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Nautical + Sailing Terms You Should Know [578 Phrases]

Nautical + Sailing Terms You Should Know [578 Phrases]

June 5, 2019 2:05 pm

A seaman’s jargon is among the most challenging to memorize. With over 500 terms used to communicate with a captain, crew, and sailors regarding navigation and more, there’s a word for nearly everything. No need to jump ship, this comprehensive list will have you speaking the lingo in no time.

Abaft the beam: A relative bearing of greater than 90 degrees from the bow. e.g. “two points abaft the port beam.”

Abaft: Toward the stern, relative to some object (“abaft the fore hatch”).

Abandon Ship: An imperative to leave the vessel immediately, usually in the face of some imminent danger.

Abeam: “On the beam”, a relative bearing at right angles to the centerline of the ship’s keel.

Aboard: On or in a vessel. Close aboard means near a ship.

Above board: On or above the deck, in plain view, not hiding anything.

Accommodation ladder: A portable flight of steps down a ship’s side.

Admiral: Senior naval officer of Flag rank. In ascending order of seniority, Rear Admiral, Vice Admiral, Admiral and Admiral of the Fleet (Royal Navy). Derivation reputedly Arabic, from “Emir al Bath” (“Ruler of the waters”).

Admiralty law: Body of law that deals with maritime cases. In the UK administered by the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice.

Adrift: Afloat and unattached in any way to the shore or seabed. It may also imply that a vessel is not anchored and not under control, therefore goes where the wind and current take her, (loose from moorings, or out of place). Also refers to any gear not fastened down or put away properly. It can also be used to mean “absent without leave”.

Affreightment: Hiring of a vessel

Aft: Towards the stern (of the vessel).

Afterdeck: Deck behind a ship’s bridge

Afterguard: Men who work the aft sails on the quarterdeck and poop deck

Aground: Resting on or touching the ground or bottom.

Ahead: Forward of the bow.

Ahoy: A cry to draw attention. A term used to hail a boat or a ship, as “Boat ahoy!”.

Ahull: With sails furled and helm lashed to the lee-side.

Aid to Navigation: ( ATON) Any device external to a vessel or aircraft specifically intended to assist navigators in determining their position or safe course, or to warn them of dangers or obstructions to navigation.

All hands: Entire ship’s company, both officers and enlisted personnel.

All-Round White Light: On power-driven vessels less than 39.4 feet in length, this light may be used to combine a masthead light and sternlight into a single white light that can be seen by other vessels from any direction. This light serves as an anchor light when sidelights are extinguished.

Aloft: Above the ship’s uppermost solid structure; overhead or high above.

Alongside: By the side of a ship or pier.

Amidships (or midships): In the middle portion of the ship, along the line of the keel.

Anchor ball: Black shape hoisted in the forepart of a ship to show that ship is anchored in a fairway.

Anchor buoy: A small buoy secured by a light line to anchor to indicate the position of the anchor on the bottom.

Anchor chain or cable: Chain connecting the ship to the anchor.

Anchor detail: Group of men who handle ground tackle when the ship is anchoring or getting underway.

Anchor light: White light displayed by a ship at anchor. Two such lights are displayed by a ship over 150 feet (46 m) in length.

Anchor watch: Making sure that the anchor is holding and the vessel is not drifting. Important during rough weather and at night. Most marine GPS units have an Anchor Watch alarm capability.

Anchor: An object designed to prevent or slow the drift of a ship, attached to the ship by a line or chain; typically a metal, hook-like object, designed to grip the bottom under the body of water.

Anchorage: A suitable place for a ship to anchor. Area of a port or harbor.

Anchor’s aweigh: Said of an anchor when just clear of the bottom.

As the crow flies: A direct line between two points (which might cross land) which is the way crows travel rather than ships which must go around land.

Ashore: On the beach, shore or land.

Astern: Toward the stern; an object or vessel that is abaft another vessel or object.

ASW: Anti-submarine warfare.

Asylum Harbor: A harbor used to provide shelter from a storm.

Athwart, athwartships: At right angles to the fore and aft or centerline of a ship.

Avast: Stop! Cease or desist from whatever is being done.

Awash: So low in the water that the water is constantly washing across the surface.

Aweigh: Position of an anchor just clear of the bottom.

Aye, aye: Reply to an order or command to indicate that it, firstly, is heard; and, secondly, is understood and will be carried out. (“Aye, aye, sir” to officers).

Azimuth circle: Instrument used to take bearings of celestial objects.

Azimuth compass: An instrument employed for ascertaining the position of the sun with respect to magnetic north. The azimuth of an object is its bearing from the observer measured as an angle clockwise from true north.

Back and fill: To use the advantage of the tide being with you when the wind is not.

Backstays: Long lines or cables, reaching from the rear of the vessel to the mast heads, used to support the mast.

Baggywrinkle: A soft covering for cables (or any other obstructions) that prevents sail chafing from occurring.

Bale Cube (or Bale Capacity): The space available for cargo measured in cubic feet to the inside of the cargo battens, on the frames, and to the underside of the beams.

Ballaster: One who supplies ships with ballast.

Bank (sea floor): A large area of elevated sea floor.

Banyan: Traditional Royal Navy term for a day or shorter period of rest and relaxation.

Bar pilot: A bar pilot guides ships over the dangerous sandbars at the mouth of rivers and bays.

Bar: Large mass of sand or earth, formed by the surge of the sea. They are mostly found at the entrances of great rivers or havens, and often render navigation extremely dangerous, but confer tranquility once inside. See also: Touch and go, grounding. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘Crossing the bar’ an allegory for death.

Bargemaster: Owner of a barge.

Barrelman: A sailor that was stationed in the crow’s nest.

Beacon: A lighted or unlighted fixed aid to navigation attached directly to the earth’s surface. (Lights and daybeacons both constitute beacons).

Beam ends: The sides of a ship. “On her beam ends” may mean the vessel is literally on her side and possibly about to capsize; more often, the phrase means the vessel is listing 45 degrees or more.

Beam: The beam of a ship is its width at the widest point or a point alongside the ship at the mid-point of its length.

Bear away: Turn away from the wind, often with reference to a transit.

Bear down: Turn away from the wind, often with reference to a transit.

Bearing: The horizontal direction of a line of sight between two objects on the surface of the earth.

Bee: Hardwood on either side of bowsprit through which forestays are reeved

Before the mast: Literally, the area of a ship before the foremast (the forecastle). Most often used to describe men whose living quarters are located here, officers being housed behind (abaft) the mast and enlisted men before the mast. This was because the midships area where the officers were berthed is more stable, being closer to the center of gravity, and thus more comfortable. It is less subject to the up and down movement resulting from the ship’s pitching.

Belay: To secure a rope by winding on a pin or cleat

Belaying pins: Bars of iron or hardwood to which running rigging may be secured, or belayed.

Berth: A bed on a boat, or a space in a port or harbor where a vessel can be tied up.

Best bower (anchor): The larger of two anchors carried in the bow; so named as it was the last, best hope.

Bilge: The bilge is the compartment at the bottom of the hull of a ship or boat where water collects so that it may be pumped out of the vessel at a later time.

Bilged on her anchor: A ship that has run upon her own anchor.

Bimini: Weather-resistant fabric stretched over a stainless steel frame, fastened above the cockpit of a sailboat or flybridge of a power yacht which serves as a rain or sun shade.

Bimmy: A punitive instrument.

Binnacle list: A ship’s sick list. The list of men unable to report for duty was given to the officer or mate of the watch by the ship’s surgeon. The list was kept at the binnacle.

Binnacle: The stand on which the ship’s compass is mounted.

Bitter end: The anchor cable is tied to the bitts when the cable is fully paid out, the bitter end has been reached. The last part of a rope or cable.

Bitts: Posts mounted on a ship for fastening ropes

Bloody: An intensive derived from the substantive ‘blood’, a name applied to the Bucks, Scrowers, and Mohocks of the seventeenth centuries.

Blue Peter: A blue and white flag hoisted at the foretrucks of ships about to sail.

Boat: A craft or vessel designed to float on, and provide transport over, water.

Boatswain or bosun: A non-commissioned officer responsible for the sails, ropes, and boats on a ship who issues “piped” commands to seamen.

Bobstay: Rope used on ships to steady the bowsprit

Bollard: From “bol” or “bole”, the round trunk of a tree. A substantial vertical pillar to which lines may be made fast. Generally on the quayside rather than the ship.

Boltrope: Strong rope stitched to edges of a sail

Booby hatch: A sliding hatch or cover.

Booby: A type of bird that has little fear and therefore is particularly easy to catch, hence booby prize.

Boom vang: A sail control that lets one apply downward tension on the boom, countering the upward tension provided by the mainsail. The boom vang adds an element of control to mainsail shape when the mainsheet is let out enough that it no longer pulls the boom down. Boom vang tension helps control leech twist, a primary component of sail power.

Boom: A spar used to extend the foot of a fore-and-aft sail.

Booms: Masts or yards, lying on board in reserve.

Bosun: Boatswain

Bottomry: Pledging a ship as security in a financial transaction.

Bow: The front of a ship.

Bower: Anchor carried at bow of a ship

Bowline: A type of knot, producing a strong loop of a fixed size, topologically similar to a sheet bend. Also, a rope attached to the side of a sail to pull it towards the bow (for keeping the windward edge of the sail steady).

Bowse: To pull or hoist.

Bowsprit: A spar projecting from the bow used as an anchor for the forestay and other rigging.

Brail: To furl or truss a sail by pulling it in towards the mast, or the ropes used to do so.

Bream: To clean a ship’s bottom by burning off seaweed.

Bridge: A structure above the weather deck, extending the full width of the vessel, which houses a command center, itself called by association, the bridge.

Bring to: Cause a ship to be stationary by arranging the sails.

Broaching-to: A sudden movement in navigation, when the ship, while scudding before the wind, accidentally turns her leeward side to windward, also use to describe the point when water starts to come over the gunwale due to this turn.

Buffer: The chief bosun’s mate, responsible for discipline.

Bulkhead: An upright wall within the hull of a ship. Particularly a load bearing wall.

Bulwark: The extension of the ship’s side above the level of the weather deck.

Bumboat: A private boat selling goods.

Bumpkin: An iron bar (projecting outboard from a ship’s side) to which the lower and topsail brace blocks are sometimes hooked. Chains supporting/stabilizing the bowsprit.

Bunt: Middle of sail, fish-net or cloth when slack.

Buntline: One of the lines tied to the bottom of a square sail and used to haul it up to the yard when furling.

Buoy: A floating object of defined shape and color, which is anchored at a given position and serves as an aid to navigation.

Buoyed Up: Lifted by a buoy, especially a cable that has been lifted to prevent it from trailing on the bottom.

Burgee: Small ship’s flag used for identification or signaling.

By and Large: By means into the wind, while large means with the wind. By and large, is used to indicate all possible situations “the ship handles well both by and large”.

By the board: Anything that has gone overboard.

Cabin boy: attendant on passengers and crew.

Cabin: an enclosed room on a deck or flat.

Cable: A large rope; also a measure of length or distance. Equivalent to (UK) 1/10 nautical mile, approx. 600 feet; (USA) 120 fathoms, 720 feet (219 m); other countries use different values.

Cabotage: Shipping and sailing between points in the same country.

Camber: Slight arch or convexity to a beam or deck of a ship.

Canister: A type of anti-personnel cannon load in which lead balls or other loose metallic items were enclosed in a tin or iron shell. On firing the shell would disintegrate releasing the smaller metal objects.

Cape Horn fever: The name of the fake illness a malingerer is pretending to suffer from.

Capsize: When a ship or boat lists too far and rolls over, exposing the keel. On large vessels, this often results in the sinking of the ship.

Capstan: A huge rotating hub (wheel) mounted vertically and provided with horizontal holes to take up the capstan bars (when manually rotated), used to wind in anchors or other heavy objects; and sometimes to administer flogging over.

Captain’s daughter: The cat o’ nine tails, which in principle is only used on board on the captain’s (or a court martial’s) personal orders.

Careening: Cause the ship to tilt on its side, usually to clean or repair the hull below the water line.

Cargo Deadweight Tons: The weight remaining after deducting fuel, water, stores, dunnage and such other items necessary for use on a voyage from the deadweight of the vessel.

Carlin: Similar to a beam, except running in a fore and aft direction.

Cat Head: A beam extending out from the hull used to support an anchor when raised in order to secure or “fish” it.

Cat: To prepare an anchor, after raising it by lifting it with a tackle to the Cat Head, prior to securing (fishing) it alongside for sea. (An anchor raised to the Cat Head is said to be catted).

Catamaran: A vessel with two hulls.

Catboat: A cat-rigged vessel with only one sail, usually on a gaff.

Centreboard: A removable keel used to resist leeway.

Chafing Gear: Material applied to a line or spar to prevent or reduce chafing. See Baggywrinkle.

Chafing: Wear on the line or sail caused by constant rubbing against another surface.

Chain-wale or channel: A broad, thick plank that projects horizontally from each of a ship’s sides abreast a mast, distinguished as the fore, main, or mizzen channel accordingly, serving to extend the base for the shrouds, which supports the mast.

Chine: A relatively sharp angle in the hull, as compared to the rounded bottoms of most traditional boat hulls.

Chock: Metal casting with curved arms for passing ropes for mooring ship.

Chock-a-block: Rigging blocks that are so tight against one another that they cannot be further tightened.

Clean bill of health: A certificate issued by a port indicating that the ship carries no infectious diseases.

Clean slate: At the helm, the watch keeper would record details of speed, distances, headings, etc. on a slate. At the beginning of a new watch the slate would be wiped clean.

Cleat: A stationary device used to secure a rope aboard a vessel.

Clew: Corner of sail with a hole to attach ropes.

Clew-lines: Used to truss up the clews, the lower corners of square sails.

Club: hauling the ship drops one of its anchors at high speed to turn abruptly. This was sometimes used as a means to get a good firing angle on a pursuing vessel.

Coaming: The raised edge of a hatchway used to help keep out water.

Cocket: Official shipping seal; customs clearance form.

Cofferdam: Narrow vacant space between two bulkheads of a ship.

Cog: Single-masted, square-sailed ship with a raised stern.

Companionway: A raised and windowed hatchway in the ship’s deck, with a ladder leading below and the hooded entrance-hatch to the main cabins.

Compass:   Navigational instrument that revolutionized travel.

Complement: The full number of people required to operate a ship. Includes officers and crewmembers; does not include passengers.

Cordage: Ropes in the rigging of a ship.

Corrector: a device to correct the ship’s compass.

Courses: The mainsail, foresail, and mizzen.

Coxswain or cockswain: The helmsman or crew member in command of a boat.

Cringle: Loop at the corner of a sail to which a line is attached.

Crosstrees: Horizontal crosspieces at a masthead used to support ship’s mast.

Crow’s nest: Specifically a masthead constructed with sides and sometimes a roof to shelter the lookouts from the weather, generally by whaling vessels, this term has become a generic term for what is properly called masthead. See masthead.

Cube: The cargo carrying capacity of a ship, measured in cubic feet.

Cuddy: A small cabin in a boat.

Cunningham: A line invented by Briggs Cunningham, used to control the shape of a sail.

Cut and run: When wanting to make a quick escape, a ship might cut lashings to sails or cables for anchors, causing damage to the rigging, or losing an anchor, but shortening the time needed to make ready by bypassing the proper procedures.

Cut of his jib: The “cut” of a sail refers to its shape. Since this would vary between ships, it could be used both to identify a familiar vessel at a distance and to judge the possible sailing qualities of an unknown one.

Cut splice: A join between two lines, similar to an eye-splice, where each rope end is joined to the other a short distance along, making an opening which closes under tension.

Cutline: The “valley” between the strands of a rope or cable. Before serving a section of laid rope e.g. to protect it from chafing, it may be “wormed” by laying yarns in the cuntlines, giving that section an even cylindrical shape.

Daggerboard: A type of centerboard that is removed vertically.

Davit: Device for hoisting and lowering a boat.

Davy Jones (Locker): An idiom for the bottom of the sea.

Daybeacon: An unlighted fixed structure which is equipped with a dayboard for daytime identification.

Dayboard: The daytime identifier of an aid to navigation presenting one of several standard shapes (square, triangle, rectangle) and colors (red, green, white, orange, yellow, or black).

Deadeye: A round wooden plank which serves a similar purpose to a block in the standing rigging of large sailing vessels.

Deadrise: The design angle between the keel (q.v.) and horizontal.

Deadweight Tons (DWT): The difference between displacement, light and displacement, and loaded. A measure of the ship’s total carrying capacity.

Deadwood: Timbers built into ends of a ship when too narrow to permit framing.

Deckhand: A person whose job involves aiding the deck supervisor in (un)mooring, anchoring, maintenance, and general evolutions on deck.

Deck supervisor: The person in charge of all evolutions and maintenance on deck; sometimes split into two groups: forward deck supervisor, aft deck supervisor.

Deckhead: The under-side of the deck above. Sometimes paneled over to hide the pipework. This paneling, like that lining the bottom and sides of the holds, is the ceiling.

Decks: the structures forming the approximately horizontal surfaces in the ship’s general structure. Unlike flats, they are a structural part of the ship.

Demurrage: Delay of the vessel’s departure or loading with cargo.

Derrick: A lifting device composed of one mast or pole and a boom or jib which is hinged freely at the bottom.

Directional light: A light illuminating a sector or very narrow-angle and intended to mark a direction to be followed.

Displacement, Light: The weight of the ship excluding cargo, fuel, ballast, stores, passengers, and crew, but with water in the boilers to steaming level.

Displacement, Loaded: The weight of the ship including cargo, passengers, fuel, water, stores, dunnage and such other items necessary for use on a voyage, which brings the vessel down to her load draft.

Displacement: A measurement of the weight of the vessel, usually used for warships. Displacement is expressed either in long tons of 2,240 pounds or metric tons of 1,000 kg.

Disrate: To reduce in rank or rating; demote.

Dodger: Shield against rain or spray on a ship’s bridge.

Dog watch: A short watch period, generally half the usual time (e.g. a two-hour watch between two four hour ones). Such a watch might be included in order to slowly rotate the system over several days for fairness  or to allow both watches to eat their meals at approximately normal times.

Dolphin: A structure consisting of a number of piles driven into the seabed or riverbed in a circular pattern and drawn together with wire rope.

Downhaul: A line used to control either a mobile spar or the shape of a sail.

Draft, Air: Air Draft is the distance from the water line to the highest point on a ship (including antennas) while it is loaded.

Draft: The distance between the waterline and the keel of a boat; the minimum depth of water in which a boat will float.

Dressing down: Treating old sails with oil or wax to renew them, or a verbal reprimand.

Driver: The large sail flown from the mizzen gaff.

Driver-mast: The fifth mast of a six-masted barquentine or gaff schooner. It is preceded by the jigger mast and followed by the spanker mast. The sixth mast of the only seven-masted vessel, the gaff schooner Thomas W. Lawson, was normally called the pusher-mast.

Dromond: Large single-sailed ship powered by rowers.

Dunnage: Loose packing material used to protect a ship’s cargo from damage during transport. Personal baggage.

Dyogram: Ship’s chart indicating compass deflection due to ship’s iron.

Earrings: Small lines, by which the uppermost corners of the largest sails are secured to the yardarms.

Embayed: The condition where a sailing vessel is confined between two capes or headlands, typically where the wind is blowing directly onshore.

Ensign: Large naval flag.

Escutcheon: Part of ship’s stern where name is displayed.

Extremis (also known as “in extremis”): The point under International Rules of the Road (Navigation Rules) at which the privileged (or stand-on) vessel on a collision course with a burdened (or give-way) vessel determines it must maneuver to avoid a collision. Prior to extremes, the privileged vessel must maintain course and speed and the burdened vessel must maneuver to avoid a collision.

Fairlead: Ring through which rope is led to change its direction without friction.

Fardage: Wood placed in the bottom of the ship to keep cargo dry.

Fathom: A unit of length equal to 6 feet (1.8 m), roughly measured as the distance between a man’s outstretched hands.

Fender: An air or foam filled bumper used in boating to keep boats from banging into docks or each other.

Fiddley: Iron framework around hatchway opening.

Figurehead: Symbolic image at the head of a traditional sailing ship or early steamer.

Fireship: A ship loaded with flammable materials and explosives and sailed into an enemy port or fleet either already burning or ready to be set alight by its crew (who would then abandon it) in order to collide with and set fire to enemy ships.

First Lieutenant: In the Royal Navy, the senior lieutenant on board; responsible to the Commander for the domestic affairs of the ship’s company. Also known as ‘Jimmy the One’ or ‘Number One’. Removes his cap when visiting the mess decks as a token of respect for the privacy of the crew in those quarters. Officer i/c cables on the forecastle. In the U.S. Navy the senior person in charge of all Deckhands.

First Mate: The Second in command of a ship.

Fish: To repair a mast or spar with a fillet of wood. To secure an anchor on the side of the ship for sea,otherwise known as “catting”.

Flag hoist: A number of signal flags strung together to convey a message, e.g. “England expects…”.

Flagstaff: Flag pole at the stern of a ship.

Flank: The maximum speed of a ship. Faster than “full speed”.

Flatback: A Great Lakes slang term for a vessel without any self-unloading equipment.

Flemish Coil: A line coiled around itself to neaten the decks or dock.

Flog: To beat, to punish.

Fluke: The wedge-shaped part of an anchor’s arms that digs into the bottom.

Fly by night: A large sail used only for sailing downwind, requiring little attention.

Following sea: Wave or tidal movement going in the same direction as a ship.

Foot: The bottom of a sail.

Footloose: If the foot of a sail is not secured properly, it is footloose, blowing around in the wind.

Footrope: Each yard on a square-rigged sailing ship is equipped with a footrope for sailors to stand on while setting or stowing the sails.

Fore: Towards the bow (of the vessel).

Forebitt: Post for fastening cables at a ship’s foremast.

Forecabin: Cabin in the fore part of a ship.

Forecastle: A partial deck, above the upper deck and at the head of the vessel; traditionally the sailors living quarters. Pronounced “foc-sle”. The name is derived from the castle fitted to bear archers in time of war.

Forefoot: The lower part of the stem of a ship.

Foremast: Mast nearest the bow of a ship

Foresail: The lowest sail set on the foremast of a square-rigged ship.

Forestays: Long lines or cables, reaching from the front of the vessel to the mast heads, used to support the mast.

Forward: The area towards the bow.

Founder: To fill with water and sink → Wiktionary.

Frap: To draw a sail tight with ropes or cables.

Freeboard: The height of a ship’s hull (excluding superstructure) above the waterline. The vertical distance from the current waterline to the lowest point on the highest continuous watertight deck. This usually varies from one part to another.

Full and by: Sailing into the wind (by), but not as close-hauled as might be possible, so as to make sure the sails are kept full. This provides a margin for error to avoid being taken aback (a serious risk for square-rigged vessels) in a tricky sea. Figuratively it implies getting on with the job but in a steady, relaxed way, without undue urgency or strain.

Furl: To roll or wrap a sail around the mast or spar to which it is attached.

Futtock: Rib of a ship.

Gaff: The spar that holds the upper edge of a fore-and-aft or gaff sail. Also, a long hook with a sharp point to haul fish in.

Gaff-topsail: Triangular topsail with its foot extended upon the gaff.

Galley: The kitchen of the ship.

Gangplank: A movable bridge used in boarding or leaving a ship at a pier; also known as a “brow”.

Gangway: Either of the sides of the upper deck of a ship

Garbled: Garbling was the (illegal) practice of mixing cargo with garbage.

Garboard: The strake closest to the keel (from Dutch gaarboard).

Genoa: Large jib that overlaps the mainsail

Global Positioning System (GPS): A satellite-based radio navigation system providing continuous worldwide coverage. It provides navigation, position, and timing information to air, marine, and land users.

Grain Cube (or Grain Capacity): The maximum space available for cargo measured in cubic feet, the measurement being taken to the inside of the shell plating of the ship or to the outside of the frames and to the top of the beam or underside of the deck plating.

Grapnel: Small anchor used for dragging or grappling.

Gross Tons: The entire internal cubic capacity of the ship expressed in tons of 100 cubic feet to the ton, except certain spaces which are exempted such as: peak and other tanks for water ballast, open forecastle bridge and poop, access of hatchways, certain light and air spaces, domes of skylights, condenser, anchor gear, steering gear, wheelhouse, galley and cabin for passengers.

Groundage: A charge on a ship in port.

Gudgeon: Metal socket into which the pintle of a boat’s rudder fits.

Gunnage: Number of guns carried on a warship.

Gunwhale: Upper edge of the hull.

Gybe: To swing a sail from one side to another.

Halyard or Halliard: Originally, ropes used for hoisting a spar with a sail attached; today, a line used to raise the head of any sail.

Hammock: Canvas sheets, slung from the deckhead in mess decks, in which seamen slept. “Lash up and stow” a piped command to tie up hammocks and stow them (typically) in racks inboard of the ship’s side to protect the crew from splinters from shot and provide a ready means of preventing flooding caused by damage.

Hand Bomber: A ship using coal-fired boilers shoveled in by hand.

Handsomely: With a slow even motion, as when hauling on a line “handsomely.”

Hank: A fastener attached to the luff of the headsail that attaches the headsail to the forestay. Typical designs include a bronze or plastic hook with a spring-operated gate or a strip of cloth webbing with a snap fastener.

Harbor: A harbor or haven is a place where ships may shelter from the weather or are stored. Harbors can be man-made or natural.

Haul wind: To point the ship so as to be heading in the same direction as the wind, generally not the fastest point of travel on a sailing vessel.

Hawse: Distance between ship’s bow and its anchor.

Hawse-hole: A hole in a ship’s bow for a cable or chain, such as for an anchor, to pass through.

Hawsepiper: An informal maritime industry term used to refer to a merchant ship’s officer who began his or her career as an unlicensed merchant seaman and did not attend a traditional maritime college/academy to earn the officer license.

Hawser: Large rope for mooring or towing a ship.

Head of navigation: A term used to describe the farthest point above the mouth of a river that can be navigated by ships.

Head: The toilet or latrine of a vessel, which for sailing ships projected from the bows.

Headsail: Any sail flown in front of the most forward mast.

Heave down: Turn a ship on its side (for cleaning).

Heave: A vessel’s transient up-and-down motion.

Heaving to: To stop a sailing vessel by lashing the helm in opposition to the sails. The vessel will gradually drift to leeward, the speed of the drift depending on the vessel’s design.

Heeling: The lean caused by the wind’s force on the sails of a sailing vessel.

Helm: Ship’s steering wheel.

Helmsman: A person who steers a ship.

Hogging or hog: The distortion of the hull where the ends of the keel are lower than the center.

Hold: In earlier use, below the orlop deck, the lower part of the interior of a ship’s hull, especially when considered as storage space, as for cargo. In later merchant vessels, it extended up through the decks to the underside of the weather deck.

Holiday: A gap in the coverage of newly applied paint, slush, tar, or other preservatives.

Holystone: Sandstone material used to scrape ships’ decks

Horn: A sound signal which uses electricity or compressed air to vibrate a disc diaphragm.

Horse: Attachment of sheets to the deck of the vessel (Main-sheet horse).

Hounds: Attachments of stays to masts.

Hull: The shell and framework of the basic flotation-oriented part of a ship.

Hydrofoil: A boat with wing-like foils mounted on struts below the hull.

Icing: A serious hazard where cold temperatures (below about -10°C) combined with high wind speed (typically force 8 or above on the Beaufort scale) result in spray blown off the sea freezing immediately on contact with the ship.

Idlers: Members of a ship’s company not required to serve watches. These were in general specialist tradesmen such as the carpenter and the sailmaker.

In Irons: When the bow of a sailboat is headed into the wind and the boat has stalled and is unable to maneuver.

In the offing: In the water visible from on board a ship, now used to mean something imminent.

Inboard: Inside the line of a ship’s bulwarks or hull.

Inboard-Outboard drive system: A larger Power Boating alternative drive system to transom mounted outboard motors.

Jack: Ship’s flag flown from jack-staff at the bow of a vessel.

Jack-block: Pulley system for raising topgallant masts.

