Nautical Glossary for Beginner through Advanced
Toward the stern, relative to some object ("abaft the fore hatch").
Abaft the beam
Further aft than the beam: a relative bearing of greater than 90 degrees
from the bow: "two points abaft the beam, starboard side". That would
describe "an object lying 22.5 degrees toward the rear of the ship, as
measured clockwise from a perpendicular line from the right side, center, of
the ship, toward the horizon."
An imperative to leave the vessel immediately, usually in the face of some
imminent overwhelming danger.It
is an order issued by the Master or a delegated person in command. (It must
be a verbal order). It is usually the last resort after all other mitigating
actions have failed or become impossible, and destruction or loss of the
ship is imminent; and customarily followed by a command to "man the
lifeboats" or life rafts.
On the beam, a relative bearing at right angles to the ship'skeel.
Also able-bodied seaman. A merchant seaman qualified to perform all routine
duties, or a junior rank in some navies.
On or in a vessel. Synonymous with "on board."
"To go about is to change the course of a ship by tacking. Ready about, or
boutship, is the order to prepare for tacking."
On or above the deck, in plain view, not hiding anything. Pirates would
secret their crews below decks, thereby creating the false impression that
an encounter with another ship was a casual matter of chance.
The hull section of a vessel above the waterline, the visible part of a
Special pennant flown to indicate absence of commanding officer, admiral,
his chief of staff, or officer whose flag is flying (division, squadron, orflotillacommander).
The bearing of an object in relation to north. Eithertrue
bearing, using the geographical ortrue
north, ormagnetic bearing,
A portable flight of steps down a ship's side.
Accommodation ship (or
A ship orhulkused
as housing, generally when there is a lack of quarters available ashore. An
operational ship can be used, but more commonly a hulk modified for
accommodation is used.
Act of Pardon or Act of
A letter from a state or power authorizing action by aprivateer.
A high naval authority in charge of a state's Navy or a major
territorial component. In theRoyal
of Admiralty, executing the office of the Lord High Admiral, promulgates
Naval law in the form of Queen's (or King's) Regulations and Admiralty
Body of law that deals with maritime cases. In the UK administered by the
Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High
Court of Justiceor supreme
1. Afloat and unattached in any way to the shore or seabed, but not under
way. When referring to a vessel, it implies that the vessel is not under
control and therefore goes where the wind and current take her (loose
2. Any gear not fastened down or put away properly.
3. Any person or thing that is misplaced or missing. When applied to a
member of the navy or marine corps, such a person is "absent without leave"
(AWOL) or, in United States Navy and United States Marine Corps terminology,
is guilty of an "unauthorized absence" (UA).
A note for one month's wages issued to sailors on their signing a ship's
Of a vessel which is floating freely (not aground or sunk). More generally
of vessels in service ("the company has 10 ships afloat").
1. In, on, or toward the front of a vessel.
2. In front of a vessel.
1. The portion of the vessel behind the middle area of the vessel.
2. Towards the stern (rear of the vessel).
On larger ships, a secondary gangway rigged in the area aft of midship.
On some military vessels, such as U.S. Naval vessels, enlisted personnel
below E-7 board the ship at the afterbrow; officers andChief Petty Officer's, Senior Chief Petty Officer's,
and Master Chief Petty Officer's board
the ship at the brow.
The 1200–1600 watch. (12PM - 4PM)
Resting on or touching the ground or bottom (usually involuntarily).
Forward of the bow.
A cry to draw attention. Term used to hail a boat or a ship, as "Boat
1. lying broadside to the sea.
2. to ride out a storm with no sails and helm held to leeward.
Aid to Navigation
1. (ATON) Any device external to a vessel or aircraft specifically intended
to assist navigators in determining their position or safe course, or to
warn them of dangers or obstructions to navigation.
2. (ATON) Any sort of marker which aids the traveler in navigation; the
term is most commonly used to refer to nautical or aviation travel. Common
types of such aids include lighthouses, buoys, fog signals, and day beacons.
1. On the lee side of a ship.
2. To leeward.
Entire ship's company, both officers and enlisted personnel.
All night in
Having no night watches.
Bringing a person or thing up short, that is an unforeseen and sudden stop.
A term used in maritime law - To impact a stationary object (not submerged),
such as a bridge abutment or dolphin, pier or wharf, or another vessel made
fast to a pier or wharf. More than incidental contact is required. The
vessel is said to "allide" with the fixed object and is considered at fault.
As opposed to collision.
In the rigging of a sailing ship. Above the ship's uppermost solid
structure; overhead or high above.
1. In the rigging of a sailing ship.
2. Above the ship's uppermost solid structure.
3. Overhead or high above.
By the side of a ship or pier.
The middle section of a vessel with reference to the athwartships plane, as
distinguished from port or starboard ("Put your rudder amidships." (in the
1. an object designed to prevent or slow the drift of a ship, attached to
the ship by a line or chain; typically ametal,
hook-like or plough-like object designed to grip the bottom under the body
2. to deploy an anchor ("She anchored offshore.")
Round black shape hoisted in the forepart of a vessel to show that it is
A small buoy secured by a light line to an anchor to indicate position of
anchor on bottom.
Anchor chain (or anchor
Chain connecting the ship to the anchor.
Group of men who handle ground tackle when the ship is anchoring or getting
When the anchor is secured for sea. Typically rests just outside the
hawsepipe on the outer side of the hull, at the bow of a vessel.
White light displayed by a ship at anchor. Two such lights are displayed by
a ship over 150 feet (46 m) in length.
The anchor line, rope or cable connecting the anchor chain to the vessel.
