Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Shiver Me Timbers



Darev brought up the term “Shiver Me Timbers” stating that he doubted it was actually in the pirate vernacular. Actually it was more than likely a pretty common term in the days of the wooden sailing ships . From what I’ve read the term does have a unique history and it is a term of exclamation of surprise, disbelief, fear or annoyance.

There are three things that will make the timbers on a boat shiver, the first being a cannon ball, the second is when the boat is lifted in heavy seas and slammed down into the trough of a wave making the whole boat feel like it is coming apart.

The third reason for shiver is one that I’ve personally experienced and that has to do with frequency and resonance. Each object has a resonant frequency just like when you run a finger over a wine glass rim the glass should ring. If you’ve split a good hard wood you will often hear the wood ring. Tesla did a lot of studying about how to shake buildings apart by finding their resonate frequency.

Sailboats are no different. There is a certain speed where the friction of the water passing the keel makes the entire craft resonate like sympathetic strings on a lute. While you are in the craft it isn’t all that musical. It’s more like driving over the wake-up strips on the side of the road. It is a loud bass hum that instills a sense of fear that eventually your boat will just explode from the vibration.

Shivering timbers were not taken lightly by persons at sea. It was a healthy fear. There was a lot to fear while at sea. There were all sorts of Leviathans, giant squid, sirens, pirates, privateers, warships, storms and St Elmo’s fire. We tend to forget the lore of the sea when we see the large freighters lumbering up and down the Columbia to and from the sea.

5 Comments:

Blogger darev2005 said...

Well! I stand (or rather, sit) corrected. That's exactly why I keep coming back here. I learn something new every day. And I don't even mind being shown I'm wrong. I don't think I would like to experience that water resonance thing for myself. Sounds like a frightening experience. In fact, when it comes to being on the water, I'll just skip all of the timber shivering altogether. Sounds like a dicey deal all the way around.

6:37 AM  
Blogger g said...

i like the idea of Motorhead resonance.

No rockband will ever be louder.

or resonating.

7:32 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev, sometimes it is a pleasant hum.

g, I'll have to disagree. Zep was pretty loud and then there was the group that called themselves "Louder than Led Zeppelin, but I still think the loud factor goes to the MC5 or Blue Cheer. Let's not forget Spinal Tap who had amps that had volume dials that went to 11.

5:33 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

And Spinal Tap started a real phenom with that 11 thing, too. After the movie came out Eddie Van Halen ordered new amps that went to 11. Finally they started making ones that went to 20 and it's the new industry standard. Craziness. Apparently Motorhead, AC/DC and the Rolling Stones jointly hold the loudness record at this point, with unverified bands making bigger claims. I'm way too old for stuff that loud anymore.

8:20 AM  
Blogger g said...

The Who was in the the guiness for a long time if memory serves me right. somewhere along the way back in the 80's when i first got hooked on motorhead, i remember there being a new sheriff in town.

7:40 PM  

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