74 - two decked warship, larger than a frigate, nominally armed with 74 guns.
AB - Able Bodied seaman.
ancien regime - the former Royalist regime of France overthrown by the Revolution.
Armée d’Angleterre - the army assembled by Napoleon at Boulogne for the purpose of invading Britain.
Barbarossa – most famous of the Moorish corsairs.
Billy Ruffian – ‘Bellerophon’, famous British warship.
blockade – during the French Revolutionary Wars the Royal Navy closely blockaded the entire French coast for many years, winter and summer – an outstanding display of seamanship and determination which had the side effect of making the Navy extremely efficient, in contrast to its French counterpart which was bottled up in port.
Board of Trade – department of the British Government which became responsible for enforcing the Merchant Shipping Act later in the nineteenth century.
bomb, bomb vessel - a small ship built for the bombardment of shore targets, armed with a mortar and rockets. The most famous bombs were Erebus and Terror.
bosun (boatswain) – senior seaman.
braces – ropes to control the yards which support square sails; hence ‘lee braces’ are braces on the side of the ship away from the wind.
Brittany Canal - canal which links the Channel and Biscay coasts.
Bumboat – small boat selling goods to the crews of ships.
Ça ira – French revolutionary song
capstan – winch with vertical axis, on sailing ships driven by men pushing wooden bars as they walked around it.
Cardouan lighthouse - a huge lighthouse which marks the entrance of the Gironde.
careen – to haul a grounded ship down so that her masts are nearly horizontal.
Carron (Carronade) – a gun manufactured by the Carron Ironworks of Scotland. The company was founded in 1789, and now manufactures domestic sinks.
Carteret – port on the western side of the Cotentin Peninsular noted for its exceptional tides and vast sandy beaches.
chasse-marée – literally ‘tide chaser’, a heavily canvassed French vessel used for smuggling and similar activities.
Chesil Beach – a long shingle spit which joins Portland to the mainland. With the wind from the west or south west it forms a lee shore, especially for vessels proceeding up the English Channel. The beach is very steep, and the undertow from the surf in rough conditions makes escaping from the sea very difficult.
Chouan - name given to the Bretons who violently opposed the Revolution
ci-devants - "former people" such as aristocrats from the Royalist regime
coasting – trading along the coast rather than ‘deep sea’. In British ships coasting is traditionally limited to the area between Brest and the Elbe.
cockpit sole – the ‘floor’ of the cockpit.
Congreve rocket - a rocket with an explosive warhead, similar to the familiar firework rocket but much larger.
Downs, The – anchorage off the east coast of Kent.
Eggs and Bacon – familiar name used by sailors for HMS Agamemnon. Several ships were given such names, including Bellerophon -“Billy Ruffian”, and Temeraire, Turners “Fighting Temeraire”, Saucy.
fall – rope system supporting a ship’s boat.
famous victory - a reference to Southey's famous anti-war poem, "After Blenheim".
fo’c’stle – (abbreviation of ‘forecastle’) accommodation at the fore part of the ship where the crew lived ‘before the mast’, as opposed to the officers living in the aft end of the ship
fother, fothering – to stem a leak below the waterline by stretching a sail over the hole.
Fortuneswell – a village near on the north west part of Portland.
Fouché - minister of police, responsible for massacres during the Revolution.
jib boom - spar extending from the bowsprit.
Gironde - the estuary of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, connecting Bordeaux with the Bay of Biscay.
Genoese tower – round forts built by the Genoese, very common around the coast of Corsica. The one at Myrtle Point was the prototype for the British Martello Tower
Hard Times of Old England – English folksong.
Hawke’s squadron - in November 1759, in a rising gale, a British squadron under Admiral Hawke chased a French fleet into Quiberon Bay and won a famous victory.
Heart of Oak – official march of the Royal Navy, composed by William Boyce in 1759 with lyrics by David Garrick.
heaving line – thin rope used for throwing from one vessel to another.
helm down – turning the ship’s head into the wind.
helm up – turning the ship’s head away from the wind.
high water at Dover - tides are governed by the phases of the moon. The time of tides in the Channel are often referenced to the time of high water at Dover.
hove to - a sailing ship is sometimes stopped in heavy weather by backing one or more sails, and keeping the ship close to the wind by putting the helm down
in irons – ship stationary and pointing directly into the wind with the sails flapping.
