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Nautical terminology

abaft Toward the stern; Behind. abeam Located at a right angle to the fore-and-aft line; To one side of a vessel. abreast Side by side; Even with; By the side of. ABYC American Boat & Yacht Club; An organization that determines voluntary safety and construction standards for small crafts (U.S. only). admeasure To measure a vessel, for the purpose of documentation. adrift Not moored; Aground; Not fastened to the shore; Free floating without propulsion. admiralty law A term for marine law, originating from the British Admiralty department (which administers naval affairs); Law of the sea. aft At or near the stern. after bow spring line A mooring line; a line designated to control the motion of a vessel in its berth; a line connected near (or at) the bow to shore. agonic line An imaginary line (on the earth's surface) along which there is no magnetic variation. aground When the boat's keel or bottom is resting on the sea bottom. aids to navigation Beacons, buoys, daybeacons, lights or radiobeacons with known charted positions; Established land or sea markers that enable navigators to avoid danger. aloft Above the deck; Usually a location in the rigging. amidships Center portion of the ship; In the center, between the bow and stern. anchor A heavy metal device, attached to chain or line, to hold a vessel in position; an object used to dig in the bottom that serves as a temporary mooring. anchorage A suitable and customary harbor area in which vessels may anchor; a designated harbor mooring area. anchor bend A specific knot used to fasten an anchor line to an anchor.


anchor light An all-round white light (required by the Navigation Rules) when a vessel is moored; Also known as a "Riding Light". anchor rode A line (chain, nylon or steel cable) used to hold a vessel fast to the anchor. anchor watch Person(s) kept alert on deck of a moored vessel; people designated to cope with unexpected situations while the boat is at anchor. anemometer An instrument used to measure wind velocity (or wind speed). aneroid barometer An instrument that measures and indicates air pressure; A mechanical device (rather than liquid, such as mercury). Air pressure is measured in millibars. anti-fouling A type of paint, used on boat bottoms, that repels undesirable adhesions, such as marine grass and barnacles. apparent wind The force and direction of the wind relative to a moving vessel, differing from the true wind. The motion of an underway vessel makes an effective wind. astern Beyond the stern; The direction toward the stern of a vessel. athwart At right angles (90 degrees) to the centerline. autopilot An automatic steering device. auxiliary A sailboat that has an engine. aweigh Off the bottom; usually in reference to the anchor.

backing (wind) Wind changing its direction; opposite of veering. backsplice A splice in which the strands are interwoven and reversed (to make a rope end). backstay A mast supporting stay; A support running from the stern to the masthead. ballast An additional weight placed low in the hull (usually for stability); ballast may be external or internal. bar A debris, mud or sand shoal; may be a shoal across the mouth of a river or harbor.


barograph A weather device that records atmospheric (barometric) pressure continuously. barometer An instrument that displays and measures atmospheric pressure. batten down To close all openings, such as hatches; To fasten all loose gear in heavy or stormy weather. Wooden hatches used to be covered with a tarpaulin, and then fastened with battens and wedges. battens Thin flexible strips (plastic or wood) used in batten pockets of a sail to support [stiffen to keep flat] the roach; battens may be used in awnings. beam The vessel's width; A principle dimension; The direction at right angles to the centerline. beam reach A point of sailing with the apparent wind blowing at right angles to the vessel's fore-and-aft line. bearing The direction of an object (buoy, lighthouse, another ship) from an observer; bearings can be by radar, radio or visual. bear off To turn leeward; To turn away from the wind; also known as "to bear away". beating Sailing against the wind, in alternate tacks. Beaufort wind scale A scale, created by Admiral Beaufort in 1808, that indicates the force of the wind; the original scale indicated the effect on a full-rigged frigate under sail; it has been extended to cover effects on shore as well as at sea, plus criteria that can now be measured, such as speed of the wind; the scale shows wind forces from 0 to 17 - each increase of force (number) means a doubling of the pressure (not velocity) of the wind. becket A rope handle; An eye or loop in the end of a rope. bedding compound Caulking material used for mating two surfaces, for the purpose of rendering them watertight. bend To fasten by means of a knot; One of several types of knots, used to fasten a line to a spar or another line. bend on To rig; To prepare a sail for hoisting. berth A margin of safety, as a "wide berth"; A place to sleep; A position in which a vessel may be made fast. bight An indentation in the shoreline; The middle area of a slack rope. bilge The lowest point of a vessel's interior hull; Can be the part of the exterior between the bottom and the topsides. binnacle A box, case or stand that houses a compass (which is usually illuminated at night).


The inboard end of an anchor rode. rigging materials. boat Generic term for a small vessel. hull. used to keep tools. used in moving heavy cargo or equipment. having two tubes . plastic or wood. boarding ladder A temporary set of steps.binocular A telescopic instrument. usually lowered over the side of a vessel. bow The forward section of a vessel. boom vang A system of fittings. used to extend the foot of a sail. found on decks. piers or wharves. bosun's chair A seat used to hoist a person aloft (for the purpose of rigging repair). usually made of iron. boot-top A painted stripe at the vessel's waterline. bitt A strong post. paint and other deck supplies. a post to which anchor. it is a standard reference text on navigation. bosun's locker A shipboard storage locker. block & tackle An arrangement of blocks (pulleys) and line to gain a mechanical advantage (leverage). a navigational aid from a known place. similar to a "samson post". bowditch Named after the original author (Nathaniel Bowditch). boom A spar. a petty officer in charge of deck operations. usually used for retrieving objects and for "fending off". 4 . mooring or towing lines are fastened.each furnished with lenses. Bitts may be located in the bow or stern. rigging and sail maintenance. for the use of both eyes simultaneously. bow & beam bearings Used to determine the distance off. power or sail. block Complete assembly of sheaves or pulleys and shells (plates) on which ropes run. Blocks may be composed of metal. bollard A strong vertical fitting to which mooring lines may be fastened. bitter end The extreme end of any line. may be made of iron or wood. A vessel that can be carried on board a ship. the front part. the vessel may be propelled by oars. used to restrain the boom under inclimate weather conditions. may be made of canvas or wood. boathook A hook on a pole. bosun A boatswain. it is a set of bearing ashore.

