The making of knots is a phase of marlinspike seamanship that is not restricted to deck seamen alone. All hands, with no exceptions, should know these few knots-well.

Frequently the safety of ship and crew is dependent on properly tied knots. You must master these knots because you will very likely be called upon to make them. Stakes are high where knots are involved. Time devoted to practice always pays big dividends.

Practice these knots with a small length of line. Put them to practical use. Practice putting simple whippings on the ends of your practice line.

There are hundreds of knots but for practical everyday utility these few are sufficient. Learn




them well. Make them rapidly and with facility. Be certain of your knots.

When tying knots, it is customary to speak of different parts of the rope as follows: The end

  is as the name implies, the very end of the rope. The bight is a loop or half-loop formed by turning the rope back on itself. The standing part is the long unused portion of the rope.




Square Knot-The square knot is the most useful of knots because it is strong, easily tied and untied, and will not slip.

Bowline-The bowline is the best known and the most useful of the eye knots. It is easily made by forming a bight in the rope and by passing the end up through the bight under the standing part and down through the bight again. A bowline on a bight is a method of making a loop in a rope, both ends of which are fast. Double up the center of a rope and form


a double bight. Pass the end of the loop up through this bight. Draw this loop down over the large loop.

Clove Hitch-The clove hitch is used to make a line fast to a spar or post. In this knot the end


is passed around twice to form a hitch as illustrated.

Timber Hitch-The timber hitch is used where quick fastening is desired as in removing hatch board or dunnage from a hatch. Frequently it is used in combination with a half hitch.

Rolling Hitch-The rolling hitch is used to bend a rope to a spar to the standing part of another rope. It is principally used as a stopper hitch in stopping off boat falls. This knot is made by passing the end twice around the spar

  or rope and each time cross the standing part on the top. A hitch around the spar or rope on the opposite side of turns finishes it.

Two Half Hitches-This is a widely used knot for making a line fast to a spar or ring bolt.


Round Turn with Two Half Hitches-This knot is another method of making a line fast to a spar or ring. It is much more secure than the two half hitches alone. It is used in connection with the Breeches Buoy. (See Breeches Buoy illustration.)

Whipping-A whipping is used to prevent the ends of a rope from fraying or becoming unlaid. One variation is the palm and needle whipping which serves the same purpose making for a neater and more permanent job.

ship drawing

Abaft, toward the stern, or after part of the ship.

Abaft the beam, any direction between the beam and the stern.

Abeam or off the beam, the direction at right angles to the fore-and-aft line of the ship. Aboard, on or in a vessel.

Abreast, opposite or at right angles to. Accommodation ladder, a flight of steps leading down a ship's side for boarding a vessel. Adrift, not made fast.

Aft, toward the stern, or after part of a vessel.

Afterpeak, a compartment in the stern. Ahoy, the customary hail to a vessel.

All hands, the entire crew, including officers.

Amidships, usually in the line of the keel, but sometimes midway between bow and stern, middle or center of a ship.

Anchors, devices that grip the bottom and hold a vessel.

1. Bower, the large anchors carried in the bow of a vessel. Three are usually carried aboard ship, one on each side of the bow and a spare lashed on deck (usually forward).

2. Kedge, a small anchor weighing from 900 to 1,200 pounds used for kedging a ship, that is, moving a ship by carrying out the anchor in a small boat, dropping the anchor and then heaving the ship out to the anchor.

3. Sea, a conical-shaped canvas bag used to keep a boat's head into the sea.

Anchorage, a suitable place for a ship to lie at anchor.

Anchor's aweigh, when anchor is off the bottom.

Angle iron or frame, a bent piece of iron used for joining two or more parts.

Apron, an inner stem fayed on the after side, reinforcing the stem; a strip of planking, or the like, along the side of a boat.

Arming the lead, filling the cavity in the bottom of a lead with tallow or soap. Specimens of the bottom adhere to this substainer.

Athwartships, across a vessel, from side to side, the opposite to fore and aft.

Avast, an order to stop.

Awash, a vessel is awash when she ships water.

Aweather, towards the direction of the wind, to windward.

Articles, the agreement between the Master,

  and the crew for the voyage. The limits of the voyage, names and ratings of the crew, wages, etc., are all listed.

