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    Re: Fouled anchors; was "Historical Navigation books online"
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2006 Oct 04, 13:27 -0700

    If you google the phrase "fouled anchor", you will find numerous web
    pages that discuss the origin of the symbol. These provide that
    "timeline" that you say you're already familiar with tracing it back to
    at least 1588. But as you say, why would anyone use such a symbol to
    represent maritime skill?
    When I look at the "fouled anchor" symbol, it reminds me of the Staff
    of Asclepius or the Caduceus, symbols with a snake or two wrapped
    around a staff that have become signs of medical knowledge. Is the rope
    around the anchor the mariner's equivalent of those tamed serpents? The
    Caduceus has two snakes and a crossbar of wings at the top, which
    actually does look something like the cross-beam in an old anchor. This
    symbol was associated with Hermes, who was himself associated with
    wealth and commerce, so a nautical version would make good sense for
    sea-going merchants and traders. Its adoption by navies would then be
    accidental (1588, Effingham, and all that).
    Of course, sometimes a rope is just a rope, and the original meaning of
    the fouled anchor may be lost to time. It could just as easily be
    something as simple as an ironic "good luck charm", along the lines of
    "break a leg" in theater.
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