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A bone in her mouth - meaning?

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OH MY LOVE IS GONE (Sussex)
PARTING SONG


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GUEST,Jerry 09 Aug 02 - 03:36 PM
EBarnacle1 09 Aug 02 - 03:52 PM
katlaughing 09 Aug 02 - 03:54 PM
EBarnacle1 09 Aug 02 - 04:31 PM
Skipjack K8 09 Aug 02 - 05:16 PM
catspaw49 09 Aug 02 - 05:46 PM
radriano 09 Aug 02 - 06:28 PM
Amos 09 Aug 02 - 06:33 PM
Gareth 09 Aug 02 - 07:08 PM
GUEST,Cookieless Barry Finn 10 Aug 02 - 04:24 PM
Don Firth 10 Aug 02 - 05:54 PM
michaelr 10 Aug 02 - 09:43 PM
GUEST,Cookieless Steve 11 Aug 02 - 06:06 AM
Gareth 11 Aug 02 - 07:27 AM
radriano 12 Aug 02 - 12:04 PM
EBarnacle1 12 Aug 02 - 02:14 PM
Gareth 12 Aug 02 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,Cookieless Barry Finn 12 Aug 02 - 10:22 PM
EBarnacle1 13 Aug 02 - 02:02 PM
Crane Driver 13 Aug 02 - 06:26 PM
Crane Driver 13 Aug 02 - 06:28 PM
radriano 13 Aug 02 - 06:50 PM
radriano 14 Aug 02 - 11:33 AM
Gareth 14 Aug 02 - 02:45 PM
Chip2447 14 Aug 02 - 11:42 PM
EBarnacle1 15 Aug 02 - 02:51 PM
radriano 04 Sep 02 - 12:09 PM
EBarnacle1 04 Sep 02 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,MCP 05 Sep 02 - 05:13 AM
GUEST,MCP 05 Sep 02 - 05:17 AM
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Subject: A bone in her mouth
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 03:36 PM

I read the following paragraph in Radriano's thread celebrating his new CD:

The second verse contains the line "with a bone in her mouth, boys" which I first took as a very explicit sexual reference. In a house concert performance by Dave Webber and Anni Fentiman two years ago in Berkeley, California Dave sang the same line in another song. I asked him about it during a break and he said that the line refers to one of the sails (he called it the "water sail") which is slung quite low in the front of a ship. If you are looking at a ship head on when that sail is up it looks like the figurehead is holding something in her mouth. The phrase "with a bone in her mouth, boys" became a specific reference to heading southward with all sails up - the beginning of a voyage.

My understanding of the phrase "a bone in her mouth" (also frequently seen as "a bone in her teeth") is that it refers to a ship with white water foaming at the bow. A good example of this is a line from one of C.F. Smith's poems which describes a ship with a lot of speed on her as having "a wake like a mill-race and a bone in her teeth."

Never thought of the sexual connotations of this.

BTW, the "water sail" mentioned above is, I think, what was called a spritsail, since its yard was crossed on the underside of the bowsprit. From what I've read it was a common feature of sailing ships up until the early 19th century, when ship designs changed and it went out of vogue.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 03:52 PM

If you look in Ratsey's book of sailmaking ca 1930, you will see a watersail described as a sail attached below a boom for the purpose of increasing the sail area of a fore and aft rigged sail when sailing before the wind [paraphrase].

The sail that is set on a yard (across the main axis of the vessel) in front of a ship is called a "spritsail." That is why the pointy spar on the front of a sailing ship is called a bowsprit. The sprit rig seen on fore and aft vessels except that they are both spars.

The spar that sits of top of the bowsprit, which most people mistakenly call a bowsprit is actually a staysail boom. It extends the spars forward to provide as long a base as possible for a sailplan. On vessels which do not set both spars, this is generically called a spike bowsprit.

I suspect that "a bone in her mouth" is just a variant idiom of "a bone in her teeth"for the bow wake on a vessel that is really tearing along.


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: katlaughing
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 03:54 PM

I love this palce; learn something new everyday!