Jack-cross-tree: Single iron cross-tree at the head of a topgallant mast.

Jacklines or Jack Stays: Lines, often steel wire with a plastic jacket, from the bow to the stern on both port and starboard. The Jack Lines are used to clip on the safety harness to secure the crew to the vessel while giving them the freedom to walk on the deck.

Jackstaff: Short staff at ship’s bow from which the jack is hoisted.

Jackyard: Spar used to spread the foot of a gaff-topsail

Jib: A triangular staysail at the front of a ship.

Jibboom: Spar forming an extension of the bowsprit.

Jibe: To change a ship’s course to make the boom shift sides.

Jigger-mast: The fourth mast, although ships with four or more masts were uncommon, or the aft-most mast where it is smallest on vessels of less than four masts.

Junk: Old cordage past its useful service life as lines aboard ship. The strands of old junk were teased apart in the process called picking oakum.

Jurymast: Mast erected on a ship in place of one lost.

Kedge: Small anchor to keep a ship steady.

Keel: A boat’s backbone; the lowest point of the boat’s hull, the keel provides strength, stability and prevents sideways drift of the boat in the water.

Keel: The central structural basis of the hull.

Keelson: Lengthwise wooden or steel beam in ship for bearing stress.

Kentledge: Pig-iron used as ballast in ship’s hold.

Killick: A small anchor. A fouled killick is the substantive badge of non-commissioned officers in the RN. Seamen promoted to the first step in the promotion ladder are called “Killick”. The badge signifies that here is an Able Seaman skilled to cope with the awkward job of dealing with a fouled anchor.

Ladder: On board a ship, all “stairs” are called ladders, except for literal staircases aboard passenger ships. Most “stairs” on a ship are narrow and nearly vertical, hence the name. Believed to be from the Anglo-Saxon word “hiaeder”, meaning ladder.

Lagan: Cargo jettisoned from the ship but marked by buoys for recovery.

Laker: Great Lakes slang for a vessel who spends all its time on the 5 Great Lakes.

Landlubber: A person unfamiliar with being on the sea.

Lanyard: Rope or line for fastening something in a ship.

Larboard: The left side of the ship.Derived from the old ‘lay-board’ providing access between a ship and a quay.

Lastage: Room for stowing goods in a ship.

Lateen: Triangular sail rigged on ship’s spar.

Lateral System: A system of aids to navigation in which characteristics of buoys and beacons indicate the sides of the channel or route relative to a conventional direction of buoyage (usually upstream).

Laveer: To sail against the wind.

Lay down: To lay a ship down is to begin construction in a shipyard.

Lay: To come and go, used in giving orders to the crew, such as “lay forward” or “lay aloft”. To direct the course of the vessel. Also, to twist the strands of a rope together.

Lazaret: Space in ship between decks used for storage.

League: A unit of length, normally equal to three nautical miles.

Lee shore: A shore downwind of a ship. A ship which cannot sail well to windward risks being blown onto a lee shore and grounded.

Lee side: The side of a ship sheltered from the wind (opposite the weather side or windward side).

Leeboard: Wood or metal planes attached to the hull to prevent leeway.

Leech: The aft or trailing edge of a fore-and-aft sail; the leeward edge of a spinnaker; a vertical edge of a square sail. The leech is susceptible to twist, which is controlled by the boom vang and mainsheet.

Lee helm: If the helm was centered, the boat would turn away from the wind (to the lee). Consequently, the tiller must be pushed to the lee side of the boat in order to make the boat sail in a straight line.

Leeward: In the direction that the wind is blowing towards.

Leeway: The angle that a ship is blown leeward by the wind. See also “weatherly”.

Length at Waterline (LWL): The ship’s length measured at the waterline.

Length Overall (LOA): The maximum length of the ship.

Length: The distance between the forwardmost and aftermost parts of the ship.

Let go and haul: An order indicating that the ship is in line with the wind.

Lifeboat: A small steel or wood boat located near the stern of a vessel. Used to get the crew to safety if something happens to the mothership.

Line: The correct nautical term for the majority of the cordage or “ropes” used on a vessel. A line will always have a more specific name, such as mizzen topsail halyard, which describes its use.

Liner: Ship of The Line: a major warship capable of taking its place in the main (battle) line of fighting ships. Hence the modern term for most prestigious passenger vessel: Liner.

List: The vessel’s angle of lean or tilt to one side, in the direction called the roll.

Loggerhead: An iron ball attached to a long handle, used for driving caulking into seams and (occasionally) in a fight. Hence: “at loggerheads”.

Loxodograph: Device used to record the ship’s travels.

Lubber’s line: A vertical line inside a compass case indicating the direction of the ship’s head.

Luff: The forward edge of a sail. To head a sailing vessel more towards the direction of the wind.

Luffing: When a sailing vessel is steered far enough to windward that the sail is no longer completely filled with wind. The flapping of the sail(s) which results from having no wind in the sail at all.

Lugsail: Four-sided sail bent to an obliquely hanging yard.

Lutchet: Fitting on ship’s deck to allow the mast to pivot to pass under bridges.

Lying ahull: Waiting out a storm by dousing all sails and simply letting the boat drift.

Mainbrace: The brace attached to the mainmast.

Mainmast (or Main): The tallest mast on a ship.

Mainsail: Principal sail on a ship’s mainmast.

Mainsheet: Sail control line that allows the most obvious effect on mainsail trim. Primarily used to control the angle of the boom, and thereby the mainsail, this control can also increase or decrease downward tension on the boom while sailing upwind, significantly affecting sail shape. For more control over downward tension on the boom, use a boom vang.

Mainstay: Stay that extends from the main-top to the foot of the foremast.

Man overboard: A cry let out when a seaman has gone overboard.

Manrope: Rope used as a handrail on a ship.

Marina: A docking facility for small ships and yachts.

Martingale: Lower stay of rope used to sustain the strain of the forestays.

Mast: A vertical pole on a ship which supports sails or rigging.

Master: Either the commander of a commercial vessel, or a senior officer of a naval sailing ship in charge of routine seamanship and navigation but not in command during combat.

Masthead Light: This white light shines forward and to both sides and is required on all power-driven vessels.

Masthead: A small platform partway up the mast, just above the height of the mast’s main yard. A lookout is stationed here, and men who are working on the main yard will embark from here. See also Crow’s Nest.

Matelot: A traditional Royal Navy term for an ordinary sailor.

Mess: An eating place aboard ship. A group of the crew who live and feed together.

Midshipman: A non-commissioned officer below the rank of Lieutenant. Usually regarded as being “in training” to some degree.

Mizzen staysail: Sail on a ketch or yawl, usually lightweight, set from, and forward of, the mizzen mast while reaching in light to moderate air.

Mizzen: Three-masted vessel; aft sail of such a vessel.

Monkey fist: A ball woven out of line used to provide heft to heave the line to another location. The monkey fist and other heaving-line knots were sometimes weighted with lead (easily available in the form of foil used to seal e.g. tea chests from dampness) although Clifford W. Ashley notes that there was a “definite sporting limit” to the weight thus added.

Moonraker: Topmost sail of a ship, above the skyscraper.

Moor: To attach a boat to a mooring buoy or post. Also, to a dock a ship.

Navigation rules: Rules of the road that provide guidance on how to avoid collision and also used to assign blame when a collision does occur.

Net Tons: Obtained from the gross tonnage by deducting crew and navigating spaces and allowances for propulsion machinery.

Nipper: Short rope used to bind a cable to the “messenger” (a moving line propelled by the capstan) so that the cable is dragged along too (Used because the cable is too large to be wrapped around the capstan itself). During the raising of an anchor, the nippers were attached and detached from the (endless) messenger by the ship’s boys. Hence the term for small boys: “nippers”.

Oakum: Old ropes untwisted for caulking the seams of ships.

Oreboat: Great Lakes Term for a vessel primarily used in the transport of iron ore.

Orlop deck: The lowest deck of a ship of the line. The deck covering in the hold.

Outhaul: A line used to control the shape of a sail.

Outrigger: Spar extended from the side of the ship to help secure mast.

Outward bound: To leave the safety of the port, heading for the open ocean.

Overbear: To sail downwind directly at another ship, stealing the wind from its sails.

Overfall: Dangerously steep and breaking seas due to opposing currents and wind in a shallow area.

Overhaul: Hauling the buntline ropes over the sails to prevent them from chaffing.

Overhead: The “ceiling,” or, essentially, the bottom of the deck above you.

Overreach: When tacking, to hold a course too long.

Overwhelmed: Capsized or foundered.

Owner: Traditional Royal Navy term for the Captain, a survival from the days when privately-owned ships were often hired for naval service.

Ox-Eye: A cloud or other weather phenomenon that may be indicative of an upcoming storm.

Painter: Rope attached to the bow of a boat to attach it to a ship or a post.

Pallograph: Instrument measuring ship’s vibration.

Parrel: A movable loop, used to fasten the yard to its respective mast.

Patroon: Captain of a ship; coxswain of a longboat.

Pay: Fill a seam (with caulking or pitch), or to lubricate the running rigging; pay with slush (q.v.), or protect from the weather by covering with slush. See also: The Devil to pay. (French from paix, pitch).

Paymaster: The officer responsible for all money matters in RN ships including the paying and provisioning of the crew, all stores, tools, and spare parts. See also: purser.

Pilot: Navigator. A specially knowledgeable person qualified to navigate a vessel through difficult waters, e.g. harbor pilot, etc.

Pipe (Bos’n’s), or a Bos’n’s Call: A whistle used by Boatswains (bosuns or bos’ns) to issue commands. Consisting of a metal tube which directs the breath over an aperture on the top of a hollow ball to produce high pitched notes. The pitch of the notes can be changed by partly covering the aperture with the finger of the hand in which the pipe is held. The shape of the instrument is similar to that of a smoking pipe.

Pipe down: A signal on the bosun’s pipe to signal the end of the day, requiring lights (and smoking pipes) to be extinguished and silence from the crew.

Piping the side: A salute on the bos’n’s pipe(s) performed in the company of the deck watch on the starboard side of the quarterdeck or at the head of the gangway, to welcome or bid farewell to the ship’s Captain, senior officers and honored visitors.

Pitch: A vessel’s motion, rotating about the beam axis, so the bow pitches up and down.

Pitchpole: To capsize a boat end over end, rather than by rolling over.

Pontoon: A flat-bottomed vessel used as a ferry or a barge or float moored alongside a jetty or a ship to facilitate boarding.

Poop deck: A high deck on the aft superstructure of a ship.

Port: Towards the left-hand side of the ship facing forward (formerly Larboard). Denoted with a red light at night.

Preventer (Gybe preventer, Jibe preventer): A sail control line originating at some point on the boom leading to a fixed point on the boat’s deck or rail (usually a cleat or pad eye) used to prevent or moderate the effects of an accidental jibe.

Primage: Fee paid to loaders for loading ship.

Privateer: A privately-owned ship authorized by a national power (by means of a Letter of Marque) to conduct hostilities against an enemy. Also called a private man of war.

Propeller walk or prop walk: Tendency for a propeller to push the stern sideways. In theory, a right-hand propeller in reverse will walk the stern to port.

Prow: A poetical alternative term for bows.

Purser: Ship’s officer in charge of finances and passengers.

Quarterdeck: The aftermost deck of a warship. In the age of sail, the quarterdeck was the preserve of the ship’s officers.

Quartering: Sailing nearly before the wind.

Quayside: Refers to the dock or platform used to fasten a vessel to.

Radar reflector: A special fixture fitted to a vessel or incorporated into the design of certain aids to navigation to enhance their ability to reflect radar energy. In general, these fixtures will materially improve the visibility for use by vessels with radar.

Radar: Acronym for Radio Detection And Ranging. An electronic system designed to transmit radio signals and receive reflected images of those signals from a “target” in order to determine the bearing and distance to the “target”.

Rake: The inclination of a mast or another part of a ship.

Range lights: Two lights associated to form a range (a line formed by the extension of a line connecting two charted points) which often, but not necessarily, indicates the channel centerline. The front range light is the lower of the two, and nearer to the mariner using the range. The rear light is higher and further from the mariner.

Ratlines: Rope ladders permanently rigged from bulwarks and tops to the mast to enable access to topmasts and yards. Also, serve to provide lateral stability to the masts.

Reach: A point of sail from about 60° to about 160° off the wind. Reaching consists of “close reaching” (about 60° to 80°), “beam reaching” (about 90°) and “broad reaching” (about 120° to 160°).

Reef points: Small lengths of cord attached to a sail, used to secure the excess fabric after reefing.

Reef: To temporarily reduce the area of a sail exposed to the wind, usually to guard against adverse effects of strong wind or to slow the vessel.

Reef-bands: Long pieces of rough canvas sewed across the sails to give them additional strength.

Reef-tackles: Ropes employed in the operation of reefing.

Reeve: To pass a rope through a ring.

Rigging: the system of ropes, cables, or chains employed to support a ship’s masts and to control or set the yards and sails.

Righting couple: The force which tends to restore a ship to equilibrium once a heel has altered the relationship between her center of buoyancy and her center of gravity.

Rigol: The rim or ‘eyebrow’ above a port-hole or scuttle.

Roach: Curved cut in the edge of sail for preventing chafing.

Roband: Piece of yarn used to fasten a sail to a spar.

Roll: A vessel’s motion rotating from side to side, about the fore-aft axis. List (qv) is a lasting tilt in the roll direction.

Rolling-tackle: A number of pulleys, engaged to confine the yard to the weather side of the mast; this tackle is much used in a rough sea.

Rostrum: Spike on the prow of warship for ramming.

Rowlock: Contrivance serving as a fulcrum for an oar.

Royal: Small sail on the royal mast just above topgallant sail.

Running rigging: Rigging used to manipulate sails, spars, etc. in order to control the movement of the ship. Cf. standing rigging.

Sailing Certification : An acknowledgment of a sailing competence from an established sailing educational body (like NauticEd).

Sail-plan: A set of drawings showing various sail combinations recommended for use in various situations.

Saltie: Great Lakes term for a vessel that sails the oceans.

Sampson post: A strong vertical post used to support a ship’s windlass and the heel of a ship’s bowsprit.

Scandalize: To reduce the area of a sail by expedient means (slacking the peak and tricing up the tack) without properly reefing it.

Scud: To sail swiftly before a gale.

Scudding: A term applied to a vessel when carried furiously along by a tempest.

Scuppers: An opening on the side rail that allows water to run off the deck.

Scuttle: A small opening, or lid thereof, in a ship’s deck or hull. To cut a hole in, or sink something.

Scuttlebutt: Cask of drinking water aboard a ship; rumour, idle gossip.

Scuttles: Portholes on a ship.

Sea anchor: A stabilizer deployed in the water for heaving to in heavy weather. It acts as a brake and keeps the hull in line with the wind and perpendicular to waves.

Sea chest: A valve on the hull of the ship to allow water in for ballast purposes.

Seaman: Generic term for a sailor.

Seaworthy: Certified for, and capable of, safely sailing at sea.

Self-Unloader: Great Lakes slang term for a vessel with a conveyor or some other method of unloading the cargo without shoreside equipment.

Shaft Horsepower (SHP): The amount of mechanical power delivered by the engine to a propeller shaft. One horsepower is equivalent to 746 watts in the SI system of units.

Shakes: Pieces of barrels or casks broken down to save space. They are worth very little, leading to the phrase “no great shakes”.

Sheer: The upward curve of a vessel’s longitudinal lines as viewed from the side.

Sheet: A rope used to control the setting of a sail in relation to the direction of the wind.

Ship: Strictly, a three-masted vessel square-rigged on all three masts, though generally used to describe most medium or large vessels. Derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “scip”.

Ship’s bell: Striking the ship’s bell is the traditional method of marking time and regulating the crew’s watches.

Ship’s company: The crew of a ship.

Shoal: Shallow water that is a hazard to navigation.

Shrouds: Standing rigging running from a mast to the sides of ships.

Sickbay: The compartment reserved for medical purposes.

Sidelights: These red and green lights are called sidelights (also called combination lights) because they are visible to another vessel approaching from the side or head-on. The red light indicates a vessel’s port (left) side; the green indicates a vessel’s starboard (right) side.

Siren: A sound signal which uses electricity or compressed air to actuate either a disc or a cup-shaped rotor.

Skeg: Part of ship connecting the keel with the bottom of the rudderpost.

Skipper: The captain of a ship.

Skysail: A sail set very high, above the royals. Only carried by a few ships.

Skyscraper: A small, triangular sail, above the skysail. Used in light winds on a few ships.

Slipway: Ramp sloping into the water for supporting a ship.

Slop chest: A ship’s store of merchandise, such as clothing, tobacco, etc., maintained aboard merchant ships for sale to the crew.

Small bower (anchor): The smaller of two anchors carried in the bow.

Snotty: Naval midshipman.

Sonar: A sound-based device used to detect and range underwater targets and obstacles. Formerly known as ASDIC.

Spanker: Sail on the mast nearest the stern of a square-rigged ship.

Spanker-mast: The aft-most mast of a fore-and-aft or gaff-rigged vessel such as schooners, barquentines, and barques. A full-rigged ship has a spanker sail but not a spanker-mast (see Jigger-mast).

Spar: A wooden, in later years also iron or steel pole used to support various pieces of rigging and sails. The big five-masted full-rigged tall ship Preussen (German spelling: Preußen) had crossed 30 steel yards, but only one wooden spar—the little gaffe of its spanker sail.

Spindrift: Finely-divided water swept from the crest of waves by strong winds.

Spinnaker pole: A spar used to help control a spinnaker or other headsail.

Spinnaker: A large sail flown in front of the vessel while heading downwind.

Spirketing: Inside planking between ports and waterways of a ship.

Splice: To join lines (ropes, cables, etc.) by unraveling their ends and intertwining them to form a continuous line. To form an eye or a knot by splicing.

Sponson: Platform jutting from ship’s deck for gun or wheel.

Sprit: Spar crossing a fore-and-aft sail diagonally.

Spritsail: Sail extended by a sprit.

Squared away: Yards held rigidly perpendicular to their masts and parallel to the deck. This was rarely the best trim of the yards for efficiency but made a pretty sight for inspections and in the harbor. The term is applied to situations and to people figuratively to mean that all difficulties have been resolved or that the person is performing well and is mentally and physically prepared.

Squat effect: Is the phenomenon by which a vessel moving quickly through shallow water creates an area of lowered pressure under its keel that reduces the ship’s buoyancy, particularly at the bow. The reduced buoyancy causes the ship to “squat” lower in the water than would ordinarily be expected.

Standing rigging: Rigging which is used to support masts and spars, and is not normally manipulated during normal operations. Cf. running rigging.

Starboard: Towards the right-hand side of a vessel facing forward. Denoted with a green light at night. Derived from the old steering oar or ‘steerboard’ which preceded the invention of the rudder.

Starbolins: Sailors of the starboard watch.

Starter: A rope used as a punitive device.

Stay: Rigging running fore (forestay) and aft (backstay) from a mast to the hull.

Staysail: A sail whose luff is attached to a forestay.

Steering oar or steering board: A long, flat board or oar that went from the stern to well underwater, used to control the vessel in the absence of a rudder.

Steeve: To set a ship’s bowsprit at an upward inclination.

Stem: The extension of the keel at the forward of a ship.

Stemson: Supporting timber of a ship.

Stern tube: The tube under the hull to bear the tail shaft for propulsion (usually at the stern).

Stern: The rear part of a ship, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter to the taffrail.

Sternlight: This white light is seen only from behind or nearly behind the vessel.

Sternpost: Main member at the stern of a ship extending from keel to deck.

Sternway: Movement of a ship backward.

Stevedore: Dock worker who loads and unloads ships.

Stokehold: Ship’s furnace chamber.

Strake: One of the overlapping boards in a clinker-built hull.

Studding-sails (pronounced “stunsail”): Long and narrow sails, used only in fine weather, on the outside of the large square sails.

Stunsail: Light auxiliary sail to the side of principal sails.

Supercargo: Ship’s official in charge of business affairs.

Surge: A vessel’s transient motion in a fore and aft direction.

Sway: A vessel’s motion from side to side. Also used as a verb meaning to hoist. “Sway up my dunnage.”

Swigging: To take up the last bit of slack on a line such as a halyard, anchor line or dock line by taking a single turn round a cleat and alternately heaving on the rope above and below the cleat while keeping the tension on the tail.

Swinging the compass: Measuring the accuracy in a ship’s magnetic compass so its readings can be adjusted – often by turning the ship and taking bearings on reference points.

Swinging the lamp: Telling sea stories. Referring to lamps slung from the deckhead which swing while at sea. Often used to indicate that the storyteller is exaggerating.

Swinging the lead: Measuring the depth of water beneath a ship using a lead-weighted sounding line.

Taffrail: Rail around the stern of a ship.

Tail shaft: A kind of metallic shafting (a rod of metal) to hold the propeller and connected to the power-engine. When the tail shaft is moved, the propeller may also be moved for propulsion.

Taken aback: An inattentive helmsmen might allow the dangerous situation to arise where the wind is blowing into the sails “backward”, causing a sudden (and possibly dangerous) shift in the position of the sails.

Tally: The operation of hauling aft the sheets, or drawing them in the direction of the ship’s stern.

The Ropes: Refers to the lines in the rigging.

Thole: Pin in the side of a boat to keep an oar in place.

Three sheets to the wind: On a three-masted ship, having the sheets of the three lower courses loose will result in the ship meandering aimlessly downwind.

Tiller: Handle or lever for turning a ship’s rudder.

Timberhead: Top end of ship’s timber used above the gunwale.

Timenoguy: Rope stretched from place to place in a ship.

Timoneer: From the French, “timonnier”, is a name given on particular occasions to the steersman of a ship.

Ton: The unit of measure often used in specifying the size of a ship. There are three completely unrelated definitions for the word. One of them refers to weight, while others refer to volume.

Tonnage: A measurement of the cargo-carrying capacity of merchant’s vessels. It depends not on weight, but on the volume available for carrying cargo. The basic units of measure are the Register Ton, equivalent to 100 cubic feet, and the Measurement Ton, equivalent to 40 cubic feet. The calculation of tonnage is complicated by many technical factors.

Topgallant: Mast or sail above the topmast and below the royal mast.

Topmast: The second section of the mast above the deck; formerly the upper mast, later surmounted by the topgallant mast; carrying the topsails.

Topsail: The second sail (counting from the bottom) up to a mast. These may be either square sails or fore-and-aft ones, in which case they often “fill in” between the mast and the gaff of the sail below.

Topsides: The part of the hull between the waterline and the deck. Also, Above-water hull.

Touch and go: The bottom of the ship touching the bottom, but not grounding.

Towing: The operation of drawing a vessel forward by means of long lines.

Traffic Separation Scheme: Shipping corridors marked by buoys which separate incoming from outgoing vessels. Improperly called Sea Lanes.

Tranship: To transfer from one ship to another.

Transire: Ship’s customs warrant for clearing goods.

Transom: A more or less flat surface across the stern of a vessel.

Travellers: Small fittings that slide on a rod or line. The most common use is for the inboard end of the mainsheet; a more esoteric form of traveler consists of “slight iron rings, encircling the backstays, which are used for hoisting the top-gallant yards, and confining them to the backstays”.

Treenail: Long wooden pin used to fix planks of the ship to the timbers.

Trice: To haul in and lash secure a sail with a small rope.

Trick: A period of time spent at the wheel (“my trick’s over”).

Trim: Relationship of ship’s hull to the waterline.

Trunnel: Wooden shipbuilding peg used for fastening timbers.

Trysail: Ship’s sail bent to a gaff and hoisted on a lower mast.

Tuck: Part of the ship where ends of lower planks meet under the stern.

Turtleback: Structure over ship’s bows or stern.

Turtling: When a sailboat (in particular a dinghy) capsizes to a point where the mast is pointed straight down and the hull is on the surface resembling a turtle shell.

Under the weather: Serving a watch on the weather side of the ship, exposed to wind and spray.

Underway: A vessel that is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.

Underwater hull or underwater ship: The underwater section of a vessel beneath the waterline, normally not visible except when in drydock.

Unreeve: To withdraw a rope from an opening.

Vanishing angle: The maximum degree of heel after which a vessel becomes unable to return to an upright position.

Wake: Turbulence behind a ship.

Wales: A number of strong and thick planks running length-wise along the ship, covering the lower part of the ship’s side.

Walty: Inclined to tip over or lean.

Wardroom: Quarters for ship’s officers.

Washboard: Broad thin plank along ship’s gunwale to keep out sea water.

Watch: A period of time during which a part of the crew is on duty. Changes of watch are marked by strokes on the ship’s bell.

Watching: Fully afloat.

Watercraft: Water transport vessels. Ships, boats, personal watercraft.

Waterline: The intersection of a boat’s hull and the water’s surface, or where the boat sits in the water.

Waveson: Goods floating on the sea after a shipwreck.

Wear: To turn a ship’s stern to windward to alter its course

Weather deck: Whichever deck is exposed to the weather—usually either the main deck or, in larger vessels, the upper deck.

Weather gage: Favorable position over another sailing vessel to with respect to the wind.

Weather side: The weather side of a ship is the side exposed to the wind.

Weatherboard: Weather side of a ship.

: If the helm was centered, the boat would turn towards the wind (weather). Consequently, the tiller must be pulled to the windward side of the boat in order to make the boat sail in a straight line. See lee helm.

Weatherly: A ship that is easily sailed and maneuvered; makes little leeway when sailing to windward.

Weatherly: Able to sail close to the wind with little leeway.

Weigh anchor: To heave up (an anchor) preparatory to sailing.

Wells: Places in the ship’s hold for the pumps.

Wheelhouse: Location on a ship where the steering wheel is located, often interchanged with pilothouse and bridge.

Whipstaff: Vertical lever controlling ship’s rudder.

White Horses: Waves in wind strong enough to produce foam or spray on the wave tops.

Wide berth: To leave room between two ships moored (berthed) to allow space for a maneuver.

Windage: Wind resistance of the boat.

Windbound: A condition wherein the ship is detained in one particular station by contrary winds.

Windlass: A winch mechanism, usually with a horizontal axis. Used where mechanical advantage greater than that obtainable by block and tackle was needed (such as raising the anchor on small ships). Modern sailboats use an electric “Windlass” to raise the anchor.

Windward: In the direction that the wind is coming from.

Xebec: Small three-masted pirate ship.

Yard: Tapering spar attached to ship’s mast to spread the head of a square sail.

Yardarm: The very end of a yard. Often mistaken for a “yard”, which refers to the entire spar. As in to hang “from the yardarm” and the sun being “over the yardarm” (late enough to have a drink).

Yarr: Acknowledgement of an order, or agreement.

Yaw: A vessel’s motion rotating about the vertical axis, so the bow yaws from side to side.

Yawl: Ship’s small boat; sailboat carrying mainsail and one or more jibs.

Zabra: Small Spanish sailing vessel.

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Glossary of Nautical and Sailing Terms and Abbreviations

Navigating the waters of nautical and sailing terminology can be as challenging as sailing through uncharted waters. This comprehensive glossary covers essential terms and abbreviations, providing a valuable resource for both seasoned sailors and landlubbers alike. The terms are organized alphabetically for easy reference.

