. You would use an azipod to steer your boat. It’s a steerable thruster with electronic propulsion motor installed within the pod outside the hull.
  2. A baggywrinkle is a soft smooth, plastic covering for cables that prevents sails from chafing as they slide against the cables.
  3. A catboat is a one sail sailboat with the mast well forward, usually having a gaff rig.
  4. A ditty box or bag was carried by sailors for containing letters, small souvenirs or sewing supplies.
  5. The word ensign can be used to refer to a junior commissioned officer.
  6. A non-musical fiddle is a frame round a dining table or galley stove to prevent items spilling in rough weather.
  7. A gollywobbler is a full quadrilateral sail used in light airs on a schooner.
  8. A holystone is a large flat stone used to polish the wooden deck of a ship.
  9. Irish pennants are any loose or untidy ends of a line and can include lines dangling from rigging and threads hanging from a uniform.
  10. Jack-of-the-dust was the person in charge of breaking out provisions. In the British navy “Jack” is the term for a Royal Navy sailor who worked in the bakery and was covered with flour.
  11. Knee-knockers were the raised edges of the coaming of a watertight door or bulkhead opening. They were raised about 1 foot off the deck and would strike the shins of sailors who failed to step over them.
  12. A lucky bag was a bag, compartment or locker where mislaid articles of clothing, bedding etc were stored. If the owner tried to retrieve his lost possessions he might have to put up with a few lashes as punishment for his carelessness.
  13. Mail bag watch was a practical joke played on inexperienced crewmen who were persuaded that mail was delivered to a ship at sea via a buoy. The crewmember had to stand watch for the buoy often dressed in outlandish garb, with a boat hook and a sound powered telephone.
  14. Having a navy shower is a way of saving water while showering – you wet down, turn of the water, soap up, turn on the water and rinse off.
  15. The oil king is name sometimes given to the Petty Officer who maintains fuel oil records aboard ship.
  16. A pintle is a small straight pin secured to a rudder that fits into a gudgeon on the sternpost of very small boats.
  17. A quarter knee is a horizontal triangular block of wood connecting a boat’s side with the transom.
  18. The word rudder comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “rother”. It means “that which guides”.
  19. A snotter was a rope eye attached to the mast of a sprit-rigged vessel. It held the lower end of the sprit in position.
  20. A twidget is the slang name for an electronics technician.
  21. UA stands for Unauthorised Absentee, i.e. a person absent from their command or place of duty without authority.
  22. Very well was often used as an expression of acknowledgement that a senior gave his subordinate.
  23. Widow maker was a well known term for the bowsprit of a boat. Many sailors lost their lives falling off while tending the sails.
  24. To xox was to enter engineering log data suspiciously similar to the previous hour’s log date. The word is derived from Xerox.
  25. Yawing describes a vessel’s rotational motion about the vertical axis.
  26. Zero dark thirty was very early in the morning or very late at night – an unpopular time for sailing.

Congratulations if you have scored 20 or more. You not only know your sailing terms but some historical facts as well!

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