Posted by Ed Kiser on January 09, 2003 at 00:00:11 from 22.214.171.124 user Kisered.
Chapter 3, Swallows and Amazons
They are sailing down to the island for the very first time. The
wind is behind them. They first sail to the east of the island,
through the narrow passage between island and the mainland and
saw the possibility of the landing place on the small beach.
Rounding the south end, they turned back north, and tacking, went
up the western shore. Back around the north part of the island
to go back down to the landing place they had to jibe.
I notice that in his steering, John put the helm DOWN when going
from tack to tack, yet when jibing, he put the helm UP. I
realize this is sailor type jargon. To a landlubber, it seems to
me that the steering is done by moving something sideways, not up
or down. So the UP or DOWN movement of the helm is therefore
very likely a movement to the left or right. Not sure which way
is implied by the direction UP and DOWN.
This description also brought up another question. I see it
referred to John's movement of something called the HELM. For
some reason, I was under the impression that the steering is done
by moving something called the TILLER. What is the difference
between a HELM and a TILLER, or is this just two ways of
describing the same thing? I seem to remember the word, HELM,
being used in other books to refer to a part of armor over the
the entire head. Now here we have HELM being a stick attached to
the rudder. I know, "stick", the term probably makes sailors
shudder, but it does look like one.
Now while I'm asking landlubber type questions, what is the
origins of the terminology, STARBOARD and PORT? I seem to
remember some references (non-Ransome) to LARBOARD. While
STARBOARD means the right side and PORT means the left, the
LARBOARD leaves me guessing.
Ed Kiser, South Florida
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