* A B C
D E F G
H I J K
L M N O
P Q R S
T U V W
X Y Z
Abaft: Towards the rear (stern) of the boat.
About: To go about is to change the course of a ship by
tacking (Zig-zagging manouever to sail directly towards the wind.) Ready about, or
boutship, is the order to prepare for tacking.
Aft deck: On a motoryacht, the guest area closest to the back of the boat on the main level. Often the location of the main outdoor dining area.
Amidships: In or towards the center of a boat or ship.
Backstay: A support for the mast to keep it from falling forward.
Bailer: Handheld device for removing water that has entered the boat.
Ballast: Weight in a boat's keel to keep the vessel upright. Ballast
is often lead or
Beam: The greatest width of the boat.
charter: A yacht that comes with a captain but no additional crew. The captain drives the yacht, and you take care of everything else, including cooking and housekeeping. Often called Bareboat with Skipper.
Cabin: Enclosed room on a deck or flat. Nautical term for a
Canal boat: Specialized watercraft designed for operation on a
canal, often with narrow with a shallow draught.
Catamaran: A twin-hulled boat, with hulls side by side.
Davit: Lifting device used on the bow of a vessel to raise an anchor, and a pair are used on the side or stern of the vessel to raise a dinghy.
Dead ahead: Directly ahead or directly in front.
Dinghy: A small boat that a yacht carries or tows. Used for transfers to and from shore, and short day cruises and, if powerful enough, water sports. Also typically called a tender on larger yachts.
Displacement: The weight of water displaced by a floating vessel
- the boat's weight.
Earrings: Small lines, by which the uppermost corners of the largest sails are secured to the yardarms.
Ebb Tide: A receding tide.
Ensign: The main flag or banner flown by a ship to show her nationality.
Express Cruiser: A cruising boat or yacht without a deck-level salon. Sometimes
classified as a sunbridge cruiser.
Fathom: Depth measurement equalling six feet.
Fender: A protective cushion, placed between boats, or between a boat and a pier, to prevent
damage to the hull.
Fetch: The distance across a stretch of water which wind or waves have
Following Sea: An overtaking sea coming from astern.
Galley: The kitchen/cooking area on a yacht.
Gear: A general term for ropes, blocks, tackle, other sailing and
Glass: A marine barometer.
Gunwale: The upper edge of the boat's sides.
Halyard: Line (rope) used to hoist a sail.
Harbour Master: The lead person at a harbour in charge of anchorages, berths and
Hatch: A deck opening.
Hawser: Large rope, often made of steel, used for mooring or towing a vessel.
Idlers: Members of a ship's company not required to serve watches.
They were usually in specialist trades such as sail-making and carpentry.
An engine mounted within the hull of a vessel, used in larger motor
rate: The cost of a charter that includes nearly all expenses, including the yacht and crew, food, alcohol (within reason), fuel and dockage.
Inflatable: Capable of being inflated with air, e.g. life raft or life vest.
Plate: A mounting device for an outboard motor that enables operators to vertically raise or lower the motor, thereby controlling propeller depth in the water.
Jib: Triangular sail projecting ahead of the
Jonah: A person - sailor or
passenger - whose presence on board could bring bad luck and endanger the ship.
The name derives from Jonah or Jonas an 8th Century prophet who was
swallowed by a whale.
The bottom-most portion or longitudinal centerline of the hull of a
Ketch: A two-masted fore-and-aft rigged sailboat with the aft mast (the mizzen) mounted (stepped) afore (in front of) the rudder.
Kicker Motor: A small additional outboard motor.
Knot: Boat speed measured in nautical miles per hour.
Laminate: A single layer of material used in multi-layered
fiber-glass boat building.
Old-fashioned and obsolete term for the left (port) side of a ship.
Latitude: The distance north or south of the equator measured in degrees.
Lee: The direction toward which the wind blows.
Mainsail: The largest regular sail on a sailboat.
Make Fast: To secure a line.
Mariner: General term for a sailor.
Marlinspike: A tool used for opening the strands of a rope prior to
Narrows: A narrow part of a navigable
waterway e.g. Verrazano–Narrows Bridge connecting the New York City boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn.
Nautical mile: A distance of 6,076.12 feet or 1,852 meters, which is about 15 percent longer than a statute mile. Equivalent to one minute of latitude on a navigation chart.
Naval Programme: A system of authorizing naval construction by an annual bill in Parliament.
Navigation: The science and activity of conducting a boat from one point to another.
Oilskins: Waterproof clothing worn by sailors.
Old salt: Slang for an experienced, time-served mariner.
On the hard: A boat that has been hauled or hoisted from the water, and is now sitting on dry land.
A person who owns and skippers a charter yacht, instead of hiring a captain to perform charters for guests.
small rope attached to the bow of a yacht dinghy, often used to tow the dingy or
moor it to a jetty.
Passarelle: The passageway you walk on from the dock to the yacht. Often incorrectly called a gangplank.
Planning Hull: A type of hull designed to glide across the water at high
Port: The left side of a boat looking forward.
The after side of a vessel from amidships to the stern.
Living and sleeping sections on a boat.
Quayside: An area alongside a quay.
Many marina quaysides will offer support services such as electric and
Queen's (King's) Regulations:
The standing orders governing the Royal Navy of UK issued in the name of the current Monarch.
Reach: To sail across the wind.
Red Duster: Traditional nickname for the Red Ensign, the civil ensign (flag) carried by
UK civilian and merchant vessels.
Sailing yacht: A yacht whose primary method of propulsion is sails. Nearly all sailing yachts have engines in addition to their sails.
Sail loft: A large open space used by traditional sail-makers to spread out
sails for manufacture repair.
Tack (sail): The lower corner of a sail.
Thwart: A bench seat across the width of an open rowing boat.
A longer sea voyage, typically undertaken single-handed, with no intermediate port stops or
assistance from external sources.
Under the weather:
Serving a watch on the weather side of the ship, exposed to wind and spray.
V-hull: The shape of a boat or ship in which the
hull contours taper in a straight line to the keel.
The maximum degree of heel after which a vessel becomes unable to return to an upright position.
Wake: Water turbulence behind a ship.
Weigh anchor: To lift or winch up (an anchor) before sailing.
Xebec, also spelled
zebec: was a Mediterranean sailing ship that was used mostly for trading.
(Editors Note: This may be the only nautical glossary which has a
term beginning with the letter X?)
Yard: The horizontal spar from which a square sail is suspended.
Yarr: Acknowledgement of an order, or agreement, on board a vessel.
Aye, aye is more common.
Zero-speed stabilizers: The most sophisticated type of motoryacht stabilizers that keep the yacht from rolling both under way and at anchor, significantly improving their comfort.