broad on the beam At a right angle (90 degrees) to a vessel. brightwork Polished metals. may be single or double braided. as outlined in standard navigational rules. such as brass. buntline hitch A simple hitch for attaching a halyard to a shackle. bronze or stainless steel. to which forestay(s) or the headstay are fastened. used to indicate channel configurations. as distinguished from a spring line. spar projecting from the bow. clean and orderly. bulkhead A transverse wall in the hull. 5 . a structure over water that carries pedestrian. braided line A modern configuration of rope. the control station of a vessel. useful for anchor handling. markers to indicate turning points in boat races. breast line A lateral mooring/dock line from a boat to a pier. may serve as a temporary anchoring marker. such as a yacht club. railroad or vehicular traffic. burgee A special flag. buoy A floating navigational aid. Bristol fashion Conforming to high standards of seamanship. broad reach A point of sailing with the apparent wind broad on the beam. neat. interior compartmentalized location. bowsprit A fixed spar.bowline A knot used to make a loop in a line. shipshape. broaching / broach to An unplanned and uncontrolled turning of a vessel so that the hull is broadside to the seas or to the wind. hidden obstacles and prohibited areas. bridge The person(s) in charge of a vessel. may be as a result of waves that build up (crest) as they reach shallow water. burdened vessel The ship that must "give right" to another vessel in a crossing/overtaking situation. a sectioned area with the hull. it is simple. breakers Cresting waves. breakwater A (stone or concrete) structure built to improve/create a harbor. flag used to indicate vessel ownership or affiliation. strong and virtually slip-proof.

said of gear that is stressed beyond the strength of its fastenings. allowing water runoff. A set of sails. catamaran A twin-hulled vessel. sailboat with one mast/one sail. boat feature that supports the cabin trunk. it specializes in safe boating and boating education.C camber Curvature of either the keel or sail. catalyst A chemical that activates a chemical reaction. South. carrick bend A knot used to fasten multiple lines together. may be either power or sail. 6 . canvas Woven cloth (made of cotton. can A cylindrical buoys. cavitation Water turbulence generated the propeller's rotation. capstan A (vertical) winch on deck. to turn the vessel's bottom side up. East and West. catenary A "gravity induced" rope sag between two points. winch used for hauling the anchor line. carvel Planking. usually smooth skinned. generally red or green. the deck's curve. catboat A simple sailboat rig. cast off To unfasten or loosen. carry away To break loose. cardinal points The primary compass points . capsize To overturn the vessel. carlins Aft and fore members of the deck frame. linen or hemp) used for awnings and sails. the hatch coamings and the cockpit coamings. usually higher in the center.North. carbon fiber Modern fiber composed of epoxies (for strength). Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons A private membership organization. the untying of mooring lines (in preparation for departure).

chart table Where charts and maps are handled during the navigation of a vessel. most charts are issued by government sources. chockablock The line between two blocks in a tackle are "closed up" (drawn as far as possible) so that no more line movement is possible. moving vertically (or pivoting up & down) in the slot of the keel. such as boat/master/seaman license(s). a government issued license. channel The area of a waterway that is navigable. chain locker Stowage space reserved for the anchor line/chain. it is usually equipped with a cap to exclude rain and to control smoke.ceiling A hull's inner lining. chine The intersection between bottom and topsides. chafing gear Tape. also known as the navigation table. wearing away prior to the failure of the object. chock A rigging fitting. charts Any sea-going maps. A mounted "u" or "o" shaped fitting that controls a rigging or mooring line. where the water depth is known. which usually provide information such as channel markings. certificate A government paper. land surveys. the purpose is to add lateral resistance to a sailboat's hull. this area is typically marked by red and green buoys. cloth or other material fastened around an object to prevent wear. abrasion. chainplates Fittings located on the outer deck edges (or on the hull sides) to which riggings are fastened. chain Interlocking links (made of steel or iron). centerboard A metal plate (or board). water depths. may be used for rigging and anchor lines. items of nautical gears. chop 7 . etceteras. celestial navigation The use of heavenly bodies for the determination of a vessel's position. Charlie Noble A stovepipe fitting through which the vessel's stove metal chimney is contained. chafe The wear of an object. chandlery Location where nautical gear is sold.

Usually this is done for racing . mooring lines. close-hauled The boat has been enabled to sail "against the wind". issued by the US National Ocean Service. cockpit sole The cockpit's floor. colors The ceremony or act of raising the colors (including other flags). club-footed The foot of a jib (or foresail) which is supported by a small boom.to put a premium on skill and tactics once boat performance has been equalized. code In signaling. the raised edge surrounding a cockpit that prevents seawater from entering the vessel. cockpit A space for the crew. the distinctive criss-cross hitch used to belay (fasten) a line to the cleat. a grouping of vessels based on a pre-defined set of specifications. coaming A raised edge. 8 . clew The (lower) sail's after corner. clove hitch A double-loop hitch. "hard on the wind". an area lower than the deck. clamp A wooden vessel's inner plank (longitudinal timber) that acts as the bearer of joints or beams. a meteorological term for describing weather. Coast Pilots Reference books. any one of several methods to transmit messages. a point of sailing in which the sheets are hauled tight. classes Organized groups of boats.Waves that are short and steep. cleat hitch A "figure-eight" hitch. the pin used to secure one fitting to another. sail control lines and other miscellaneous lines are attached temporarily. cleat A rigging fitting. cold front The forward edge of a cold air mass meeting warmer air. generally used around a bollard or piling. listing navigation aids and other coastal piloting information. a set of books. clevis pin A large pin. the national ensign. electronically (Morse Code) or by sound (radio). to which the sheet is attached. a fitting to which halyards. cold molding The process of bending multiple thin layers of wood (in sequence with glue) to achieve a desired thickness (as opposed to sawing or forming by steam bending). usually water-tight or self-draining. messages may be sent visually (flags).

