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sailing glossarySailing Glossary

Salty sea dogs use a lingo that lubbers don't understand!  Next time you're in the dark, drop by and find out what was meant.  Alternatively, browse our sailing terms below,  ordered alphabetically.  If you know of a term that we have missed, drop us a mail and we may insert it into our sailing glossary.

Abaft

Toward the rear (stern) of the boat.

Abeam

At right angles to the keel of the boat, but not on the boat.

Aboard

On or within the boat.

About

Having tacked. "She's about!" she is going to tack or has tacked. "Ready about" is the signal given for the men to prepare to tack the ship. "About ship!" or "'Bout ship !" is the order given to tack, that is to put the vessel on the opposite tack to the one she is on when the order is given to tack. To go about is to tack.

Above Deck

On the deck (not over it - see Aloft)

Abreast

Side by side; by the side of.

Adrift

Loose, not on moorings or towline.

Aft

Toward the stern of the boat.

Aground

Touching or fast to the bottom.

Ahead

In a forward direction.

Aids to Navigation

Artificial objects to supplement natural landmarks indicating safe and unsafe waters.

Alee

Away from the direction of the wind. Opposite of windward.

Aloft

Above the deck of the boat.

Amidships

In or toward the center of the boat.

Anchorage

A place suitable for anchoring in relation to the wind, seas and bottom.

Astern

In back of the boat, opposite of ahead.

Athwartships

At right angles to the centerline of the boat; rowboat seats are generally athwart ships.

Avast

Command meaning "stop what you're doing"

Aweigh

The position of anchor as it is raised clear of the bottom.

Backstay

A wire support for the mast, usually running from the stern to the head of the mast.

Baggywrinkle

Clumps of frayed rope that protect the sails from chafing against the lines.

Bale

A fitting on the end of a spar, such as the boom, to which a line may be led.

Ballast Weight

Usually metal, placed low in a boat to provide stability.

Barber Hauler

A line attached to the jib or jib sheet, used to adjust the angle of sheeting by pulling the sheet toward the centerline of the boat.

Batten Down

Secure hatches and loose objects both within the hull and on deck.

Battens

Flexible strips of wood or plastic, most commonly used in the mainsail to support the aft portion, or roach, so that it will not curl.

Beam

The greatest width of the boat.

Bearing

The direction of an object expressed either as a true bearing as shown on the chart, or as a bearing relative to the heading of the boat.

Belay

To temporarily secure a line to a cleat, or as a command "disregard the last order"

Below

Beneath the deck.

Bight

The part of the rope or line, between the end and the standing part, on which a knot is formed.

Bilge

A rounding of the hull along the length of the boat where the bottom meets the side.

Bilge Boards

Similar to centerboards, and used to prevent lee way.

Bilgeboards

Are on either side of the centerline at the bilges.

Binnacle

A support for the compass, raising it to a convenient position.

Bitter End

The last part of a rope or chain.  The inboard end of the anchor rode.

Board Boat

A small boat, usually mono rig. May have a shallow cockpit well. Typically has almost no freeboard.

Boat

A waterborne vehicle smaller than a ship.  A small craft carried aboard a ship.

Boat Hook

A short shaft with a fitting at one end shaped to facilitate use in putting a line over a piling, recovering an object dropped overboard, or in pushing or fending off.

Bobstay

Wire Stay underneath the bowsprit; helps to counteract the upward pull exerted by the forestay.

Boom

Free swinging spar attached to the foot of the sail with forward end pivoting on the mast.

Boom Crutch

Support for the boom, holding it up and out of the way when the boat is anchored or moored. Unlike a gallows frame, a crutch is stowed when boat is sailing.

Boom Vang

A system used to hold the boom down, particularly when boat is sailing downwind, so that the mainsail area facing the wind is kept to a maximum.  Frequently extends from the boom to a location near the base of the mast. Usually tackle- or lever-operated.

Boomkin

Short spar extending aft from the transom. Used to anchor the backstay or the sheets from the mizzen on a yawl or ketch. (pronounced bumpkin)

Boot Top

A painted stripe that indicates the waterline.

