Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Travel Blogging XIII

At sea, perhaps just beyond mid-Atlantic: Earlier we mentioned the term “bunkering.” The term “bunkering” dates to the days when steam ships burned coal to heat water to make steam.

Coal was stored in compartments called “bunkers” and moved by a crew wielding shovels called “the black gang” for all the coal dust on them. Loading coal was called “bunkering” and today the term is applied to loading fuel oil.

It is peculiar how conservative nautical persons are with terminology. Taking a ship from here to there is still called “sailing” although sails have not been used (except for sport) for over a century. Sometimes the term “steamer” is used and sailing called “steaming” although steam ships are long gone too. “Bunkering” is of this ilk, a term from an earlier era.

Using true sailing ships as training vessels for future naval officers is emblematic of this conscious conservatism. Running trainees up the mast to set and bring in sails is as pointless as teaching fencing or jousting would be at West Point.