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Sir William Hargood

Nautical Term: Weather-deck

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I have a question regarding the technically correct definition of the Nautical Term: Weather-deck.

I recently used the term in online chat as I understood it was and received a degree of disagreement. I had an even-tempered discussion with a player that didn’t exceed 4 replies aside but which strangely garnered some annoyed responses from others.

Back to the point: Subsequent online searches brought variable results. Understanding that common dictionaries may not cater for very specific maritime glossary definitions. I therefore, both light-heartedly and sincerely, would like to know the true meaning, accepting that I may have been wrong:

Decades of reading maritime fiction and non-fiction had formed my understanding that the Weather-deck is the uppermost continuous deck exposed to the elements or even partially so. Therefore, the whole upper deck which has an exposed waist and is covered by the Quarterdeck and the Foc’sle. Alternatively, the lowest continuous deck exposed to the elements.

The above definition is supported by certain online dictionaries; however, others simply refer to any deck exposed to the elements. In my opinion this sounds a tad broad spectrum and more akin to a landlubber’s general interpretation.

Can anyone offer more to this quest please.

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3 minutes ago, Sir William Hargood said:

Can anyone offer more to this quest please.

As long as I know, the term weatherdeck applies to all decks exposed to the weather and not protected by roofs and without any other structure on it.

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1 minute ago, The Red Duke said:

Are there any other terms used to define the very same "part" of the ship other than weather-deck ?

I think this would be a conglomeration of names of ship-parts/decks. Or in other words the modern-day bridge-wing is belonging to weather-deck as the forecastle does; they are both exposed and give no shelter.In practice you prohibit entering the wheater-deck due to stormy weather for security-reasons as an exmaple.

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1 hour ago, The Red Duke said:

Are there any other terms used to define the very same "part" of the ship other than weather-deck ?

I'd say @Sir William Hargood is correct. Quarterdeck and Forecastle, with gangways between them, but this doesn't really help you. Some ships (eg Snow, iirc) only mount guns on the quarterdeck, but most have guns on the forecastle as well and in the game these are both considered to be the same deck.

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2 hours ago, The Red Duke said:

Are there any other terms used to define the very same "part" of the ship other than weather-deck ?

Spar deck. But that's anachronistic for ships that don't have a continuous spar deck (Constitution) and might have developed as a term later still (don't remember).

'Topsides', for a generic term.

 

Quote

Decades of reading maritime fiction and non-fiction had formed my understanding that the Weather-deck is the uppermost continuous deck exposed to the elements or even partially so. Therefore, the whole upper deck which has an exposed waist and is covered by the Quarterdeck and the Foc’sle. Alternatively, the lowest continuous deck exposed to the elements.

According to my earlier impressions and this dictionary, 'weather deck' is an anachronistic term for Naval Action (first recorded mid-1800s).

I use the term--somewhat sloppily--to refer to the quarterdeck and forecastle areas. It appears that on the forums we have a greater need to refer to a ship's topsides in a pithy manner than they did back in the day.

Note that by the 1840s it makes a lot more sense to refer to a singular weather deck because most ships (other than traditional ships of the line) became flush-decked with continuous bulwarks and no open waist.

No one is in need of another term to describe the armed deck that is mostly covered by the quarterdeck and forecastle. That's the gundeck or the upper deck in British service. But in the 1840s when that deck is covered entirely, the weather deck becomes the topsides. Maybe the weather deck term could be applied formulaicly to steamships.

Most NA vessels actually have their topsides divided into separate decks (quarterdeck, waist gangways, forecastle and sometimes poop). Even if all these 'decks' appear as the same run of even planking, contemporary seamen thought of them as separate. And they are separate, from the point of view of shipboard organization and social convention.

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Captain Hargood. Ahoy! :)

I do recall this discussion and found it rather refreshing to disagree amicably with someone on the internet, very rare. 

I think I understand the confusion here.  The deck you're referring to is the main deck or upper deck. The continuous beams of wood forming the uppermost deck. The weather deck is not a deck in the strictest sense, it is merely a term used to define the open air section of the ship. The upper deck would run underneath the forecastle and quarter deck, leaving the waist exposed to the elements. Leaving the waist, quarter deck, forecastle and (where applicable) the poop deck to form what would be referred to as the weather deck. It is common and correct for multiple ship sections to fall under umbrella terms. The bowsprit for instance would be referred to as just that, despite the fact it may include the bowsprit spar and a jib boom. Masts are referred to as main, fore and mizzen, despite the fact they were made up of various sections that all had individual names.

I live very close to a tallship crew in my city and have had my terms and definitions corrected over many discussions both in bars and aboard their ship.

Edited by Morgan McKinnon
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Sorry for the double post.

Notice here, the weather deck is not a defined deck. It is probably more of a colloquial term and used to describe a combination of exposed decks.

sail-decks.gif

Edited by Morgan McKinnon

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On a contemporary frigate in British service, the deck with the guns on it is the 'Upper Deck', while the cramped deck below where the crew sleep is called the Gundeck, even though it is often under the waterline and can carry no guns.

Silly, but true.

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Thanks Morgan and Maturin for your inputs:

I knew I had seen a visual reference somewhere in my life, which I found, attached hereto, an image of the Mary Rose. Unfortunately no further clarity could be found from the source or whether the term was even contemporary to the period or not. I'll see if the museum staff can offer any further light...

59380b800d63c_MaryRoseWeatherDeck.jpg.21d1595e23699d3b1f18cccdda5a74a2.jpg

 

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Believe the term is modern - steel ships (especially passenger) usually have a weather deck or two. Usually it's wood (teak), as steel becomes rather slippery when wet.

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I always thought the Weather Deck as being the exposed portion between the Quarter Deck and the Forecastle in order to avoid confusion when ordering crew members about the ship.

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On 25/06/2017 at 5:20 PM, Captiva said:

I always thought the Weather Deck as being the exposed portion between the Quarter Deck and the Forecastle in order to avoid confusion when ordering crew members about the ship.

This is nearly the definition I have as well. Some dictionaries are clear on this. "The Weather-deck is the uppermost continuous deck exposed to the elements". Some diagrams support this definition which are of early 20th century steel windjammers. Other dictionaries define it as any deck exposed to the elements and therefore as such could be more than one on a ship. I have my reservations about the latter. I somehow didn't think that the quarterdeck and poop decks are known as weather-decks. Topsides sure.

Perhaps it is a word that has changed in meaning over the course of decades. Similar to how "fortuitous" has changed in English language usage.

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