Bouy

An anchored float used for marking a position on the water or a hazard or a shoal and for mooring.

Bow

The forward part of a boat.

Bow Line

A docking line leading from the bow.

Bowline

Knot used to form a temporary loop in a line

Bowsprit

A short spar extending forward from the bow. Normally used to anchor the forestay.

Brale

Partially furling sails to lessen wind resistance or partially unfurling sails to make them ready for instant use.  On a square sail this is accomplished with leech and clew lines.  See "Scandalize"

Bridal

A short length of wire with a line attached at the midpoint. A bridle is used to distribute the load of the attached line. Often used as boom travelers and for spinnaker down hauls.

Bridge

The location from which a vessel is steered and its speed controlled. "Control Station" is really a more appropriate term for small craft.

Bridge Deck

The transverse partition between the cockpit and the cabin.

Brightwork

Varnished woodwork and/or polished metal.

Bulkhead

An interior partition commonly used to stiffen the hull. May be watertight.

Bullseye

A round eye through which a line is led, usually in order to change the direction of pull.

Bulwark

A vertical extension above deck level designed to keep water out of and sailors in the boat

Bunk

Sleeping Berth

Burdened Vessel

That vessel which, according to the applicable Navigation Rules, must give way to the privileged vessel. The term has been superseded by the term "give-way".

Cabin

A compartment for passengers or crew.

Cap

A piece of trim, usually wood, used to cover and often decorate a portion of the boat, i.e., caprail.

Capsize

To turn over.

Capstan

drum like part of the windlass used for winding in rope, cables, or chain connected  to cargo or anchors

Cast Off

To let go.

Catamaran

A twin-hulled boat, with hulls side by side.

Centerboard

A board lowered through a slot in the centerline of he hull to reduce sideways skidding or leeway. Unlike a daggerboard, which lifts vertically, a centerboard pivots around a pin, usually located in the forward top corner, and swings up and aft.

Chafing Gear

Tubing or cloth wrapping used to protect a line from chafing on a rough surface.

Chain Plate

The fitting used to attach stays to the hull.

Charley Noble

Galley stove pipe

Chart

A map for use by navigators.

Chine

The intersection of the bottom and sides of a flat or v-bottomed boat.

Chine

A line, running along the side of the boat, where the bottom forms an angle to the side. Not found on
round-bottom boats.

Chock

A fitting through which anchor or mooring lines are led. Usually U-shaped to reduce chafe.

Cleat

A fitting to which lines are made fast. The classic cleat to which lines are belayed is approximately anvil-shaped.

Clew

For a triangular sail, the aftmost corner.

Clove Hitch

A knot for temporarily fastening a line to a spar or piling.

Coach Room

Also trunk. The cabin roof, raised above the deck to provide headroom in the cabin.

Coaming

A vertical extension above the deck to prevent water from entering the cockpit.   May be broadened to provide a base for winches.

Cockpit

An opening in the deck from which the boat is handled.

Coil

To lay a line down in circular turns.

Companionway

The main entrance to the cabin, usually including the steps down into the cabin.

Counter

At the stern of the boat, that portion of the hull emerging from below the water, and extending to the transom. Apr to be long in older designs, and short in more recent boats.

Course

The direction in which a boat is steered.

Coxswain

Sailor in charge of and steering a small boat

Crosstrees

Horizontal members attached to the mast acting as spreaders for the shrouds

Cuddy

A small shelter cabin in a boat.

Cunningham

A mainsail control device, using a line to pull down the mainsail a short distance from the luff to the tack. Flattens the sail.

Current

The horizontal movement of water.

Daggerboard

A board dropped vertically through the hull to prevent leeway.  May be completely removed for beaching or for sailing downwind.

Danger Zone

The area encompassed from dead ahead of your boat to just abaft your starboard beam. You must stand clear of any boat in the "danger zone".

Davits

Small cranes used to raise or lower small boats and light items from deck to water level.

Dead Ahead

Directly ahead.

Dead Astern

Directly aft.

Dead Reckoning

Also Ded Reckoning.  Sometimes believed to be an abbreviation of Deduced Reckoning

Dead-Eyes

Blocks in the shroud rigging used to adjust tension

Deadlight

Either a cover clamped over a porthole to protect it in heavy weather or a fixed light set into the deck or cabin roof to provide light below.

