The Blue Peter
All aboard, vessel is about to proceed to sea.
(At sea) your lights are out or burning badly
Packet, Paddle, Pail, Paint, Painter, Pannikin, PanPan, Parallel rule, Parbuckle, Parcel, Parley, Parrel, Partner, Passage, Passenger, Patch, Pawl, Pay, Pay off, Peak, Pelagic, Pendant, Pennant, Petrol, PFD, Pier, Pilot, Pilotage, Pilot boat, Pilot book, Pilot Jack, Pinnace, Pinrail, Pintle, Pipe, Pipe down, Piping the side, Pirate, Piracy, Pitch, Pitchpole, Plane, Plank, Plimsoll line, PLB, Plotter, Plumb, Portland plotter, Douglas protractor, Point, Points of sail, Pollution, Pontoon, pontoon boat, Poor, Poop deck, Port, Portsmouth yardstick, Port tack, Praam, Pram, Precipitation, Preferred channel marker, Press gang, Pressure, Preventer, Prime meridian, Privateer, Prize, Proa, Propeller, Prop walk, Prow, Pudding, Pulley, Pulling boat, Pulpit, Pump, Purchase, Pulpit, PY
n A vessel employed to carry the mail.
A vessel following a regular schedule.
n A container of small items or documents, usually made of paper or cardboard, often in a waterproof container, and sealed with gum, glue or wax.
n One of many large, flat boards attached to a wheel at each side of a vessel (a paddle steamer) to drive the vessel through the water. Mississippi river boats were characterised by having a single paddle wheel at the stern.
n The flat board which closes the aperture in a lock gate: the aperture allows water to flow from a higher part of the lock to a lower part. The paddle is raised and lowered by a toothed bar riding on a toothed wheel operated by a windlass.
In the East of England paddles are called slackers.
v To use a paddle to propel a canoe or kayak through the water.
n A pigmented viscous, or semi-viscous liquid used to cover wood or metal with a thin layer which dries or 'cures' to a hard layer. paint is intended to enhance the appearance of the substrate and to prevent (or retard) its degradation by water, air or environmental factors.
v To apply a thin layer of paint to a surface, using a brush, roller or foam pad.
n A person who paints.
A cup with a long handle, rather like a ladle, for drinking.
A pair of rules linked together by two (or more) articulated links so that the two rules always remain parallel to one another. They are used to transfer a position line from one part of a chart to another.
Drawing from Knox-Johnston
Truce talks. A discussion between enemies.
Damaged planking may be repaired with replacement of the plank(s) or by cutting out the damaged wood and fitting in a small piece: a Dutchman.
Someone carried on a vessel for reward: someone who pays to be carried on a vessel. Passengers might pay for simply being carried from one port to another, or for accommodation, or for food, or for entertainment, or any or all of these.
Members of the crew are not passengers.
The master of the vessel is qualified according to the number of passengers which can be carried: the vessel is licenced for the number of passengers carried.
To pay the piper is to give money to the piper in exchange for his playing the tune called.
To pay in kind is to give something other than money (the village children?) in exchange for the service rendered.
n The top of a wave.
A volatile mixture of hydrocarbons used as a fuel in some internal combustion engines and in some camping stoves.
A contraction of 'petroleum' or 'petroleum spirit'.
Known as gasoline in the USA.
Personal Flotation Device, or buoyancy aid. Designed to help a person float in the water but not to keep an unconscious person afloat.
Not a lifejacket.
A raised structure, supported on posts or piles, extending some way out into the water.
Used for loading and unloading specialised cargo (such as oil) or for recreational purposes.
Navigating the boat with reference to visible 'signposts' such as buoys, lights, withies and (most usefully) transits. Pilotage is to be distinguished from offshore navigation (passage-making) where there are no visual aids and navigation is by dead reckoning (or GNSS).
Ships are required to use a pilot, a person who has detailed knowledge of the area, to assist the Captain with pilotage into and out of harbours.
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Headings are not used in pilotage.
Instead, point the boat on a heading uptide of the bearing at an angle which keeps the buoy on the bearing; the boat’s heading must be found by trial and error. Following a bearing needs two people: one to helm the boat; the other to use the hand-held compass.
To leave a buoy on a course of, say, 025°M the buoy should be kept on a backbearing of (025° + 180° = 205°M).
Similarly, clearing bearings need two people: one to helm and another to use the hand-held compass.
When following a transit, the heading is not the bearing of the transit but must be found by trial and error. The helmsman can follow a transit without assistance (remember that the helmsman is not a lookout).