Back splice, a method of finishing the end of a rope by tucking the strands back from the end.

Backwater, to push on the oars, making stern-way.

Ballast, any weight placed in a vessel for stability. Ballast may be either portable or fixed.

Ballast passage, one made in ballast. Barnacles, small shellfish which attach themselves to the sides of vessels.

Becket, a piece of rope made into a circle. Belay, to make fast.

Below, underneath a deck or decks.

Bending shackle, connects the chain to the anchor. It is heavier than the shackles between the different shots of chain.

Berth, the place where a ship is tied up or docked.

Bight, the middle part of a rope; a loop, or double part of a bent rope.

Bilge, the turn of the hull below the water line.

Bilging, white paint which turns yellow. Non-bilging paint is guaranteed not to turn yellow.

Binnacle, a stand for holding a compass.

Bitter end, the end of a rope or cable.

Bitumastic, a black tar-like composition, used as a protective coating in tanks, chain lockers, shaft alleys, below floor plates and other compartments where water may collect.

Blinker, is a lamp connected to a telegraph key. With this device signals are sent in International Morse Code.

Block, a sheave incased in a frame or shell which is provided with a hook, eye, or strap by which it may be attached to an object.

Blue Peter, the letter "P" of the International Code Flags. It is hoisted as a signal that the vessel is to sail within twenty-four hours.

Boat, as used by seamen, the term does not apply to a vessel, but to small craft.

Boat chocks, cradles in which a boat rests on the deck of a vessel.

Boat deck, the deck upon which lifeboats are secured.

Boat hook, a hook on the end of a handle for reaching from a small boat.





Boatswain's chair, a seat suspended by a bridle bent to a gantline to carry a man aloft.

Bollards, two vertical heads of iron or wood to which mooring lines are made fast. Sometimes called bitts.

Bolt, a roll of canvas.

Booby hatch, a small hatch with a high coaming.

Boot-topping, name of paint used on bottom. Bow, the forward part of a vessel.

Bow, clipper, a long curved overhanging bow.

Breast line, is used to secure a vessel to a wharf. It leads directly to a cleat abreast the vessel without leading forward or aft.

Breeches buoy, a ring buoy fitted with canvas breeches for bringing shipwrecked persons ashore.

Bridge, an elevated thwartship platform from which the vessel is navigated.

Bridle, a piece of rope or chain each end of which is fast to a spar or rope.

Brightwork, all brass that is kept polished-varnish work.

Brow, a small curved plate fitted on the outside of a ship over an air port to prevent water running down the side from entering an open port.

Bulk cargo, cargo such as oil, coal, water, grain.

Bulkhead, a term applied to any partition or wall. Bulkheads divide a vessel into compartments.

Bull line, used to run cargo out of the wings to a hatch convenient for hoisting. The line is carried to a winch.

Bulwark, a vessel's topside above the deck, helps to keep the deck dry and serves as a guard against losing deck cargo or men overboard.

Bumboat, sailor's term for small boats employed to go ashore or return aboard a vessel at anchor. Also a boat which has articles for sale.

Bunk, a built-in bed aboard ship.

Bunkers, compartments of a vessel for the stowage of coal. The term also applies to fuel, both coal and oil.

Buoys, floating beacons, which by their shape and color indicate information as to position. Burgee, a swallow-tailed flag.

Canvas, a woven cotton fabric used for sails, awnings and many other shipboard purposes. It is numbered from 00, the coarsest, to 10, the finest weave.

Capstan, a vertical drum operated by steam

  used for handling mooring lines when tying up or letting go.

Catch a crab, to get an oar blade caught flat-wise under water or as some, probably erroneously, interpret the term-to miss the water in making a stroke with an oar.

Catwalk, an elevated fore-and-aft bridge connecting the midship house with the forward or after part of a vessel. It provides a safe passage in heavy weather and with low freeboard when the well decks are liable to be awash.

Centerboard, a keel-like device that is capable of being hoisted and lowered in a well for the purpose of adding keel area to a sailing craft.

Chafing gear, a winding of canvas, rope, or other material, around the rigging, mooring lines, etc., to take the wear.