Deck

A permanent covering over a compartment, hull or any part thereof.

Dinghy

A small open boat. A dinghy is often used as a tender for a larger craft.

Displacement

The weight of water displaced by a floating vessel, thus, a boat's weight.

Displacement Hull

A type of hull that plows through the water, displacing a weight of water equal to its own weight, even when more power is added.

Ditty Bag

Small bag used for carrying and stowing small personal items or kits

Dock

A protected water area in which vessels are moored.The term is often used to denote a pier or a wharf.

Dodger

A screen, usually fabric, erected to protect the cockpit from spray and wind.

Dolphin

A group of piles driven close together and bound with wire cables into a single structure.

Downhaul

A line used to pull a spar, such as the spinnaker pole, or a sail, particularly the mainsail, down.

Draft

The depth of water a boat draws.

Dry Sailing

When boats, especially smaller racers, are kept on shore instead of being left anchored or moored, they are dry sailed. The practice prevents marine growth on the hull and the absorption of moisture into it.

Ebb

A receding current.

Fairlead

A fitting used to alter the direction of a working line, such as a bullseye, turning block, or anchor chock.

Fathom

Six feet.

Fender

A cushion, placed between boats, or between a boat and a pier, to prevent damage.

Fid

Tool used by riggers in splicing line

Figure Eight

A knot in the form of a figure eight, placed in the end of a line to prevent the line from passing through a grommet or a block.

Flare

The outward curve of a vessel's sides near the bow.

Flare

A distress signal.

Flood

A incoming current.

Fluke

The palm of an anchor.

Fo'c'sle

An abbreviation of forecastle. Refers to that portion of the cabin which is farthest forward. In square-riggers often used as quarters for the crew.

Following Sea

An overtaking sea that comes from astern.

Foot

For a triangular sail, the bottom edge.

Fore And Aft

In a line parallel to the keel.

Foremast

Vertical spar most forward

Forepeak

The compartment farthest forward in the bow of the boat. Often used for anchor or sail stowage. In larger ships the crews quarters

Foresail

Lowest square sail on the foremast

Forestay

Wire, sometimes rod, support for the mast, running from the bowsprit or foredeck to a point at or near the top of the mast.

Foretriangle

The triangle formed by the forestay, mast, and fore deck.

Forward

Toward the bow of the boat.

Fouled

Any piece of equipment that is jammed or entangled, or dirtied.

Fractional Rig

A design in which the forestay does not go to the very top of the mast, but instead to a point 3/4~ 7/8's, etc., of the way up the mast.

Frames

Ribs that form the shape of the hull

Freeboard

The distance between the deck and the waterline. Most often it will vary along the length of the boat.  (see: Shear)

Gaff

A free swinging spar attached to the top edge of a sail

Galley

The kitchen area of a boat.

Gangway

The area of a ship's side where people board and disembark.

Garboard

Used in conjunction with strake. Refers to the planks, or strakes, on either side of and adjacent to the keel.

Give Way Together

Command used by Coxswain in larger rowing boats

Give-way Vessel

A term used to describe the vessel which must yield in meeting, crossing, or overtaking situations.

Gollywobbler

A full, quadrilateral sail used in light air on schooners. It is flown high, between the fore and main mast, and is also known as a fisherman's staysail.

Gooseneck

The fitting that connects the boom to the mast.

Grab Rails

Hand-hold fittings mounted on cabin tops and sides for personal safety when moving around the boat.

Ground Tackle

A collective term for the anchor and its associated gear.

Gunter Rig

Similar to a gaff rig, except that the spar forming the "gaff" is hoisted to an almost vertical position, extending well above the mast.

Gunwale

Most generally, the upper edge of the side of a boat.

Guy

A line used to control the end of a spar. A spinnaker pole, for example, has one end attached to the mast, while the free end is moved back and forth with a guy.

Halyards

Lines used to hoist or lower sails or flags.

Halyards

Lines used to haul up the sail and the wooden spars (boom and gaff) that hold the sails in place.