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 04:31 PM

I just noticed that I included a confusing fragment above. What I meant to say was: The sprit rig seen on fore and aft rigged vessels has no similarity to the the sprit sail on square riggers. The fore and aft sprit supports the peak (highest part of a 4 sided fore and aft sail) and sets its foot (bottom end) relatively low on the mast. It is most commonly found on Thames barges and other traditional British Isles [What do the Irish call the isles?] craft.


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 05:16 PM

The sprit (spreet) is always on the starb'd side of the mains'l, but I can't recall why. The bone is white water.


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: catspaw49
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 05:46 PM

Well, it finally got clearly answered. I think more than any sail reference, it refers to the water being split by the bow at speed....the faster, the larger the bone.

BTW, you'll notice that on the fastest sailing yachts of today there is very little of that appearance owing to the shape of the bow and the loss of hydrodynamic action that a bow wave creates.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: radriano
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 06:28 PM

This is very intersting!

The reference to "a bone in her mouth, boys" in my post was the only explanation I had ever heard for the phrase. The explanation I was given made sense to me and I admit that I researched it no further.


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: Amos
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 06:33 PM

I am sure there was little or no sexual connotation to the original expression, which I have always heard as a "bone in her teeth".

A


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: Gareth
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 07:08 PM

Concur with origin of Phrase " bone in her teeth", it was also used under 'Steam' to describe a ship with speed on.

With regard to modern Yachts, you must bear in mind that hull design has grown more sophisticated. If a hull design is working under optimum condition she will not show a bone. The energy used to raise the bow wake is wasted, you may pour on as much power as you like, but the speed will not increase in proportion, it's spent in thrusting the water aside.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: GUEST,Cookieless Barry Finn
Date: 10 Aug 02 - 04:24 PM

From Royce's Sailing Illustrated's glossary.
Bone: spray at stem or cutwater of a vessel underway. Spritsail: quadrilatral sail with peak extended by the sprit spar with the lowerjaw end secured to the mast. An earlier term - Columbus carried a spritsail or watersail under the Santa Maria's bowsprit.
Barry


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 Aug 02 - 05:54 PM

My dad was born in the San Juan Islands and was around boats and water for most of his life. "Bone in her teeth" was the expression he used for a bow wave, usually implying that the vessel in question was moving pretty fast.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: michaelr
Date: 10 Aug 02 - 09:43 PM

"But she hasn't got a bone in her nose, in her nose... she hasn't got a bone in her nose"

Richard Thompson


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: GUEST,Cookieless Steve
Date: 11 Aug 02 - 06:06 AM

Why is the sprit on the starboard side of a spritsail?

I think it might have to do with the efficiency of the sail and the right of way rules.


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: Gareth
Date: 11 Aug 02 - 07:27 AM

Steve - I don't know - but try This Blicky with joy someone here should know.

Gareth


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Subject: Lyr Add: TOW-ROPE GIRLS and PICTURES (C. Fox-Smith
From: radriano
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 12:04 PM

Jerry, thanks for starting this thread!

I've been trying to reach Dave Webber to find out his source for the explanation of "bone in her mouth" that he gave me. In the meantime it's pretty clear that the accepted meaning of the phrase describes a ship going at speed.

The C.Fox Smith poem Jerry referred to is probably The Tow-Rope Girls. See text below. I also found two other Smith poems mentioning the phrase in her book, Sea Songs and Ballads, 1917-1922.

THE TOW-ROPE GIRLS
Oh, a ship in the Tropics a-foaming along,
With every stitch drawing, the Trade blowing strong,
The white caps around her all breaking in spray,
For the girls have got hold of her tow-rope to-day.

(An' it's "Haul away, girls, steady an' true,
Polly an' Dolly an' Sally an' Sue, -
Mothers an' sisters an' sweethearts an' all,
Haul away ... all the way ... haul away, haul!")

She's logging sixteen as she speeds from the South,
The wind in her royals, a bone in her mouth,
With a wake like a mill-race she rolls on her way,
For the girls have got hold of her tow-rope to-day.

The old man he stood on the poop at high noon;
He paced fore and aft and he whistled a tune,
Then put by his sextant and thus he did say:
"The girls have got hold of our tow-rope to-day.

