One of my readers pointed out that the use of sailing terms in my story is a bit much for someone who is not familiar with sailing. I did make an effort to go light on the terms as well as explain the terms as briefly as possible when they cropped up, using just enough to immerse the reader in the world without turning the story into a manual on sailing. But I can also understand where it is still a little overwhelming for some.
(And no one should feel bad about getting a bit lost in the sailing terms. I got lost the first time I read an Aubrey-Maturin novel. So many people did, someone wrote an entire book of terms and historical articles to help readers called Sea of Words.)
For all the flaws in the story, I can't say I am exactly eager to delve back into it in order to restructure, so I hope readers will forgive me if I put a glossary of terms here at the end.
I tried to post a link to the picture of the ship the John Paul Jones was based on, but doesn't seem to allow that.
Foward is the front of the ship, the bow area. The focs'l is the interior of that area. Aft or Stern is the back of the ship. If you are looking toward the bow of the ship, left is Port, right is Starboard.
I think I explained the bowsprit and headrig pretty well in the text. The buildings on deck (from forward to back) are:
The focs'l hatch which is in front of the foremast (the first mast). This is just a cover/doorway for a ladder/very steep stairway, with a small platform in the middle, into the bunk area in the bow of the ship. This where my character and Alex sleep.
Immediately behind the foremast is a big hydraulic winch for lowering scientific equipment. On top of that is the sail rack which is where extra sails are stored and students would often gather during the day when they were not on watch, studying, or in their bunks.
Attached to the winch/sail rack (with the air vents on top) is wetlab which is where the scientific sampling and studies are done as well as where the instrumentation that catalogs depth, salinity, temperature, etc. of the water is. There is also a stairway/ladder inside the wetlab into the main cabin directly below The main cabin contains the galley and dining area which is lined with bunks along the sides and a set of books shelves ("the library") along the back wall.
Galley = Kitchen
While it does not come up in the story, I will mention for interest's sake that the dining tables are gimbaled, allowing them to swing back and forth so that the motion of the ship is NOT transferred through to the table top and the top of the table stays level so your dishes stay in place rather than sliding all over onto the floor. It seems like the table is moving, but in fact the ship is (and you are) moving in relation to it. The table is staying still. Believe it or not, after a couple days you don't even think about it anymore.
Though elbows on the table in that dining environment can have disastrous effects.
Then there is the mainmast. The second building behind the mainmast is the Doghouse. This is sort of the "control room", where the maps, radio, radar, GPS, lighting control, computers with stellar mapping software, etc. are. There is a stairway/ladder inside doghouse to the aft part of the ship which houses the bunks for the captain, the mates, and the engineer. It also leads to the engine room and the computer lab.
Connecting all three areas below decks are short narrow corridors, only wide enough to allow one person to walk straight forward. There are also heavy steel bulkhead doors between each section that can be closed and sealed in the event of flooding /ship sinking to keep the water from rushing between the sections below decks.
Heads are the bathrooms. Bunks or "racks" are the bunk beds everyone sleeps in. One of the less pleasant jobs of the engineer is serving as the ship's plumber. I spared John that.
(Below that interior deck, there is a third deck in the very bottom of the ship which is storage and the engine itself.)
Then lastly up top you have the quarter deck, which is where the binnacle (which holds the all important compass), and the wheel is. The captain's cabin (and John's) is directly below the quarter deck, and there is a skylight between the compass binnacle and a railing that is usually open so the captain can keep an ear on what is going on deck (and get some fresh air).
(Very, very lasty there is a bit jutting out the back that is called the boomkin.)
The John Paul Jones is a Brigantine. Now popular belief is that ship classes are named by size, and you would be partly right in believing that, but ship classifications are an extremely subtle art combining a number of factors including size, type of propulsion, type of use, etc. but most importantly the rigging: The masts and the types of sails and how they are hung from the masts. (And if you think that is confusing, in the Royal Navy of the 18th century, a ship could change class depending on the rank of its commanding officer. A full Captain could never be seen commanding a sloop. So the instant he took command, what was a sloop became a brig.)
A Brigantine is two mast-ed vessel with square sails on just the first/forward mast (or foremast), with the rest of the sails are fore and aft.