COLREGS The "navigational rules of the road". composite construction An item composed of multiple components of different natures. boating instrument that provides 360 degrees of direction. come about To tack. cored construction The material between an inner and an outer layer. it is the line controlling tension along a sail's luff. which is not head-on. cowls Directing the flow of air (and vapors) through ducts. sail or any canvas item. course When racing. but having 22. cordage A classification encompassing all small lines (ropes). it is the direction that a vessel must follow. Corinthian An amateur yachtsman. crest The top of a wave.5 degrees aft the beam. to change the vessel's direction. interior stairs. crossing situation The meeting of two vessels. may be for natural or synthetic fibers. compass A navigational device. also a plotting tool for drawing circular arcs and circles. companionway The entrance (or hatch) from deck to the cabin. counter The stern-end portion of the hull that is above the waterline and extending aftwards. 9 . the movement of water in an horizontal direction. current The normal water flow. cotter pin A (small) pin used to keep turnbuckles (nuts) from unwinding. cringle A circular eye that is used to fasten the corner of an awning. US Coast Guard term for international regulations for preventing collisions at sea. relative to the wind. such as wood and fiberglass. Novice. cradle A "berthing" framework used to support a vessel on land. cunningham Invented by Briggs Cunningham.

dayboard A navigational aid. usually on a vessel. davit A hoisting device. a small porthole in a cabin top or deck. feet or meters. dead ahead Directions exactly ahead of the vessel. dayshape A geometrical marker (black ball. the results may be displayed in fathoms. daysailer A cabin-less vessel. three black balls is "aground". deviation The difference between a compass' reading of North against the true magnet North. buoys or landmarks. a registered polyester trademark. this is calculated from the steered course and vessel's speed (without obtaining a fix). typically used for racing and/or short excursions. may be used for dinghy or anchor. dead reckoning A navigational method of determining a vessel's location. opposite direction of dead astern. Dacron Polyester. one black ball is "at anchor". depth sounder An electronic device for measuring water depth. it is height between the vessel's bottom and its widest beam. dinghy 10 . which may be unlit (daybeacon) or lit (light). a measured angle between the directions between two points. a sign atop a piling or dolphin. deadrise Expressed as an angle. departure. opposite direction of dead ahead. it measures the time lapse from sending a sound wave to the bottom and its return back. deadlight A non-opening port or skylight. dead astern Directions exactly behind the vessel. daggerboard Centerboard that can be retracted vertically (opposed to hinged).D DRS A sail referred as a (D)rifter / (R)eacher / (S)pinnaker. point of The vessel's last obtained position. such as rocks. state or type. For example. a swing-out crane. danger angle A piloting angle. cylinder or cone) hung aloft to show a vessel's occupation.

a small racing sailboat. The signals may be audible. downwind A leeward direction. to lower (drop) a sail quickly. a dock used in the repairing or cleaning of a vessel. a special federal license. drift The velocity of a (water) current. double-braid A rope made with braided core and a (braided) cover. double-ender A boat whose stern resembles its bow configuration. distress signals An improvised or standard signal that is used to indicate an emergency situation. draft The vertical distance between the vessel's waterline and its lowest point. May be used for mooring or as a navigational aid. a boat used as a tender. ditty bag A small bag for personal items. The minimum water depth in which a boat will float. wharf or place where vessels can moored. drydock An enclosed dock. douse To snuff out a fire or light. dolphin A small grouping of piles (usually three). a conic device serving to slow down a vessel in heavy weather. electronic or visual. a direction to leeward with the wind. Dorade vent A vent designed to allow air flow into the lower deck while keeping water out. documentation A vessel's registration. 11 . the lowest point may be the hull itself or an attachment (such as a rudder or propeller). a boat designed with a sharp stern. downhaul A rigging line used to hold down (or haul down) a sail or spar. displacement The weight of water displaced by a floating hull. drogue An opened-ended cone. the piles are normally tied together to form a single structure. the planking surrounding a boat's slip. while in motion. a pier. a vessel's displacement varies from fresh water to seawater.A small boat. displacement hull A vessel that supported by its own buoyancy. a raised dock from which a boat can be raised so that water can be pumped out. dock An enclosed water area.

fastening A screw. drysail After each sail outing. fathom A length of six feet. dry storage Storing the boat on land. a result of moist conditions leading to decay. bolt or nail that is used to fasten plumbing and rigging fixtures. ensign The national flag. its purpose is to change and control the direction of a line while minimizing friction.dry rot Decay of wood timbers. such as wind & current drifts. E ease To let out a line while under full control. radar and position-finding systems (Decca. eye splice A fixed loop in the end of a line. F fairlead A rigging fitting. estimated position Less precise than a "fix". electronic navigation Vessel piloting by automatic or manual electronic instruments. echo sounders. EPIRB Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. the flag of an organization. A "sharper" entry implies a faster hull speed (for a racing hull). a (continually operating) transmitter that issues a distress message (for others to respond). 12 . Any method used to hold planks in a wooden ship to its frames. VOR and satellite systems). gradually releasing a line for a sheet or docking line. such as the US Power Squadron and Coast Guard Auxiliary. drying out the vessel. Fathometer (Raytheon) trademark for a brand of an electronic depth finder. entry Hull qualifier in terms of hull behavior and efficiency in relation to wave action. ducts Channel movement of air for the displacement of fumes (from the space being ventilated). course run and other factors. it is a navigational point based on vessel speed. devices include: electronic compass. ebb A tidal current that flows towards the sea. Loran-C. Omega. away from the water. a term used for measuring water depth or an anchor line.

in/on the binnacle. figure-eight A knot. fid A pointed (or tapered) tool used to separate rope strands. designed to absorb heat.FCC Federal Communications Commission FCC Rules FCC regulations that govern the body of radio equipment and radio operation. fiber-reinforced plastic. to sail a course that will clear a shoal or buoy ("lay"). used to compensate for compass error (resulting from vertical magnetism in a steel-hulled vessel). larger pier or dock. which may be woven or in mat form. flashing A light that is "on" less than it is "off" in a regular sequence of single flashes. fin keel Keel shaped like a fish fin. where the wind is/was blowing. fix A vessel's position. may project from the shore. finger pier A narrow pier. flotsam Wreckage debris floating on the water. flinders bar A soft iron bar. as in splicing. flare The outward curvatures of the topsides. fetch The distance across water. floor Structural members in the bottom of a boat. may be for a mat or appearance. a device hung between a boat and a dock/float/pier/boat to prevent chafing damage. bumper. knot usually serving as a stopper (at the end of a line) to prevent the rope from passing through a fairlead or block. fiberglass Fibrous-formed glass. flemish To coil a rope in a spiral on a flat surface. a pyrotechnic signal used to indicate distress. typically shorter and deeper than a full-length keel. regardless of how it is determined. fender A cushioning object. flame arrester A safety device. the rising tide. its purpose is to prevent an exhaust backfire from causing an explosion. fluke 13 . flood The incoming tide.