  • Aback : When a sail is aback, the wind fills it from the lee side, pushing it against the mast. This is often unintended and can hinder forward motion.
  • Abaft : Refers to a location on the boat towards the stern, relative to another object or position.
  • Abeam : A direction or position on a boat that is at right angles to its centerline. It’s often used to describe the location of an object or another vessel relative to the boat.
  • Aft : Located at, in, or towards the stern of a boat. It is a directional term indicating the rear part of the vessel.
  • A-hull : A method used by sailors to ride out a storm with no sails set and the helm lashed to leeward. It’s a technique for minimizing strain on the boat during severe weather.
  • AIS (Automatic Identification System) : A tracking system used on ships for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and AIS base stations.
  • Amidships : The central part of a boat, both in terms of length and width. It refers to the area around the middle of the vessel.
  • Apparent Wind : The wind experienced by an observer in motion, combining the true wind and the wind added by the observer’s own speed. It’s important for navigation and sail adjustment.
  • ARPA (Automatic Radar Plotting Aid) : A system that uses radar to track the position and movement of other vessels, assisting in collision avoidance.
  • Astern : Refers to a position or direction behind a boat. It can also describe the action of moving the boat in reverse.
  • Athwartships : A direction or position that is at right angles to the fore-and-aft line of the boat. It’s often used in describing the layout or movement across a vessel.
  • Azimuth : The angular distance measured in a clockwise direction on the horizon, usually from a fixed reference point like north. It’s a key concept in navigation for determining directions.
  • Above Board : Referring to actions or behaviors that are honest, open, and not deceitful. It’s often used to describe dealings or transactions that are legitimate.
  • Abandon Ship : A directive given to leave the vessel immediately, usually in the face of imminent danger. It’s a last-resort order when the ship is no longer safe.
  • Aboard : Being on or within a vessel. The term “close aboard” implies proximity to another ship.
  • Accommodation Ladder : A portable flight of steps down a ship’s side, used for boarding or disembarking.
  • Admiral : A senior naval officer of flag rank, with different levels including Rear Admiral, Vice Admiral, and Admiral. This term has historical roots and is key in naval hierarchies.
  • Admiralty Law : A body of law that governs maritime questions and offenses. In the UK, it’s administered by a specific division of the High Court.
  • Adrift : Describes a vessel or object that is not moored, anchored, or otherwise fastened, floating freely. It implies a lack of control and can also refer to misplaced gear.
  • Aground : A state in which a boat or ship is resting on the seabed or ground, often unintentionally. This can occur due to low tide or navigational errors.
  • Ahead : A direction in front of the bow of the boat. Moving ahead means moving forward.
  • Ahoy : A traditional cry to draw attention, often used in hailing a boat or ship. It’s a part of classic maritime communication.
  • Aid to Navigation (ATON) : Devices external to a vessel that assist navigators in determining their position or course, or in identifying dangers or obstructions. These include buoys, lighthouses, and markers.
  • All Hands : Referring to the entire crew of a ship, including both officers and enlisted personnel. It’s often used to summon the whole crew for important announcements or emergencies.
  • Aloft : Above the main structure of the ship, usually referring to the area around the masts and rigging. It’s a term often used when referring to work or lookouts positioned high on the vessel.
  • Alongside : Being next to or by the side of a ship or pier. It’s often used when a vessel is moored or in close proximity to another object.
  • Anchorage : A designated area suitable for anchoring or where ships can anchor. It can refer to a specific part of a harbor or port.
  • Anchor’s Aweigh : This term is used to indicate that the anchor is clear of the sea bottom and, therefore, the ship is no longer secured to its anchoring spot. It signifies readiness to set sail or change position.
  • Anchor Ball : A black shape hoisted at the forepart of a ship to indicate that the vessel is anchored in a navigable area or fairway. It’s a visual signal for other vessels.
  • Anchor Buoy : A small buoy connected to the anchor to mark its position when dropped on the sea floor. It helps in locating and retrieving the anchor.
  • Anchor Chain or Cable : The heavy chain or cable that connects the anchor to the ship, allowing it to be secured to the seabed. It plays a critical role in the anchoring system.
  • Anchor Detail : A group of crew members assigned to handle the ship’s anchoring equipment during anchoring or getting underway. They manage the deployment and retrieval of the anchor.
  • Anchor Light : A white light displayed by a ship at anchor, to be seen by other vessels at night. Larger ships over 150 feet display two anchor lights.
  • Anchor Watch : The duty of ensuring that the anchor is holding and the vessel is not drifting, especially important in rough weather and at night. Many modern vessels use GPS systems with anchor watch alarm capabilities.
  • Armament : Refers to the weapons carried by a ship. Armaments are critical for defense and, historically, for offensive naval actions.
  • Ashore : Describes being on the land as opposed to being on a ship. Often used when crew members leave a ship to go onto land.
  • Astern : The direction toward the back or stern of a vessel. It can also refer to a vessel or object located behind another vessel.
  • Asylum Harbor : A harbor that provides shelter from storms or rough weather. It’s a place of refuge for vessels.
  • ASW (Anti-submarine Warfare) : Activities and equipment focused on combating and defending against submarines. It’s a key aspect of naval warfare.
  • Athwart, Athwartships : Positioned or located at right angles to the fore-and-aft line of a ship. This term is often used in describing the layout of the ship or when something is across the vessel’s centerline.
  • ATON (Aid to Navigation) : Refers to any device external to a vessel that assists in navigation, such as buoys, lighthouses, and beacons. These are critical for safe maritime navigation, providing direction and warning of hazards.
  • Avast : A command to stop or cease what is being done immediately. It’s a traditional naval term used to halt an operation or activity on the ship quickly.
  • Awash : Describes a condition where the deck or surface of the vessel is barely above water, with water washing over it. It can indicate a dangerous situation, especially in rough seas.
  • Aweigh : When the anchor is lifted off the seabed and is no longer holding the ship in place. It signifies the start of a journey or a change in the ship’s position.
  • Aye, Aye : A response indicating that an order has been received, understood, and will be carried out. It’s a common response to commands in naval and maritime operations.
  • Azimuth Compass : An instrument used to determine the position of the sun in relation to magnetic north. It’s crucial for navigation, especially in celestial navigation.
  • Azimuth Circle : A navigational instrument used for taking bearings of celestial objects, aiding in determining the ship’s position and course.
  • Ballast : Ballast refers to material placed in the lower part of a boat or ship to provide stability and improve its handling and balance. It can be water, sand, or other heavy materials, adjusted according to the vessel’s needs to maintain an even keel and optimal performance.
  • Batten : A thin, flexible strip inserted into the sail’s edge, providing stability and shape to the sail, especially in stronger winds.
  • Beam : The widest part of a boat, crucial for stability. It’s a key measurement in determining a vessel’s capacity and handling characteristics.
  • Berth : A sleeping compartment on a boat, or a designated space in a harbor where a vessel can be moored.
  • Bilge : The lowest part of a boat’s interior, where water typically collects and needs to be pumped out to prevent damage.
  • Bilge Pump : A mechanical or manual device used to remove water accumulated in the bilge, essential for maintaining vessel buoyancy and safety.
  • Boom : A horizontal pole attached to the mast, used to extend and control the foot of a sail.
  • Bow : The front or forward part of a boat, often characterized by a pointed shape for cutting through water.
  • Bowsprit : A spar extending forward from a ship’s bow, used to support fore-sails and increase sail area.
  • Bridge : The area on a ship where the command and navigation are conducted, equivalent to a control center on larger vessels.
  • Buoy : A floating device used to mark specific points in the water, like hazards, channels, or anchors.
  • Bulkhead : A structural partition within a ship, dividing various compartments or sections for stability and safety.
  • Back and Fill : A maneuver using the tide’s advantage when the wind is not favorable, typically in narrow channels or during docking.
  • Backstays : Cables or lines extending from the ship’s stern to the masthead, providing support and stability to the mast.
  • Baggywrinkle : A soft covering, usually made from old rope, wrapped around rigging cables to prevent sail chafing.
  • Bar : A large mass of sand or earth formed by sea surges, often found at river mouths or harbor entrances, affecting navigation.
  • Barrelman : A sailor stationed in a crow’s nest, responsible for lookout duties and spotting hazards or other ships.
  • Bar Pilot : A specialist navigator who guides ships through challenging areas like sandbars or river mouths.
  • Beacon : A fixed navigation aid, either lighted or unlighted, attached to the earth’s surface, marking hazards or guiding paths.
  • Bear Away/Down : Nautical terms for steering a vessel away from the wind, often during maneuvers or in response to wind shifts.
  • Bearing : The direction or position of an object, typically another vessel, relative to one’s own position, measured in degrees.
  • Before the Mast : A term referring to the living quarters of enlisted sailors, located in the front part of the ship.
  • Belaying Pins : Rods or bars used to secure ropes or rigging on a ship, typically made of wood or metal.
  • Best Bower : The larger of two anchors on a ship, often the primary anchor used for securing the vessel.
  • Bimini : A protective covering, typically made of weather-resistant fabric, mounted over a boat’s cockpit to shield from sun or rain. It’s a common feature in sailboats and yachts for added comfort.
  • Binnacle : A stand or housing on a ship that holds navigational instruments, including the ship’s compass. It’s essential for maintaining the ship’s course.
  • Bitts : Strong vertical posts on a ship’s deck for fastening ropes or cables, especially important during mooring or towing operations.
  • Bitter End : The final part of a rope or anchor cable. In nautical usage, reaching the ‘bitter end’ means using the entire length of the rope or cable.
  • Boatswain (or Bosun) : A non-commissioned officer on a ship responsible for maintaining the vessel’s rigging, sails, and other equipment.
  • Boom Vang : A device used on sailboats to control the angle and bend of the boom, thereby influencing sail shape and performance.
  • Bow-Chaser : A type of long gun placed at the front of a ship, used for firing directly ahead, especially useful in naval pursuits.
  • Bowline : A type of knot creating a fixed loop at the end of a rope, known for its strength and stability.
  • Bowsprit : A spar extending forward from a ship’s bow, used to increase the area for fore-sails and enhance sailing efficiency.
  • Broaching-To : A sudden veering or turning of a ship, often causing it to face into the wind or waves, potentially dangerous in heavy seas.
  • Bulwark : The extension of a ship’s sides above the level of the deck, providing protection against waves and adding structural integrity.
  • Cabin : Enclosed living space on a boat, offering shelter and accommodations. It can range from basic to luxurious, depending on the vessel.
  • Cable : A large rope or a measure of distance at sea, often used in anchoring or mooring a vessel. It is crucial in various maritime operations.
  • Capsize : The act of a boat turning over in the water, which can be accidental or due to extreme conditions. Capsizing is a critical concern in boating safety.
  • Chart Datum : A reference level on nautical charts, indicating the lowest tide level. It’s essential for safe navigation, especially near shorelines.
  • Cleat : A fitting, often made of metal or plastic, used for securing ropes on a boat. It’s a fundamental piece of hardware for mooring and rigging.
  • Cockpit : The area, usually lower than the deck, where the boat’s controls are located. It’s the primary operating station for steering and maneuvering.
  • Companionway : The set of steps or a ladder leading from the boat’s deck down to the cabin. It serves as the main entry to the interior.
  • Catamaran : A boat with two parallel hulls, offering stability and space. It’s popular for both recreational and racing purposes.
  • Centreboard : A retractable keel that moves vertically, used to reduce sideways movement (leeway) in sailing boats.
  • Clew : The lower aft corner of a sail, where the foot and leech intersect. It plays a crucial role in controlling sail shape.
  • Close-Hauled : Sailing as close to the wind as possible without stalling. It’s a challenging point of sail requiring precise control.
  • Cringle : A reinforced eyelet, often found at the ends of reef lines or on sails, used for securing or adjusting the sail.
  • Daggerboard : A vertically movable fin in smaller sailboats, providing stability and controlling side-slippage.
  • Deck : The top surface of a boat’s hull where crew and passengers stand.
  • Deadrise : The angle formed between the boat’s bottom and a horizontal plane, is important for understanding hull design.
  • Dinghy : A small boat, often used for short trips or as a tender for larger vessels.
  • Dodger : A protective covering over the cockpit area, shielding from wind and spray.
  • Davy Jones’ Locker : Nautical folklore for the seabed, symbolizing the final resting place of drowned sailors.
  • Daybeacon : An unlit navigation marker, visible in daylight, used for identifying locations or hazards.
  • Deadeye : A round wooden block with holes, part of a ship’s standing rigging, used for tensioning shrouds.
  • Deckhand : A crew member responsible for general work on the main deck.
  • Derrick : A lifting device on ships, composed of a mast or pole and a boom, used for cargo handling.
  • Devil Seam : A particularly difficult seam to seal on a ship’s hull, located near the waterline.
  • Dog Watch : A shorter than usual watch period on ships, typically two hours, to rotate duty times.
  • Dolphin : A man-made marine structure of piled beams for mooring or navigational aids.
  • Downhaul : A rope or line used for adjusting the tension on a sail or spar.
  • Draft : The vertical distance from the waterline to the lowest point of a ship’s keel, important for determining navigable water depth.
  • Dredging : The removal of sediments and debris from the bottom of water bodies to deepen them for navigation, environmental cleanup, or land reclamation.
  • Drogue : A device trailed behind a boat to slow it down, particularly useful in heavy weather to control speed.
  • EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) : A crucial safety device that sends out a distress signal in emergencies, helping in the location of vessels in distress.
  • Engine : The power unit used to propel a boat, varying in type and size depending on the vessel.
  • Earrings : Ropes used to secure the top corners of large sails to the yardarms, essential in sail management.
  • Embayed : A situation where a vessel is trapped between headlands, often with winds blowing onshore, posing navigational challenges.
  • Even Keel : Even keel refers to a condition where a boat or ship is perfectly balanced in the water, not tilting to either side. This balance is crucial for optimal performance and safety, ensuring the vessel moves efficiently and remains stable.
  • Extremis : A critical point in navigation rules where vessels in danger of collision must take action to avoid it.
  • EP (Estimated Position) : A navigational term referring to the calculated location of a vessel based on estimations.
  • ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) : The predicted time a vessel is expected to arrive at a destination. Read more: What Is ETA and ETD in Shipping?
  • ETD (Estimated Time of Departure) : The planned time for a vessel’s departure from a port or location. Read more: What Is ETA and ETD in Shipping?
  • Fairlead : A fitting that guides ropes smoothly, preventing friction and wear.
  • Fathom : A unit of depth measurement in maritime contexts, equal to six feet. Read more about fathom as a nautical measurement .
  • Flare : An emergency signaling device emitting bright light, used for distress signaling at sea.
  • Fender : A cushioning device, often air or foam-filled, used to prevent a boat from damaging itself or other objects.
  • Figurehead : A decorative symbol located at the front of older sailing ships.
  • Fireship : Historically, a ship filled with explosives and set on fire, used as a weapon.
  • First Rate : A classification for large, heavily armed warships in the 17th to 19th centuries.
  • Flag Hoist : A series of signal flags strung together to convey messages.
  • Fluke : The wedge-shaped part of an anchor’s arm, essential for securing the anchor in the seabed.
  • Forecastle : A section at the front of a ship, traditionally housing crew quarters.
  • Furl : To roll or wrap a sail around a spar or mast, a common practice in managing sails.
  • Galley : The kitchen area on a boat, equipped for cooking and preparing meals.
  • Genoa : A large jib or foresail, often overlapping the mainsail, used for improved sailing efficiency, especially in lighter winds.
  • Gimbal : A pivoting support allowing an object to remain level regardless of the boat’s motion, commonly used for compasses and cooking appliances.
  • Gudgeon and Pintle : Components of the hinge mechanism connecting the rudder to the boat, crucial for steering.
  • Gaff : A spar supporting the upper side of a fore-and-aft sail, essential in traditional sail configurations.
  • Gangplank : A movable bridge allowing passengers and crew to board or leave a ship, especially at a pier.
  • Garboard : The bottom plank of a boat’s hull, adjacent to the keel, playing a critical role in hull integrity.
  • GPS (Global Positioning System) : A satellite-based navigation system providing location and time information globally, vital for modern navigation.
  • Grapeshot : A type of ammunition used in naval warfare, consisting of small metal balls, effective against personnel rather than structures.
  • Gybe (or Jibe) : A sailing maneuver where the boat turns so its stern passes through the wind, used to change direction.
  • Hank : A fitting used to connect a sail’s luff to a stay.
  • HAT (Highest Astronomical Tide) : The highest level of tide predicted under average meteorological conditions.
  • Hatch : An opening in a ship’s deck for interior access.
  • Head-to-Wind : Position where a boat’s bow points directly into the wind.
  • Headfoil : A streamlined cover around a forestay, with a groove for a headsail’s luff.
  • Heads : Toilets on a boat.
  • Headway : Forward movement of a boat through water.
  • Heave-to : A maneuver in heavy weather to reduce a boat’s headway by backing the jib and lashing the tiller to leeward.
  • Heel : The action of a boat leaning to one side.
  • Halyard (or Halliard) : Line used to hoist a sail’s head or a spar; essential for sail manipulation.
  • Hammock : Canvas bed slung from a ship’s deckhead, used for sailors’ sleeping quarters.
  • Hand Bomber : Historical term for a ship with manually shoveled coal-fired boilers.
  • Hand over Fist : Expression describing steady upward climbing, akin to a sailor ascending a ship’s shrouds.
  • Handsomely : Slow, steady motion, especially when hauling a line.
  • Hank : Fastener attaching a sail’s luff to the forestay, typically featuring a spring-operated gate or snap fastener.
  • Harbor (or Harbour, Haven) : A natural or man-made shelter for ships, providing protection from weather.
  • Haul Wind : Sailing towards the wind’s direction, not the fastest sailing point.
  • Hawse-hole : A hole in the ship’s bow for anchor cables or chains.
  • Hawsepiper : A maritime officer who started as an unlicensed seaman without formal maritime education.
  • Head : The toilet or latrine on a vessel, traditionally positioned at the bow.
  • Head of Navigation : The farthest navigable point on a river for ships.
  • Headsail : Any sail flown in front of a vessel’s foremost mast.
  • Heave : A vessel’s temporary vertical motion, up and down.
  • Heaving to : Stopping a sailing vessel by opposing the helm and sails, causing a leeward drift.
  • Heave Down : Tilting a ship on its side, often for cleaning purposes.
  • Heeling : The leaning of a sailing vessel caused by wind pressure on its sails.
  • Helmsman : Person responsible for steering a ship.
  • Hogging (or Hog) : Hull distortion where the keel’s ends are lower than the center.
  • Hold : The lower part of a ship’s interior, used for storage, such as cargo.
  • Holiday : An unintentional gap in the application of paint or other preservative substances.
  • Holystone : Sandstone block used for scrubbing a ship’s deck.
  • Horn : A sound signal device powered by electricity or compressed air.
  • Horse : Attachment for sheets on a vessel’s deck.
  • Hounds : Attachments for stays on masts.
  • Hull : The shell and structural framework of a ship’s basic flotation section.
  • Hydrofoil : A boat with underwater wings or foils for lift and speed enhancement. Read more about Hydrofoil boats
  • Icebreaker : A ship designed to navigate and break through ice-covered waters, enabling travel in polar regions. Read more about how icebreakers work or the top 10 biggest icebreakers in the world .
  • Icing : A hazardous condition where sea spray freezes upon contact with the ship in cold temperatures (below about -10°C) and high wind speeds (force 8 or above on the Beaufort scale).
  • Idlers : Members of a ship’s crew who are not required to stand watches, typically specialist tradesmen like carpenters and sailmakers.
  • IMO (International Maritime Organisation) : A specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping.
  • Impeller : A rotating component in a pump or engine, used to move water for cooling or propulsion.
  • In Irons : A sailing term for when a boat’s bow is into the wind, causing it to stall and lose maneuverability.
  • In the Offing : Originally meaning in the waters visible from onboard a ship, now refers to something imminent or about to happen.
  • Inboard Motor : An engine mounted inside the boat, typically below the deck, used for propulsion.
  • Inboard-Outboard Drive System : A hybrid marine propulsion system combining features of inboard and outboard motors, often found in larger powerboats.
  • Inclinometer : An instrument used on ships to measure the degree of tilt or inclination, showing the vessel’s angle relative to the horizontal.
  • IRPCS (International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea) : A set of international rules governing navigation to prevent collisions between vessels at sea.
  • Isobars : Lines on a weather map joining places of equal atmospheric pressure, crucial for weather prediction and navigation.
  • ITU (International Telecommunication Union) : A United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, including maritime communications.
  • Jib : A triangular sail set forward of the mainmast of a boat, critical for maneuvering and speed.
  • Jack : In nautical terms, it refers to either a flag, specifically flown at the jackstaff at the bow of a ship, or colloquially to a sailor.
  • Jacklines or Jack Stays : Lines, often steel wire with a plastic coating, running from bow to stern on both sides of a ship, used for clipping on safety harnesses to secure crew while allowing deck mobility.
  • Jack Tar : A term for a sailor, historically dressed in ‘square rig’ with a square collar and sometimes a tarred pigtail.
  • Jib : A triangular staysail set at the front of a ship, important for its maneuvering and speed.
  • Jibe (or Gybe) : A sailing maneuver where the stern of the boat turns through the wind, changing the side of the boat the sail is on.
  • Jigger-mast : The fourth or rearmost mast on a ship, generally the smallest on vessels with fewer than four masts.
  • Jollies : A traditional Royal Navy nickname for the Royal Marines.
  • Junk : Old, unusable cordage on a ship, often repurposed by teasing apart strands in a process called picking oakum.
  • Jury : Refers to a temporary replacement for lost or damaged gear on a ship, often improvised in emergencies.
  • Keel : The primary structural element of a boat’s hull, extending along the bottom and often protruding into the water for stability.
  • Keelhauling : A severe maritime punishment involving dragging a person under the keel of a ship.
  • Kedge : A small, light secondary anchor used for additional anchoring or maneuvering.
  • Kelson (or Kelson) : A timber placed immediately above the keel inside a wooden ship, contributing to the hull’s structural integrity.
  • Ketch : A two-masted sailing vessel with a mainmast and a smaller mizzenmast, the latter stepped forward of the rudder post.
  • Kicking Strap (or Boom Vang) : A line or tackle used to control a sailboat’s boom position, pulling it down to maintain a horizontal orientation, especially useful on a reach or run.
  • Killick : A small anchor, symbolically representing a non-commissioned officer in the Royal Navy, or used colloquially to refer to an able seaman skilled in anchor handling.
  • Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter : A naval punishment where a sailor was bent over a cannon’s barrel for a spanking with a cane or cat-o’-nine-tails.
  • Know the Ropes : A phrase indicating thorough familiarity with the ropes and cordage necessary for operating a ship.
  • Ladder : On ships, most ‘stairs’ are called ladders, typically narrow and nearly vertical.
  • Laker : A vessel that operates exclusively on the Great Lakes.
  • Land Lubber : A person inexperienced or unfamiliar with the sea and sailing.
  • Lanyard : A short line used to secure or tether an object, such as a tool, to prevent loss.
  • Larboard : Archaic term for the left side of a ship, now known as ‘port’.
  • Large (By and Large) : Nautical term referring to sailing both with and against the wind.
  • LAT (Lowest Astronomical Tide) : The lowest level that sea tides can reach, used as a reference in charting.
  • Lateral System : Navigation aids system indicating the sides of channels relative to a conventional direction.
  • Lay : Orders related to crew movement or ship’s course; also, the twisting of rope strands.
  • Lay Down : To begin ship construction in a shipyard.
  • Lazy Jacks : Lines or ropes used to assist in controlling a sail when lowering or reefing.
  • League : A unit of distance, often equated to three nautical miles.
  • Lee : The side of the boat sheltered from the wind.
  • Lee Helm : Tendency of a boat to bear away from the wind, requiring the helm to be pushed leeward to maintain a straight course.
  • Lee Shore : A shore onto which the wind blows, posing a risk for ships being blown aground.
  • Leech : The after edge of a sail, particularly susceptible to twist and controlled by the vang and mainsheet.
  • Leeward : The direction toward which the wind is blowing.
  • Leeway : The sideways movement of a ship off its course due to wind pressure.
  • Let Go and Haul : An order indicating alignment with the wind.
  • Letter of Marque and Reprisal : A government license authorizing a privateer to attack enemy ships.
  • Lifeboat : A small, sturdy boat carried on ships, used for emergency evacuation.
  • Lifeline : A safety line or cable running along the sides of a boat.
  • Liferaft : An inflatable raft used for emergency abandonment of a ship.
  • Line : The correct nautical term for ropes used on a vessel, each with a specific name based on its use.
  • Liner : Originally a term for major warships in a battle line; now refers to large, prestigious passenger vessels.
  • List : The lean or tilt of a vessel to one side due to uneven weight distribution.
  • Loaded to the Gunwales : Having cargo loaded up to the ship’s rail; colloquially, being extremely drunk.
  • Loggerhead : An iron tool for driving caulking into seams; historically, also used in fights.
  • Lubber’s Line : A line inside a compass case indicating the ship’s heading.
  • Luff : The forward edge of a sail; ‘to luff up’ means turning the boat’s head into the wind.
  • Luffing : The condition when a sail is not fully filled with wind, often indicated by flapping.
  • Lying Ahull : A storm tactic where all sails are doused and the boat is left to drift.
  • Mainbrace : The brace attached to the mainmast.
  • Mainmast (or Main) : The tallest mast on a ship, supporting the primary sails.
  • Mainsheet : A line used to control the angle and shape of the mainsail, affecting sail trim and boom position.
  • Man of War : A warship from the age of sail.
  • Man Overboard! : A cry indicating that a person has fallen off the ship.
  • Marina : A facility for docking small ships and yachts, often with amenities.
  • Marines Soldiers Afloat : Royal Marines with duties including guarding ship’s officers; formed in 1664.
  • Marinized Engine : An automotive engine adapted for use in marine environments.
  • Mast : A vertical pole on a ship supporting sails and rigging.
  • Mast Step : The socket or base in the keel where the mast is fixed.
  • Masthead : A platform partway up the mast, used for lookout and access to the main yard.
  • Master : The commander of a commercial vessel or a senior naval officer responsible for seamanship and navigation.
  • Master-at-Arms : A naval non-commissioned officer in charge of discipline.
  • Matelot : A traditional Royal Navy term for an ordinary sailor.
  • MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) : The organization responsible for maritime safety and regulation.
  • Measured Mile : A nautical mile measured for testing a ship’s speed.
  • Meridian : An imaginary line on Earth passing through the poles, used in navigation.
  • Mess : An area on a ship where the crew eats; also, a group of crew members who eat together.
  • Mess Deck Catering : A system where a mess group collectively manages and prepares meals.
  • Midshipman : A junior officer in naval training.
  • Mizzen : The shorter after-mast on a ketch or yawl; also, the sail on this mast.
  • Mizzenmast (or Mizzen) : The third mast on a ship, typically on larger vessels.
  • Mizzen Staysail : A light sail set on a ketch or yawl, used in moderate conditions.
  • MLWN (Mean Low Water Neaps) : The average lowest tidal height at neap tides.
  • MLWS (Mean Low Water Springs) : The average lowest tidal height at spring tides.
  • MHWN (Mean High Water Neaps) : The average highest tidal height at neap tides.
  • MHWS (Mean High Water Springs) : The average highest tidal height at spring tides.
  • MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) : A unique identification number for maritime communications.
  • Mooring : Securing a boat to a fixed point like a buoy or dock.
  • Monkey Fist : A weighted ball woven from line, used for throwing a line to another location.
  • Moor : To secure a boat to a mooring point or dock.
  • Nautical Mile : A unit of distance in marine navigation, approximately equal to 1.852 kilometers.
  • Navigation Rules : Guidelines, also known as “rules of the road,” for avoiding collisions at sea and determining responsibility in the event of a collision.
  • Nipper : A short rope used to bind a cable to a moving line (messenger) during anchor operations, facilitating the cable’s movement.
  • No Room to Swing a Cat : A phrase indicating a lack of space, historically referring to crowded conditions on a ship during floggings where there wasn’t enough room to swing the ‘cat o’ nine tails’ whip.
  • Oilskin : Waterproof clothing worn by sailors in foul weather.
  • Oar : A long pole with a flat blade, used manually for rowing a boat.
  • Orlop Deck : The lowest deck in a ship, especially in ships of the line, often covering the hold.
  • Orderbook : A record or list detailing the orders placed with shipyards for the construction of new ships. This term is commonly used in the maritime industry to gauge the level of activity and demand in the shipbuilding sector. Related article: What is a Ship Order Book? A Clear Explanation for Traders and Investors.
  • Oreboat : A vessel, typically found on the Great Lakes, used primarily for transporting iron ore.
  • Outboard Motor : A detachable engine mounted on the stern of a boat, used for propulsion.
  • Overall Length (LOA) : The total length of a boat or ship, measured from the foremost part of the bow to the aftermost part of the stern, excluding attachments like bowspritRelated article: What Do Boat Measurements Mean? 11 Terms Explained! .
  • Outward Bound : Departing from a port or harbor, heading towards the open sea.
  • Overbear : Sailing downwind directly at another ship to steal its wind.
  • Overfall : Dangerous sea conditions with steep and breaking waves, often caused by opposing currents and winds in shallow areas.
  • Overhaul : The action of hauling buntline ropes over sails to prevent chafing.
  • Overhead : The ceiling on a boat, technically the underside of the deck above.
  • Overreach : In sailing, maintaining a tack too long before changing direction.
  • Over the Barrel : A phrase referring to the practice of flogging young sailors over a cannon’s barrel.
  • Outhaul : A rope used to control the shape of a sail, particularly the foot.
  • Overwhelmed : A term for a boat that has capsized or sunk.
  • Owner : A traditional Royal Navy term for the captain, originating from the days of privately-owned ships in naval service.
  • Ox-Eye : A cloud or weather phenomenon signaling the potential onset of a storm.
  • Painter : The bow line used to tow or secure a dinghy or tender.
  • Panpan : An urgency call over the radio, requesting assistance but not in immediate danger.
  • Parrel : A movable loop securing the yard to the mast on a sailing vessel.
  • Part Brass Rags : An expression meaning to fall out with a friend; originates from shared cleaning materials.
  • Pay : The action of filling a seam with caulking or pitch, or lubricating rigging.
  • Paymaster : A naval officer responsible for financial matters, including paying and provisioning the crew.
  • Pier-head Jump : A last-minute assignment of a sailor to a warship just before its departure.
  • Pilot : A navigator or person qualified to steer ships through challenging waters.
  • Pilothouse : An enclosed space on a boat from where it is navigated and controlled.
  • Pipe (Bos’n’s Call) : A whistle used by boatswains to issue commands on a ship.
  • Pipe Down : A signal indicating the end of the day, requiring silence and lights out.
  • Piping the Side : A ceremonial salute using the bosun’s pipe to honor important individuals.
  • Pitch : The up-and-down motion of a vessel’s bow and stern, rotating around its lateral axis.
  • Pitchpole : To capsize a boat end over end, rather than by rolling.
  • Pontoon : A flat-bottomed vessel, often used as a ferry, barge, or float for boarding.
  • Poop Deck : A high deck on the aft of a ship’s superstructure.
  • Pooped : Being swamped by a high, following sea, or colloquially, being exhausted.
  • Port : The left-hand side of a ship when facing forward; marked with a red light at night.
  • Port Tack : When a sailing boat has the wind coming from the port side and the mainsail is on the starboard side.
  • Position Line/Line of Position : A line on a chart indicating a boat’s location, derived from bearings or sightings.
  • Press Gang : Groups used historically by the Royal Navy to forcibly recruit men into naval service.
  • Preventer (Gybe or Jibe Preventer) : A line used to prevent or moderate accidental jibes.
  • Privateer : A privately-owned vessel authorized to engage in warfare under a Letter of Marque.
  • Propeller Walk (Prop Walk) : The tendency of a propeller to push the stern sideways, affecting maneuverability.
  • Prow : A poetic term for the bow of a ship.
  • Pulley : A wheel on an axle designed to support movement and change of direction of a taut cable or belt.
  • Pulpit : A metal guardrail at the bow of a boat, providing safety for the crew.
  • Pushpit : A metal guardrail at the stern of a boat.
  • Pusser : A naval term for the purser; responsible for supplies and provisions on a ship.
  • Quarter : The side of a boat between the stern and the beam, roughly midway along the boat’s length.
  • Quarterdeck : Traditionally, the aftermost deck of a warship, reserved for the ship’s officers; often near the stern.
  • Quay (or Quayside) : A stone or metal platform lying alongside or projecting into water for loading and unloading ships.
  • Queen’s (King’s) Regulations : The comprehensive orders governing the Royal Navy of the UK, issued under the authority of the reigning monarch.
  • Radar : Acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging, an electronic system used for detecting and locating objects using radio waves.
  • Radar Reflector : A device that enhances a vessel’s visibility on radar screens by reflecting radar energy.
  • Range : (1) In navigation, the alignment of two fixed points to guide a vessel; (2) the difference between high and low tide levels; (3) the distance at which a light is visible.
  • Range Lights : Two lights aligned to form a navigational aid or mark a channel’s centerline.
  • Ratlines : Rope ladders on a ship’s rigging to access masts and yards.
  • Reach : A sailing point approximately 60° to 160° off the wind, including close, beam, and broad reaching.
  • Reef : (1) To reduce a sail’s area in strong winds; (2) a rock or coral formation shallow enough to ground a vessel.
  • Reef Points : Cords attached to a sail for securing excess fabric after reefing.
  • Reef-Bands : Canvas strips sewn across sails for added strength.
  • Reef-Tackles : Ropes used in the operation of reefing sails.
  • Reefing Pennant : A strong line used to pull down the sail’s cringle to the boom during reefing.
  • Reduced Cat : A lighter version of the cat o’nine tails, used for disciplining boys.
  • Red Duster : Traditional nickname for the Civil Red Ensign.
  • Rigging : The system of ropes, cables, or chains supporting a ship’s masts and controlling sails. More about Rigging !
  • Rigging Screw : A device used to adjust the tension of a ship’s standing rigging.
  • Righting Couple : The force that restores a ship to equilibrium after a heel alters the relationship between the center of buoyancy and gravity.
  • Rigol : A rim or ‘eyebrow’ above a porthole or scuttle.
  • Roach : The curved part of a sail’s leech, extending beyond a straight line from head to clew.
  • Roll : A vessel’s side-to-side motion, rotating about the fore-aft axis.
  • Rolling Tackle : Pulleys used to secure the yard to the weather side of the mast in rough seas.
  • The Ropes : Refers to the lines used in a ship’s rigging.
  • Rope’s End : A short length of rope used as a tool for summary punishment.
  • Rudder : A flat piece, usually wood or metal, used to steer a ship.
  • Rummage Sale : The sale of damaged cargo, derived from French ‘arrimage’.
  • Running Rigging : The movable rigging of a ship, including lines like sheets and halyards, used to control sails’ position and shape.
  • Sagging : The condition of a ship when a wave trough is amidships, causing the middle part of the ship to bend downward.
  • Sail-plan : A set of drawings showing various sail combinations recommended for different conditions.
  • Sailing Certification : Official recognition of sailing competence by an established sailing educational body.
  • Saltie : A Great Lakes term for a vessel that also sails in ocean waters.
  • Sampson Post : A strong vertical post supporting a ship’s windlass and the heel of the bowsprit.
  • SAR (Search and Rescue) : Operations aimed at finding and helping vessels in distress.
  • SART (Search and Rescue Transponder) : A device used in search and rescue operations to locate vessels.
  • Scandalize : To temporarily reduce the area of a sail without properly reefing it.
  • Scantling : Scantling refers to the set of standard dimensions for parts of a structure or vessel, particularly in shipbuilding. It includes the dimensions for beams, planks, ribs, and other components, ensuring structural integrity and compliance with design specifications and safety standards.
  • Scud : The lowest clouds, observed mostly in squally weather.
  • Scudding : Being carried furiously along by a storm.
  • Scuppers : Openings on the side rails that allow water to drain off the deck.
  • Scuttle : A small opening in a ship’s deck or hull; to sink a vessel deliberately.
  • Scuttlebutt : A barrel for drinking water on a ship; also refers to gossip among sailors.
  • Sea Anchor : A device deployed in water to stabilize a vessel in heavy weather.
  • Sea Chest : A valve on a ship’s hull for water intake for ballast purposes.
  • Seacock : A valve that controls water intake or discharge through the hull.
  • Seaman : A sailor or crew member, often referring to lower ranks.
  • Seaworthy : The condition of being fit and safe for navigating at sea.
  • Securitay : A procedure word indicating a safety-related communication.
  • Seelonce : Request for radio silence during a distress incident.
  • Self-Unloader : A Great Lakes term for a vessel equipped to unload its cargo without external equipment.
  • Sennet Whip : A device used for summary punishment on ships.
  • Shackle : A metal link with a removable pin, used in various shapes for securing items.
  • Sheave : A wheel or roller in a block, over which a rope runs.
  • Sheer : The upward curve of a ship’s lines along its length, viewed from the side. More about Sheers
  • Sheet : A rope attached to the lower corner of a sail for controlling its setting.
  • Ship : A large vessel, traditionally a three-masted vessel square-rigged on all masts.
  • Ship’s Bell : Used for marking time and regulating the crew’s watches.
  • Ship’s Company : The collective term for the crew of a ship.
  • Shoal : Shallow water that presents a hazard to navigation.
  • Shrouds : Part of the standing rigging, running from the mast to the sides of the ship for support.
  • Sick Bay : The medical compartment on a ship.
  • Siren : A sound signal device using electricity or compressed air.
  • Skipper : The captain or master of a ship.
  • Skysail : A very high sail, above the royals, carried by few ships.
  • Skyscraper : A small, triangular sail set above the skysail, used in light winds.
  • Sloop : A single-masted sailing boat with one mainsail and one headsail.
  • Slop Chest : A store aboard a ship selling items like clothing and tobacco to the crew.
  • Slush : Greasy substance from boiling or scraping fat in meat storage barrels, used for greasing rigging.
  • Slush Fund : Money obtained from selling ‘slush’, used for the crew’s benefit.
  • Small Bower (Anchor) : The smaller of two anchors carried at the bow of a ship.
  • Son of a Gun : Originally, children born aboard ship; now used to refer to a mischievous person.
  • Sonar : Sound Navigation And Ranging; a device for detecting objects underwater.
  • Spanker : A sail on the aft-most mast of certain ships, like schooners and barques.
  • Spanker-Mast : The aft-most mast on vessels like schooners and barquentines.
  • Spar : A general term for poles like masts and booms on a ship.
  • Spindrift : Spray blown from wave crests by strong winds.
  • Spinnaker : A large, balloon-like sail used for down
  • Tack (noun) : The lower forward corner of a sail.
  • Tack (verb) : A maneuver where the boat turns so the bow passes through an imaginary line, pointing into the wind.
  • Tacking : Sailing close-hauled on alternate courses so that the wind shifts from one side of the boat to the other.
  • Taking the Wind Out of His Sails : Sailing in a way that steals the wind from another ship.
  • Tang : A metal fitting for attaching rigging to a mast or spar.
  • Tally : The action of hauling aft the sheets towards the ship’s stern.
  • Tailshaft : A metallic shaft connecting the propeller to the power engine, aiding in propulsion.
  • Teazer : A rope used as a punitive device.
  • Tender : A small boat used to ferry people and supplies from a yacht to shore.
  • Three Sheets to the Wind : A term describing a drunken sailor; metaphorically, a ship drifting aimlessly.
  • Tide : The rise and fall of the ocean’s surface due to gravitational forces, mainly from the moon.
  • Timoneer : A steersman of a ship, especially during specific maneuvers.
  • Toe the Line/Mark : To stand in line with toes aligned with a seam on the deck, used in naval parades.
  • Togey : Another term for a rope used as a punitive device.
  • Topgallant : The mast or sails above the topsails.
  • Topmast : The second section of a mast above the deck, carrying the topsails.
  • Topsail : The second sail up a mast, either square or fore-and-aft.
  • Topsides : The part of a ship’s hull above the waterline; also refers to above-water hull.
  • Touch and Go : A situation where the ship’s bottom grazes the seafloor but doesn’t become grounded.
  • Towing : The process of pulling a vessel forward by lines.
  • Track : (1) The course made good by a boat; (2) a fitting on the mast or boom for a sail’s slide; (3) a fitting for a traveller.
  • TrackLink : A GPS tracking app for student logbooks in sailing education.
  • Traffic Separation Scheme : Designated shipping corridors that separate incoming and outgoing vessels.
  • Transom : The flat surface forming the stern of a boat. Read more: What Is a Transom on a Boat? A Beginner’s Guide
  • Travellers : Fittings that slide on a rod or line, commonly used for the mainsheet.
  • Trim : (1) Adjusting the sails; (2) adjusting the boat’s load for optimal fore-and-aft angle.
  • Trimaran : A boat with a main hull and two smaller outrigger hulls.
  • True Wind : The actual wind speed and direction experienced when stationary.
  • Tiller : A lever attached to the rudder, used for steering.
  • Topsail : A sail located above the lowermost sail of a mast, typically in square-rigged vessels.
  • Turtling : A capsizing incident where a sailboat’s mast points straight down and the hull resembles a turtle shell.
  • Turnbuckle : A device used to adjust the tension of a ship’s rigging.
  • Topping Lift : A line used to support the boom of a sailboat when the sail is not raised.
  • Tide : The periodic rise and fall of the ocean’s surface caused by gravitational forces.
  • Toe Rail : A low strip around the edge of a boat’s deck for safety and structural integrity.
  • Under the Weather : Serving a watch on the weather side of the ship, exposed to wind and spray, often leading to feeling ill.
  • In a general sense, a vessel that is moving or navigating, not anchored, moored, or aground.
  • Specifically, a boat is underway when it is not fastened to the shore, at anchor, or aground.
  • Underwater Hull (or Underwater Ship) : The section of a vessel that is submerged in water, typically visible only when the vessel is in drydock.
  • Upper-yardmen : Sailors selected for advanced training or development, often earmarked for higher office or specialized duties.
  • Up Haul : A line used to raise equipment vertically, such as the spinnaker pole on a sailboat.
  • V-berth : A bed or sleeping space located at the bow of a boat, typically in a V-shape.
  • Vang (or Kicking Strap) : A line or rigging used to control the angle of the sailboat’s boom relative to the wind.
  • (1) Describes a clockwise shift in the wind’s direction.
  • (2) To gradually and controlledly pay out an anchor cable or rope.
  • VHF (Very High Frequency) : A radio frequency range used for marine communication.
  • VMG (Velocity Made Good) : A measure of the speed at which a vessel is moving towards its destination, considering both its course and the current.
  • Vanishing Angle : The critical angle of heel beyond which a vessel cannot right itself and risks capsizing.
  • Wake : The trail of disturbed water left behind a boat as it moves through the water.
  • Wales : Thick, strong planks running lengthwise along the lower part of a ship’s side.
  • Watch : A designated period during which part of the crew is on duty, with changes marked by ship’s bell.
  • Watercraft : General term for all types of water transport vessels, including ships, boats, and personal watercraft.
  • Weather Deck : The deck of a ship that is exposed to the weather, usually the main or upper deck.
  • Weather Gage : A favorable position relative to another vessel concerning the wind.
  • Weather Helm : The tendency of a boat to turn into the wind, requiring the tiller to be pulled windward for straight-line sailing.
  • Weather Side : The side of a ship that is exposed to the wind.
  • Weatherly : Describes a ship that sails well into the wind with minimal leeway.
  • Weigh Anchor : The action of lifting the anchor in preparation for sailing.
  • Wells : Sections in the ship’s hold designated for pumps.
  • Wheelhouse : The area of a ship where the steering wheel is located; often synonymous with pilothouse or bridge.
  • Whisker Pole : A lightweight pole used to extend the clew of a headsail, especially when running downwind.
  • White Horses : Waves with foam or spray on their tops, typically formed in strong winds.
  • Wide Berth : Allowing ample space between two moored ships for maneuvering.
  • WGS84 (World Geodetic Survey of 1984) : The most common chart datum used in global positioning systems.
  • Windage : The resistance of a boat to the wind, caused by parts like rigging, spars, and crew.
  • Windbound : Being confined to a particular area due to contrary winds.
  • Windlass : A mechanical device, often horizontal, used for hauling anchor chains or ropes, providing greater mechanical advantage than block and tackle.
  • Winch : A mechanical device with a drum and handle, used to haul or adjust tension on ropes or cables, aiding in sail control.
  • Windward : The direction from which the wind blows; opposite of leeward.
  • Wavelength : The distance between successive crests of radio waves.
  • Vang (or Kicking Strap) : Rigging used to control the boom’s angle, affecting sail shape.
  • X-Band : A frequency band used in radar systems, specifically in the 7.0 to 11.2 GHz range, often used in marine radars for navigation and collision avoidance.
  • XTE (Cross Track Error) : The perpendicular distance a vessel has deviated from its planned track or course between two waypoints. It is a key parameter in navigation to ensure a vessel follows its intended route.
  • Yard : A horizontal spar from which a square sail is suspended on a sailing ship.
  • Yardarm : The outer extremities of a yard. Commonly referenced in phrases like “hanging from the yardarm” or “sun over the yardarm.”
  • Yarr : A traditional acknowledgment of an order or agreement among sailors.
  • Yaw : The motion of a vessel rotating about its vertical axis, causing the bow to swing from side to side.
  • Yawl : A two-masted sailing vessel with the mizzen mast positioned aft of the rudder post.
  • Zincs : Sacrificial anodes typically made of zinc, mounted on a boat’s hull to prevent galvanic corrosion by corroding themselves instead of the more important metal parts of the boat.
  • Zephyr : A gentle, light breeze; often used in nautical contexts to describe mild winds that are favorable for sailing.

