Seafaring Terms: Background information when reading The Cat's Table

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The Cat's Table

A Novel

By Michael Ondaatje

The Cat's Table
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2011,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2012,
    288 pages.

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Seafaring Terms

While the terms used on a ship sound familiar to me, I often don't really know what they mean. Many people recognize that a cabin is a room, and a porthole is a window, but what exactly is a purser, and which direction is the stern? If you're not sure, the definitions of the seafaring expressions below - all used in The Cat's Table - might help you navigate the book.

  • officers' mess: The room where the officers eat.

  • purser: An officer who handles financial accounts and keeps money and valuables for the passengers.

  • pilot: Someone who is brought on to help the ship safely navigate difficult passages, often while leaving or entering a harbor. While on an airplane the pilot is likely the Captain, on a ship he almost never is. The pilot is usually transported to the ship by a small or tug boat and leaves once the vessel has passed through the assigned area.

  • lido deck: The section of the ship that contains an outdoor pool and the accompanying recreational areas. The term lido is ...

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