Boating Terms and Boating Terminology

ABACK  A sail which has filled on the wrong side so that the boat tends to be blown to leeward or backwards. When done purposely the sails are ‘laid aback', and 'taken aback' when it is accidental.
ABAFT  Behind. Aft of amidships.
ABOUT  To go about is to tack. To be about is to have completed a tack.
ACCIDENTAL GYBE  When the boat is running and the wind gets on the same quarter as the mainsail is set and blows it across to the other side of the boat unexpectedly and. perhaps, violently.
AFT  The area towards the stern. Back end of.
ALL STANDING  All sails up. Mostly used when referring to an accidental gybe as ‘gybing all standing'.
AMIDSHIPS  The middle line of a boat either fore and aft or athwartships. The middle part of a boat.
ANGLE OF HEEL  The angle at which a boat leans over on one side.
APPARENT WIND  The true wind plus the wind created by the boat's forward movement, or the true wind less the speed of the boat when the wind is coming from behind. Except when running, the apparent wind is ahead of the true wind.
ASTERN  In reverse. Behind the vessel.
ATHWART, ATHWARTSHIPS  Anything at right angles to the boat's fore and aft line. 
BACKSTAY The stay which supports the mast from behind to prevent it from bending or falling forwards. There may be one or two backstays. 
BATTENS  Wood, metal or plastic slats slid into pockets along the leech of a sail to keep it fiat.
BATTEN DOWN  To close or shut down hatches, etc.
BEAM  The width of a boat at her widest point. On the beam' is at right angles to the boat's fore and aft line. 
BEAM REACH  A point of sailing with the wind on the beam.
BEAR AWAY  Turn a boat awav from the wind.
BEAT  A course sailed close to the wind. Beating is sailing near to the wind, close hauled, usually not nearer than 45 .
BELAY  Make fast a rope round a cleat or other fixed object.
BEND  A knot formed to be easily cast off. To tie or make fast.
BERMUDAN RIG  A rig which has a tall triangular mainsail with its luff attached to the mast.
BIGHT  A bend or loop in a wire or rope.
BILGE  That part of a boat where hull and keel meet. Also commonly used to describe the empty spaces under the cockpit and cabin soles which are called 'the bilges'.
BILGE KEELER  A boat with twin keels.
BLOCK  A wood, metal or plastic casing with one or more pulley wheels (sheaves : inside it, round which wire or rope runs to gain a mechanical advantage, or to lead a rope off at an angle. A snatch block opens to allow the wire or rope to be taken over the pulley without having to thread (reeve) it through.
BOLLARD  A fixed solid object round which mooring lines can be looped or belayed. On board they are usually arranged in pairs to take a figure-of-eight, or in the form of a single vertical timber or metal stump also called a sampson post.
BOOM  The spar of wood or metal to which the foot of a sail is attached. Most often refers to the main boom which controls the mainsail. Can be any spar rigged overboard to act as a gantry.
BOW  The stem, front, forward part of a boat. The 'sharp end'.
BOW ROLLER  Also stem head roller. Takes the anchor rope or chain and, by revolving like a pulley wheel, allows it to run out or be hauled in without friction.
BOWSPRIT  A spar rigged or fixed projecting forward of the bows to which one or more headsails are attached by their tacks.
BREAST ROPE  A mooring line led at right angles from the boat to the shore or another boat.
BRIGANTINE  A two-masted boat schooner rigged on the mainmast but with square sails on the foremast.
BROACH  To slew round in a bad sea when running, with the risk of the wind getting behind the sails and pressing the boat over.
BROAD REACH  A point of sailing with the wind coming from over one quarter.
BUOY  Anchored floating mark for navigation. Also that to which a boat can be moored, or which can be picked up with its length of chain or rope and made fast on board. A Dan buoy has a spar or pole through it with a flag or other mark on top and is used as a racing marker or is attached to a lifebuoy to mark the position of a man overboard.
BUOYAGE  The system of buoys or navigational marks laid to mark fairwavs. channels, entrances, hazards.
