piping the side

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The ceremonial call made on a boatswain's pipe when distinguished visitors arrive on board a Royal Navy warship. With its long-drawn-out low, high, and low notes, the call dates from the days when visiting officers at sea were hoisted in and out of a ship in a boatswain's chair at the end of a yardarm whip. The actual notes were the orders by which the men manning the whip knew when to hoist and lower.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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