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glossary of terms used


Wot's that then?

One or two people have been asking me what certain words or phrases mean.  I sometimes use words from my Navy days, or other nautical expressions, or even 'made up' names.   For the benefit of  the confused amongst you......below is a list of some  (un)common words used on this site and a few others thrown in - just for interest!

Aldis Lamp a signalling lamp used by the military forces for sending visual signals, primarily Morse Code. 


the name given to my "Aries" self steering wind vane (from 'Steptoe and Son').  A device mounted on the transom  which steers the boat by sensing  changes in wind direction and transferring those changes to the rudder in order to keep at the same angle to the wind.

Baby's  'ed steak and kidney pudding.
BITS beans in tomato sauce.
cheesy'ammy'eggy a slice of toast, layered with ham, then cheese melted over it - and a fried egg on top.  Delicious!
Chinese wedding cake Rice Pudding.
dolmus in Turkey.....a mini-bus, about Ford transit size, around 18 seats.
dhoby "dhoby your clothes"......to wash or launder clothes.  "Dhoby wallah" - a laundry worker onboard a warship, usually of an Oriental origin.  "Dhoby Dust" - washing powder.


Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon.  A small buoyant device which transmits a 'homing' signal which can then be used by search and rescue teams.

foo-foo (or phoo-phoo) - talcum power.
goffer two naval meanings - a) a big sea washing inboard, and usually landing on any unfortunate matelot on deck, and  b) a large glass of orange juice or similar from the 'goffer machine' at the onboard NAAFI shop.


Global Positioning System.  An electronic device which computes your position on the Earth's surface in degrees of latitude and longitude by the use of satellites.

grog 'neaters' diluted with water 2 to 1 and in theory could not be hoarded for later consumption.  So named after Admiral Vernon - "Old Grogram" because of the grogram boat cloak he wore - and who, in 1740 was responsible for the watering down of rum in an effort to induce more sobriety amongst his sailors, who regularly consumed a pint of rum per day.  Grog is still around 50% proof - enough to make you 'groggy'.
'jugs' No.....not those sort.....get your mind out of the gutter!   An American yottie expression used to describe what we Brits call 'jerry-cans'.


in Gibraltar, (and other places!) -  a wind blowing from the East.

Marina a purpose built boat park where piracy, is considered by the owners, to be legal.
Meltemi a strong North to Northwest wind
nautical nausea sea-sickness!   (appropriately, nausea comes from naus - the Greek word for ship).
'neaters' Undiluted rum, only issued to Petty Officers and Chief Petty Officers and lasted longer than 'grog.'

Nelson's Blood



the water, the sea.  As in "he fell in the 'oggin" meaning he fell overboard or off the jetty/pontoon/plank.

party gear foul weather waterproof clothing.
raft  o'  bits beans on toast.

Rigid Inflatable Boat.

splice the mainbrace a double issue of rum, and included the Officer's.  Reserved for special occasions (eg a Royal Anniversary).  One theory is that it was so called after the complexity and urgency in repairing a sailing ship's mainbrace, which deserved a reward, others believe that as the mainbrace was such an important rope, it was never spliced, so the likelihood of two tots of rum was very rare!
'splicers' Jack's shortened version of Splice the Mainbrace.  If the Lord High Admiral ordained splicers, the cost was met by the Exchequer whereas anyone else requesting this, (such as Montgomery when visiting the Mediterranean Fleet in WW2) would receive a rather large bill.
submariner's bath rationing of water onboard the old 'A' and 'O' class submarines led to Jack throwing a handful of foo-foo in the air and walking through the descending cloud........smelling a little sweeter on the other side!!

Uncle Albert

my auto-pilot, named after Uncle Albert of 'Only Fools and Horses' fame.  An electro-mechanical device which, when engaged, effectively steers the boat by following a course pre-programmed into the GPS system.

'up spirits' the daily tannoy  call, around 1145, to initiate the collection and issue of Jack's rum ration.  Throughout the ship, countless lips would mutter the classic rejoinder, "Stand fast the Holy Ghost."

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