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You may have seen that Russell Crowe film, Master and Commander, Now there’s a battle scene in it, (pp) where one of the old salts just prior to boarding the enemy ship puts his knuckles out in front of him and the young midshipmen looking on is greatly encouraged by what he reads. Tattooed across the old sea dog's fingers are the words "hold fast."

Now as you may know, sailors by and large are a superstitious bunch and they believed that having this tattoo encouraged their hands never to let go, which was a great help if holding onto the rope lines at the top of a sail during a howling storm, as letting go resulted in certain death.

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