legolas and eowyn

The strange sea road was intended to be a reworking of the Voyages of Sinbad from the Arabian Nights, and I went as far as downloading the text from Project Gutenberg, carving it up, and allocating the different incidents to the canon characters—Haldir and Faramir, for example, were supposed to be carried away by the roc and taken to the valley of the snakes. But in the event, I couldn't get the roc far enough inland to reach them, so she had to take Valandil instead, and Wilawen just happened to be chained to him.

Legolas was going to be bought by a sea captain, and he and Eowyn were going to sail around Far Harad having exotic adventures. But then Hentmirë clapped her hands in delight at the sight of Legolas, and I couldn't bear for her to be disappointed.


The first extract, from The Second Voyage, was the inspiration for part of Valandil and Wilawen's story and is a clue to what Wilawen might be carrying around in her cloth pouch...

How long I slept I know not, but when I opened my eyes and started to my feet I perceived with horror that I was alone and that the ship was gone. I rushed to and fro like one distracted, uttering cries of despair, and when from the shore I saw the vessel under full sail just disappearing upon the horizon, I wished bitterly enough that I had been content to stay at home in safety. But since wishes could do me no good, I presently took courage and looked about me for a means of escape. When I had climbed a tall tree I first of all directed my anxious glances towards the sea; but, finding nothing hopeful there, I turned landward, and my curiosity was excited by a huge dazzling white object, so far off that I could not make out what it might be.

Descending from the tree I hastily collected what remained of my provisions and set off as fast as I could go towards it. As I drew near it seemed to me to be a white ball of immense size and height, and when I could touch it, I found it marvellously smooth and soft. As it was impossible to climb it--for it presented no foot-hold-- I walked round about it seeking some opening, but there was none. I counted, however, that it was at least fifty paces round. By this time the sun was near setting, but quite suddenly it fell dark, something like a huge black cloud came swiftly over me, and I saw with amazement that it was a bird of extraordinary size which was hovering near. Then I remembered that I had often heard the sailors speak of a wonderful bird called a roc, and it occurred to me that the white object which had so puzzled me must be its egg.

Sure enough the bird settled slowly down upon it, covering it with its wings to keep it warm, and I cowered close beside the egg in such a position that one of the bird's feet, which was as large as the trunk of a tree, was just in front of me. Taking off my turban I bound myself securely to it with the linen in the hope that the roc, when it took flight next morning, would bear me away with it from the desolate island. And this was precisely what did happen. As soon as the dawn appeared the bird rose into the air carrying me up and up till I could no longer see the earth, and then suddenly it descended so swiftly that I almost lost consciousness. When I became aware that the roc had settled and that I was once again upon solid ground, I hastily unbound my turban from its foot and freed myself, and that not a moment too soon; for the bird, pouncing upon a huge snake, killed it with a few blows from its powerful beak, and seizing it up rose into the air once more and soon disappeared from my view. When I had looked about me I began to doubt if I had gained anything by quitting the desolate island.

The valley in which I found myself was deep and narrow, and surrounded by mountains which towered into the clouds, and were so steep and rocky that there was no way of climbing up their sides. As I wandered about, seeking anxiously for some means of escaping from this trap, I observed that the ground was strewed with diamonds, some of them of an astonishing size. This sight gave me great pleasure, but my delight was speedily damped when I saw also numbers of horrible snakes so long and so large that the smallest of them could have swallowed an elephant with ease. Fortunately for me they seemed to hide in caverns of the rocks by day, and only came out by night, probably because of their enemy the roc.

All day long I wandered up and down the valley, and when it grew dusk I crept into a little cave, and having blocked up the entrance to it with a stone, I ate part of my little store of food and lay down to sleep, but all through the night the serpents crawled to and fro, hissing horribly, so that I could scarcely close my eyes for terror. I was thankful when the morning light appeared, and when I judged by the silence that the serpents had retreated to their dens I came tremblingly out of my cave and wandered up and down the valley once more, kicking the diamonds contemptuously out of my path, for I felt that they were indeed vain things to a man in my situation.


The second extract, from The Fourth Voyage, inspired the prison island (and also Wolfram's hideout in The usual suspects).

