Nautical Terms M-P

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This entry provides simple layman's explanations of nautical terms for the benefit of those that come across them and do not understand them.

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Nautical Terms M[edit]

Manhelper: (also known as a striker) A long pole, normally of bamboo, on the end of which was a brush or a roller. They were used when painting the hull from the quay or the punt, or when suspended over the side on a hatch cover.

Marline Spike: A steel spike with a pointed end that is used to to separate the strands of a rope whilst splicing.

"Monkey Island:" A deck located directly above the navigating bridge where navigating officers would perform solar or stellar observations.

Monkeys Face: A triangular piece of metal used to secure the topping lift to the deck.

Monkey's Fist: An end-knot for a heaving line. A heaving line is a line used for throwing from one location to another. This enables a larger line that could not be thrown over the distance to be pulled over. The most common use of a heaving line is at sea, to pull a cable to shore from a ship. A cable is not easily thrown over a distance of 10m [33 ft]or more, so instead one throws a heaving line. The line is tied to the cable and when it has been received the cable can then be pulled over. To make it easier to throw one needs to connect a weight on the end of the line - usually a stone, lead-ball or a small bag of sand is connected to the end. Better still a small rope ball is tied on the end. It is neat, it will endure many tosses last long and it is easily thrown. That is what the monkey fist was originally used for. Now it is also used as fancy knot for key-rings, necklaces and so on. The knot can be done with or without a central core (i.e. a round stone or ball bearing) to add extra weight but it is recommended to use extra loops depending on the size of the object.

Monkey's Face Plate: A steel plate with three holes in used to hang derricks off with a span chain when the derrick was topped. Mostly found on Liberty Ships.

Mousing: Binding a hook with line from shank to the tip of the hook to ensure the shackle does not jump out.

Muffie: A sailing barge term - see entry for Swimmie

Nautical Terms N[edit]

Navigators Balls: The Iron balls attached to either side of the main Compass to help counter the ships magnetic deviation. The Port one was often painted red and the Starboard one green. Also known as Lord Kelvin's balls.

North Sea China man: Someone from the Shetland Isles

Norwegian Steam: Haul by hand without any mechanical aid. Same as "Armstrong Patent" and "Scandinavian Steam". "Monkey Island" the lookout deck above the bridge

Nautical Terms O[edit]

Oggin: The sea.

Old Man: Ship's Master or Captain. Sometimes abbreviated as T.F.O.M., unless the ship's Master is a female, in which case proper abbreviation is T.F.O.B. (Which stands for The Female On Board).

OOW: Officer of the watch.

Nautical Terms P[edit]

Packet Ship: A vessel carrying, Mails, Cargo and Passengers at regular intervals on a short fixed route. Packet ships originally only carried mails, hence the name packet came from their Mail carrying days with the passengers and cargo coming much later. Initially powered by sail but later steam which was much faster and reliable.

Parish Rigged: A poorly dressed sailor, or in fact anything that was not considered up to standard.

Paul Hall Milk: Canned long life milk provided for vessels on extended voyages. Named after famous former president of the Seafarers International Union (SIU) of the U.S.; who, according to legend, first obtained this through negotiation for his union members.

Peak Boy: Formerley a steward that most Leading Hands used to clean their cabin. On P&O usually a Goanese steward wanting to earn extra money. Ratings also used them, but mainly European crew.

Peggy: The expression originally came from “Peg Leg”. In days of old when a seamen lost a leg through battle or accident, rather than being pensioned off, he would be retained and, because he couldn’t go aloft, would be given the jobs inside the accommodation that no one else wanted to do. More recently the term was used for deck boy with the lowest position on deck thus being given all the menial jobs.

SN Member Pat Kennedy said: .... the peggy was the deckboy, the lowest of the low, the skivvy, the butt of every trick and joke in the book, the hardest worked, and poorest paid, member of the crew. Nine months of hell. Still, if you survived, you were on your way to becoming a sailor!

SN Member Trotterdotpom said: On Australian ships, "Peggy" was a position reserved for ABs or Engineroom Ratings who were unable to perform those duties for one reason or another - they were paid the normal rate as far as I know and actually signed on as Crew Attendant.

Perpendiculars These imaginary lines come into various standard measurements of a ship's hull. The Forward Perpendicular is a vertical line at the intersection of the stem and the waterline. The Aft Perpendicular is a vertical line drawn through the centre of the rudder stock.

Pier Head Jump: Joining a ship at the last possible moment.

Pig: Crew bar.

Pilgrim Nut: The Pilgrim hydraulic nut has become the marine industry standard for fitting propellers, providing a quick, safe and cost-effective installation solution. It is also used extensively for tiller and rudder applications where precise high loading is required.

Pipe Down: A call on the boatswain’s pipe last thing at night on a naval vessel for the hands to turn in and be silent.

Plastic: A sub standard replacement , e.g. "Plastic Lecky", A re-trained 4th engineer filling the role of a shore trained electrician.

Plimsoll line: Originally markings on the sides of British Merchant Ships indicating the load line for different seasons and locations made compulsory by the Merchant Shipping Act 1876. Now controlled by the International Maritime Organisation. Samuel Plimsoll MP (1824-1898) championed the introduction of this simple safety measure in response to what were called "coffin ships" - unseaworthy and overloaded ships that were heavily insured against loss.

Point: 11.25 Degrees on the ships compass. 32 Points being the full circle of the compass.

Poop Deck: Deck at the stern of a ship.

Port: The port side of a ship is her left-hand side as you look towards the bow (front). It used to be called Larboard but it was officially changed to “Port” in 1844, to avoid confusion when giving helm orders, as it sounds similar to Starboard (see separate entry). The theory is that larboard derives from “Ladeboard” as many of the old Merchant Ships had a loading, or lading port on their left hand side.

Pour Out: Drinks in a crew members cabin usually

Powder Monkey: Young lad who carried the powder from the Magazine to the Cannon during battle.

Prayer Book: Stones were formerly used to clean wooden decking. See entry for Holystones. The smaller holystone was called a prayer book and was for getting into the corners.

PRS: A Public Room Steward

Puddin': - A shaped wooden piece fitted to life boat davits so as to snug up the boat against it when stowed.

Punch the Ebb: To travel against the ebb tide (falling tide).

Punkah Louvre: A punkah (from the Hindi word pankha) was originally a portable fan made from the leaf of the palmyra. It was known to the Arabs in the 8th century but not commonly used in India until the end of the 18th century. The term "punkha louvre" later came to be applied to swivelling vents in ships and even to ventilators in early aeroplanes.

Pussers Dirk: A navy issue all-steel clasp knife with a spike on one side and a blade on the other and a rough surfaced handle.

Put an even strain on all parts: To lay down.

Nautical Terms

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