Hard Chine

An abrupt intersection between the hull side and the hull bottom of a boat so constructed.

Hatch

An opening in the deck for entering below.

Head

For a triangular sail, the top corner.

Head Knocker

A block with a jam cleat, located on the boom and used to control the main sheet on small boats.

Headfoil

A grooved rod fitted over the forestay to provide support for luff of the sail or help support the forestay

Heading

The direction in which a vessel's bow points at any given time.

Heads

A marine toilet

Headsails

Any sail forward of the foremast.

Headway

Forward motion of boat opposite to sternway

Helm

The wheel or tiller controlling the rudder.

Helmsman

Sailor who steers the boat.

Hiking Stick

An extension of the tiller that enables the helms man to sit at a distance from it.

Hitch

A knot used to secure a rope to another object or to another rope, or to form a loop or a noose in a rope.

Hold

A compartment below deck in a vessel, used solely for carrying cargo.

Hull

The main body of a vessel.

Inboard

More toward the center of a vessel; inside; an engine fitted inside a boat.

Inspection Port

A watertight covering, usually small, that may be removed so the interior of the hull can be inspected or water removed.

Jacobs Ladder

A rope ladder, lowered from the deck, as when pilots or passengers come aboard.

Jettison

To throw overboard.

Jetty

A structure, usually masonry, projecting out from the shore; a jetty may protect a harbor entrance.

Jib

A triangular foresail in front of the foremast.

Jiffy Reefing

A fast method of reefing. Lines pull down the luff and the leech of the sail, reducing its area.

Jumbo

The larger of the headsails.

Jumper Stay

A short stay supporting the top forward portion of the mast.  The stay runs from the top of the mast forward over a short jumper strut, then down to the mast, usually at the level of the spreaders.

Keel

The timber at the very bottom of the hull to which frames are attached.

Keelson

A structural member above and parallel to the keel.

Kick-up

Describes a rudder or centerboard that rotates back and up when an obstacle is encountered. Useful when a boat is to be beached.

Knockabout

A type of schooner without a bowsprit.

Knot

A measure of speed equal to one nautical mile (6076 feet) per hour.

Knot

A fastening made by interweaving rope to form a stopper, to enclose or bind an object, to form a loop or a noose, to tie a small rope to an object, or to tie the ends of two small ropes together.

Lapper

A foresail which extends back of and overlapping the mast, such as a 110% genoa jib.

Latitude

The distance north or south of the equator measured and expressed in degrees.

Lazarette

storage space in a boat's stern area.

Lazy Jack

Light lines from the topping lift to the boom, forming a cradle into which the mainsail may be lowered.

Leach

The aft edge of a triangular sail.

Leach Line

A line running through the leech of the sail, used to tighten it.

Lead

Refers to the direction in which a line goes. A boom vang, for example, may "lead to the cockpit."

Lee

The side sheltered from the wind.

Lee Boards

Pivoting boards on either side of a boat which serve the same function as a centerboard. The board to leeward is dropped, the board to windward is kept up.

Leeward

The direction away from the wind. Opposite of Windward.

Leeway

The sideways movement of the boat caused by either wind or current.

Lines

Rope or cordage used for various purposes aboard a boat.

Log

A record of courses or operation. Also, a device to measure speed.

Longitude

The distance in degrees east or west of the meridian at Greenwich

Loose Footed

Describes a mainsail attached to the boom at the tack and clew, but not along the length of it's foot.

Lubber Line

A mark or permanent line on a compass indicating the direction forward parallel to the keel when properly installed

Luff

The forward edge of a triangular sail. In a mainsail the luff is that portion that is closest to the mast.

Luffing

When the vessel is brought too far into the wind the trailing edge or Leech of the sail begins to shiver or shake.

Mainmast

The tallest mast of the ship; on a schooner, the mast furthest aft.

Mainsail

The lowest square sail on the mainmast.

Marline

A light twine size line which has been tarred.

Marline Selling

A tool for opening the strands of a rope while splicing.

Mast

Main vertical spar used to support sails and their running rigging and in turn is supported by standing rigging

Mast Step

Fitting or construction into which the base of the mast is placed.