One day the king sent for me and said, "Sindbad, I am going to ask a favour of you. Both I and my subjects esteem you, and wish you to end your days amongst us. Therefore I desire that you will marry a rich and beautiful lady whom I will find for you, and think no more of your own country."

As the king's will was law I accepted the charming bride he presented to me, and lived happily with her. Nevertheless I had every intention of escaping at the first opportunity, and going back to Bagdad. Things were thus going prosperously with me when it happened that the wife of one of my neighbours, with whom I had struck up quite a friendship, fell ill, and presently died. I went to his house to offer my consolations, and found him in the depths of woe.

"Heaven preserve you," said I, "and send you a long life!"

"Alas!" he replied, "what is the good of saying that when I have but an hour left to live!"

"Come, come!" said I, "surely it is not so bad as all that. I trust that you may be spared to me for many years."

"I hope," answered he, "that your life may be long, but as for me, all is finished. I have set my house in order, and to-day I shall be buried with my wife. This has been the law upon our island from the earliest ages--the living husband goes to the grave with his dead wife, the living wife with her dead husband. So did our fathers, and so must we do. The law changes not, and all must submit to it!"

As he spoke the friends and relations of the unhappy pair began to assemble. The body, decked in rich robes and sparkling with jewels, was laid upon an open bier, and the procession started, taking its way to a high mountain at some distance from the city, the wretched husband, clothed from head to foot in a black mantle, following mournfully.

When the place of interment was reached the corpse was lowered, just as it was, into a deep pit. Then the husband, bidding farewell to all his friends, stretched himself upon another bier, upon which were laid seven little loaves of bread and a pitcher of water, and he also was let down-down-down to the depths of the horrible cavern, and then a stone was laid over the opening, and the melancholy company wended its way back to the city.

You may imagine that I was no unmoved spectator of these proceedings; to all the others it was a thing to which they had been accustomed from their youth up; but I was so horrified that I could not help telling the king how it struck me.

"Sire," I said, "I am more astonished than I can express to you at the strange custom which exists in your dominions of burying the living with the dead. In all my travels I have never before met with so cruel and horrible a law."

"What would you have, Sindbad?" he replied. "It is the law for everybody. I myself should be buried with the Queen if she were the first to die."

"But, your Majesty," said I, "dare I ask if this law applies to foreigners also?"

"Why, yes," replied the king smiling, in what I could but consider a very heartless manner, "they are no exception to the rule if they have married in the country."

When I heard this I went home much cast down, and from that time forward my mind was never easy. If only my wife's little finger ached I fancied she was going to die, and sure enough before very long she fell really ill and in a few days breathed her last. My dismay was great, for it seemed to me that to be buried alive was even a worse fate than to be devoured by cannibals, nevertheless there was no escape. The body of my wife, arrayed in her richest robes and decked with all her jewels, was laid upon the bier. I followed it, and after me came a great procession, headed by the king and all his nobles, and in this order we reached the fatal mountain, which was one of a lofty chain bordering the sea.

Here I made one more frantic effort to excite the pity of the king and those who stood by, hoping to save myself even at this last moment, but it was of no avail. No one spoke to me, they even appeared to hasten over their dreadful task, and I speedily found myself descending into the gloomy pit, with my seven loaves and pitcher of water beside me. Almost before I reached the bottom the stone was rolled into its place above my head, and I was left to my fate. A feeble ray of light shone into the cavern through some chink, and when I had the courage to look about me I could see that I was in a vast vault, bestrewn with bones and bodies of the dead. I even fancied that I heard the expiring sighs of those who, like myself, had come into this dismal place alive. All in vain did I shriek aloud with rage and despair, reproaching myself for the love of gain and adventure which had brought me to such a pass, but at length, growing calmer, I took up my bread and water, and wrapping my face in my mantle I groped my way towards the end of the cavern, where the air was fresher.