About the author

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I worked as an officer in the deck department on various types of vessels, including oil and chemical tankers, LPG carriers, and even reefer and TSHD in the early years. Currently employed as Marine Surveyor carrying cargo, draft, bunker, and warranty survey.

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  • Yachting World
  • Digital Edition

Yachting World cover

How to sail around the world: Launching an epic adventure

Yachting World

  • April 17, 2024

Ten years after his first cruising circumnavigation, Dan Bower is going again. He shares advice on essential preparation to sail around the world.

An aerial shot of a yacht in a tropical sea

Personal preparations and sailing skills are still the biggest part of planning to sail around the world.  Knowledge and competence takes the stress out of situations, which is more fun for you and the crew.

That doesn’t mean you need to be a seasoned old salt, but you do need to invest time gaining some sea miles and learning about maintenance and systems (or take on some professional crew).

On 1 February 2024, Skyelark II nosed her bow through the Panama Canal ’s final Miraflores Lock, and became the first yacht of this year’s World ARC fleet to enter the Pacific Ocean.

It’s now an entire decade since we first set off westward from the Caribbean to sail around the world. For myself and my wife, Em, the World ARC in 2014 was the culmination of six years of preparation and planning, working towards that dream – and the honeymoon we had promised ourselves.

Admittedly, our main hurdles were mainly financial—in our 20s, there was first the challenge of buying and equipping a cruising boat, then getting funding to how to sail around the world.

Our solution was to take paying guests, and as charter skippers (check out adventuresailing.com ) we were not typical of the owners on such a rally.

The yacht sailing on relatively calm water. The boat has two sails

Photo: Edward Penagos/WCC

Back in 2014 we also wrote a series of articles and created accompanying videos ( Bluewater Sailing Techniques ) with Yachting World.

The series of instructional features and accompanying short videos on bluewater cruising focused on skippering skills and preparations.

They covered both the human elements on how to keep a happy ship, such as watchkeeping and provisioning, to the practical skills needed to keep both boat and crew safe, such as dealing with squalls, navigating tricky coral passes, and recovering a man overboard.

Before we headed back into the Pacific again, this time departing with the World ARC 2024, for both nostalgia and research purposes I revisited the Bluewater Techniques series to see how it holds up and whether it’s still relevant.

With the benefit of hindsight (Em and I now have 100,000 more miles under the keel and two more Pacific crossings), I wanted to see how much had changed and whether the challenges of sailing around the world were still the same.

On re-reading I’m pleased to see that the techniques we suggested then are still valid, and the articles are certainly worth looking at whether you are dreaming of – or indeed actually going – to sail around the world.

The videos perhaps aren’t as slick as the current proliferation of sailing YouTube channels, but they get the message across – and I am pleased to say my fish filleting skills have since improved!

Dan and Em smiling on deck, with flags behind. They are both wearing shorts and t-shirts.

Dan and Em Bower are sailing in the World ARC aboard their 62ft Oyster Skyelark II. Photo: James Mitchell/WCC

But, financial considerations aside, how much preparation is needed to sail around the world?

What are the obstacles to heading off around the world safely and enjoyably? And how can you plan to overcome them in 2024?

The following are my top considerations…

Human elements

Cruising is booming and the community reflects this influx of newcomers – it was great to see how many owners of boats that crossed the Atlantic in the most recent ARC were just a few years into sailing.

They went out, bought a boat, and they made it. The pandemic seems to have spurred people on to make the dream come true, blow the kids’ inheritance and get out and do it right now.

Four people looking happy on the yacht with the sun behind

Main: be sure you’re confident in your knowledge and competence, particularly in maintenance and systems. This is the start of the 2024/25 Oyster World Rally in Antigua. Photo: James Mitchell/WCC

Sailing the Pacific – and beyond – is more challenging, not so much the sailing itself but the lack of access to services, parts and help. You need to be self reliant and with today’s complex boats there are a lot of systems to learn.

This takes us on to communication – particularly Starlink, which has made cruising so much less remote.

Now you can get access to information to help solve problems as they occur: perhaps learning how to diagnose a problem with an electrical circuit on YouTube, making WhatsApp video calls with a supplier’s technical support department, or being able to have real time access to telemedicine in an emergency.

This is the first year Starlink has become truly widespread: almost all of the cruising boats I meet now have Starlink installed.

While it’s not a substitute for seamanship and knowing your boat, the ability to research problems or call for assistance does flatten the learning curve for the more technically shy.

A beautiful tropical landscape with a yacht and palm trees.

Advice from cruising communities might be a more reliable indication of safe anchorages than navigation software in poorly charted areas. Photo: Dan Bower

What Starlink has proven excellent for is sharing knowledge and managing difficulties at sea, and as a mass communication tool it’s made SSB obsolete.

Several ocean ‘incidents’ have been quickly coordinated by always-on-satellite systems that allow messenger apps to work all the time.

We all get out of our comfort zone sometimes, and I’m not condoning complacency, but when going offshore having access to information can matter.

For things like telemedicine I’d argue it’s almost negligent not to have quick, reliable internet connection available.

That said, like any emergency system you don’t have to use it and for us, and many other sailors, the joy of being offshore is the ability to disconnect from news and land life.

Gearing up to sail around the world

It feels like there are more newer boats, and bigger yachts plying the world’s oceans.

An explosion of performance catamarans, aluminium expedition yachts and luxury monohulls now swell the fleets of the sailing rallies.

Many of those new yachts have been specified for ocean sailing since they were built, and come fitted with essentials that 10 years ago were still ‘luxury’ items.

Watermakers, solar panels, hydro generators and lithium batteries that can run air conditioning units – life at sea is becoming a little closer to life at home.

When we changed from our classic 1982-built Skye 51 to a modern Oyster 62, Skyelark II, there were a lot of new systems to understand, particularly given the complexity of hydraulic sail handling and the size of the electrical systems required to cope with all of the loads.

In preparation to sail around the world we went through the recommended 10-year maintenance checks from Oyster which involve major overhauls of all systems.

This is quite straightforward as it’s well documented, and it’s a great time to get to know the boat and understand what you can do yourself or what needs specialist skills.

A shot of the boat speeding through the water from the deck. There's sun on the water.

Round the world cruising places a lot of strain on a boat – exhaustive maintenance checks will mitigate against failures. Photo: Ugo Fonolla/Oyster

These are exhaustive projects which need to be budgeted for, but we see pre-emptive maintenance as an investment.

Regardless of whether you bought new, or refitted an older yacht, you still need to invest time and effort into understanding the systems you have on board.

You need to ensure you have the spares and tools to fix things, or the ability and willingness to live without them, if and when things go wrong, rather than spend cruising time waiting for non-essentials to be repaired in remote places.

The rise in renewable energy sources, increased efficiencies, and the bigger areas available on larger yachts on which to put solar arrays, has made cruising without a genset more realistic.

Since smaller generators often produce the biggest headaches while cruising, reducing dependency on them does seem to be the way to go.

This has been coupled with a rise in gas-less galleys, of which I am a big fan, both for safety and reducing the hassle of sourcing LPG in different countries.

With all these systems you have to consider spare parts and, for the unfixable problems, redundancy – whether that’s having a second source of power, emergency food that can be ready without cooking, figuring out how to raise the anchor without the windlass, or towing the yacht into port with a tender.

All are likely scenarios that need thinking through in advance to sail around the world.

For example, our solution for losing the windlass is two chain hooks which can be attached to long lines and led to the primary winches.

Then it’s a game of leapfrog: one line is being pulled while the other one is being re-led forward ready to take over.

For the galley we carry a gas bottle and a barbecue, but also have an emergency two-burner hob, and we always keep a good supply of dinghy fuel in case of a main engine issue.

Article continues below…

yachting around meaning

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Choosing the right sails

At the end of the a relatively benign ARC 2023, I called into the St Lucia sail loft and our old friend Kenny was as busy as ever – every inch of loft was covered in piles of downwind sails, while the lawn outside saw a procession of crews reloading socks and chutes.

This is all fairly standard with ocean sailing, but what was a surprise was the amount of damaged ‘white’ sails – mostly technical laminates.

These fabrics don’t do well in the trades, a combination of UV and the rigours of an ocean passage mean that there is every chance a new set won’t get you round the world or even halfway.

Someone sat in a St. Lucia sail loft with a bif sail on their lap

St Lucia sail loft is invariably kept busy. Photo: Elaine Bunting

If the boat comes with some nice sporty sails, keep them at home and they will be perfect when you get back ready to last you for years of local cruising or racing.

But for ocean sailing I would pop on a set of Dacrons: bullet proof and easier to fix on the way, and a lot cheaper than buying yourself the new laminates you will want when you get home.

Downwind sails are having a revolution. Bigger boats with smaller crews are not well suited to traditional symmetrical spinnakers and now there is a huge variety of downwind sail options on the market.

Asymmetric sails mainly use high torsion luffs and continuous line furlers which makes handling them much more straightforward.

These aren’t great for dead downwind sailing and to get the most out of them, you need to sail the angles. That means more miles, but hopefully worth it for the increased boat speed and less rolling motion.

For the more direct route the symmetric kite still wins, but as a compromise there has also been a proliferation of light weight twin headsails like Elvstrom’s Bluewater Runner or North’s TradeWind sail which allow for direct downwind sailing in lighter wind speeds than the traditional white sail route.

However, all of them come at a significant cost which may well be a factor in what you ultimately choose.

An aerial of a yacht sailing in the distance with blue skies

Photo: Yachting World

For me, it’s more a space consideration versus how often I really need light wind sails. With our masthead rig we can comfortably sail in 10 knots true so we no longer carry any light wind/coloured sails.

I’m not averse to an extra day at sea, but if the winds are light and I’m in a rush, the diesel will get me through at less pence per mile than a quiver of kites.

It’s worth thinking about what your priorities are.

Some areas of the world are notoriously badly charted and pilot information is woefully out of date. Fiji springs to mind – but it’s one of the most beautiful cruising grounds and well worth the effort to explore.

In 2014 we spent a lot of time using Google Earth images and visual navigation techniques.

We favoured having someone up in the rigging, with the sun at our backs, to con the boat through passages and into anchorages by looking out for coral heads and reefs.

A yacht sailing with a clear horizon and blue skies

Sending a crewmember aloft was a daily experience.

In many cases our chartplotters would show us as on land, or having sailed across reefs. I still have those GPS tracks and, having just downloaded the most up to date charts for those regions, I can tell you that they are no more accurate today.

Visual navigation is still key, as is real seamanship in only entering poorly charted areas in good light and favourable conditions.

To complement the old skills, there is now so much more cruiser shared knowledge. Navionics and MaxSea TimeZero are our choice of charts and both have user-updated information with anchorage reviews and potential hazards.

Many cruisers also detail their experiences on Facebook groups, and regularly post blogs and vlogs.

Cruising communities share waypoints and tracks that are known to be safe, and recent accounts can fill in the gaps in the out-of-date pilot books.

There are tutorials online on how to download or make your own charts from satellite imagery (see svocelot.com).

Get the research and planning stages out of the way while you’re at home – at the time you’re more likely to be searching for an elusive boat part, or you’ll want to be enjoying being where you are.

Cruising for a cause

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the boat preparations and updating your skillset that you forget you’re cruising the world to see it, not to just tick it off the list.

Time on passage can be spent planning for the time ashore, learning a bit about the area and considering what kind of things you want to do.