forward quarter spring line A mooring line (running forward from the quarter) to control the forward/backward rocking motion of a berthed vessel. foredeck The forward part of a vessel's main deck. flush deck A deck without any above deck structures. it is the sail attached to the forestay. forward A direction to the front. foretriangle An area bounded by the foredeck. also called fo'c'sle. forestaysail Similar to a jib. running from the top of the mast to the bow. Flying bridge A high steering position. forecastle The crew quarters. headstay and the mast. used to dig into the ground to prevent dragging. from stem to stern. as opposed to aftcabin. such as a cabin. forestay A stay. fore Position near or at the front of a vessel. the going down of a ship. forepeak The ships' extreme forward compartment. typically used for stowage. fractional rig A rig where the sloop's jib does not reach the top of its mast. a direction towards the bow. frames 14 . following sea Waves from astern. forecabin Cabin located near the front of the vessel. forecast The formalized weather prediction.The shovel-shaped part of an anchor's "arms". fore-and-aft From front to back. from high (on the mast) to the foredeck. also called a flybridge. the outermost stay. founder To sink. foot The bottom edge of a sail.

furling The gathering (folding or rolling) of a sail on its boom (when not in use). G gaff A device used to boat a large fish. a faulty knot. may be on a ladder or cabin top. December 8. 6) Derrogatory term for a female's genitals For a brief article on this subject. rings holding a compass. gel coat Protective coating or finish of a fiberglass vessel. an unsecured knot. also called the burdened vessel. freeboard The vertical distance between topsides and the waterline. or spare. geographic position A fix. gash 1) Extra. not sure to hold. give-way vessel A vessel that does not have the right-of-way in an overtaking position. 15 . transverse structural members of a vessel. Global Positioning System (GPS) A (world-wide) radio navigation system. garboard strake The plank next to the keel. used to determine a ship's fix. 2002).The ribs of a vessel. see "Gash Duty by Tom Cohenour" (on Page 5. boundaries delineated by differences in air temperature. Antartic Sun. grab rail A convenient grip. 2) Slang for surplus to requirements. galley The ships' kitchen. or garbage. A spar that holds the upper side of a four-sided sail. fronts The boundaries between air masses (either warm or cold). 4) Slang for cannabis. genoa An overlapping jib. gimbals Pivoted rings used to support a device that may tip or remain level. fully battened Sail with batten running full length of the sail (horizontally). 5) Slang for a girl or woman. lateral. 3) Unnecessary. a charted position. leftovers. extra. granny knot A knot tied in error.

an anchorage protected from most storms. it is the vessel's total interior space (including non-cargo space). storage for clothing. ground tackle All gear associated with the anchoring of a ship. gunwale The toe rail. such as the lines of latitude or longitude. half-hitch The simplest form of a knot. the upper edge above the boat's deck. in a proper manner. a call to a ship. portable compass. weight of a vessel's water displacement. used to control it. handy-billy A movable block and tackle. to determine water depth. anchor line and shackles. lowered on a rope. the rope to raise a sail or spar. handsomely Carefully. gross tonnage Computed as 40 cubic feet per ton. as in the easing (letting out) of a line. halyard A hoisting line. a location for loading/unloading a vessel.great circle The circumference of the earth. hanging locker A storage place. gyres Circular. a line attached to a movable spar. oceanic currents. hank A small snap hook to secure the jib luff to the headstay. H hail The signaling of a ship. hand lead A weight. its anchor. guy A rigging line. ground swells Waves that become steeper and shorter as they approach the shore. 16 . harbor A safe anchorage. hand bearing compass A small. a vessel's weight. grommet An eyelet. usually used for taking bearings (or sightings). a ring (circle) formed by a rope. or slowly. the circle formed by the intersection of a sphere and a plane.

the head may refer to the entire compartment or the fixture itself. heavy weather Stormy weather conditions. hawsepipes Hawse hole fittings. a fitted hatch cover. hawser A rope of a larger width. head seas Waves coming towards the bow. hauling The pulling of a line. a rope having a diameter of more than 4. heading The current direction a ship is pointed. headsail Any sail (or set of sails) forward of the mast. tugging on a rope. that are joined at an angle. hauling part The part of a tackle to which power is given. sail(s) located in the foretriangle. head The toilet aboard a vessel. hauling out Removal of a vessel from water. headway The forward movement (motion) of the ship through the water. notion of rough seas or dangerous situation. strongly pulling on a line. heaving to Setting the sails in order to reduce headway speed (during a storm). hawse hole A hull opening through which mooring lines are run. which may be hinged or sliding. fitting used to stow and protect the upper portion of the anchor rode (in larger vessels). hard-chined A hull shaped with flat panels. headstay The rigging from the bow to the top of the mast.harbormaster The person in charge of all anchorage matters. an opening to a lower ship compartment. windy weather.5 inches. heave To throw a rope or line. 17 . turning a wheel (or tiller) in one direction as far as it can go. hatch A deck opening. as opposed to following seas. the foremost stay. hard over Making an abrupt turn. heaving line A coiled rope thrown from a vessel.

hitch A knot used to attach a rope to an object. riggings and superstructures. a motor fitted inside the boat. holding tank A sewage storage tank. a craft requiring inflation before it is operational. with winds in excess of 60 mph. the wheel. I inboard Inside. U-shaped PFD used in rescue operations. it is also called a cyclone (inland) or typhoon (Pacific). horizontal angle When using a sextant. hydrography The science associated with the surveying the earth's waters. ROLL heeling error The deviation of a compass reading which is created by the shift of heavy iron (engine/keel) within the vessel such that the magnetic force varies. helmsman The person steering the ship. homing Steering the vessel towards the source of a radio beacon. it is an area of high atmospheric pressure. high tide High water level. depending on its location. inboard cruiser A powerboat fitted with an inboard motor. hurricane A tropical storm. 18 . helm The tiller. horseshoe buoy A lifebuoy. it is the angle established between landmarks. high In the weather system. an inverted. person manning the helm. Also see LIST. heeling To lean to one side. to tip. the highest level water reaches in normal circumstances (non-storm related).heel. spar or ring. moving toward the vessels centerline. hydrofoil A vessel that transverses over the water using underwater foils. inflatable Any watercraft that has an inflatable structure. such as a cleat. excluding masts. any steering device used by a vessel. hull The structural body of a ship. thus providing a line of position.