BURGEE  A triangular flag indicating membership of a club, association or other body. May also be a house or owner's personal pennant.
CENTRE OF EFFORT  The point at which the force of the wind is presumed to act on the sails for the purpose of making calculations.
CENTRE OF LATERAL RESISTANCE  The point about which a boat pivots being the point at which the forces on the sails and superstructure balance the resistance of the hull/keel in the water.
CLEAT  A wood or metal fitting with two 'horns' round which a chain or rope can be belayed.
CLEW  The corner of a sail to which sheets are attached, or the corner which is attached to the outboard end of a boom.
CLOSE HAULED  Sailing as close to the wind as possible.
CLOSE REACH  Point of sailing with the wind just ahead of the beam.
CLOSE TACKING  Making a number of short tacks in succession. Tacking in zig-zag fashion within a narrow channel, fairway or between hazards or obstructions.
COACH ROOF  The raised roof of a cabin inboard of a boat's sides.
COAMING  The raised side of a cockpit, or wall round a hatch or well.
COCKPIT  The after area or sunken deck of a boat where the helmsman sits.
CRINGLES  Rope or metal rings or ‘thimbles' sewn or riveted into the corners of sails to take ropes or shackles for sheets or reef lines.
CURRENT  A flow of water in one direction. May be tidal or from other causes.
CUTTER  A single-masted boat with two headsails.
DEAD RECKONING  The position of a boat calculated from the course steered, her speed through the water and elapsed time. It is very much an estimated position which must then take into account the effects of wind and tide.
DEVIATION  The amount by which the reading on the compass differs from the position of magnetic north. Deviation is caused by non ferrous metal objects and by magnetic fields created by electrical and electronic installations on a boat.
DISPLACEMENT  The weight of a boat, which is equal to the w'eight of the water which she displaces when afloat.
DODGER  Canvas screen round a cockpit to protect the grew from spray.
DOWNHAUL  A rope or tackle fitted to haul down a sail or spar, usually to haul the luff down taut.
DOWN WIND  Sailing, motoring or drifting with the wind behind the boat. Also refers to the direction to leeward.
DRAFT. DRAUGHT  The depth to which a boat sits in the water. The distance between the waterline and the lowest part of the hull or keel. Can also be the depth of curvature in the cross section of a sail. A shoal draft boat is one which has small enough draft to cross shallower water than a deep draft or deep keel boat.
DRAG  When a boat moves because her anchor is not holding she drags her anchor. Drag is used to describe the effect of friction between a boat and the water. A stationary propeller on a sailing boat causes drag.
DRAW  When a sail fills with wind it is said to draw. 
DRIFT  The movement of a tidal stream measured in knots. To move with a stream or current, or to be blown along by the wind as opposed to actually sailing.
DROGUE  A device used to slow down the movement of a boat. Usually an open-ended cone shaped canvas 'bucket' trailed astern. Sometimes used when a boat is running before a heavy following sea. The appropriate conditions for the use of a drogue depend very much on the characteristics of a boat and is a somewhat controversial subject.
EBB TIDE  A falling tide. In a river or estuary the ebb runs out towards the sea. Ebb is the opposite of flood.
ENSIGN  The marine equivalent of a national flag. Always flown at or near the stern of a boat.
ESTIMATED POSITION  The position of a boat calculated from dead reckoning plus allowances for tidal drift and leeway. See ‘dead reckoning'.
EVEN KEEL  A boat on an even keel sits upright.
EYE OF THE WIND  The direction from which the true wind is blowing. When a boat tacks she has to turn through the eye of the wind.
FAIRLEAD  A fitting with two inward curving ‘horns' or a ring through which wires or ropes are led so that they maintain position or direction without slipping or chafing.
FAIRWAY  The navigable part of any stretch of water. Usually refers to a buoyed channel. Also has certain legal connotations similar to a public highway.
FALL  The part of a rope on which one hauls.
