Seamanship Vocabulary

There are  many terms and phrases associated with sailing a boat. Being familiar with the terms and concepts will better prepare you to participate in the sailing of Liberty.


Beam – maximum width of vessel

Belaying Pin – wooden or metal pin to which sheets and halyards are

Below – down inside vessel

Bilge – the lowest part of the vessel’s hull – water will often settle there and
must be removed

Block – a nautical pulley

Boom – horizontally mounted spar used to control and extend bottom edge
of the sail

Bow – forward end of vessel

Bulkhead – vertical participations separating compartments, a wall
Cleat – metal fittings to which lines are made fast .

Centerline – imaginary line from bow to stem that divides vessel into two

Companionway  access between decks

Deck – the nautical equivalent of a floor

Draft – vertical distance from waterline of vessel to bottom of the keel

Fo’c’sle – forward part of vessel’s interior, often the crew quarters

Forepeak – compartment at bow of vessel where the anchor gear is stored

Gaff – spar that supports the upper side of a fore and aft four sided sail

Galley – kitchen

Halyard – lines used to hoist sails

Head – marine toilet

Helm – steering wheel

Hull – basic structure or shell of the vessel

Leeward =direction away from wind

Line – any rope on a vessel that is not a sheet or a halyard

Mast – vertical spar that supports sails

Pinrail – a rail attached to shrouds, which is the holder for the belaying pins

Port – anything left of the center-line of the vessel when facing forward

Rudder – underwater vane activated by the helm that steers the vessel

Sheet – a rope used to control adjustment of a sail

Shrouds – wires that support mast side to side

Starboard – anything right of the center-line when facing forward

Stay – wires that support the mast fore and aft

Stem – the after (back) end of the vessel

Windward – direction from which the wind is blowing

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