Nautical Trivia and Fun Facts

Are you a skilled sailor seeking some intriguing and fun insights to share with fellow sailors on your next nautical expedition? Or are you a newbie to sailing who wants to learn more about this exciting water sport

Whether you previously knew all of these interesting nautical and boat facts or had no clue these tales happened, one fact is certain. There are many unexpected features to these aquatic experiences that it would be a pity not to reveal and show the width and complexity of the nautical realm. Let’s get started, and we aim to amaze you with things you didn’t know.

Some Essential Nautical Phrases and Terminologies for Beginner

Nautical trivia fun facts are an excellent approach to spark the interest of your non-sailing peers in sailing. Once you’re resting on deck or having a beverage at the club, it’s also exciting to confront skilled sailors. 

There are books available that list a plethora of nautical trivia fun facts.  Here are a few of those boating facts for your sailing hat!

1. Above Board

Pirates would frequently keep a significant portion of their crew beneath the deck. Boats with publicly exposed workers on the deck were regarded, to be honest, merchant ships classified as “above board.”

2.Walk the Plank

It has been documented that pirate could toss men overboard for minor infractions. However, no one has ever been recorded as having “walked the plank.” It’s a Hollywood film legend.

3. As the Crow Flies

The shortest path from one location to another has no diversions. Before the development of modern navigational devices, British ships maintained a cage of crows. Once released at sea, the birds go directly to the nearest shore, indicating the location of the nearest shore.

4. Bitter End

The end of a rope or the last piece of a loop. The end that is linked to the vessel, as contrasted to the “working end,” may be connected to an anchor, cleats, or another vessel. Nowadays, the phrase refers to a final, terrible, or tragic finish.

5. Fits the Bill

A Bill of Lading was employed to confirm receiving of commodities and the pledge to transport them in perfect or similar quality to their target. The products were examined with the Bill of Lading upon arrival to ensure that everything was in order. If that’s the case, they “fit the bill.”

6. Footloose, and Footloose and Fancy-Free

The term is derived from the moniker of the bottom of a boat, known as the foot, which should be connected to the boom. This will become “footloose” if not correctly fastened, leading the vessel to sail improperly. Footloose and fancy-free have evolved to refer to someone who performs without devotion.

7. Freeze the Balls Off a Brass Monkey

Cannonballs were placed on deck next to the cannon in a pyramid arrangement and kept in a ring known as a brass monkey. If it was really cold outside, the brass ring could shrink quicker than that of the iron cannon pellets, forcing some of them to tumble. As a result, the term was and still is used to indicate anything extremely chilly.

8. In the Doldrums

The word Doldrums refers to a region of the water in each hemisphere. This location is noted for having inclement weather and mild winds. Due to a lack of wind, a sailing ship stuck in the Doldrums may get stranded. Today, the phrase is used to indicate someone who is down, stagnant, or depressed.


9. Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

The name refers to the traditional naval penalty of being beaten with a “cat o’ nine tails.” The lash was stored in a leather handbag, and whenever sailors “let the Cat out of the bag,” it was typically because they had done anything that could end in violence. Today, the word refers to someone saying something that should not have been stated or revealing a secret.

10. Limey

Originally referring to a British sailor, this phrase is now used to apply to any British individual. The phrase derives from the practice of providing limes to British sailors to prevent sicknesses such as scurvy in the 17th and 18th centuries (a vitamin C deficiency).

11. Mind your P’s and Q’s

Sailors would be given money at port pubs until they were settled. On a blackboard below the bar, the bartender would keep track of their beverages. A mark was drawn under the letter “P” for a pint and “Q” for a quart. Upon payday, the sailors were held accountable for each mark next to their names and were required to “mind his P’s and Q’s.” Nowadays, the word refers to remaining well-behaved.

12. No Room to Swing a Cat

All workers were brought on deck to observe the lashing punishment with the “cat o’ nine tails.” With a complete crew, the ship might get so congested that it was impossible to utilize the cat o’ nine tails sans colliding with other staff people. To put it another way, there was “no room to swing a cat.” The word is now used to describe a crowded or congested environment.

13. Pipe Down

This was once a nautical name for an officer’s whistling sound, signaling the end of an above-deck working time and therefore granting liberty to go beneath. This phrase is currently used to signify “stay quiet” or “be quiet.”


14. Posh

Today, this term denotes something excellent, stylish, and pricey. The phrase comes in colonial Boston when aristocratic travelers’ luggage was labeled “POSH,” which meant for “Portside Out Starboard Home.” This told the luggage workers where to put the bags to avoid direct sunlight.

15. Skyscraper

This term is most usually used to refer to a tall structure. It derives from the name of a tiny, triangular-shaped boat that was positioned over the other boats on historic square-rigged ships. They appeared to scrape the sky with their height.