A separate weight on a separate line which is loosely attached to the anchor
rode so that it can slide down it easily. It is made fast at a distance
slightly longer than thedraftof
the boat. It is used to prevent the anchor rode from becoming fouled on thekeelor
other underwater structures when the boat is resting at anchor and moving
tide. Also called a kellet.
The crewmen assigned to take care of the ship while anchored or moored,
charged with such duties as making sure that the anchor is holding and the
vessel is not drifting. Most marineGPSunits
have an Anchor Watch alarm capability.
A suitable place for a ship to anchor. Area of a port or harbor.
Said of an anchor when just clear of the bottom.
Traditional lower-deck slang term for the Royal Navy.
A pair of fluid-filled, usually water, tanks mounted on opposite sides of a
ship below thewaterline.
Fluid would be pumped between them in an attempt to dampen the amount of
Over to the port side.
The combination of the true wind and the headwind caused by the boat's
forward motion. For example, it causes a light side wind to appear to come
from well ahead of the beam.
Arc of Visibility
The portion of the horizon over which a lighted aid to navigation is visible
The plank along the stern where the name of the ship is commonly painted.
A ship's weapons.
As the crow flies
A direct line between two points (which might cross land) which is the way
crows travel rather than ships which must go around land.
Purportedly an acronym. A type ofsonarused
by the Allies for detecting submarines during the First and Second World
War. abbreviation: Allied Submarine Devices Investigation Committee (World
War I). The term has been generically applied to equipment for "under-water
supersonic echo-ranging equipment" of submarines and other vessels.
1. On the beach, shore, or land (as opposed toaboardoron
2. Towards the shore.
3. "Torun ashore": To
collide with the shore (as opposed to "torun
aground," which is to strike a submerged feature such as a reef or
Over to the starboard side.
1. Toward the stern (rear) of a vessel.
2. Behind a vessel.
The gear or gears which, when engaged with an engine or motor, result in
backwards movement or force. Equivalent to Reverse in a manual transmission
A harbor used to provide shelter from a storm.
At right angles to the fore and aft or centerline of a ship.
Auxiliary ship(or auxiliary)
A naval ship designed to operate in any number of roles supporting combatant
ships and other naval operations, including a wide range of activities
related to replenishment, transport, repair, harbor services, and research.
Stop, cease or desist from whatever is being done.
So low in the water that the water is constantly washing across the surface.
Position of an anchor just clear of the bottom.
Fire oriented towards the ends of the ship; the opposite of broadside fire.
In the age of sail this was known as 'raking' fire.
Reply to an order or command to indicate that it, firstly, is heard; and,
secondly, is understood and will be carried out. ("Aye, aye, sir" to
officers). Also the proper reply from a hailed boat, to indicate that an
officer is on board.
Instrument used to take bearings of celestial objects.
An instrument employed for ascertaining position of the sun with respect to
magnetic north. The azimuth of an object is its bearing from the observer
measured as an angle clockwise from true north.
Back and fill
To use the advantage of the tide being with you when the wind is not.
Long lines or cables, reaching from the stern of the vessel to the mast
heads, used to support the mast.
A soft covering for cables (or any other obstructions) that prevents sail
chafing from occurring.
A device for removing water that has entered the boat.
Heavy material that is placed in the hold of a vessel to provide stability.
A device used on ships and submarines and other submersibles to control
buoyancy and stability.
Balls to fourwatch
The 0000–0400 watch. (US Navy)
A large area of elevated sea floor.
Traditional Royal Navy term for a day or shorter period of rest and
Large mass of sand or earth, formed by the surge of the sea. They are mostly
found at the entrances of great rivers or havens, and often render
navigation extremely dangerous
A bar pilot guides ships over the dangerous sandbars at the mouth of rivers
An arrangement for the chartering or hiring of a vessel, whereby the vessel's
owner provides no crew or provisions as part of the agreement; instead, the
people who rent the vessel are responsible for crewing and provisioning her.
1. A towed or self-propelled flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river,
canal, and coastal transport of heavy goods.
barge: A boat at the disposal of anadmiralfor
his or her use as transportation between a larger vessel and the shore or
within a harbor.
A sailing vessel of three or more masts, with all masts but the sternmost
square-rigged, the sternmost being fore-and-aft-rigged.
A sailing vessel with three or more masts; with a square-rigged foremast and
all other masts fore-and-aft rigged.
A ship or craft designed to function as a floatingbarracksfor
housing military personnel.
A sailor that was stationed in the crow's nest.
1. A stiff strip used to support theroachof
a sail, enabling increased sail area.
2. Any thin strip of material (wood, plastic etc) which can be used any
number of ways
Batten down the hatches
To prepare for inclement weather by securing the closed hatch covers with
wooden battens so as to prevent water from entering from any angle.
1. An announcement made aboard a naval warship to signal the crew to
prepare for battle, imminent damage, or a damage emergency (such as a fire).
2. Specific positions in a naval warship to which one or more crew are
assigned when battle stations is called.
Deliberately running a vesselagroundto
load and unload (as withlanding
craft), or sometimes to prevent a damaged vessel sinking.
A lighted or unlighted fixed aid to navigation attached directly to the
earth's surface. (Lights and day beacons both constitute beacons.)
1. The ram on the prow of a fightinggalleyof
ancient and medieval times.
2. The protruding part of the foremost section of a sailing ship of the
16th to the 18th century, usually ornate, used as a working platform by
sailors handling the sails of thebowsprit.
It also housed the crew's
The width of a vessel at the widest point, or a point alongside the ship at
the midpoint of its length.
The sides of a ship. "On her beam ends" may mean the vessel is literally on
her side and possibly about to capsize; more often, the phrase means the
vessel is listing 45 degrees or more.