Chain, the term usually applied to the anchor cable. A shot of chain is 15 fathoms.

Chain hoists, a combination of gin blocks and chain falls. They possess great power and are an important part of a ship's equipment.

Chain stopper, a length of chain used in stopping off a wire as in mooring cable or wire topping lift.

Charlie Noble, a galley smoke pipe.

Coaming, the name applied to the structure around a hatchway. It prevents the entrance of water and serves as a framework to receive strongbacks and hatchcovers.

Cheek block, one whose sheave is set against the side of a spar. One cheek to support the pin.

Chock, a casting which serves as a lead for lines to a wharf. There are several types-open, closed and roller chocks.

Chow, a seaman's word for food.

Cleat, a piece of wood or metal with two horns around which ropes are made fast.

Clip match hooks, are two hooks similar in shape and so beveled as to lie together and form an eye. (Called sister hooks.)

Coaming, the name applied to the structure around a hatchway. It prevents the entrance of water and serves as a framework to receive strongbacks and hatchcovers.

Cofferdam, empty spaces separating two or more compartments.

Companionway, a hatch or opening in a flat deck or house top to provide access to a compartment below.

Cork fender, a gab of cork covered with woven tarred stuff.

Cowl, the upper part of a ventilator which extends at right angles to the main tube. (This is faced in the direction of the wind.)


Crow's nest, a lookout station attached to or near the head of a mast.

Cut of the jib, something characteristic of a person or ship.

Davits, cranes that project over the ship's sides for lowering boats.

Davy Jones' locker, the bottom of the sea. Dead light, a metal shutter fitted to protect the glass in a port light.

Deck load, cargo carried on deck.

Deep tank, a midships ballast tank. It is sometimes used for cargo.

Derelict, an abandoned floating vessel.

Devil's claw, a heavy hook used in holding the chain when riding to an anchor.

Ditty box or bag, a receptacle for a sailor's sewing kit.

Dodgers, canvas windshields on bridge. Also required lifeboat equipment.

Dog, a clamp used to secure watertight doors, manhole plates air ports.

Dunnage, boards cargo from coming in contact with metal or to separate layers of cargo.

Draft, a sling load of cargo; the depth of water a vessel draws.

Draft marks, the numbers at the bow and stern of a vessel to indicate how much water she draws.

Ensign, a flag or emblem of a vessel's nationality.

Fake, to lay a rope or chain down in long bights side-by-side so that it will run out clear.

Fall, the rope which with the blocks make a tackle.

Fantail, the space in the overhang of stern. Fathom, six feet. It is a measure of depth or line (roughly obtained by extending both arms).

Feather, to turn the blade of an oar in a horizontal position when out of water.

Fend off, to prevent contact in coming alongside.

Fender, a device to take the shock of contact between ship and wharf or other vessel.

Fid, a hardwood tapering tool used to open the strand of a rope in splicing.

Fidley, a term applied to the top of a boiler casing. Seamen use this place as a drying room for laundered gear.

Flash point, the lowest temperature at which the vapors given off by an oil will ignite without setting fire to the oil itself.

Flotsam, floating goods or wreckage.

Forecastle, pronounced foc's'le. Structure at the forward end of a vessel. Also the name given to crew's quarters.

  Gadget, sailor's name for anything he doesn't know the name of.

Galley, the cooking compartment; a ship's kitchen.

Gangplank, a runway or board fitted with wooden cleats for the use of persons boarding or leaving a vessel.

Gangway, the opening in a ship's side for the accommodation of persons entering and leaving. The gangplank is placed from the dock to the gangway.

Gear, an all-inclusive term to denote equipment, thus-brooms, brushes, buckets are all cleaning gear.

General quarters, a muster of the entire ship's company at battle stations.

Gin tackle, a purchase made up of two and a three sheave block.

Glass, a mariner's name for a barometer or telescope.

Grapnel, an implement having four or six hooks arranged in a circular manner on the end of a shank, used as a boat anchor and in receiving small articles dropped overboard, such as anchor buoy.

Green sea, the name given to solid water shipped aboard.

Gripe, a lashing, usually chain, to secure boats in chocks, also to gripe boats to a strongback when in an outboard position.

