Dinghy

The boat is snug in her shed for the winter and before I turn my attention to other things let me put up one more post regarding boating.

I have pointed out in numerous places on this site that I am not a writer. More to the point of this post, I am not a grammarian, and I recognize that the rules may be more relaxed in the world of web-logs. I also recognize that slang, jargon, and even idioms change how we use words in English over time. However, there are some cases where messing about with tense, plurals, and using a noun as a verb makes me uncomfortable. One example has to do with the past tense of the word “service”.

When I was in grade school, I was taught that while it is correct to say that a bull has serviced a cow, a profession like the law or accounting, provides a service, or serves clients. They do not service their clients—at least one would not like to think they do.

An alternative, albeit archaic, meaning and usage for the word service has to do with traditional rigging on a ship. The “service” is a final wrap of marline wound, under tension, around a tape or cloth wrap (called parceling) to protect standing rigging. The service is painted with tar, blacking, or nylon slush to waterproof it. The service is applied using a serving board, serving mallet, or, in the case of short sections, a netting needle. The process is called serving, one serves a line, or applies service, but the rigging is not “serviced”.

Now that I have possibly provoked the grammar police, let me make one other observation: dinghy is not a verb.

One may row ashore, motor ashore, scull ashore, pole ashore, paddle ashore, even swim ashore, but one does not dinghy ashore—ever. Enough said.

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