Sailing Terminology

Sails and Masts of a Fully Rigged Ship

Glossary of Nautical Terms

abafttoward or at the stern of a ship; further aft
affreightmenthiring of a vessel
afterdeckdeck behind a ship’s bridge
afterguardmen who work the aft sails on the quarterdeck and poop deck
ahullwith sails furled and helm lashed to the lee-side
amidshipsmidway between the bow and stern of a ship
asternat the stern of a ship
backstaystay extending from ship’s mastheads to the side of the ship
ballasterone who supplies ships with ballast
bargemasterowner of a barge
beehardwood on either side of bowsprit through which forestays are reeved
belayto secure a rope by winding on a pin or cleat
bilgelower point of inner hull of a ship
binnaclecase in which a ship’s compass is kept
bittsposts mounted on a ship for fastening ropes
bluepeterblue flag with white square in centre used as ship’s signal
boatswainship’s crewmember in charge of equipment and maintenance
bobstayrope used on ships to steady the bowsprit
bollardshort post on a wharf or ship to which ropes are tied
boltropestrong rope stitched to edges of a sail
bosunboatswain
bottomryusing the ship as collateral to finance a sea voyage
bowfront of a ship
boweranchor carried at bow of a ship
bowlinerope used to keep weather edge of a sail taut
bowspritspar that extends at bows of a ship
brailsropes on edge of sail for hauling up
breamto clean a ship’s bottom by burning off seaweed
bulwarkthe side of a ship above the deck
bumpkinspar projecting from stern of ship
buntmiddle of sail, fish-net or cloth when slack
buntlinerope attached to middle of square sail to haul it up to the yard
burgeesmall ship’s flag used for identification or signalling
cableheavy rope or chain for mooring a ship
cabotageshipping and sailing between points in the same country
camberslight arch or convexity to a beam or deck of a ship
capstanupright device for winding in heavy ropes or cables
careento turn a ship on its side in order to clean or repair it
catheadprojection near the bow of a ship to which anchor is secured
chinethe intersection of the middle and sides of a boat
chockmetal casting with curved arms for passing ropes for mooring ship
clewcorner of sail with hole to attach ropes
coamingraised edge around ship’s hatches to keep water out
cocketofficial shipping seal; customs clearance form
cofferdamnarrow vacant space between two bulkheads of a ship
cogsingle-masted, square-sailed ship with raised stern
companionwaystairs from upper deck of ship to lower deck
cordageropes in the rigging of a ship
cringleloop at corner of sail to which a line is attached
crosstreeshorizontal crosspieces at a masthead used to support ship’s mast
davitdevice for hoisting and lowering a boat
deadeyerounded wooden block with hole used to set up ship’s stays
deadwoodtimbers built into ends of ship when too narrow to permit framing
demurragedelay of vessel’s departure or loading with cargo
dodgershield against rain or spray on a ship’s bridge
dogwatcha short, evening period of watch duty on a ship
downhaulrope for holding down or hauling down a sail or spar
dromondlarge single-sailed ship powered by rowers
dyogramship’s chart indicating compass deflection due to ship’s iron
earingline for fastening corner of a sail to the gaff or yard
ensignlarge naval flag
escutcheonpart of ship’s stern where name is displayed
fairleadring through which rope is led to change its direction without friction
fardagewood placed in bottom of ship to keep cargo dry
fiddleyiron framework around hatchway opening
figureheadornament or (usually female) bust attached to the bow of a ship
flagstaffflag pole at stern of a ship
flukepart of an anchor that fastens in the ground
forebittpost for fastening cables at a ship’s foremast
forecabincabin in fore part of ship
forecastleshort raised deck at fore end of ship; fore of ship under main deck
forefootforemost end of ship’s keel
foremastmast nearest the bow of a ship
foresaillowest sail set on the foremast of square-rigged ship
forestaystay leading from the foremast to the bow of a ship
frapto draw a sail tight with ropes or cables
freeboarddistance between waterline and main deck of a ship
futtockrib of a ship
gaffspar on which head of fore-and-aft sail is extended
gaff-topsailtriangular topsail with its foot extended upon the gaff
gangwayeither of the sides of the upper deck of a ship
garboardplank on a ship’s bottom next to the keel
genoalarge jib that overlaps the mainsail
grapnelsmall anchor used for dragging or grappling
groundagea charge on a ship in port
gudgeonmetal socket into which the pintle of a boat’s rudder fits
gunnagenumber of guns carried on a warship
gunwaleupper edge of the side of a ship
gybeto swing a sail from one side to another
halyardrope or tackle for hoisting and lowering sails
hankseries of rings or clips for attaching a jib or staysail to a stay
hawsedistance between ship’s bow and its anchor
hawseholehole for ship’s cable
hawserlarge rope for mooring or towing a ship
headsailsail set forward of the foremast of a ship
helmship’s steering wheel
holystonesandstone material used to scrape ships’ decks
inboardinside the line of a ship’s bulwarks or hull
jackship’s flag flown from jack-staff at bow of vessel
jack-blockpulley system for raising topgallant masts
jack-cross-treesingle iron cross-tree at head of a topgallant mast
jackstaffshort staff at ship’s bow from which the jack is hoisted
jackstayiron or wooden bar running along yard of ship to which sails fastened
jackyardspar used to spread the foot of a gaff-topsail
jibsmall triangular sail extending from the head of the foremast
jibboomspar forming an extension of the bowsprit
jibeto change a ship’s course to make the boom shift sides
jurymastmast erected on ship in place of one lost
kedgesmall anchor to keep a ship steady
keelhaulto punish by dragging under keel of ship
