Did You Know?

  • Over 90 percent of trade among countries is carried by ships.
  • Britain is made up of 6100 islands of which 291 are inhabited.
  • The UK coastline is 10,500 miles long – equal to the distance between the UK and Australia – and wherever you live in the UK, you are no more than 70 miles from the sea.
  • British shipping earns £162 per second for the UK.
  • About half the communications between nations are via underwater cables.
  • There are 328,000,000 cubic miles of seawater on earth, covering approximately 71 percent of earth’s surface
  • By volume, the ocean makes up 99 percent of the planet’s living space- the largest space in our universe known to be inhabited by living organisms.
  • About 97 percent of all water on earth is in our oceans, 2 percent is frozen in our ice caps and glaciers, less than 0.3 percent is carried in the atmosphere in the form of clouds, rain, and snow. All of our inland seas, lakes and channels combined add up to only 0.02 percent of earth’s water.
  • Earth’s ocean is made up of more than 20 seas and four oceans: Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and – the oldest and the largest – the Pacific.
  • The volume of the Earth’s moon is the same as the volume of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Although Mount Everest is often called the tallest mountain on Earth, Mauna Kea, an inactive volcano on the island of Hawaii, is actually taller. Only 13,796 feet of Mauna Kea stands above sea level, yet it is 33,465 feet tall if measured from the ocean floor to its summit.
  • Canada has the longest coastline of any country, at 56,453 miles or around 15 percent of the world’s 372,384 miles of coastlines.
  • Undersea earthquakes and other disturbances cause tsunamis, or great waves. The largest recorded tsunami measured 210 feet above sea level when it reached Siberia’s Kamchatka Peninsula in 173
  • Substances from marine plants and animals are used in scores of products, including medicine, ice cream, toothpaste, fertilizers, petrol, cosmetics, and livestock feed.
  • Lost or discarded fishing nets keep on fishing. Called “ghost nets,” this gear entangles fish, marine mammals, and sea birds, preventing them from feeding or causing them to drown. As many as 20,000 northern fur seals may die each year from becoming entangled in netting.
  • Life began in the seas 3.1 billion to 3.4 billion years ago. Land dwellers appeared 400 million years ago; a relatively recent point in the geologic time line.
  • The blue whale is the largest known animal ever to have lived on sea or land. They can reach over 110 feet and weigh almost 200 tons (more than the combined weight of 50 adult elephants). The blue whale’s blood vessels are so broad that a fully-grown trout could swim through them, and the heart is the size of a small car.
  • A group of herring is called a seige. A group of jelly fish is called a smack.
  • If the ocean’s total salt content were dried, it would cover the continents to a depth of 500 feet.
  • The carbon cost of carrying a ton of freight by ship is 10 times less than by road – and 100 times less than by air.
  • A modern container ship emits about a quarter of the CO2 than a container ship did in the 1970s – while carrying up to 10 times as many containers.
  • The Seahorse in the HCMM Crest
    The sea-horse is an emblem of safe travel, particularly by sea. The heraldic sea-horse, however, does not resemble the natural seahorse at all. It is an imaginary creature with the head, chest and forelegs of a horse, webbed feet like a frog in place of its hooves and a scaled body that flows into the large powerful tail of a fish, which if properly drawn, circles around itself in a coil. The mane may or may not be scalloped. It is a popular symbol found quite regularly in heraldry.

A Brief Nautical Glossary

AVAST – a command to cease an action or procedure or to stop immediately

BELAY – traditionally to make fast or secure a rope or line (using a belaying pin).  Also used as a general order to stop or cease doing something.  Can also be an instruction to ignore any previous message as in: “Belay the last pipe”

BILGES – the lowest part of the ship, where a foul and noxious mixture of sea water, waste waster and oil fuel collected.  The expression bilge water is used the describe something that tastes particularly unpleasant and an opinion or information that is of little or no value is a load of bilge.  A bilge rat is an unpopular person, usually because of his unpleasant personal habits.

BLUE PETER – two forms of usage:

The blue and white flag P flown in a ship ready to sail.

White-blue-white ribbon of the long service and good conduct medal

BRISTOL FASHION – everything neat, tidy and seamanlike in both appearance and function, based on the reputation of ships that used to trade out of Bristol.  The full expression is all shipshape and Bristol fashion.

BULKHEAD – nautical term for a wall, not formed by the ship’s side.  If someone is inebriated he may well be involved in a spot of bulkhead bouncing.

DECK / DECKHEAD – nautical words for the floor and ceiling respectively

DOG WATCHES – two short (2-hour periods) inserted in the ship’s routine to equalise the duty ‘roster’.  To say that someone has only been in half a dog watchimplies that he or she has only been doing something for a comparatively short time.

JACK – the name given to sailors, derived from Jack Tar (named for the breeches that were made of tarpaulin) and part of Jack of all trades, sailors who can turn their hands to anything.

LARBOARD – the original name for the left side of a ship, deriving from the loading board – the side over which ships were loaded when in port. PORT is now the more usual term, in order to avoid confusion  The opposite is STARBOARD – the right-hand side of the vessel coming from the steering side.

WATCH – the naval day is divided into watches, spells of duty onboard in order to watch out for dangers, ensuring the ship’s safety.  Watches are usually midnight (or midday) until 4, 4 until 8 and 8 until 12.

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