A back-transit may be followed in a similar way.
All the visual aids should be marked on the pilotage plan, and named, so that they can be ticked off as they are passed.
Dangers and features to be seen, but perhaps not used, should be marked.
Distances between changes of direction (so-called ‘wheel-over’ points) should be noted, along with the time to be taken for each traverse.
For the yachtsman, there are three forms of pilotage plan.
The examples are all from the Colville area of chart RYA3
1 Pilotage Narrative Plan
Use the words ‘follow’ or ‘keep’ . . . . ‘until’
Follow transit Fl.G.2s & Fl.G.3s on 172°M until 2FG(vert) bears 203°M (3 minutes).
Keep 2FG(vert) on bearing 203°M until ECM bears 195°M (1.5 minutes).
The narrative plan has the advantage of being explicit.
From Snakecatcher's Bay,
KEEP house on a backbearing of 224° UNTIL Oc G 10s & Oc R 10s & Fl G 20s in transit on 110°
KEEP Oc G 10s & Oc R 10s & Fl G 20s in transit on 110° UNTIL Fl G 2s & Oc G 4s in transit on 154°
KEEP Fl G 2s & Oc G 4s in transit on 154° between the breakwater walls
UNTIL marina entrance bears 130°
KEEP marina entrance on bearing 130° UNTIL inside the marina.
2 Pilotage Linear Plan
The course to be followed, however winding, is drawn as a straight line starting at the bottom of the page.
Each change of direction is shown as an arrow to the right or the left of the line with the new bearing (not heading!) marked.
The buoys to be passed are drawn (as symbols) on the correct side of the course to be followed. They should be named on the plan, and ticked off as the plan is followed.
The linear plan has the advantage of being a ‘head-up’ plan; the boat and the helmsman are always following the straight line.
For example (plan and chart in preparation)
3 Pilotage Sketch Plan
Artistic sailors can draw a sketch plan of the approach (or departure) with buoys (named) in their relative places and the course to be followed drawn on the plan.
A tracing and annotation of the chartlet in the pilot book might be useful.
The chartlets may be more detailed, and to a bigger scale, than a chart; there are photographs and text to amplify the chart detail. There is often historical, cultural and social detail about the harbour and country.
See Fife rail
Unrelated to, but somewhat similar in appearance to, a smoker's pipe.
n The signal, or instruction, given by the boatswain's pipe.
v To give instructions by sounding the boatswain's pipe or whistle.
The pipe, or signal, for 'lights out' at the end of the day.
coll Noisy children may be told to "pipe down"; to be quiet.
Piping the side
In the Age of Sail the officer would use the ladder on the side of the ship, holding the manropes which, in turn were held away from the side of the ship by side-boys. The pipe would begin as the officer's hat appeared above the gangway; as he left the ship the signal would end as his hat disappeared below the gangway.
The act of being a pirate; of boarding, robbing and killing.
n The pitch of a propeller blade is the angle it has to the propeller shaft. If the pitch is fixed the speed of the vessel is controlled by the speed of the engine. If the pitch is variable the engine can be held at a steady, optimum, speed and changes to the pitch of the propeller change the speed, or direction, of the vessel.
v To skim, or skip, over the surface of the water, rather than pushing through it.
n A flat-soled tool, with a sharp blade (iron), for removing thin shavings of wood.
n A contraction of aeroplane.
A length of wood which is significantly longer than it is wide, and significantly wider than it is thick. The term usually refers to the planks along the sides of a wooden vessel.
Where the vessel is longer than a single plank, they are joined (scarphed) end-to-end to form strakes the full length of the vessel: a strake is a run of planking along the side of a wooden vessel.
Personal Locator Beacon
A small electronic device which can be attached to a lifejacket. When activated the PLB broadcasts radio signals, which are relayed by satellites to the rescue services, giving the location of the device.
A rule with scales (often circular and sliding) for drawing rhumb lines and for measuring angles on a chart. On a small chart table the Portland Plotter is more useful than parallel rules: the Douglas Protractor is useful on a very small chart table.
To draw a rhumb line at a chosen angle, set the angle in the circular sliding scale. Put the pencil point on the chart, and slide the edge of the plotter to the pencil point. Rotate the entire plotter so that the small arrows point to True North (align the graticule of the circular scale with a meridian or a parallel). The large arrow shows the direction of the rhumb line.
To measure the angle of a given rhumb line, align the edge of the plotter, or one of the long scribed lines, with the rhumb line; ensure that the large arrow points in the correct direction. Turn the circular scale so that the small arrows point to True North. Read the direction (angle) from the scale.
