Florida Boating

Thursday, May 13, 2004


View from the Marina
Clichés: Boating’s Contribution
By Barb Hansen
April 1, 2004

All hands on deck. Now, okay, pipe down.

I’m starting with a clean slate. I want to be completely above board about this. I have no intention of barging in only to bamboozle you with mere scuttlebutt. I hereby proclaim that I will avoid clichés even if I am under the weather.

It’s too easy to write with clichés. Any writer who knows her ropes and is worth her salt should shape up.

Am I passing with flying colors? No? I guess I’d better mind my P’s and Q’s or there will be devil to pay.

How many clichés did you count? If you counted 14, you’re A1 in my book. Oops. Make that 15.

Here’s the interesting part: these clichés and a bunch more all came from the world of boating. Many I learned at a terrific website called shipsandcruises.com and others from an article freelance writer Chris Caswell wrote in a magazine article in 1997.

Here’s what I learned.

A1. In Lloyd’s Register “A1” was the mark of a first class wooden ship.

Above Board: Pirates would hide crew members below decks to fool victims. When all the crewmen were on the deck then -- seeing is believing – the vessel was more likely to be an honest merchant ship.

All hands on deck: Nowadays we gather to discuss some task. Sailors did the same thing, but met on the deck.

Bamboozle: This was the word used to describe the deceit of pirates who flew an ensign of national origin other than their own.

Barge in: Most believe this term, used today to describe a tactless appearance or interruption, came about because barges are hard to maneuver.

Clean slate: Daily logs were kept on a slab of slate. Each new watch officer would erase the previous entries.

Devil to pay: The “devil” seam which ran along the hull at the deck level, was the most difficult to caulk. To “pay” meant to caulk. Voilá. The sailor had to hang off the deck to caulk the seam and was said to be “between the devil and the deep blue sea.”

Knows the ropes: It took an experienced seaman to know the function of all the ropes on a sailing vessel.

Mind your P’s and Q’s: Short for pints and quarts of ale. Tavern keepers would keep careful track (mind) the tab, especially, of sailors who were about to ship out.

Passed with flying colors: Refers to a sailing ship that distinguished itself by flying all of its pennants and flags (called “colors”) when passing other vessels.

Pipe down. Helmsmen told the crew members on deck that they could “pipe down,” meaning their chores were done and they could return to their quarters below decks.

Scuttlebutt: To discourage idle chit-chat at the ship’s water barrel, the drinking ladle had little holes in it so the water would leak if the sailor didn’t drink it up fast. The holes were called scuttles.

Shape up: This was the term helmsmen used to refer to getting back on course to avoid danger.

Under the weather: The sailor who had to stand watch on the bow taking all the pounding and spray was said to be “under the weather.”

Worth their salt: Salt actually was also used to pay Roman sailors. So any sailor “worth his salt” was worth what he was getting paid.

Clichés, they say, are to be avoided like the plague. But, my, they do come in handy, don’t they?

VIEW FROM THE MARINA: Chartering's Summer School Curricula

View from the Marina
Chartering’s Summer School Curricula
By Barb Hansen
May 3, 2004

I’m told about one million American children are home schooled. A couple of years ago I met two of them when the Crumpler family of Atlanta came to North Fort Myers and spent three days on one of our boats.

When they returned home Mrs. Crumpler assigned her students their real homework. Her 13-year-old daughter wrote, designed and published a magazine article on her computer. Her 10-year-old son wrote a term paper about what he learned on the boat. You can bet that they learned a lot more because the learning was fun.

Back home in Indiana when I was growing up summer school was the worst thing that could happen to a kid. Today, though, as I think about it, it seems to me there is an opportunity for school-age kids to think of summer school in a fun, new way. Instead of trudging off to an old school building and trying to stay focused on a dull textbook, students could start their school days aboard a charter yacht cruising the beautiful barrier island paradise of Southwest Florida.

In a long summer day, there is plenty to learn and every bit of it is fun.

Astronomy. Astronomy class is held on the forward deck when the stars come out. Away from the lights of the cities the stars and planets shine bright. Each student (teachers, too!) finds a comfortable place to lie down with his or her head on a cushion. Identify planets and stars. Talk about nebulae. Count shooting stars.

Nature and Marine Biology. This class is held on the bow just before lunch when the sun is high and its rays light up the bottom. Students lean against the bow rail and look for huge rays hiding in the sand. Soon a dolphin or maybe two will appear and start surfing the bow wave. On another day marine biology class can be held on the shore with young biologists searching for exotic shells and sharks teeth. Ask the captain to pull into the marina at ‘Tween Waters Inn where students can pet the resident manatee, Mr. Jimmy Buffett. Be sure to bring along a few of the many reference books about dolphins, manatees, fish, birds, shells and more.

History: Students of a certain age are fascinated by the age of pirates. In the U.S. there is no better place than Southwest Florida where Jose Gaspar the famous pirate did his evil deeds and brought the treasures home to Joseffa, his wife (or significant other; we’re not sure). Useppa Island is named after Joseffa. You can go there and even lead a field trip to the Useppa Island Historical Museum

Geography and geology: Where does sand come from? How did barrier islands like Sanibel and Captiva get formed and when? How are they changing?

Writing. When our nieces cruised with us recently, I assigned them the job of “roving dock reporters” for our company newsletter, THE YARDARM. They interviewed dockmasters, took pictures, and wrote stories about their experiences. Just between us they didn’t even know it was really a homework assignment in disguise. After all, it was spring vacation. After dinner, your boat-schooled students are not going to be watching their favorite TV sitcoms. That’s when you bring out pens and paper so everybody can write letters to their friends or make a daily entry into their cruising journal.

Reading. There are countless reading choices, depending on your young matey’s age. For younger children A Swim through the Sea is a charming story and beautifully illustrated. For young explorers there is Pirates and Buried Treasure, full of tales of the pirates who once sailed our local waters; or bring along the classic Treasure Island. To bring these tales to life you can stage your own “treasure hunt” when you dinghy ashore to one of the hundreds of remote islands on your route. Teens on board may want to immerse themselves in another voyage – the voyage described in Mutiny on the Bounty plus two other stories that make up the Bounty trilogy. No cruise is complete without Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. What could be better than reading tales of the sea while living and cruising board a private yacht?

Art/photography. A cruise inspires our artistic side. So let those young, natural talents emerge. Make time during the day for a photo contest or for sketching. Study the cloud formations and encourage imaginations to find faces.

Arithmetic. Students can help our captain set a compass course or calculate arrival times.

Recess. Absolutely, you must schedule recess and lots of it. At this school, recess can include swimming, diving and snorkeling right from the transom of the boat.

I think we’ve got a strong start on an official summer school program for the 2004 summer semester at Southwest Florida Yachts. What do you think?

SW Florida Yachts is Now in the Blogging Business!

Hi folks. We have initiated this little corner of Cyberspace to keep you informed of the happenings here at Southwest Florida Yachts. Vic and I will be posting from time to time so that you can learn of new sailing and cruising adventures and business ventures we have planned.

Check back often and don't forget to browse over to one of our three websites:

Yacht Charters
Boating Education
Yacht Brokerage

-Barb Hansen