Foul Anchor Origin of the name  CUTTY SARK

According to an ancient Scottish legend, later turned into verse by Robert Burns (1759-1796, also the author of Auld Lang Syne and the quote about "the best laid schemes of mice and men"), a farmer named Tam O'Shanter was riding his gray mare home one stormy night when, as lightning blazed he saw a bevy of witches dancing in a churchyard.

Most were old and ugly but one was young, lovely and graceful and dressed provocatively in a cutty sark (Scottish dialect for short chemise). Tam reined in his mare and paused to watch the beautiful witch as she danced. Overcome with admiration he cried out: "Well done, Cutty Sark!".

Instantly the lightning ceased and the churchyard was blotted out by darkness. Tam, terrified, spurred his horse and raced homeward with the witches in close pursuit.

For a moment it appeared that he was done for; the nimble witch came close enough to seize his horse by the tail. But the horse pulled free leaving its tail in the witch's hand and Tam rode to safety across the bridge that spanned the river Doon; the witches, it seems, could not cross water.

No one knows precisely what aspect of this tale prompted Jock Willis, a Scotsman and one of the leading shippers of 19th century London, to choose the name Cutty Sark for the tea clipper he commissioned in 1869 but the figurehead was (and still is) that of the witch with an outstretched left arm clutching a remnant of the horse's tail.


  Thar She Blows!

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