Here I lived in darkness and misery until my provisions were exhausted, but just as I was nearly dead from starvation the rock was rolled away overhead and I saw that a bier was being lowered into the cavern, and that the corpse upon it was a man. In a moment my mind was made up, the woman who followed had nothing to expect but a lingering death; I should be doing her a service if I shortened her misery. Therefore when she descended, already insensible from terror, I was ready armed with a huge bone, one blow from which left her dead, and I secured the bread and water which gave me a hope of life. Several times did I have recourse to this desperate expedient, and I know not how long I had been a prisoner when one day I fancied that I heard something near me, which breathed loudly. Turning to the place from which the sound came I dimly saw a shadowy form which fled at my movement, squeezing itself through a cranny in the wall. I pursued it as fast as I could, and found myself in a narrow crack among the rocks, along which I was just able to force my way. I followed it for what seemed to me many miles, and at last saw before me a glimmer of light which grew clearer every moment until I emerged upon the sea shore with a joy which I cannot describe. When I was sure that I was not dreaming, I realised that it was doubtless some little animal which had found its way into the cavern from the sea, and when disturbed had fled, showing me a means of escape which I could never have discovered for myself. I hastily surveyed my surroundings, and saw that I was safe from all pursuit from the town.


Finally, an extract from The Third Voyage that I would dearly liked to have included in the story—how would Legolas have reacted to these 'dwarves'?

After a very short time the pleasant easy life I led made me quite forget the perils of my two voyages. Moreover, as I was still in the prime of life, it pleased me better to be up and doing. So once more providing myself with the rarest and choicest merchandise of Bagdad, I conveyed it to Balsora, and set sail with other merchants of my acquaintance for distant lands. We had touched at many ports and made much profit, when one day upon the open sea we were caught by a terrible wind which blew us completely out of our reckoning, and lasting for several days finally drove us into harbour on a strange island.

"I would rather have come to anchor anywhere than here," quoth our captain. "This island and all adjoining it are inhabited by hairy savages, who are certain to attack us, and whatever these dwarfs may do we dare not resist, since they swarm like locusts, and if one of them is killed the rest will fall upon us, and speedily make an end of us."

These words caused great consternation among all the ship's company, and only too soon we were to find out that the captain spoke truly. There appeared a vast multitude of hideous savages, not more than two feet high and covered with reddish fur. Throwing themselves into the waves they surrounded our vessel. Chattering meanwhile in a language we could not understand, and clutching at ropes and gangways, they swarmed up the ship's side with such speed and agility that they almost seemed to fly.

You may imagine the rage and terror that seized us as we watched them, neither daring to hinder them nor able to speak a word to deter them from their purpose, whatever it might be. Of this we were not left long in doubt. Hoisting the sails, and cutting the cable of the anchor, they sailed our vessel to an island which lay a little further off, where they drove us ashore; then taking possession of her, they made off to the place from which they had come, leaving us helpless upon a shore avoided with horror by all mariners for a reason which you will soon learn.


Nautical terms

Found on various websites.

Spars. A spar is a pole used to support sails or rigging; it may be a mast, yard, boom, etc.
Masts. The mainmast is the tallest mast on the vessel. Forward of the mainmast is the foremast and aft of the mainmast is the mizzenmast.
Yards. Yards are athwartships (side-to-side) horizontal spars which support square sails. They are named after the sail that is bent (tied) to them.

Sails. Sails are either fore-and-aft or square. Most bigger vessels had a combination of each. Square sails are more suitable for going down wind, while fore-and-aft sails are better for going up wind. Large ocean carriers were designed to travel with the dependable trade winds and therefore used mostly square sails, while smaller costal traders needed to be versatile in order to cope with fickle winds and therefore used mostly fore-and-aft sails.

Rigging. Rigging is divided into two basic groups, standing and running. Standing rigging includes stays and shrouds, which hold the masts and bowsprit in place but are seldom adjusted. Running rigging is everything that is used during the normal operation of the vessel and includes halyards, sheets, braces, lifts, clues, tacks, buntlines, etc.
stays support the mast fore-and-aft.
shrouds support the mast athwartships and usually have ratlines to make them easy to climb.
braces are attached to the yardarms and are used to move the yards in a horizontal plane.
lifts are attached to the yardarms and can be used to cockbill the yards.
halyards haul yards, gaffs and staysails into position.