Masthead Rig

A design in which the forestay runs to the peak of the mast.

Mechanical Advantage

A mechanical method of increasing an applied force.  Disregarding the effects of friction, if a force of 100 pounds applied to a tackle is magnified to a force of 400 pounds, the purchase or mechanical advantage is said to be four to one, or 4: 1. (purchase)

Midship

Approximately in the location equally distant from the bow and stern.

Mizzen

A fore and aft sail flown on the mizzenmast.

Monkey Deck

A false deck built over a permanent deck.  Often used in the bow of larger sailing ships, forward of the anchor windlass and provides a working platform around the portion of the bowsprit as it attaches to the ship.

Mooring

An arrangement for securing a boat to a mooring buoy or a pier.

Nautical Mile

One minute of latitude; approximately 6076 feet - about 1/8 longer than the statute mile of 5280 feet.

Navigation

The art and science of conducting a boat safely from one point to another.

Navigation Regulations

The regulations governing the movement of vessels in relation to each other, generally called steering and sailing rules. (COLREGS)

Oar

Device used to propel small boats by rowing

Outboard

Toward or beyond the boat's sides. A detachable engine mounted on a boat's stern.

Outhaul

Usually a line or tackle, an outhaul is used to pull the clew of the mainsail towards the end of the boom, thus tightening the foot of the sail.

Overboard

Over the side or out of the boat.

Overhaul

Straightening out misaligned or partially fouled sails and rigging

Pay Out

To feed line over the side of the boat, hand over hand.

Pedestal

A vertical post in the cockpit used to elevate the steering wheel into a convenient position

Pier

A loading platform extending at an angle from the shore.

Pile

A wood, metal or concrete pole driven into the bottom. Craft may be made fast to a pile; it may be used to support a pier (see PILING) or a float.

Piling

Support, protection for wharves, piers etc.; constructed of piles (see PILE)

Pilothouse

A small cabin on the deck of the ship that protects the steering wheel and the crewman steering.

Piloting

Navigation by use of visible references, the depth of the water, etc.

Planing

A boat is said to be planing when it is essentially moving over the top of the water rather than through the water.

Planing Hull

A type of hull shaped to glide easily across the water at high speed.

Planking

Wooden boards that cover the frames outside the hull.

Port

The left side of a boat looking forward. A harbor.

Priveleged Vessel

A vessel which, according to the applicable Navigation Rule, has right-of-way (this term has been superseded by the term "stand-on").

Pulpit

A metal framework on deck at the bow or stern. Provides a safety railing and serves as an attachment for the lifelines.

Pushpit

Pulpit located on the stern.

Quarter

The sides of a boat aft of amidships.

Quartering Sea

Sea coming on a boat's quarter.

Queen Topsail

Small stay sail located between the foremast and mainmast.

Rake

The fore or aft angle of the mast. Can be deliberately induced (by adjustment of the standing rigging) to flatten sails, balance steering, etc. Normally slightly aft.

Reef Oints

A horizontal line of light lines on a sail which may be tied to the boom, reducing the area of the sail during heavy winds.

Rigging

The lines that hold up the masts and move the sails (standing and running rigging).

Roach

The curved portion of a sail extending past a straight line drawn between two corners. In a mainsail, the roach extends past the line of the leech between the head and the clew and is often supported by battens.

Rocker

The upward curvature of the keel towards the bow and stern.

Rode

The anchor line and/or chain.

Roller Reefing

Reduces the area of a sail by rolling it around a stay, the mast, or the boom.  Most common on headsails.

Rope

In general, cordage as it is purchased at the store. When it comes aboard a vessel and is put to use it becomes line.

Rub-rail

Also rubbing strake or rub strake. An applied or thickened member at the rail, running the length of the boat; serves to protect the hull when alongside a pier or another boat.

Rudder

A vertical plate or board for steering a boat.

Run

To allow a line to feed freely.

Running Backstay

Also runner, or preventive backstay. A stay that supports the mast from aft, usually from the quarter rather than the stern. When the boat is sailing downwind, the runner on the leeward side of the mainsail must be released so as not to interfere with the sail.