An underwater shot of a group of dolphins swimming close to the surface.

Photo: Tomasz Kunicki

Guidebooks can be useful, but reading other yacht blogs and experiences can really help.

More often, the people you meet when you sail around the world form the best experiences.

So it’s nice to think about what gifts and trading items you can carry on board to build those moments of connection and help the areas you’re visiting.

Alternatively you might consider partnering with one of the charities, such as sailaid.com, to take things that are needed to remote communities.

We find footballs for the kids and reading glasses for adults are in short supply and well received.

On a more global level there are various citizen science projects to get involved with, be it checking for plastics in the sea, taking water samples or even looking at cloud formations.

For many of these projects the field work is the most cost prohibitive aspect, and the results of studies may help protect the very things we are sailing halfway around the world to experience – the wildlife, culture and natural landscape that makes the Pacific so special.

Top upgrades

Ground tackle.

A decent anchor and at least 100m of chain.

Pacific anchorages can be deep and you need to feel you’re anchored securely enough to ride out a blow, and confident enough to leave the boat unattended for adventures ashore.

In addition to a spare anchor, a lightweight kedge is useful as a stern anchor in swelly or crowded anchorages.

Photo of the side of the deck with the buoys on the side and ropes.

Ideally powerful enough to plane in tradewind conditions, strong enough to survive contact with a rocky or reefy shoreline and light enough to pull clear of the surf and tide.

This can be a long way in places like the Las Perlas, or Australia.

I favour 2-stroke outboards for weight and because they can handle a dunking if the beach landing goes wrong.

There’s an immense joy in the simple pleasure of being anchored behind a reef, in a turquoise lagoon with just the sound of the waves and amazing stars for company (and the internet turned off!).

To get out and really enjoy and appreciate those surroundings, if you have the energy and space on board then it’s great to carry a few water toys.

Skyelark’s toy cupboard includes kit for kitesurfing and wing foiling, a Hookah (see below), drone, bikes and paddleboards.

Someone windsurfing with an island behind

Used for maintenance or to free a fouled prop or stuck anchor. When things happen it’s best to be self sufficient.

We carry full scuba kit in case we have to go deep for a problem anchor (possibly caught on or wrapped around a coral head), but for routine maintenance we use our Hookah (my favourite toy for the Pacific).

This allows two people to dive down to around 10m with the air supplied from a surface compressor. It’s a crossover between diving and snorkelling and is perfect for seeing those sharks in atoll passes.

I like that you’re visible from the surface, and you can also leave a radio at the surface (see photo) in case you get into difficulty.

Someone in the sea with a snorkel on looking at the camera. The water is calm

Low friction loops

Cheap and easy ways to re-lead a line to avoid chafe without the bulk (and expense of) snatch blocks.

Chafe is the enemy (after sand) and some care in keeping the ropes running nicely can make a big difference.

For the Panama Canal putting lines through a low friction loop stops them from jumping out of the fairleads and catching on the guard wires.

We also carry Dyneema chafe protection sleeving that is easily whipped onto a line at the first sign of damage as a sacrificial layer.

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Superyacht Glossary: Terms You Will Need To Know

Are you starting a yachting career but not from a boating background? Then, it’s time to get across the superyacht jargon to feel well-versed on your first boat or day working experience. Here’s a glossary of terms about your new workplace.

yachting around meaning

The Basics: Navigating Your Way Around the Boat

Bow : Front of the boat. (Pointy end.)

Stern : Back of the boat. (Blunt bit.)

Foredeck . Forward deck.

Aft deck : Rear deck.

Midships : The halfway point between bow and stern. Also, amidships. 

Port : Left-hand side of the boat (when facing the bow).

Starboard : Right-hand side of the boat (when facing the bow).

Quarter : A yacht can be divided into quarters, and this can help a captain direct their crew where to go on deck. Port Bow and Starboard Bow cover the two areas from midships up to the bow. Port Quarter and Starboard Quarter cover the areas running aft from midships to the stern.

Beam : Width of the yacht at its widest point.

Draft/draught : Depth of the yacht under the waterline.

Hull : The ’base’ of the boat. Everything from the main decking down.

Superstructure : Everything built on top of the hull. (Upper decks)

Bridge/Wheelhouse : Where the captain drives the boat. An interior space on an upper deck with good visibility across the front of the yacht to sea.

Flybridge : A secondary exterior helm station where the captain drives the boat from the yacht’s top deck. The flybridge is outdoors and offers almost 360-degree visibility.

Cockpit : An area on deck where the captain drives the boat (sailboat). Also, often a seating/dining area.

Helm : The yacht wheel and steering system. One can ’stand at the helm’, ’go to the helm’ or even ’helm the boat’.

Galley : Where the magic happens. (Never call it a kitchen!)

Forepeak : A compartment/large locker or cabin located up in the nose of the boat, under the foredeck. On small sailing boats, the crew may live in the forepeak cabin.

Swim platform : A platform at the back of the boat, off the aft deck, for swimming and launching the water toys.

Transom : The vertical span across the stern where the boat’s name is written.

Passerelle : The gangplank! There’s nothing like walking across a superyacht passerelle for the first time. (Remember, never step on the passerelle with your shoes on).

Lazarette : Storage in the boat’s stern, under the aft deck area, is generally where the water toys are stored.

Main Salon : The formal lounge space on the main deck. Adjoins typically the formal dining room, often as an open-plan space.

Sky Lounge : Upper salon. A comfortable lounge space, generally with a large-screen TV, card/occasional tables and possibly a piano.

Sundeck : Top deck of a motor yacht, where you’ll find sunbeds, BBQ, a bar, a dining table, and a Jacuzzi.

Stateroom : Cabin. Across the industry, superyacht cabins are increasingly called staterooms or suites on larger yachts. However, in practice, crew generally continue to call them cabins —or they cut off the word altogether, instead saying ’clean the master/VIP/starboard forward’ etc.

Head and Day head :   In sailor-speak, a ’head’ is a boat toilet. On superyachts, it’s relatively uncommon to call a bathroom a head, except in one crucial leftover case: the day head. This small toilet/washroom is one that guests will use when they want to avoid going back to their cabin to use the bathroom. On superyachts, they are located on the main and upper decks and occasionally on the sundeck.

Note that you’ll still hear some crew say, ’I’m going to use the head’ instead of ’I’m going to the toilet/bathroom’ because the word ’head’ is much more common on sailboats than motor yachts.

yachting around meaning

Lines and Equipment

Bow Line/Aft Line : The rope tied from the bow/aft to the dock stops the vessel from moving when in its berth. 

Spring Line : A line tied diagonally from the bow or stern to a point on the dock to stop the yacht from moving forwards or backwards. 

Cleat : A piece of stainless steel fixed to the deck or capping rails that lines are tied to.

Bulwark : The sides of a motor yacht that rise up from the deck. (The outside bit that stops you from falling off).

Capping rail : The rail on top of the bulwark, which is usually varnished to a high gloss.

Fender : The strong rubber ’balloons’ suspended over the sides of the yacht to protect the paintwork when the yacht is docked or manoeuvring in or out of berths.

Stabiliser : Underwater systems to reduce the yacht rolling at sea. Zero-speed stabilisers are stabilisers that work both at anchor and underway.

Tender : A small boat used to ferry guests ashore, get supplies, take rubbish in etc. There’s a vast range of tenders, including high-speed and limousine tenders, which are covered tenders that protect the guests from wind and sea spray.

Rescue tender : A rescue tender is a tender over 3.8m that is classed as one of the yacht’s vessels for rescue operations under SOLAS guidelines. It has certain safety specifications but can also be used for everyday boat operations, just like a standard tender, so you’ll often hear the captain say, ’Take the rescue tender’.

yachting around meaning

Other Yachting Terms You’ll Need To Know

An APA is a sum, usually 25-35% of the charter fee, that the charterer will pay in advance so that the yacht crew can stock the yacht with food, drink, and fuel and have money in the kitty for things like berthing fees. Any unused money at the end of the trip is returned to the charterer.

Bimini : A shade awning.

Bulkheads : The yacht’s internal walls and watertight compartments.

Ensign : The yacht’s flag, indicating which country it is registered in. Note that yachts are only sometimes registered in the nationality of the people that own them. And also that a yacht is legally considered a tiny, floating part of the country whose flag it flies and therefore operates under its laws and jurisdiction.

Knot : A measure of speed used on boats equal to one nautical mile (1.8km/hr).

Nautical Mile : Different from land miles! A nautical mile (1852m) is longer than a land mile (1609m).

Preference sheet : The form a charterer fills out to inform the yacht’s crew of their preferences regarding food, drink, activities etc. This preference sheet is given to the senior crew before the charter so the captain, chef, and chief stew can prepare the yacht for the charter.

Pullman : A pull-down berth to add an extra bed. These pull-down wall-mounted bunks are usually found in twin cabins for a third bed.

Phew! See? You’re already an expert :)

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21 Common Yachting Terms Explained

Does it ever feel like yacht enthusiasts speak a whole other language? We get it. Everyone was new to yachting once and we all had to learn what different terms mean. Luckily, you have Ahoy Club to show you the ropes. Brush up on your sea vocabulary with some common definitions in our glossary below.


Essentially, parking your yacht so that you can hop over to shore and explore. It also refers to the literal anchor which holds your yacht in place.

APA (Advanced Provisioning Allowance)

A deposit paid by charterers to cover expenses during their trip. Expenses may include taxes, harbour fees, food and alcohol.

Base charter rate

The rate that you pay for the hire of your yacht and its crew. This does not include on board expenses and taxes which are covered by your APA (see above).

The total width of the yacht at its widest point.

The bedrooms on your yacht.

A type of yacht with two hulls. It was designed this way for increased stability on the water.

Explorer yacht

A yacht that is built to go to the farthest corners of the globe and into rough terrains. See examples in our past blog .

The territory under which a yacht is registered. The yacht’s flag state will govern the laws and regulations which it must follow.

A traditional motorised sailing yacht typically found in Turkey.

The main body of the yacht floating in the water; covers the front, sides, back and underside.

A boat or yacht’s speed measured in nautical miles per hour (see below).

A large luxury yacht typically measuring over 70m.

A boat with a single hull. May be a sailing yacht, motor yacht, luxury super- or megayacht. See Catamaran above for comparison.

Motor yacht (or M/Y)

A yacht which is powered with engines. 

Nautical mile

A measure of distance on the water. One nautical mile is equal to 1852 metres or 1-minute of latitude on a navigational chart.

Preference sheet

The questionnaire that guests fill out before beginning their charter. It is meant to provide as much information as possible to the captain, crew and chef so that they may meet your preferences for an excellent trip.

Sailing yacht (or S/Y)

A yacht which is primarily powered with wind sails. Most also have motors as a backup.

The main living or lounge area on your yacht. Pronounced ‘sal-on’ not ‘sal-oon’.

A luxury yacht measuring between 24-69m.

A smaller boat housed on your yacht which can be used for transfers to shore, with your watertoys or on short day trips.

VAT (Value Added Tax)

A compulsory consumption tax set out by the countries you are visiting. See our blogs on the recent changes in Italy and France to learn more.

Yachting from A to Z with Ahoy Club

With Ahoy Club, you can expect everything about yacht chartering to be simpler. From our digital platform allowing you to browse thousands of yachts to our concierge team here to help with any questions. Check out our yachts for charter and test out your new yachting lingo ASAP.

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100 Basic Yachting & Sailing Terms You Need To Know

100 Basic Yachting & Sailing Terms You Need To Know

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Yachting is an increasingly popular activity that involves exploring and enjoying bodies of water aboard sailboats or motorboats. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned sailor or brand-new to the sport; knowing the language used in yachting is crucial for efficient communication and secure navigation. We’ll look at some of the most often used terminology and expressions in the world of yachting in this list of 100 fundamental yachting terms, from boat parts to navigation and safety gear, and more. This list is an excellent place to start whether you’re seeking to brush up on your yachting terminology or are just beginning into the sport.

Aft – Toward the back of the boat

Anchor – A heavy object used to keep a boat in place

Ballast – Weight added to the bottom of a boat to improve stability

Beam – The width of a boat at its widest point

Bilge – The lowest point inside the boat where water collects

Bimini – A type of sunshade or canopy used on boats

yachting around meaning

Bow – The front of a boat

Buoy – A floating marker used to mark channels, hazards or anchorages

Cabin – An enclosed space on a boat used for sleeping and living quarters

Capsize – To tip over or turn upside down

Cleat – A metal or plastic fitting used to secure ropes or lines to the boat

Cockpit – The open area in the back of the boat where the steering and controls are located

Compass – A navigational tool used to determine the direction

Crew – The people who work on a boat, assisting with sailing or other duties

Deck – The top surface of a boat where people can stand or walk

Dock – A platform or structure where boats can be tied up or moored

Draft – The depth of a boat below the waterline

Fender – A cushion or bumper used to protect the boat from damage when docking

Flag – A piece of fabric used to signal or communicate on a boat

Galley – The kitchen area on a boat

Genoa – A type of sail that is used for cruising and racing

GPS – Global Positioning System, a navigational system that uses satellites to determine the location

Halyard – A rope or line used to hoist or lower a sail

Hatch – An opening in the deck or cabin of a boat

Head – The bathroom on a boat

Hull – The main body of the boat, typically made of fiberglass or wood

Jib – A small triangular sail located forward of the mast

Keel – A fin-shaped object located under the boat that provides stability and helps prevent drifting

Knot – A measure of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour

Lanyard – A short cord or rope used to secure equipment or gear on a boat

Latitude – A measure of distance north or south of the equator

Leeward – The side of the boat sheltered from the wind

Lifeline – A line or rope used to provide safety and support on the deck of a boat

Log – A device used to measure speed and distance traveled

Mast – A vertical pole or spar that supports the sails

Mooring – The process of securing a boat to a dock or anchor

Nautical – Relating to or involving ships, sailors, or navigation on water

Navigation – The process of planning and controlling the course of a boat

Oar – A long pole with a flat blade used for rowing a boat

Outboard – A motor located on the outside of the boat

Port – The left side of a boat when facing forward

Propeller – A device that uses rotating blades to provide forward motion to a boat

Pulpit – A railing or fence located on the bow of the boat

Rudder – A flat object located at the back of the boat used to steer

Sail – A piece of fabric used to catch the wind and propel the boat

Sailing is the practice of using the wind to power a vessel through the water

Sheet – A line or rope used to control the angle of the sails

Skipper – The person in charge of operating a boat

Stern – The back of the boat

Tack – The direction of a boat when it is sailing upwind

Throttle – The control used to increase or decrease engine speed

Tiller – A handle or lever used to steer a boat

Transom – The flat, vertical surface at the back of the boat where the outboard motor is mounted

Trim – The adjustment of the sails and other equipment to optimize performance

Wake – The waves created by a boat as it moves through the water

Windward – The side of the boat facing into the wind

Winch – A device used to pull or hoist heavy objects on a boat

Yacht – A larger, more luxurious type of boat typically used for pleasure cruising

Bilge pump – A device used to pump water out of the bilge

Boom – The horizontal pole or spar that extends from the mast to support the bottom of the sail

Bowline – A knot used to secure a line to a fixed object

Cam cleat – A device used to secure a line under tension

Catamaran – A type of boat with two parallel hulls

Centerboard – A movable fin located underneath the boat that helps improve stability and maneuverability

Chafe – The wearing away or damage to a rope or line caused by friction against another surface

Clew – The lower corner of a sail

Current – The flow of water in a particular direction

Dinghy – A small boat used to transport people or supplies to and from shore

Fairlead – A device used to guide a line or rope in a particular direction

Flotation device – A piece of equipment used to keep a person afloat in the water

Forestay – The wire or rope that supports the mast at the front of the boat

Gaff – A spar used to support the upper edge of a sail

Headway – The forward motion of a boat

Inboard – A motor located inside the boat

Jibsheet – The line or rope used to control the jib sail

Keelboat – A type of sailboat with a fixed keel for stability and maneuverability

Luff – The forward edge of a sail

Masthead – The top of the mast where the highest sails are attached

Navigation lights – Lights used to signal other boats of the position and direction of a boat at night

Outhaul – The line or rope used to control the tension of the bottom of the sail

Planing – The state of a boat when it is moving quickly across the water and partially out of the water

Powerboat – A type of boat that is powered by an engine rather than sails

Ratchet block – A device used to reduce the effort required to pull a line under tension

Reefing – The process of reducing the size of the sails in high wind conditions

Rigging – The system of ropes and wires used to support and control the sails and mast

Rudderpost – The vertical post or shaft that the rudder is attached to

Scow – A type of sailboat with a flat bottom and squared-off ends

Shackle – A metal fitting used to connect two pieces of rope or chain

Spinnaker – A large, lightweight sail used to catch the wind when sailing down

wind 90. Spreaders – The horizontal struts on a mast that help to support and spread the shrouds

Standing rigging – The fixed parts of a boat’s rigging system, such as the mast and shrouds

Stern light – A white light on the back of a boat used to signal other boats at night

Stowaway – A person who hides on a boat in order to travel without permission

Tiller extension – A device used to extend the length of the tiller to make steering easier

Topside – The upper part of a boat, above the waterline

Transom door – A door in the back of a boat that provides access to the water

Traveler – A device used to move the mainsail along the boom

Waterline – The level at which a boat floats in the water

Winch handle – A handle used to turn winches to control the sails and lines

Yawl – A type of sailboat with two masts, the smaller of which is located aft of the rudder post.

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A to Z of Nautical Terms: A Complete Glossary of Boat Terminology

John Sampson

Are you a new boat owner? Whether you bought a jet ski or a 40-foot cabin cruiser, you’re going to need to understand the lingo while you’re out on the water. Here’s a glossary of basic nautical terms to have you sounding like a sailor.

Toward the stern of the vessel.

A sail position with the wind striking on its leeward side.

Around or near the stern of the vessel.

At a right-angle to the boat’s center-line.

Lashing the helm to the leeward side to ride out bad weather without the sails set.

The center of the deck of the vessel between the fore-and-aft.

Automatic Identification System.

Apparent Wind

The speed and direction of the wind combined with the boat’s movement and the true wind speed and direction.

To look behind the boat while driving in reverse.

Automatic Radar Plotting Aid.


At a right-angle to the aft-and-fore line of the vessel.

The act of measuring the angular distance on the horizon circle in a clockwise method, typically between a heavenly body and an observer.

When the wind starts to shift in an anti-clockwise direction.

Back a sail

Sheeting the sail to the windward direction, so the wind fills the sail on the leeward side.

The stay supports the aft from the mast, preventing its forward movement.


The teased-out plaited rope wound around the stays or shrouds preventing chaffing.

Iron or lead weights are fixed in a low-access area of the vessel or on the keel to stabilize the boat.

A flexible and lightweight strip feeds into the sail leech’s batten pocket, supporting the roach.

Ballast Keel

A ballast bolted to the keel, increasing the vessel’s stability to prevent capsizing.

The widest point of the vessel or a traverse member supporting the deck. On the beam, objects are at a right-angle to the center-line.

Taking the action of steering the vessel away from the wind.

To tag a zig-zagging approach into the wind or close-hauling with alternate tacks.

The object’s direction from the observer measured in magnetic or true degrees.

To fasten the rope around the cleat using a figure-8 knot.

Securing the sail to the spar before hoisting it or connecting two ropes using a knot.

A sleeping quarters on a boat or a slip occupied by a vessel in a marina or harbor.

The loop or bend in a knot.

The round, lower part of the hull where the water collects.

The pulley fixed inside a plastic or wooden casing with a rope running around a sheave and changing to pulling direction.


The narrow-colored stripe is painted between the topside enamel and bottom paint.

The heeling action of the boat when it slews to the broadside while running downwind. Abroach usually occurs in heavy seas.

Broad Reach

The point of sailing the vessel between a run and the beam reach with the wind blowing over the quarter.

The partitioning wall in the vessel athwartship.

A measurement of distance equal to 0.1-sea mile, 185-meters, or 200-yards.


The center of the vessel along the aft-to-fore line.


A board lowers through a slot on the keel for reducing leeway.

The fitting slipping over the boom like a claw. It attaches to the main sheet after you finish reefing the sail.

Chart Datum

The reference level on the charts below which the low tide level. The sounding features below the chart datum. The datum level varies depending on country and area.

The metal, wooden, or plastic fitting used to secure ropes.


The skill of sailing close to the wind, also known as beating.

The lower, aft corner of the sail where the leech and foot meet.

Close Reach

The point where you’re sailing between the beam reach and the close-hauled or when the wind blows toward the forward of the beam.

The direction that you steer the vessel in degrees. Mariners can use true or magnetic readings or use a compass to plot the course.


The act of sailing a boat close to the wind.

The rope loop at either end of the line reef points or an eye in a sail.

The difference between the direction indicated by the magnetic meridian and the compass needle, caused by carrying metal objects aboard the vessel.

Sailing with the wind blowing to the aft, in line with the center-line of the vessel.


The displacement hull design displaces boat weight in the water and is only supported by its buoyancy.

The weight of the water displaced by the vessel is equal to the vessel’s weight.

The rope used to pull down the spar or sail.

To float the vessel with the wind or current. Or the distance covered by the boat while drifting in the current, measured in time.

The distance between the lowest point on the keel and the center-line of the vessel measured as a vertical distance.

The sea anchor thrown over the stern of a life raft or boat or to reduce drift.

Digital Selective Calling (a function on Marine radios ).

A retractable keel drawn into the vessel’s hull.

Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacon.

Estimated Position.

Estimated Time of Departure.

Estimated Time of Arrival.

The fitting adjusting the feeding line allows you to change the direction of the lead line.

The raised border on cabin tables, chart tables, preventing objects from falling off the surface.

Measurement of water depth and rope lengths.

  • 1 Fathom = 6-feet = 1.83-meters.

The vessel positioning plotted by two or more positioning lines.

The vertical distance between the top of the deck and the waterline.

The closest stay running between the masthead and stemhead, hankering the mainsail.

A large-size headsail is available in various sizes, overlapping the mainsail before hoisting in fresh to light winds on all sailing points.

Two concentric rings pivot at right-angles to keep objects horizontal despite the swaying motion of the boat.

Global Navigation Satellite System.

Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.

To change tack by turning the boat into the eye of the wind.

Booming out the headsail in a windward position using the whisker pole to hold it on the opposite side of the mainsail.

The fitting anchoring the mast to the boom, allowing free movement in all directions.

This metal rail surrounds the boat’s edges, allowing easy gripping to prevent falling overboard.

Turning the stern through the wind to change from one tack to another.

The spinnaker guy controls the steadying rope for the spar through the aft-fore position of the spinnaker pole. The foreguy keeps the spinnaker pole in the forward position.

Global Positioning System.

The rope hoisting the lower sails.

Highest Astronomical Tide.

The fitting for attaching the sail’s luff to a stay.

The deck opening provides the crew with access to the berth or cabin interior.

The streamlined surround of a forestay featuring the groove allows for the sliding attachment of the luff sides of the headsail.


When the bow of the vessel points into the direction of the wind.

The forward motion of the vessel through the water.

The toilet.

The action of backing the jib and lashing the tiller to the leeward side in rough weather conditions. The heave-to encourages the vessel to reduce headway and lie quietly.

When the vessel exaggeratedly leans to one side.

International Maritime Organization.

International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

International Telecommunication Union

The lines on weather maps joining places with equal atmospheric pressure.

The temporary device for replacing damaged or lost gear.

The line running from aft-to-fore on both sides of the vessel. The jackstays allow for the clipping attachment of safety harnesses to prevent being lost at sea when falling overboard.

A secondary, smaller, lightweight anchor.

A dual-masted sailboat featuring a mizzen mast that’s slightly smaller than its mainmast, with a stepped forward position of the rudder post/stock.

The center-line of the vessel features the attachment of the ballast keel, allowing for the lowering of the center-board.

Kicking Strap

The line for pulling down the boom or keeping it in the horizontal position when on a run or reach.

A short length of line attached to an important object that you don’t want to lose, such as the jet ski key. The lanyard can connect to your wrist or lifejacket.

The aft edge of the triangular sail. Both side-edges of a square sail.

Lowest Astronomical Tide.

The shore on which the wind is blowing.

The natural tendency of vessels to bear away from the direction of the wind.

Moving in a direction away from the wind. The direction in which the wind is blowing.

The vessel’s leaning to one side due to improper distribution of weight in the boat’s hull.

The leading edge of the sail. Luffing up is turning the head of the boat into the wind.

The sideways motion off course resulting from the wind blowing on one side of the hull and sails.

The instrument for measuring the distance and speed of a boat traveling through the water. It is also the act of recording the details of a voyage in a logbook.

Marinized engine

A car engine or motorbike motor adapted for use in watercraft.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The keel socket locating the base of the mast.

Measured Mile

The distance marked on charts measures one nautical mile between islands at sea or onshore ranges.

The short after-mast on the yawl or ketch.

This imaginary longitudinal line circling the earth, passing through both poles, cutting at right-angles through the equator.

Mean Low Water Neaps.

Mean High Water Neaps.

Mean High Water Springs.

Mean Low Water Springs.

Maritime Mobile Service Identity.

The rope used for pulling out the sail’s foot.

Overall Length (LOA)

The extreme length of the vessel. The measurement from the aftmost point of the stern to the foremost points of the bow. This measurement excludes the self-steering gear, bowsprit, etc.

An emergency call requesting immediate assistance.

The bowline on a tender or dinghy for towing or making fast.

To gradually let out the rope.

The left-hand side of the vessel when looking forward.

Point of Sailing

The angles of the wind allowing for the sailing of the boat. Or the boat’s course relative to its direction and the direction of the wind.

Your vessel is on its port track when the wind is striking the boat’s port side first, and the mainsail is out to the starboard side.

Line of Position/Position Line

The line on charts shows the bearing of the vessel and the position where the boat mist lie. Or two positional lines providing a location fix.

The steel guard rail fitted to the bow to provide additional safety for the crew when working around the boat’s edge.

The steel guard rail fitted around the stern of the boat to prevent the crew from falling overboard.

The section of the vessel midway between the beam and the stern.

The difference in water levels between the high and low tides is the range of tides. Or the distance at which you can see the light.

The act of reducing the sail surface area through folding or rolling additional materials onto the forestay or boom.

Reefing Pennant

The sturdy line allowing you to pull down the leech cringle or luff to the boom while reefing.

When sailing with the wind blowing onto the beam, with all sailing points between close-hauled and running.

Riding Sail

The small sail you hoist to maintain the steerage way during stormy weather.

The imaginary line cuts through all meridians at the same angle. Or the course of the vessel moving in a fixed direction.

Rigging Screw

The deck fitting allowing for tensioning of the standing rigging.

The act of sailing with the wind to the aft of the vessel and with the sails eased into the wide-out, full position.

The curve in a leech sail extending beyond the direct line formed from clew to head.

Running Rigging

All moving lines like halyards and sheets used for trimming and setting sails.

Search and Rescue.

A vessel with two or more masts and the mainmast featured in the aftermost position.

Search and Rescue Transponder.

The toe-rail holes allowing water to drain off the deck.

The room in which the vessel can maneuver clear of submerged dangers.

The shut-off valve for the underwater outlet or inlet passing through the vessel’s hull.

This is French for “radio silence.” You’ll use it when reporting a distress call or incident at sea.

The act of hoisting a sail. Or how the sails fit or the direction of a tidal stream or current.

A procedure word for identifying safety calls.

A steel link featuring a removable bolt crossing the open end. The shackle comes in various designs, from “S” to “U” shapes and more.

The cables or ropes typically fund in pairs, leading from the mast to the chainplates at the deck level. These shrouds prevent the mast from falling to the side, and it’s part of your standing rigging.

The rope attaching to the boom to the sail’s clew allows for the trimming and control over the sail.

Skin Fitting

A through-hull fitting featuring a hole in its skin allows for air and water passing. The seacock is the accessory used for sealing the cavity when not in use.

A boat with a single-masted design for one headsail and one mainsail.

The general term for any metal or wooden pole on board a boat. The pole gives shape to the sails.

Safety of Life at Sea.

