how many tall ships, think ye, now, have I seen laid aboard?

chong lee

Senior Member
The quote is from the book "Treasure Island".

Dictionary says :
lay aboard: (formerly) to move alongside a warship to board it (what I understood here is it means "to accompany a warship")

Silver is trying to prove how tough things he have seen.

Is that meaning right for "lay aboard"?
I do not understand why to see tall ships is important.


"Why, how many tall ships, think ye, now, have I seen laid aboard?"
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Boarding a warship doesn't mean seeing it: it means sailors (and perhaps marines) literally climbing from their own ship to the other ship to fight that ship's crew and capture the vessel. As you can imagine, close-quarters fighting among these men could be brutal.

    On a related subject from Wikipedia: Quatrefoil
    In the U.S. Marine Corps, quatrefoil refers to a four-pointed decoration on the top of a warrant or commissioned Marine officer's dress and service caps (see peaked caps, also known in the Marines as "barracks covers"). According to tradition, the design was first used with Marine officers on sailing ships so that Marine sharpshooters in the rigging did not shoot their own officers on the deck during close-quarters gun battles (as when crews of opposing ships attempted to board each other's ship). An official part of U.S. Marine Corps officer uniforms since 1859, the quatrefoil was said initially to have been crossed pieces of rope sewed into officers' caps before becoming officially mandated as a uniform item.
    < Previous | Next >