in the early days who ordered all hands to be
aboard by sunset.
Sailors once covered their clothes with tar or
oil to make them waterproof; hence, the nickname
often applied to mariners.
Tattoo is derived from the old clutch term
taptoe, meaning the time to close the taps
or taverns. At the appointed hours, drummers
marched from post to post in the town, beating
their drums. First post was the signal given
when they had taken their place and were ready
to commence their rounds (this signal survives in
the Navy as first call), while last post was
sounded when they had reached the end of their
rounds (this signal survives as our present
tattoo). The first call is sounded 10 minutes
before taps; tattoo, 5 minutes before
taps. Taps is the signal for lights out.
Today tonnage refers to a ships displacement
in the water or the gross pounds of cargo it is
capable of carrying. In the days of sail, tonnage
was spelled tunnage and referred to the number
of tuns a ship could carry. A tun was a
barrel normally used for transporting wine, and
tunnage specified the number of barrels that
would fit into the ships hold.