Running Lights

Lights required to be shown on boats underway between sundown and sunup.

Running Rigging

The adjustable portion of the rigging, used to control sails and equipment.

Sail

A piece of cloth that catches or directs the wind and so powers a vessel.

Sail Rig

The equipment used to sail a bost, including sails, booms and gaffs, lines and blocks.

Scandalize

On a gaff rig the sail is made loose footed, the clew is brought forward along the boom and the sail cloth is drawn up in folds along the gaff and mast.  From this position the sail is instantly available for use.

Schooner

Sailing ships with at least 2 masts (foremast and mainmast) with the mainmast being the taller. Word derives from the term "schoon/scoon" meaning to move smoothly and quickly. ( a 3-masted vessel is called a "tern").

Scope

Technically, the ratio of length of anchor rode in use to the vertical distance from the bow of the vessel to the bottom of the water. Usually six to seven to one for calm weather and more scope in storm conditions.

Screw

A boat's propeller.

Scupper

Drain in cockpit, coaming, or toe-rail allowing water to drain out and overboard.  When in toe rail, properly known as "freeing port"

Sea Cock

A through hull valve, a shut off on a plumbing or drain pipe between the vessel's interior and the sea.

Sea Room

A safe distance from the shore or other hazards.

Seamanship

All the arts and skills of boat handling, ranging from maintenance and repairs to piloting, sail handling, marlinespike work, and rigging.

Seat Locker

A storage locker located under a cockpit seat.

Seaworthy

A boat or a boat's gear able to meet the usual sea conditions.

Secure

To make fast.

Self-bailing Cockpit

A watertight cockpit with scuppers, drains, or bailers that remove water.

Self-tacking

Normally applied to a sail that requires no adjustment other than sheeting when boat is tacked

Set

Direction toward which the current is flowing.

Sheer

The line of the upper deck when viewed from the side. Normal sheer curves up towards the bow and stern,
Reverse sheer curves down towards the bow and stern. Compound sheer, curving up at the front of the boat and down at the stern, and straight sheer are uncommon.

Sheer Strake

The topmost planking in the sides, often thicker than other planking.

Sheets

Lines used to control the position of a sail.

Ship

A larger vessel usually thought of as being used for ocean travel. A vessel able to carry a "boat" on board.

Shroud

A line or wire running from the top of the mast to the spreaders, then attatching to the side of the vessel.

Shrouds

Lateral supports for the mast, usually of wire or metal rod.

Skeg

For sailboats, usually refers to a structural support to which the rudder is fastened.

Slab Reefing

Also points reefing, and sometimes jiffy reefing. Reduces the area of the mainsail by partially lowering the sail and resecuring the new foot by tying it to the boom with points, or light lines attached to the sail.

Slack

Not fastened; loose. Also, to loosen.

Sole

The floor of the cockpit or cabin.

Sounding

A measurement of the depth of water.

Spar

A pole or a beam.

Spar-poles

Most often of wood, aluminum or carbon fiber, used as supports, such as the mast, boom, or spinnaker pole.

Spinnaker

A large, triangular sail, most often symmetrical, flown from the mast in front of all other sails and the forestay. Used sailing downwind.

Spirit

The spar that supports the peak of a spritsail.

Splashboard

A raised portion of the hull forward of the cockpit intended to prevent water entering.

Spreaders

Also crosstrees. Short horizontal struts extending from the mast to the sides of the boat, changing the upward angle of the shrouds.

Spring Line

A pivot line used in docking, undocking, or to prevent the boat from moving forward or astern while made fast to a dock.

Spritsail

A four-sided fore and aft sail set on the mast, and supported by a spar from the mast diagonally to the peak of the sail.

Squall

A sudden, violent wind often accompanied by rain.

Square Knot

A knot used to join two lines of similar size. Also called a reef knot.

Stand-on Vessel

That vessel which has right-of-way during a meeting, crossing, or overtaking situation.

Standing Part

That part of a line which is made fast.The main part of a line as distinguished from the bight and the end.

Standing Rigging

Permanent rigging used to support the spars. May be adjusted during racing, in some classes.

Starboard

The right side of a boat when looking forward.

