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Parcelling a rope consists of binding it with strips of tarred canvas,
applied in the direction of the lay of the rope. A rope, or part of a rope,
is wormed, parcelled and served to protect it from chafe, to make it less
liable to chafe other ropes, and, with a wire rope, to protect the hands of
men handling it.

The old rhyme goes -
"Worm and parcel with the lay,
Then turn and serve the other way".

The old naval name for a rating's Service Certificate which, until the
1914/18 war, was on real parchment.

The white patches on the lapels of Midshipmen's jackets are said to be the
relics of the white collars to the jackets, worn to keep pigtail powder off
the jackets: this is open to doubt. The pigtail went out of fashion ashore
about 1785.

The patches are sometimes referred to as the "marks of the beast" and were at
one time known as the Midshipman's "weekly accounts".

Usually shortened to "The devil to pay", this means "difficult times are
imminent", and so "trouble is brewing". Caulking and paying the side of a
wooden vessel from devil to waterline was a very difficult and arduous job;
unless the supply of pitch was really hot it was made all the more arduous.

Old naval name for the rating detailed to work as the Petty Officers' mess

The ship-name of the Royal Naval Barracks at Chatham. A 22-gun frigate was
named PEMBROKE by Oliver Cromwell after his capture of Pembroke Castle in
about 1648.

PENDANT Though spelt PENDANT in the Royal Navy, this word is always
pronounced PENNANT.

The Church Pendant - a white pendant with red St. George's cross and a red,
white and blue fly - is flown in H.M. Ships during the time that Divine
Service is being held on board. The pendant first came to be used about 1653,
at the time of the first Dutch war, and is said to have its origin in the
flag of St. George (for England) and the flag of Holland combined; the two
protestant nations would call a truce on Sunday, this special pendant being
flown to signify that the truce was in force.

It has long been the custom of H.M. Ships returning home to pay off after a
commission abroad to wear a paying-off pendant. It is to be noted that this
is a custom only - it is not an officially - authorised action, nor is the
pendant itself provided from official sources. Being unofficial, no
instructions about it appear in any naval regulations. The pendant is
invariably white with a red St George's cross at the hoist; at the end of the
fly a balloon or (formerly) a bladder - sometimes gilded - is often attached
to keep the fly clear of the water.

The custom is said to have originated in the XIX century, when all cleaning
rags were stitched together and hoisted as a sign that they were finished
with. Later, when "proper" paying-off pendants were made on board, it became
the custom for every member of the ship's company to put in a few stitches.
Nowadays the pendants are invariably bought ashore at the expense of the
ship's welfare fund.

As the paying-off pendant is itself unofficial, there can be no authoritative
rules about its length; the following have been cited - (a) the length of the
ship if the commission has lasted the correct length of time with additions
or abatements from that length corresponding to the difference between the
actual length of the commission and the 'normal' length of a commission; (b)
the length of the ship plus one foot for every month completed on the
station; (c) one and a third times the length of the ship; (d) one and half
times the height of the foremast. It should be borne in mind that the
commission referred to is the length of time the ship's company has been
abroad, not the ship herself: when a ship recommissions abroad a fresh
commission is started; thus a commission of longer than 2 years is

A green/white/green pendant indicating an officer is entertaining the Ward
Room usually for a birthday, promotion, birth of a baby &c., &c. May also be
shown by H.M.Ship indicating hospitality for their brother officers in the

Naval abbreviation of the word "Perquisites", referring to allowances, either
in money or in kind, given with any particular office or appointment.

The common nautical name for signal flag P - blue with white central square -
worn by merchant ships (not R.N. ships) when about to leave port, warning all
persons concerned to get on board without delay. (It was in fact hoisted by
the H.M.S. LONDON when that ship unexpectedly received orders to sail home
from Madeira when many of the crew were on shore leave.)

Possible reasons which have been put forward for this name are
(1) Corruption of "Blue Pierced" - description of the flag;
(2) Corruption of "Blue Repeater" - the signal was repeated by all ships
under sailing orders when this signal was used in the Navy in Nelsonic days;
(3) Naval allusion to Admiral Sir Peter Parker, C. Portsmouth, who gave
sailing orders for convoys assembled at St. Helens;
(4) Anglicisation of the French word Partir;
(5) Naval allusion to bringing one's baggage with one, as "Peter" is said to
have been the name of an old-style travelling bag.

First defined in the regulations of 1808, though they were in existence many
years before this. In 1827 they were ordered to wear a single anchor with
crown above.

Not a part of our period, as was introduced 1853 with original badge of crown
and anchor surrounded by laurel wreath.

The word "Pidgin" is Chinese for "Business"; thus "Pidgin-English" means
"Business English" and the expression "Not my pidgin" means "No concern of

Picturesque naval expression meaning an unexpected immediate draft, usually
to sea.

