Monthly Archives: January 2008

Map of the World

Please note: The text labels of this map contain spoilers which might tell you more about the story than you’d like to know. I suggest you glance at it without reading the labels to get an idea of the routes, and then read the labels when you have read the book. The following map shows […]

San Sebastian Photographs

Photographs of San Sebastian, showing the locations visited by Josh and James.


A Xebec was small fast boat usually with three masts.

Bosun’s chairs

Bosun’s chairs were seats suspended on a tether of rope, used to haul or lower a person.

Sailing large

Sailing large means running before the wind, or sailing directly away from the wind.

Hull down

Hull down means the hull of the ship is not visible beyond the horizon’s curve.


Heave-to. To stop a boat in the water and to ‘hover’ in this position.

Hull speed

At hull speed, the length of the wave generated by he bow equals the waterline length of the hull.

Parachute drogues

Parachute drogues are dragged behind a boat in storms, to slow it down.

Fathom and Cables

Fathoms and Cables are units of length. A Cable is also a thick rope.


Mainchains were the shrouds for the main mast.

Ship’s magazine

Ship’s Magazines stored the gunpowder and shot.


To reef a sail is to make it smaller.


Booms on modern sailboats run horizontally from the mast aft. On an old ship, the boom was a spar which extended the foot of the sail.


Foredeck. The deck in the forward area of the boat.

The Glass, Bells and Watches

The Glass was a timing device which allowed sand to dribble through a hole at a precise pace; the ship’s bell was struck in half hourly intervals to mark the passage of time, allowing the watches to rotate.


The trampoline is a net used in place of a solid deck, running from the bows to the mast base.


Nacelle. The nacelle of a catamaran is the base of the coach suspended above the water between the two hulls.

Anchors, Rodes and Chain-Lockers

Anchors are dropped from the boat to the seabed, attached by a rode (chain or rope), and all of this gear is stored in the chain locker.

Sails and Furling

Sails are aerofoils which generate the thrust needed to move the boat.

The Rig and the Standing and Running Rigging

The Rig of a boat is the gear which holds the sails in place, and controls their shape, size and angle of attack.


Masts are the tall sticks of a sailboat which support the sails.


Chain plates attach the shrouds to the hull.


Forestays hold the mast vertically and prevent it from moving backwards.


Shrouds hold the mast upright and prevent it moving sideways.


The bow-beam runs across the bows of a catamaran and provides support and rigidity.


The beam of a boat is its maximum width.


Daggerboards are boards which slide vertically, raising or lowering the “keel” as needed.


A keel is a vertical fin which provides the second vector of force to propel the boat, and add stability.

Bit-by-Bit, Port Side

Bit-by-Bit – a Catana 47 catamaran.

The Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings

The quote is thought to have come from a story by Ray Bradbury, called A Sound Of Thunder, but was coined by Edward Lorenz while working on Chaos Theory.

England Expects…

Nelson’s message, “England expects every man will do his duty,” was flown by Victory just before the battle of Trafalgar began.

The Masks of Greek Drama

The actors in Greek dramatic productions wore masks. The masks, of religious origin, identified the characters for the audience and, in some cases, functioned as a voice amplifier or bullhorn.

Sir Gabriel Hopetown Stoke

Sir Gabriel Hopetown Stoke is not related to the fictional character of Admiral Edmund Clayton Stoke. Sir Hopetown Stoke served his country honorably during the Napoleonic wars and confirmed the existence of the chests at the battle of Vittorio in his memoirs.

Foreplay and Men

“A man will do anything a woman asks him to, if he thinks it’s foreplay” is from the movie, Bull Durham.


The Greek Scyllis swam underwater using a reed as a snorkel and saved his fleet from attack by the enemy.

Le Protée and L’Invincible

Le Protée was built in 1772 at the Brest shipyards. L’Invincible was captured off Finisterre in 1747 and was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1757.

The Top Sail Lift

A top-sail lift a part of the running rigging of a ship, used to manipulate the topsail.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory was Nelson’s Flagship. She is the oldest serving warship in the world and is moored in the Historic Dockyards.


Bitts are used to hang lines or coils of rope on.

The 18-Pounder Canon

An 18-pounder canon was so called because it fired a ball weighing 18 lbs. The gun itself would have weighed in excess of 3,000 lbs. The ball would have been about 3.5 inches in diameter.

The Bosin’s cry: All Hands. Out or down…

Up all Hammocks. All Hands. Out or down. Show a leg. Rise or fall. Here comes me knife, cutting with a clear conscience!”

This was a traditional cry from the Bosun when raising a sleeping watch for their turn on deck.


The term Refrigeration was coined by Thomas Moore in 1800.

Robert Boyle’s experiments

Robert Boyle experimented with the composition of air.

Headed for Extinction

Extinction. The Oxford English Dictionary defines extinction as: The quenching or putting out of fire, light, anything burning or shining, or figuratively, of hope, passion or life.

You villainous rapparee…

You villainous rapparee This is slang from the 19th C. Click on More to translate the exchange between Thomas and Kipper.

The Steam Engine

The Steam Engine was not invented by James Watt, he merely refined the work of Thomas Savery and Thomas Newcomen.

Atomic Theory

Epicurus lived from 341 to 270 BC and was one of the early proponents of atomic theory. Click More for details on Atomic Theory.

Religious Freedom and the Constitution

Luther 95 Propositions, published on October 31, 1517 led to the splintering of the Catholic Church and could thus be construed as the beginning of religious freedom.

Impérieuse’s Course

Impérieuse’s Course. A point was roughly 11.25 degrees of compass angle.


Alexander Parkes announced the first Plastic in 1862 at the Great International Exhibition, in London.