Sailing with the wind coming across the vessel's beam. This is normally the
fastest point of sail for a fore-and-aft rigged vessel.
A sea where waves are moving perpendicular to the direction a ship is moving
A wind at right angles to the vessel's course.
Large squared off stone used with sand for scraping clean wooden decks.
To steer (a vessel) away from the wind.
Bear down or bear away
Turn away from the wind, often with reference to a transit.
The horizontal direction of a line of sight between two objects on the
surface of the earth.
Beat to quarters
Prepare for battle (beat = beat the drum to signal the need for battle
Beating or Beat to
Sailing as close as possible towards the wind (perhaps only about 60°) in a
zig-zag course to attain an upwind direction to which it is impossible to
sail directly. (alsotacking)
The scale describing wind force devised byAdmiral
Sir Francis Beaufortin 1808,
in which winds are graded by the effect of their force (originally, the
amount of sail that a fully rigged frigate could carry).
To cut off the wind from a sailing vessel, either by the proximity of land
or by another vessel.
Unable to move due to lack of wind; said of a sailing vessel.
Before the mast
Literally, the area of a ship before the foremast (the forecastle). Most
often used to refer to men whose living quarters are located here, officers
being quartered in the stern-most areas of the ship (near the quarterdeck).
Officer-trainees lived between the two ends of the ship and become known as
"midshipmen". Crew members who started out as seamen, then became
midshipmen, and later, officers, were said to have gone from "one end of the
ship to the other"
1. To make fast a line around a fitting, usually a cleat or belaying pin.
2. To secure a climbing person in a similar manner.
3. An order to halt a current activity or countermand an order prior to
Short movable bars of iron or hard wood to which running rigging may be
A type of buoy with a large bell and hanging hammers that sound by wave
On or into a lower deck, e.g.,The
captain has gone below.
In or into any of the spaces below the main deck of a vessel.
A knot used to join two ropes or lines.
Bermuda rigor Bermudan rig
A triangular mainsail, without any upper spar, which is hoisted up the mast
by a single halyard attached to the head of the sail. This configuration,
introduced to Europe about 1920, allows the use of a tall mast, enabling
sails to be set higher where wind speed is greater.
A fore-and-aft rigged sailing vessel withBermuda
the 17th century. In its purest form, it is single-masted, although Bermuda
sloops can have up to three masts, three-masted ships being referred to as
rigged, but evolved to useBermuda
rig. The Bermuda sloop is the basis of nearly all modern sailingyachts.
A location in a port or harbor used specifically for mooring vessels while
not at sea.
Safety margin of distance to be kept by a vessel from another vessel or from
an obstruction, hence the phrase, "to give a wide berth."
A bed or sleeping accommodation on a boat or ship.
Best bower (anchor)
The larger of two anchors carried in the bow; so named as it was the last,besthope.
Between wind and water
The part of a ship's hull that is sometimes submerged and sometimes brought
above water by the rolling of the vessel.
a loop in rope or line—a hitch or knot tiedon
the bightis one tied in the
middle of a rope, without access to the ends.
2. An indentation in a coastline.
The compartment at the bottom of the hull of a ship or boat where water
collects and must be pumped out of the vessel.
A pair of keels on either side of the hull, usually slanted outwards. Inyachts,
they allow the use of a drying mooring, the boat standing upright on the
keels (and often askeg)
when the tide is out.
Bilged on her anchor
A ship that has run upon her own anchor, so the anchor cable runs under the
The extremity of the arm of an anchor; the point of or beyond the fluke.
A punitive instrument (a type of whip) to enforce discipline on board
British Royal Naval vessels in the 1700's, and 1800's. It was an approx. 18
inch rope with a knot on the receiving end. It was dipped in tar to make the
The stand on which the ship's compass is mounted.
A ship's sick list. The list of men unable to report for duty was given to
the officer or mate of the watch by the ship's surgeon. The list was kept at
Verb used in reference to a rudder, as in "the rudder begins to bite." When
a vessel has steerageway the rudder will act to steer the vessel, i.e. it
has enough water flow past it to steer with. Physically this is noticeable
with tiller or unassisted wheel steering by the rudder exhibiting resistance
to being turned from the straight ahead - this resistance is the rudder
"biting" and is how a helmsman first senses that the vessel has acquired
A post or pair mounted on the ship's bow, for fastening ropes or cables.
The last part or loose end of a rope or cable. The anchor cable is tied to
the bitts; when the cable is fully paid out, the bitter end has been
The engineering crew of the vessel, i.e., crewmembers who work in the vessel's
engine room, fire room, and boiler room, so called because they would be
covered in coal dust during the days of coal-fired steamships.
A blue and white flag (the flag for the letter "P") hoisted at the
foretrucks of ships about to sail. Formerly a white ship on a blue ground,
but later a white square on a blue ground.
1. To step onto, climb onto, or otherwise enter a vessel.
2. The side of a vessel.
3. The distance a sailing vessel runs betweentackswhen working towindward.
1. A small craft or vessel designed to float on, and provide transport
over, or under, water.
2. Naval slang for asubmarineof
A pole with a hook on the end, used to reach into the water to catch buoys
or other floating objects.
A non-commissioned officer responsible for the sails, ropes, rigging and
boats on a ship who issues "piped" commands to seamen.
Boatswain's call, also bosun's pipe,
boatswain's whistle, or bosun's whistle
A high-pitched pipe or a non-diaphragm-type whistle used on naval ships by abosun,
historically to pass commands to the crew but in modern times limited to
Boatswain's chairor bosun's
A short board or swatch of heavy canvas, secured in a bridle of ropes, used
to hoist a man aloft or over the ship's side for painting and similar work.
