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Glossary - A to Z of Yachting and Boating Abreviations and Terminology

This glossary is a new addition to our Yachting pages and is not as comprehensive as others on the web. We will be expanding the glossary over the coming months and will be focussing on Motor Yacht and Sail boat terms, but will add some general nautical terms and abbreviations for wider interest users. e.g. What is a Xebec?
We have added some links below to Yachting and Nautical Glossaries:
Glossary of nautical terms - wikipedia
Discover Boating - Glossary
Boat Booking - Glossary
Nautical Know How

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Glossary and A to Z of Boating and Yachting Terms including Abbreviations Flags Parts of a Sailing Boat

Yachting and Boating Glossary

* 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

A Top
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.

B Top
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.

C Top
Captain-only 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 bedroom.
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.

D Top
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.
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.

E Top
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.

F Top
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 travelled.
Following Sea: An overtaking sea coming from astern.

G Top
The kitchen/cooking area on a yacht.
Gear: A general term for ropes, blocks, tackle, other sailing and boating equipment.
Glass: A marine barometer.
Gunwale: The upper edge of the boat's sides.

H Top
Line (rope) used to hoist a sail.
Harbour Master: The lead person at a harbour in charge of anchorages, berths and ship traffic.
Hatch: A deck opening.
Hawser: Large rope, often made of steel, used for mooring or towing a vessel.

I Top
Inboard Motor: An engine mounted within the hull of a vessel, used in larger motor yachts.
“Inclusive” charter rate:
The cost of a charter that includes nearly all expenses, including the yacht and crew, food, alcohol (within reason), fuel and dockage.

J Top
Triangular sail projecting ahead of the mas
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.

K Top
Ketch: A two-masted fore-and-aft rigged sailboat with the aft mast (the mizzen) mounted (stepped) afore (in front of) the rudder.
Knot: Boat speed measured in nautical miles per hour.

L Top
Larboard: Old-fashioned and obsolete term for the left (port) side of a ship
Lee: The direction toward which the wind blows.

M Top
The largest regular sail on a sailboat.
Mariner: General term for a sailor.

N Top
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.

O Top
On the hard:
A boat that has been hauled or hoisted from the water, and is now sitting on dry land.
Owner-operator: A person who owns and skippers a charter yacht, instead of hiring a captain to perform charters for guests.

P Top
Painter: A 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.

Q [Top]
Quayside: An area alongside a quay. Many marina quaysides will offer support services such as electric and water points.
Queen's (King's) Regulations: The standing orders governing the Royal Navy of UK issued in the name of the current Monarch.

R Top
To sail across the wind.
Red Duster: Traditional nickname for the Red Ensign, the civil ensign (flag) carried by UK civilian and merchant vessels.

S Top
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.

T Top
Tack (sail):
The lower corner of a sail.
Thwart: A bench seat across the width of an open rowing boat.

U Top
Unassisted sailing: 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 Top
V-hull: The shape of a boat or ship in which the hull contours taper in a straight line to the keel.
Vanishing angle: The maximum degree of heel after which a vessel becomes unable to return to an upright position.

W Top
Water turbulence behind a ship.
Weigh anchor: To lift or winch up (an anchor) before sailing.

X Top
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?)

Y Top
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.

Z Top
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.

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