Speed Over the Ground

A lightweight, large balloon-shaped sail for running or reacting.

The horizontal struts attach to the mast and extend to the shrouds to assist with supporting the mast.

The act of joining wires or ropes using a weaving process interlacing the fibers in the cable or rope.

The sail will stall if the airflow over the sail surface breaks up, causing the vessel to lose its momentum.

Standing Part

The part of the line you don’t use when making a knot. Or the part of a rope you use to tie around the knot.

The metal post bolted to the deck in an upright position to support the guard railing.

Standing Rigging

The stays and shrouds provide permanent support to the mast.

Starboard Tack

The vessel is on the starboard tack when the boom is out to post, and the wind strikes the boat’s starboard side.

The right-hand side of the vessel when looking forward.

The rope or wire supports the mast in the fore-and-aft direction. It is a part of the standing rigging for your boat.

The sternward movement of the vessel towards the backward direction.

Steerage Way

The vessel has steerage when it reaches sufficient speed, allowing for steering or answering the helm.

The loop of rope or wire attaches the spar to the block to make a sling.

The railing around the vessel’s stern prevents the crew from falling overboard. Modern yachts do not have the elegant wooden railing of older models. Instead, they feature tubular steel or aluminum railings, called Pushpits.

Telegraph Buoy

The buoy marks the position of a submerged cable.

To pull on the end of the rope or cable, wound around a winch.

The compass mounted over the captain’s berth, allowing for the easy reference to what’s going on in the vessel’s helm.

The metal fitting forming eyes at the end of cables, wires, or ropes.

A description for any small boat, usually inflatable models. These boats will take supplies and people between a larger vessel and the shore.

Thermal Wind

The wind occurring from the difference in the heating of the sea and the land by the sun. The sun heats the land faster than the sea, resulting in the onshore wind from the sea replacing the air rising over the land, causing the “sea breeze” phenomenon.

Thumb Cleat

A small cleat featuring a single horn.

The wooden pegs featuring vertical pairs in the gunwale for constraining the oars for rowing.

Topping Lift

The rope linking the mast to the boom end. It supports the boom, allowing for its lowering and raising.

The progress on the vessel’s journey over the ocean. The trajectory line of the boat.

The sides of the hull between the waterline and the deck.

The netting stretching across the hulls of a catamaran.

A watch period or watch duty at the helm of the vessel.

Traverse beams forming part of the stern and fixed to the sternpost of a wooden ship.

Tricolor Lamp

A lamp displaying red in proper port sectors, green in the starboard sectors, and white astern. Some authorities permit the tri-color light on smaller boats instead of conventional stern and bow lights.

Turk’s Head

A decorative knot featuring variable numbers of interwoven strands that form a closed loop.

The direction and velocity of wind measured by stationary observers. Apparent wind is wind experienced by moving objects.

Sturdy steel fittings used for attaching standing rigging to the spar or mast.

The low, forward corner of the sail. Or the action of turning the boat through the wind to get it to blow on the other side of the sails.

Sailing close-hauled to work windward on an alternate course. The wind is on one side then the other.

The low strip of steel, wood, or strapping running along the edge of the deck. You’ll use it in combination with the hand railing to hold your feet to the deck to prevent falling overboard.

The rise and fall of the ocean are caused by the moon’s gravitational effect on the earth and the ocean.

The line moving from the mast had to the spar or the boom used in raising it.

To adjust the sail angle using sheets to achieve optimal efficiency from the sail. Or it describes the action of adjusting the load, influencing the fore-and-aft angle at which it floats.

The course of the boat making good on its travel plan. A fitting of on the boom or mast to the slide on the sail fit. The fitting along which the traveler runs for altering the sheet tension.

The speed and direction of the wind when anchored, stationary on the water, or land.

Turn Buckle

The apparatus used for tightening the standing rigging on the vessel.

A line used in raising something like a spinnaker pole vertically.

The vessel is underway when it releases it fastening to shore when it is not aground or at anchor.

See kicking strap.

The wind will veer when shifting in a clockwise direction. Veering can also mean paying out anchor rope or cable in a controlled manner.

Velocity Made Good

Very High Frequency

The disturbed water left behind (astern) the boat as it moves forward in the water, usually caused by a motor.

Weather Helm

The tendency of the vessel to turn into the wind.

The distance between the radio waves.

Weather Side

The side of the vessel to which the wind is blowing.

World Geodetic Survey of 1984 (most common chart datum).

A mechanical device featuring a cable or line attached to a motor. The winch pulls the boat aboard the trailer and helps with the vessel’s launch from the trailer. The winch also gives more pulling power to withdrawing nets or other apparatus from the water.

Whisker Pole

A lightweight pole used for holding the clew out of the headsail when on a run.

The winch features a vertical handle and a horizontal shaft used in hauling up the anchor chain.

The parts of the vessel that increase the drag on the boat. Examples would be the spars, rigging, etc.

The direction from which the wind blows toward the wind (the opposite way to leeward).

Cross Track Error. The perpendicular distance between two waypoints off track.

A dual-masted vessel with its mizzen stepped aft of its rudder post/stock.

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John is an experienced journalist and veteran boater. He heads up the content team at BoatingBeast and aims to share his many years experience of the marine world with our readers.

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How Many of these Yachtie Terms Do You Use?

An illustration showing two men talking.

Pre-galley, Nina Wilson trained as a dive instructor and skippered sailing boats in Greece before starting her yachting career in 2013. Currently head chef on a 55-meter, her talents included telling brilliant jokes and being able to consume six cheeseburgers and feel no guilt. Follow her on Instagram @thecrewchef .

You would be forgiven for scratching your head once or twice upon hearing the jibber-jabber yachties like to toss around. Henceforth, I present a translation sheet — feel free to forward to your land-based family and friends so they can start studying for your triumphant return.

“Well, my owner is worth 6 billion and only eats albino caviar.”

Yes, we frequently refer to the owner of the vessel as our owner. Try not to think too much about the psychology behind this. (Do we truly believe we are slaves? Slaves don’t get free shampoo…right?)

“I’m going to go down for a few hours,” OR “Where’s Tommo?” “He’s gone down. ”

Alas, get your heads out of the gutter. Simply, going down below, down to their cabin, to put their head down and get some down time.

“Sorry, can’t do beers tonight, I’m boss on. ”

Boss is on board, all fun is cancelled.

“Make sure you candle-ise the boat at sunset.”

This is not even a real word. It’s a made-up word by some over-rose’d chief stewardess to describe the process of decorating the boat with candles. (Before you question me, I have heard it used on multiple vessels ranging from 55 meters to 80 meters. FACT.)

“We’ll do the vac-dust on Thursday.”

Dusting, but with a vacuum. We have evolved from just wiping the dust around with a cloth, we hoover it out of existence with a high powered piece of Miele engineering. Genius.

“Friday is wash down day.”

Washing the boat, but only from the top down. And in-to-out (or vice versa depending on your Chief Officer’s method).

“Please fill in your HORS today.”

Pronounced like ‘whores’ and stands for Hours of Rest, not any particular red light district inhabitant.

“I can’t make it, I’m on watch. ”

Basically, the boat is a vulnerable, delicate child and you are the babysitter for a 24-hour period. Don’t let the baby burn, sink, or get stolen.

“ Now, now ”

A South African import. Sometime between now, before, and later — I’m afraid nobody born outside the continent of Africa truly knows.

“ On My Last Boat ”

A precursor to a long-winded story about how their last boat was infinitely better, had unlimited crew champagne and razor blades, and how everything was done differently (but better).

“Damn, it’s gonna be WAF today.”

No, unfortunately not Wives and Friends day. It’s gonna blowing its tits off, be proper gusty, OR say it how you mean it and use Windy As F***.

“Have you pulled for dinner?”

This one means gathering all the crockery/cutlery, etc. for service, essentially pulling knives and forks out of drawers, so…yes, I guess this one makes sense.

“ Dog Box ”

A terrible, tiny cabin that the MLC have not been informed of and that all junior deckhands inhabit. Get a UV light in there and it looks like a Jackson Pollock painting.

“ It’ll buff out. ”

Usually said after a significant blunder (say, driving the tender into the swim platform bow-first) causing significant damage, and taking a significant amount of time, effort, and money to fix.

“ CV sent ”

Believe it or not, jobs do sometimes get posted on those yachtie Facebook groups — however, if you apply it’s mandatory to comment that you have sent your CV so as to ‘double tap’ the poster’s attention. If you don’t comment, you won’t get the job, FACT.

“Tomorrow is pick up day. ”

We’re collecting the guests, prepare to service everyone’s needs but your own for the next 7/10/59 days.

“ Do it for the tip. ”

Poo in the Jacuzzi? Scoop it out. Guests want sushi at 1 a.m.? Put the rice on. Everyone has their price, and we WILL do what it takes to get that fat envelope at the end of the charter. Let’s say it together now…FOR THE TIP!

“Tomorrow is drop off day. ”

We boot these rich cats off in less than 24 hours, ice those beers STAT. Got any powdered charcoal? Get it on standby.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully a good inroad into the twisted bedsheets of yachting vernacular.

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yachting around meaning

Sailing Terms and Phrases: A Comprehensive Guide to Nautical Jargon

by Emma Sullivan | Jul 19, 2023 | Sailboat Racing

yachting around meaning

Short answer sailing terms and phrases:

Sailing terms and phrases refer to language specific to the sport of sailing. They include terms related to boat parts, sailing maneuvers, wind direction, and navigation. Understanding these terms is crucial for effective communication and safe sailing practices.

Understanding the Basics: A Guide to Sailing Terms and Phrases

Welcome aboard, fellow sailors and landlubbers alike, as we embark on a voyage through the mesmerizing world of sailing terms and phrases. Whether you’re an enthusiastic beginner or a seasoned seafarer looking to brush up on your nautical knowledge, this guide will have you speaking like a true sailor in no time.

As with any specialized field, sailing has its own unique language that can bewilder even the most erudite wordsmiths. But fear not! We’re here to break down the basics and shed light on those mysterious terms that have been floating around in your mind like buoys at sea.

Let’s start by hoisting the main sail and diving headfirst into some essential terminology:

1. Port and Starboard: If someone shouts “Hard to port!” during your sailing adventure, don’t panic – they simply mean turn left. In maritime lingo, “port” refers to the left side of a vessel when facing forward, while “starboard” is the right side. Thinking of them as counterparts can help avoid confusion during moments of high-seas excitement.

2. Bow and Stern: Don’t forget where your front and back are while navigating the open waters. The bow is the forward part of the vessel (a great spot for taking epic photos), while the stern is located at the rear. Trust us – being able to differentiate between these two proves invaluable when following directions or describing intriguing sights.

3. Aft vs Forward: Just as knowing which way is up is vital for surviving gravity’s pull, understanding aft (the back part of a ship) versus forward (the front part) is crucial aboard a boat too! Being able to navigate with ease relies heavily on using these terms correctly when maneuvering around onboard.

Now that we’ve set our bearings straight let’s proceed further into more advanced seamanship jargon:

4. Shiver me Timbers: Ahoy, matey! Surely, you’ve heard this catchy phrase in pirate movies or read it in adventure novels. But do you know what it means? “Shiver me timbers” originated from the old seafaring days when wooden ships were prevalent. When they were hit by fierce storms or cannonballs, the creaking and vibrations of the hull made the timber “shiver.” Nowadays, it’s an exclamation expressing surprise or disbelief.

5. Nautical Mile: Avast, ye landlubbers! A nautical mile is a unit of measurement used specifically for sea and air travel. It’s equal to one minute of latitude along any meridian – approximately 1.15 statute miles (or about 1.85 kilometers). So, whether you’re voyaging across vast oceans or navigating through treacherous straits, understanding this term will keep you on course.

6. Windward and Leeward: When sailing the high seas, understanding wind patterns becomes crucial to harnessing their power effectively. Windward refers to the direction from which the wind is blowing (usually against your face), while leeward indicates the sheltered side where the wind is blocked by your vessel or other objects nearby. Skippers who can master these concepts will navigate their vessels with grace and ease.

7. Keelhaul: Now here’s a term that harkens back to darker maritime times! To keelhaul someone often meant dragging them under a ship’s keel as a form of punishment. Luckily for us nowadays, it has mostly been relegated to seafaring folklore and modern-day sailors rarely seek to employ such discipline.

So there you have it – a comprehensive yet entertaining guide to essential sailing terms and phrases that will surely make waves amongst your fellow salts-in-arms! From knowing your port from starboard all the way down to deciphering historical jargon like “shiver me timbers,” embracing these nautical expressions will not only deepen your understanding but also add a touch of maritime flare to your conversation.

So raise your glasses – or rather, yer grog – as you confidently navigate the mighty seas armed with newfound knowledge, humor, and a dash of seafaring slang. Bon voyage!

Exploring the World of Sailing: How Sailing Terms and Phrases Enhance Your Experience

Title: All Aboard! Unveiling the Secrets of Sailing: How Nautical Jargon Enhances Your Pleasure on the High Seas

Introduction: Welcome, fellow sailors and nautical enthusiasts, as we embark on an exciting voyage through the realm of sailing. Beyond the wind in our sails and the wide expanse of water beneath us lies a colorful world steeped in traditions, camaraderie, and rich terminology. In this blog post, we delve into how mastering sailing terms and phrases can elevate your experience on the open seas from ordinary to extraordinary. So hoist your anchor and adjust your compass – let’s set sail!

1) The Lingua Franca of Seafarers: Just as each industry has its unique lexicon, sailing boasts an impressive repertoire of its own jargon. While initially overwhelming to nascent sailors, these terms are not merely maritime buzzwords; they create a sense of belonging among seafaring communities globally. From ‘starboard’ to ‘jib’ or ‘tacking,’ understanding nautical terminology not only facilitates effective communication but also unlocks doors to a world where legends and rituals intertwine.

2) Paint Your Own Nautical Canvas: Imagine being able to articulate intricate details about your surroundings with painterly precision. As you acquaint yourself with sailing lingo, you gain access to an exquisite palette that will enable you to vividly describe cloud formations (cumulonimbus clouds), waves (swell), or even the wonders beneath (bioluminescence). By employing phrases such as “the sea rose like a mighty kraken” or “whispering zephyrs guided our course,” you’ll be painting masterpieces with words.

3) Channeling History’s Echoes: The language of sailing is deeply rooted in history, connecting us to generations past who braved unforgiving waters aboard wooden vessels. Embracing these linguistic relics imbues your journey with a sense of timelessness and reverence for those who came before us. Employing phrases like “avast ye scurvy dogs” or “there she blows!” lets you channel the spirit of earlier sailors, forging an indelible bond across ages.

4) The Poetry of Seamanship: Sailing brings together the precision of a science and the lyricality of art, creating an environment where language emotively intertwines with experience. By embracing sailing terms, you’ll find yourself effortlessly conversing in poetic cadences – from referring to land as the “shores of belonging” to desiring nothing more than catching a glimpse of the “dancing dolphins’ aqueous ballet.” These evocative expressions invite you to craft narratives that rival those crafted by Homer himself!

5) A Flotilla United by Secret Code: Picture yourself amidst a fleet regatta, surrounded by fellow sailors all fluent in this secret maritime lexicon. This peculiar linguistic bond establishes instant connections beyond conventional exchanges shared in mainstream society. An initiation into sailing terminologies is akin to unlocking a secret code, granting you access to new friendships built on shared experiences and mutual appreciation for life’s most elemental forces: wind, water, and adventure.

Conclusion: As we conclude our journey through the oceanic tapestry woven by nautical terms and phrases, it becomes evident that their power extends far beyond mere communication. Sailing lingo elevates your voyage from practicality to poetry, endowing each moment on deck with historical significance and artistic resonance. By embracing these traditions and enriching your sailing vernacular with colorful expression, you become part of a timeless legacy that has inspired dreamers and adventurers throughout centuries. So let us hoist our sails high while whispering tales told countless times before – may our newfound command over nautical terminology enhance our quest for freedom on the open seas!

Sailing Terms and Phrases Step by Step: From Beginner to Pro

Title: Sailing Terms and Phrases Step by Step: From Beginner to Pro – Unleashing the Sailor in You!

Introduction: Ahoy, aspiring sailors! Embark on an exciting journey into the world of sailing, where the wind becomes your silent ally and the vast ocean your playground. Whether you’re a beginner dipping your toes into this majestic realm or a seasoned sailor looking to polish your knowledge, our comprehensive guide will equip you with essential sailing terms and phrases. So batten down the hatches, and let’s sail through this blog together!

1. Setting Sail: Grasping the Basics Before we dive deeper into nautical jargon, let’s start by understanding fundamental concepts crucial for all sailors. We’ll cover key aspects such as wind direction, points of sail (angles relative to the wind), and boat maneuvers—tacking and gybing—to harness the wind’s power efficiently.

2. Navigating Seas of Terminology Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the essentials, it’s time to raise anchor on our expedition of sailing terminology. From bow to stern, we’ll unravel intricate vernacular such as port and starboard (left and right), keel (the underwater part keeping your vessel steady), rigging (the system supporting sails), and many more nautical gems.

3. Anchoring Your Knowledge: Knots & Ropes No sailor can be without a reliable knot repertoire! Discover step-by-step instructions for tying knots like reef knot (square knot), figure-eight knot, clove hitch, bowline, and more. Mastering these techniques ensures safety onboard while securing sails, tying lines around cleats, or attaching fenders effortlessly.

4. Weathering Any Storm: Meteorological Mastery Weather plays an indispensable role in sailing dynamics; understanding its patterns keeps both novices and experts safe at sea. Delve into concepts such as barometric pressure systems, reading weather charts, interpreting cloud formations, and utilizing meteorological apps. Equip yourself to anticipate wind shifts, gauge tides, and discern when a storm is approaching.

5. SOS – Safety on the Seven Seas Safety should always come first! Gain insights into maritime safety procedures, including personal flotation devices (PFDs), harnesses, life rafts, flares, distress signals, and emergency protocols to ensure your sailing experience remains secure and enjoyable.

6. Racing Ahead: Sail Trim & Performance Ready to up your game? Discover the art of sail trimming—the fine-tuning required to extract maximum speed from your vessel. Learn about cunningham lines, boom vangs, halyards, traveler controls—the subtle adjustments that balance power versus pointing ability during a regatta or an adventurous day sail.

7. Navigate Like a Pro: Charting Your Course Navigational skills are the backbone of any sailor’s toolbox. Dive into the world of nautical charts—those intricate maps guiding you amidst an ocean expanse—and grasp concepts such as understanding symbols and markings; plotting courses using latitude and longitude; employing GPS systems; avoiding hazards; and converting true headings into magnetic ones for compass navigation.

8. Tales from the Sea: Maritime Lore and Trivia Immerse yourself in captivating tales woven by seasoned sailors while exploring intriguing maritime traditions like baptizing ships or crossing the equator ceremoniously. Learn lesser-known facts about famous shipwrecks or legendary seafarers who etched their names in history—fueling your passion for adventures beyond imagination!

9. Starboard ahead! Sailing into Greener Horizons In this digital era of sustainable living, embark on a conversation regarding eco-friendly sailing practices aimed at preserving our breathtaking marine ecosystems. Explore tips for reducing carbon footprints while sailing—with alternatives like electric propulsion—and join the movement towards cleaner seas with recycling initiatives that minimize plastic waste onboard.

10 Ahoi, Captain! Mastering the Ropes Congratulations on reaching this stage of our sailing odyssey. Armed with an arsenal of sailing terms, navigational prowess, safety awareness, and a passion for the sea, you’re well on your way to becoming a true sailing pro. So hoist those sails high and brace yourself for limitless adventures that await you—the world is your oyster!

Epilogue: As you set sail on this journey from beginner to pro sailor, remember to embrace the wonders of the sea while respecting its power and beauty. With time, experience, and dedication, you’ll be speaking the language of seasoned sailors confidently. Bon voyage on your nautical endeavors; may fair winds forever fill your sails!

Frequently Asked Questions about Sailing Terms and Phrases Answered

Sailing is a unique and exciting experience that brings together the beauty of nature and the thrill of adventure. Whether you are an experienced sailor or a novice looking to learn more about this captivating activity, it’s important to understand the various sailing terms and phrases that are commonly used in the sailing community. To help you navigate through these sometimes confusing waters, we have put together a list of frequently asked questions answered with detailed professional explanations, sprinkled with witty and clever anecdotes. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of sailing terminology!

Q1: What exactly is a “jib”?

A1: Ah, the jib! This term refers to a triangular sail located at the front of the boat, usually attached to the forestay (the wire that holds up the mast). The jib serves as one of the primary sources of propulsion for sailing vessels. Think of it as the boat’s secret weapon – it catches wind and propels your vessel forward! Just like a jester adding an element of surprise in medieval courts.

Q2: Can you explain what “tacking” means?

A2: Tacking is perhaps one of the most fundamental maneuvers in sailing. It involves turning your boat into or across the wind so that your sails switch sides. Picture yourself maneuvering your way through rush hour traffic – except instead of cars, there are waves crashing against each other! Tacking allows sailors to make headway against windward, zigzagging their way to their destination like Shakespearean characters in a fiery debate.

Q3: I’ve heard people talk about “heeling.” What does it mean?

A3: Ahoy there! Heeling refers to when a sailboat leans over sideways due to strong winds pushing against its sails. This ‘Michael Jackson-esque’ dance move can be quite exhilarating for thrill-seekers, but it requires careful balance and control. Imagine holding a delicate ballet pose on a tilting stage while attempting to impress the judges. That’s what heeling is all about – finding the perfect equilibrium between adventure and stability.

Q4: What is meant by “mainsail”?

A4: The mainsail is the largest and most visible sail on a sailing vessel. It is typically attached to the mast and plays a crucial role in powering the boat forward when the wind hits it just right. This sail can be compared to the lead vocalist of a band – it takes center stage and commands attention, providing maximum power to propel your floating oasis across the water.

Q5: Can you explain what “port” and “starboard” mean?

A5: Ahoy, matey! Port refers to the left side of a boat when facing its bow (front), while starboard refers to its right side. Now, how do you remember which is which? Here’s a clever trick: port has four letters, just like LEFT, so it’s easy to associate them together. And starboard has more letters than port or left, so that must be RIGHT! Remember this little rhyme, and you’ll never steer your ship in the wrong direction again.

So there you have it – some frequently asked questions about sailing terms and phrases answered with detailed professional insight mixed with witty and clever comparisons. We hope this helps unravel some of the mysteries behind those nautical expressions that sailors throw around with ease. Happy sailing!

Mastering the Jargon: Unraveling the Language of Sailing

Sailing, with its long and storied history, offers enthusiasts an escape into a world rich in tradition and adventure. From battling treacherous waves to navigating the vast expanses of the open sea, sailors are no strangers to challenges. However, there is one aspect of sailing that can often leave beginners feeling adrift – the intricate and sometimes befuddling language used in this esteemed practice.

In this blog post, we aim to demystify the jargon of sailing, allowing novices to navigate conversations with seasoned sailors and ultimately feel more at home on deck.

Tacking and Jibing – Oh My!

One of the most fundamental concepts in sailing revolves around changing direction – but don’t call it turning! Sailors use specific terms like tacking and jibing to describe these maneuvers. Tacking involves turning into the wind by steering through a series of tight angles, while jibing entails turning away from the wind in a more fluid motion. So if you hear someone say “Prepare to tack!” or “Jibe ho!”, now you’ll know what they mean.

Hoist That Main Sail!

As you familiarize yourself with sailboats, you’ll swiftly encounter talk about different sails – mainsails being one of them. The mainsail is crucial for propelling your vessel forward and adjusting its position relative to the wind. When you hear someone shout “Hoist that main!” they’re simply telling their crewmates to raise or unfurl this essential sail. Remember, timing is key when hoisting your main as it affects your boat’s performance and maneuverability.

Trimming Your Sails

Ever wondered what sailors mean by “trimming” their sails? No, they’re not talking about giving them a haircut! Trimming refers to adjusting your sails’ position relative to the wind for optimal efficiency – something akin to finetuning your instrument. By playing with the sheets (lines that control sail shape), sailors can harness the wind’s power effectively, propelling themselves along smoothly and efficiently.

The Wind Angle – A Sailor’s Best Friend

Understanding wind angles is paramount for any sailor worth their salt. When sailors refer to “the point of sail,” they are describing the direction they are sailing relative to the wind. Different points of sail include close-hauled (sailing as close to the wind as possible) and running (sailing in the same direction as the wind). Knowledge of these angles determines how a skilled sailor adjusts their sails, achieving optimal speed and stability.

Raising Anchor – Setting Sail!

Embarking on a sailing adventure often begins with raising anchor or setting sail. However, it’s not just about hoisting a heavy object; there is an art to it! The crew works together seamlessly, making sure the anchor is secured safely before preparing to lift it from its watery resting place. With a well-coordinated effort, they can free themselves from shore and set out into open waters to seek out new horizons.

Navigating Lingo Land

As you delve deeper into sailing culture, you’ll soon notice a myriad of unique terms specific to this maritime world – jargon like ‘batten down the hatches,’ ‘hard-a-lee,’ or ‘full-and-by.’ Each phrase has its own charm and colorful history that adds character and camaraderie amongst sailors. Embrace this lexicon with enthusiasm, for it symbolizes connection with centuries-old traditions and ensures clear communication at sea.

So whether you decide to hoist your sails under clear blue skies or undertake epic adventures across stormy seas, mastering the jargon of sailing will undoubtedly enhance your experience. Armed with this newfound knowledge, you’ll be able to hold engaging conversations with fellow sailors while feeling like an old salty sea dog yourself. Fair winds ahead!

Exploring Yachts Sailing in Croatia: A Seafaring Paradise

If you’re dreaming of an unforgettable sailing experience amidst stunning landscapes and crystal-clear waters, look no further than Croatia. With its picturesque coastline, countless islands, and vibrant culture, Croatia offers an idyllic setting for yacht sailing adventures.

Why Choose Yachts Sailing in Croatia?

Croatia boasts over a thousand islands, each with its own unique charm waiting to be explored. From the lively ports of Split and Dubrovnik to the secluded coves of Hvar and Vis, there’s no shortage of destinations to discover. Navigate through the serene waters of the Adriatic Sea, soak up the Mediterranean sun, and immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of this coastal paradise.

The SkipperCity Experience

For the ultimate yachting adventure in Croatia, look no further than SkipperCity. With a fleet of luxurious yachts and experienced skippers at your service, SkipperCity ensures a seamless and unforgettable sailing experience. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a novice explorer, their expert team will tailor a bespoke itinerary to suit your preferences, ensuring every moment on board is nothing short of magical.

Sailing videos Youtube @SkippercityYachtCharter

To embark on your own yachts sailing adventure in Croatia with SkipperCity, simply click here to visit their website and start planning your dream getaway. With their wide range of yachts and personalized service, you’ll be setting sail for adventure in no time.

Taking Your Boating Game Up a Notch with Essential Sailing Terms and Phrases

Are you ready to elevate your boating skills and impress everyone on board with your extensive knowledge of sailing terms and phrases? Look no further, as we’re here to help you take your boating game up a notch!

Sailing has its own unique language that can initially seem daunting to beginners. However, mastering these essential sailing terms and phrases not only enhances your understanding of the sport but also ensures seamless communication with fellow sailors. So let’s dive into this linguistic adventure and emerge as refined seafarers!

1. Bow: This term refers to the front part of the boat. Imagine standing at the bow, with the wind blowing through your hair, as you confidently navigate through the open waters.

2. Stern: The opposite of the bow, the stern is the back end of the vessel. Picture yourself lounging on the stern while basking in the sun, enjoying a leisurely day on your boat.

3. Port: When facing forward towards the bow, port refers to the left side of a boat or yacht. Remember it by associating “port” with “left,” both consisting of four letters.

4. Starboard: In contrast to port, starboard indicates the right side of a boat when facing forward. An easy way to remember is by imagining a bright star guiding you towards success.

5. Tacking: To change direction against or across the wind using sails is known as tacking. It involves turning or pivoting through head-to-wind coordination, allowing your boat to zigzag efficiently while harnessing variable wind angles.

6. Jib: A triangular sail positioned in front of a mast is called a jib and primarily aids in steering when sailing close-hauled or reaching conditions.