Square sails are exactly that: Sails that are square, hung from the yardarms (the horizontal poles crossing the masts) to catch the wind coming from behind the vessel. These sails can be angled slightly to catch the wind better by pulling ropes attached to the ends of the yard arms called braces. This is a fun bit. The braces on the "John Paul Jones" are strung through holes in the hull called hawses, so to angle the yardarms (which are big, heavy, and quite solidly attached to the mast) one team of sailors has to sit down on the deck and pull ("haul") on one side of the braces (with another sailor taking up and tying off the slack), while another sailor is one the other side releasing the tension slowly so no ropes get tangled.
And not getting the ropes tangled is a very high priority onboard ship because a tangled knot will get hauled up and you end up having to climb up a mast and out onto a yard arm in the dark, which the gentleman Kevin is based on had to do on my trip, to get it untangled. That's if it is within reach. If it is not, you might have to cut the entire sail down and re-rig it. Sailing a tall ship is very much a team activity involving a great deal of coordination, attentiveness, and effort. It's fun, it's challenging, but it's not a vacation pleasure cruise.
Common sense would tell you that a ship sails fastest with a wind directly behind it, and to a certain extent this is true, but if you rigged a vessel with all square sails, then a ship is kind of stuck only sailing in the direction of the wind and life just doesn't work that way. In order to better harness winds from different directions to get the ship where it needs to go, a ship uses fore and aft sails: Triangular sails that are slung along the centerline of the vessel. These sails catch wind coming from the sides of the vessel and can more easily be shifted from one side or another. A ship like a brigantine which has mostly fore and aft sails actually sails fastest not when the wind is directly behind it, but when the wind is coming from behind and to the side.
Now for a little "sailing physics". Raked masts (or Raking) refers to the angle of the mast to the deck. You notice they do not stand straight up and down. They are angled slightly aft or backwards. Not only do raked masts look cool, but that angle backward allows the mast to take more pressure forward on the sails. Think about as if someone was pushing you from behind. If you are standing straight up and down, you can be pushed over pretty easily, but if you are leaning back into their hands, it's much harder. In fact, your feet may slide forward before they manage to push you over, which is exactly how the force of the wind is transferred into the hull of the ship through the water. So the masts and sails can take more pressure from the wind and more of that force is used to push forward when the masts are angled like that.
This brings us to points of sail. Standing in the middle of a ship, each direction the wind comes from relative to the ship has its own term. A brigantine like the Jones sails best on a broad reach, when the wind is coming from one of the rear quarters (sides).
Heaving to, bringing the ship to a standstill, involves backing the sails, or angling them so that the wind is pushing the ship backward, while angling the rudder of the ship so that the hull wants to move forwards. Pushing the ship both forward and back at the same time so that it just stops. Then you can have a swim call, as shown in the text, do maintenance, or whatever you may need to stop a ship to do.
Center of force/effort, which is mentioned in passing, is where the wind is exerting the most force, the most power, on the rigging. That is controlled by what sails are put up. If you put all the sails in the front up, then the wind is pushing the most on the bow of the ship and can actually push it down in the water which slows the ship down. Ditto if you put all your rear sails up. Ideally in a perfect world, one should keep the center of force toward the center of the vessel (though there are vagaries of haul design,weight distribution, etc. that may alter that slightly from vessel to vessel. Some ships may actually sail better with the center of force shifted slight front or back rather than smack in the middle).
Now to learn the ropes, at least a little bit. The actual physical act of sailing is all about ropes. There are two major sets of ropes in the rigging: Fixed or standing rigging and running rigging. I think those terms are pretty self explanatory. Standing rigging (which attaches the masts, yards, and spars to the hull) doesn't move, running rigging (which moves the sails) does.
Standing rigging is then broken up into two groups: Stays and shrouds.
The stays are the fixed ropes (now metal cable in most ships) that attach and stabilize a mast from bow to stern. They are strung along the center line of the ship stabilizing the masts so they do not fall forwards or backwards.