Modern boatswain's chairs incorporate safety harnesses to prevent the
occupant from falling.
A maker of boats, especially of traditional wooden construction.
A stay which holds the bowsprit downwards, counteracting the effect of the
forestay. Usually made of wire or chain to eliminate stretch.
the contour of the sides of a ship at certain points of her length.
Where the furnaces and boilers are located on a vessel with steam engines
A rope, sewn on to reinforce the edges of a sail.
From "bol" or "bole", the round trunk of a tree. A substantial vertical
pillar to which lines may be made fast. Generally on the quayside rather
than the ship.
A type of tobacco or sweet cake.
A strip of canvas secured to the foot of the course (square sail) to
increase sail area in light airs.
A type of bird that has little fear and therefore is particularly easy to
A sliding hatch or cover.
Boom (navigational barrier)
A floating barrier to control navigation into and out of rivers and
A spar attached to the foot of a fore-and-aft sail.
Slang term in the U.S. Navy for aballistic
A raised cross member that supports a boom when the sail is lowered (obviates
the need for atopping
Boom vangor vang
that lets one apply downward tension on a boom, countering the upward
tension provided by the sail. The boom vang adds an element of control to
sail shape when the sheet is let out enough that it no longer pulls the boom
down. Boom vang tension helps control leech twist, a primary component of
Masts or yards, lying on board in reserve.
Bore, as in Bore up or
To assume a position to engage, or disengage, the enemy ship's
Also called aboatswain.
A device for adjusting tension in stays, shrouds and similar lines.
1. The underside of a vessel; the portion of a vessel that is always
2. A ship, most often acargo
3. A cargo hold.
Pledging a ship as security in a financial transaction.
1. The front of a vessel.
2. Either side of the front (or bow) of the vessel, i.e., theport
bow. Something ahead and to the left of the vessel is "off the port
bow", while something ahead and to the right of the vessel is "off the
starboard bow." When "bow" is used in this way, the front of the vessel
sometimes is called herbows(plural),
a collective reference to her port and starboard bows synonymous withbow(singular)
as described in Definition (1).
A small propeller or water-jet at the bow, used for maneuvering larger
vessels at slow speed. May be mounted externally, or in a tunnel running
through the bow from side to side.
A type of knot, producing a strong loop of a fixed size, topologically
similar to a sheet bend. Also a rope attached to the side of a sail to pull
it towards the bow (for keeping the windward edge of the sail steady).
To pull or hoist.
A spar projecting from the bow used as an anchor for the forestay and other
Boxing the compass
To state all 32 points of the compass, starting at north, proceeding
clockwise. Sometimes applied to a wind that is constantly shifting.
a young sailor, still in training
To bring the foreyards flat aback to stop the ship.
To furl or truss a sail by pulling it in towards the mast, or the ropes used
to do so.
The handle of the pump, by which it is worked.
Brass monkeyor brass monkey
Used in the expression "it is cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass
Early 20th-century slang term for a vessel's
radio operator, so called because he repeatedly struck a brass key on his
transmitter to broadcast inMorse
Break bulk cargo(or
Goods that must be loaded aboard a ship individually, and not in intermodal
containers or in bulk, carried by ageneral
1. A structure constructed on a coast as part of a coastal defense system
or to protect an anchorage from the effects of weather and longshore drift.
2. A structure built on the forecastle of a ship intended to divert water
away from the forward superstructure or gun mounts.
with canvas breeches, functionally similar to azip
line, used to transfer people from one ship to another or to rescue
people from a wrecked or sinking ship by moving them to another ship or to
A structure above the weather deck, extending the full width of the vessel,
which houses a command centre, itself called by association, the bridge.
An open-air extension of the bridge to port or starboard, intended for use
1. A vessel with two square-rigged masts.
2. An interior area of the ship used to detain prisoners & stowaways, and to punish delinquent crew members.
A shipboard jail cell.
A type ofsloop-of-warintroduced
in the 1770s which had two square-rigged masts like abrig(in
contrast toship sloops of
the time, which had three masts).
A two-masted vessel, square-rigged on the foremast, but fore-and-aft-rigged
on the mainmast.
Exposed varnished wood or polished metal on a boat.
Cause a ship to be stationary by arranging the sails.
When a sailing vessel loses control of its motion and is forced into a
sudden sharp turn, often heeling heavily and in smaller vessels sometimes
leading to a capsize. The change in direction is calledbroaching-to.
Occurs when too much sail is set for a strong gust of wind, or in
circumstances where the sails are unstable.
Wide (broad) in appearance from the vantage point of a lookout or
other person viewing activity in the vicinity of a ship, e.g., another ship
off the starboard bow with her side facing the viewer's ship could be
described as "broadon the
starboard bow" of the viewer's ship.
1. One side of a vessel above thewaterline.
2. All the guns on one side of a warship or mounted (in rotating turrets or
barbettes) so as to be able fire on the same side of a warship.
3. The simultaneous firing of all the guns on one side of a warship or able
to fire on the same side of a warship.
4. Weight of broadside, the combined weight of all projectiles a
ship can fire in a broadside, or the combined weight of all the shells a
group of ships that have formed a line of battle collectively can fire on
the same side.
The chief bosun's mate (in the Royal Navy), responsible for discipline.
A protruding bulb at the bow of a ship just below the waterline which
modifies the way water flows around the hull, reducing drag and thus
increasing speed, range, fuel efficiency, and stability.
Commodity cargo that is transported unpackaged in large quantities.
A merchant ship specially designed to transport unpackaged bulk cargo in its
An wall in a ship. Particularly a watertight,
The extension of the ship's side above the level of the weather deck.