Stay

A line or wire from the mast to the bow or stern of a ship, for support of the mast (fore, back, running, and triadic stays).

Staysail

A sail that is set on a stay, and not on a yard or a mast.

Stem

The timber at the very front of the bow.

Stem

The most forward vertical structural member in the bow.

Stern

The after part of the boat.

Stern Line

A docking line leading from the stern.

Stow

To put an item in its proper place.

Strake

On wooden boats, a line of planking running from the bow to the stern along the hull.

Strake

On wooden boats, a line of planking running from the bow to the stern along the hull.

Swamp

To fill with water, but not settle to the bottom.

Sweat And Tail

Sweat is the act of hauling a halyard to raise a sail or spar done by pulling all slack outward and then downward. Tail is controlling, coiling, and securing the runnning end of the halyard.

Tabernacle

A hinged mast step located on deck. Since it is hinged, the mast may be lowered easily.

Tack

On a triangular sail, the bottom forward corner. Also, to turn the bow of the boat through the wind  so the wind exerts pressure on the opposite side of the
sail.

Taffrail

The rail at the stern of the boat.

Tang

A fitting, often of sheet metal, used to attach standing rigging to a spar, or to the hull.

Thwart

A transverse structural member in the cockpit. In small boats, often used as a seat.

Thwartships

At right angles to the centerline of the boat.

Tide

The periodic rise and fall of water level in the oceans.

Tiller

A bar or handle for turning a boat's rudder or an outboard motor.

Toe-rail

A low rail, often slotted, along the side of the boat. Slots allow drainage and the attachment of blocks.

Topmast

A second spar carried at the top of the fore or main mast, used to fly more sail.

Topping Lift

A line or wire rope used to support the boom when a boat is anchored or moored.

Topsides

The sides of a vessel between the waterline and the deck; sometimes referring to onto or above the deck.

Trampoline

The fabric support that serves for seating between the hulls of a catamaran.

Transom

The flat, or sometimes curved terminating structure of the hull at the stern of a boat.

Trapeze

Wire gear enabling a crewmember to place all of his weight outboard of the hull, thus helping to keep the boat level.

Traveler

A fitting across the boat to which sheets are led. In many boats the traveler may be adjusted from side to side so that the angle of the sheets can be changed to suit conditions.

Trim

Fore and aft balance of a boat.

Twing

Similar to a Barber hauler, a twing adjusts the angle of sheeting.

Underway

Vessel in motion, not moored or aground

V Bottom

A hull with the bottom section in the shape of a "V".

Vang

A device, usually with mechanical advantage, used to pull the boom down, flattening the sail.

Ventilator

Construction designed to lead air below decks. May have a cowl, which can be angled into or away from the wind; and may be constructed with baffles, so that water is not allowed below, as in Dorade ventilator.

Wake

Moving waves, track or path that a boat leaves behind it, when moving across the waters.

Warp

Heavier lines (rope or wire) used for mooring, anchoring and towing.   May also be used to indicate moving (warping) a boat into position by pulling on a warp.

Waterline

A line painted on a hull which shows the point to which a boat sinks when it is properly trimmed (see BOOT TOP).

Way

Movement of a vessel through the water such as headway, sternway or leeway.

Wheel

Device used for steering a boat.

Whisker-pole

A short spar, normally kept stowed, which may be used to push the clew of a jib away from the boat when the boat is running downwind.

Window

A transparent portion of a jib or mainsail.

Window-maker

A term for the bowsprit (many sailors lost their lives falling off the bowsprit while tending sails).

Windward

Toward the direction from which the wind is coming

Wishbone

A boom composed of two separate curved pieces, one on either side of the sail.   With this rig, sails are usually self tending and loose-footed.

Yacht

A pleasure vessel, a pleasure boat; in American usage the idea of size and luxury is conveyed, either sail or power.

Yankee

A fore-sail flying above and forward of the jib, usually seen on bowsprit vessels.

Yaw

To swing or steer off course, as when running with a quartering sea.

Yawl

Boat: smaller powered boat used to provide steerage-way when not under sail.

Yawl

Rig: two masts, aft one is smaller (shorter) and located astern of rudder post.