To draw a rhumb line at a chosen angle, place the pencil point on the chart and slide the edge of the plotter to the pencil point. Align the central point or hole of the plotter, and the angle on the inner scale, on a meridian. Draw the rhumb line along the side of the plotter.
To measure the angle of a given rhumb line, align the edge of the plotter with the rhumb line, ensuring that the arrows point in the correct direction. Slide the plotter along the line until the central hole covers a meridian. The angle of the line can be read where the same meridian crosses the inner scale.
Referring to metallic lead. 'Plumbum' is the Latin word for lead (the metal).
A plumb line has a heavy lead weight at its end, and is used to make vertical lines and edges.
Plumbing the depths uses a heavy lead weight on a 20 fathom leadline to measure the depth of water.
Plumbing is a craft which uses lead piping to carry water into and around dwellings and to carry waste away. Lead was replaced by copper during the 20th Century and then by plastic. People who install and repair water pipes are still called 'plumbers', although none of them now (early 21st Century) use lead.
n One thirty-second of a circle; 11.25 degrees.
n The sharp tip of an object such as the leg of a drawing compass.
Points of sail
With the wind forward of the beam a boat may be close hauled, on a close or fine reach, or beating to windward. "Gentlemen don't sail to windward" because it's hard work, uncomfortable and wet. The helmsman must be alert to the wind in the sails; to keep as close to the wind as possible without pinching. The vessel is constantly plunging its bows into the swell and pitching over them. The constant pitching, and the wind from ahead, drives spray, and often water, across the boat and crew.
With the wind on the beam a boat is said to be on a beam reach, or to be reaching. For most boats a beam reach is the fastest and most comfortable point of sail. The vessel is sailing along the swell rather than pitching into it; the roll that might be engendered by the swell is dampened by the wind on the beam.
With the wind coming astern a boat is said to be running before the wind. For a square-rigged vessel this is its best point of sail. For a fore-and-aft rigged vessel this is a potentially dangerous point of sail. It is not possible to ease a Bermudan or gaff mainsail square to the centreline so the sail is almost always 'by the lee'; there is always a danger that a flaw of wind will back the sail and cause an unintended gybe. If the foresails are carried on the same side as the mainsail they are blanketed by the mainsail; if they are 'goose-winged' they need a skilled helmsman or a boomed foresail or both. With a following wind and a big swell there is a danger of broaching; the water near the top of the swell may be moving forward faster than the boat so that the rudder stalls; the boat may then turn across the wind and swell, and capsize.
With the boat hard on the wind the sails are sheeted in and the helmsman steers the boat for best speed to windward.
Something 'unnatural' and unwanted. A stream may be polluted (has pollution) by nitrogenous waste from cattle and fertilizers. Pollution in the sea may consist of engine oil, or plastic.
Something which damages the environment into which it is introduced.
n A floating structure, a walkway, alongside which boats may be moored, typical of marinas. Unlike a wharf, or quay or pier, a pontoon moves up and down with the tide so remaining a fixed distance above or below the gunwale of a moored boat.
Poor visibility is less than 2 miles.
adj The left hand side of the boat, looking forward.
n An opening in the side of the boat: a gunport was an opening for the muzzle of a cannon. A portlight is a window (often circular) which may or may not open.
The rivers Stour and Orwell meet at a natural harbour between Felixstowe and Harwich. Felixstowe is a deep-water port for container ships. Harwich is a port for passenger vessels, including North Sea ferries and Thames barges.
In port (a harbour) the left hand side of a ship was usually brought alongside the wharf because the steering oar was on the starboard (steer-board) side. Passengers and crew embarked and disembarked through the entry port, which was an opening in the left hand side of the boat. The left hand side became known as the larboard, a contraction of loading board: the board was the top-most plank or wale. In a gale of wind at sea the word ‘larboard’ was easily confused with starboard, and was replaced with ‘port’ during the Napoleonic wars.
n A sweet fortified wine made in Portugal, originally by the British.
n A contraction of 'praam', qv.
n A contraction of 'perambulator': a baby carriage.
Preferred channel marker
These buoys are placed at the point where one channel becomes two, when returning to harbour: they show which is the preferred channel according to the local Harbourmaster. They do not prescribe which channel you must take: the chart, or the pilot book, will usually indicate, directly or indirectly, the reason for the preference.
