That’s not true, of course. You only have to see the kindergartners sailing the Optimists to know that. In fact, the more a skipper insists on pompous correctitude, the less likely he or she is to be a capable and experienced mariner.
Sailor’s lingo was important in the heyday of sail, when sailing ships had hundreds of lines and sailors had to know each one by name. But those times are past. If you’re a beginner, you can pick up the right terms at your own pace now.
Skippers whose self-importance exceeds their knowledge often insist that when rope is taken aboard a vessel, it becomes line. Not so. There are several kinds of ropes, including bolt ropes and foot ropes. And guess what sailors themselves said of a hand who showed professional competence? They said he “knew the ropes.” No experienced sailor ever boasted that he “knew the lines.”
If you’re a skipper trying to teach someone to sail, it helps if you repeat the correct phrase after giving a simplified one, so that your novice can learn the sailor’s lingo quickly and naturally.
Today’s ThoughtTo know how to suggest is the great art of teaching.
— Amiel, Journal, 16 Nov., 1864
Tailpiece“And how’s Mr. Vigor doing this morning, nurse?”
“Much better, doctor. He tried to blow the foam off his medicine.”