The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #94329   Message #4111531
Posted By: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
26-Jun-21 - 07:57 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Stowing Sugar in the Hold
Subject: RE: Origins: Stowing Sugar in the Hold
Lyr Add: Mark Twain (Harry Belafonte)

Charley Noble: The captain's command "'Heave the larboard lead!" has to do with assessing the river depth off the left bow of the steamboat.

The captain's on the quarter deck
Scratchin' 'way at his old neck
And he cries out, "Heave the larboard lead"

Cap'n on de biler deck, a scratchin' of his head,
Hollers to de deck hand to heave de larbo'rd lead.

The heaving of the lead is to compensate for forward motion. This vessel is both in the midst of the sugar lading process and couldn't get underway if it so desired because steam, or fire, in de flue(?). If the lead were to be heaveded ahead it would likely land on some poor coonjiner's foot on the riverbank!

Trivia: The preferred metrology alongside would be the sounding pole or quant, from the Greek kontus. ie: the ship's conn & conning towers.