16. Square Meal

This is an idiom that means a good or hearty supper. It got its name from the square plates used to offer meals on ships.

17. Three Sheets to the Wind

This statement signified that the ship was out of control since the sheeting or lines had been lost. Today, the word is used to describe someone who is inebriated or has lost charge of themselves.

18. Pierced ears

Sailors pierced their ears not to appear sophisticated, and it was thought that cutting the ears with expensive materials such as silver and gold enhanced one’s eyesight. Even reputable nautical men participated in the activity.

19. Groggy

The adjective groggy, which means “unwell,” refers to a hangover caused by the intoxicating beverage grog. The term “grog” is derived from “Old Grog,” a title given by sailors to Admiral Vernon, the commanding officer of the West Indies. Admiral Vernon was well-known for diluting his men’s rum rations. This diluted rum became known as grog.


20. Chock a block

This nautical term caught me off guard. Chocks are spikes that hold moving items in place. On sailing vessels, a block, as well as tackle, is a mechanical system used to lift the boats. One likely origin is whenever two bricks of hoisting tackle were so tight together that they couldn’t be stretched any farther, they were referred to as “chock-a-block.”

Nautical Fun Facts


1. Girls are among the world’s youngest sailors

Exactly do you know that females as small as 16 have sailed across the world by themselves? Jessica Watson and Laura Dekker are the world’s youngest sailors. When they finished their nautical adventures in 2009, they were both 16 years old. The Dutch government decided it was a poor decision for a youngster to sail around the world by himself. Due to pretty much the same reasons, these achievements are not listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

2. Sailing can provide access to “off-limits to visitors” locations

The Raja Ampat Islands in Indonesia include over 500 documented coral species, a magnificently diversified natural environment, and secret beaches. No planes or cruises are heading there. These pristine regions can only be reached by ship or helicopter. For those who are lucky enough to attend, places like these feels like a private paradise. Fortunately, as a sailor, you have the excellent chance to visit these secret jewels while on a sailing vacation.

3. Sailing is the origin of the phrase “feeling blue.”

If you’re feeling blue, you’re alluding to the blue flags used to indicate that the ship’s crew is in sorrow. Sailing is where the saying began. When a ship’s captain died during a journey, the crew would float blue flags to indicate their loss.

4. The phrase “son of a gun” really relates to your birthplace

When women were sneaked onto ships in the past, they frequently became pregnant. Normally, this would occur amid the cannons on the gun platform. If the infant was not identified by a guest or a sailor, it was noted in the ship’s log as “the son of a cannon.” Today, the phrase is seen as a loving manner of welcoming or addressing anyone.


5. He’s a loose cannon!

This phrase is used to characterize someone who acts erratically or unexpectedly. The mass of canons on boats is the connection to sailing. They might reach 3,400 pounds (or 1,500 kg). As you can assume, a stray one could do a lot of damage. As a result, loose cannons are hazardous and therefore should be prevented at all costs. 

6. In principle, you can sail in a straight line for roughly 22,229 miles…

Cooke’s Passage is a mapper of David Cooke’s concept. Thus, according to him, the sailing path from Port Renfrew to Quebec can be completed without ever hitting land. It’s difficult to move on a precisely straight path, but it’s a fascinating hypothesis anyway.

7. Joshua Slocum is the first person to sail solo around the world

Joshua Slocum became the first man to sail alone around the globe in 1898. He also authored a book on his adventure called “Sailing Alone Around the World,” which became a best-seller on a global scale. Sir Francis Chichester completed his journey in 1967, 69 years after the first try.

8. The Maltese Falcon is the world’s largest sailing boat

The Maltese Falcon is the world’s largest sailing boat, measuring 88 meters long. It is the costliest boat on the globe, with two 1,800 horsepower Deutz motors. This is understandable given that it has its gymnasium, lobby, VIP cabin, and four visitor suites with king or queen bedrooms and plasma televisions. It was sold for a stunning £60 million in 2009.


9. The record holder sailing speed is 65.45 knots or 121 kilometers per hour

One of the most intriguing sailing statistics is the world-record sailing velocity. The fastest sailing speed on record as of November 2012 is 65.45 knots or more than 120 kilometers per hour! The record was established by Australian Paul Larsen with the specifically constructed Sailrocket 2, which has an unorthodox shape and is intended for high-speed sailing. He was able to establish this record despite the windy circumstances on Namibian seas.


There are many intriguing facts and phrases that we were quite unaware of. Many phrases we use in our daily life originates from the nautical incidents and untold legends. Either you already knew all of these fascinating nautical and boating facts or had no idea these narratives existed, one thing is clear. These nautical adventures include a lot of surprising facts. The post contains everything you need to know before starting sailing, the nautical trivia, facts, expressions and everything that follows.