A cat-o-nine-tails is the ""cat"" in question. Here's a good companion book to Fletcher Pratt's The Navy, and Jeremiah Digges' Bowleg Bill for that growing nautical shelf. It's factual information, answering many of the hows and whys that occur when one reads of the old time sailing ships. There are detailed descriptions of a frigate of the 1812 period, how the officers and men lived on boaed ship, how the guns were manned and fired, details of routine, punishment, duels among the officers, all presented in interesting and readable manner. Stamped with Navy Department authority in the shape of a foreword by the Secretary of the Navy this book has a definite place among books of sea-going information.