keelsonlengthwise wooden or steel beam in ship for bearing stress
kentledgepig-iron used as ballast in ship’s hold
lagancargo jettisoned from ship but marked by buoys for recovery
lanyardrope or line for fastening something in a ship
larboardleft side of a ship
lastageroom for stowing goods in a ship
lateentriangular sail rigged on ship’s spar
laveerto sail against the wind
lazaretspace in ship between decks used for storage
leeboardwood or metal planes attached to hull to prevent leeway
leecha vertical edge of a square sail
loxodographdevice used to record ship’s travels
luffwindward side of a ship; forward edge of fore-and-aft sail
lugsailfour-sided sail bent to an obliquely hanging yard
lutchetfitting on ship’s deck to allow mast to pivot to pass under bridges
mainmastsailing ship’s principal mast
mainsailprincipal sail on a ship’s mainmast
mainsheetrope by which mainsail is trimmed and secured
mainstaystay that extends from the main-top to the foot of the foremast
manroperope used as a handrail on a ship
martingalelower stay of rope used to sustain strain of the forestays
mizzenthree-masted vessel; aft sail of such a vessel
mizzenmastmast aft or next aft of the mainmast in a ship
moonrakertopmost sail of a ship, above the skyscraper
oakumold ropes untwisted for caulking the seams of ships
orloplowest deck in a ship having four or more decks
outhaulrope used to haul a sail taut along a spar
outriggerspar extended from side of ship to help secure mast
painterrope attached to bow of a boat to attach it to a ship or a post
pallographinstrument measuring ship’s vibration
parrelband by which a yard is fastened to a mast
patrooncaptain of a ship; coxswain of a longboat
poopenclosed structure at stern of ship above main deck
portwhen facing forward, the left side of a ship
primagefee paid to loaders for loading ship
pursership’s officer in charge of finances and passengers
quarterdeckpart of ship’s deck set aside by captain for ceremonial functions
quarteringsailing nearly before the wind
rakethe inclination of a mast or another part of a ship
ratlinesmall rope forming a rung of a rope ladder on a ship
reefto reduce area of a sail by rolling or folding part of it
reeveto pass a rope through a ring
roachcurved cut in edge of sail for preventing chafing
robandpiece of yarn used to fasten a sail to a spar
rostrumspike on prow of warship for ramming
rowlockcontrivance serving as a fulcrum for an oar
royalsmall sail on royal mast just above topgallant sail
scudto sail swiftly before a gale
scupperhole allowing water to drain from ship’s deck
scuttlebuttcask of drinking water aboard a ship; rumour, idle gossip
scuttlesportholes on a ship
sheerfore-and-aft curvature of a ship from bow to stern
shroudsropes supporting the mast of a ship
sidelightcoloured lights on side of a ship under way at night
skegpart of ship connecting the keel with the bottom of the rudderpost
skysailsail above the royal sail
skyscrapertriangular sail on a ship above the royal
slipwayramp sloping into water for supporting a ship
snottynaval midshipman
spankersail on the mast nearest the stern of a square-rigged ship
sparany ship’s mast, boom, yard, or gaff
spinnakerlarge triangular sail opposite the mainsail
spirkettinginside planking between ports and waterways of a ship
sponsonplatform jutting from ship’s deck for gun or wheel
spritspar crossing a fore-and-aft sail diagonally
spritsailsail extended by a sprit
starboardwhen facing forward, the right side of a ship
starbolinssailors of the starboard watch
staylarge rope used to support a mast
staysailfore-and-aft sail hoisted on a stay
steeveto set a ship’s bowsprit at an upward inclination
stemsonsupporting timber of a ship
sternback part of a ship
sternpostmain member at stern of a ship extending from keel to deck
sternwaymovement of a ship backwards
stevedoredock worker who loads and unloads ships
stokeholdship’s furnace chamber
strakecontinuous band of plates on side of a ship
stunsaillight auxiliary sail to the side of principal sails
supercargoship’s official in charge of business affairs
taffrailrail round the stern of a ship
tholepin in the side of a boat to keep oar in place
tillerhandle or lever for turning a ship’s rudder
timberheadtop end of ship’s timber used above the gunwale
timenoguyrope stretched from place to place in a ship
topgallantmast or sail above the topmast and below the royal mast
topmastship’s mast above the lower mast
topsailship’s sail above the lowermost sail
transhipto transfer from one ship to another
transireship’s customs warrant for clearing goods
transomtransverse timbers attached to ship’s sternpost
treenaillong wooden pin used to fix planks of ship to the timbers
triceto haul in and lash secure a sail with a small rope
trunnelwooden shipbuilding peg used for fastening timbers
trysailship’s sail bent to a gaff and hoisted on a lower mast
tuckpart of ship where ends of lower planks meet under the stern
turtlebackstructure over ship’s bows or stern
unreeveto withdraw a rope from an opening
waltyinclined to tip over or lean
wardroomquarters for ship’s officers
washboardbroad thin plank along ship’s gunwale to keep out sea water
watchingfully afloat
wavesongoods floating on the sea after a shipwreck
wearto turn a ship’s stern to windward to alter its course
weatherboardweather side of a ship
weatherlyable to sail close to the wind with little leeway
wheelhouseshelter where ship’s steering wheel kept
whipstaffvertical lever controlling ship’s rudder
windboundhindered from sailing by contrary winds
windlasswinch used to raise a ship’s anchor
xebecsmall three-masted pirate ship
yardtapering spar attached to ship’s mast to spread the head of a square sail
yardarmeither end of the yard of a square-rigged ship
yawlship’s small boat; sailboat carrying mainsail and one or more jibs
zabrasmall Spanish sailing vessel

Glossary of Nautical Terms Wikipedia