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Sailing Terms 1

Sailing Terms 1



Abaft - In or Behind the stern of a sailing vessel.

Abeam - At right angles to the keel.

Aboard - On the boat or at the side of the boat. 

Above Deck - On the deck (not over it). 

Abreast - Side by side.

Adrift -  Floating without steering or mooring.

Aft - Close to the stern of a vessel.

Aground - On a shore, reef, or the bottom of a body of water. There are three kinds of sailors: those who have run aground, those who are about to, and the ones that lie about it.

Ahead - In a forward direction.

Aids To Navigation - Artificial objects to supplement natural landmarks indicating safe and unsafe waters.

Alee - On the side of a ship that is sheltered from the wind or opposite of windward.

AloftAt or toward the upper rigging. 

American Boat and Yacht CouncilThe American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) sets safety, construction, and maintenance standards for the yacht building industry. They have created and revised standards designed to improve the safety and reliability of yacht systems. All reputable manufacturers (including Catalina Yachts) conform to the standards set by the ABYC.

Amidships - In the center of the boat.

Anchorage - A place designated for vessels to anchor.

Astern - Behind a vessel.

AthwartshipsAcross a ship from side to side; rowboat seats are generally athwartships.

Aweigh - When an anchor is being raised, the point at which the anchor clears the bottom.

Avast- Command meaning "stop what you're doing".

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Backstay - A wire support for the mast, usually running from the stern to the head of the mast.

Baggywrinkle - Clumps of frayed rope that protect the sails from chafing against the lines.

Bale - A fitting on the end of a spar, such as the boom, to which a line may be led, or the act of throwing water outside the boat.

Ballast  - Usually metal, placed low in a boat to provide stability.

Barber Hauler - A line attached to the jib or jib sheet, used to adjust the angle of sheeting by pulling the sheet toward the centerline of the boat.

Batten Down - A nautical expression meaning, literally, to seal the hatches against the arrival of a storm.

BattensOne of several flexible strips of wood or plastic placed in pockets at the outer edge of a sail to keep it flat.

Beam - The greatest width of the boat.

Bearing - The direction to an object expressed either as a true bearing as shown on the chart, or as a bearing relative to the heading of the boat.

Becket - A becket is often fitted to a block at the opposite end from the shackle. The becket is a fitting on the block onto which a line can be attached, as in forming a tackle.

Belay - To temporarily secure a line to a cleat, or as a command "disregard the last order".

Below - Beneath the deck.

Bight - A curved section or slack part between the two ends of a rope.

Bilge - A rounding of the hull along the length of the boat where the bottom meets the side.

Bilgeboards - Are on either side of the centerline at the bilges and are similar to centerboards, and used to prevent lee way..

Binnacle  - A support for the compass, raising it to a convenient position.

Bitter End - The last part of a rope or chain.  The inboard end of the anchor rode.

Board boat - A small boat, usually mono rig. May have a shallow cockpit well. Typically has almost no freeboard.

Boat - A fairly indefinite term. A waterborne vehicle smaller than a ship.  One definition is a small craft carried aboard a ship. A submarine.

Boat Hook - A short shaft with a fitting at one end shaped to facilitate use in putting a line over a piling, recovering an object dropped overboard, or in pushing or fending off.

Bobstay - Wire Stay underneath the bowsprit; helps to counteract the upward pull exerted by the forestay.

Bolt Rope - A piece of cordage run through either the luff or the foot of a sail. It is fed into a gate on a spar to attach the sail to the spar.

Boom - Free swinging spar attached to the foot of the sail with forward end pivoting on the mast.

Boom Crutch - Support for the boom, holding it up and out of the way when the boat is anchored or moored. Unlike a gallows frame, a crutch is stowed when boat is sailing.

Boom Vang  - A system used to hold the boom down, particularly when the boat is sailing downwind, so that the mainsail area facing the wind is kept to a maximum.  Frequently extends from the boom to a location near the base of the mast. Usually tackle or lever-operated. Its mechanical advantage is typically expressed as a ratio of the force applied to the load vs. the force applied by the user to the control line. 10:1 for example means that for every pound the user applies to the control line, the tackle applies 10 pounds to the boom.

Boomkin (bumpkin) - Short spar extending aft from the transom. Used to anchor the backstay or the sheets from the mizzen on a yawl or ketch.

Boot Top - A painted stripe that indicates the waterline.

Bow - The forward part of a boat.

Bowline - Knot used to form a temporary loop in a line.

Bow Line - A line used for docking on the bow, also known as the painter.

Bowsprit - A short spar extending forward from the bow. Normally used to anchor the forestay.

Brale - Partially furling sails to lessen wind resistance or partially unfurling sails to make them ready for instant use.  On a square sail this is accomplished with leech and clew lines.  See "Scandalize"

Bridge - The location from which a vessel is steered and its speed controlled. "Control Station" or "Cockpit" is really a more appropriate term for small craft.