Grommet, a ring of rope made from a single strand by laying it up until there are three parts.

Ground tackle, a general term for all anchors and chain.

Guard, rat, a circular piece of metal placed on hawsers and mooring lines to prevent rats coming aboard or going ashore when tied to a dock.

Guess warp, a hawser bent to a fixed distant object. The vessel is warped toward the object by heaving in on the line.

Gun tackle, a purchase of two single blocks and rope.

Guy, a rope that steadies a boom. A stay supports in a vertical position.

Guy derrick, consists of a mast and boom; the mast being stayed in several directions by guys.

Halyard, a line used for hoisting flags.

Handy billy, a light tackle or jigger, a hand pump.

Hatch, an opening in a deck through which cargo may be handled to or from decks below.

Hatch beam, removable beams fitted to hatch coaming for the purpose of supporting hatch covers.


Hatch covers, hardwood board planks used to cover up hatches. Sometimes made of steel.

Hatch tarpaulins, canvas covers placed over the hatch covers to prevent water from entering the cargo holds.

Haul, to pull.

Haul away, an order to pull on a line.

Hauling part, that part of a rope in a tackle which is hauled upon. The part made fast is the standing part.

Hawse pipe, metal tubes leading the anchor chain from the deck down and forward through the vessel's bow plating.

Hawser, a heavy rope used for warping, towing and mooring.

Head, the toilet.

Heaving line, a light line having a weighted end to aid in throwing. It is thrown to a pier or another vessel as a messenger for a heavy line.

Heel block, the single block at the foot of a cargo boom which acts as a fair-lead to the winch.

High seas, the ocean beyond the three-mile limit where no nation has special privileges or jurisdiction.

Hitch, a combination of turns for making a rope fast.

Holiday, an unpainted or unscraped part. (Poor seamanship results in holidays.)

Holystone, a soft stone used in scrubbing decks. Small stones used in corners are called "prayer books."

Homeward bound stitches, unusually long stitches in sewing, hurried and temporary.

Hook, chain, a hand hook about three inches in length used to lay the anchor chain in the chain locker; also used to move anchor chains by hand.

Jack, a flag flown from the jack staff having a blue field with 48 white stars. The single point of the star should always be up when the flag is hoisted.

Jack staff, the flagpole at the bow of the ship. Jetsam, goods thrown overboard to lighten a vessel.

Jew's-harp, the shackle connecting the cable to the anchor, also called the anchor ring.

Jumbo boom, a heavy duty cargo boom.

King post, a vertical mast supporting cargo booms.

Knock off, to stop work.

Knot, a rate of speed equal to 1 nautical mile per hour (6,080 feet).

Ladder, accommodation, a flight of steps

  shipped to a platform at the ship's gangway and extending nearly to the water's edge. Its unshipped end is suspended by a fall attached to a davit or other fitting on deck.

Ladder, Jacob's, a short ladder consisting of served wire ropes to which iron rings are attached.

Ladder, pilot, a ladder consisting of manila to which wooden steps are fastened.

Ladder, sea, the term applied to the rungs riveted to the ship's side forming a ladder from the weather deck to the water.

Light, cargo cluster, a cluster of four or five lights attached to a reflector having a wire screen, used to furnish light for working cargo.

Light, portable, a cage, having a handle attached to the base and a hook on the end, in which a glass globe is secured. The latter houses the bulb which is screwed into a socket in the base of the guard. A long wire is attached so that it may be led some distance from the plug box.

Lighter, a full-bodied heavily built craft, usually not self-propelled, used in bringing cargo alongside or in transferring cargo from a vessel.

Magazine, the compartment devoted to the stowing of ammunition.

Manhole, a round or oval hole cut in floors, tank tops, decks, boilers, etc., for the purpose of providing access.

Marline-spike, a pointed steel tool for making splices in cable.

Marks, the fathoms of a lead line indicated by leather, cord, or cloth. Those not marked are called deeps.

Marry, to place two ropes alongside of each other so that both may be hauled upon together.

Masthead, the top of a mast.

Mast houses, deck structures built around a mast for the stowage of gear. Also called mast lockers; also called tables or tabernacle.