In IALA-A the buoy is a red can with a horizontal green stripe where the preferred channel is to starboard; and a green cone with a horizontal red stripe where the preferred channel is to port. The red can carries a red light Fl.R.(2+1) and the green cone carries a green light FL.G.(2+1).
In IALA-B the buoy with the same purpose is called a Junction buoy. It has a number of red and green horizontal bands; the uppermost band indicates the preferred channel. Where the uppermost band is red, the preferred channel is to port; where the uppermost band is green, the preferred channel is to starboard.
A group of sailors, led by a midshipman or petty officer, sent into the town and surrounding countryside to recruit sailors. Men were often recruited by force (pressed) or by trickery. They might be offered a tankard of ale at the bottom of which they would find a shilling*. They were then deemed to have accepted the King's shilling; to have accepted employment in the Navy.
*In the days before decimalisation of the British currency a shilling was one twentieth of a pound. There were 12 (old) pence to a shilling.
The standard atmosphere (symbol: atm) is a unit of pressure equal to 1013.25 millibars.
(one bar is 1000 millibars, or 14.5 lbs/sq in, or 29.53 inches of mercury)
Atmospheric pressure varies widely on Earth, and these changes are important in generating weather and climate.
On a synoptic chart the isobars are curved lines which link points of equal pressure; the isobars are usually drawn 4 millibars apart. Points at which the air pressure is, eg, 984mb, would be linked by a curved line which would enclose areas of lower pressure; areas of higher pressure would lie outside the area enclosed. Points at which the air pressure is, e.g., 1018mb, would be linked by a curved line which would enclose areas of higher pressure; areas of lower pressure would lie outside the area enclosed.
On this synoptic chart of the North Atlantic there is a deep depression (971 millibars) SE of Greenland around which strong winds (red arrows) rotate anticlockwise. There is high pressure (1028 millibars) over the British Isles, the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea around which the lighter winds rotate clockwise.
The strength of a wind is determined by the pressure gradient; the difference in pressure between the high pressure centre & the low pressure centre and the distance between the two. More closely spaced isobars indicate a steeper pressure gradient (stronger winds); more widely spaced isobars indicate less strong winds
Warmer air is less dense (lighter) than colder air; warmer, rising air is at a lower pressure than the surrounding air masses. Colder air is more dense (heavier) than warmer air; colder, falling air is at a higher pressure than the surrounding air masses.
Because of the Coriolis effect falling air masses rotate clockwise in the Northern hemisphere, anticlockwise in the Southern hemisphere. Rising air masses tend to rotate anticlockwise in the Northern hemisphere, clockwise in the Southern hemisphere.
When moving air meets a flat surface it ’piles up’ against the surface, creating a region of higher pressure. As the moving air spills around the edges of the surface it often becomes turbulent; a region of lower pressure appears on the downwind (leeward) side of the surface. The difference in pressures creates a force which tends to move the surface downwind (to leeward).
When the flat surface is normal (at right angles) to the wind the pressure difference, and the turbulence, will be maximal. When the flat surface is parallel to the wind direction there will be no pressure difference and no turbulence.
An empty cardboard box will be blown downwind; a strong wind will move a person downwind; a very strong wind will displace a building.
If the surface is shaped like a drop of water the wind will tend to ‘stream’ around it; there will be a difference in pressure between upwind and downwind, but there may be little or no turbulence on the downwind side.
A sail is neither a flat surface nor a water drop; it is a thin sheet of material cut and stitched so that it has a curved shape in three dimensions.
With the wind ‘parallel’ to a sail (zero angle of attack) its shape will allow it to billow and flap side to side. Pressure differences will change from moment to moment. The movement will create noise and cause damage to the sail.
With the wind at right angles to the sail (90° angle of attack) it will fill with air which will spill around the edges and become turbulent. The downwind side will have a ‘bubble’ of stationary air at a lower pressure.
With the sail at a low angle of attack moving air will flow along both sides of the sails without turbulence (it will be laminar). The moving air on the downwind side will be at a lower pressure than the air on the upwind side; the pressure difference will create a force which tends to move the sail toward the lower pressure. For each sail there is an angle of attack at which the pressure difference is greatest, and the driving force is greatest.
Most square-rigged and fore-and-aft sails achieve their greatest driving force when the moving air is laminar; when it becomes turbulent (at high angles of attack) the driving force falls significantly.
An imaginary line across the surface of the earth passing through the North Pole, Greenwich (in East London) and the South Pole.
The Prime, or Greenwich, meridian is at zero degrees West and zero degrees East. It is the meridian from which all time zones are measured and is the datum for astronavigation calculations.