The following glossary could be many times longer than it is! In the end, I just included words that I found interesting or that I could imagine Captain Mutallu using on the Early Bird.

amidships. In the center of the boat.
athwart, athwartships. Lying along the ship's width, at right angles to the vessels centerline.
backing (wind). The changing of the wind direction, opposite of veering. Clockwise in the southern hemisphere, counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere.
backstay. A stay (line or cable) used to support the mast. The backstay runs from the masthead to the stern and helps keep the mast from falling forward.
backwinded. When the wind pushes on the wrong side of the sail, causing it to be pushed away from the wind. If the lines holding the sail in place are not released, the boat could become hard to control and heel excessively.
batten down. Also batten the hatches. To put away all loose objects on the ship and to close all openings, such as ports and hatches, in preparation for heavy weather. Hatches used to be secured with battens.
beam. (1) The widest part of a boat.
(2) Abeam, at right angles to the length of the boat.
beat. To sail on a tack (direction) toward the wind.
bend on. To attach a sail and prepare it for use.
bend. A type of knot used to connect a line to a spar or another line. Also the act of using such a knot.
bight. The center of a slack line, where it sags. Also a small indented curve in a shoreline.
boatswain. Pronounced bosun. A crew member responsible for keeping the hull, rigging and sails in repair.
bollard. A large pillar, usually made of concrete or steel, to which a boat's mooring lines can by tied.
bulkhead. An interior wall in a vessel. Sometimes bulkheads are also watertight, adding to the vessel's safety.
caulking. Material used to seal the seams in a wooden vessel, making it watertight.
chart table. A table designated as the area in the boat where the navigator will study charts and plot courses.
close hauled. Sailing with the sails hauled tight, sailing the boat towards the wind as much as possible.
companionway. The entryway into the cabin from the deck.
cordage. Any rope or line.
counter. The part of the stern aft of where it leaves the waterline.
cove. A small sheltered recessed area in the shoreline.
dead reckoning. Method of determining position by an educated guess based on last known position, speed and currents.
deckhead. The underside of the deck, seen from below (ceiling).
dismast. The loss of a mast on a boat. Generally this also means the loss of some or all of the ability of the boat to sail.
dividers. Navigational tool used to measure distances on a chart.
douse. (1) To drop a sail quickly.
(2) To extinguish a candle, lamp, or fire.
downhaul. A line used to pull down on a spar or sail.
downwind. In the direction the wind is blowing.
east wind, easterly wind. A wind coming from the east.
ebb, ebb tide. The falling tide when the water moves out to the sea and the water level lowers.
ensign. The national flag of a boat's home nation.
estimated position. A position based on dead reckoning estimations of a boat's position using estimated speed, currents, and the last known position (fix) of the boat.
eye of the wind. The direction that the wind is blowing from.
fall off. Also bear away or bear off. A boat falls off the wind when it points its bow further from the eye of the wind. The opposite of heading up.
fid. A pointed tool used to separate strands of rope.
fix. An accurate position of the vessel, as determined by any reasonably accurate method, such as by taking visual bearings.
flake. To fold a sail in preparation for storage.
flotsam. Debris floating on the water surface.
flush deck. A deck that is not obstructed by a cabin.
following sea. A sea with waves approaching from the stern of the boat.
fore and aft. Running along the length of the boat.
fore. Toward the bow (front) of the vessel.
forecastle. Also fo'c'sle or fo'csle. Pronounced fo'csle. The most forward below decks area of a vessel.
foredeck. The forward part of the deck.
foremast. The forward mast of a two or more masted vessel.
forward. Toward the bow (front) of the boat.
full and by. Sailing as close to the wind as possible with full sails.
fully stayed. A mast supported by the use of lines known as stays and shrouds.
furl. To lower a sail. Sails are sometimes partially furled to reduce the amount of sail area in use without completely lowering the sail. This is usually known as reefing.
galley. The kitchen area on a boat.
gasket. Ties used to tie up the sails when they are furled.
gimbals. Hinges for objects such as lamps, compasses and stoves so that they can remain upright as the boat rolls.
go about. To tack.
grab rail. See hand rail.
green water. A solid mass of water coming aboard instead of just spray.
gunnel, gunwale. Pronounced gunnel. The rail around the edge of a boat. Smaller versions are called toe rails.
hand lead. A weight attached to a line used to determine depth by lowering it into the water.
hand rail. A hand hold. Usually along the cabin top or ladder.
handsomely. To do something carefully and in the proper manner, such as when stowing a line.
hawser. A rope that is very large in diameter, usually used when docking large vessels.
head seas. Waves coming from the front of the vessel.
head to wind. A position with the boat's bow in the direction that the wind is coming from. This will probably stop the boat and place it in irons.