hitch. in irons A sailboat that loses headway. etiquette for navigating the waters of harbors. it is the topmost spoke of the steering wheel. inlet A narrow body of water such that it connects an inland and non-inland body of water. usually set on the headstay. the lateral area beneath the hull which provides steering stability. thus losing the ability to steer. which is lowered from the deck so that passengers may embark.Inland Rules "Rules of the Road".one nautical mile per hour. knot Generic term for bend. J Jacob's Ladder A rope ladder. isobars Found on a weather map. when the sailboat's boom swings to the opposite side. they are lines of equal magnetic variation. Unit of speed . rivers and inland waters. they are lines of equal atmospheric pressure. such as the sternpost to the keel. jiffy reefing A reef that is tied in. ketch A two-masted sailing rig. K keel The vessel's "backbone". 19 . jibe To change direction (when sailing). king plank The ship's center plank. isogonic lines Found on a chart. knees Structural members that connect/re-inforce a joint of two parts. Intracoastal Waterways A series of connected rivers and canals that can be traveled (instead of the open seas). typically used to prevent shoreline erosion. king spoke When the rudder is in a centered position. jetty A natural or man-made structure that projects from the shore. jib A triangular sail. the center plank on a laid deck.

also called clinker-built.L laid up A vessel that is ready for use. excluding rudder or projecting spars. latitude Geographic distances north or south of the equator. launch The movement (insertion) of a vessel into water. lapstrake Hull construction where planks (strakes) overlies the adjacent one (below it). lay Twist of a stranded rope. leeward Toward the lee. lee helm A sailboat's tendency for its bow to turn leeward. a weight used to collect bottom samples of clay. usually attached to the gunwale. measurements are given in a combination of degrees. to allow a another vessel room to pass. usually twisted to the right. located at or near the stern. the sail's trailing edge. minutes and seconds. leeway A ship's sideways drift. the maximum length of the hull. also called a "shore boat". lead line A weight (attached to a line) lowered into the water to determine depth. aka "hand lead" lee The direction in which the wind is blowing to. a boat used to ferry people from shore to a moored ship. lazarette Small storage compartment. leech Lamprey or bloodsucker. leeboards Anti-drift boards. left-hand lay Stranded rope where the twist is to the left. the direction toward which the wind blows. mud and/or sand. but has not yet been commissioned. 20 . that is used to measure water depth. length overall (LOA) The distance between the tip of the bow and the end of the stern. lead A weight on a marked rope.

May be a cushion. locker A closet. log A written record of a vessel's travels. linestoppers A jamcleat.lifelines Rope lines. load waterline The vessel's expected waterline when it is fully equipped and loaded (with gear). (LWL) length on the waterline The vessel's length. 21 . the forward part of a sail. lubber's line A compass' index mark. a tree trunk. life preserver A personal flotation device(PFD). limber holes Drainage holes. which may be inflatable. LOA See definition of "length overall". long splice A splice that joins two rope ends. longitude The distance east or west of the Prime Meridian. list A continuous leaning to one side. luff The sail's leading edge. a rigging that keeps tension on a line. vest . navigational aides that are equipped with light source(s). line A rope in use aboard a vessel. designed to keep passengers from falling overboard. located at the sides. including the rudder post. A storage place or container. the compass line that indicates the direction that the vessel is steering. lights Beacons. coat or ring life raft A small survival craft. usually floating in the water. holes in the bilge timbers of a boat. lighthouses. a device that measures the distance run through the water.

near/at the masthead. action of attaching a rope. marine railway A boat yard or marina railway. marline A light (two-stranded) rope. provided there are no deviation (from local disturbing influences). make fast Attaching a line. mainsail The sail hoisted on the "after" side of the mainmast. may be measured either from fore-and-aft or side-to-side. fiber rope. a number assigned to each body of water for tracking purposes. floats or service facilities are available. magnetic meridian A line of horizontal magnetic force of the earth to which a compass aligns itself (no deviations). where recreational watercrafts are kept. marlinespike A pointed steel tool that is used for splicing line. masthead light A white-colored light. used for lacings. servings and whippings. manila A natural. this light indicates a powered. used to haul out vessels. 22 . messenger A light line used to pass a heavier line (hawser or halyard) to shore or another ship MIDAS Number Maine Information Display & Analysis System Number. magnetic north The direction a compass needle points. meaning "Help Me". Term originates from the French m'aidez.M magnetic course The direction of a ship's course in respect to true (magnetic) north. seizings. underway vessel at night. also called "mains'l". MAYDAY A distress call. See definition of "Naples Marina". usually piers. usually radio or telephone. mast A vertical spar. midships Any location near the center of the vessel. marina A location. a line perpendicular to the equator and passing through both (earth) poles. meridian A line of longitude. essentially a dock area.

moored Anchored. monkey fist A special knot typically used to weight the end of a heaving line.12 feet). Nautical Almanac An annual publication that contains charts of celestial bodies and their movements. There are several methods of navigation: coastal (aka piloting). wrapping twine around a hook to prevent unhooking. such as catamaran or a trimaran. Naval Observatory. N Napier diagram A graphic plot of compass deviation values. mouse. the code was originally used for the telegraph. navigation The science (or art) of determining a vessel's position and safely guiding it to another position. mizzen mast Spar on which the mizzen sail is hoisted. navigation lights Lights on a vessel that indicate course. multihull Any ship design with more than one hull. motorboat A vessel that is propelled by an internal combustion engine.M. a statute mile is 5280 feet. This diagram provides a means of converting between magnetic and compass directions. mooring Any place where ships are kept at anchor.S. Nautical Almanac Office (Greenwich. 23 . it is a communication code. the aftermost (vertical) spar in a ketch or yawl. This text is issued jointly the H.. motor sailers An auxiliary sailboat. Morse Code Named after its inventor (Samuel Morse). position and status (such as towing or fishing). For practical purposes.12 feet. celestial and radionavigation. mousing Turns of twine. vessel may be in its berth or made fast to a dock/pier/wharf. (permanent) ground tackle. naval architect An architect who specializes in marine design. a nautical mile equals one minute of latitude. typically used with small fishing boats. usually having spacious accommodations and a large motor. taken across a hook. but has since been modified for radio use. mushroom anchor A mushroom shaped mooring anchor. England) and the U.mile A nautical mile is 1852 meters (6076. nautical mile An international distance of 1852 meters or 6076.