A privately owned ship authorized by a state to attack enemy ships.
n An award for winning a race, or for a specially meritorious act.
n During the Age of Sail an enemy vessel captured at sea. The captain of the winning ship would place a prize crew, under the command of a junior lieutenant or midshipman, to take the prize home to a prize agent who would buy it. The money would be shared among the officers and crew of the winning ship and with the crew of other ships in sight at the time of capture.
A long slim sailing boat with cross-beams (aka) to a small float (ama) which resists capsize. The ama is usually kept to windward. The boat is symmetrical end to end.
Proas do not change tack to windward: instead they 'shunt' by turning away from the wind and then sailing 'backwards' on the new heading; the erstwhile stem becomes the new stern and vice versa.
A set of rotating, angled blades mounted on a shaft connected to an engine. As the shaft, and therefore the blades, rotates the water is pushed aft (or ahead) and the boat, by reaction, is pushed ahead (or astern).
Many propellers have fixed blades. The direction of rotation, and the direction of the vessel, is altered by a gearbox on the propeller shaft.
The blades of some propellers can be angled at will by a concentric shaft around the drive shaft. The engine speed can be held constant and the speed (or direction) of the vessel changed by altering the pitch of the propeller.
Propeller (prop) walk
As a propeller rotates, in addition to pushing the water aft or forward, it behaves as a paddle wheel and pushes the water sideways. The water at the top of the propeller is slightly less dense than the water at the bottom, so the bottom of the propeller pushes the water sideways more effectively, and pushes the stern to one side. Normally, when steaming ahead, prop walk is counteracted by a small angle of the rudder. At very slow speeds the propwalk may move the stern of the vessel sideways.
Conversely, when manoeuvring at slow speeds prop-walk can be used to advantage.
On larger vessels, two (or more) propellers are arranged to rotate in different directions; each one neutralizes the prop-walk of the other.
Outboard motors are available which have two propellers on concentric shafts rotating in different directions; the prop-walk of each propeller negates that of the other.
A poetic alternative to stem. A prow is often higher and more ornate than a stemhead.
Pulleys are used to change the direction in which a rope pulls or to increase the power of pulling a rope.
A device for moving fluids from place to place.
A fuel pump moves fuel (petrol or diesel) from the fuel tank to the engine. On a diesel engine the injector pump moves diesel fuel from the low-pressure lift pump to the injectors at very high pressure.
Water pumps move fresh water from a storage tank to the galley. A separate raw water pump may move sea water to the galley.
At the engine, a water pump moves cooling water around the internal galleries of the engine block. Cooling water might be raw water from the sea or river, or it might be fresh water recirculating through a radiator.
An air pump (blower) removes fumes from the engine room before the engine starts.
An air pump (Turbocharger) increases the amount of air into the cylinder of an internal combustion engine.
An air pump (compressor) is used for filling the air tanks of divers.
An air pump (fan) is used for recirculating air within the accommodation so that it seems cooler.
A refrigerant pump (compressor) compresses the refrigerant in a refrigerator or freezer so that the heat can be taken from it.
Pumps may be powered by hand, by electricity, by their own internal combustion engine or directly by the boat's engine.
A whip consists of a block with a single sheave; the block may be attached to a yard. A single line rove through the block allows weights to be lifted from the deck and lowered down through hatchways. There is no mechanical advantage; the force exerted on the fall of the line is the same as the weight to be lifted (neglecting friction).
The gun tackle (above) offers a mechanical advantage of 2; a weight of two units on the lower block can be lifted by a weight (force) of one unit on the fall.
The luff (or tack) tackle offers a mechanical advantage of 3 for lifting weights with the hook; if the hook is fixed to the deck and the upper block is attached to the luff of a sail, or the boom of a balanced lug, it offers a mechanical advantage of 4.
The mechanical advantage is equal to the number of lines rove through the block which moves, neglecting friction. Friction in the purchase increases with the number of blocks and the weight of the item to be moved.
Each of the tackles illustrated above is "rove to disadvantage" (the upper block, from which the fall emerges, changes the direction of effort but adds no mechanical advantage. When "rove to advantage" the fall is pulled from the block which moves.
The "Three Fold Purchase" has three sheaves in each block. the mechanical advantage on the lower block is six-fold (six lines support the lower block).
The slang name for the taffrail.
The protective rail around the stem and bows of a boat has been called a 'pulpit' from its similarity to the pulpit of a Christian church. By a twist of meaning the similar structure at the stern has been called a 'pushpit'.
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