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Glossary of Sailing Terms

Abeam: Beside the boat.

Aft: Towards the stern.

Ahead: Ahead of the bow.

Astern: Behind the boat.

Backstay: Wire running from top of mast to stern.

Battens: slats set in leech of sail to maintain sail shape.

Beam: Widest part of hull.

Beam reach: Sailing 90° to wind.

Bearing away: Altering course away from wind.

Beating: Sailing closehauled, tack upon tack.

Bend on: Attach sail to mast, boom or stay.

Boom: Horizontal pole to support foot of sail.

Boomvang: Block and tackle from boom to mast which prevents boom from lifting.

Bow: Forward part of boat.

Bowline: Loop knot. Does not jam, slip or fail.

Broad reach: Between beam reach and run

Cabin: Below-deck area.

Cam Cleat: Toothed cleat

Chainplate: Fitting attaching shrouds to hull.

Cleats: Fittings for securing lines.

Clew: Bottom rear corner of sail.

Close hauled: Sailing as close to the wind as possible without sails luffing.

Close reach: Between close haul and beam reach.

Clove hitch: Knot used for tying a line to a spar.

Cockpit: An open well from which the boat is steered.

Cringles: Metal grommets in sail.

Cunningham: Line adjusting tension of forward edge of mainsail.

Deck: Horizontal surface enclosing hull.

Double Sheet Bend: Knot used for tying two lines of unequal size.

Fairleads: Fitting through which lines are fed to guide them or change direction.

Figure 8: Stopper knot.

Fitting: Misc. hardware.

Flog: Flutter violently in wind.

Foot: Bottom edge of sail.

Forestays: Wire from top of mask to bow.

Forward: Towards the bow.

Gathering way: Increasing speed.

Genoa: Foresail over 100%.

Give-way: Keep well clear.

Gooseneck: Hinge fitting attaching boom to mast.

Gudgeon: Socket part of hinge attaching rudder.

Gybing: Change tack by putting stern through wind.

Halyards: Lines for raising and lowering sails.

Hanks: Clips on foresail for attaching sail to forestay.

Hardened: Tightened.

Head: Top corner of sail.

Head to wind: Facing the wind head on.

Heading up: Altering course towards wind.

Headway: Moving ahead.

Helmsman, or helm: person on helm.

Horn Cleat: Horn shaped cleat.

In Irons: Head to wind with no steerage.

Jib: Foresail.

Jiffy reefing: Reducing sail by lowering and securing with lines.

Keel: Weighted underwater extension below hull.

Leech: Back edge of sail.

Leeward: Away from the wind.

Leeway: Leeward motion of boat.

Leeway: Moving to leeward..

Luff: Front edge of sail.

Luff: Sails flutter since they are not filled with wind.

Make way: Pass or move.

Mast: Vertical pole to support sails.

No way: Not moving.

Outhaul: Line adjusting tension of foot of mainsail along boom.

Pintle: Part of hinge with pin. See Gudgeon.

Port: Left side - red.

Port tack: Wind over the port side.

Pulpit: Metal railing at bow.

Pushpit: Metal railing enclosing stern.

Reef points: Small cringles for reefing sail

Reef: Knot used to tie two end of same line.

Roller reefing: Reducing sail by rolling sail around forestay

Rudder: Flat blade for steering.

Run: Sailing downwind.

Self-bailing cockpit: Cockpit with drainage to outside of hull.

Shackle: U-shaped fittings with pin used to attach lines to fittings.

Sheets: Lines used to let sail out or bring sail in.

Shrouds: Wire running from top of mast to deck.

Skipper, captain, master: Person in charge of boat.

Slab reefing: Jiffy reefing.

Slides: Fitting attached to sail for attaching sail to mast or boom.

Spinnaker: Balloon like sail, flies ahead of forestay.

Spreaders: Horizontal struts which hold out shrouds.

Stanchions: Uprights supporting lifelines.

Stand-on: Proceeds normally.

Starboard: Right side - green.

Starboard tack: Wind over the starboard side.

Stern: Aft part of boat.

Sternway: Moving astern..

Storm jib: small jib, used in strong winds.

Tack: Bottom front corner of sail.

Tacking: Change tack by putting bow through wind.

Taking way off: : Reducing speed.

Tang: Metal fitting on top of mast to attach shrouds or stays.

Telltales: Short lengths of wool indicating wind direction.

Tiller: Handle to control rudder.

Topping lift: Line from top of mast to boom, to support boom when sail is lowered.

Turnbuckle: Fitting used to tension wires

Underway: Vessel not at anchor, made fast to shore, or aground. Vessel is free floating, not necessarily making way.

Wheel: Steering wheel to control rudder.

Winch: Drum used to haul lines.

Windward: Towards the wind.


Last updated: July 31, 1998

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