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Jump Ship & Umberto Eco

Posted by Lewis on August 26, 2004

In Reply to: Jump Ship posted by Roland Collins on August 26, 2004

: Recently * Danger Kitty * on July 15, 2004 asked for the exact meaning of "jump ship".

: It means to to abandon one's post and desert the ship.

: Sailors when joining a ship are required to "sign on" for the duration of the voyage. They are "bound" to the ship and ordinarily cannot leave it until the voyage ends or the ship returns to home port.

: This is to ensure the safety of a ship at sea and prevent its safety being jeopardized by irresponsible crew. There is a "statute of limitations" which has a legal binding for I believe 2 years, after which a sailor must be granted leave if requested. This was certainly the case during my times of "signing on".

: In ancient times a sailor wishing to leave without authorization would jump over the side when near to land (hopefully unnoticed) and swim for it, hence the expression to jump ship, meaning to abandon your post and desert the ship.

Lewis the Lubber replied in the same vein - pointing out that it involved 'swimming for it' rather than simply abandoning the post. my intention was to indicate that there was a destination to make for.

Did anybody else find the dilemma of the character in the Umberto Eco novel (forgotten nautical title - "Island of the day before" or something?) a bit perplexing? I couldn't understand how a person with so many resources to fail to work out how to get to land. I must say it lays unfinished in my dormant book pile.
Could anybody clue me in as to why I should bother trying to finish it.