Maul, a heavy hammer.

Messenger, a light line made fast to a hawser for the purpose of heaving the latter in.

Mousing, small stuff or wire passed around the point and back of a hook to prevent its unhooking.

Nosing, stair, a strip of concave press placed on the edge of a stair to prevent its being damaged.

Oar, an implement used for pulling a boat. Oarlock, a device which holds the oar when pulling.

Pail, landlubber's name for bucket.


Palm, a sailor's thimble made of leather and fitted over the hand.

Parcel, to wind strips of canvas tightly around with the lay of a piece of wire or other rope. The serving is placed upon the parcelling.

Patent eye, a metallic device fitted on the end of a wire rope as a substitute for a spliced eye. After the eye is in place, hot zinc is poured in among the separated strands.

Patent log (Taffrail Log), a device used for the purpose of measuring the distance a vessel has sailed.

Pendant, a piece of manila or wire having a thimble spliced either at one end or in both ends.

Pier, an extension into a harbor that accommodates vessels.

Pilot, a person with expert local knowledge in the piloting of vessels.

Plimsoll line, also called Load line. A mark placed on the hull of a vessel to mark the safe point to which the ship can be loaded. Below this mark it is not safe to load.

Port, the left side of a vessel, looking forward.

Preventer, an additional rope or wire placed alongside an overburdened brace or backstay to relieve pressure and prevent accident.

Punt, a flat-bottomed boat used for painting and scraping near water line.

Relieving tackles, endless fall purchases that ease up and reduce strain on steering gear.

Rose box or strum box, a galvanized iron box perforated with small holes. It is placed in the bilges over the suction pipes to prevent refuse from entering and clogging the bilge pumps.

Save-all, a net placed between ship and dock to prevent cargo falling into water when loading or discharging, also placed under a gangplank or accommodation ladder to prevent men from falling into water.

Scraper, a sharp-edged instrument used to scrape paint.

Screw, the propeller.

Scull, to work an oar over the stern at such an angle as to drive a boat ahead.

Scuppers, outboard drains from the waterways.

Scuttle butt, drinking water fountain.

Sea bag, a canvas bag in which sailors stow their gear.

Secure for sea, to lash all movable objects for sea-gripes on all boats, cargo gear, hatches, etc.

Seize, to bind with small stuff.

Serving, winding a rope or wire, after worming

  and parcelling with small stuff. The use is made against the lay of the rope.

Set up, to tighten, as set up on the forestay.

Settling tanks, tanks into which fuel oil is pumped before using so that any water in it may settle to the bottom and be drawn off.

Shackle, a U-shaped iron with a pin across the open ends.

Shaft, the rod which transmits the power from the engines to the propeller.

Shaft alley, the long compartment in which the shaft operates.

Sheepshank, a means of shortening rope. Sheer, the upward curve of the deck.

Sheet, a rope used to control a sail.

Shell plating, the outside skin of a vessel. Shipshape, orderly fashion.

Slack, slack in a line is the opposite condition from taut.

Slack away, to pay out.

Sling, to pass a rope around a draft of cargo for hoisting.

Slop chest, all seagoing ships have slop chests from which seamen may buy clothing, tobacco, and small articles.

Small stuff, marline, houseline, etc.

Snatch block, a block having an opening into which the bight of a rope can be placed. This saves hauling the whole length through the block.

Sodasal, a washing soda used in soogeeing paintwork.

Soogee, to wash, particularly paintwork.

Stanchions, upright pillars used to support the decks. They are also set on deck for the spreading of awnings and are known as awning stanchions.

Stand by, an order to be prepared to execute an order or a maneuver. Also the seaman who stands by during the night watches is subject to the whistle of the bridge officer.

Starboard, the right side of a vessel, looking forward.

Sticks, masts.

Storm oil, oil used for spreading on the sea in heavy weather to prevent coaming of the sea.

Stow, to lash or put gear in its proper place.

Strap, a piece of rope spliced into a circle and used for slinging cargo or gear.

Strongback, a steel beam placed thwartship across a hatch to support the sections of the hatch covers.

Surge, to slack off a line.

Swab, a mop made of cotton rope secured to a handle and used for cleaning decks.


