Welcome to Sea-Ex Yachts & Yachting - Sailing, Boating and General Nautical Terminology in Plain English

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Sailing, Boating and General Nautical Terminology in Plain English

What is a .......  and what does it mean?

 Parts of the boat, ship or yacht:

 Bow - The front or pointy end of the boat

 Stern - The back or blunt end of the boat

 Port side - The left hand side of the boat when you are in the boat facing forward. Note: Port Wine is Red and so is the navigation light shown on the port beam of a vessel underway at night, "Port" is also a four letter word and so is the word "left) To remember this "Port is Red Wine Left Over"

 Starboard side - The right hand side of the boat when you are in the boat facing forward

 Hull - The outside, underside of your boat.  The bit that touches the water

 Deck - The floor

 Gunwale - The top edge of the sides of your boat

 Beam - The widest part of your boat

 Amidships - The centre of your boat

 Athwartship - across the centre of your boat

 Thwart - The bench seat that goes across your boat (in a tinny or small boat)

 Centreline - An imaginary line down the centre of your boat from the bow to the middle of your stern

 Keel - Along the underside of the hull down the centreline

 Freeboard - The height of your boat from the waterline to the top of the side of your boat

 Draught - The amount of your boat from the waterline to the lowest part of your boat in the water.  (how deep in the water is she or how much water do you need to float.)

 Transom - The vertical 'wall' at the back of your boat where the motor is bolted on. (part of the hull)

 Cabin - The enclosed (or partially enclosed) living area of your ship

 Heads - The toilet

 Head - The forward part of the boat, also the ship's head is the direction you are traveling or the course you are steering

 Headway - Movement through the water in a forward  direction

 Galley - The kitchen

 Bulkhead - The walls

 Hatch - An opening in the deck to allow access to the accommodation area

 

Ropes

There are many different words used to describe ropes which often depend on the job they do. Generally, ropes on a sailing yacht are referred to as "lines"

 Painter - The rope attached to the bow of your boat that you hold on to so the boat does not drift away when you launch her

 Rode - The length of rope between the bow of your boat and the chain that holds the anchor

 Sheets - The ropes used to adjust sails in and out so as to catch the best breeze

 Halyards - The ropes (steel & fibre) that are used to raise and lower sails and flags

 Warp - Heavy ropes used for mooring or towing

 Twine - Light rope used for sewing or binding (whipping)

 Bight - a loop in a rope

 Mooring lines - Rope used to secure a boat at a dock, jetty or marina berth

 Springs or Springers - Rope used to fasten a boat to prevent it from moving forward or backwards

 Ground Tackle - A general term used to describe all the gear used when anchoring. Includes rope, chain, cable and anchor

 

Direction away from the ship

 Ahead - Over the bow or directly in front of the boat

 Astern - Directly behind the boat over the stern

 Abeam - Out to the sides of the boat on either side

 Starboard Beam - Out to the side off the Starboard side of the boat

 Port Beam - Out to the side off the Port side of the boat

 Starboard Bow - 45 degrees from the bow, around the Starboard side. (half way between ahead and abeam)

 Port Bow - 45 degrees from the bow, around the Port side. (half way between ahead and abeam)

 Starboard 1/4 - 45 degrees forward of dead astern on the Starboard side. (halfway between astern and abeam)

 Port 1/4 - 45 degrees forward of dead astern on the Port side. (halfway between astern and abeam)

When in a man-overboard retrieval situation, it is common to use the position of the numbers on a clock as they are relative to the sides of your boat to indicate direction of the person in the water.  For example directly ahead would be 12 o'clock, off the Starboard Beam would be three o'clock.  Astern is 6 o'clock and off the Port Beam is 9 o'clock.  This system is quicker and simpler when in this situation as the boat is continuously changing direction as the skipper brings her back around to retrieve the person in the water

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