People on the bow watch on the ship I sailed with attached their safety harness to the fore-stay, which ran from the top of the foremast to the bow of the ship. That way if they slipped or where knocked off, they were attached to standing rigging and would just hang over the side. The problem is if you need to put up or "set" (taking down a sail is called "striking" it) the foresail which runs up the forestay at night, the person on bow watch needed to notified so they would unclip lest they got dragged up with the sail. (And I did have a scary moment where one time they started to set the sail in the dark without telling me and I ended up getting dragged up a bit. "Hey! HEY!")
The shrouds are the fixed cables/ropes that attach and stabilize a mast from side to side. When you see people climbing up the "netting looking stuff" on either side of a mast, they are climbing up the shrouds. (The little ladder-like ropes between the shrouds that let people climb up them are called "rat lines")
Of the running rigging there are three main groups of ropes (and on a ship, they are actually not referred to as "ropes", but "lines"): Halyards, downhauls, and sheets. Every sail has these in one form or another.
A halyard (think "haul yard") is for pulling a sail up. When a sail is deployed, the halyard will tied off, but most of it will be neatly coiled on deck to allow it to run freely when you take the sail down.
A downhaul pulls the sail down when you strike that sail. When you set the sail, this needs to be released so that it runs freely. When the sail is in/not being used, both it's downhaul and halyard are coiled and hung from assigned points on the rail or the mast.
A sheet pulls the corner of a sail to one side or another, allowing the crew to angle it to the wind properly. (The term "three sheets to the wind" comes from the idea of these lines flying loose, meaning you have no control over the sail.)
On to a favorite topic of mine: Navigation.
The heading is the direction you are sailing recorded in 360 degrees on the compass which is kept right in front of the wheel. You steer by the compass after the captain gives you a heading. "Turn 85 degrees East." The little pedestal with houses and protects the compass (because it is the single most import piece of navigation equipment on a ship) is called a binnacle (but when talking to modern sailors, I found this term is becoming archaic). A bearing is the compass reading of the ship in relation to a specific object like a lighthouse or other known/mapped landmark.
The sea is big. I mean really big. I mean bigger than that road trip you took in college big. A 135 foot ship in the middle of the ocean is a tiny lizard in the middle of the Sahara. There are no signs and once you sail out of sight of land (blue water sailing), no land marks to tell you where you are. There are three main ways to keep track of where you are and where you are going which ships do frequently. We did it every hour.
Almost all ships have GPS these days, but no one with half a brain relies on solely on a piece of highly refined equipment in a rough environment like the ocean. (And during our trip, the GPS was kept covered so we would practice our navigation techniques.)
The oldest and most simple method is called dead reckoning. Starting from your last known position (or "fix"), you calculate where you are by how fast you are moving and in what heading/direction you moved. Not the most accurate, but if you have nothing else, it's good enough. Our postion on the map was plotted hourly by dead reckoning, which was then verified and corrected by other methods like celestial/stellar navigation.
I mention working with a sextant. What a sextant does is measure the angle of a celestial body to the horizon. You have to have a completely clean horizon for the measurement to be accurate, so these are only used at sea. They are very delicate instruments, so they must be treated with great care. They are also very expensive, so you have to have it tied to your wrist whenever it is out of its case lest one fumble and *sploosh*. There's 800$ sinking to the bottom of the sea.
And a reeeeealy unhappy captain glaring at you from the quarter deck.
Taking a measurement is called "taking a sight" or "shooting" the object (sort of like shooting a camera I guess). Sextants have different light filters so that during the day you can shoot the sun to determine if it has reached the highest point in the sky, or nautical noon. Using this measurement, you can determine your latitude (where you are in the ocean on a north/south axis).
When the stars and the horizon are both visible at dawn and dusk, you can measure the angle of known stars and the moon to the horizon to get latitude and combine those measurements with an accurate clock to get longitude (where you are in the ocean on an east/west axis). The history of navigation and the discovery of these techniques is really a fascinating one, sort of like the Moon Race of the 18th century.
Translating these angle measurements into a location on a map involves spherical trigonometry. Navigators used to have to work all this out by hand, but now a days we use a computer program to make the calculations to give us the coordinates. (Thank the Gods. It took me five tries to get through college algebra with a "c.")
Then we take those coordinates and plot (place them) them on a map by crossing the line created by the latitude measurement with the line created by the longitude measurement. Using a sextant can be as accurate as four miles off the GPS. In the middle of a massively huge ocean, that's pretty damn good.
