BAGGYWRINKLE AND THE BITTER END
The river front in Gravesend is not what it was. At one time, not so long ago, the river would have been teeming with craft of many sorts - lighters, tugs, pilot boats, all manner of smaller boats as well as the associated shoreside nautical paraphernalia. Sadly most of this has gone, but I did come across one or two remants including a section of landing stage, the remains of two winches and these gracefully curved structures. They are davits. These were, and still are - you can often see them on the stern of large motor cruisers - used to lift or launch smaller boats. It got me thinking abnout other nautical terms, often used by landlubbers without really knowing their meaning or origin. Here are a handful.
bitter end: The last part or loose end of a rope or cable. The anchor cable is tied to the
bitts; when the cable is fully paid out, the bitter end has been reached.
bitts: A post or pair mounted on the ship's bow, for fastening ropes or cables.
spring: A line used parallel to that of the length of a craft, to prevent fore-aft motion of a boat, when moored or docked.
avast: Stop, cease or desist from whatever is being done. From the Dutch hou' vast - "hold on".
And probably one of the best and most obscure:
baggywrinkle: A soft covering for cables (or any other obstructions) that prevents sail chafing.
Finally a term used to mean something that is awkward or requires an inordinate amount of effort:
devil to pay: "Paying" the devil is sealing the devil seam. It is a difficult and unpleasant job (with no resources) because of the shape and postion of the seam. (To pay is to fill a seam between two planks with caulking or pitch).