Tackle, relieving, an endless fall placed on both sides of the tiller and secured for the purpose of easing the shocks on the rudder in heavy weather.

Tarpaulin, a painted or treated canvas covering for the hatches.

Telegraph, an apparatus for transmitting orders mechanically between engine room and bridge or between any two stations.

Telltale or tattletale, an indicating device connected to the gyro to show the course steered each watch.

Thermometer, an instrument used for the purpose of measuring temperature.

Thimble, a heart-shaped (or round) ring, grooved on the outside to receive the eye of a rope.

Thole pins, wooden pins that fit up in the rail of a boat to hold the oars in place while rowing. Seldom found these days.

Thwarts, athwartship seats in a lifeboat.

Tiller, a bar of iron or wood connected with the rudder head and leading, usually forward. By the tiller, the rudder is moved as desired. The quadrant is the most frequent form of a tiller in modern vessels.

Triatic stay, a stay between fore and stack of a steamer to which the signal halyard blocks are made, fast. Also called jumper stay.

  Trim, the manner in which a vessel floats on the water.

Ventilators, cylindrical tubes leading from below to above the decks where cowlings catch the wind and force it below. A mushroom ventilator is one in which the top of the pipe is protected from the entrance of water by a mushroom top.

Wake, the track of a vessel left astern. Wake of a hatch is that part beneath the opening.

Weather side, that side upon which the wind is blowing.

Whip, a single block with a rope rove through it. (See Breeches Buoy.)

Whipping, a rope is whipped by winding sail twine around the end of it to prevent fagging.

Wildcat, the part of a windlass around which the chain leads and which revolves when heaving in or out the chain. The wildcat is recessed to receive the chain slipping.

Winch, winches are machines used for the loading and discharging of cargo.

Windlass, mechanism for lowering and raising an anchor.

Wire rope clips, metal devices which are designed to clamp two parts of a wire rope in place of a splice.

Yoke, a crosspiece of wood or metal fitting on the rudderhead of a small boat to steer by use of lines.

ship drawing




Charts of this type are included as standard equipment in all lifeboats and are used for navigation purposes.

Wind roses (circles with arrows protruding) are used to indicate prevailing winds in any specific location. Arrows fly with the wind. The number of feathers on each arrow shows the force of wind in terms of a scale attached to each chart.

Principal ocean currents are shown by lines of small arrows. The compass rose (large circle in upper right of chart) indicates true direction.

Winds, currents, and directions are significant factors in lifeboat navigation.


Sillouhette of a ship


Ships are civilized and civilizing things. The history of shipping thus keeps abreast of the history of civilization. Savage lands show no advance in naval architecture and static civilizations, even those of high degree, are content to keep their ships, unaltered in design for centuries, in their home waters. But as our Western Civilization has grown upward, outward and Westward, the length of voyages and the size, efficiency and accommodations of the vessels also increased. There were interruptions to the steady progress of both civilization and shipping. Barbarian conquests produced restrictions on the scope of movement by sea as well as on the flights of imagination and intellectual investigation. This war is being fought to forestall another period of interruptions and restrictions to continued progress.

Our earliest records of ships are found in Egyptian tombs. The Egyptians conventionized their ship designs as they did everything else, seeming to prefer the sharp, the angular and the rigid. For thousands of years they leisurely and contentedly navigated the Nile and adjacent waters.

The national character of the Greeks was reflected in the forms given to their ships. Their political aggressiveness was indicated by their introduction and ardent use of special men-of-war. In contrast to this the lines of their merchant vessels were softened and curved to meet their noble standards of beauty.

The Phoenicians cared little for political dominance and less for beauty but they accepted charters and cargoes from everyone, carrying on a brisk trade throughout the classical world.

  Their ships, their ports, their colonies and their mastery of the science of navigation are known by reputation only for they left for posterity no relics or memorials. All we have are, significantly, a few coins with extremely crude representations of their ships. These were said to be as much as 300 feet in length.

The Romans, never very inventive, adopted Grecian ideas of naval warfare and Phoenician commercial vigor and extended both geographically until the entire ancient, Occidental world was under their dominance. The seas were made safe for Roman shipping with both piracy and honest competition driven to cover. Their huge fleets were supported by the appurtenances of shipping such as insurance and loan facilities and docks and warehouses.