head up. To turn the bow more directly into the eye of the wind. The opposite of falling off.
head. (1) The front of a vessel.
(2) The upper corner or edge of a sail.
(3) The top or front of a part.
(4) The toilet and toilet room in a vessel.
heave. To throw or pull strongly on a line.
heaving to. Arranging the sails in such a manner as to slow or stop the forward motion of the boat, such as when in heavy seas.
heavy seas. When the water has large or breaking waves in stormy conditions.
heel, heeling. When a boat tilts away from the wind, caused by wind blowing on the sails and pulling the top of the mast over. Some heel is normal when under sail.
in irons A sailboat with its bow pointed directly into the wind, preventing the sails from filling properly so that the boat can move. It can be very difficult to get a boat that is in irons back under sail. An old square rigger could take hours to get underway again.
jury rig. A temporary repair using improvised materials and parts.
kedging. (1) To kedge off. A method of pulling a boat out of shallow water when it has run aground. A dinghy is used to set an anchor, then the boat is pulled toward the anchor. Those steps are repeated until the boat is in deep enough water to float.
keel stepped. A mast that is stepped (placed) on the keel at the bottom of the boat rather than on the deck. Keel stepped masts are considered sturdier than deck stepped masts.
keel. A flat surface built into the bottom of the boat to prevent the reduce the leeway caused by the wind pushing against the side of the boat. A keel also usually has some ballast to help keep the boat upright and prevent it from heeling too much. There are several types of keels, such as fin keels and full keels.
keelson. A beam attached to the top of the floors to add strength to the keel on a wooden boat.
lanyard. A line attached to a tool.
lash. To tie something with a line.
lead line. A line with a weight on the end used to measure depth. The lead is dropped into the water and marks on the line are read to determine the current water depth. The lead usually has a cavity to return a sample of the bottom type (mud, sand, etc.)
leading lights. Lights that are separated in distance so that when they are lined up with one behind the other they provide a bearing. Usually used to enter a harbor or navigate a channel.
leading marks. Unlit navigational aids for use during the day. Like leading lights, they mark a bearing to a channel when they are lined up one above the other.
league. 3 nautical miles.
lee shore. The shore that the wind is blowing toward. It is important to keep distance from the lee shore because the boat will be blown toward it if control of the vessel is lost.
lee. The direction that the wind is blowing toward. The direction sheltered from the wind.
leeward. The direction away from the wind. Opposite of windward.
lifeline A line running between the bow and the stern of a boat to which the crew can attach themselves to prevent them from being separated from the boat.
locker. Any storage place on a boat. See also chain locker, hanging locker, and wet locker.
log. (1) A device used to measure the distance traveled through the water. The distance read from a log can be affected by currents, leeway and other factors, so those distances are sometimes corrected to a distance made good. Logs can be electronic devices or paddle wheels mounted through the hull of the boat or trailed behind it on a line.
(2) A written record of a boat's condition, usually including items such as boat position, boat speed, wind speed and direction, course, and other information.
lookout. A person designated to watch for other vessels and hazards.
lull. A period of no wind. Lulls may be followed by a significant change of wind speed and direction.
lying to. A boat that is almost stopped with her bow into the wind, probably with the aid of a sea anchor.
main mast. The tallest (or only) mast on a boat.
main topsail. A topsail on the main mast.
mainsail. The main sail that is suspended from the main mast.
mainsheet. The line used to control the mainsail.
make way. Moving through the water.
mast step. The place that supports the bottom of the mast. The mast step usually has a built in pattern fitting a matching pattern on the bottom of the mast, enabling the mast to be accurately positioned.
masthead. The top of a mast. Wind direction indicators and radio antennas usually collect on the masthead.
mate. An assistant to the captain.
minute. (1) When used to measure location a minute is one sixtieth of one degree. One minute of latitude is equal to one nautical mile. Each minute is divided into sixty seconds.
(2) When measuring time a minute is one sixtieth of one hour.
mizzen mast. A smaller aft mast on a ketch or yawl rigged boat.
mizzen sail. The sail on the aft mast of a ketch or yawl rigged sailboat.
nautical mile. Distance at sea is measured in nautical miles, which are about 6067.12 feet, 1.15 statute miles or exactly 1852 meters. Nautical miles have the unique property that a minute of latitude is equal to one nautical mile (there is a slight error because the earth is not perfectly round.) Measurement of speed is done in knots where one knot equals one nautical mile per hour. A statute mile is used to measure distances on land in the United states and is 5280 feet.
north wind, northerly wind. Wind coming from the north.
observed position. A position or fix determined by observing landmarks or other objects to find the position.
off the wind. Sailing with the wind coming from the stern or quarter of the boat.
