The terms port and starboard are associated with the left and right sides of a ship when facing forward. While these two words are widely accepted as a part of modern nautical vernacular, their origin is lesser known. Additionally, newcomers often wonder why the two sides of a ship have such dissimilar names, not realizing that this was done by design.
An anchor has been a ship’s necessity since Jason sailed the Argo, as it allows a ship to stay in place despite wind, current and tide. Killick is the Gaelic name for a stone anchor wrapped in tree branches, and for decades this name stuck with commonwealth navies as a nickname for the rank Leading Seaman.
Up Spirits is the traditional pipe used to inform a ship’s company to prepare to receive a daily rum ration. Historically, sailors have been given rum to keep them vigorous and able to ward off the chills of the sea environment. Although rum was consumed in the Royal Navy for centuries, the tradition of issuing a tot, the term for the daily half-gill issue of rum, began in 1850.
Davy Jones, a legendary name among mariners, is thought by some to be a sixteenth century purveyor of spirits who was infamous for drugging sailors so they might be abducted by press gangs. A mythical personification of evil, Davy Jones’s ghost now lies at the bottom of the ocean and acts as a malevolent spirit that is to be feared by all who ply the sea.