FATHOM  The nautical measurement of 6ft (1.82m).
FENDER  A soft object hung over the side of a boat to act as a buffer to protect the topsides from damage when alongside.
FILL  Sails ‘fill' with wind.
FIN KEEL  One which protrudes below the hull as a separate shape and does not run the length of the hull.
FINE ON  Very near to. Fine on the port or starboard bow' would be slightly off dead ahead.
FIN  The position of a boat determined by the intersection of two or more compass bearings taken on sighted objects or radio signals.
FLAKE  To lay a rope or chain down in flat layers so that it is ready to run.
FLOOD TIDE  A rising or incoming tide.
FLUKE  The pointed arm s; of an anchor. The part which digs in. A light wind of variable strength and duration is said to be fluky.
FOLLOWING SEA  A sea with waves moving in the same direction as the boat.
FOOT  The bottom edge of a sail, or the bottom end of anything such as the foot of a mast.
FORE  A prefix applied to anything which is on or near the front part of a boat, viz. foredeck hand, foremast, forestay.
FORE AND AFT  Lengthwise of the boat, from stem to stern.
FOREDECK  That part of the deck in front of the foremast.
FORESAIL  On a cutter, sloop, ketch or yawl is the sail(s) forward of the mainmast.
FOUL  Foul ground is an anchorage with underwater obstructions in which an anchor can become entangled. A foul wind is one coming from the direction you want to go. A foul tide is one running against you.
FREEBOARD  The height of the hull above the waterline. Also called the topsides.
FURL  To roll, fold or gather up a sail, flag or other fabric.
GAFF  The spar to which the head of a sail is attached. Gaff rigged describes a boat with a quadrilateral fore and aft sail attached to a gaff.
GALLOWS  A fixture on which the end of the boom is supported when the sail has been lowered. Not common on modern boats.
GENOA  A large headsail which extends aft of the mast.
GIMBALS  A mechanism by which an object (e.g. cooker or compass'; is suspended so that it pivots either one or two ways to remain horizontal when a boat heels or pitches.
GOOSENECK  A universal coupling between the boom and the mast.
GOOSEWING  An arrangement of the mainsail set on one side of the boat and the headsail on the other when running before the wind.
GUARDRAILS  Safety rails or life lines supported by stanchions which run round a boat to prevent crew from falling overboard.
GYBE  To change tack by bringing the stern of the boat through the wind. The opposite manoeuvre to tacking, when the head goes through the wind.
HALYARDS  Wires or ropes used to haul things up.
HANK  A form of shackle for attaching the luff of a sail to a stay.
HARDEN IN  To trim a sail in tighter, flatter.
HAWSE PIPE  The hole or pipe through which the anchor chain or rope runs through the deck to the anchor locker.
HEAD  Top corner of a triangular sail. The bow of a boat. ‘The heads' is also the nautical term for a sea lavatory.
HEADSAIL  Any sail set forward of the mainmast or foremast.
HEAD TO WIND  When a boat is pointing directly into the wind.
HEEL  To lie over at an angle under the pressure of wind in the sails.
HELM  The tiller or wheel used to steer a boat by turning the rudder. To steer a boat. Helmsman is the man who steers.
HORSE  A transverse bar or track on which a traveller attached to the lower block of a mainsheet can move from side to side.
HULL  The main body or shell of a boat. In some contexts it refers to the underwater shape of a boat.
INBOARD  Within the boat. A spar or clew of a sail is brought inboard. An inboard engine is mounted inside a boat, whereas an outboard engine is hung on the transom.
INFLATABLE  The common name for a tender which is inflated for use, and deflated for stowing. Made of neoprene or similar synthetic rubber-coated fabric.
INSHORE  The waters near the shore. An inshore passage would be made within sight of the coast. Offshore would normally mean out of sight of land. There is no precise definition of either word.
ISOBAR  A line which joins together areas of equal barometric pressure on a weather map.
ISOTHERM  A line which joins together areas of equal temperature.
JAWS  The half round fitting at the end of a gaff which fits either side of the mast.
