Your nautical factoid of the day (or as Jon Stewart would say "Your moment of Zen") relates to the term MAYDAY.

Never say MAYDAY on the radio unless you are in serious danger but I imagine it's OK to post as the title to a blog entry. Presumably if I'm updating this blog, I'm doing juuuust fine and if you are reading this at your computer you aren't in a position to pull me out of the frigid waters up here anyway.

Carol and I were discussing the French origins of the term. It is popularly stated on the interwebs that the English term MAYDAY comes from the French phrase for help me "M'aidez".

My husband and native Francophone Carol said that if you needed help, you would yell "aidez-moi" not "m'aidez". "M'aidez" just doesn't sound right.

The Canadian Amateur Radio study materials state that the English phrase is taken from the longer French phrase for "Come help me!" which is "Venez m'aider!" and thus shortened and anglicized into MAYDAY.

I know you were wondering. I learned this while studying for my HAM test today.



  1. Have you learned "PANPAN" yet? Ive always wondered why its said twice....Good luck on you and Tifou's travels!!!

  2. how about "port and starboard"? Why not just right and left?

  3. I totally freaked out when I saw MAYDAY on your Twitter feed.

  4. @Charity - good question and no idea, thanks!
    @Valerie - you can call it right, left, forward, bathroom, kitchen, whatever you want.
    @Ryan - I *promise* that if we are ever in an emergency that we have better means of reaching out for help than this blog :D