Bull ensign (also "boot
ensign" or "George ensign")
The senior ensign of a United States Navy command (i.e., a
ship, squadron, or shore activity). The bull ensign assumes additional
responsibilities beyond those of other ensigns, such as teaching
less-experienced ensigns about life at sea, planning and coordinating
wardroom social activities, making sure that the officers' mess runs
smoothly, and serving as an officer for Navy-related social organizations.
The bull ensign also serves as the focal point for the unit's expression of
spirit and pride.
A private boat selling goods.
1. A spar, similar to a bowsprit, but which projects from the stern. May be
used to attach the backstay or mizzen sheets.
2. An iron bar (projecting out-board from a ship's side) to which the lower
and topsail brace blocks are sometimes hooked.
A container for storing coal or fuel oil for a ship's
Bunker fuel or bunkers
Fuel oil for a ship.
A signalman who prepares and flies flag hoists. Also known in the US
Navy as a skivvy waver.
One of the lines tied to the bottom of a square sail and used to haul it up
to the yard when furling.
A floating object of defined shape and color, which is anchored at a given
position and serves as an aid to navigation.
Lifted by a buoy, especially a cable that has been lifted to prevent it from
trailing on the bottom.
A small flag, typically triangular, flown from the masthead of a yacht to
indicate yacht-club membership.
By and large
Bymeans into the wind,
with the wind. "By and large" is used to indicate all possible situations "the
ship handles well both by and large".
By the board
Anything that has gone overboard.
An enclosed room on a boat or ship,
usually used as private quarters.
attendant for passenger and crew on ships. often a young man (1700's,
1800's, and early 1900's)
A large rope.
A measure of length or distance. Equivalent to (UK) 1/10 nautical mile,
approx. 600 feet; (USA) 120 fathoms, 720 feet (219 m); other countries use
a small ship's kitchen, or galley on deck.
The transport of goods or passengers between two points in the same country,
alongside coastal waters, by a vessel or an aircraft registered in another
Loaded vessels lashed tightly, one on each side of another vessel, and then
emptied to provide additional buoyancy that reduces the draught of the ship
in the middle.
A type of navigational buoy often a vertical drum,
A specialized watercraft designed for operation on a canal.
A type of antipersonnel cannon load in which lead balls or other loose
metallic items were enclosed in a tin or iron shell. On firing, the shell
would disintegrate, releasing the smaller metal objects with a shotgun-like
A design for the stern of a yacht which is pointed, like a bow, rather than
squared off as a transom.
most important warships, generally possessing the heaviest firepower and
armor and traditionally much larger than other naval vessels, but not
formally defined. During theAge
of Sail, generally understood to beships-of-the-line;
during the second half of the 19th century and the 20th century, understood
to bebattleshipsandbattle cruisers;
and since the 1940s considered to includeaircraft
carriers. Since the second half of the 20th century,ballistic
have been considered capital ships.
When a ship or boat lists too far and rolls over, exposing the keel. On
large vessels, this often results in the sinking of the ship. CompareTurtling,
A large winch with a vertical axis. A full-sized human-powered capstan is a
waist-high cylindrical machine, operated by a number of hands who each
insert a horizontalcapstan
barin holes in the capstan
and walk in a circle. Used to wind in anchors or other heavy objects; and
sometimes to administer flogging over.
1. The person lawfully in command of a vessel. "Captain"
is an informal title of respect given to the commander of a
regardless of his or her formal rank; aboard a merchant ship, or a large
private boat. The ship'smasteris
2. In the US Navy, US Coast Guard, and National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Corps, a commissioned officer of a
grade superior to acommanderand
junior to arear
admiral (lower half), equal in grade or rank to a United States Army,
United States Marine Corps, or United States Air Force colonel.
Captain of the Port
A US Coast Guard officer, usually acaptain,
responsible for enforcement of safety, security, and marine environmental
protection regulations in a commercial port.
o' nine tails, which in principle is only used on board on the captain's
(or a court martial's) personal orders.
An unpowered barge with railroad tracks mounted on its deck, used to move
railroad cars across water obstacles.
A small, highly maneuverable sailing ship withlateenrig
used by the Portuguese in the 15th and 16th centuries to explore along the
West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean.
Referring to the four main points of the compass: north, south, east and
west. See alsobearing.
Tilting a ship on its side, usually when beached, to clean or repair the
hull below the water line. Also known as to "heave down".
Any sort of ship or vessel that carries cargo, goods, and materials from one
port to another, including general cargo ships (designed to carrybreak
ships, multipurpose vessels, andtankers.
Tankers, however, although technically cargo ships, are routinely thought of
as constituting a completely separate category.
1. In theAge
of Sail, a warrant officer responsible for the hull, masts, spars, and
boats of a vessel, and whose responsibility was to sound the well to see if
the vessel was making water.
2. A senior rating responsible for all the woodwork aboard a vessel.
A short, smoothbore, cast iron naval cannon, used from the 1770s to the
1850s as a powerful, short-range anti-ship and anti-crew weapon.
A method of constructing wooden hulls by fixing planks to a frame so that
the planks butt up against each other. Cf. "clinker built".
1. To prepare an anchor, after raising it by lifting it with a tackle to
thecat head, prior to
securing (fishing) it alongside for sea. (An anchor raised to the cat
head is said to becatted.)
2. The cat o' nine tails (see below).
Cat o' nine tails
A short nine-tailedwhipkept
by the bosun's mate toflogsailors
(and soldiers in the Army). When not in use, the cat was kept in a baize
bag, this is a possible origin for the term "cat out of the bag," though
livestock trade was more likelywhere
this phrase came from. "Not enough room to swing a cat" also derives from
A vessel with two hulls.
with a single mast mounted close to the bow, and only one sail, usually on agaff.
