Earth, Wind & Water

Ramblings of an Earthling, Laserite and small boat sailor

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


One of the things I like about sailing is it's rich vocabulary, and the way has given it's words and expressions to general usage.  Expressions like "leaving yourself leeway", "having the wind knocked out of your sails", "liking the cut of someone's jib", and "being stuck in the doldrums" are so commonplace in everyday use that most people don't stop to think about where they come from.

As an aeronautical engineer, I love the aviation terms that have come from sailing - rolling, pitching, and yawing; surging, swaying, and heaving; buttlines, waterlines and stations, and indeed the name of the field itself, aeronautics. Bulkheads, rudders and strakes, the list goes on and on.

I'd been sailing for many years before I realized that the term chockablock comes from sailing.  The first definition given by Webster's is pulled so tight as to have the blocks touching, and the etymology refers to the preceding entry, chock, another bit of nautical hardware.  I'm not sure if the "chock" in chockablock comes from that type of chock or from the chocks, or cheeks of a block, but either way, I like the expression a lot more now that I know where it comes from.

We Laser sailors often talk about being two-blocked, or block to block, but i think we should revive this nautical term and instead say chockablock!


  1. Chockablock! Excellent! Laser sailors should use it.

  2. Thanks, Tillerman! If you starting using it on your blog, there's a good chance it will catch on.