7. Mainsail: The largest sail on most boats, attached vertically along a mast toward aft (near stern) direction commands utmost respect – it’s called a mainsail! Mastering control over the mainsail is essential for maximizing speed and maneuverability.

8. Windward: The direction from which the wind is coming is referred to as windward. Sailing toward the windward side can be challenging yet exhilarating, requiring precise navigation techniques for optimal performance.

9. Leeward: The opposite of windward, leeward denotes the side away from the wind or downwind direction. When sailing on the leeward side, you’ll experience smoother conditions with less turbulence — a perfect opportunity for relaxation and enjoying your boating adventure.

10. Rudder: Acting as a ship’s steering mechanism, the rudder controls its movement by changing its course in response to the helmsperson’s commands. Mastering rudder control ensures smooth sailing and accurate navigation.

Now armed with these essential sailing terms and phrases, you can confidently navigate through any boating expedition while impressing your friends with your newfound knowledge! So hoist those sails, trim them accurately, and let these words navigate you towards becoming an impeccable sailor. Fair winds and following seas await you on this exciting journey!

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t hesitate to apply these terms during your next sailing adventure. Happy sailing!

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7 Best-Known Routes for Sailing Around the World (with Maps)

Route planning is among the most crucial bits of preparation, especially when it comes to circumnavigation. This article will give you seven of the most commonly used routes for sailing around the world. Some routes have been sailed many times by many people, others are obscure or even dangerous.

  • The Fast Route - for the minimum time
  • The Pleasure Route - for the maximal pleasure
  • The Traditional Route - the road most taken
  • The Arctic Route - for the rough ones
  • The Dangerous Route - without regards for piracy
  • The Cheap Route - with a budget in mind
  • The Coast Lover's Route - never going far from the coast

Since circumnavigation is quite a complex matter, let's go through this list one by one below.

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On this page:

How to choose a route for you, route for speed, the pleasure route, the traditional route, the arctic route, the dangerous route, the cheap route, the coast lover's route.

What route you will take depends on what kind of journey you are looking for. If the goal is to do it in the least amount of time possible, you will be choosing a different path than if you don't care about time and put emphasis on sightseeing.

Similarly, if safety and convenience are at the top of your priority list, you will choose a route that might differ greatly from that of a person ready to spend more on security and cut corners through tricky territories.

If you have specific locations in mind, you will take turns that are, logistically speaking, quite impractical, while if efficiency is what you want, there are certain places it would make little sense to visit.

And finally, if you are after comfort, you will avoid some bumpy places and times of the year, as opposed to somebody who won't mind venturing into the corners of the oceans that require a hell of a warm jacket.

There is no right or wrong answer here; don't feel some approaches are better than others. Just look at what you want from the journey, read through this article, and then choose what best suits you.

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21 Places to Avoid Sailing Around the World (In Order)

Let's kick this off with a racing spirit. This is the route taken by those competing in Vendée Globe, a circumnavigation race. It takes a bit under three months...

...that is if you are a racer and so is your boat. If you are a cruiser kind of person, it will take more time, but the point is that this route is as straightforward as it gets.

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So what waypoints does it touch? Vendée globe racers start in France, then head down towards the Cape of Good Hope, circle Antarctica as close as the rules allow, and after getting to Cape Horn, head up to France again.

Of course, based on where you start from, your route might differ. But the idea is as follows:

  • head south towards the Southern Ocean
  • sail around Antarctica through the Southern Ocean
  • after reaching the point where you met the Southern Ocean for the first time, head back up

The Southern Ocean is not a breeze, the cold waters mixing with the warmer ones coming from the north, plus the danger of icebergs, as well as the cold temperature, isn't how your typical holiday dream looks. That being said, it's up to you how close to Antarctica you will want to be when going around it.

This route doesn't touch down at any land, so you must be prepared for months on the sea as far as provisions, spares and mental capacity goes. Of course, this is variable, you can easily make landfall in Azores, South Africa, South Australia, or South America, and some of the South Pacific islands, if you need to. Either way, it is demanding logistically, so be sure to have your checklist in check .

It is among the most straightforward routes. Not just because it is probably the shortest one or the fastest one, but all the hassle with visas, check-ins, going through canals, and other lengthy land creatures' business will be foreign to you.

If you make it through the Southern Oceans unharmed, you will certainly have one hell of a story to tell.

Now let's go on the opposite side of the specter.

Let's suppose you theoretically have unlimited time. Instead of doing things quickly and efficiently, you want to take it at a leisurely pace while admiring all that there is to see.

This route will begin and end in the Mediterranean, but that's just because that's where I am based, sailing-wise. Wherever else you are, just pick the point of the route closest to you and begin there.

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We will begin in Croatia, because it has beautiful shores and islands, travel around Greece with even more islands, the south around Italy, through Gibraltar. After that:

  • head south to the Azores
  • west to the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal
  • west to Hawaii
  • south to French Polynesia
  • west to New Zealand, then Australia and Papua New Guinea
  • northwest to Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, India
  • south to Madagascar, then along the African coast to Cape of Good Hope
  • north to the Azores and then through Gibraltar back home

This route takes time since it aims to explore all it can even remotely touch. It's not just that the route is long, because the aim is to visit pretty places. You might also find yourself having to wait months at some places for the bad weather season to clear before you can make your next crossing. Have a look at our article about things to think about when planning for a long trip .

Because of that, this route is more demanding when it comes to planning, visa hassle, check-in research, more ports and anchors, more provisions planning. Also, your boat will need to be a solid liveaboard , since you will spend so much time on it. Logistically, it will be demanding.

But for all that hassle, you will literally get to see the world. You will visit many fantastic cultures, get to taste the cuisines from all over, and the long times waiting for the winds to calm down will be spent on exploring the place you are 'stuck' at.

What more does one need...

...except perhaps some middle ground. Now that we've been to two extremes, let's look at something in the middle: the route most commonly taken when circumnavigating.

It is rather similar to the Pleasure Route above except for skipping the Mediterranean, Pacific, and Southeast Asian stops.

Thus it goes as follows:

  • From Europe, head south to the Azores
  • west to Australia
  • west to Cape of Good Hope

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This route accomplishes the circumnavigation while stopping at beautiful places but doesn't necessarily explore everything that happens to be around. Its strong suit is the variability. If you like the Caribbean, you stop and cruise around there. If Australia excites you, you do the same there. If you want to see Madagascar, well, it will be almost on your way. And so on.

It has been a traditional route to take because it is relatively painless and does not go through any hazardous areas.

It has been traveled by many before you, so there is a lot of info floating around if you want to do your research on specific parts of the journey.

On its own, it has a lot of long legs where you will not see anything but the ocean on the horizon. So for those of you who mind this, you gotta make it your own, customize it a bit, so that you spend more time at places that you like.

This planning really is important. Some of those legs can't be made during certain seasons if you want to be careful, so to make sure you don't get stuck somewhere you don't particularly like, you should plan well.

With that, let's get crazier.

For those who want to do things the hard way. Perhaps you really like the scenery, perhaps you want to test yourself, or maybe you've done every other passage, and now it is time for the icy one.

There is a circumnavigation route that leads through regions so far up north you mostly don't encounter them even on a map. Because why would you look up there.

Now I don't know how long this article will survive on the internet, but note that this route is rather climatically contextual. Given enough time, it might freeze over and become unavailable.

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For me, it would begin in one of the northern ports of Norway and then:

  • continue west to Iceland
  • west to the south of Greenland and then up its western coast to the Baffin Bay
  • south of Devon Island and through the archipelagos to Beaufort and Chuchki Seas
  • west along the northern coast of Russia under the Lyakhovsky Islands
  • west under the Yuzhny Island to the Barents Sea and back to the north of Norway

To this, you will have to add the most straightforward route north from wherever you are to any point on the route above.

Cold. Thus this requires clothing, equipment, and a boat that can withstand the polar temperatures along with chunks of ice floating around.

How much more adventurous can you get? Circumnavigation has been accomplished by plenty of people. This, not so much.

With the above, the major sailing routes have been covered. So what follows are mostly variations. Important ones, though.

Imagine this one mostly as the Traditional Route, except with a few twists. One of them leads through the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and the Suez Canal.

Why take it? Because if you look on the map, you will see that when going from the general direction of Australia or Southeast Asia west, meaning you are probably aiming for the Azores or further for the Caribbean, it will save you a lot of time.

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Money, not so much. You will have to pay for security. Because although you will save yourself the long southern route around the whole continent of Africa, which is nearly a 10,000-mile detour, you will have to go through the aforementioned areas that are famous for piracy and require professional armed company if you want to be on the safe side.

Not that it hasn't been done without it, but you know… Furthermore, many insurances won't cover you there since the risks are just too high.

Similarly, the area around Malaysia and the Philippines, which you might encounter during your Southeast Asia travels, bears the same story. No coverage by many insurances for piracy reasons.

Then again, exploring Southeast Asia while avoiding these regions means a few detours and no-go zones.

So if you want to explore the world on your sailboat and don't mind the risk, add these to your route plans.

Obviously, the risk or costs related to security. You will find plenty of sailors arguing that there is no real danger unless you are a cargo ship or a kidnapping worthy target. You will also find plenty who would rather travel in a fleet through there. And plenty who would never set sail towards those places.

Then there is the insurance issue.

With Suez, the upside is the saved time as well as not having to go around the treacherous South African cape waters.

With the Philippines and Malaysia, it's the convenience of being able to go wherever you want to in one of the most beautiful regions worldwide.

See this one as a variant of the Traditional Route and the Pleasure Route.

Some places are cheaper than others. And some places straight up make very little sense to go to.

Going through the Panama Canal is at least a $1,300 expense. Or, there are countries, like Ecuador, where check-in can cost you a $1,000 fee. And last but not least, prices of resources, like food, vary too. The Caribbean is famous for its steep prices in the provisions area.

The prices change, so it would not be bulletproof to give you a precise circumnavigation route exclusively through cheap places. Still, the moral of the story here is that when planning your route, do have a look at the local prices when it comes to check-ins and visas, food and various passes.

yachting around meaning

The result should be a route you are comfortable with financially. Avoiding the Panama Canal means a detour around the whole of South America, so it rarely pays off. Avoiding Ecuador, on the other hand, won't hinder your progress and save you money. Stocking up on food before getting into the Caribbean is also a sound logistical choice - unless you plan to stay for longer than your stocks can take you.

Saving money can mean detours, inaccessibility of various places, and more thought put into logistics. So it can result in a less elegant route.

On the other hand, being smart about it can result in a much lower bill overall.

Let me start this one by admitting that I don't believe anybody will actually take this route in its entirety, as delineated here. But it serves as an inspiration to those who are perhaps a bit unsure or simply like to combine two different sailing styles.

Some like to cross vast oceans and love to see nothing but the horizon for months. And then some like to stick to coastal waters for most of their journeys. Nothing wrong with that; at least it gives you something to look at any given moment.

And then there is the benefit of relative safety, a port or an anchorage close by most of the time, the ability to resupply whenever you like, to pick up and drop off people, and last but not least the lack of need for a really ocean-worthy boat and equipment.

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I'm talking about the coastal cruiser's dream of circling all the world's continents, whereby effectively circumnavigating the globe. Eventually. This is the longest route ever.

The idea is pretty simple. You can go around the world sticking to the coast with no crossings, except for the Norwegian Sea and a few short stretches in Southeast Asia.

Or, if you feel up to it (and want to avoid the freezing northern places), you can cross the Atlantic, the Pacific and keep close to the coasts otherwise.

As mentioned in the beginning, not many will actually take this entire route. But it is not uncommon for circumnavigators to have weeks or months where they do exactly this - stick to the coast and enjoy the country.

Lots and lots of time and resources are needed.

You will constantly be checking into countries and solving visas.

Understand the required paperwork for sailing the world This is an article on the topic of check-ins and paperwork, so have a read through it Read up on global licenses

Some areas are arguably less hospitable than others - the coast of Yemen as an example. So you might want to skip a few.

You don't need a proper ocean exploring boat - an island-hopping model will suffice. Many of the modern ones are capable of long crossings if needed here and there.

You don't need as much equipment as power, water, food, and all that jazz will be available most of the time.

The logistics will suddenly become a whole lot easier. Fewer provisions planning, less spare parts planning, broken stuff won't be a disaster… you get the point.

This is the true world tour.

I liked your article; it raised a lot of good points. I think the article could have benefitted from some maps.

I also think that, throughout the article, you have confused the Canary Islands or Madeira with the Azores. The Azores are not south from Gibraltor or France or Europe. They are 1/3 the way across the Atlantic Ocean, almost due west from Lisbon. The Canaries are south from Gilbrator, France and Europe and most people turn west there for the Caribbean.

Again, I liked the article.

Best wishes.

Leave a comment

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How to sail: A-Z of Yachting Terms

When learning how to sail have you ever wondered when you are on a yacht what some of those yachting terms mean, we have asked our RYA Training Centre pupils which ones confuse the most. Here are a selection, which includes the obvious to the more obscure!

How to sail: A-Z of Yachting Terms

A baft: A location on the boat but further to the rear of the boat. “The tiller is abaft the mast.”

A beam: The beam is the widest part of the boat. When another boat is abeam, it is at a right angle off the beam to either the starboard or port side of the boat you are on.

A ft: When on a boat you refer to the stern part of the boat as being aft or to the rear of the boat.

A head: A term used to describe the area in front of the boat you are on. “Look ahead.”

A ids to Navigation: This includes all external systems like channel markers, preferred route buoys, danger and safe water buoys, isolated danger and regulatory markers etc. that help determine a boats position or course, the presence of dangers or obstructions and the preferred route to navigate.

A midships: In the middle of the boat between the stern and the bow.

A pparent Wind: The apparent wind is a combination of the true wind and the wind caused by the boat travelling through the water. On an windex, the apparent wind will cause the windex to show wind direction just in front of the true wind.

A stern: A location off the boat and behind it.

B ulkhead – Refers to an often watertight, interior wall on the boat

Backing Wind: Refers to the wind shifting direction in a counter-clockwise direction. This usually means that bad weather is approaching.

Backstay: A wire running from the top of the mast to the stern of the boat. The backstay stops the mast from falling forward and also helps to control the degree of mast bend when tuning a boat.

Battens: Wood, fiberglass or plastic strips slid into pockets along the leech of the sail. Battens help to shape and strengthen the sail to increase overall performance.

Beam: The widest part of the boat.

Beam Reaching: One of the points of sail. You are ‘beam reaching’ when sailing directly sideways to the wind on either a port or starboard tack. Think of a clock face – if the wind is blowing from 12 o’clock, sailing at between 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock would be a beam reach.

Bearing Away: Turning away from the wind or turning downwind.

Beating: Sailing towards the wind by tacking back and forth across the wind.

Belayed: Secured, tied to, made fast to.

Bend On: To secure one thing to another. Tieing two lines together.

Bifurcation: A channel junction (two channels meeting) usually marked by a ‘bifurcation buoy’ indicating the perferred channel to follow.

Bight: A loop or bend in a line.

Bilge: The lowest inner part of a boats hull.

Bitter End: The utmost free end of a line. (The other end is referred to as the ‘Standing Line’).

Boat Wind: The wind created by the boat moving through the water. The true wind and the boat wind combine to create the apparent wind direction.

Boat Fall: Rigging used to raise or lower a ship’s boat.

Boat Painter: Rope tied to the front end of a boat used to either tow a boat or to secure it to a dock.

Bollard: Wooden or iron post on a pier to which the boat is secured.

Boom: The boom is the pole running aft from the mast to which (among other things) the foot of the mainsail is attached.

Bowline: A very strong and yet easy to untie knot that creates a loop in the end of a line.

Breastlines: Mooring lines that run from the bow and the stern at right angles to the dock to stop the boat from drifting out from the dock.

Broad Reach: One of the points of sail. Sailing downwind off to the port or starboard side. Think of a clock face – if the wind is blowing from 12 o’clock, sailing at between 4-5 o’clock or between 7-8 o’clock would be a broad reach.

By the Lee: Sailing downwind with the mainsail remaining on the same side of the boat that the wind is hitting. If you are sailing downwind on a port tack, typically the mainsail would be off the starboard side of the boat. When sailing ‘by the lee’, the mainsail in the same situation would remain on the port side of the boat out at a 90 degree angle to the boat.

C lew – The lower aft corner of a sail

Cabin: The below deck living quarters.

Cable: Measurement of distance equal to 0.1 nautical mile.

Cam cleat: A fitting through which a line is run through. The cam cleat consists of two cams that wedge against the line stopping it from being pulled out.

Cardinal Aids to Navigation: Buoys with indicate the location of hazards, safe water or deep water by reference to the four cardinal points of a compass (North, South, East, West).(See our section on buoys for a more complete explanation.)

Catboat: A boat with one mast flying no foresail (jib).

Cast Off: To release the lines allowing the boat to leave it’s mooring.

Chainplates: Very strong metal plates affixed to the hull to which the forestay, backstay and shrouds are attached.

Chart Datum: For navigational safety, depths on a chart are shown from a low-water surface or a low-water datum called chart datum. Chart datum is selected so that the water level will seldom fall below it and only rarely will there be less depth available than what is portrayed on the chart

Chock: a metal fitting, either oval or U-shaped, through which mooring lines are passed. Chocks help reduce abrasion saving the lines from excessive wear and tear.

Cleat: A small, metal deck fitting with horns used for securing lines (belaying).

Clew: The lower rear corner of a sail.

Close Reach: Point of sail – sailing against the wind at an angle somewhere between a Beam Reach and Close Hauled. Think of a clock face – if the wind is blowing from 12 o’clock, sailing at 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock would be a close reach.

Close Hauled: Point of sail – sailng as close to the wind (sharp angle to the wind) as possible without the sailings luffing (fluttering).

Cockpit: The open inset area from where the boat is steered.

Companionway: Stairs or ladder on a boat usually leading down to the cabin.

Cringles: Open metal rings inserted into the sail (also called grommets) used as reefing points for a sail but also found at the clew, head and tack of the sail to attach halyards, lines, outhauls etc.

Cunningham: A line used to adjust the forward edge of the mainsail. Usually runs from the tack of the sail to the front area of the boom.

Current: The horizontal flow of water. (Tide is the vertical flow of water.)

Cutter: A cutter has one mast but sails with two foresails.

D raft – This describes the depth of a boat measured from the deepest point to the waterline

Davit: A crane onboard that can be swung out over the side for hoisting or lowering boats.

Dead Reckoning: Navigational term – method used to plot the course already travelled by measuring speed and time to calculate distance.

Deep Six: A slang term meaning to discard something over the side of the boat.

Degree: A distance of measurement on a nautical chart. One degree equals 60 nautical miles. Each degree is broken down into 60 minute intervals. One minute of one degree equals 1 nautical mile.

Deviation: A ship’s magnetic compass reading can be affected by metal objects on the boat (electronic equipment etc). The difference between the correct magnetic reading and the ships compass magnetic reading is called deviation. Deviation will vary depending on the direction of the boat.

Dog: A metal fitting used to secure watertight doors, hatch covers and scuttles.

Downhaul: A line attached to the tack of the sail and used to pull down or tighten the mainsail to increase sale efficiency.

E ase: To let out or ‘ease off’ a line.

E nsign – The national flag of the boats home country

F Fairleads: A metal fitting through which lines are run to in order to change the direction of the lines while reducing friction on the lines.

Fairway: Sailing on inland waters, fairway means an open channel or being in midchannel.

Fast: To make fast. To secure (snugly tie) a line to something.

Fathoms: A unit of measurement. One fathon equals 6 feet.

Fenders: Cylindrical air filled plastic or rubber bumpers hung off the side of a boat or dock to prevent damage to both dock and boat.

Fetch: The distance over open water the wind has blown.

Faked: A line is faked by zig zagging it back and forth so that when it is used it will not tangle on itself.

Flaked:A sail is flaked when lowered. Flaking a sail is the process of folding the sail back and forth upon itself like the blades on a paper fan. Flaking a sail will help prolong the sail life.

Foot (Sail): The foot of a sail is the lower part of the sail. In the case of a mainsail, this is the part of the sail that runs along the boom.

F orepeak- The cabin most forward in the bow of the boat

Forestay: The forestay is a wire that runs from the top of the mast (or near the top of the mast) to the bow of the boat. The forestay supports the mast from falling backwards and is also used in shaping the bend in the mast for maximum efficiency. The luff (front) of the foresails (jib, genoa) are also generally attached to the forestay depending on the rigging system.

Forward: When on a boat, forward means towards the bow. “Move forward” – move towards the front of the boat.

Galley: The boat’s kitchen.

Genoa: The Genoa is a foresail that is larger than a jib. The clew (lower corner at the foot of the sail) extends aft of the mast unlike a jib.

Give-way Boat: Navigational rules – the boat not having the right-of-way. The Give-way boat must stay clear of the Stand-on boat. The Give-way boat must make it’s intentions known by making a decisive maneuver to alert the Stand-on boat.

Gooseneck: This is a metal fitting that attaches the boom to the mast.

G oosewinging – To sail downwind with the mainsail set on one side and the foresail on the other

Gybing: Sailing down wind and turning through the wind causing the sails to move from one side of the boat to the other.

Gybe ho: Term used by the helmsman to let his crew know that he has started to turn the boat into a gybe.

H alyard – A line which is used to raise things on a boat, so the main halyard line would be used to raise the mainsail

Halyards: Lines used to lower and raise sails.

Hanks: Clips found along the luff (front) of the foresail used to clip the sail onto the forestay (wire running from the bow to the top or near the top of the mast).

Hard over: Turning the wheel or pushing the tiller all the way over.

Head: Generally used to refer to the boat’s toilet. When talking about a sail, the Head is the top of the sail.

Head to Wind: The bow of the boat is pointed directly into the wind.

Heading up: Turning up more into the wind.

Heaving to: A way to, in effect, stall a sailboat by backing the jib, easing out the mainsail and turning the rudder hard into the wind. The forward wind pressure on the foresail wants to force the bow downwind. The rudder turned towards the wind wants to force the bow windward. These two counter effects balance each other causing the boat to hold it’s position with little movement. The mainsail is eased out all the way so that it does not catch any wind and therefore has no bearing on the boats postion.

Heeling: Leaning or heeling over caused by wind pressure on the sails.

Helm: The Helm is the steering mechanism of the boat (wheel or tiller). The person at the helm is called the helmsman.

Helms Alee: A term used by the helmsman to notify the crew that he has started to tack. Hypothermia: A dangerous condition where the body core temperature has been lowered causing extreme shivering, loss of co-ordination, in ability to make decisions and in extreme cases, loss of conciousness and even death.

I nlet – A recess, such as a cove or bay, along a coastline

In Irons: This occurs where the boat has been turned directly into the wind and has lost all forward momentum. Without forward momentum the boat loses it’s ability to steer.

J ackstay – A strong line, that can be made of wire, which runs fore and aft alongside the boat that can be used to attach your safety harness to.

Jacob’s ladder: A light ladder made of rope or chain with metal or wooden rungs used over the side or aloft.

Jib: The jib is a foresail (smaller than a genoa). The jib is about the same size as the triangular area between the forestay, mast and foredeck.

Jiffy reefing: This is a way to make the mainsail smaller by partially lowering it, tying or reefing the lower slack part of the sail onto the boom through gromets (holes in the sail) called reefing points. This is done in high wind conditions to power down the sail.

Jury rig: Makeshift – adapting parts and materials for a use not specifically designed for in order to get by until proper parts or repairs can be obtained.

K etch – A sailboat with 2 masts

Kedging: A method used to free a grounded boat by dropping it’s anchor in deeper water and then pulling on the anchor rode to attempt to free the boat.

Keel: The large heavily weighted fin like structure secured to the bottom of the boat. The keel helps to keep the boat upright and also reduces leeway (side slipping across the wind).

Ketch: A two masted boat. The second and smaller mast (mizzen) is positioned just forward of the rudder post.

Knot: Rate of speed. On land it is miles per hour, on the water it is knots (nautical miles) per hours. One knot equals 1.15 land miles – so one knot is just a bit faster than one mph.

L eeway – The sideways movement of a boat caused by wind and currents

Lateral Aids to Navigation: channel buoys (Red & Green), isolated danger buoys (Black & Red), safe water ahead (Red & White), regulatory buoys (Yellow), bifurcation buoys (Black & Yellow) plus channel identification markers and navigation markers are all considered Laterial Aids to Navigation.

Lazarette: A storage compartment, usually under the seats of the cockpit.

Lee Helm: Also called Weather Helm, this is the tendancy of the boat to turn into the wind once it has heeled over at a sharp angle.

Lee Shore: Feared by most sailors, this is the downwind shore from the boat.

Leech: The rear edge of the foresail or the mainsail running from the head (top) to the clew (rear corner) of the sail.

Leeward: Downwind.

Leeway: When a boat sails across the wind, the force of the wind causes the boat to slip sideways. This drifting or sideway motion is known as Leeway.

Lifelines: The lines running around the outside of the deck creating a railing. The lines are attached to stanchions (upright metal posts).

Luff: The forward edge of a sail running from head to tack (front corner of the sail).

Luffing: A sail is luffing when it starts to flutter in the wind. The term Luff is also used to describe the same situation. “The sail is starting to luff.”

Luff Up: To turn into the wind to cause the sails to start luffing.

M ultihull – Any boat that has more than one hull, such as a catamaran.

Made fast: Secured to.

Mast: The upright pole supported by the shrouds, forestay and backstay to which the sails are attached.

Masthead fly: A windvane attached to the top of the mast to show which direction was wind is coming from.

Monkey fist: A type of knot, heavy in nature and tied to the end of the rope. The weighted knot makes it easier to throw the rope a farther distance.

Mooring ball: An anchored ball to which you can secure your boat. Safer alternative to anchoring provided the mooring ball and lines are in good condition.

Mooring lines: Lines used to secure a boat to a dock or mooring ball.

MSD: Marine sanitation device (toilet).

N eap tide – When during the four week tidal cycle, the tide rises and drops the least.

Nautical mile (NM): International standard for measuring distance on water. One nautical mile equals one minute of latitude. (One nautical mile equals 1.15 land miles.)

O uthaul – This is a line used to tension the foot of the sail, to better control the curvature of the sail

P ulpit – A sturdy rail around the deck on the bow, normally surrounding the forestay

Pad eye: A metal eye (ring) through which lines can be passed in order to stop chaffing.

Painter: The bow line of a dinghy.

P-effect (Prop Walk): When a boat is in a standstill position and put into forward or reverse, the resistance of the boat to move and the motion of the propeller creates a paddlewheel effect pulling the stern of the boat to either port or starboard side depending on the spin of the propeller. This paddlewheel effect is known as P-effect or Prop Walk. P-effect is especially noticable in reverse where there is greater boat resistance to move backwards thus making it easier for the prop to pull the boat sideways.

PFD: Personal Floatation Device – life jacket.

Pintle and gudgeon: The pintle and the gudgeon together form a swinging hinge usually associated with the installation of the rudder on smaller tiller steered boats. The pintle has pins that fit into the holes on the gudgeon thus creating a hinge like fitting.

Points of sail: A reference for the direction the boat is travelling in relation to the wind. (in irons, close hauled, close reach, beam reach, broad reach, running)

Port: When on a boat and facing forward, the left hand side of the boat.

Port tack: Sailing across the wind so that the wind hits the port (left) side of the boat first.

Pulpit: Located at the bow of the boat, this area is enclosed by a metal railing.

Pushpit: Located at the stern of the boat and like the pulpit, this area is enclosed by a metal railing.

Q uadrant – This is a device connected to the rudder that the steering cables attach to

R egatta – Boat races

S hroud – The wires at the side that hold the mast up

Schooner: A sailboat that has two masts both the same height or on some schooners, the aft mast is higher than the fore mast.

Scope: Expressed in terms of a ratio, it is the length of the anchor rode let out compared to height above the sea bed. Height is measured not from the water line but from the top of the deck to the sea bed. A safe anchoring ratio is 1:7 which translates to 7 feet of anchor rode for every foot of height. Many sailors incorrectly assume that height means water depth and therefore find themselves dragging the anchor for lack of proper scope.

