The World Of Khoras - Civilization - Seafaring Ships


Life at sea is a hard and dangerous life full of labor, adventure and the endless wonders of the sea. The men who sail the seas of the world are a hardy lot who form a tight knit brotherhood. They have even developed their own language which consists of various slang phrases for parts of the ship, on board activities, combat tactics and repair procedures. 

This "mariner's cant" is a language that varies from region to region. Below is a typical version of the cant which is used in the south seas (the Sea of Storms and the Sapphire Main). It would typically be spoken by sailors from Ormek, Mercia, the Coalition, the Drakkellian Alliance, Kalimura and the Pirate Isles.


Basic Definitions

Aft or Stern

The rear end of the ship.

Fore or Bow

Front end of the ship.


Left side of the ship.


Right side of the ship.

Dead Water

The eddy of water churned up behind the ship.


Six feet.

Ship's Gauge

The depth of water that the ship needs to float.


A measurement of depth of water taken with a marked rope.


Main cargo storage area of the ship.


Small prison room on the ship.


A convenient place to moor a ship.

Board to Board

When two ships are side by side and touching.

Land Fall

The expectation of sighting land. The end of a voyage.


The compass direction that the ship is sailing.


Basic Commands and Responses

Aye, Sir!

Yes sir.

Nay, Sir!

No sir.

Belay that order.

Ignore that last order.

Round the crew.

Assemble the crew on deck and at attention.

Break Bulk!

Open up the cargo hold and unload the ship.

The Anchor is Afoul!

The anchor is hung up on something beneath the water.


Navigation and Speed Phrases


To put a ship forth out of dock.

Take her out to sea

Leave port and head out for sea.

Put her to the wind.

Unfurl all sails to the max and give us full speed.

Bring in the sheets, half sail.

Reduce the canvas to 50%. (Half Speed).

Mind the Tiller

Help out on the tiller or Pay attention at the tiller.

Hold the Course

Maintain this heading (direction the boat is traveling).

Steady on the tiller

Keep the tiller steady, don’t let the sea push the ship around.


I have spotted land.

Moor the ship

To situate the ship safely in order to put the anchor down.

Drop Anchor

To lower the anchor into the water and essentially "park" the ship.

Raise Anchor

To raise and secure the anchor..

We’ve run afoul.

The ship has run aground, hull touching bottom or a submerged reef.

How lays the sea?

What are the sea/weather conditions ahead? Usually spoken to a crew mate up in the rigging or in the crow’s nest. The typical response is "Fair seas ahead, Captain" or "Rough seas ahead".

Take a Sounding

Take a measurement of the current depth of water.

Bear with the land

To sail towards land.

How does the ship wind?

What direction are we heading?

Come About!

Turn the ship (also called tacking) into or against the wind.


On the Approach of Another Vessel

Sail on the sea!

I have spotted another ship.

Where away?

Where is it?

Sail approaches!

Another ship is approaching.

Do you mark her?

Can you see the name of the approaching ship?

Do you mark her colors?

Can you see the flag that the approaching ship is flying?

She runs bare.

The other ship is unmarked.


To call to another ship. This is often done with drums or horn if at a great distance. If closer, one calls out with Hoa.


To call out to another ship with the basic Hello. Typically, the other ship will respond with Hoa!.

How cheer ye fore and aft?

How fares your ship's company? or in other words, How are all of your crew doing?

Heave out the flag.

Deploy the flag and show your/our  colors/nationality.

Strike the Flag

To pull down the flag, either as respect or to yield.

Strike Amain

Lower the topsails. This is usually done to signify respect or to yield. This is more meaningful than striking the flag only.

Launch the boat(s)

Put the longboat(s) in the water.


Dealing with Problems

Rogue Wave!

A rogue wave approaches! Hang on to something!

The sail is split.

The sail has torn (from wind or wave or enemy fire).

Bring in the sail.

Furl up the sails and tie them down. This order is usually given if strong winds or a storm is expected.

Veer out the sail.

Let out more canvas to catch more wind.

Make the ship fast.

Tie down and secure all ropes, rigging and loose objects.

Fish the masts

Lash secondary support beams to the masts for added strength.

Sound the ship

Check the ship from front to back for damage or problems.

Man Overboard.

Someone has fallen into the water.

Bow to the wave.

Turn the ship into the wave so it takes the wave head on.

Pay the Seams

Patch the hull leaks with tar and wood.

The ship is bilged.

The hull has been breached and is leaking!

The ship yawns.

The ship does not steer steadily.

The ballast shoots.

The cargo is sliding around in the hold and is making the ship unstable.

Free the ballast.

Divide and separate the cargo and tie it down.

Cut the Sail.

To cut a sail down completely. Drastic because it can't be undone. Usually done when sudden high winds endanger the ship. Cutting the sail drops the sail quickly.


Breach in the water!

Take note, something is in the water. Usually a whale or other animal.

Fire the Ship.

Set the ship on fire. (To destroy it).

Grave the Ship.

Run her aground in high tide and then, during low tide, burn off the filth from the hull.

Stencher A "Stencher" is a special type of weapon. It consists of a ceramic or clay pot with a lid. It is filled with saltpeter, limestone, asafetida ( a foul smelling gummy resin) and rotting fish guts. The stencher is then lit and hurled at the deck of an enemy ship (by catapult) and impacts as an explosive stench bomb.
Hullbreacher A special type of ammunition for the cannons. It consists of a solid iron spiked sphere. It is hollow and packed with powder. One small opening is corked and lit. It is then fired at an enemy ship at the hull. The spikes cause the sphere to stick into the hull. The fuse then burns down and the hullbreacher explodes, hopefully "breaching the hull". i.e. putting a hole in the hull of the enemy ship.



This website was last updated October 5, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.

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