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Old 16-02-2014, 10:32   #1
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Sailing trivia...

Anyone know when sailors first started putting tell tales on their jib and main?
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Old 10-04-2014, 03:00   #2
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Re: Sailing trivia...

Great question! Endeavour had them on her kite in the 30's (J Boat)
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Old 10-04-2014, 06:20   #3
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Re: Sailing trivia...

My guess would be that sailors were using tell-tales long before they were using words like "jib" and "main."
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Old 10-04-2014, 06:59   #4
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Re: Sailing trivia...

I've not seen anyone record first use in written English of 'tell-tale' associated with a sail.

Term was used for mechanical contrivances, such as a pointer placed near wheel that showed rudder angle.

Another term, dog vane, is recorded from 1769. A dog-vane, was a tell-tale 'formed of a piece of pack-thread about two feet in length' attached to the gunwale, to show direction of wind.

Fenimore Cooper uses 'tell tale' in 1838 in _Homeward bound_, but probably for a dog-vane, not a leech tell tale. Melville uses 'tell tale' in Moby Dick, but not for a sail tell tale.

Feel free to dig through https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=tell+tale&year_start=1800&year_end=2 000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B% 2Ctell%20tale%3B%2Cc0 First use of tell tale for trimming a fore-and-aft sail should be somewhere there.

Yachting magazine of 1964 definitely uses 'telltale' (one word, no hyphen) for sail tell-tale. So perhaps earlier name was different - tuft, yarn, ...

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