If you are sailing along a coast and have an accurate map of the landmarks, you can use the compass to take bearing (the angle of the location of the ship to a known landmark). After taking three or more bearings, you can cross the lines of these angles to triangulate your position.
At night we would use RADAR to keep clear of the coast and other vessels.
Another method of navigation that is fading out of usage is the use of radio signals like LORAN (LOng Range Aid to Navigation), but that has all but been replaced by GPS.
On to a little of the daily life.
A Watch is a shift of sailors. You are assigned to a watch when you come on board and work with those people through the entire voyage. (Some ships may mix up watches after a while, but that did not happen with my trip.) On my ship, each watch was 5 or 6 people, plus a sailing mate in charge of the deck and a science mate in charge of the lab. The ship I sailed on had three watches on a four shift rotation. So for example (if I can remember this correctly, after a while the actual time just sort of got lost, you just knew you were on or off):
12:00 pm to 6:30 pm - A watch
6:30 pm to 01:00 am - B watch
01:00 am to 05:30 am - C watch
05:30 am to 12:00 pm - A watch
And the cycle starts all over again.
A Mate in nautical terms is essentially an officer. In seniority they lead the watch and report to the captain. They are labeled in order: 1st mate (leading A watch) is second in command, 2nd mate (leading B watch) is third in command, and so on.
For the non-Americans, "tossing cookies" is a somewhat childish slang for throwing up, which a LOT of people do their first couple days at sea. In a class of 22, I was one of four people who never threw up. I'm inordinately proud of that fact.
Fresh water onboard ship is at a premium. We were lucky that the ship were sailing in had a desalinization system that filtered sea water into fresh. But even then, we were only allowed to take a fresh water shower once every three days. Desalination systems are expensive, so not all ships have them. Between bathing, modern sailors fall back on baby wipes to keep the worst of body odor down. In six weeks I went through two or three packs, plus facial cleansing wipes. Yes, we wore the same clothes a couple days in a row and laundry was only done occasionally in ten gallon bucket with whatever soap was on hand, usually biodegradable dish soap. We then hung our clothes, including our underwear, out to dry where it would not get in anyone's way. At one point part of the rail of the quarter deck was lined with my bras.
Field day, which is mentioned but not shown, was a time once a week when the ship was heaved to and everything on board was cleaned, from stem to stern, from the pots and pans in the galley, to the bathrooms, to the floors, to the engine room. It's funny, you are surrounded by water, but ships do become dirty and sailors have to stay on top of it to keep from mold growing or things rotting or all kind of nastiness.
Field days suck, there is just no other way for it other than to say that it is the worst part of sailing. So captains try to make it fun by playing music or giving out candy (we were a school ship) or other little benes that the sailors don't get the rest of the week.
The Steward is the ship's cook. Always be nice to the steward. Three meals at day were served by the galley. Watches eat in shifts so that the watch coming on eats first and then the watch coming off eats. Members of each watch take turns working the galley assisting in preparing meals or washing dishes. Food is stored below the galley in the main hold, which has a refrigerator and a freezer which essetially are nothing but big cold boxes. If you think your refrigerator gets disorganized, try making sense of a refrigerator that has been holding the food for 30 people after a month. Spelunking expeditions were often required to find things. The galley would also bring an afternoon snack up in deck, usually something simple like sliced fruit or vegetables with peanut butter or sometimes something more elaborate like a stew pot full of smoothie. There was a coffee maker in the main cabin, so coffee and tea was also always available, though late at night you had to do so very quietly in the dark because there were people sleeping in the bunks lining the main cabin.
They did sometimes string a fishing line off the stern of the ship to supplement our diet with a couple mahi–mahi and another fish which I don't remember the name of. It's interesting/sad, they really do lose their vibrant colours after they have been yanked out of the water. The stress I guess. The crew brought them up on deck, clubbed them to death, filleted them right there, and had them for dinner. I'm a vegetarian so I didn't take part in this practice in RL, though I'm sure as a character John would have enjoyed it.
If I think of anything else I will add it, but I think that covers everything I mentioned in the text.
(And I appologize in advance for the inevitable typos. I just whipped this off.)