Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy

Jackspeak: Certain words or terminology that are commonly used in the Canadian Navy.

The Canadian Navy has it's own terminology and slang that is still evolving to this day. Much of the language used is still derived from the Royal Navy, although as Canadians many local customs and slang have come about.

This list was compiled over the years and was finally published in 2014 as "Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy (2015 edition)" In 2018, a completely revised 2nd edition will be released. The 2018 edition features expanded and revised definitions, many more example sentences, and over 400 new terms.

Index: 0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

"H" Terms

Hairy Bag
How a true sailor refers to another true sailor. eg. "You know Mary? Her brother is a hairy bag."
Half a Dog Watch
A description of a very short span of time. eg. "Could you give me a hand? It won't take more than half a dog watch."
Half-Breadth Plan
In shipbuilding, an elevation of the lines of a ship, viewed from above and divided lengthwise.
Halfway Party
A party celebrating the midpoint of a deployment.
Derived from the term "haul yard", traditionally it referred to lines used to raise a yard into place, or lines which held a yard in a particular orientation. Today, on a naval vessel, it refers to the lines used to hoist flags on a ship's mast.
Canvas sheets, slung from the deckhead in messdecks, in which seamen slept.
Hand Bomb
Complete a task using no mechanical advantage. Do it by hand.
Hand Over Fist
To climb steadily upwards, from the motion of a sailor climbing shrouds on a sailing ship.
Describes a task that is done using manual labour.
Very generic term for the entire Ship's Company. Usually used in pipes and announcements eg. "All hands muster on the Quarterdeck".
Hands to Clean Into Night Clothing
Pipe made every evening when the workday is officially complete. Allows the off watch personnel to switch to slightly relaxed dress.
Hands to Dinner... Starboard 30
The joke know by every sailor is how as soon as it is time to eat dinner and relax, the Officer of the Watch begins a series of dramatic maneuvers.
With a slow even motion, as when hauling on a line. eg. "Heave in handsomely".
Handy Billy
A loose block and tackle with a hook or tail on each end, which can be used wherever it is needed. Usually made up of one single and one double block.
Hanging Garden
Sleeping berths suspended from the overhead in a torpedo room in older submarines.
Hanging Judas
A tall, whip, or halyard hanging loose from aloft.
A harbour, or haven, is a place where ships may shelter from the weather or are stored. Harbours can be man-made or natural.
Harbour Training Ship
Usually a decommissioned warship that is still equipped with certain equipment that is now used for training. Also may have mess decks which have been converted into classrooms.
Harpoon Tattoo
A tattoo that is worn by a sailor that has served in the fishing fleet.
Hat in Your Hand
A reference to those individuals who are called up before the Executive Officer, or the Captain, on defaulters.
Hat Rack
A senior officer with a serious lack of intellectual resources.
A hatch is an opening between two compartments on adjoining decks.
Hatless Dance
A summary trial under the Code of Service discipline.
Haul Taut
To pull tight.
Hawse Pipe
The shaft or hole where the anchor cable runs out from the ship.
The hole through the bow where the anchor cable runs. When the anchor is home, the shank is up inside the hawsepipe.
Large rope used for mooring or towing a vessel. Derived from the olde English word "halter" which means "rope for the neck".
A large insulated container used for serving and storing food in field operations.
1. The forwardmost or uppermost portion of the ship.
2. The toilet or latrine of a vessel, which in sailing ships projected from the bows and therefore was located in the "head" of the vessel.
Head Rope
The alternate name for the number one berthing hawser at the bow of the ship. Unique in how it is sometimes used as a legendary method for covertly coming and going from the ship. eg. "Bloggins is missing. I wonder if he climbed down the head rope."
Head Sea
A sea where waves are directly opposing the motion of the ship.
Heart of Oak
The official march of the Royal Canadian Navy. It is also the official march of several Commonwealth navies including the Royal Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy. It was once the official march of the Royal Australian Navy, but has now been replaced by a new march. Originally written as an opera, it was composed by Dr. William Boyce. The words were written by the 18th-century English actor David Garrick. It was first performed on New Year's Eve, 1760.
