keeping things shipshape was impossible. Today
the half-roasting of the colors is a survival of the
days when a slovenly appearance characterized
mourning on shipboard.
Forecastle is pronounced focsul. In the days
of Columbus, ships were fitted with castle-like
eminences fore and aft. While both structures
have disappeared, the term forecastle, referring
to the same general part of the ship as the original
forward castle, still remains.
The word gangway is taken from the anglo-
saxon word gang, meaning to go, make a passage
in, or cut out (or cut through). It is commonly
used as an order to sailors to stand aside or to
To most sailors the word geedunk means ice
cream, candy, potato chips, and other assorted
snacks or even the place where they can be
purchased. No one, however, knows for certain
where the term originated; there are several
In the 1920s a comic strip character named
Harold Term and his friends spent a great
amount of time at Pops candy store. The
stores name was the Sugar Bowl, but
Harold and company always called it the
geedunk for reasons never explained.
The Chinese word meaning a place of
idleness sounds something like gee
Geedunk is the sound made by a
vending machine when it dispenses a soft
drink in a cup.
It maybe derived from the German word
tunk meaning to dip or sop either in gravy
or coffee. Dunking was a common practice
in days when bread, not always obtained
fresh, needed a bit of tunking to soften
it. The ge is a German unaccented
prefix denoting repetition. In time it may
have changed from getunk to geedunk.
Whatever theory we use to explain the origin
of geedunk, it doesnt alter the fact that Navy
people enjoy the treats associated with this term.
Admiral Edward Vernon of the Royal Navy
is responsible for the term grog. He was in the
habit of walking the deck of his flagship in a
boatcloak of grogram cloth. That habit suggested
a nickname for the popular flag officer, and
Admiral Vernon came to be known affectionately
as Old Grog. In 1740 he introduced West
Indian rum aboard ship by having a mixture of
rum and water served as a ration to the crew. It
was intended as a preventive against fevers, which
so often decimated expeditions to the West
Indies. This innovation was received with
enthusiasm by the men on the flagship Burford,
who promptly named the beverage after their
Forty years later verses were composed on the
cruiser Berwick that bespeak the popularity of the
officer and the drink; the last two stanzas are as
A mighty bowl on deck he drew,
And filled it to the brink;
Such drank the Burfords gallant crew,
And such the gods shall drink.
The sacred robe which Vernon wore
Was drenched within the same;
And hence his virtues guard our shore,
And grog derives its name.
In the modern Navy, falsifying reports,
records, and the like is often referred to as
gundecking. The origin of the term is somewhat
obscure, but at the risk of gundecking, here are
two plausible explanations for its modern usage.
The deck below the upper deck on British
sailing ships-of-war was called the gun deck,
although it carried no guns. This false deck may
have been constructed to deceive enemies as to
the amount of armament carried; thus, the gun
deck was a falsification.
A more plausible explanation may stem from
shortcuts taken by early midshipmen when doing
their navigation lessons. Each midshipman was
supposed to take sun lines at noon and star sights
at night and then go below to the gun deck, work
out their calculations, and show them to the