A Guide to Boating Jargon

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 09:11:41 Europe/London

New to sailing or a bit rusty when it comes to remembering the relevant terms when you’re boating or yachting? Our glossary of boating jargon should help you get down with the lingo so you’re not left ‘all at sea’...see what we did there!

Abaft
Behind the boat.

Aboard
On or inside the boat.

Abreast
Side by side.

Adrift
Unattached to moorings or a towline.

Aft
Toward the stern of the boat.

Alee
Away from the direction of the wind.

Batten down
Secure hatches and loose objects.

Beam
The greatest width of the boat.

Bearing away
Turning away from the wind.

Bight
The part of the rope or line between the end and the standing part where a knot is formed.

Bilge
The interior of the hull below the floorboards.

Bitter end
The last part of a rope or chain.

Boom
The pole that runs at a right angle from the mast.

Bow
The front of the boat.

Bridge
Where the vessel is steered from.

Buoy
See ‘Mark’.

Capsize
To turn over.

Course
The direction the boat is steered.

Cunningham (or downhaul)
Adjusting the tension of a sail’s luff.

Downhaul
See ‘Cunningham’.

Ebb
The receding of a current.

Fathom
A measurement equivalent to six feet.

Flood
The incoming of a current.

Head up
Sailing close to the wind.

Irons
The boat is pointed towards the wind with the sail flapping, probably going backwards.

Jacob’s ladder
A rope ladder lowered to allow people to come aboard.

Kicker (or vang)
Used to keep the boom from rising.

Knot
A measurement of speed equivalent to one nautical mile (6076 feet) per hour.

Leeward
The downwind direction of the wind.

Luffing
Pointing the boat towards the wind.

Mainsheet
The line that controls the position of the mainsail.

Mark (or buoy)
A floating object that requires a boat to pass on a specific side.

Mast
The pole that usually goes straight up from the deck.

Obstruction
An object that can not be passed without substantially changing the boat’s course.

Outhaul
An device that adjusts the tension of the sail’s foot.

Overboard
Over the side or out of the boat.

Port
The left side of the boat when you are looking forward.

Port tack
Wind across the port side.

Reaching
Sailing with the sail eased.

Reefing
Reducing the sail area.

Rig
The arrange of the mast, sails and spars.

Rudder
Used to steer the boat.

Running
Sailing before the wind with the sail out.

Sag
To drift to leeward.

Sail trim
The position of the sails in relation to the wind and the boat’s desired point of sail.

Sailmaker’s palm
A protective loop made from strong leather that fits across the palm of the hand.

Samson post
A post used to attach the anchor or mooring lines to.

Sand bar
A small, long hill of sand found in shallow water and created by waves or currents.

Sextant
A navigational device used to determine the vertical position of an object.

Spinnaker
A large, lightweight sail used when running or on a broad reach.

Spinnaker pole or spinnaker boom
A pole used to extend the foot of the spinnaker and secure the corner of the sail.

Spreader
Small spars extending from the mast that allow the shrouds to support the mast.

Spring tide
The tide with the most variation in water level (i.e. highest and lowest). Occurs during new and full moons.

Starboard
The right side of the boat when you are looking forward.

Starboard tack
Wind across the starboard side.

Stern
The back end of the boat.

Tacking
Changing direction by turning into the wind.

Tiller
An instrument used to turning the rudder.

Windward
The upwind direction of the wind.

Vang
See ‘Kicker’.

Yaw
Swinging or steering off course.

Posted By

Cobra Electronics