Sailing Glossary 101 – Ten Terms you Need to Know

Posted on February 25, 2013 by Lee under Sailing Comments Off on Sailing Glossary 101 – Ten Terms you Need to Know

There comes a time in the life of every sailor and boating fan when they’ll find themselves reeling off so much industry lingo that those of a less nautical persuasion will probably have no idea what they’re talking about. And needless to say, a proud day this is for all involved! Sailing

However, those getting started may find that they really don’t know their aft from their boom, which can spell any number of confusion problems if and when instructed to carry out a task or two in the early days. True, there’s plenty of time to get to grips with the complicated stuff, but for those looking to talk the talk before learning to walk the walk, here’s a quick sailing glossary 101 with ten of the most simple and important terms you need to know:

  • Bow – Bow is nautical talk for the front of the ship or boat and given the fact that this is usually the business end, chances are you could benefit from knowing it.
  • Aft – And the opposite of the front of the boat is of course the back, which is known in sailor-talk as the aft. Just to confuse things a little more however, the aft of a boat is sometimes referred to as the stern…best get to know both.
  • Starboard – Because the words ‘right’ and ‘left’ don’t really mean a great deal when you and your boat could be facing any direction at the time, you’ll come to learn starboard as being the right side of the boat when facing the front…or the bow.
  • Port – And in the same vein as the above, the port side of the boat is the left hand side when facing the bow…aka the opposite of starboard. Learn these two and you’re half way there, sort of!
  • Windward – An easy one to remember now, windward refers to direction the wind is blowing in at the time. As such, a boat travelling in the same direction as the wind would said to be travelling windward – usually the case with sailboats.
  • Leeward – The opposite of the above, leeward travel means to be moving against the wind in the opposite direction…considerably less easy for sailboats.
  • Rudder – Another reasonably easy entry, the rudder is of course that flat feature on the bottom of the boat at the back…or the aft…that’s needed to steer the boat in the right direction. Some are controlled directly with a simple stick and others are connected to the wheel of the boat or ship.
  • Boom – The ship’s boom is the pole that sticks out of the bottom of the mast horizontally and is used to turn the mast to capture the wind and thus gain movement.
  • Jibing – Jibing is the easiest way of referring to a process whereby a sailor or boater turns the boat’s stem in order to shift the blowing of the wind from one side of the boast to the other.
  • Tacking – Not to be confused with jibing, tacking is the opposite process whereby the bow of the boat is turned through the wind in order to change the side on which it blows.

So what’s your attitude toward nautical lingo? Leave your thoughts below and share how you feel about it.

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