JIB  The triangular sail which is foremost when there is more than one headsail, commonly the single headsail of a boat with only two sails.
JURY RIG  A makeshift rig erected after a dismasting, or a temporary rudder arrangement.
KEDGE  A second, lighter anchor than the main or bow anchor. Used in tandem with the main anchor to reduce the swing of a boat, or for extra holding power. To kedge is to take the lighter anchor off in a tender, drop it overboard, and then haul on its cable to move the boat.
KEEL  The backbone of a boat to which sides, stem and transom are attached. Also refers to the ballast keel hung below the boat, which may be either straight and the length of the boat, or a short fin, to provide directional and righting stability.
KETCH  A two-masted boat with the shorter (mizzen) mast stepped forward of the rudder post.
KICKING STRAP  Sometimes called a vang. A rope or tackle from the foot of the mast or the deck to the underside of the boom to hold it down when the sail fills on a run or broad reach when it tends to lift.
KNOT  A speed measurement equal to one nautical mile per hour.
LANDFALL  Approaching the land after a relatively long passage, especially out of sight of land. To make a good landfall is to make an accurate one.
LATITUDE  Meridians, lines of distance north or south of the equator measured in degrees (90° north and 90° south) which are sub-divided into minutes and seconds.
LEAD  A block or eye through which a rope is passed to lead it in a required direction. The weight on the end of a marked line for taking depth soundings.
LEADING MARK  A mark or object used as a navigational guide into port, fairway, anchorage, etc. Two such marks in transit indicate the safe line of approach, or departure if viewed astern.
LEE  Sheltered from the wind. The lee or leeside of a boat is the one downwind, opposite to the windward or weather side.
LEE HELM  A boat's tendency to turn her head downwind. Putting the helm/tiller down towards the lee has the effect of turning the boat's head back into the wind.
LEE SHORE  A shore to leeward or downwind of a boat onto which she would be blown if she could not sail or motor off. A boat beating gradually to windward to clear a lee shore is said to be ‘clawing off, a potentially dangerous situation when there is no room to tack/manoeuvre.
LEEWAY  The angle between the fore and aft line of a boat, and the direction in which the hull is moving under the pressure of the wind. The distance she is driven downwind from her intended course.
LET FLY  Let a sheet go suddenly, especially to spill wind from the sail.
LIFEBUOY  Buoyant ring or horseshoe to support a person in the water.
LIFEJACKET  Waistcoat or jacket with integral buoyancy to support a person in the water. An ‘Approved' lifejacket will keep the victim on his back with his head above the water.
LIFELINE  A line attached to a safety harness with which crew can secure himself to a boat. One of the lines forming the guardrails round a boat.
LIFERAFT  An inflatable circular raft with a canopy which must be of a size to support and protect the full crew.
LOG  The instrument for measuring distance and speed through the water. The complete record of a passage or voyage.
LONGITUDE  Meridians, lines which pass through both poles. There are 180° of longitude east and west of the Greenwich Meridian, which is o°. Position is measured by degrees east or west of the Greenwich Meridian, and the latitude north or south of the equator.
LUFF  The leading edge of a sail. To luff up is to put the helm down and bring the head of a boat into the wind.
LUG. LUGSAIL  A quadrilateral shaped sail attached to a spar which is hoisted up the mast and hung at an acute angle to leeward with its tack forward of the mast.
LWL  Load Waterline. The length of a boat at her waterline when loaded to her correct design displacement.
MAGNETIC BEARING  The bearing of an object or course related to the position of magnetic north, as opposed to true or geographical north.
MAGNETIC COURSE A direction read from a magnetic compass. The true course worked out on a chart with variation added or subtracted to convert it to magnetic so that a compass course can be steered.
MAINSAIL  The sail hoisted on the largest or main mast.
MAINSHEET  The rope tackle used to haul in or ease out the boom to trim the mainsail.
MAKE FAST  Belay a rope. Secure a boat.