A short rope or iron clamp used to brace in the shrouds toward the masts so
as to give a freer sweep to the yards.
A beam extending out from the hull used to support an anchor when raised in
order to secure or 'fish' it.
Light variable winds on calm waters producing scattered areas of small
A lining applied to the interior of a hull for both aesthetic reasons and to
bar or insulate the ship's cargo from the cold hull surface. Often made of
thin strips of wood, attached horizontally with a small gap between to allow
air flow to the interior hull surface.
Center of effort
The point of origin of net aerodynamic force on sails, roughly located in
the geometric center of a sail, but the actual position of the center of
effort will vary with sail plan, sail trim or airfoil profile, boat trim,
and point of sail. Also known as centerof
Center of lateral
The point of origin of net hydrodynamic resistance on the submerged
structure of a boat, especially a sailboat. This is the pivot point about
which the boat turns when unbalanced external forces are applied, similar to
the center of gravity. On a balanced sailboat the center of effort should
align vertically with the center of lateral resistance. If this is not the
case the boat will be unbalanced and exhibit either lee helm or weather helm
and will be difficult to control.
An imaginary line down the center of a vessel lengthwise. Any structure or
anything mounted or carried on a vessel that straddles this line and is
equidistant from either side of the vessel ison
A board or plate lowered through the hull of adinghyon
the centerline to resist leeway.
Wear on line or sail caused by constant rubbing against another surface.
Material applied to a line or spar to prevent or reduce chafing.
A space in the forward part of the ship, typically beneath the bow in front
of the foremost collision bulkhead, that contains the anchor chain when the
anchor is secured for sea.
Cannon balls linked with chain used to damage rigging and masts.
Chain-wale or channel
A broad, thick plank that projects horizontally from each of a ship's sides
abreast a mast, distinguished as the fore, main, or mizzen channel
accordingly, serving to extend the base for the shrouds, which supports the
Small platforms built into the sides of a ship to spread the shrouds to a
more advantageous angle. Also used as a platform for manualdepth
The metal stovepipe chimney from a cook shack on the deck of a ship or from
a stove in a galley .
A compartment from which the ship was
Chase gun, chase piece, or chaser
forward or aft, often of longer range than other guns. Those on the bow (bow
chaser) were used to fire upon a ship ahead, while those on the rear (stern
chaser) were used to ward off pursuing vessels. Unlike guns pointing to
the side, chasers could be brought to bear in a chase without slowing.
1. Wooden blocks at the side of a spar.
2. The sides of a block or gun-carriage.
1. An angle in the hull.
2. A line formed where the sides of a boat meet the bottom. Soft chine is
when the two sides join at a shallow angle, and hard chine is when they join
at a steep angle.
Hole or ring attached to the hull to guide a line via that point. An opening
in a ships bulwark normally oval in shape designed to allow mooring lines to
be fastened to cleats or bits mounted to the ship's deck.
Rigging blocks that are so tight against one another that they cannot be
Chronometer (a Clock)
A timekeeper accurate enough to be used to determinelongitudeby
A fortified safe room on a vessel to take shelter in the event of pirate
attack. Previously, a fortified room to protect ammunition and machinery
The British Naval Ensign or Flag of theBritish
Merchant Navy, a red flag with theUnion
Flagin the upper left
corner. Colloquially called the "red duster".
1. A group of naval ships of the same or similar design.
2. A standard of construction for merchant vessels, including standards for
specific types or specialized capabilities of some types of merchant
vessels. A ship meeting the standard isin
class, one not meeting them isout
Clean bill of health
A certificate issued by a port indicating that the ship carries no
infectious diseases. Also called apratique.
At the helm, the watch keeper would record details of speed, distances,
headings, etc. on a slate. At the beginning of a new watch the slate would
be wiped clean.
To perform customs and immigration legalities prior to leaving port.
A stationary device used to secure a rope aboard a vessel.
A method of fixing together two pieces of wood, usually overlapping planks,
by driving a nail through both planks as well as a washer-like rove. The
nail is then burred or riveted over to complete the fastening.
The lower corners of square sails or the corner of a triangular sail at the
end of the boom.
Used to truss up theclews,
the lower corners of square sails.
A method of constructing hulls that involves overlapping planks, and/or
plates, much like Viking long ships, resulting in speed and flexibility in
small boat hulls.
A very fast sailing ship of the 19th century that had three or more masts, a
square rig, a long, low hull, and a sharply raked stem.
Near a ship.
Of a vesselbeatingas
close to the wind direction as possible.
The ship drops one of its anchors at high speed to turn abruptly. This was
sometimes used as a means to get a good firing angle on a pursuing vessel.
to store coal.
Coal trimmer, or Trimmer
Person responsible for ensuring that a coal-fired vessel remains in 'trim'
(evenly balanced) as coal is consumed on a voyage.
The raised edge of a hatch, cockpit or skylight to help keep out water.
A shallow-hulled ship used for trade between locations on the same island or
The seating area (not to be confused with Deck). The area towards the stern
of a small decked vessel that houses the rudder controls.
A bulk cargo ship designed to carry coal, especially such a ship in naval
use to supply coal to coal-fired warships.
A long, curving wave breaking on the shore.
1. To tack.
2. To change tack.
3. To maneuver the bow of a sailing vessel across the wind so that the wind
changes from one side of the vessel to the other.
4. To position a vessel with respect to the wind after tacking.
To stop a sailing vessel, especially by turning into the wind.