Bridge Deck - The transverse partition between the cockpit and the cabin.

Bridle - A short length of wire with a line attached at the midpoint. A bridle is used to distribute the load of the attached line. Often used as boom travelers and for spinnaker down hauls.

Brightwork - Varnished woodwork and/or polished metal.

Broach - When a sailboat loses control of its direction and takes a sudden sharp turn to weather, often heeling heavily and in smaller boats sometimes leading to a capsize. A broach occurs when the rudder can not overcome the boats tendency to round up into the wind under too much sail in a strong wind or gust. 

Bulkhead - An interior partition commonly used to stiffen the hull. May be watertight.

Bullseye - A round eye through which a line is led, usually in order to change the direction of pull.

Bulwark - A vertical extension above deck level designed to keep water out of, and sailors in, the boat

Bunk - Sleeping berth.

Buoy - An anchored float used for marking a position on the water or a hazard or a shoal and for mooring.

Burdened Vessel  - That vessel which, according to the applicable Navigation Rules, must give way to the privileged vessel. The term has been superseded by the term "give-way".

Burgee - A small flag that identifies a yacht as being a member of a particular yacht club.

Bus Bar - A metal strip that provides electrical conductivity within a panel. In our application, it serves as a common attachment point for wiring. Typically, for the negative pole in the DC electrical system, it is a component mounted separately from but adjacent to the electrical panel. It provides a safe and convenient spot for all of the negative wires from various components throughout the boat to connect. One large negative wire is then led to the negative terminals of the battery. For the positive pole it provides power to the hot side of a series of circuit breakers on the master panel downstream of the master switch.

By-the-Lee - Running with the wind on the same side of the boat as the boom. Running by-the-lee opens you up to the possibility of an accidental, uncontrolled jibe, which can have serious consequences.

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Cabin - A compartment for passengers or crew.

Cap -  A piece of trim, usually wood, used to cover and often decorate a portion of the boat, i.e., caprail.

Capsize - To turn a boat over over on its side.

Capstan - Drum like part of the windlass used for winding in rope, cables, or chain connected  to cargo or anchors

Cast Off - To let go.

Catamaran - A twin-hulled boat, with hulls side by side.

Cavitation - The formation of bubbles in water due to the rotation of a propeller which creates a partial vacuum. Water rushes in to fill it creating tiny bubbles. When the bubbles collapse they pound the propeller causing pitting and errosion of the bronze or aluminum blades. Cavitation caused by improper pitch can, over time, cause damage and failure of the prop. In the worst case, cavitaation causes so many bubbles to form that there is more air than water surrounding the prop. The propeller looses its ability to effect the motion of the boat. This can easily happen when a displacement boat is moving slowly and too much throttle is applied in either foward or reverse.

Centerboard - A board rotated through a slot in the centerline of he hull to reduce sideways skidding or leeway. Unlike a daggerboard, which lifts vertically, a centerboard pivots around a pin, usually located in the forward top corner, and swings up and aft.

Chafing Gear - Tubing or cloth wrapping used to protect a line from chafing on a rough surface.

Chainplate - The fitting used to attach stays to the hull.

Charley Noble - Galley stove pipe.

Chart - A map for use by navigators.

Cheek - The side of a block that both carries the load and keeps the line contained and guided around the sheave. Sometimes the two tasks are divided between two components; narrow stainless straps to carry the load and larger plastic panels to contain the line. In a ball bearing block the cheeks contain the bearings within the block assembly. A broken plastic cheek will allow the bearings to fall out of the block.  

Chine - The intersection of the bottom and sides of a flat or v-bottomed boat. Not found on round-bottom boats. 

Chock - A fitting through which anchor or mooring lines are led. Usually U-shaped to reduce chafe.

Cleat - A fitting to which lines are made fast. The classic cleat to which lines are belayed is approximately anvil-shaped.

Clew - For a triangular sail, the aftmost corner.

Clove Hitch - A knot for temporarily fastening a line to a spar or piling.

Coach Roof - Also trunk. The cabin roof, raised above the deck to provide headroom in the cabin.

Coaming - A vertical extension above the deck to prevent water from entering the cockpit.   May be broadened to provide a base for winches.

Cockpit - An opening in the deck from which the boat is handled.

Coil - To lay a line down in circular turns.

Companionway - The main entrance to the cabin, usually including the steps down into the cabin.

Counter - At the stern of the boat, that portion of the hull emerging from below the water, and extending to the transom. Apt to be long in older designs, and short in more recent boats.

Course - The direction in which a boat is steered.

Coxswain - The the person in charge of a boat, particularly its navigation and steering.

Cringle - A ring of rope formed in the edge of a sail and containing a thimble, for another rope to pass through.

Crosstrees - Horizontal members attached to the mast acting as spreaders for the shrouds

Cuddy - A small shelter cabin in a boat.

Cunningham - A mainsail control line used to pull down the mainsail and flatten the sail.

Current - The horizontal movement of water.

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