"Of cargoes and charters we've had our full share,
Of grain and of lumber enough and to spare,
Of nitrates and Taltal and rice for Bombay,
And the girls have got hold of our tow-rope to-day.

"She has dipped her yards under, hove to off the Horn,
In the fog and the floes she has drifted forlorn,
Becalmed in the Doldrums a week long she lay,
But the girls have got hold of her tow-rope to-day."

Oh, hear the good Trade wind a-singing aloud,
A homeward bound shanty in sheet and in shroud,
Oh, hear how he whistles in halliard and stay:
"The girls have got hold of the tow-rope to-day!"

And it's oh! for the chops of the Channel at last,
The cheer that goes up when the tug-hawser's passed -
The mate's "That'll do" - and a fourteen months' pay -
For the girls have got hold of the tow-rope to-day...

("Then haul away, girls, steady and true,
Polly an' Dolly an' Sally an' Sue, -
Mothers an' sisters an' sweethearts an' all,
Haul away ... all the way ... haul away, haul!")


PICTURES

"Some likes picturs o' women," said Bill, "an' some likes 'orses best,"
As he fitted a pair of fancy shackles on to his old sea chest,
"But I likes pictures o' ships," said he, "an' you can keep the rest."

"An' if I was a ruddy millionaire with dollars to burn that way,
Instead of a dead-broke sailorman as never saves his pay,
I'd go to some big paintin' guy, an' this is what I'd say:

"'Paint me the Cutty Sark,' I'd say, 'or the old Thermopylae,
Or the Star o' Peace as I sailed in once in my young days at sea,
Shipshape and Blackwall fashion, too, as a clipper ought to be...

"'An' you might do 'er outward bound, with a sky full o' clouds,
An' the tug just droppiing astern, an' gulls flyin' in crowds,
An' the decks shiny-wet with rain, an' the wind shakin' the shrouds...

"'Or else racin' up Channel with a sou'wester blow in',
Stuns'ls set aloft and alow, an' a hoist o' flags showin',
An' a white bone between her teeth, so's you can see she's goin'...

"'Or you might do 'er off Cape Stiff, in the high latitudes yonder,
With 'er main deck a smother of white, an' her lee-rail dippin' under,
An' the big greybeards racin' by an' breakin' aboard like thunder...

"'Or I'd like old Tuskar somewheres abound ... or Sydney 'Eads maybe...
Or a couple o' junks, if she's tradin' East, to show it's the China Sea...
Or Bar Light ... or the Tail o' the Bank ... or a glimp o' Circular Quay.

"'An' I don't want no dabs o' paint as you can't tell what they are,
Whether they're shadders, or fellers' faces, or blocks, or blobs o' tar,
But I want gear as looks like gear, an' a spar that's like a spar.

"'An' I don't care if it's North or South, the Trades of the China Sea,
Shortened down or everything set - close-hauled or runnin' free -
You paint me a ship as is like a ship ... an' that'll do for me!'"


THE STATELY BLACKWALLER

She hauled through the dock-gates when morning was young,
And chill on the water the river mist hung,
And the chaps on the pierhead all shouted "Hooray"
For the stately Blackwaller bound Eastward away.

Her captain he walked on his poop like a lord,
They piped the side handsome when he came aboard:
She had mates half-a-dozen in brassbound array,
The stately Blackwaller bound Eastward away.

She had midshipmen, topmen and gunners and all,
And forty prime shellbacks to heave and to haul,
A bosun to pipe and a fiddler to play,
The stately Blackwaller bound Eastward away.

So down London River she vanished afar:
Her gallant red ensign it shone like a star,
Till she faded from sight in the river mist grey,
The stately Blackwaller bound Eastward away.

She dropped the tug's hawser and so did depart,
By Dungeness and Dover, by Spithead and Start,
And headland by headland their farewells did say,
To the stately Blacwaller bound Eastward away.

Then shaking her reefs out she turned to the south,
Her canvas all gleaming, a bone in her mouth,
To the warm tropic seas where the flying fish play -
The stately Blackwaller bound Eastward away.

But the years have gone by like a tale that is told,
And home through those waters that knew her of old,
By Goodwin and Girdler, by Chapman and Nore,
The stately Blackwaller comes sailing no more.

