Abeam: To the side of the boat (also beam-on).
Aft: Towards the back.
Aloft: High up in the rigging.
Aries: Make of mechanical windvane self-steering.
Astern: Towards the back or to go backwards.
Athwartships: Across the boat
Batten: Stiff length of wood or plastic to hold the mainsail in shape.
Beam: Width of the boat at the widest point.
Bear away: To steer the boat at a greater angle from the wind.
Becket: Attachment point on a block for securing the line.
Bilge: Space below the floor.
Boltrope: Rope sewn into the foot of the mainsail to hold it in a groove in the boom.
Boom: Horizontal spar for attaching a sail.
Bosun: From “Boatswain”. The crew member in charge of rigging (Bosun’s locker, Bosun’s chair, Bosun’s knife.)
Bosun’s chair: A seat for going aloft.
Bow: Front of the boat.
Bowline: Popular knot for making a fixed loop.
Bridgedeck: The deck joining the two hulls of a catamaran.
Broach: Sudden heeling too far at the same time as turning sharply into the wind. Sails and sometimes crew in the water.
Bumkin: Permanent short boom protruding outboard. In older yachts with long main booms, a bumkin may keep the backstay out of the way. (From boomkin)
Cable: Large rope or wire. Also a measurement of distance: 185 metres (One tenth of a nautical mile).
Catspaw: A short-lived breath of wind in a calm.
Clew: The back corner of a sail.
Coachroof: Roof of a raised cabin – some boats have flat (flush) decks.
Coaming: Raised edge of the cockpit to keep out the water.
Cockpit: Protected area for steering, sail adjustment and keeping a lookout.
Companionway: Entrance to the cabin.
Cringle: Eyelet in a sail through which to pass a rope.
Cutlass bearing: Metal lining of the hole through the hull to take the propeller shaft.
Cutter: Yacht with two headsails – a “yankee” set on the forestay and a “staysail” on the inner forestay.
Downhaul: Line from the deck to hold something down – for instance, the spinnaker pole.
Fairlead: A device to guide a line through a particular location.
Fender: Device for hanging over the side to protect the boat from damage when coming alongside.
Fiddle: A lip attached to the edge of a shelf or table to stop items falling off when the boat heels.
Fo’c’sle: The forward compartment (from “forecastle)
Forestay: The wire holding up the mast from the front.
Foulies: Short for foul-weather clothes – the modern incarnation of oilskins, which were called “oilies”.
Futtock: The futtock shrouds on a square-rigged ship brace the futtock plate against the topmast shrouds.
Gelcoat: Smooth, shiny outer surface of a fibreglass hull.
Gooseneck: Connection between the boom and mast.
Guy: Line controlling the end of a spar. Most typically, the spinnaker pole.
Hawser: A thick, heavy rope
Heave-to: To position the sails and rudder so that the boat stops.
Holding tank: For storing effluent rather than pumping it into the water.
Jackstay: Safety line running the length of the side deck.
Kite: Slang term for spinnaker
Knot (measurement of speed): One nautical mile per hour.
Lazarette: Locker right at the back of the boat.
Lazyjack: A line running from the mast to the boom in order to catch the mainsail as it is lowered (from crewmen being called “Jacks” who would otherwise be required to gather the sail.)
Leeboard: Removable board at the edge of a bunk to prevent the occupant falling out in a rough sea (also Leecloth).
Leech: The back edge of a sail.
Lee: Facing away from the wind.
Line: A rope with a particular purpose.
Log: Device to measure speed and therefore distance sailed. Originally this was, quite literally, a log thrown over the stern and attached to a knotted line. The time it took for each knot to pay out was the measurement of speed. Later a mechanical log was patented by the Walker company featured a rotating “fish” on the end of a line turning a mechanism to move a needle around a dial. Modern logs give an electronic readout.
Luff (noun): Front edge of a sail.
Luff (verb): To point the boat further into the wind.
Navtex: Automatic radio receiver dedicated to digital weather forecasts.
Neap tides, neaps: Time of the lunar month when the tides rise and fall by their smallest amount.
Pintle: One of the fastenings for the rudder. The pintle slides into the gudgeon.
Port: The left side when looking forward (from the days of longships when the left side of the boat would be laid against the quay because the steering board was on the right side – see “starboard”.)
Pulpit: Rigid structure at the front of the boat to prevent crew falling overboard.
Pushpit: Similar to Pulpit but at the back of the boat.
Reach: To sail with the wind coming from the side of the boat.
Reef (verb): To reduce the area of a sail by tying up part of it or rolling it around a furling gear.
Reef: (noun): A part of the sail which can be or has been reefed.
Reef point: The eyelet in a sail by which a reef is tied down.
Reefing pennant: Line used to tie down a reef.
Rope cutter: Device fitted to the propeller shaft incorporating sharp blades designed to cut a rope which might otherwise foul the propeller.
Rowlock: U-shaped brace for holding an oar.
Run: To sail away from the wind.
Sacrificial strip: Thin layer of sailcloth along the foot and leech of a furling headsail to protect it from ultraviolet damage – the sacrificial strip is easily replaced.
Samson post: A strong securing point for rope.
Seacock: Tap to close off an opening through the hull for engine cooling water, waste etc.
Serving: Thin line wrapped around a thicker one to protect it.
Sheave: Grooved wheel to carry the rope in a block.
Sheer: Upward curve of the hull as it rises towards the bow.
Sheet: Line controlling the clew of a sail (via the boom in the case of the mainsail).
Shroud: Wire holding up the mast from the side.
Skin fitting: Spout screwed into the hull to take a hose. Below the waterline, this should have a seacock.
Snatch block: Block (pulley) which can be opened from the side to allow the running part of a line to be inserted rather than having to thread the end through the sheave.
Sprayhood: Like the hood of a pram but with plastic windows to protect the cockpit from spray.
Spring tides, Springs: Time of the lunar month when the tides rise and fall by the greatest amount.
Springs: Apart from being an abbreviation for Spring Tides, springs are ropes rigged from the bow to a point on a dock level with the stern and vice versa to stop the boat surging back and forth.
Stanchion: Upright support for the guard rail which is designed to stop crew falling overboard.
Standing off and on: To sail towards land and then reverse the course in order to stay close but not too close.
Starboard: The right side when looking forward (from “steering board” in Viking longships when the steering board was on the right side of the pointed stern).
Stem: Front of the hull.
Stern: Back of the boat.
Stern gland: Collar around the propeller shaft to stop the ingress of water. Incorporates a stuffing box.
Stuffing box: Part of the stern gland. Filled with fibrous material and grease which is compressed by means of bolts to stop the ingress of water.
Tack (verb): To turn the boat through the eye of the wind.
Tack (noun): The bottom front corner of a sail.
Tackle: A device for ease of hauling consisting of two blocks with a line running between them (also block and tackle). A small version kept for a variety of uses is known as a “handy billy”.
Toe-rail: Lip at the edge of the deck (from the crew bracing their toes against it.)
Topping lift: Line from the top of the mast to support the end of the boom.
Transom: Type of design for the stern of a boat. A transom stern is flat above the waterline.
Truck – Top of the mast.
Thwart: Transverse seat. Usually in a dinghy.
Uphaul: Line from the mast to support the spinnaker boom.
VHF: Small radio transceiver with a range up to 20 miles.
Warp: A heavy rope used for mooring. Can also be used as a verb: To move a boat by pulling on her warps.
Washboard: Heavy piece of wood used to close the companionway.
Weather (adj): The windward side.
Windvane: A mechanical system of self-steering which keeps the yacht on a steady course relative to the wind direction.
Windward: Towards the wind.