27 January 2011

splice the mainbrace!


So the weather is pretty awful right now... but I'm looking on the bright side of park life, and finding joy in the (snow+rain+sleet = sneat) downfall.  There are a lot of great tactics to staying warm in these damp and chilly bouts of severe weather; the woolies and wellies combo, the quadruplicate layer system (longs johns, wicking layer, fleece layer, shell) which I often observe at the park, the hyrdroplane: sliding as quickly as possible downhill to your destination over slightly frozen rain -  this tactic is courtesy of my friend Jen who braves the steep Cogswell Street hill everyday on foot.  And my personal favourite: the whisky nip.  

Now don't get me wrong, I am not advocating public consumption of spirits, but in my park research, I have learned a fantastic phrase reserved for navy seamen, "SPLICE THE MAINBRACE!" which means an extra rum ration for you, the crew.

Point Pleasant Park, as pictured above with cannons posed, has an involved military history, and battalions were built on the park's perimeter to function as look-outs and armaments against possible invading ships.  The Royal Navy (which later became the Canadian Navy) originally issued the command to "splice" when a brace, a ship's line, was shot or burned through by a gunner's shot (see posts below for my revelation about 12 and 24 pounders!).  The brace carried a great deal of tension and weight, so a simple knot or short splice would not repair the line.  A long splice is a difficult task and required skilled seamen to weave the line quickly, especially if the ship was under fire.  The reward for a successful mainbrace splice was an extra ration of rum for the dextrous sailors, hence "SPLICE THE MAINBRACE" became a call to celebration.

Jacob Whitaker photostream

According to wikipedia, "Permission to issue the order to splice the mainbrace is heavily restricted - the Royal Navy allows only the Queen or a member of the Royal Family or the Admiralty Board to do so; the Canadian Navy permits the Queen, the Governor General of Canada or the Chief of the Defence Staff to issue it."  

After the queen's visit to Halifax and the Harbourfront this past June, she issued the following statement:

So fellow park wanderers and appreciators, let us celebrate Point Pleasant Park's military history and (once you have returned to the safe confines of your home and prevailed over the sneat) raise your glass and warm your belly in these cold and dreary days.  Cheers.

No comments:

Post a Comment