To formally place (a naval vessel) into active service, after which the
vessel is said to bein
commission. Sometimes used less formally to mean placing a commercial
ship into service.
(rank), a military rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy
captain, but below a rear admiral. Often equivalent to the rank of "flotilla
admiral" or sometimes "counter admiral" in non-English-speaking navies.
(yacht club), an officer of a yacht club.
(Sea Scouts), a position in the Boy Scouts of America's Sea Scout
An air-filled tube, usually armored, allowing speech between theconning
towerwith the below-decks
control spaces in a warship.
A raised and windowed hatchway in the ship'sdeck,
with a ladder leading below and the hooded entrance-hatch to the main
Navigational instrument showing the direction of the vessel in relation to
poles. Commonly consists of a magnet aligned with the Earth's magnetic
field, but other technologies have also been developed, such as thegyrocompass.
The number of persons in a ship's
crew, including officers.
To include or contain: As applied to a naval task force, the listing of all
assigned units for a single transient purpose (mission). "The Task ForcecomprisesShip
A, Ship B, and Ship C." 'Comprise' means exhaustive inclusion – there aren't
any other parts to the task force, and each ship has a permanent squadron
existence, independent of the task force.
To direct a ship
or submarine from a position of command. While performing this duty, an
officer is said tohave the
An officer on a naval vessel responsible for instructing the helmsman on the
course to steer. While performing this duty, the officer is said tohave
1. The armored control tower of an iron or steel warship built between the
mid-19th and mid-20th centuries from which the ship was navigated in battle.
2. A tower-like structure on the dorsal (topside) surface of a submarine,
serving in submarines built before the mid-20th century as a connecting
structure between the bridge and pressure hull and housing instruments and
controls from which the periscopes were used to direct the submarine and
Since the mid-20th century, it has been replaced by thesail,a structure similar in appearance which no
longer plays a function in directing the submarine.
Lakesvessels, usually a
towed by a larger steamer that would often tow more than one barge. The
consort system was used in the Great Lakes from the 1860s to around 1920.
Constant bearing, decreasing range(CBDR)
When two boats are approaching each other from any angle and this angle
remains the same over time (constant bearing) they are on a collision
course. Because of the implication of disaster (ships might collide) it has
come to mean a problem or an obstacle which is heading your way. Often used
in the sense of a warning, as in "watch out for this problem you might not
A cargo ship that carries all of her cargo in truck-sizeintermodal
A group of ships traveling together for mutual support and protection.
Slang term for anamateuryachter
A device to correct the ship's compass, for example counteracting errors due
to the magnetic effects of a steel hull.
1. A French privateer, especially from the port of St-Malo.
2. Any privateer or pirate.
3. A ship used by privateers or pirates, especially of French nationality.
a class of 16-foot (4.9-meter) three-handed sailing dinghy.
1. A flush-decked sailing warship of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries
having a single tier of guns, ranked next below a frigate.
Called a sloop-of-war by the US Navy.
2. A lightly armed and armored warship of the 20th and 21st centuries,
smaller than afrigate,
capable of trans-oceanic duty.
The part of the stern above the waterline that extends beyond the rudder
stock culminating in a small transom. A long counter increases the waterline
length when the boat is heeled, so increasing hull speed.
To deliberately flood compartments on the opposite side from already flooded
ones. Usually done to reduce alist.
The direction in which a vessel is being steered, usually given in degrees.
the lowest square sail on each mast — The mainsail,foresail,
and the mizzen on a four masted ship (the after most mast usually sets a
gaff driver or spanker instead of a square sail).
1. A ship's
ventilator with a bell-shaped top which can be swivelled to catch the wind
and force it below.
2. A vertical projection of a ship's
funnel which directs the smoke away from the bridge.
The helmsman or crew member in command of a boat.
A fitting, mounted at the end of a bowsprit to which stays are attached.
Crane vesselor crane ship
A ship with a crane specialized in lifting heavy loads.
United States Navy slang for a maneuver in which a submerged
Russian submarine suddenly turns 180 degrees or through 360 degrees to
detect submarines following it.
1. On warships and merchant ships, those members of a ship's company who
are not officers
2. On leisure vessels with no formal chain of command, those persons who
are not the skipper or passengers.
Otherwise known as crewing, are the services rendered by specialized
shipping companies to manage the human resources and manning of all types of
vessels, including recruitment, deployment to vessel, scheduling, training,
as well as the on-going management and administrative duties of seafarers,
such as payroll, travel arrangements, insurance and health schemes, overall
career development, as well as their day-to-day welfare
A rope loop, usually at the corners of a sail, for fixing the sail to a
spar. They are often reinforced with a metal eye.
Cro'jack or crossjack
a square yard used to spread the foot of a topsail where no course is set,
e.g. on the foremast of a topsailschooneror
above the driver on the mizzen mast of a ship rigged vessel.
two horizontal struts at the upper ends of the topmasts of sailboats, used
to anchor the shrouds from the topgallant mast.
Specifically a masthead constructed with sides and sometimes a roof to
shelter the lookouts from the weather, generally by whaling vessels, this
has become a generic term for what is properly called masthead. Seemasthead.
A passenger ship used for pleasure voyages, where the voyage itself and the
ship's amenities are part of the experience, as well as the different
destinations along the way. Transportation is not the prime purpose, as
cruise ships operate mostly on routes that return passengers to their
originating port. A cruise ship contrasts with apassenger
liner, which is a passenger ship that provides a scheduled service
between published ports primarily as a mode of transportation. Large,
prestigious passenger ships used for either purpose sometimes are calledocean
1. From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, a classification for
a wide variety of gun- and sometimestorpedo-armed
warships, usually but not always armored, intended for independent scouting,
raiding, or commerce protection; some were designed also to provide direct
support to a battle group. Cruisers carried out functions performed
previously by the cruising ships (sailing frigates and sloops) of theAge
2. From the early 20th century to the mid-20th century, a type of armored
warship with varying armament and of various sizes, but always smaller than
larger than adestroyer,
capable of both direct support of a battle fleet and independent operations,
armed with guns and sometimes torpedoes.
