I found this in j.f.cooper, 'red rover', used thus: ' "... a man that passed more of his time on the water than on dry ground, though as he was nothing more than a fisherman, he generally kept the land aboard, which is after all, little better than living on it altogether." ' (this edition Library of America, 1986' 1990' 1991' with 'the pilot'. p.754. 'red rover' first pub'd 1828.) thanks for your service! I never thought i'd find this weird expression, though i suppose context, etc. are telling, still i wanted more. And i got it. Thanks.