The use of the Boatswain's Pipe, whistle or 'Call', for salutes and passing
orders is one of the oldest naval customs and its origin is almost lost in
antiquity. We know that the galley slaves of Greece and Rome kept stroke to
the sound of a flute or whistle (much as the crews of pinnaces or launches in
the all-comers race in naval pulling regattas kept stroke to the sound of a
big drum). The Lord High Admiral wore a gold whistle as a badge of rank: this
was of silver; it was used for passing orders and has been known as the
"Call" since about 1670.

Certain routine orders on board (e.g., Dinner, Attention, Carry On, Pipe
down, etc.) are passed by piping their respective 'tunes' and are not
qualified by any verbal message; other orders are preceded by the pipe
'Attention' and the words "D'you hear there": they are followed by the pipe
'Carry On'.

To be academically accurate "piping" is the act of producing the sound, the
"call" is the sound produced.

Old slang name for Macaroni pudding.

The routine naval order for "Lights Out" at the end of the day therefore
freely used metaphorically either to denote the end of any occupation or to
mean "Shut your mouth", "Be silent" (replacing the old order to "Stash it"
synonymous with "Stow it").

This form of salute is a nautical honour reserved expressly for certain
officers when in uniform, a list of whom is given in King's Regulations and
Admiralty Instructions, Article 1302.

The side is piped between the hours of colours and sunset, except in the case
of foreign officers who are piped at all hours when coming on board and
leaving any of Her Majesty's ships, or when visiting naval establishments.

In the days of sailing warships, when captains were frequently summoned on
board the flagship when at sea to receive special orders and the weather was
too rough to permit the use of sea gangways, it was customary for the captain
to enter and leave his boat seated in a bos'n's chair made fast to a yardarm
whip. As the chair was hoisted out or hoisted in, the necessary orders were
passed to the hands manning the whip by piping "Hoist" on a bos'n's call. The
"Hoist" is still the pipe used in "piping the side", although for reasons of
ceremony it is much more drawn out. No military officer, consular officer or
civil dignitary is entitled to this form of salute.

One sometimes hears of a lord mayor or mayor holding the office of "Admiral
of the Port" being piped over the side on visiting a man-o'-war. This
procedure is incorrect although it is often done as a courteous gesture. By
the custom of the Service the corpse of any naval officer or rating is piped
over the side when leaving the ship for interment.

The naval name for civilian clothes as opposed to uniform. The word MUFTI is
never used in the Navy; CIVVIES rarely, and then not by officers.

The wearing of plain clothes by officers when going ashore on leave or
returning on board from leave is a long standing privilege.

Extreme short range. "Blank" was the old name for the bullseye on an archery
target: "point" is understood to have meant "aim".

A common slang expression meaning to treat anyone or anything with derision -
to make fun of.

The sailors' name for Portsmouth. Said to have originated from the
inarticulate pronunciation of "Portsmouth Point" by inebriated sailors.
Portsmouth Point was the place at which ships' boats landed and embarked
libertymen before the dockyard was a going concern.

To evade doing a job of work.

A sailor's slang name for a soldier; thus often used on board referring to a

Wardroom slang name for an officer who pays polite social calls ashore - one
of the "social tits". Often also known as a "Bun-Worrier".

In the earliest ships there was no rudder and the ship was steered by a
"Steer-board" (large oar or sweep) sited over the right-hand side of the
stern; hence that side of the ship came to be known as the Starboard side.
The other side of the ship was in consequence used for going alongside for
embarking or disembarking cargo through the 'load ports ports'; the left hand
side of the ship therefore became known as the "Loadboard" side, then
"Larboard". As the use of this latter word inevitably caused confusion with
the word Starboard, the word Port came to be used instead.

By some authorities, the Venetians are given the credit for the origin of the
words - 'board' comes from the Italian 'borda': the other side was 'Quella
borda'; these two expressions would rapidly become adapted into Starboard and

In the Royal Navy, SCUTTLE is the more general word: in the Merchant Navy
PORT: A square "window" is known in the Royal Navy as a PORT or SQUARE-PORT
(the latter, more often). Incidentally, the correct naval store name for a
spare piece of glass for a scuttle is a "Glass, illuminator"!

The inevitable nickname for the ship's Postman.

Common slang word meaning a Muddle or Confusion; in the Navy it is generally
qualified by the epithet "proper". The word probably comes from the kitchen:
the biblical expression "mess of pottage" is akin.

Naval slang for Sick Berth staff in general; for an individual rating, the
word POULTICE WALLOPER is more usual. A former synonym was BANDAGE ROLLERS.

The following Standing Order was issued by Vice-Admiral Lord Keith (C. in C.
Mediterranean) on 2nd February, 1800.