MAKE HEADWAY  Make progress through the water.
MAKING  A tide is making when flooding or coming in.
MARCONI RIG  The American term for bermudan rig.
MARK  Any object or sign used for guiding or giving warning to shipping.
MAST  A vertical spar on which sails are set.
MASTHEAD RIG  A fore-and-aft rig with the forestay going to the top of the mast.
MIZZEN  A fore-and-aft sail set on a smaller mizzen mast at or near the stern. Also called a spanker (American), but never a mizzen sail.
MOORINGS  A series of anchors or heavy weights with chains in a harbour, estuary or sheltered waters to which boats can make fast. An anchorage is an area where the shelter and the ground are suitable for boats to lie to their own anchors. There may also be moorings in the same area. When a boat is tied up alongside she is said to be "moored up', not at a mooring.
MOTOR SAILER  A boat designed and engined for cruising and passage making as much, if not more, under power than sail. Motor sailing means using the engine while still sailing if in a hurry or to stem a foul tide if the wind is not good enough.
NAUTICAL MILE  A distance equal to 1 /60th of a degree of latitude. 6,080 ft or       1.8532 km.
NEAP TIDES  Those with a smaller range than spring tides. Neaps occur at half moon periods both waxing and waning.
NOTICES TO MARINERS  Notifications published periodically for making corrections to charts.
OBSERVED POSITION  A boat's position deduced from observation of navigational and or land marks.
OFFSHORE  Away from the coast. Out of sight of land.
OFFSHORE WIND  A wind blowing from the land.
OFF THE WIND  Any point of sailing which is not close hauled. Applies especially when the wind is abaft the beam and the sails are eased well out.
ONSHORE WIND  A wind blowing towards the land.
OUTHAUL  A rope or tackle used to extend the foot of a sail.
OVERFALLS  Rough or confused water caused by the tidal stream running over a very rough bottom or sudden changes in depths.
OVERHANG  Of bow- or stern beyond the waterline length.
PAINTER  A light mooring rope attached to the bow of a tender or small boat.
PAY OFF  Turn downwind, to leeward.
PEAK  The top outer point of a gaff sail.
PINCH  Sail too close to the wind and lose speed.
PITCH  The fore-and-aft seesaw movement of a boat in a rough sea or swell.
POINT  To point well is to sail well close to the wind.
PORT  The left hand side of a boat looking forward. A harbour.
PORT TACK  A boat is sailing on the port tack when the wind is coming from the port hand side.
POSITION LINE  Line on a chart deduced from taking a bearing or sounding and along which the boat is therefore known to be. Two position lines make a fix at their point of intersection.
PREVENTER  A line attached to the end of a boom or spar and secured forward to prevent it from swinging about in rolling sea conditions.
PULPIT  A metal railing round the bow of a boat to protect the crew when working on the foredeck.
PUSHPIT  Similar to a pulpit, but fixed round the stern or aft deck.
QUARTER  The aft corners of a boat. Wind on the quarter would be blowing over one corner or the other.
RACE  An area of very turbulent water caused by a strong current or tidal stream accelerating round a headland or through a narrows. Sometimes caused by the configuration, of the sea bed. Apart from the discomfort and possible danger of the turbulence, it is often impossible to sail against the strength of a race. Going with the stream a boat might be carried along out of control.
RAFTING  Two or more boats mooring alongside each other.
RANGE  The difference between the height of high and low water of one tide. The distance at which a light can be seen.
REACH  The point of sailing when the wind is coming from the beam. On a beam reach it is roughly at right angles to the boat, on a fine reach a little ahead of the beam, and on a broad reach a little abaft the beam.
READY ABOUT  Warning given when about to tack.
REEF  Reduce the amount of sail carried by folding, rolling or tying up part of a sail. An alternative to changing to smaller sails when the wind is too strong. A chain of rocks just below the surface of the water.
REEF KNOT  Used to tie two ropes together.
REEF POINTS  Short lengths of line sewn in rows on each side of a sail for tying up the part of a sail that has been reefed.