Iroise – Royal Navy frigate which had been captured from the French. French ships captured by the Royal Navy generally continued to use their original names.
ketch - a small vessel with two masts, the after mast shorter than the forward one
King – In Weymouth Bound, Not by Sea, and Cape Corse, the king referred to is George III, ‘Farmer George’. George was very fond of Weymouth and spent long periods there. As described in Weymouth Bound, he was renowned as an early riser.
landing – smuggling contraband ashore.
Le Petit Neptune Français - an eighteenth century pilot book describing the coasts and ports of France.
leach, or leech – the aft side of a fore and aft sail, or the lee side of a square sail
Leave Her Johnny – chanty with improvised derogatory words about the ship and officers traditionally sung when the crew is about to pay off at the end of a voyage. Perhaps the most authentic version was recorded by Bob Roberts.
Leghorn – Livorno, a major port on the coast of Italy near Pisa
Levanter – easterly wind in the Mediterranean
Lilli Bulero – satirical ballad about Ireland. Signature tune of the BBC World Service.
lugger – a vessel, generally a small one, propelled by a lugsail, rather than a gaff mainsail.
luff – to turn the ship into the wind so that the ‘luff’ or fore part of the sail flaps
main topsail – upper sail on the main mast.
maintop, foretop - platform for a lookout at the top of the mast.
Marins - marines of the Imperial Guard.
Midi Canal, Royal Canal - a remarkable summit level canal, completed in 1681, which connects the Garonne at Toulouse with the Mediterranean at Sete.
midshipman – trainee officer in the Royal Navy.
Mistral – wind which blows down the Rhone and into the Mediterranean.
mizzen – aftermost mast of a ship.
painter - a rope attached to the bow of a small boat used for towing etc.
pawl – ratchet.
Pool of London – part of the River Thames below London Bridge where ships worked their cargo.
Popham – Royal Navy signal code devised by Admiral Sir Home Riggs Popham KCB, a naval officer who led a varied and interesting life.
port (starboard) tack – ship sailing so that the wind is coming from the port (starboard) side.
port wheel - when ships were steered by tiller, "port helm" meant moving the tiller to port, steering the ship to starboard. When wheel steering became widespread, this lead to considerable confusion.
privateer – a privately owned ship with a ‘letter of marque’ from its government permitting it to attack and capture ships belonging to enemy nations
prize money – when an enemy ship was captured the value of the ship was assessed by a prize court and the proceeds shared between the officers and crew of the capturing ship.
Quiberon - peninsular in Brittany.
queue - ponytail
race (tide race) – an area of confused breaking seas caused by the tidal stream running strongly over obstructions. Two races feature in the book: the Portland Race, an area of confused breaking seas off the tip of the Isle of Portland, and the Race of Alderney, between Alderney and the adjacent coast of France. Both are extremely dangerous in some states of wind and tide. In the Race of Alderney, off La Foraine beacon, the tide can run at up to nine knots.
Rance - river, now dammed by a hydrogeneration scheme, which enters the sea at St Malo.
revenue cutter – small ship used to supress smuggling.
scandalised mainsail – reducing the power of the mainsail by lowering the peak of the gaff.
scarfed - a joint between two pieces of wood, with the ends chamfered so that they fit snugly together.
schooner - usually small ship which has two or more masts.
sextant – instrument for measuring angles, most commonly between a celestial body and the horizon.
sheer - the curve of the deckline of a ship or boat, so that the bow is high and able to ride above waves.
St Peters - or St Pierre, the main town of the island of Guernsey.
staysail – a sail set on the forestay of the mast.
steep to – a coast is said to be ‘steep to’ when the sea bed rises quickly near the land
swivel – gun supported on a mount which allows it to be aimed easily.
tack – turn the ship through the wind.
Talleyrand - cardinal and foreign minister of France.
Temple – a prison in Paris used for housing political prisoners, including the royal family. One of Napoleon’s last acts was to order its destruction. As a superstitious Corsican, he was unnerved by a letter Sidney Smith had displayed in the window of his cell there, prophesying that Smith would end up in the Elysee, and Bonaparte in the Temple.
thwart - a seat running "athwartships" or across a boat.
tiller – lever attached to the rudder which is used to steer the craft.
trenail – a wooden dowel driven into a hole bored through two pieces of timber to fasten them together.
Ushant – a large island surrounded by smaller islands and rocks on the north western extremity of Brittany. Tidal streams run fiercely through the channels.
Vilaine - Breton river which flows into the Bay of Biscay. It is now dammed by the barrage at Arzal, and is navigable as far as Redon.
William – third son of George III. He spent a considerable time in the Royal Navy, and was a friend of Nelson. The Duke of Clarence, he later became William lV, nicknamed ‘the Sailor King’.