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Sailing Glossary

 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A
Abaft Toward the stern of a boat, or behind the boat.
Abandon A race that a race committee or protest committee abandons is void but may be resailed.

Abeam

At right angles to the centerline of a boat.
Adrift Floating without any means of propulsion, and without mooring.
Aft At, near, or toward the stern of a boat.

Afterpart

The part of a boat aft of the beam.
Aground When a boat is stranded on the shore, or on the bottom of the body of water, it is said to have run aground.
Alee The opposite side of the boat from where the wind is coming from.
All standing To have all sails flying when running down wind.
Aloft Overhead, Up, In the air.
Amidships The middle third of the boat.
Aport To the port side of the boat.
Apparent wind This is the wind felt on the boat, as well as the one shown by the telltales.
Ashore To be on or to go to shore.
Aspect ratio Concerns sails - the ratio of height to the length.  A narrow but tall sail has a high aspect ratio, and a wide but shorter sail has a low aspect ratio.
Astern Toward the boat's stern.
Athwartship At right angles to the centerline of the boat.
Autopilot A device - may be electronic or mechanical - used for keeping the boat on course without having to steer it (the same idea as on airplanes). It uses a compass, and is attached to the boat's steering mechanism.
Auxiliary An engine that is permanently installed on the boat. Unfortunately it has to be used sometimes to power the boat... The engine is also usually used to recharge the batteries - it's in neutral at that time.
B
Back a sail To hold a sail in such a way, that the wind will fill it from the opposite to usual side. This manuver is used to slow down the boat (as if applying brakes), or to force a boat to tack when in irons.
Backing wind A change in wind direction running counterclockwise, as in from west to southwest.
Backstay A rigging wire used to keep the mast from moving forward, as well as to vary the amount of bend in the mast.
Backwinded If your sails are filled with the wind on the opposite side to what you want (for example, if they are trimmed for the starboard tack, but you get the wind from the port side), you are said to be backwinded.
Bail To get rid of water accumulated in the boat.
Ballast A very heavy material, such as lead or iron, placed in the keel of the boat, or in the bilge.  It is used to provide stability.  Oftentimes the crew is also a ballast - especially on smaller boats, or in a jocular way.
Bare poles In a very strong wind it is possible to be propelled by the force of the wind on only the mast and the boom.  To sail in such a way is called "bare poles"
Batten Stick made of wood or plastic placed in a pocket sewn to the sail to add stiffness.
Beam The widest part of a boat.
Bear Down Boat approaching from upwind.
Block A pulley - a nautical term.  Often with more than one wheel (sheave being the proper name) to increase its mechanical advantage.
Boom A spar (a wooden or metal pole) attached to the mast at a right angle, used to support the foot of a sail.
Boltrope A reinforcing rope along the luff and/or foot of the sail, it is slid into a slot along the edge of a spar (mast, boom).
Bow The front end of a boat.
Bower A main anchor of a vessel.  It is carried at the bow.
Bowsprit A spar that's attached to the bow of a boat, along the centerline.  The forestay can be attached to it - thus allowing for a greater sail area.
Breakers Waves that have entered a shallow water, and built up on height.  By doing this they "break" at the crest producing a curled up formation.
Bring to Cause boat to hult by manovering into the wind.
Bulkhead Upwright wall or partician
C
Chain Place Strap or plate used to hold the shroud.
Capsize A sailboard is capsized when her sail or the competitor's body is in the water.
Cat boat Boat with single sail.
Cleat Fittings to which lines are secured.
Centerboard A pivoting board that prevents the boat from sliding sideways.
Centerboard Trunk A compartment where the centerboard resides.
Centerboard Well A compartment where the centerboard resides.
Centerline The center of the boat: from the stern to the bow.
Chart A nautically specialized map.
Chime Intersection of the side and bottom of a hull.
Clear Ahead One boat is clear astern of another when her hull and equipment in normal position are behind a line abeam from the aftermost point of the other boatYs hull and equipment in normal position. The other boat is clear ahead. They overlap when neither is clear astern or when a boat between them overlaps both. These terms do not apply to boats on opposite tacks unless rule 18 applies.