Down the river of years she has vanished afar,
With all her proud fabric of sail and of spar,
She has faded from sight as a mist in the sun -
The stately Blackwaller of days that are done.



Radriano


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 02:14 PM

The poem above "The Tow-Rope Girls" reads very nicely to the verse meter of "Liverpool Judies." Anyone think there's a relation?


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: Gareth
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 06:42 PM

Mnnnn ! I can not coment on the "Tow rope Girls" But " Them Liverpool Judies Have got us in tow!

Seriously, in my mind the "Blackwall" has a certain resemblence to Mansfield's " The Lay of the Loch Ashray"

I must dig for the words of that.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: GUEST,Cookieless Barry Finn
Date: 12 Aug 02 - 10:22 PM

The Liverpool Judies haul on the tow rope when the ship is homeward bound, they just keep on hauling faster & faster the closer ship gets to home port. I quess the same sort of way a horse will knowingly head back to it's barn. Barry


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 02:02 PM

The sprit was generally on the right side of the sail for the same reason that the English have their steering wheels on the right side of the car. It feels right to them.

As the sails were generally hooped or laced on, there was no compelling reason to pick a standard side. Having set up sails with the sprit on the left and on the right, there seems to be no difference in sailing quality. There may have been standardized hardware developed at some point which locked the decision in.


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: Crane Driver
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 06:26 PM

The song I've heard Dave and Annie do with this phrase in is "When we raced the Robin Adair", probably one of the first C F Fox songs set to music, as I believe Bob Roberts used to sing it. I haven't got all the words, but one verse says

"Up from the South, with a bone in her mouth,
There came the 'Robin Adair'"

Obviously a reference to the speed of the vessel.

Andrew


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: Crane Driver
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 06:28 PM

Damn brain going. C Fox Smith!! Apologies to her fan club (all 200 million of you)

Andrew


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Subject: RE: BS: A bone in her mouth
From: radriano
Date: 13 Aug 02 - 06:50 PM

I've sent off an e-mail to Dave Webber to find out what his source was for the explanation he gave me for "a bone in her mouth."


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Subject: RE: A bone in her mouth - meaning?
From: radriano
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 11:33 AM

Well, here we go again.

I've just heard from Danny and Joyce McCleod who say:

'A bone in her mouth' refers to the 'Jimmy Green' sail which is set on a yard slung below the Bow-Sprit and when the ship is heading directly toward you, the ship (not the figure head) appears to have 'a bone in her mouth'

I've asked them where this reference comes from, citing some of the explanations for the phrase given in this thread. I have not heard back from Dave Webber yet on this. Is it possible that there is both a technical and a traditional definition for the phrase?

Radriano


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE YARN OF THE LOCH ACHRAY (J Masefield)
From: Gareth
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 02:45 PM

Herewith the text to "The Yarn of the Loch Achray"

As a bonus it mentions "A Bone in her mouth"

THE YARN OF THE LOCH ACHRAY.

By John Masefield.

The Loch Achray was a clipper tall
With seven-and-twenty hands in all.
Twenty to hand and reef and haul,
A skipper to sail and mates to bawl
'Tally on to the tackle-fall,
Heave now 'n' start her, heave 'n' pawl!'
Hear the yarn of a sailor,
An old yarn learned at sea.

Her crew were shipped and they said 'Farewell,
So-long, my Tottie, my lovely gell;
We sail to-day if we fetch to hell,
It's time we tackled the wheel a spell.'
Hear the yarn of a sailor,
An old yarn learned at sea.

The dockside loafers talked on the quay
The day that she towed down to sea:
'Lord, what a handsome ship she be!
Cheer er, sonny boys, three times three!'
And the dockside loafers gave her a shout
As the red-funnelled tug-boat towed her out;
They gave her a cheer as the custom is,
And the crew yelled 'Take our loves to Liz--
Three cheers, bullies, for old Pier Head
'N' the bloody stay-at-homes!' they said.
Hear the yarn of a sailor,
An old yarn learned at sea.