offshore wind. Wind that is blowing away from the land, towards the water.
on the wind. Sailing close hauled. Sailing toward the wind as much as possible with the wind coming from the bow.
painter A line attached to the bow of a dinghy and used to tie it up or tow it.
parallel rules. A navigational tool used to move a line on a chart from one location to another without changing its angle, such as when moving a plotted course to a compass rose. Parallel rules are two straight edges that are mechanically connected such that both edges always remain parallel. Lines can then be "walked" across a flat chart.
pay out. To let out a line.
pelorus. A card marked in degrees and having sightings on it that is used to take bearings relative to the ship, rather than magnetic bearings as taken with a compass.
point of sail. The position of a sailboat in relation to the wind. A boat with its head into the wind is known as "head to wind" or "in irons". The point of sail with the bow of the boat as close as possible to the wind is called close hauled. As the bow moves further from the wind, the points of sail are called: close reach, beam reach, broad reach, and running. The general direction that a boat is sailing is known as its tack.
point. (1) To sail as close as possible to the wind. Some boats may be able to point better than others, sailing closer to the wind.
(2) The named directions on a compass such as north, northeast, etc.
pole. A spar. Such as a pole used to position a sail.
poop deck. A boat's aft deck.
pooped. A wave that breaks over the stern of the boat.
port tack. A sailboat sailing on a tack with the wind coming over the port side and the boom on the starboard side of the boat. If two boats under sail are approaching, the one on port tack must give way to the boat on starboard tack.
port. The left side of the boat from the perspective of a person at the stern of the boat and looking toward the bow. The opposite of starboard.
prevailing winds. The typical winds for a particular region and time of year.
quarantine flag. The quebec pennant is flown when first entering a country, indicating that the people on the ship are healthy and that the vessel wants permission to visit the country.
ratlines. Small lines tied between the shrouds to use as a ladder when going aloft.
ride out. To weather a storm, either at sea or at anchor.
roll. A side to side motion of the boat, usually caused by waves. Also see pitching and yawing.
running rigging. The lines and wires (rigging) that are used to raise, lower and adjust the sails.
scupper. An opening through the toe rail or gunwale to allow water to drain back into the sea.
scuttle. To sink a boat.
sheet bend. A type of knot used to tie two lines together.
sheet. A line attached to the clew of a sail and is used to control the sail's trim. The sheets are named after the sail, as in jib sheets and main sheet.
shroud. Part of the standing rigging that helps to support the mast by running from the top of the mast to the side of the boat. Sailboats usually have one or more shrouds on each side of the mast.
sounding. The depth of the water as marked on a chart.
spar. A pole used as part of the sailboat rigging, such as masts, booms, and gaffs.
standing rigging. The rigging of a boat that does not normally need to be adjusted.
starboard tack. A sailboat sailing on a tack with the wind coming over the starboard side and the boom on the port side of the boat. If two boats under sail are approaching, the one on port tack must give way to the boat on starboard tack.
starboard The right side of a boat, from the perspective of a person at the stern of the boat and looking toward the bow. The opposite of port.
stateroom. Sleeping quarters for the boat's captain or guests.
stay. Lines running fore and aft from the top of the mast to keep the mast upright. Also used to carry some sails. The backstay is aft of the mast and the forestay is forward of the mast.
stem. The forward edge of the bow. On a wooden boat the stem is a single timber.
step. (1) A fitting for the bottom of the mast (mast step.)
(2) The act of placing the foot of the mast in its step and raising the mast.
stern. The aft part of a boat. The back of the boat.
strike. To lower.
superstructure. Cabins and rooms above the deck of a ship.
swab. (1) A mop made from rope.
(2) To use such a mop.
swamp. To fill with water.
swell. Large smooth waves that do not crest. Swells are formed by wind action over a long distance.
taffrail. A rail around the stern of a boat.
take in. (1) To remove a sail.
(2) To add a reef to a sail.
top mast. A mast on top of another mast.
trough. The bottom of a wave, the valley between the crests.
under way. A vessel in motion is under way.
unfurl. To unfold or unroll a sail. The opposite of furl.
upwind. To windward, in the direction of the eye of the wind.
visual bearing. A bearing taken by visually observing the location of known landmarks.
wake. Waves generated in the water by a moving vessel.
weigh. To raise, as in to weigh anchor.
west wind, westerly wind. Wind coming from west.
windward. In the direction of the wind. Opposite of leeward.
working sails. The sails used on a particular sailboat in normal weather conditions.
X. A mark on a pirate's treasure chart that is supposed to indicate where the treasure is.
yard arm. The end of a yard.
yard. A spar attached to the mast and used to hoist square sails.
yaw. Swinging off course, usually in heavy seas. The bow moves toward one side of the intended course.



