Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Origins of Sailing Terminology

As you know, sailors have been doing their thing for thousands of years. From the primitive animal skin that may have been used to propel a man on a log to modern day yachts that can approach 40 knots on the open sea, we have some very archaic sailing terms that have been with us for a long time. How did they originate? Simple terms like cockpit, shroud and cunningham. Let's take a look at a term we all use when we go sailing. "How fast is the boat moving thru the water?" "7 knots", comes the reply. Knots refers to nautical miles. It corresponds approximately to one minute of latitude along any meridian. For our discussion today, we are looking for the origin of the word "knots". The term knot and log originally are derived from the practice of using a "log" tied to a knotted rope as a method of gauging speed of a ship. The log would be thrown into the water and the rope trailed behind the ship. The number of knots that passed off the ship and into the water in a given time would determine the speed in "knots". Is that cool or what? It's fun to tell your sailing friends this story when out sailing. They will be amazed at your in depth knowledge of the sailing world!

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