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Boating Terms Explained

Aug 18, 2007
The language of boating hits landlubbers in their ears with the same amount of sense as would be the case if Ubangi were being tossed into the air. Starboard tacks have points but only sails have heads. A sheet is a rope, not a sail- and a rope isn't a rope, but is a line. 'Tis a strange sort of lingo and you must know at least a bit of it before you take to the high seas.

Glossary Of Boating Terms

ABACK: With the wind on the forward sides of the sails instead of the after sides.

BACKSTAY: A stay running from the masthead aft. A back runner is similar but is arranged to be slacked off upon occasion.

BOOM: The horizontal spar to which the bottom edge of a sail is laced.

CHINE: The corner where a flat or V-bot-tom boat's side and bottom meet.

CLEAT: A two-armed device to which a line can be made fast.

DAGGER: A type of centerboard shaped like, or suggesting, a dagger.

FAIRBODY: The line formed by the out-Side bottom edge of the planking as it touches the keel.

GROMMETS: The metal eyelets in the edge or along the reef points of a sail.

HEEL: To tilt under the impetus of sails.

HELM: The tiller or wheel by. which a rudder is moved.

INWALE: A strip of wood around the in-sides of frame heads at the sheer line. In large, decked boats, usually called a clamp.

IRONS: In luffing, a boat without enough momentum may refuse to come about on the opposite tack. The sails will remain flapping. A boat in this position is said to be in irons.

JIB: Triangular sail forward of the mainmast.

LEE: The side of a boat opposite to that from which the wind is blowing.

LEECH: The after edge of a sail.

LINES: Rope used in handling a boat.

MISS STAYS: To get a boat into IRONS.

PORT: The left side of a vessel as you face forward, opposite to STARBOARD.

POUNDING: The shock felt in rough water when a relatively flat portion of the boat lifts above water and then forcibly strikes the surface.

PURCHASE: Any rigging consisting of two or more blocks used to hoist a heavy weight.

QUARTER ROUND: A narrow, triangular piece of wood with one face rounded; used for trim along the edges of cabins.

REEF: To reduce the area of a sail by lowering it, making fast the reef points, and hoisting again.

ROPE: Often confused with LINE. When a length is cut from a coil of rope, that length immediately is known as a line.

SEAKINDLY: Comfortable and safe in rough weather.

SEAWORTHY: Able to stay at sea. Often used when SEAKINDLY would be a better word.

SHEET: Line used to control the angle at which a sail is set in relation to the wind. The sheet is not the sail itself.

STABILITY: The ability of a boat to return to an upright position when she has been heeled by some force such as the wind or a wave.

STARBOARD: Opposite to PORT. The right side of the boat as you face forward.

TACK: The lower forward corner of a sail. Also, that variety of sailing where you proceed to windward by sailing on alternate courses so the wind is first on one side of the boat and then on the other.

TRAVELER: A metal rod running athwartships to which the main-sheet block, or sometimes the jib-sheet block, is attached.

TRIM: The movement of a boat away from the upright in a fore-and-aft direction. As you walk forward, a boat will trim by the bow.

TURNBUCKLE: A pair of eyebolts threaded into a casting that can be turned to tighten wire standing rigging.

UNDERBODY: The entire hull below the water line.

WEATHER: Another word for WINDWARD.

WINCH: A mechanical device used for putting more power on the running rigging than can easily be applied by hand, Also used to hoist an anchor.

With these terms under your belt you are ready to go to sea!
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