Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bobs Nautical Dictionary

Bob’s Nautical, A Nautical Dictionary and Glossary by Robert B. Townsend. Definitions and Descriptions , 111., 8 1/2 x 11”, 190 pages, soft cover for only $24.95.

Cover design, printed and bound in Canada by Visual Impact Marketing Inc. Published by Robert B. Townsend, Odyssey Publishing, 3320 Rednersville Rd., R.R.I, Carrying Place, On. KOK ILO.

Why, we ask has this book been so long in coming? It is absolutely crammed with useful and seldom found information so that we move from one area to the next, reluctant to put it down and get on with what we should be doing.

The dictionary flits the first half of the collection of literary marine treasures.

So you’re playing with your children and with them look up animals from a marine point of view, there’s horse and hounds, dog and cat—oh,oh, catamaran, cat ketch, cat-o-nine tails, cat’s paw and cat’s whiskers and that’s not all , but move on to monkey and lizard, bull and buck. By now the kids are laughing and giving their own ideas!

Suppose you’ve got that little talk to give at the club and want some ideas. Browse through the definitions and come up with wharves and piers, which are structures—and find these are quite different from docks—which are the waters beside them where the boats float when secured.

And then there are all the items that go into sails, rigging and fittings,especially on the old square rigged sailing ships. Yup, they’re here, all neatly set out for your convenience and help in understanding a story or clarifying a discussion.

You want to spice up a conversation or lecture with a bit of controversy? Are there tides on the Great Lakes? Well, look up the word seiche for what it tells you.. Then move to the second half of the book, to the section Low Water—High Water. There you find notations on Lunar Tides, Spring Tides and Neap Tides as well as something on Great Lakes Tides. Do these qualify as actual tides? There are opinions that can lead to some probing conversations!

If you’re interested in the measurement rules for racing, you’ll find summarizations of the more well known rating systems, with purposes, plus their advantages and disadvantages, elsewhere in the second half of the book.

There’s a section on Vessels and Their Rigs, where mention goes back to the Chinese junk, the Arab dhows, the Greek and Roman galleys and the Viking longships—all is meaningful and interesting.

But, we must not forget our own traditions—and here they are. Sections on the vessels of the Great Lakes as they sailed from towns and ports that are familiar to us. The timber droughers, picturesque craft that were built strong and tough and shaped to carry the huge timbers from hardwood forests to the end of the lakes. Here the timber was turned into “drains” to run the St. Lawrence River.

The stone hookers carried the materials from which Toronto was built. Usually they were square ended, wide and of shoal draft, although yachts were often used for the job. They hoisted shale from the bottom of Lake Ontario between the ports of Oakville and Whitby, mostly from Port Credit. They were designed to get close to shore to reach the shale and to carry the whole load of stone on deck. To deliver six toise of stone a week was good for a two man crew— here we learn what a toise is and how it was brought on deck.

Schooners and scows were also an important part of early Great Lakes
commerce. Often an owner started out, sometimes on his farm or in a little lakeside villages, building a small craft for local deliveries, and from there expanded to many or larger vessels.

Because of the creek-mouth bars in so many lake ports, centreboard vessels were used. These were not considered adequate by salt water sailors but, somehow, from the lakes, they turned up in various European ports and even around the horn.

The part played by steamboats, barges and tugs also takes a place in
this book, as do many other important aspects of sailing life.

And, of course, a sailing venture is never complete without a mix of song and two of these, working songs, are provided at the end of the book.

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