The language of the sea, always part of our mother tongue, has been handed down to us all as the heritage of a seafaring nation.
Those who spend their life at sea, or live by its shores, and obtain their living or find pleasure from it, use this language as part of their natural life; not only do they speak it, but they come to live and think by it in all they do, for it is a vocabulary made by seamen for seamen.
In addition to all those who thus already have the sea 'in their blood', the rising generation of youth and the countless others who are now realizing the tremendous enjoyment to be found in sailing, boating, or 'messing about in boats', will soon discover that it is necessary to know more about these things; there are also numerous inlanders who cannot get afloat, but nevertheless find much pleasure in reading of adventures at sea.
The object of this book is, therefore, to provide a small, compact, handy reference-glossary of nautical terms and their meanings, not too diffuse for the experienced, yet sufficiently explanatory for the uninitiated, and arranged as a dictionary of short concise explanations whereby any meaning may be easily and quickly found.
To extend its interest, it also includes most of the numerous metaphors, colloquialisms, idioms, etc., that have now become absorbed as part of our nautical tongue, many of which are not always apparent or understood by others. Most obsolete terms have been omitted, although several of them, which have long lost their usage, still frequently appear, and some of these have been included. The more advanced subjects, such as ship construction, navigation, the art of seamanship, etc., are too comprehensive to be covered in a handbook such as this, but several of the elementary explanations will be found.
It will be apparent that the preservation of our nautical language is not only important, but essential, and, inasmuch as all seamen are frequently judged by their use and knowledge of it, it follows that one cannot hope to be a good seaman, or to own, use, or sail a boat, unless one acquires a good working knowledge, knowing and calling things and actions by their proper names, so as to be understood, and to understand others.
It is therefore hoped that this handbook will prove a useful asset not only to the 'old hand' but to all those who love the sea; also, that it may provide an interesting insight for the many young Britons who are thinking of making the sea their career, livelihood, or pleasure, together with the thousands of others who find their enjoyment fulfilled when messing about in boats or being at sea.
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