A stay suggests that it is a line that supports a mast but with so many masts onboard there is no such thing as a stay. They all have individual names like forestay, backstay etc. but for every mast on the boat. A mast would have at least two stays so, in nautical terms, there's no such thing as a mainstay either. However, this is where the great British use of irony could come in. As there is no mainstay onboard, a person who is looked up to could be called a mainstay.
By SailingQuiz October 2019 Category: Nautical Saying
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Definition of the nautical phrase "Mainstay".