to swim

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An old nautical verb used largely by seamen up to at least the start of the 17th century to describe the progress of a ship through the water. A ship would ‘swimme well’, or ‘swimme ill’, according to its speed under sail. Matthew Baker, who drew the designs for Queen Elizabeth I's warships, drew the underwater part of his ships in the form of a great fish to indicate that they would swim well under sail.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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