RESERVE BUOYANCY  Extra buoyancy by way of watertight compartments, cans or inflatable bags which will keep a capsized or waterlogged boat afloat.
RIG  The sail, mast and rigging plan of a boat.
RIGGING  The general term for all wires and ropes that support spars, and those used to hoist, lower and trim sails. The former is standing rigging, the latter running rigging.
ROLLER REEFING  A method of reefing or furling sails by rolling them round a boom or furling spar.
ROUND TURN AND TWO HALF HITCHES  A knot used to secure a rope or line by taking a turn round an object and then taking two half hitches round the standing part of that rope.
ROVE  Describes a rope passed through an eye or block.
RUDDER  A hinged flat on or near the stern by which a boat is steered.
RUNNING  Sailing with the wind aft.
RUNNING FIX  A boat's position plotted by taking two bearings on one object with an interval between.
SAMPSON POST  A strong post on the foredeck or aft deck of a boat to which mooring lines or anchor cable can be secured.
SCHOONER  A fore-and-aft rigged boat with two or more masts. A big boat rig most suitable for long reaches in trade wind parts of the world.
SEIZED  Bound with wire, line or twine.
SET  The direction of flow of a tidal stream. To set sail is to hoist sail. To sail off.
SHANK  The long arm or middle part of an anchor.
SHEETS  Ropes secured to the clew of a sail to control it.
SHOAL  An area of water which is very shallow and a hazard.
SHROUDS  Standing rigging which supports a mast on either side.
SKEG  An extension of the keel or a separate embryonic keel which carries the hinged length of a rudder.
SLOOP  Fore-and-aft rigged boat with only two sails, main and head.
SLOT  The gap forming a venturi between a headsail and the leeward side of a mainsail.
SNATCH BLOCK  A block with a hinged side which opens to take a rope without having to rove it through.
SNUB  Check a line or chain from running out. usually by taking a turn round a cleat or post.
SPAR  General term for masts, booms, poles, gaffs, etc.
SPLICE  Join two wires or ropes by intertwining their strands.
SPONSONS  The outer hulls of a trimaran. The side tubes of an inflatable boat.
SPREADER or CROSSTREE  Strut at right angles to the mast to tension the shrouds, and hold them out to provide a wider angle of attack so providing better support.
SPRING TIDES  Those with the highest range. Springs occur at the full and new moon periods.
SQUARES AIL  A four-sided sail rigged on a yard at right angles to the mast.
STANCHIONS  Upright supports for guardrails or lifelines round the sides of a boat.
STANDING RIGGING  All rigging which is permanently set up to support masts, as opposed to running rigging which hoists and controls sails.
STARBOARD  The right hand side of a boat when looking forward, opposite of port.
STARBOARD TACK  A boat is sailing on the starboard tack when the wind is coming from the starboard hand side.
STAY  Wire or rope supporting a mast in the fore or aft direction.
STAYSAIL  A sail set up on a stay. Sometimes it is set flying secured only at head, tack and clew.
STEERAGE WAY  Enough movement through the water to enable a rudder to be effective and a boat to be steered.
STERN  The aft part of a boat.
STERN WAY  The movement of a boat going astern. To make stern way is intentional. To make a sternboard is to fall away astern because of wind or tide.
STOCK  The cross piece at the upper end of the shank of an anchor. It is set at right angles to the arms and flukes so that they do not lie flat on the bottom.
SWAGE  See ‘swigging'.
SWIGGING  Getting a purchase on a rope by pulling on the standing part as one would a bow string and then quickly hauling on the tail to take up the slack gained.
TACK  The lower fore corner of a sail by which it is attached to a boom, deck, stemhead or bowsprit. It keeps the luff amidships. To tack is to go about, change direction.
TACKLE  A system of rope and blocks pulleys to provide a gain in purchase for hoisting or hauling.
TAIL  To haul on a rope which has one or more turns round a winch.
