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Good morning to Captain and crew alike and welcome to the Admiralty Docket. Today, our subject is nautical terms. Test your knowledge. Here are some of our favorite and their definitions:

Knot: 1.A knot is a method of fastening or securing rope by tying, ie – “If you can’t tie a knot….tie a lot.”; 2. a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour, approximately 1.151 mph.

Nautical Mile: a unit of length that is about one minute of arc of latitude measured along any meridian, or about one minute of arc of longitude at the equator (both at sea level). By international agreement it has been set at 1,852 meters exactly (about 6,076 feet).

Marine League: No…this is not a sports term. A marine league is a measure of distance equal to 1/20th of a degree of latitude, or three geographical miles.

Barratry: A fraudulent act by master or crew designed to prejudice the ship’s owner or insurers.

Charterparty: A charterparty is a contract under which a ship is leased for a period of time or for a number of voyages.

Allision: An incident in which a moving vessel strikes a fixed object.

Jettison: To throw cargo or equipment overboard in order to lighten the ship in a time of distress. The jettisoned cargo or equipment then becomes “Jetsam”.

Flotsam: If the jettisoned cargo or equipment floats, it becomes “flotsam”, which is any part of a vessel or its cargo or equipment floating on the ocean’s surface, usually after a casualty.

Lagan: If the jettisoned cargo or equipment sinks and can be reclaimed, it is referred to as “Lagan”.

Bunkers: Fuel taken aboard a ship for its own consumption, as opposed to fuel loaded as cargo.

Demurrage: A fixed sum paid for delay or holdover in maritime contracts such as charter parties or other shipping contracts.

Good Bar-b-Que: Good bar-b-que is the same on the water as it is on land – you know it when you taste it. 

More next week on the Admiralty Docket. Until then, remember that your rights and responsibilities may change as you approach the shore, and may God Almighty grant you pleasant sailing.


The attorneys at Cooper and Bilbrey, P.C. cover the waterfront in the area of admiralty and maritime law. If you are in need of a maritime lawyer in Charleston or in any other part of South Carolina, the law firm of Cooper and Bilbrey, P.C. has over 30 years of experience assisting those in South Carolina and other locations in the Southeast with admiralty and maritime law related issues. Please call or email us at any time for a free, confidential consultation.