Tab nabs were the biscuits dished out in the mess rooms of ships in the merchant navy. If a helmsman was asked if the ship’s helm was hard a-starboard or hard a-port, he often would reply, “Hard a tab nab, sir.” Master Mariner J. R. de L. Inniss has spent a lifetime sailing the world’s oceans, first as a boy seaman on the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the mid 1950s and then working his way up through the ranks of the merchant navy. He saw the great days of British shipping, and was able to adapt to the great changes that transformed the merchant marine during his long career. There were long hours of very hard work, hardly any sleep and, at times, atrocious feeding; but the seafaring life also lived up to its reputation for excitement and adventure, with a good deal of fun and laughter along the way.
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