Sailing Terms That Begin with the letter 'P'

Parrel-A movable loop, used to fasten the yard to its respective mast.

Part brass rags-Fall out with a friend. From the days when cleaning materials were shared between sailors.

Pay- Fill a seam (with caulking or pitch), or to lubricate the running rigging; pay with slush (q.v.), or protect from the weather by covering with slush. See also: The Devil to pay. (French from paix, pitch).

Paymaster- The officer responsible for all money matters in RN ships including the paying and provisioning of the crew, all stores, tools and spare parts. See also: purser.

Pier-head jump: When a sailor is drafted to a warship at the last minute, just before she sails.

Pilot- Navigator. A specially knowledgeable person qualified to navigate a vessel through difficult waters, e.g. harbour pilot etc.

Pipe (Bos'n's), or a Bos'n's Call:  A whistle used by Boatswains (bosuns or bos'ns) to issue commands. Consisting of a metal tube which directs the breath over an aperture on the top of a hollow ball to produce high pitched notes. The pitch of the notes can be changed by partly covering the aperture with the finger of the hand in which the pipe is held. The shape of the instrument is similar to that of a smoking pipe.

Pipe down- A signal on the bosun's pipe to signal the end of the day, requiring lights (and smoking pipes) to be extinguished and silence from the crew.

Piping the side- A salute on the bos'n's pipe(s) performed in the company of the deck watch on the starboard side of the quarterdeck or at the head of the gangway, to welcome or bid farewell to the ship's Captain, senior officers and honoured visitors.

Pitch- A vessel's motion, rotating about the beam axis, so the bow pitches up and down.

Pitchpole- To capsize a boat end over end, rather than by rolling over.

Pontoon- A flat-bottomed vessel used as a ferry or a barge or float moored alongside a jetty or a ship to facilitate boarding.

Poop deck- A high deck on the aft superstructure of a ship.

Pooped: 

  1. Swamped by a high, following sea.

  2. Exhausted.

 

Port-Towards the left-hand side of the ship facing forward (formerly Larboard). Denoted with a red light at night.

Press gang-Formed body of personnel from a ship of the Royal Navy (either a ship seeking personnel for its own crew or from a "press tender" seeking men for a number of ships) that would identify and force (press) men, usually merchant sailors into service on naval ships usually against their will.

Preventer (Gybe preventer, Jibe preventer)--

A sail control line originating at some point on the boom leading to a fixed point on the boat's deck or rail (usually a cleat or pad eye) used to prevent or moderate the effects of an accidental jibe.

Privateer--A privately-owned ship authorised by a national power (by means of a Letter of Marque) to conduct hostilities against an enemy. Also called a private man of war.

Propeller walk or prop walk- Tendency for a propeller to push the stern sideways. In theory a right hand propeller in reverse will walk the stern to port.

Prow- A poetical alternative term for bows.

Pusser- Purser, the one who is buys, stores and sells all stores on board ships, including victuals, rum and tobacco. Originally a private merchant, latterly a warrant officer. Also, in modern use, a term for the Navy in general (pussers) or a sailor in particular (a pusser).

Principal Warfare Officer-  PWO, one of a number of Warfare branch specialist officers.

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