Blog 4 – written by Jan-Willem
Hooking up — The language of sailing
“9.00 — Hook Up” says the whiteboard. Rather than taking this as an instruction from the captain to start an early morning party, “hook” is just another word for our anchor, and the whiteboard just informs us that we’ll lift anchor and get underway again at 9.00 AM.
I don’t know why or when sailing developed its own language for everything, but after two weeks on Sea Dragon I know that we cook our meals in the galley, not the kitchen, I do my business and take showers in the head, not the bathroom, and the sheets are the ropes that control the sails, not the pieces of cotton I make my bed…uh, my bunk with. Standing at the wheel during my watch, I confidently turn right when instructed to go 10 more degrees to starboard, or left when asked to turn to port.
Books about sailing try to explain this by saying the specialized language is precise and avoids confusion, but I don’t know. It strikes me as just another example of jargon, same as so many professions creating their own language of belonging (talk to a doctor lately?). I know it took my wife ages before she was able to decipher my instructions when sailing our own boat, and even after 10 years in the US I still confuse English sailing terms with the Dutch ones I learned in the Sea Scouts.
But…as I said, 2 weeks into our journey from Victoria (BC) to Ketchikan, AK we’re all on the same page. We’re a merry bunch of sailors, by now familiar with the basics of sailing Sea Dragon, grinding away on the winches, hauling on the halyards, or keeping her on course at the wheel. When not on watch, we practice our bowlines, reef knots, clove hitch and other knots useful on the water (or we just read of course…). All the while, we ooh and aah over the amazingly beautiful and rugged landscape we sail through.
At 9.00 sharp the rattling of chain in the forepeak signals the hook coming up. Once again free from our attachment to land, we slowly glide out of Patterson Inlet, ready to explore what the day will bring, and I can’t wait.