To the Bitter End
A mid-19th century nautical term for the end of a rope or chain, at the point where it is attached. In vessels with no windlass, cables are secured to “Bitts “(pairs of bollards fixed to the deck)
The expression “to the bitter end “comes from when the rope is let out all the way to the “Bitts “
Clear the Decks
Preparing for battles – anything in the way of the cannons / guns was lashed down or stowed away. Clearing the decks for action.
Over a Barrel
Someone being punished – bent or stretched beaten or lashed
Rub Salt into Wounds
Flogged (whipped sailors had salt rubbed into there wounds to make them more painful)
Getting down to the Nitty Gritty
This refers to visiting the deck of a slaving ship where “Nitty Gritty “was absorbent material, wood shavings sand sawdust etc mopped up the excrement – nice!
Sail Close to the Wind
To take chances or risks
Walk the plank
Blind folded and with hands tied behind back walking the plank and been left as shark food
Miscreant pirates were taken to small islands awaiting their fate. With no supplies, sometimes with a pistol to take their own life
Letters of Marque
License or commission (permission) to operate armed vessel to attack enemy shipping. Issued by the sovereign or its representative.