Material used for rope and sailcloth. tapering toward the top. Notice to Mariners Information for updating charts and technical publications.Navigation Rules Official and recognized practices for navigation lights. 24 . A publication. sound signals and distress signals. Net tonnage = Total capacity . an inboard engine with an exterior driveshaft. non-slip Anti-skid (walking surface). A buoy used in the lateral system of aids to navigation. away or outside from a boat's hull. nylon A polyamide synthetic material. usually occurs when the sun and moon are farthest from being in line (quarter and three-quarter moons). meeting/passing vessels. offshore Toward the water from the land. excluding any spars or fittings. USCG. overall length The extreme length of a ship. outhaul It is the tackle. an exterior engine. out of sight of land. line or (geared) mechanism that is used to adjust the sail's foot on a boom. net tonnage A vessel's capacity in cubic feet [volume]. numbering The official "licensing" of vessels. when elasticity is desired. about navigational safety items. such as modifications to navigational aids. Hard nylon is used sheaves and other rigging parts. also called a stern drive. outdrive A boat propulsion system. and National Ocean Service. Federal mandate for identifying watercrafts in the USA. attached at the transom. except Alaska where it is monitored by the USCG. neap tide A tide of lowest range [rise and fall]. outboard Opposite of inboard.non-cargo space. O oarlock A pivoting device for oars. also called an inboard/outboard motor. Omega Navigation System An obsolete global radio navigation system. Usually are red (colored) and marked with an "even" number. may be U-shaped or O-shaped. produced by the Defense Mapping Agency. nun A cylindrical buoy.

a device made of two equi-length and parallel rulers that are connected by a cross-piece. pennant A signal flag. piloting Navigating a vessel by using visual reference points. parallax error The error of reading the compas from the side. planing hull A hull specifically designed to reduce friction and increase speed. pelorus A sighting device used to determine relative bearings. planking The wooden boards that made up the surface of the ship's deck. piling A vertical pole driven into the water's bottom. may be used to support a pier or as a mooring site. parallel rulers A navigational device used in charting. pitch The caulking material (tar or resin) between the planks of a wooden boat. a journey. pedestal The base of a mounted wheel (or helm). personal flotation device (PFD) See definition of "Life Preserver". a short length of cable between a vessel and a mooring chain. pile. one leg of a voyage. palm The broad tip of an anchor fluke. usually triangular.P painter A towing or tie-up line for a small boat. it is the rise and fall of the ship's bow. parcel Wraping tape (or other material) around a line (or wire) to prevent chafing. the (theoretical) distance a vessel advances from one propeller revolution. passage A trip. when underway. pier A structure that extends into the water and is used as a landing for vessels. pay out Releasing a line in a controlled manner. patent log An instrument for measuring the distance run and speed. worn during canvas repairs. 25 . thus distorting the distance between the needle and the numerical scale. a leather hand thimble. a small flag.

opposite of starboard. in the water or on a chart. protractor A small instrument for measuring or drawing angles on a chart. pulpit The forward railing structure at the bow. pump out Emptying the waste tank. port The left side of a vessel. prevailing winds The usual direction the wind blows in a given location. a mechanical device for lifting and pulling. propeller A rotating device with multiple blades. polyester A synthetic material used in (rope) lines and sailcloth. such as waterskiing towlines. pram A dinghy with a squared shaped bow. 26 .Pleasure Vessel License USCG documentation that prevents the commercial use of a vessel. privileged vessel The ship having the right of way. typically used for cordage that floats. port tack A vessel sailing with the wind that is parallel and left to a position finding The process of determining the ship's position. an (small) opening for ventilation or light. polypropylene A (lightweight) synthetic material. that acts as a screw in propelling a boat. plumb bow A hull having a vertical bow shape. prime meridian The longitude of zero degrees. which passes through Greenwich. purchase Block and tackle. when meeting another vessel. psychrometer A weather instrument that measures the air moisture. established facilities for maintaining ships.

from the stern to amidships. comprised of coral or rock. a protective edge on deck. electronic piloting. quay Located at the water's edge. rake The slant of a vessel's (bow or stern) funnels. electronic radar instrument used to determine a ship's position. Sailing across the wind. radio bearing A direction determined by radio. reaching A channel located between an island and the mainland. difference of 180 degrees. similiar to a lifeline. R radar An electronic system that measures distance by reflecting radio waves on objects. quartering sea Seas coming from the side (quarter). reciprocal The opposite direction. raised deck A deck above the actual gunwale. tied up side-by-side. rafting A mooring procedure for multiple vessels. reef An underwater barrier. reef knot 27 . reach. radio direction finder A receiver that accepts the transmission of a radiobeacon. rail A solid bar on supports. a (masonry) structure where ships can load/unload cargo. radar arch Arch-shaped supporting structure for radar.Q quarter The side of a ship. RDF Radio Direction Finder. by rolling the sail on a boom or by tying in reef points. thus enabling vessels to determine their position. radionavigation A method of determining a ship's position using radar. reducing the exposed area of a sail. radiobeacon A transmitter that is located at a fixed location. rafted.

by winding it on a stay. a line intersecting all meridians at the same angle. roller reefing Reduction of sail area. reeving Rigging a halyard. knot used to tie in a reef. a direction in relation to the fore-and-aft line of a ship. ribs See definition of "Frame". registration The boat numbering. RIB See definition of "Rigid Inflatable". right-hand lay The standard twist of stranded rope. wire ropes) that support and control the sails and spars. leaning port to starboard and back. reef points Tie lines used to shorten the sail area. rods. leading a line gtrough a block and tackle.Square knot. rope Any form of cordage. may be braided or twisted strands. relative bearing Expressed in degrees. the sheerline rises above the straight line from stem to stern instead of curving below. roller furling The method of furling a sail. the boat licensing. lines. to prepare a sail or gear for use. rope with strands twisting to the right. rigging The equipment (hardware. standing rigging and sails. rhumb line A straight line on a Mercator chart. rolling hitch A knot used to attach a line to a spar or another line. rigid inflatable An inflatable boat having a rigid bottom. 28 . rode The anchor line. right of way Yielding to another vessel in a passing scenario. line. to prepare a boat for use. reverse sheer Sheer the reverse of normal. roll An alternating motion of side-to-side. by winding the sail on a rotating boom. rig(s) Spars.

