Logs and Shanties


The Rime of the Ancient Harrier

(With sincere apologies to Coleridge; who has been spinning in his grave for quite some time)
by John / harriers b 2012
He turns his head but in his ear
The steady Gybe-Ohs run
And in his eye the endless yachts
Quant on into the sun.

He heeds not either wind nor rain
Nor roar of flapping sails
With quant at hand he tacks again
And sinks rather than bail.

With mast half down and boom half-off
And main-sheet all askew
He sails down endless windless dykes
With barely half his crew

Long time ago, Heaven forfend,
He lived on reedless shores
And knew a life which did not end
When sailing on the Broads;

But now on Commy's orders sails
Nor rhyme nor reason tell
The Commy's mind defies our pow'rs
And that we know right well.

The rain was loud, the wind was low
The glass fell - overboard
The crew entirely failed to go
We left them in the Broad

Down drop't the sails, the wind dropped down
'Twas sad as sad could be
And we did quant only to break
The sighing of the lees.

The very broad did rot - oh Commy!
That this should ever be!
Yea, wanton crew did crawl with knees*
Upon the slimy sea.

Water, water everywhere
And all the crew did shrink
From water, water everywhere
Three gallons left to drink.**

And sailing slowly down the broad
The crew was prone to sigh
And all did wish with false accord
For wind and mackerel sky.

Alas! For yachts upon the broads
Are cruelly over-used
They have no wind to fill their sails
Yet sail far over-crewed.

For in the bilge of many a yacht
Resides a hidden crew
And Jake was sitting all alone
Debating what to do.

In desperation took a leap
With cabin roof and mate
A life far better fed to seek
He swam off with our gate.

The skipper cried and hauled her wind
The crew cried "By the lee"
Bure Classic feared the flying sails
And chugged away to sea.

The key was taped beneath a thwart
The main-sheet caught a post
And all the crew together thought
'Twas worse than blackened toast.

But nigh upon the hour of dawn
Quants softly whilst we sleep***
A ghostly ship - the flying Commy
Her wraith-like way does creep

Lashed to the helm Jake plies his course
Sans sails, Sans quant Sans stays
And sorrowfully quanting down the decks
The bilge-boys go their ways:

Be warned, henceforth if you should dare
To speak against the Commy
Alack! For you shall rue the day
For all remaining eternity!

He turns his head but in his ear
The steady Gybe-Ohs run
And in his eye the endless yachts
Quant on into the sun.

* Elbows
** This verse was inadvertently omitted in the reading of the log. It refers, of course, to the heinous quantities of water the crew of Wood Sorrel were required to drink
** *This is debatable.

A Harrier's Dictionary

by John / harriers b 2012
Throughout this week it has gradually dawned on me that no-one has the slightest idea what I am talking about. Since there is clearly no hope of me ever becoming more normal, I thought it might be advisable to explain some of the words it has been my wont to use, in order that I might expedite the proliferation of your vocabularies, which is certain to make conversation easier in every way.

With that in mind, I have assembled a small dictionary of words, taken mainly from The Yachtsman's Weekend Book, compiled in the mid 1930s.

Abaft - Abaft abeam

Abeam - for'ad abaft

Afloat - Waterbourne

Aground - Not Waterbourne

Bore, To - A ship which buries her head whilst sailing is said to bore.

Broach to, To - To investigate the possibilities of capsize by heeling until the sails are in the water and then pulling the main-sheet as hard as possible.

Belay - To secure a rope by taking a round turn and then a series of figure-of-eights about a cleat. This does not include the final half-hitch.

Cat's Paw - A twisting of rope through which a block may be hooked

Centre of Lateral Resistance - The middle point in a vessel's plane of lateral resistance

Con, To, - to direct the helmsman, hence

Con, A - a direction

Fend, To, - to correct last minute mistakes in steering by accidentally falling in the water between two boats whilst shouting to the crew such useful phrases as "fend off!"

Fluke - The end of an anchor

Fo'c's'le - A traditional massacre of the word 'Forecastle', in which four letters have been replaced by three apostrophes, referring technically to the part for'ad of the mast where the crew sleep, or otherwise the fore-cabin.

Gate - A disposable fitting used to hold the mast up. Rumoured to enjoy the occasional swim, particularly in storms.

Inhaul - Opposite of outhaul

Jake - A mythical spectre rumoured to haunt the graves of those who engage in poor radio etiquette.

Knees - Actually defined in my 'glossary of sea terms' as 'elbows'*

Leak - An accidental opening in the hull of a vessel which admits water. Deliberate openings are thus not leaks.

Leeward - Pronounced Looard. When has spelling ever been a guide to pronunciation in the English language?

Mast - (I had to put this in simply as it gives the most complicated possible description of a simple object) 'A spar or system of pieces of wood or metal placed nearly perpendicular to the keel of a boat & used to support other spars on which sails are spread.'

Out - Similar to over.

Outhaul - opposite of Inhaul

Reve, To - to thread a rope's end through something.

Wreck - The remains of a boat whence all with vague swimming ability have long since fled, hence

Nervous Wreck - The condition initiated by hearing too many doubtful definitions or possibly by simply being in my company for more than 10 minutes

* The etymology actually runs: Knees - stout right-angles of oak or iron used to hold the topsides to the cabin trunk (& c.). Sometimes referred to as elbows. Hence Knees - sometimes referred to as elbows.