Nautical or Sailing Terms
It seems that within any discipline a set of specialized terms may exist. To an outsider these words may sound peculiar or unnecessary yet their distinct nature often serves a crucial purpose. When one considers maritime terms within the context of the working environment a more complete picture will begin to emerge. Consider the development of sailing terms, evolving from slang used in various cultures back to the Phoenicians. The sounds which survived the test of time were sharply concise, accurate, and extensive. These aspects lend to immediacy and precision of language in an environment where misunderstandings or delays may lead to peril.
A square sail is considered aback if the wind is on the forward side of the sail. This will press the sail(s) toward the mast forcing the vessel astern.
Positional term used to reference a shipboard object that is further aft than another.
Abaft the beam
Located aft of the beam; indicates the bearing of an object as between the beam and stern.
Located to the side of a vessel, amidships, or at right angles.
(also: Two Block) Tackle is taken in until both blocks come together.
Located on or within the ship.
A ship is said to be going about whilst tacking, that is as it changes the wind over the bow to the other tack.
A square rigger hove to whilst maintaining position.
(also: opposite to') Located side by side, alongside, or abeam.
Portable steps or ladder to climb aboard a vessel.
Square rigger yards dockside topped up at an angle to clear warehouses, etc., on the dock.
To go on the account
A sailor turned pilot.
Distance measurement for 6080 feet; the International Nautical Mile is 6076.10'.
Broken loose from the moorings.
Swimming whilst not touching the bottom.
Forward, opposite of abaft.
Tangled or fouled in any way.
Located at, near, or towards the stern.
Stern section of a vessel.
After Bow Spring
Bow Spring leading aft on a vessel for docking.
An aft portable gangplank.
After Quarter Spring
Spring leading aft from a vessel's bow.
After Waist Spring
Spring coming from amidship and going aft.
Yards aft of the foremast.
Stranded, keel or vessel hull resting on the bottom.
Toward the bow, in front of the bow
A greeting used in hailing a vessel or boat
A vessel hove to under bare poles with the helm alee.
Air or Flotation Tank
Sealed air tank for buoyancy in a capsize
Largest sea bird with wing span up to 13' in the Southern Hemisphere.
To the leeward side; helm is away from the wind
When wind is pressing against the forward side of square sails
Ship shape, or all gear hauled in tight
The entire crew
All in the wind
Pointing too high with all sails shaking
All night in
Maintaining no night watches
Fully equipped; brought up all standing is a rapid stop.
Up above; up the mast or in the rigging.
Side by side, by the side of a vessel or pier.
Below deck, or low in the rigging near the deck.
Alow and aloft
All sails including stuns'ls are set.
Steps of a drydock.
On the run, all at once.
Sperm whale intestinal secretion used as a perfume additive to improve the persistence of scent.
A hook which digs into the bottom to prevent a vessel from drifting.
A suitable place for anchoring.
Anchor broken away from bottom or coming to the surface.
Lighter with derrick for handling heavy anchors.
Anchor riding lights carried on anchored vessels.
Crew deck detail to watch anchored vessel at night.
Instrument for measuring wind velocity.
Mechanical barometer without liquid. Used rather than liquid based due to vessel movement.
Spiral eddy of wind that is flowing out.
Poisonous boat bottom paint to retard underwater growth.
Cirrus top or peak of thunderhead.
Anchor cable in vertical line with vessel over anchor; position of square rig yards, or oars when vertical or nearly so.
To the left or port side of a vessel when looking forward.
Wind direction felt on a sail-boat under way.
Timber behind lower part of stem above fore end of keel.
Lower part of sheet and kedge anchors.
Flat calm requiring engine power or oars.
In direction of stern or bearing behind vessel.
Across the keel of a vessel.
A small circular coral island enclosing a lagoon.
The anchor has broken loose from the bottom.
A sail-boat riding in a gale without any sails set.
Mechanical helmsman steering to a compass heading or pre-set course.
An engine used as secondary propulsion on a sail-boat.
To windward, towards the weather side.
Tarp covering boat or deck for protection from sun, rain, or snow.
Yes; a reply that an officer's orders are understood.
The wind changes counter-clockwise.
Back the Jib
Hold it when coming about till wind is on the lee side.
Mast support leading aft to deck or to another mast.
Temporary or shifting backstays.
Stop row-boat movement by reversing direction of oars.
A sail backwinds another with the wind funnelling on the wrong side.
A sail bags when the leach is taut yet the center of the sail is slack.
Enclosed space of decked-over boat hull.
A large diameter anchor line generally 120 fathoms long.
A bosen's pipe.
Wind with speed less than one knot.
Athwartship curve of sailing vessel deck to drain water overboard.
A plate raised and lowered vertically to reduce leeway.
Small ensign halyard block at peak of gaff.
Small ropes to make fast the upper corners of square sails, etc.
To slack; momentarily luff a sailing vessel with too much wind pressure.
To slack out.
Untwisted end of a rope.
Ragged, untwisted rope end.
Block or titting to change the lead direction of a line such as a jib sheet.
Current running with vessel.
A single turn of a rope in a coil.
Landlubber term before he learns the proper sailing term.
Spar for the head of a gaff sail.
Scandalizing a gaff sail in a strong wind is to harden the topping lift and release the peak halyard.