Clear Astern One boat is clear astern of another when her hull and equipment in normal position are behind a line abeam from the aftermost point of the other boatYs hull and equipment in normal position. The other boat is clear ahead. They overlap when neither is clear astern or when a boat between them overlaps both. These terms do not apply to boats on opposite tacks unless rule 18 applies.
Cleat A fitting for securing a line.  The cleat can be wood, metal or nylon.
Close Hauled Sailing in a direction close to the source of the wind.
Coaming Splash Rail.
Cockpit The rear boat area from where the crew operates the boat.
Come About Change boat directions as on a tack by turning into the wind.
Come Up Stear towards the wind.
D
Daggerboard A board that prevents the boat from sliding sideways.
Daggerboard Trunk A compartment where the daggerboard resides.
Daggerboard Well A compartment where the daggerboard resides.
Dinghy Small Boat.
Dory Boat with narrow sides, flat bottom, raised bow, and flaring sides.
Down Wind Sail away from the wind source.
E
F
Fall Off Stear away from the wind.
Fend Off Stear away from a dock or another boat by pushing off from it.
Finish A boat finishes when any part of her hull, or crew or equipment in normal position, crosses the finishing line in the direction of the course from the last mark either for the first time or, if she takes a penalty, after complying with rule 31.2 or rule 44.2.
Foot The bottom edge of the sail - the part of the sail attached to the boom.
Fore The forward third of a boat.
Forestay A cable supporting the mast, running from the bow to the top of the mast. (sometimes called a jibstay, or a headstay)
Forward The forward third of a boat.
G
Give Way To stay clear of another boat by changing directions.
Gunwale The top edge of either side of the hull.
Gust Brief burst of wind.
H
Halyards Lines used to hoist and lower the sails.
Heading Direction the boat is moving.
Heal Tilt of the boat.
Hike Move body weight outside of the boat to keep boat level.
Hiking Strap Foot strap used for hiking.
Hitch Knot.
Hull The body of the boat.
I
Interested Party A person who may gain or lose as a result of a protest committeeYs decision, or who has a close personal interest in the decision.
J
Jib The front sail. Read boats only need one sail.
Jibsheet The line used to pull the jib in or let it out.
K
Keel A weighted extension of a boat running below it that prevents the boat from sliding sideways. Classic Moth uses a daggerboard or Centerboard.
Keelson Backbone of a boat.
Keep Clear One boat keeps clear of another if the other can sail her course with no need to take avoiding action and, when the boats are overlapped on the same tack, if the leeward boat could change course without immediately making contact with the windward boat.
Knot A nautical term for speed: one nautical mile per hour.
L
Lash To tie something using a light rope. Tie; Tie down.
Leech The aft edge of the triangular sail - the one that's not attached to anything.
Leeward A boatYs leeward side is the side that is or, when she is head to wind, was away from the wind. However, when sailing by the lee or directly downwind, her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies. The other side is her windward side. When two boats on the same tack overlap, the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat.
Luff The front edge of a sail.
Luff up To luff up means to bring the boat's bow so close to the wind, that the leech of the sail begins to flap.
Lurch Sudden pitching and/or rolling.
M
Mainsail On a Classic Moth, the only sail. On boats with multiple sailes it is usually the largest sail.  (Except for the spinnaker.)
Mainsheet The line used to pull the mainsail in and let it out.
Mark An object the sailing instructions require a boat to pass on a specified side, excluding its anchor line and objects attached temporarily or accidentally.
Mast The pole attached to the deck at the right angle, holding up the sails.
Masthead The top of the mast.
Mooring Permanent anchorage.   It consists of a heavy weight (or an anchor), a chain of a certain length, and a buoy.  Mooring is also often used for piers, instead of pilings.
N
O
