Category Archives: Nautical trivia


The foot is the bottom of a sail, whether triangular or square, that is attached to the boom to keep it stretched. A sail that is not attached to the boom is said to be footloose and is very difficult to control as it moves with the wind The term ‘footloose and fancy free’ refers […]

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Flying Colours

To come through a battle with flying colours means a ship has come through relatively unscathed and with her colours (flag) flying. Today it means to come through an ordeal having done very well.

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Keel Hauling

A severe naval punishment during the 15th and 16th centuries. The victim, presumably a delinquent sailor, was dragged from one side of the boat to the other, under the bottom of the boat (keel). Tossed over one side and pulled up on the other, he was usually allowed to catch his breath before suddenly being […]

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Chip log

Chip log(navigational instrument) A chip log, also called common log, ship log, or just log, is a navigation tool mariners use to estimate the speed of a vessel through water. The word knot, to mean nautical mile per hour, derives from this measurement method. History All nautical instruments that measure the speed of a ship […]

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KNOT (unit) The knot is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile (1.852 km) per hour, approximately 1.151 mph. The ISO Standard symbol for the knot is kn. The same symbol is preferred by the IEEE; kt is also common. The knot is a non-SI unit that is “accepted for use with the SI”. Worldwide, […]

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