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What are "mid-ship hoops"?

 
 
Reply Sun 10 Mar, 2013 08:58 pm
The boats looked even more flimsy than they were with the canvas not pulled over the mid-ship hoops as protection against the sun. Only the skeletal hoops themselves and the grace of the crafts conveyed a feeling of structure.

What are "mid-ship hoops"? Something like skeleton above the boat that forms circles to hold up the canvas?
What does "grace" mean here? Just the basic meaning of "elegance and beauty "?
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Reply Sun 10 Mar, 2013 09:59 pm
Midships (that's the proper term) simply means in the middle--not at the front, not at the back, but in the middle.

Now, this is going to take two images because they just don't make river boats like that any more. This is an image of a river boat with a canopy:

http://p2.la-img.com/27/33746/13713092_1_x.jpg

But that canopy is not supported by hoops. The hoops referred to look the ones in this image of a 19th century wagon:

http://www.hansenwheel.com/store/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/p/r/prairie_schooner.jpg

So, imagine that boat, with a canopy supported by hoops like this.
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Reply Sun 10 Mar, 2013 10:13 pm
If this is Burmese Days again, Orwell is showing that he's not much of a nautical person. There is a term, midship, but it is not commonly used, and almost certainly not by sailors. I didn't find it with a hyphen, but even if you did, that's not what a sailor would say. There is a noun, midships, meaning the middle of a boat or ship; and there is an adverb, amidships, meaning the same thing. Midships can also be used as an adjective. but it is uncommon.

Midships as a noun:

The waisters are the unskilled crewmen who congregate in the midships, ready to haul on a rope or to push the capstan bars, as they're ordered.

Amidships as an adverb:

They're called waisters because waist is another term for the area of the deck located amidships.
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