TENDER  A small boat used as a ferry boat, sometimes lifeboat, to a bigger boat. Can also describe a boat which needs little wind to make her heel. The opposite is a stiff boat which requires a strong wind to make her heel.
THROAT  The upper fore corner of a gaff sail formed by the angle of the head and the luff.
THWART  Bench seat across the width of a boat.
TIDAL STREAM  The movement caused by the rise and fall of tides. Its direction and rate of movement are predictable.
TIDE  The perpetual rise and fall of the oceans and seas caused by the changing gravitational pull of the moon and sun resulting in an ebb and flow of water.
TIERS  Canvas strips or short cords for securing sail when furled. Shock cords with plastic connectors or elastic loops with balls are now more commonly used for speed and convenience.
TILLER  A wood or metal bar fixed to the rudder head to afford a lever by which to move and hold the rudder steady and so steer the boat.
TOE RAIL  A low rail or miniature bulwark running round the sides of the deck.
TOPPING LIFT  A rope or wire used to raise or lower a spar. Most commonly used for the main boom to take the weight when the sail is being lowered and when it is furled.
TOPSIDES  That part of the hull of a boat which is above water.
TRANSIT  When two objects are visually in line they are said to be in transit.
TRANSOM  Flat or shaped piece across the aft end of a hull. The back side of a boat.
TRAVELLER  A fitting which can travel along or up a spar or track.
TRICK  A spell at the helm.
TRIP THE ANCHOR  Break it out of the ground.
TROTS  A system of mooring buoys or piles laid out in line. Boats use fore and aft mooring lines and so do not swing with the tide but remain in line.
LENDER SAIL  Moving under sail with no engine running.
UNDER WAY  Moving under control.
UP HELM  Put the tiller to windward to make the head bear away to leeward.
VARIATION  The difference between true and magnetic north which varies from year to year and from one part of the world to another. The information to work out current variation is given on charts.
VEER  Change direction, most often applied to the wind when it changes direction clockwise. When it goes anti-clockwrise it is said to back. Pay out a chain or rope.
VENTURI EFFECT  When mainsail and headsail are correctly sheeted in the slot between them accelerates the passage of air over the lee side of the mainsail and cuts down turbulence. This lowers the pressure on the lee side of the mainsail and gives it more drive.
WATCH  The crew on duty. The period of time when they are on duty. On watch is on duty, off watch is resting.
WAY  Movement through the water.
WEATHER HELM  A tendency to turn head to wind which is corrected by putting the tiller up wind to turn the head away from the wind. A boat with pronounced weather helm is badly balanced and very tiring to steer.
WEATHER SIDE  The windward or up wind side. The side from which the wind is blowing.
WEIGH ANCHOR  Pull the anchor up.
WHISKER POLE  A small spar used to hold the clew of a headsail out when running in light airs to prevent the sail collapsing. Mostly used when goose winged.
WINCH  A device with a rotating drum round which a rope is turned to gain a mechanical advantage. By means of gearing inside the drum, and a long handle giving good leverage, enormous purchases can be achieved.
WIND  True wind is that felt on shore, or when a boat is stationary. Apparent wind is the sum of the true wind and the wind caused by a boat's own movement.
WIND OVER TIDE  When the wind blows in the opposite direction to the set of the tidal stream and the water gets roughed up. When the wind is strong and the tide flows fast heavy seas can build up. In shallow waters the sea becomes steep and confused.
WINDWARD  Towards the wind.
YACHTMASTER'S CERTIFICATE  A certificate of competence issued jointly by the Royal Yachting Association and the Department of Trade in the UK. It is the highest certificate awarded to amateur skippers.
YARD  Spar from which a square sail is hung.
YAW  Weave from side to side. Continually go off course, first one way and then the other.
YAWL  A two-masted boat with the shorter mizzen mast stepped abaft the rudder post or on the stern itself. The mizzen is usually set out over the stern.
ZENITH  That point in the sky which is exactly overhead. The highest point to which the sun or other heavenly body rises in the sky.


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