"Parliament having thought proper to exempt Officers under certain ranks from
the tax imposed on wearing Hair Powder implies that powder was understood to
be part of an Officer's dress. It is therefore directed that all officers on
duty wear Hair Powder except at sea or in bad weather; and they are not on
any account to go ashore in foreign ports without that article of dress, the
want of which gives serious offence to the inhabitants and has occasioned
great danger to some of H.M. Officers in the streets of Naples and Palermo."

Old sailor's slang name for Jam or Marmalade.

The custom of reading prayers daily in H.M. ships is of great antiquity.
Records show that in 1650 not only were prayers read daily, but at sea hymns
and psalms were sung at the changing of watches. From the XVII century to the
present time it has been customary for prayers to be read in ships before
going into action.

"O Lord God, when Thou givest to Thy servants to endeavour any great matter,
grant us also to know that it is not the Beginning but the continuing of the
same until it be Thoroughly Finished which yieldeth the True Glory."

The two opening prayers in the "Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea" in the
Prayer Book are preceded by the rubric "the two following prayers are to be
used also in H.M. Navy every day". Then follow the "Naval Prayer" (O Eternal
Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens and rulest the raging of the
sea ...) and the "Naval Collect" (Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings ...).
The naval prayer, which contains a brief summary of the objects of the Navy
(... a safeguard unto our most gracious Sovereign and her dominions and a
security for such as pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions) ...), is
generally regarded as having been written by Robert Sanderson, Bishop of
Lincoln 1587-1663; the rubric ordering its daily use in the Navy first
appeared in the Prayer Book of 1662.

The pressgang acted by sanction of both custom and the law: as far back as
the days of King Edward I legal sanction for it exists. Men liable were
"eligible men of seafaring habits between the ages of 18 and 55 years" with a
few exceptions, but these restrictions were often ignored, with disastrous
results. The last law on the subject was passed in 1835 and restricted the
length of naval service of a pressed man to five years with the additional
proviso that he could not be impressed a second time. Soon after this date
the pressgang died a natural death but the various laws authorising it HAVE

It has long been the custom for the ensign of any captured ship to be hoisted
inferior to (below) that of its captor. In old prints a prize is often shown
being towed into harbour with the two ensigns hoisted as stated above.

It is the custom for H.M. ships, when about to leave a harbour in which a
senior officer is present, to ask for "permission to proceed". This custom is
carried out in spite of the fact that the officer to whom the request is
addressed may have no authority to refuse.

There is one incident recorded in which an officer who was discourteous
enough to proceed without asking permission was ordered to return to the
anchorage, the senior ship going to "Action Stations" and threatening to open
fire unless the junior obeyed the order. The senior ship was commanded by an
officer of the same rank and only a few days senior to that of the other
commanding officer, but that was sufficient to entitle him to act as he did.

In Valetta, Malta, near the top of St. John's Street (or Strada San Giovanni,
as it used to be called), on the southern side, there projects from the wall
an iron hook, known to the Navy as "Promotion Hook". Custom ordained that a
junior officer desirous of promotion must crawl through this hook (it is just
big enough) - for preference on his way back to his ship after attending a
performance at the Opera.

Some say that this hook was used to get the cathedral bells up the hill:
others that it was in connection with the pillory which stood nearby
certainly as late as 1750.

The name given to the raft used by the Side party for work about the ship's
water line. The name originates from the days when ships were sheathed with
copper, the raft being used by shipwrights for making repairs to the
sheathing. The raft is often also called the Balsa Raft since this latter
life-saving raft was replaced by Carley Floats.

Suspended in 1939, reopened 9th March, 1954; rate of discharge to be
controlled by Admiralty; men with less than three years' man's time not
eligible to apply. No man has the absolute right to purchase his discharge at
any time; a man wishing to purchase his discharge must satisfy his Commanding
Officer that he has a "good and sufficient reason" - request is then
forwarded to Admiralty for consideration vis-a-vis other requests and the
current manning situation etc. Purchase price varies between -125 and -50
(nil after 16 years' service) depending on length of man's service and his

Discharge, free, on compassionate grounds runs in parallel with (not as part
of) discharge by purchase and each case is considered on its own merits.

Old navel expression meaning to stand drinks all round.

The inevitable corruption of PURSER.

Naval slang description of an officer or rating who abides closely to the
letter of the regulations.

An adjective used to describe any article of service stores, especially
clothing, to differentiate it from the similar article bought from civilian

Naval slang name for boots bought from the slop room.

Naval slang name for Admiralty pattern grey paint.

Naval slang name for the uniform clasp-knife, part of every seaman's kit.

Naval slang for a false name, such as may be given by a malefactor to the
patrol or on other occasions when the concealment of a man's own name seems

Naval slang name for soap, particularly for Admiralty pattern hard yellow

The general nickname for a ship's Painter rating - i.e., the man who mixes
and/or prepares the paint and has charge of the paint store.

Naval slang expression for Aground.

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