A vessel's transient, vertical, up-and-down motion.
Heave In
The order to haul in on a line, wire, or anchor chain.
Heave To
To stop in the water.
Heaving Line
A light line that is coiled up and then heaved across to a jetty or another ship in an attempt to pass a line. It is weighted at one end using a special knot called a "Monkey's Fist", which is normally surrounding a lead weight.
Heaving Tackle
Heavy rope work for lifting.
Heavy Weather
Bad weather, especially high seas.
An anti-submarine weapon developed by the RN, and used by the RCN, during World War II. It worked by firing a number of number of mortar bombs in a pattern. The bombs exploded on contact and achieved a higher sinking rate against submarines.
A dramatic lean usually caused by sharp turns.
The helm is the position from which the ship is steered.
The crew member steering the ship.
Traditionally, rope was made of hemp, though the rope had to be protected by tarring, since hemp rope has a propensity for rotting under nautical usage. Hemp rope was phased out when manila fibre rope, which does not require tarring, became available.
High frequency. A method of long-range radio broadcast.
A knot used to tie a rope or line to a fixed object. Also see bend.
Her Majesty's Canadian Ship. Designates a commissioned warship in the service of Canada.
Heads of Department. eg. "The HODs meeting is at 1600". Another related term is "HODs and CHODs" meaning that the "Chiefs of Department" are also included.
Hog Yoke
An olde British Navy slang for a sextant.
When the peak of a wave is amidships, causing the hull to bend so the ends of the keel are lower than the middle. The opposite of sagging.
1. A mechanism for delivering ammunition to a gun.
2. A group of signal flags hauled up a ship's mast via halyards.
Hold Fast
When these words are tattooed across the knuckles it is believed that it would keep the wearer from falling overboard or dropping a line.
Hold Fire
An emergency fire control order used to stop firing on a designated target.
A gap or space; an area missed when painting the ship.
A chunk of sandstone used to scrub decks. The name comes from both the kneeling position sailors adopt to scrub the deck (reminiscent of genuflection for prayer), and the stone itself (which resembled a Bible in shape and size).
Home Port
The port at which a vessel is based.
Homeward Bounders
1. A party on the last evening before a ship returns to home port from a lengthy deployment. There is usually plenty of joviality and hi-jinks.
2. The term used by stokers for the extra engine revolutions of speed they surreptitiously apply when on the last leg home of a long deployment.
The ship's anchor. eg. "We pulled into the bay and dropped the hook for the night."
Fishing vessel.
Leading Seaman. Why? The traditional rank badge for a Leading Seaman was an anchor, and another word to describe an anchor was "Hook".
A sound signal which uses electricity or compressed air to vibrate a disc diaphragm.
A traditional sailors jig.
Horny Horse
Slang for the Saskatoon Naval Reserve Division HMCS UNICORN.
Horse Latitudes
An area of variable and fickle winds in the region of the doldrums. Sailing ships which were becalmed here often had to throw live cargo such as livestock over the side to conserve water. The bloated carcasses sometimes floated for quite some time, and were often seen by other ships.
Hot Bunking
Sharing of beds with your "oppo" due to a lack of living space aboard a ship. When one person is on watch, the other is in the rack. When the watch changes, they switch.
Hot Wash-Up
A debriefing held immediately after an exercise has ended.
Hotel Load
The base amount of electricity needed to work the ship.
A pouch containing needles and thread.
An odd version of bingo played with ninety-nine numbers.
A vessel in use but condemmed for sea service.
The shell and framework of the ship.
Of a vessel when only its upper parts are visible over the horizon.
To carry or lift a load.
Hungry Hundred
Term to describe a mass of individuals impatiently waiting to eat. The term was originally used in the 1890s to describe the first group of Royal Navy Reserve officers who were paid very little.
Hurry Up and Wait
A typical situation where something is rushed into by personnel, but some form of delay forces them to wait.
A boat with wing-like foils mounted on struts below the hull, lifting the hull entirely out of the water at speed and allowing water resistance to be greatly reduced. Example: HMCS Bras D'or
A condition in which the body core temperature drops to a dangerous level.

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Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy
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