Breverton’s Nautical Curiosities is about ships, people and the sea. However, unlike many other nautical compendiums, the focus of this book is on the unusual, the overlooked or the downright extraordinary. Thus, someone most of us do not know, Admiral William Brown, is given equal coverage to Admiral Nelson. Without Admiral Brown releasing Garibaldi, modern Italy might not exist. And without the barely known genius John Ericsson designing the Monitor, the Confederacy might have won the American Civil War.
Readers will be stimulated to read more about the remarkable men – explorers, admirals and trawlermen – who have shaped our world.
The sea has had a remarkable effect upon our language. We hear the terms ‘steer clear of’, ‘hit the deck’, ‘don’t rock the boat’, ‘to harbour a grudge’ and the like, and give little thought to them. In the pages of this book, the reader will find the origin of ‘bumpkin’, a ‘brace of shakes’, ‘born with a silver spoon’, ‘booby prize’, ‘to take on board’, ‘above board’, ‘bombed’ (in the sense of being drunk), the ‘blues’, ‘blind-side’, ‘blind drunk’, ‘the pot calling the kettle black’, ‘reach the bitter end’, ‘wasters’, ‘ahoy’, ‘all at sea’, ‘to keep aloof’, ‘piss-artist’, ‘taken aback’, ‘barbecue” and ‘bamboozle’.
Other colourful terms, which have passed out of common usage, such as ‘bring one’s arse to anchor’ (sit down), ‘belly timber’ (food) and ‘bog orange’ (potato) are also included, as well as important pirate haunts, technical terms, famous battles, maritime inventors and ship speed records.