Obstruction An object that a boat could not pass without changing course substantially, if she were sailing directly towards it and one of her hull lengths from it. An object that can be safely passed on only one side and an area so designated by the sailing instructions are also obstructions. However, a boat racing is not an obstruction to other boats unless they are required to keep clear of her or give her room.
Overlap One boat is clear astern of another when her hull and equipment in normal position are behind a line abeam from the aftermost point of the other boatYs hull and equipment in normal position. The other boat is clear ahead. They overlap when neither is clear astern or when a boat between them overlaps both. These terms do not apply to boats on opposite tacks unless rule 18 applies.
P
Pier A structure built over the water, used by boats for landing.
Piling A thick post supporting or mooring a dock or pier.  It is deep inside the seabed, and it projects above the water level.
Pitch Pole End over End, 360 degree Stern over Bow flip.
Port Side The left side of the boat.
Port Tack A boat is on the port tack when port is the windward side of the boat.
Pram Small Dinghy (boat) with a cut-off bow.
Proper Course A course a boat would sail to finish as soon as possible in the absence of the other boats referred to in the rule using the term. A boat has no proper course before her starting signal.
Q
R
Racing A boat is racing from her preparatory signal until she finishes and clears the finishing line and marks or retires, or until the race committee signals a general recall, postponement, or abandonment.
Rake Slant of sail and mast from fore to aft.
Recovering A sailboard is recovering from the time her sail or, when water-starting, the competitor's body is out of the water until she has steerage way.
Rigging The assembly of the boat.
Roll Side to side movement of a boat.
Rudder The underwater, movable plate used for steering, and for providing resistance to sideways motion caused by waves and wind.  It is being controlled by the helmsman (helmsperson?) with a help of a tiller or a steering wheel.
Rudder Head The top part of the rudder - the one being actually attached to the tiller
S
Scow A shallow draft near flat bottom blunt bow boat. Usually very fast on a plane with low waves.
Sheathing A cover or covering.
Sheave Wheel within a pulley, or sometimes refers to the entire pulley.
Sheer Lengthwise sweep of a boat; lines along the deck.
Sheet A line used to trim sails.
Shoaling A phenomenon occurring as the waves enter a shallow water - their movement forward is slowed down because of the bottom friction, and thus their height increases.
Shroud The wires holding the mast at the sides.
Skiff Small light boat.
Spar A general name for all masts, booms, gaffs, and bowsprits.
Spreaders The wooden or metal struts that are attached horizontally to the upper section of the mast, on both sides.  They widen the angle of the shrouds, and thus provide a better support for the mast.
Starboard Side The right side of the boat.
Starboard Tack A boat is on the starboard tack when starboard is the windward side of the boat.
Stays Wires supporting the mast - fore and aft
Stern The back of the boat.
Surf A continous line of breakers at the shore.
T
Tack A boat is on the tack, starboard or port, corresponding to her windward side.
Telltales Short pieces of yarn attached to the shrouds, or the sails.   At the shrouds they indicate the direction of the wind (the apparent wind), and at the sails they help to check the air flow over the sail, so that proper trimming is easier.
Tiller A stick/board/handle/spar attached to the rudder by the rudder head, used to control the direction of the boat.  Another possibility for steering mechanism is a steering wheel.
Traveler A track (usually metal) with a fixture sliding on it.  Many Moths use line (rope or wire) with a pulley attached. The fixture holds the main sheet (usually), and the sliding allows for changing angles of the sail.
True wind The strength and direction of the actual wind blowing.  While sailing, the true wind is never felt - it is always a combination of the true wind, and the boat's speed (called the apparent wind), and it is always a little forward to the true wind.
U
V
W
Wake A path of water created as a boat moves.
Windward A boatYs leeward side is the side that is or, when she is head to wind, was away from the wind. However, when sailing by the lee or directly downwind, her leeward side is the side on which her mainsail lies. The other side is her windward side. When two boats on the same tack overlap, the one on the leeward side of the other is the leeward boat. The other is the windward boat.
X
Y
Z