For the moment, here is the glossary from the book, which we’ll expand as time goes by.
Articles (Ship’s) – the document sailors were often required to sign with the captain of the ship. It would detail the name of the ship, rank or role of each sailor, any shares or salary, the nature of the voyage, its intended duration, any regulations to be observed aboard ship or in port, and punishments for violating the same.
Binnacle – the waist-high wooden housing for the ship’s compass and other navigation tools, located in front of the helmsman’s station at the whipstaff or ship’s wheel.
Bota bag – a traditional Spanish leather bag lined with goatskin, tree sap, or other resins; used for carrying liquids. Commonly has a narrow nozzle allowing a person to drink without touching the mouth of the container.
Careen – to beach a ship in order to clean, caulk, and repair the hull. The ship is typically emptied of all cargo, cannons, and other heavy items beforehand.
Cat-o’-nine-tails – also known as “the cat”, this multi-tailed whip is used in floggings. The nine thongs or tails are made by unravelling a thick rope into its three smaller ropes, each of which is unravelled again. Each line is then knotted several times along its length, giving the cat its “claws”.
Chandlery – a one-stop-shop for ships needing to resupply their stores or to purchase other naval equipment.
Cutlass – a short, slashing sword with a hilt featuring a solid basket-shaped guard. Popular during the Age of Sail, it was robust enough to hack through heavy ropes, canvas, and wood, and short enough to use in close quarters during boarding actions or below deck.
Davy Jones’ Locker – the final resting place of shipwrecks and sailors lost at sea; the seabed.
Dead reckoning – a method of navigating using a previously known position, along with records of speed and heading over a period of time, to calculate one’s current location.
Derrick – named for a type of gallows, a derrick is a hoisting apparatus with a tackle rigged at the end of a boom for lifting and lowering cargo.
Doldrums – an area near the thermal equator where converging trade winds can create windless weather for days or weeks at a time.
Fishing (the boom) – strengthening where a broken spar (mast, yard, gaff, boom, etc) is being rejoined by using one or more additional pieces of wood set parallel to the spar, and then wrapped, or woolded, together with rope or chain.
Flogging – whipping the bare back of a person, often with a cat-o-nine-tails; a punishment for numerous offences.
Gunner’s Quoin – a wedge placed under the barrel of a cannon to adjust the elevation of the gun within its carriage.
Grapeshot – unlike a solid cannonball, this ammunition is an arrangement of smaller round shot packed tightly into a canvas bag, looking like a bunch of grapes. When fired, the round shot sprays out in a cone and is effective against people as well as rigging, spars, and sails.
Hazard (game) – an involved betting game using two dice, where the caster tries to roll a specific series of sums. A precursor to the simplified game of Craps.
Head (Ship’s) – where the ship’s crew relieved themselves. Initially, sailors leaned against or sat upon rails around the bowsprit, hanging out over the water. By the 1800s, ships began using a plank seat with a hole.
Hogshead – a large cask of a specific volume of liquid or foodstuff. In 1688 the volume was set at 51 ale gallons, with an ale gallon being 282 cubic inches.
Hornpipe – an Irish, Scottish and English dance without partners, typically done in hard shoes to help keep time.
Justacorps – a long, knee-length coat worn by men in the late 17th century and throughout the 18th century. French in origin, it was part of a three-piece ensemble in England, which also included breeches and a waistcoat. This ensemble eventually evolved into the modern-day three-piece suit.
Knot – one nautical mile per hour. The term was derived from counting the number of knots in the log-line that unspool in a specific amount of time after the attached chip log is dropped into the water. The speed of the ship can be calculated from this count.
Landlubber – a person who has little to no experience with the sea, or lacks the skills to sail upon it.
League – originally defined as the distance a person could walk in an hour; at sea, a league is three nautical miles.
Letter of Marque (and Reprisal) – a government commission or license that authorized a private person to attack and capture vessels of a nation at war with the issuer. Captured ships, or prizes, were subject to condemnation and sale under prize law, with the proceeds distributed according to the shares held by each of the privateer’s financers, the captain, the crew, and the issuer of the commission.
Lobscouse – a stew made with salted meat, onions, and other ingredients, using ship’s biscuit to thicken the dish.
Luff – a sail will flap, or luff, when losing wind or when the wind is blowing equally on both sides. For example: the sails will luff when the bow passes through the wind (as the ship tacks).
Mainbrace – braces control the angle of the yards and the mainbrace is the largest and heaviest of all the rigging. If the mainbrace is shot away in battle, or is otherwise severed, the ship will be at the mercy of the sea, unable to change direction until the rope is repaired.
Magazine (Ship’s) – the storehouse within a ship where powder for the cannons is stored, typically located below the waterline.
Malapertness – being rude and disrespectful in speech or manner; impudently bold; saucy.
Manifest (Ship’s) – a document which officially specifies the nature and quantity of the cargo stowed aboard a ship. Typically used by customs officials, this document helps determine if the cargo placed on board a ship at the beginning of its voyage is still on board upon arrival at its destination.
Marooned – to have been put ashore on a deserted island or coast, intentionally abandoned with little hope of rescue or escape.
Mutiny – the revolt of a ship’s crew against the captain and officers, typically with the aim of taking control of the vessel.
Muttonchops – side-whiskers that are narrow near the ear and become broad and round along the lower jaw.
Nicking the necks – breaking or chopping off the necks of bottles containing wine or spirits; not bothering with the corks.
Pieces of eight – Spanish silver coins worth eight reales, also referred to as dollars or pesos, and could be cut into eight pieces, or bits, to make change.
Plunder – to take goods or treasure by force; to loot, pillage, sack, or steal.
Powder monkey – a member of the gun crew who carried gunpowder to the cannons from the magazine in the hold, but only as needed in order to minimize the risk of fire and explosions.
Pressed (into service) – forcibly recruited into the military or navy. Although the great majority of those pressed were taken from merchant ships, landsmen were also included when the need was great.
Public house – an establishment that serves alcoholic drinks, nowadays called a pub. The term was used to differentiate between private houses and those open to the public as alehouses, taverns, and inns.
Ratlines – the lines tied between the shrouds of a sailing ship to form a ladder, allowing sailors to go aloft as lookouts, to work with the sails, or to conduct repairs.
Salmagundi – a dish of whatever seafood, meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts the cook has at hand, all dressed with oil, vinegar, and spices.
Scallywag – a rascal; a good-for-nothing; a mischievous or even villainous person.
Scuppers – openings at deck level that allow water to drain off the ship instead of pooling within the gunwales.
Slops – originally referred to wide, puffy trousers popular with seamen because of the ease of movement they afforded. By the late 17th century, slops came to refer to sailors clothing in general, not just the trousers.
Taffrail – the handrail around the weather deck at the stern of a ship.
Trucks (wooden) – the wheels on a gun carriage.
Weather deck – any deck exposed to the outside air.
Whipstaff – a long, thin pole connected at a right-angle to the rudder, allowing the helmsman to steer the ship. The whipstaff preceded the invention of the more complex ship’s wheel.
Wooding and watering – resupplying a ship with wood and water, and other goods when possible.
Wormer – a double screw, like intertwined corkscrews, fixed to a long handle; used to draw out wadding or bits of cartridge bags left in a cannon after firing.