The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #151478   Message #3536515
Posted By: Lighter
11-Jul-13 - 07:51 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: 'topsails all a quiver'
Subject: RE: Folklore: 'topsails all a quiver'
Admittedly sails are usually brailed "up" rather than "in" (when, like foresails and mainsails, they're equipped with brails at all, as you point out).

But few landlubbers were likely ever to have heard of "brailing" in any direction. So the word had to go

"Lowering" and "brailing up" make sense if the "sails" refer, as I believe they do, to articles of clothing like a blouse and a dress (not to mention billowing mid-19th century crinolines!). Either they came down or they went up.

You can also choose between "reef-tackle fall" and "gun-tackle fall." The second is more suggestive, and the first is said to mean "belt." It would be interesting to know why.