From a review of White Gold by Giles Milton.

Giles Milton's lively account of the north African white slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries includes a description of an attack on a Cornish fishing village by a fleet of Islamic corsairs. The warriors, wielding scimitars, stream into the cobbled streets and force their way into cottages, taverns and churches to seize the villagers and carry them off to the Moroccan port of Salé to be sold as slaves.


Sword guards

From the ARMA website.

The offensive and defensive postures and ready positions from which to deliver all manner of blows lie at the heart of any fighting method. They are not static postures, but dynamic ready positions from which to strike or counter-strike.

The primary postures or ready positions for long-swords, which date back to the 1380s, or earlier, are: Ochs, Pflug, Alber, and Vom Tag, or Ox, Plow, the Fool and Roof. These correspond to in the middle (Plow), outside high/horizontal pointing (Ox), low (Fool), and high (Roof). To this can be added a fifth guard, the Nebenhut (near ward ) or Tail (a back guard), called Posta di Coda lunga distesa (Long Lying Tail) by Fiore Dei Liberi in 1410 (although not included as primary, it appeared frequently in subsequent German works). Thus, five basic fundamental stances or guards are used with nearly all forms of Medieval long-swords. Virtually all the masters taught these primary positions or variations of them.

The four primary guards


OX. The sword point is typically aimed at the opponent's face or throat.



PLOUGH. Lowering the weapon to the middle achieves the second position. The point should aim at the opponent's chest or throat and the hilt should be held off to the side, in front of the hip joint, rather than dead center between the legs.



FOOL. The third position is achieved by lowering the point with the hands (and making a pass of the foot, forward or back, in transition). The weapon is held point down, usually between the legs. The position is deceptively open and allows for quick counter strikes.



ROOF. The fourth position is achieved by raising the weapon up with the shoulders and holding it at roughly 45-degrees, not horizontal, over the head or (as shown below) by the ear. The position is both threatening and warding and easily lowers to any other stance or turns to the ox.

Over the roofspacer


TAIL. A fifth position, the Nebenhut (near ward), is assumed by rotating the weapon down and to the side from above. The point slants downward and behind, not off to the side, with the long edge aiming forward at the opponent, not at the ground. This permits a strong rising cut with the long edge, ending in an ox position.




An extract from Alexander Pope's Essay on Man, describing the perils of having Elven senses.

The bliss of man (could pride that blessing find)
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
No powers of body or of soul to share,
But what his nature and his state can bear.
Why has not man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, man is not a fly.
Say, what the use, were finer optics giv'n,
To inspect a mite, not comprehend the Heav'n?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o'er,
To smart and agonize at every pore?
Or quick effluvia darting thro' the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain?
If nature thunder'd in his opening ears,
And stunn'd him with the music of the spheres,
How would he wish that Heav'n had left him still
The whisp'ring zephyr and the purling rill?


The Grey Havens, a colour study by Paul Lasaine.

The Grey Havens, by Paul Lasaine


The Early Bird, showing the aft deck (with the taffrail) and the forecastle. Captain Mutallu had the guns added after returning from Kuri. A sixteenth century print.

The Early Bird


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Sword guards

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Pope's Essay on Man

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