to haze

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To make life on board a ship as uncomfortable as possible for the crew by keeping them hard at work at all hours of the day and night, often unnecessarily so. It used to be the practice of some masters and ‘bucko’ mates, particularly in the big sail trading ships and barques of the 19th century, to try to assert their authority by hazing their crew unmercifully, even to the extent of inventing work to deprive the watch below of the legitimate hours of rest. Richard Henry Dana, in his Two Years Before the Mast, describes how Captain Thompson used to haze the crew by turning out the watch below, rain or fine. He then made them stand round the deck far enough apart to be unable to speak to each other, and pick oakum.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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