Seaworthy: A boat that is fit to be sailed at sea.

Self-bailing cockpit: A cockpit that allows water to drain automatically from the cockpit to the outside of the boat.

Shackles: Metal fittings (often U shaped) that open and close with a pin across the top of the ‘U’. Lines and halyards often use shackles. The mainsail halyard is secured to the head of the mainsail with the use of a shackle.

Sheave: A roller/wheel to guide a line or wire.

Sheets: Lines that are used to adjust sails by either pulling them in or by letting them out.

Shrouds: Also called sidestays, shrouds are the metal wires found on both sides of the mast running from the deck to the top or near top of the mast. The shrouds support the mast by providing lateral support.

Slack water: The period between the flood (tidal water moving in) and the ebb (tidal water moving out) where the water has in effect stalled – little or no movement.

Slides: The groove in the mast to which the luff (front side) of the mainsail is inserted. The slides hold the sail tight against the mast and allows the sail to be easily raised or lowered.

Sloop: a sailboat that has one mast and sails with the mainsail and one foresail.

Soundings: Water depths.

Spar: A spar can refer to any of the following: mast, boom or a pole.

Spinnaker: A large balloon-like foresail used for sailing downwind (running or broad reach).

Spinnaker pole: The spinnaker pole is boom-like in nature, but smaller and lighter, and attaches to fore part of the mast a few feet up from the deck. The other end of the spinnaker pole attaches to the leeward (down wind) base of the spinnaker.

Spreaders: Bars extending sideways from the mast (gives the mast a cross-like appearance). The spreaders hold out the shrouds so that they do not interfer with the rigging.

Springlines: Springlines are used to secure a boat to a dock and stop the boat from moving forward or backwards. The aft springline runs from a point on the boat near the bow to a point aft on the dock. The forward springline runs from a point on the boat near the stern to a point forward on the dock.

Squall: A sudden isolated storm associated with potentially high wind gusts.

Stanchions: Upright metal posts running around the outside of the deck supporting the lifelines.

Stand: This refers to the short period of time where the tide is neither rising or falling. (At a stand still.)

Standing rigging: Standing rigging includes the forestay, backstay and the shrouds. Unlike the ‘running rigging’, the standing rigging is generally only adjusted when the boat is not underway.

Stand-on boat: The boat that must retain her current course and rate of speed in order to avoid a potential collision with an approaching give-way boat.

Starboard: As you face towards the bow on a boat, starboard is the right hand side of the boat.

Starboard tack: Sailing across the wind with the wind hitting the starboard (right) side of the boat first.

Steerage: The ability of the boat to be steered. In order for a rudder to be effective in steering a boat, there must be boat movement. A boat not moving cannot be steered.

Stern: The most aft part of a boat (the very back of the boat).

Storm jib: Same as a jib but not as big. The smaller sail is used in high wind conditions.

T ender – A small boat or dinghy used to ferry crew between the boat and shore

Tack: The front lower corner of a sail. Also means to sail back and forth across the wind in either a port or starboard tack.

Tacking: Also called “Coming About”. Tacking is when the bow of the boat is turned through the wind onto the opposite tack.

Tail: The bitter end of a sheet tailing out from a winch.

Tang: A metal fitting used to affix the stays to the mast.

Telltails: (Also called Ticklers) These are small strings (wool, plastic) attached to both sides of the luff of the sail. When the telltails on both sides of the sail are blowing straight back, this indicates that the sail has been properly trimmed.

Through hulls: Through hulls are holes that go through the boat. Each through hull will have a shuttle cock (value) to stop the flow of water. An example of a through hull would be the head (bathroom). A through hull value is opened so that water from outside the boat can be pumped into the MSD (toilet). The value is closed and the toilet pumped empty into a holding tank.

Tide: The vertical rise and fall the oceans.

Tide rips: This is an area of rough water where the wind is blowing across the water in the opposite direction from which strong tidal current is flowing.

Tiller: In boats that are not steered by a wheel, a tiller (long handle) is attached to the top of the rudder in order to facilitate steering.

Toe rail: A small metal railing running around the outside of the deck used to support your feet.

Topping lift: A line running from the top of the mast to the end of the boom. The topping lift supports the boom when the sail has been lowered.

Topside: The portion of the hull above the water line.

Transom: The flat area across the stern of the boat.

Trim: To trim or adjust the sail to make it more effective against the wind.

True wind: The actual wind felt wind the boat is not moving.

Turnbuckles: Adjustable fittings usually attached at the end of shrouds and stays. Turning the turnbuckle one way or the other tightens or loosens the wire.

U nfurl – To unroll a sail

Upstream: Moving from seaward into harbor, moving with the flood of the tide, moving up river toward the headwaters.

V ane – A wind direction indicator

Veering: A wind shift in the clockwise direction usually indicating that good weather is approaching.

W inch – A mechanical device for pulling in a line

Wake: The waves created behind a boat as a result of the boat moving through the water.

Way: Movement of the boat.

Weather helm: The tendancy of the boat to turn up wind after heeling (leaning over).

Wheel: Controls the rudder. Taking control of the wheel is taking the helm.

Winch: Provides a mechanical advantage. Used to raise the sails, tighten the sheets and other lines.

Windward: Towards the wind.

Wing to wing: Running (sail directly downwind) with the mainsail out one side of the boat and the foresail out the other side of the boat.

X marks the spot on the treasure map!

Y awing – The side to side movement of a boat on an uneven course

Yawl: A sailboat that has two masts. The aft mast (mizzen) is shorter than the foremast. The mizzen mast is located aft the rudder post. (On a Ketch, the mizzen mast is located fore of the rudder post – this is the distinquishing factor between the two.)

Z ephyr – A very light westerly wind

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Decoding Hollywood's Disturbing "Yachting" Culture Beneath the Glamour

Jamie Lerner - Author

Dec. 19 2023, Published 10:41 p.m. ET

We explore the hidden meaning of "yachting" in Hollywood: individuals, often women, get paid large sums to spend time with wealthy individuals for career advancement.

Individuals may face uncomfortable situations, including sexual assault, trading dignity for fame, and money in a corrupt industry.

Prominent figures like Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Nina Dobrev, Hailey Bieber, and Emily Ratajkowski have all been linked anecdotally to Nonsense Pudding .

Thanks to influencers like Deux Moi , normies are finally getting a peek into the life of the rich and famous. And while pictures aboard yachts surrounded by luxury may look glamorous to all of us, it isn't necessarily all that it’s cracked up to be. Stories have been coming out for decades about people, often women, who subject themselves to “yachting.”

We may associate yachting with rich guys sailing in races, but it actually has a much darker meaning in Hollywood . It’s often considered Hollywood’s oldest “open secret,” but what actually is “yachting”? Keep reading for all of the details.

In Hollywood, "yachting" is the practice of getting paid large sums of money to spend time with wealthy people.

At its most innocent, “yachting” is a PR opportunity for an up-and-coming actor or model. However, it’s often much more sinister. Basically, typically women on their way up in the industry may get paid a large sum of money — five, six, or even seven figures — to spend time with wealthy men. The benefit for the women is the money, the photo ops of luxury, and a potential opportunity to meet someone who could give them a leg up in the industry.

However, they often aren’t told what strings are attached before agreeing to “yacht” with someone. Many of these excursions often lead to sex and other forms of assault. Although the women tend to be up and coming celebs and influencers, they are essentially selling their body for the entirety of their time on the yacht. It gives “the implication” a whole new meaning.

“Yachting” is a common and known practice in Hollywood, but it could also be considered prostitution.

In 2007, businessman Elie Nahas was convicted of running a prostitution ring at the Cannes Film Festival. He claimed that he was only responsible for getting women to Cannes and had nothing to do with what happened after, but even if he did, there are hundreds of other men doing the same thing.

Many of us see pictures of celebrities on yachts and luxury vacations and think, "Wow, imagine living that life!" But in reality, they're being paid to spend time with someone they may not like just because it could further their career. But in doing so, many give up their bodies.

In fact, one Redditor wrote : “You are essentially being bought for a certain period of time. Hence why people get drugged, raped, fondled, sleep with men older than their fathers, pissed and shat on. Once everything is said and done, the trauma and memories of doing those things stay with you forever. Your dignity is being leveraged for fame and money. Let’s not forget a lot of these encounters are filmed and can easily be used to blackmail these young stars.”

It’s an example of powerful men taking advantage of young women with dreams of succeeding in an already corrupt industry. But the practice is so common that stories have circulated about Selena Gomez , Ariana Grande, Kylie and Kendall Jenner , Nina Dobrev, Hailey Bieber, and many other big stars.

@al.laure1209 Best way to fill the pool 🛥 #yacht #yachtlife #yachtdesign #boat #boating #luxuryyacht #sailing #superyacht #topyacht #yachtinglife #yachtingworld #yachting #yachtlifestyle #yachtcrew #cannes #cannesyachtingfestival ♬ original sound - Alex

Emily Ratajkowski also talks about it in her memoir, My Body . She explains how she was paid $25,000 early on in her career just to accompany Jho Low to the Super Bowl, without understanding what she was expected to do. So while the idea of riding around on a luxury yacht might sound ideal, many paths there aren’t as great.

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Nautical Sayings: Exploring the Fascinating World of Maritime Language

  • Nautical Sayings: Exploring the Fascinating World of Maritime Language

Ahoy there, fellow adventurers of the sea! Whether you're an experienced sailor or just someone fascinated by the world of nautical adventures, you've probably come across some intriguing and often perplexing maritime sayings. In this comprehensive article, we'll dive deep into the ocean of nautical sayings, yacht word origins, boating sayings, and the rich tapestry of nautical slang that has shaped the language of the high seas.

Setting Sail with Nautical Sayings

Ahoy, matey.

Our journey begins with the iconic greeting, "Ahoy, matey!" This classic nautical saying has been immortalized in countless pirate tales and seafaring adventures. But have you ever wondered about its origins and the fascinating history behind it?

The phrase "Ahoy, matey!" finds its roots in the 17th century when pirates and sailors needed a catchy and distinctive way to greet each other on the high seas. We'll explore how this phrase became a symbol of maritime camaraderie and adventure.

Charting the Course of Nautical Language 

Before we delve into specific nautical sayings, let's navigate through the history of maritime language. The sea has always been a source of inspiration for unique expressions, and understanding the evolution of this language is key to appreciating its richness.

Maritime language is a dynamic blend of influences from various cultures, including English, Dutch, and even French. We'll journey through time to uncover how these linguistic influences shaped the nautical lexicon we know today.

Knots and Nautical Expressions 

The maritime world is a treasure trove of fascinating expressions related to knots and ropes. From "tying the knot" to "left in the lurch," we'll unravel the meanings behind these captivating sayings.

Let's explore more nautical phrases related to knots, rigging, and seamanship. Each saying carries a unique history, often reflecting the practical challenges and traditions of sailors.

The Call of the Sea 

Beyond greetings and practical expressions, sailors had a language of their own to communicate effectively on the vast expanse of the ocean. We'll delve into the lesser-known but equally intriguing nautical phrases that were used for signaling, navigation, and coordination.

Discovering Yacht Word Origins

The yacht: a luxurious icon .

Yachts epitomize elegance and luxury on the water. But have you ever wondered where the term "yacht" itself comes from? Let's set sail on a journey through time to explore its origins.

The word "yacht" has a fascinating history that dates back to the early days of sailing. We'll trace its evolution from humble beginnings to the opulent vessels we associate with yachts today.

Yacht or Jacht: A Linguistic Odyssey 

Did you know that "yacht" is closely related to the Dutch word "jacht"? We'll uncover the linguistic connection between these two words and how it has influenced modern yacht culture.

The Dutch influence on yacht design and terminology is profound. We'll delve into how Dutch shipbuilders and explorers played a pivotal role in shaping the yacht industry.

The Golden Age of Yachting 

Yachting isn't just about boats; it's a cultural phenomenon with a rich history. During the 19th century, the "Golden Age of Yachting" saw a surge in yacht building and racing. We'll explore this period and its impact on yacht word origins.

Sailing Through Boating Sayings

Smooth sailing ahead.

When it comes to boating, the saying "smooth sailing" is music to a captain's ears. Join us as we explore the origin of this optimistic phrase and how it reflects the sailors' eternal quest for favorable winds.

"Smooth sailing" isn't just a saying; it embodies the aspirations and experiences of mariners throughout history. We'll recount stories of legendary voyages and the calm seas that inspired this expression.

Weathering the Storm 

Boating isn't always smooth sailing. Sometimes, sailors must "weather the storm." We'll examine the origin of this phrase and its enduring relevance to the maritime world.

Navigating storms at sea has always been a formidable challenge. We'll share tales of courage and resilience that shed light on the origins of this powerful metaphor.

Deciphering Nautical Slang

Aye, aye, captain .

Nautical slang is a language all its own, and "aye, aye, captain" is one of its most recognizable phrases. But what does it really mean, and why is it used so frequently on ships?

Read our top notch articles on topics such as sailing, sailing tips and destinations in our Magazine .

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vacation, travel, sea, friendship and people concept - smiling friends sitting and talking on yacht deck

Swabbing the Deck: Nautical Work Lingo 

"Swabbing the deck" might sound like a chore, but it's also a nautical saying with a rich history. We'll uncover its origins and its role in the daily life of sailors.

Navigating Ship Sayings

Shipshape and bristol fashion .

When something is "shipshape and Bristol fashion," it's in excellent condition. Discover the intriguing story behind this phrase, which hails from the bustling port city of Bristol.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea 

Sometimes, sailors find themselves "between the devil and the deep blue sea." Explore the origins of this saying and the predicaments it describes.

Exploring Boat Phrases

In the same boat .

We often say we're "in the same boat" when facing a common challenge. But where does this saying come from, and why do we use it to express solidarity?

Casting Adrift: Origins of "Adrift" 

Being "adrift" can have a figurative meaning beyond just being at sea. Discover the roots of this saying and how it found its way into everyday language.

Unraveling Nautical Expressions

By and large: a nautical measurement .

The phrase "by and large" has nautical origins tied to sail trimming. Join us as we explore the history of this saying and its transition to everyday language.

Three Sheets to the Wind: A Nautical Reference to Intoxication

Have you ever heard someone described as being "three sheets to the wind"? Learn about the nautical basis of this humorous expression.

Boating Phrases and Sailor Jargon

"know the ropes": mastering the art of sailing.

To "know the ropes" means to be skilled and knowledgeable. We'll sail through the history of this saying and its significance for sailors.

"The Whole Nine Yards": Nautical or Not?

Is "the whole nine yards" a nautical phrase? We'll unravel this linguistic mystery and see if it has nautical origins or not.

Sailing Expressions and Seafaring Terms

"batten down the hatches": preparing for a storm.

When sailors "batten down the hatches," they're preparing for a storm. Discover the practical origins of this vital nautical saying.

"Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea": A Nautical Dilemma 

We revisit the phrase "between the devil and the deep blue sea" to explore its deeper connotations in the context of seafaring.

Nautical Words and Phrases: A Sailor's Lexicon

Nautical sayings: the ultimate lexicon .

Summarizing our exploration, we'll compile a comprehensive list of some of the most intriguing nautical words and phrases that have left their mark on the English language.

As we sail back to the shore of this captivating journey through nautical sayings and maritime language, it's clear that the sea has not only inspired adventurers but also enriched our vocabulary with colorful expressions. From "ahoy, matey" to "the whole nine yards," each saying carries a piece of nautical history that continues to resonate with us today.

So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our range of charter boats and head to some of our favourite  sailing destinations.

I am ready to help you with booking a boat for your dream vacation. Contact me.

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Denisa Nguyenová

Killer whales ram and sink sailing yacht off Gibraltar coast

The Alboran Cognac was rammed by an unknown number of orcas in the Strait of Gibraltar at around 9am local time on Sunday, the Spanish maritime rescue service said.

Tuesday 14 May 2024 11:54, UK

yachting around meaning

Orcas have sunk a yacht off the coast of Gibraltar - the latest in a string of similar attacks by the mammals over the past four years.

The Alboran Cognac sailing vessel was rammed by an unknown number of killer whales in the Strait of Gibraltar at around 9am local time on Sunday, the Spanish maritime rescue service said.

Two people were on board, who reported feeling blows to the boat's hull and rudder before it started taking on water.

They had to be rescued by a nearby oil tanker after they radioed the coastguard for help. The pair were taken to Gibraltar for safety, while the yacht was left adrift and later sank.

There have been around 700 interactions between orcas and ships since the trend emerged in the area in May 2020, according to the research group GTOA.

They believe such attacks could be the result of the orcas' playful curiosity or the animals confusing boats with competitors for bluefin tuna - their favourite prey.

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Experts claim these incidents, which have been confined to the strait that separates Spain and Portugal from Africa, are the work of a sub-population of around 15 orcas.

In May last year, a yacht called The Mustique was severely damaged by several of the whales and had to be towed to Cadiz.

Guidelines issued by the Spanish Transport Ministry stipulate that whenever ships observe any alteration in the behaviour of orcas - such as sudden changes of direction or speed - they should leave the area as soon as possible and avoid further disturbance to the animals during the manoeuvres.

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Every interaction between a ship and an orca must be reported to authorities.

Although known as killer whales, endangered orcas are part of the dolphin family. They can measure up to eight metres long and weigh up to six tonnes as adults.

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yachting around meaning

Orcas Sink 49-Foot Yacht in Mystifying Trend Around the Strait of Gibraltar

A n unknown number of orcas sunk a sailing yacht in Moroccan waters in the Strait of Gibraltar on Sunday, according to Spain’s maritime rescue service. While orcas are typically peaceful, this is the latest in a string of attacks that have hit the region in the past four years.

Reuters reports that a 49-foot-long vessel, named the Alboran Cognac, carried two people and encountered the high social apex predators at 9 am local time on Sunday. The passengers reported sudden blows to the hull and rudder before the water started seeping into the ship. A nearby oil tanker rescued the two onboard and transported them to Gibraltar. The yacht was left to sink into the ocean.

Experts believe the orcas involved to be a subpopulation of about 15 individuals given the name “Gladis.” This group of juvenile males has sunk several yachts in the Strait of Gibraltar over the last four years, but experts are somewhat baffled as to why. While typically peaceful animals, the Gladis pod has plagued the small strip of water separating Europe and Africa for years.

There have been nearly 700 interactions between orcas and ships in the Strait of Gibraltar region since May 2020, according to Reuters. At the time, it seemed like one of many dystopian things going on in the world during the global pandemic. But the trend continues today, and we still don’t have much more of an explanation as to why this happens.

In 2020, photos of the Gladis pod revealed several injuries on the orcas’ bodies, possibly indicating previous run-ins with fishing boats. In a 2023 interview with NPR, director of the Orca Behavior Institute Monika Wieland Shields said we don’t know the motivation, but this could be a defense behavior based on previous trauma. It’s possible the orcas had negative experiences with a fishing boat, so now they see all large boats as a threat.

“I definitely think orcas are capable of complex emotions like revenge,” she told NPR. “I don’t think we can completely rule it out.”

However, Shields doesn’t completely subscribe to the “revenge” hypothesis. There have been plenty of other times when orcas around the world were targeted by boats, and they’ve never responded in this way before. Further, it doesn’t seem that this behavior is spreading to other orca pods.

Another theory is that ramming boats is just the latest orca fad, according to Renaud de Stephanis, president and coordinator at CIRCE Conservación Information and Research, a cetacean research group based in Spain. He told NPR in 2022 that “this is a game” for the orcas, and when they “ have their own adult life, it will probably stop. ” As orcas grow older, they have to help the pod hunt for food and have less time to play with sailboats.

Director of Bay Cetology, Jared Towers, told NPR that fads like this come and go in the orca society. Towers said some orcas in the Pacific in the 1990s would kill fish and swim around with it on their head. Now we don’t see that anymore. Hopefully, the boat ramming phenomenon will come and go like any other trend.

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Photo: Mark Rightmire/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register (Getty Images)

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Oleksandr Usyk vs Tyson Fury rematch could mean the IBF belt is stripped with Daniel Dubois to receive title shot

Oleksandr Usyk expected to face Tyson Fury in an immediate rematch which could mean the IBF belt is stripped away from the undisputed champion; Daniel Dubois is then set to fight Filip Hrgovic for vacant IBF title in June

By John Dennen

Tuesday 21 May 2024 08:31, UK

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Usyk v Fury cam footage

Oleksandr Usyk's undisputed world heavyweight titles are set to fragment with Britain's Daniel Dubois poised to fight for the vacant IBF belt.

The Ukrainian defeated Fury to unify the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight belts in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, but he will only reign supreme for a short spell as one of the sport's governing bodies is likely to strip away a title.

Usyk is expected to face Fury again in an immediate rematch, but the IBF mandatory title challenger Filip Hrgovic has been waiting for his own title fight and the Croat's upcoming bout against Dubois could be for the vacant IBF belt on June 1.

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Frank Warren, who promotes Fury and Dubois, told Sky Sports: "He's [Usyk] done something no one else has done. He's unified the four belts.

"Four belts on the line is the start. I'm quite sure they'll fragment after that. And then it'll happen again.

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"We're in such a good place as a sport and they're such good things happening you just can't see it ending, because there's so many good fights to be made.


"We've got the [Usyk vs Fury] rematch, provided AJ keeps winning [he can be in the mix], and then you've got all our youngsters coming through.

"Hrgovic and him [Dubois] is a great fight and the winner of that, I think everybody's going to be happy with who the winner fights."

'I'd love to see AJ vs Dubois'

Anthony Joshua was watching from ringside as his former conqueror Usyk delivered a first professional defeat to Fury.

But the two-time world champion could receive a quicker route to a world title against Hrgovic or Dubois.

Riydah, Saudi Arabia: Daniel Dubois v Jarrell Miller, Heavyweight Contest..23 December 2023.Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing.Daniel Dubois celebrates.

"I'd love to see that happen [Joshua fight the Hrgovic vs Dubois winner]," said Warren.

"I'd like to see Daniel come through, I'd love to see an all-Brit affair, who knows? We'll see."

Agit Kabayel has also lined up a fight for the WBC belt that is held by Usyk after the German contender inflicted a seventh-round stoppage loss on Frank Sanchez in their WBC title eliminator.

Tyson Fury corner

Another new challenger for Usyk?

"I don't know [about a world title fight], we will see. We are ready for the next," Kabayel told Sky Sports.

Kabayel had come within touching distance of a fight against Fury in the past, but now could be on a collision course with Usyk.

"The fight was close, the contract was finished but Corona[virus] you know," said Kabayel. "But no problem. Tyson, for me he's like my mentor, my big brother, he helped me a lot.

Agit Kabayel comes to life in round seven with an ooze of explosion to stop Cuba's undefeated Frank Sanchez.

"I was sparring him in 2016 for the second fight with Wladmir Klitschko, this fight got cancelled.

"I was there with him for two weeks, he gave me very good hospitality, was very friendly. After this we are a little bit friends.

"If it's [title fight] coming, it's coming, I'm ready.

"We will see."

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China Deploys Dozens of Ships to Block Philippine Protest Flotilla

Filipino civilians set sail in fishing boats to oppose China’s control of a shoal claimed by the Philippines. A formidable Chinese fleet awaited them.

Several small boats moving through the water, with grass and hills in the background.

By Chris Buckley and Camille Elemia

China has sent dozens of coast guard and maritime militia vessels toward a disputed atoll in the South China Sea, a large show of force aimed at blocking a civilian protest flotilla from the Philippines, as tensions between the countries have flared.

The Filipino group organizing the flotilla of about 100 small fishing boats, led by five slightly bigger ones, said it wanted to assert the Philippines’ claims to Scarborough Shoal , an atoll controlled by Beijing that is closer to Manila.

But even before the motley Philippine fleet set out on Wednesday morning, China deployed a formidable contingent of much bigger government-run ships to the area, an intimidating escalation of its frequent assertions of control over vast expanses of sea far from its mainland.

“What we’re seeing this time, I would say, is definitely of another order,” said Ray Powell, the director of SeaLight , a group that monitors the South China Sea. “I think that the China Coast Guard is concerned that they’re going to try to sort of get too close, and so they’re sending an overwhelming force.”

Standoffs and close brushes between Filipino coast guard or civilian vessels and China’s larger coast guard and militia ships — which have used powerful water cannons to drive Philippine vessels away — have become more frequent in the past two years. This time, the size of the Chinese presence and the large number of civilian Filipino boats could make any encounter near the shoal more risky, Mr. Powell said.

“If China decides that they want to send the message that says, ‘We’ve had enough of this,’ then the scary thing you would not want to see is one of these small Filipino fishing boats hit by a water cannon, because that would not end well,” he said.

Rafaela David, one of the leaders of Atin Ito , the Filipino organization coordinating the protest at sea, said the group would not be deterred from trying to reach the atoll, which the Philippines calls Panatag Shoal. The fishing boats were expected to take about 20 hours to get there.

“We should normalize and regularize civilian access,” Ms. David said at a news briefing on Tuesday in Botolan, a town on the Philippines’ main island of Luzon. She said the number of protest boats would show that Filipinos are “not intimidated by someone as big as China.”

The group’s chances of breaking China’s hold on Scarborough Shoal , about 138 miles west of Luzon, seem slim.

By Tuesday, China had positioned five coast guard ships and six maritime militia vessels near the shoal and had another 25 or so maritime militia vessels sitting roughly 60 miles further out, said Mr. Powell, whose group is part of the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation at Stanford University. That estimate, he added, did not include Chinese vessels that either do not carry automatic identification signal devices, which allow them to be tracked, or have turned off their devices in order to “go dark.”

Officials with the Philippine Navy and coast guard said they were deploying ships to escort the civilian Philippine flotilla.

On Wednesday, the Chinese government warned the Filipino protesters against nearing the shoal, which Beijing calls Huangyan Island.

“If the Philippine side abuses China’s good will and violates China’s territorial sovereignty and jurisdiction, China will defends its rights and take countermeasures in accordance with the law,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a news conference in Beijing. “The responsibility and consequences will entirely rest with the Philippine side.”

Relations between Manila and Beijing have worsened in the past two years over their maritime disputes.

Since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was elected president of the Philippines in 2022, he has revived ties with the United States and pushed back against China’s claims to shoals and outcrops near the Philippines. Beijing, in turn, has stepped up coast guard and maritime militia operations to guard its claims.

On Monday, China’s coast guard said that it had started sea rescue training near Scarborough Shoal “to ensure the safety of people onboard vessels that are coming and going.”

Manila has also accused Beijing of taking steps to turn another disputed atoll, Sabina Shoal, which sits about 83 miles northwest of the Philippine island of Palawan, into an artificial island, and it sent a coast guard and a navy ship to the area. On Monday, Beijing rejected the accusation.

The Scarborough Shoal has been under Chinese control since 2012, when Beijing wrested it from Manila in a weekslong standoff. Filipino fishermen had long worked in the resource-rich shoal, but since then their access has been restricted and sporadic.

In 2016, an international tribunal established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea rejected China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea and ruled that the shoal is a traditional fishing ground for the Philippines, China and Vietnam. China has ignored that ruling and continued to entrench its control across much of the sea, including Scarborough Shoal.

Atin Ito, the group organizing the Philippine flotilla, is a coalition of religious activists, civic groups and organizations representing fishermen. The name means “This Is Ours,” and the group has sought to galvanize the public behind peacefully asserting the Philippines’ claims in what Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

Atin Ito held a similar protest last year , sending boats to the Second Thomas Shoal — a disputed atoll, also known as Ayungin Shoal, that is held by Filipino navy personnel on a grounded ship. But those boats turned back after constant shadowing by Chinese vessels, which have used water cannons against Philippine ships that have tried to deliver supplies to the grounded ship.

This time, the Atin Ito mission appears larger and may be bolder. The group said it planned to drop off food and fuel for any Filipino fishing boats in the area. Along the way, the flotilla also began dropping buoys bearing the message “WPS, Atin Ito” — that is, the West Philippine Sea is ours.

Chris Buckley , the chief China correspondent for The Times, reports on China and Taiwan from Taipei, focused on politics, social change and security and military issues. More about Chris Buckley

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