In the grey of the coming on of night
She dropped the tug at the Tuskar Light,
'N' the topsails went to the topmast head
To a chorus that fairly awoke the dead.
She trimmed her yards and slanted South
With her royals set and a bone in her mouth.
Hear the yarn of a sailor,
An old yarn learned at sea.

She crossed the Line and all went well,
They ate, they slept, and they struck the bell
And I give you a gospel truth when I state
The crowd didn't find any fault with the Mate,
But one night off the river Plate.
Hear the yarn of a sailor,
An old yarn learned at sea.

It freshened up till it blew like thunder
And burrowed her deep, lee-scuppers under.
The old man said, 'I mean to hang on
Till her canvas busts or her sticks are gone'--
Which the blushing looney did, till at last
Overboard went her mizzen-mast.
Hear the yarn of a sailor,
An old yarn learned at sea.

Then a fierce squall struck the 'Loch Achray'
And bowed her down to her water-way;
Her main-shrouds gave and her forestay,
And a green sea carried her wheel away;
Ere the watch below had time to dress
She was cluttered up in a blushing mess.
Hear the yarn of a sailor,
An old yarn learned at sea.

She couldn't lay-to nor yet pay-off,
And she got swept in the bloody trough;
Her masts were gone, and afore you knowed
She filled by the head and down she goed.
Her crew made seven-and-twenty dishes
For the big jack-sharks and the little fishes,
And over their bones the water swishes.
Hear the yarn of a sailor,
An old yarn learned at sea.

The wives and girls they watch in the rain
For a ship as won't come home again.
'I reckon it's them head-winds,' they say,
'She'll be home to-morrow, if not to-day.
I'll just nip home 'n' I'll air the sheets
'N' buy the fixins 'n' cook the meats
As my man likes 'n' as my man eats.'
So home they goes by the windy streets,
Thinking their men are homeward bound
With anchors hungry for English ground,
And the bloody fun of it is, they're drowned!
Hear the yarn of a sailor,
An old yarn learned at sea.

A different poem/song to "Blackwallers" but strangly similar,Any comments?

Gareth


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Subject: RE: A bone in her mouth - meaning?
From: Chip2447
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 11:42 PM

Damn, I thought this was other thread filled with Italian suppositories (sexual ennuendos) to offend someone with. Oh, wait, I've already done that by using the word Italian.

Thanx folks, this is one reason why I love the Cat. No matter how archaic or trivial a question, there is usually someone knowledgeable enough to give us maroons a good answer. Mudcat Trival Pursuit. Whatta concept.

Chip2447(who fancies himself a font of worthless knowledge, but would get is ass handed to him in the aforementioned Mudcat Trivial Pursuit game)


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Subject: RE: A bone in her mouth - meaning?
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 15 Aug 02 - 02:51 PM

It occurs to me that "bone in her mouth" could simply have arisen because South and other words rhyme with mouth and there are relatively few rhymes for teeth. Think we'll ever work it out?


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Subject: RE: A bone in her mouth - meaning?
From: radriano
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 12:09 PM

I got a response from Dave Webber who was my original source for the definition of the phrase "a bone in her mouth." Dave says:

"Memory tells me that the explanation re 'Bone in her mouth' comes from Stan Hugill who was a friend of ours. He had a great respect for Cicely Fox Smith's work and said that her descriptions of life at sea were wholely accurate. I think this particular explanation is more likely than just the spray as the yard carrying the "Jimmy Green" sail would be seen and therefore look more like a bone than the spray alone."

Radriano


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Subject: RE: A bone in her mouth - meaning?
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 04 Sep 02 - 04:43 PM

It's possible but we will never know. Sounds like good crackerbarrel material. Bow wakes tend to be significantly heavier water than spray. The turbulent air mixed in with them is what causes them to look relatively white, compared to the water around them.


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Subject: RE: A bone in her mouth - meaning?
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 05:13 AM


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Subject: RE: A bone in her mouth - meaning?
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 05:17 AM

Oops!

(While I have it out for something else) My dictionary of historical slang gives: "Carry a bone in the mouth a. (Of a ship) to make the water foam before her, 'cut a feather':naut coll:C19-20;ob. Bowen prefers bone in her teeth"

(Bowen refers to F.Bowen: Sea Slang 1929.

Mick


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