Gossip. running rigging Adjustable lines used for controlling sails and spars. satellite navigation A form of radar positioning using satellites. rowlock See definition of "Oarlock". the ratio of anchor line in use to the vertical distance from the bow to the water's bottom. rules of the road Navigational Rules.round turn Part of a knot. toe rail or bulwarks. regulations used to prevent boating collisions. a small forward derrick mast. scuttlebutt Rumors. precursor to the modern day water cooler. usually the foremast is the shortest vertical spar. a turn of line around an object. the propeller. rub rail A guard on the hull's side to absorb wear from contact with pilings and docks. safety harness A harness with webbing and a safety line to keep people from falling overboard. 29 . scudding Running before the wind in a gale. scuppers Drain holes (and piping). samson post A single bitt forward used to fasten dock lines and the anchor (on a small vessel). rudder The control surface by which a vessel is steered. running lights A ship's navigational lights. rudder post The shaft connecting the rudder to the wheel (or tiller). used at night or inclimate weather. schooner A sailing ship having two or more masts. may be located in the deck. used with a cargo boom (on larger vessels). S scoops See definition of "cowls". it was a cask ocntaining drinking water. scope The amount of anchor cable to use. screw The prop.

repairs. seiche An oscillation of the surface of a lake (or landlocked sea) that varies in period from minutes to several hours. marlinespike work. including: anchoring. as in celestial navigation when the altitudes of heaven bodies are taken when the known heights of objects ashore can be used to determine distance. used for measuring angles. to take something aboard. set. self-draining Automatic draining. sheerstrake Topmost plank on the side of a wooden planked ship. sentinel A weight suspended from the anchor line (rode) to help stop the anchor from dragging in rough weather. the direction of a current. used to change the direction of force. set out To raise a sail. sea cock A (through-hull) fitting with valve that controls the flow of water between the vessel's exterior and interior. used to connect lines to an anchor or sail. as seen from the side. seamanship The arts and skills of handling a vessel. serving Protecting or covering part of a line to stop wear. It is designed to break when the prop hits a solid object. seizing Binding two lines together. with a pin across the throat. sheet A line used to control the lateral movement of a sail. thereby preventing additional damage. sheave A pulley (grooved wheel) over which riggings wires run. to turn off course as a result of poor piloting. seakindly A vessel's ability to move comfortable (without undue strain) in rough seas. to keep the ship's bow to the seas in open water (and reduce drift). sheer The curvature of a deck. shear pin A safety device. ship A large.sea anchor Canvas. sextant A navigational instrument. a knot for joining lines of differing widths. maintenance. ocean-going vessel. sheet bend A knot for bending a line to an eye. sail handling and steering. shackle A metal link fitting. rigging. 30 . used to fasten a propeller to its shaft. docking. shaped in the form of a parachute.

spars Poles used in sailboat riggings. which is moderately strong. not moving. loose. sliding hatch Hatch mounted on slides. booms. slip A boat berth. line used for servings and whippings. sidelights The (red and green) navigational lights. running lights. a line used to control the fore/aft motion of a boat tied up. splice To join to lines. Refer to "long splice". slack water The period of little water movement between flood and ebb tidal currents. shrouds Fixed rigging of a mast. slack The looseness of a line. small stuff Cordage such as sail twine. sole The cabin floor. signal halyard The halyard used for hoisting the ship's signal flags. short splice A quick splice. spun yard and marline. gaffs and masts. to ease. as the end of two lines. snub a line To quickly check a running rope. soundings Measurements of water depths (shown on a chart). in good shape and ready for use. to make an eye of two lines. spinnaker A three-cornered sail. the cockpit floor. spring line A standard dock line. spoon bow A bow that is shaped like the bowl of a spoon. usually by tension around a bitt or cleat. the percentage difference between the theoretical and the actual difference that a propeller advances when turning in water under load.shipshape In good condition. used in downwind sailing. shock cord An elastic line. joining two lines by tucking strands or interweaving parts of a rope. located between piers or floats. 31 .

squall A sudden. staysail An additional foresail set between the jib and the mast. tides that are higher than normal. the corresponding portion of the hull in composite construction. stand The period of time when the vertical rise/fall of the tide has ceased. a distance of 5280 feet. standing part The portion of a line not used in making a knot. stateroom The sleeping quarters of the captain and guests. steerage way The minimum forward motion of a vessel that enables it to respond to rudder movement. statute mile A unit of land measurement. 32 . step To raise the mast and set it in place. the vessel having the right of way. starboard The right side of the ship. square rigged Ships rigged with square sails that are hung laterally. stand-on vessel The privileged vessel. starboard tack A ship sailing with the wind coming over the right side is known to be on the starboard tack. steadying sail A hoisted sail for the steadying effect of the wind. stays Rigging. at the base of the mast. stanchion A metal post used to hold a deck's lifelines. not for propulsion. square knot Reef knot. as a result of gravitational forces from the sun and moon being in conjunction. violent windstorm. generally the rods and wires used to support the masts. standing rigging The permanent shrouds and stays. rigging used mainly to hold up the mast and take the strain of the sails. a knot useful for tying two ends of a line together. stem The forward member of the hull. the part of the boat in which the heel of the mast is placed.spring tide Opposite of neap tide. opposite of port.

