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