March 27, 2014

Here's a man on a truck

A FEW DAYS AGO, on March 23, 2014, I wrote a column titled “A lack of sea-going trucks.”

It was a response to a query from a reader who wanted to know what a nautical truck really was. It turned out to be a flat wooden disk atop the mainmast of a sailing ship. I said that when a warship’s yards were manned, as a salute to a visiting Lord High Emperor or someone, a sailor was chosen to stand right on top of the truck. He had to stay there, sometimes for hours, I presume, with only a thin iron rod inserted into a hole between his feet to steady him.

Another reader, Dale Stevens, asked if I had an illustration of this feat, and I was sorry to say that my search of the Internet had revealed nothing, probably because nobody has stood on a mainmast truck since the Internet was invented.

But I was wrong (as usual). A reader in the United Kingdom (Welsh Wales actually, if I’m not mistaken) has put me straight. His first name is Jack and I don’t know his last name but his boat is called Rhyddid, which is Welsh for Liberty, and he has provided a link to a most fascinating video on YouTube. It’s a presentation of young sailors and marines manning a land-based mast in Britain. And lo! this mast has a truck, and an iron rod, and a brave young man standing and saluting right on top of the truck.

I don’t know if the U.S. Navy does stuff like this now, or if they ever did, but it’s certainly fascinating to watch the Brits keeping up their old traditions, including the compulsory tot of rum, which that man richly deserved. 

Here is the link, thanks to Jack. Don’t miss it!

Today’s Thought
She comes majestic with her swelling sails,
The gallant Ship; along her watery way,
Homeward she drives before the favouring gales;
Now flirting at their length the streamers play,
And now they ripple with the ruffling breeze.
— Southey, Sonnets

They say money can’t buy happiness, but I bet it’s more comfortable to cry your eyes out in a 40-foot Hinckley than in a 26-foot McGregor.


biglilwave said...

You Limeys are crazy.
No wonder that little island once ruled the world.

Jack said...

biglilwave, I would consider this action by the Royal Navy an early form of AIS Ha !

Tillerman said...

And it didn't always end well. Check out this link.