From Typee by Herman Melville > Chapter 1


The old ship herself longs to look out upon the land from her hawse-holes once more, and Jack Lewis said right the other day when the captain found fault with his steering.

'Why d'ye see, Captain Vangs,' says bold Jack, 'I'm as good a helmsman as ever put hand to spoke; but none of us can steer the old lady now. We can't keep her full and bye, sir; watch her ever so close, she will fall off and then, sir, when I put the helm down so gently, and try like to coax her to the work, she won't take it kindly, but will fall round off again; and it's all because she knows the land is under the lee, sir, and she won't go any more to windward.' Aye, and why should she, Jack? didn't every one of her stout timbers grow on shore, and hasn't she sensibilities; as well as we?

What does '' bye '' mean? M-W's only definition is : the position of a participant in a tournament who advances to the next round without playing???

Help, please!![:^)]
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Comments  (Page 2) 

Bye is an old English spelling of by, over the years a lot of old English words have been changed.

Full n Bye means, " Sailing by the wind, not by compass or mark"

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?

Full and by Sailing into the wind (by), but not as close-hauled as might be possible, so as to make sure the sails are kept full. This provides a margin for error to avoid being taken aback (a serious risk for square-rigged vessels) in a tricky sea. Figuratively it implies getting on with the job but in a steady, relaxed way, without undue urgency or strain.


"Full and bye" is a constructed phrase. It refers to trimming the sails FULL (drawing optimally) and setting the course BY maintaining that condition.

In practice this is approximately a beam reach on fore-and-aft rigs, closer to running free on square rigs, but it will vary according to what particular sails are carried, as well as the trim of the vessel and sea state. The intent in any case is to set course according to sailing conditions rather than destination.