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Sailing Terms

Learn to talk like a sailor!

Apparent wind – The wind that the sailor feels which is the combination of the true wind and the wind caused by the boat’s movement through the water

Backstay – Mast support running to aft deck

Bare Poles – A sailing vessel in a storm carrying no sail

Beam – Widest part of a boat.

Beat  – To sail to windward.

Bow – The forward part of the vessel.

Broad Reach – Sailing with the wind just aft of the beam.

Chain plate – A steel plate or bar by which the standing rigging is attached to the hull.

Chanty – Shanties are the work songs that were used on the square-rigged ships of the Age of Sail. Their rhythms coordinated the efforts of many sailors hauling on lines.

Cleat – A wood or metal fitting with two horn around which ropes are made fast

Compass rose -The resulting figure when the complete 360° directional system is developed as a circle with each degree graduated upon it, and with the 000° indicated as True North. Also called true rose. This is printed on nautical charts for determining direction.

Fall off – No this does not mean jump off your board. It means to change direction so as to point farther away from where the wind is coming from.

Galley – The kitchen of a ship.

GPS– global positioning system; is a satellite-based radio navigation  used to determine position

Head up – Change direction so as to point closer to where the wind is coming from.
Helm-steering apparatus

Jib – a triangular foresail in front of the foremast

Lee – The side sheltered from the wind

Luff Up -To steer the boat more into the wind, thereby causing the sails to flap or luff

Mainsail – The sail set on the mainmast

Nautical mile -One minute of latitude; approximately 6076 feet – about 1/8 longer than the statute mile of 5280 feet.

Port tack – In the normal sailing stance, sailing a course with the left hand in front. The wind will be coming from the left (port) side of the board. Port tack boat must stay out of the way of starboard tack boat.

Reach – sailing with a beam wind

Reef – to reduce the size of a sail

Running – Sailing in the same direction as the wind.

Shroud – a line or wire running from the top of the mast to the spreaders, then attaching to the side of the vessel.

Starboard tack – In the normal sailing stance, sailing a course with the right hand in front. The wind will be coming from the right (starboard) side of the boat. If two boats meet, the one on starboard tack has the right-of-way.

Underway – Vessel in motion, when not moored, at anchor, or aground.

VHF – very high frequency radio

Wing and wing – The situation of a fore-and-aft vessel when she is going dead before the wind, with her forsail hauled over on one side and her mainsail on the other.

Windlass – A mechanical device used to pull in cable or chain, such as an anchor rode.