stuffing box A (through-hull) fitting for the rudder post or drive shaft. deck stepped or keel stepped. swamp To fill a boat with water coming over the gunwale. stern line Mooring line from the stern to the pier. sternway Opposite of headway. small triangular headsail. stern The aft part of the vessel. stern drive An I/O engine system. the inspection is usually conducted by a marine surveyor. reef or shore. storm jib A strong. strakes Lines of planking. swell A large. with the motor inside the hull. stores Generic term for supplies. 33 . superstructure Any above deck structure. survey A vessel inspection for the purposes of insurance or purchase. also called a gland. stow To put items in their proper place. surf Breaking waves. can be food or non-food items. non-cresting wave. surveyor A professional who examines vessels for purposes of insurance or purchase. moving in reverse. swim platform A transom platform used for boarding the boat from the water. typically used in heavy winds. suit of sails A ship's full complement of sails.stepped Referring to the mast. long. waves breaking a bar.

sailed windward. tacking A sailing maneuver in which the direction of the boat is changed. tide table A set of data listing the timetable of low/high tides. attached to the rudder post. the seat of a rowboat that also adds to structural strength. it may be mounted on the mast. bottom corner of a sail. throat The forward upper corner of a four-sided fore-and-aft sail. used for controlling the rudder (when steering). tidal current The normal current caused by the rise and fall of the tides. tender A dinghy. so that the wind is coming from the opposite side of the vessel. a small boat to transport people and supplies to a larger vessel. telltale A wind-direction indicator. caused by the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon. tonnage The measure of a vessel's capacity or displacement. tackle A combination rig consisting of multiple blocks and lines. 34 . tiller A lever. thimble A metal fitting used in rigging. tack The forward. a windsock. toe rail Low bulwark on a small decked boat. tides The vertical rise and fall of the earth's waters. it is measured in pounds "of pull". tensile strength The load at which a line (rope or chain) would break. thwart A crossways seat.T tachometer A device that indicates a motor's revolutions per minute. each leg of a zigzag course. tack rag A (slightly) sticky cleaning cloth to pick up dust and dirt from the brightwork. rigging or sail. the point where the throat halyard attaches.

the way in which a ship floats on an even keel. towing An assistance or rescue maneuver of another vessel. trim. turning circle The course of a vessel when turning. track Rigging fitting. rather than below. opposed to magnetic north. 35 . transom The transverse portion of the stern. true north Geographic north. traffic separation scheme A generally agreed upon plan by which vessels in high-traffic areas have one-way routes to prevent possible collisions. trip line A second line attached to an anchor. tumblehome The inward curving of the topsides (above the waterline). turnbuckle An adjustable. used for lifelines and stays. rigging line to control a spar. trimmed To set and adjust the sails. line used for servings and whippings. true course A course that is referenced to geographic north. composed of metal or plastic. spars and other rigging. the sides of a ship above the waterline. twine Light line. tune To make an adjustment for maximum efficiency. a course that is corrected for deviation and variation.topping lift A running. to assist with its retrieval. true wind The actual wind direction and force. the smallest possible circular path when the rudder is hard over. topsides To be on/above deck. tunnel hull A hull design to reduce propeller draft. by the use of rigging and sheets. different than the apparent wind. pulling another boat through the water. threaded rigging fitting. used to control blocks. by shifting its ballast. trough The depression of water between two waves or crests. trimaran A vessel with three hulls. the vessel's path charted on a map.

two-blocked Fully closed up. when both blocks in a purchase are drawn completely together. which directs air/vapor flow. The federal marine law enforcement and rescue agency (of the USA). USPS United States Power Squadrons. variation A compass "error" that occurs. opposed to backing. A round trip. A private organization that specializes in good boating practices and boating safety. a knot in which two hitches are made upon the standing portion of the line and tightened. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) An organization that tests the safety levels of equipment. a ship. not at anchor. vector A line that represents both direction and magnitude (of force). a watercraft. not aground. as distinguished from a "passage". USCG United States Coast Guard. vessel A boat. veer To swerve. to change direction suddenly. voyage A complete trip. V V-drive Mechanism used with an engine installation that has the normally aft-facing end of the motor facing forward. upwind To the windward of. vent An opening of the ventilation system. two half-hitches A knot. ventilator Openings that are fitted with cowls. V-hull Hull that is "V" shaped. opposed to "U" shaped or other. VHF radio A "V"ery "H"igh "F"requency electronic communications system. a moving and floating craft. U underway A vessel in motion. since true north and magnet north are not always aligned. 36 . to change direction.

some communications may require a course change. affecting speed. waves Undulations of the water. winch A device designed to haul/pull a line. may be caused by wind or gravitational forces affecting the earth. weigh Raising of the anchor. composed of water. wetted surface The hull's area (including rudder) in the water. wharf A structure for docking vessels. water ballast Ballast. wheel The steering wheel. the water track resulting from the vessel's passage.W wake The trailing disturbance of water behind a moving vessel. the coast lying in the direction from where the wind is blowing. weather shore The opposite of "lee shore". weather side The vessel's side upon which the wind is blowing. which is parallel to the shore. waterline A painted line that represents the intersection of hull's bottom and its topsides. whistle signal A standard communication between vessels to indicate dangerous situations. wash Surging wave action. a winch with a rotating drum. to be properly fitted out with adequate supplies and equipment. weather helm The ship's tendency to turn windward. the propeller. windward The direction from where the wind is blowing. 37 . well-found Well supplied. the helm. to leave. to depart. windlass A special winch. windage Any form of wind resistance. in tanks. whipping Twine wrapped (wound) around another line to prevent wear and to add strength.

workboat A small vessel used for boating chores. A spar (crossing the mast). on which square sails are fitted. yaw To steer or swing off course (as when running with a quartering sea). such as putting down moorings and transporting supplies working sails Sails normally used. apart from storm/light weather sails. A pleasure vessel. yawl A rig for two-masted sailboats. stepped aft of the rudder post. yard A location where boats are constructed. Vessel may be power or sail propelled. in which there is a mainmast and a (smaller) mizzen mast. Y yacht A pleasure boat. 38 . worm To fill in the spaces (void) in laid rope. repaired or stored. A watercraft where luxury is conveyed. X None at this time.

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