These classical civilizations were all rich in slave manpower. Consequently their ships were all propelled by oars with as many as 170 oarsmen to a ship. Constant and pitiless drilling enabled them to attain remarkable power, speed and maneuverability.

In the Dark Ages shipping decreased to the local fishing and the timid coasting necessary to maintain a minimum standard of life, except in the Eastern Mediterranean where the Byzantine Empire carried on and in the North where the Vikings sent their ships across the North Atlantic. Viking colonies did not endure but the ships that have been found indicate that Norsemen thoroughly understood the sea, for their ships were the staunchest, handsomest and most seaworthy the world had seen up to that time.

At the end of the Dark Ages several conceptions that affected shipping made their


appearance. The disappearance of unlimited slave labor and the invention of gunpowder brought about a shift from oars to sails. A continuous battery of guns took the places of the oarsmen's thwarts and outriggers in men-of-war. Venetian shipping, using sails, served as a link between the restricted commerce of Byzantium and the extended seafaring of the nations of Western Europe. The return of classical learning, including mathematical proof of the size and shape of the Earth, invited exploration. Awkward Caravels and galleons were used by the Spaniards following Columbus and Magellan to the West and by the Portuguese reaching the Far East along Vasco da Gama's route around the Cape of Good Hope.

When the ownership of remote places was disputed by the Dutch and English the Latin pioneers were eventually pushed aside. Both of the Northern European nations combined an aptitude for the sea with commercial and acquisitive instincts and perseverance. England's many natural harbors, the advanced arrival of the Industrial Revolution on her shores and the insulation from the turbulence of the European Continent provided by the English Channel enabled the English to supplant the Dutch as "mistress of the seas," but not until after a century or two of naval warfare.

England's colonies in North America then entered the maritime picture. The virgin forests of New England provided the materials to build the ships required for the New England fisheries and for inter-colonial commerce. The absence of roads, the dangers of Indian ambuscades and the speed and seaworthiness of these early American vessels made the sea the safest and surest means of inter-colonial communication. American trade ventured southward to the West Indies and to the European shores of Spain and France. Frequently these visits were in serene violation of the Laws of England.

After her independence, the United States used her wealth of forest-grown materials, her vivid commercial imagination and a hearty interest in seafaring to produce the finest sailing vessels the world had ever seen-the clippers. The skill and success of the foreign trade maintained by these ships meant that we relied on

  sail for too long a period. Meanwhile England, aided by her nineteenth century manufacturing eminence, her continued acquisition of overseas colonies and an early proficiency in the use of steam and steel produced the huge naval and mercantile fleets which gave her nineteenth century prominence and the resources to resist German aggression on the high seas. With the help of other allied shipping, sea power came through in the First World War.

That war changed the mistaken belief of the United States that she could continue her progress without the help of her own fleet of merchant vessels. Her mode of life demanded imports to feed her new industrial processes and to meet her standard of living. Exports of her growing list of manufactures and her surplus of agricultural products were necessary to employ her capacities and to help extend her living standards to the rest of the world. At the same time the lure of the West had begun to pale and adventurous youngsters were again responding to the call of the sea.

It was realized by a few citizens that the rejuvenated merchant marine, produced by the emergency of the First World War, needed constant building to keep abreast of technological advance and to assure an adequate modern fleet should a new emergency arise. The training of merchant marine personnel was also considered a national responsibility. The slow processes of democracy required a dozen years or so to convince Congress of this wisdom. Then, in 1936, the Maritime Commission was authorized to establish and maintain a well-built, wisely operated and skillfully manned American Merchant Marine. The Second World War demanded the continuation of the Commission's permanent program and, at the same time, a vast emergency expansion to meet the global nature of the hostilities and to solve the delivery problem of the "Arsenal of Democracy." Thus, America has returned to follow her destiny on the oceans, those unpopulated and unpossessed areas that wash her five thousand miles of coast line. For three or four generations we extended our frontiers westward afoot, mounted or in wheeled vehicles. Now we can pursue afloat the inexhaustible frontiers of the sea.


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