3. After the mid-20th century, various types of warships of intermediate
size armed with guided missiles and sometimes guns, intended for air defense
carriersand associated task
forces or for anti-ship missile attack against such forces; virtually
indistinguishable from large destroyers since the late 20th century.
Metal Y shaped pins to hold oars whilst rowing.
A small cabin in a boat; a cabin, for the use of the captain, in the after
part of a sailing ship under the poop deck.
A line invented byBriggs
Cunningham, used to control the shape of a sail.
A join between two lines, similar to an eye-splice, where each rope end is
joined to the other a short distance along, making an opening which closes
The "valley" between the strands of a rope or cable. Before serving a
section of laid rope e.g. to protect it from chafing, it may be "wormed" by
laying yarns in the cutlines, giving that section an even cylindrical
Cut and run
When wanting to make a quick escape, a ship might cut lashings to sails or
cables for anchors, causing damage to the rigging, or losing an anchor, but
shortening the time needed to make ready by bypassing the proper procedures.
Cut of his jib
The "cut" of a sail refers to its shape. Since this would vary between
ships, it could be used both to identify a familiar vessel at a distance,
and to judge the possible sailing qualities of an unknown one. Also used
figuratively of people.
1. A small single-masted boat, fore-and-aft rigged, with two or more
headsails and often a bowsprit. The mast is set farther back than on asloop.
2. A small boat serving a larger vessel, used to ferry passengers or light
stores between larger vessels and the shore.
3. In the 20th and 21st centuries, a small- or medium-sized vessel whose
occupants exercise official authority, such as harborpilots'cutters, and US Coast Guard Cutters.
A type of lightcenterboardthat
is lifted vertically; often in pairs, with the leeward one lowered when
1. A spar formerly used on board ships as a crane to hoist the flukes of
the anchor to the top of the bow, without injuring the sides of the ship.
2. A crane, often working in pairs and usually made of steel, used to lower
things over the side of a ship, including launching a lifeboat over the side
of a ship.
Davy Jones' Locker
the bottom of the sea. Or to die in the sea
An unlighted fixed structure which is equipped with a dayboard for daytime
Moment at dawn where, from some point on the mast, a lookout can see above
low lying mist which envelops the ship.
The daytime identifier of an aid to navigation presenting one of several
standard shapes (square, triangle, rectangle) and colors (red, green, white,
orange, yellow, or black).
Exactly ahead, directly ahead, directly in front.
Dead in the water
Not moving (used only when a vessel is afloat and neither tied up nor
position estimation based on celestial navigation from a prior confirmed
position. Uses a mathematical formula and was usually quite accurate and
reliable if conducted properly. Titanic did a dead reckoning position
when she was foundering. The position was broadcasted during its SOS and the
responding vessels later said she right where she indicated.
The trail of a fading disturbance in the water. See alsowake.
A wooden block with holes (but no pulleys) which is spliced to a shroud. It
is used to adjust the tension in thestanding
riggingof large sailing
vessels, by lacing through the holes with a lanyard to the deck. Performs
the same job as a turnbuckle.
A strong shutter fitted over a porthole or other opening that can be closed
in bad weather.
The design angle between the keel and horizontal.
A wooden part (vertical timbers or planking) of the centerline structure of
a boat, usually between the sternpost and amidships. It is used to "fill the
spaces where, owing to the shape of the vessel, the floor-timbers have to be
the act ofbroachingto
windward, putting thespinnaker
poleinto the water and
causing a crash-jibeof
the boom and mainsail, which sweep across the deck and plunge down into the
water. During a death roll, the boatrollsfrom
side to side, becoming gradually more unstable until either it capsizes or
the skipper reacts correctly to prevent it.
The process of leaving a ship or aircraft, or removing goods from a ship or
The process of removing fuel from a vessel. After a ship wreck, a
"debunkering" operation will be performed in an effort to minimize damage
and protect the environment from fuel spills.
The top of the boat; the surface is removed to accommodate the seating area.
The structures forming the approximately horizontal surfaces in the ship's
general structure. Unlike flats, they are a structural part of the ship.
Deck hand or decky
A person whose job involves aiding the deck supervisor in un-mooring,
anchoring, maintenance, and general evolutions on deck.
The person in charge of all evolutions and maintenance on deck; sometimes
split into two groups: forward deck supervisor, aft deck supervisor.
The under-side of the deck above. The inside of the boat is normally paneled
over to hide the structure, pipes, electrical wires. It can be in thin wood
planks, often covered with a vinyl lining, or in thin PVC or now even in
A situation in which the deck of the vessel is partially or wholly
submerged, possibly as a result of excessive listing or a loss of buoyancy.
To formally take (a naval vessel) out of active service.
Sometimes used less formally to mean taking a commercial ship out of
A ship which acts as a mobile or fixed base for other ships and submarines
or supports a naval base.
Depth of hold
The height from the lowest part of the hull inside the ship, at its
midpoint, to the ceiling that is made up of the uppermost full length deck.
For old warships it is to the ceiling that is made up of the lowermost full
A lifting device composed of one mast or pole and a boom or jib which is
hinged freely at the bottom.
The devil was possibly a slang term for the garboard seam, hence "between
the devil and the deep blue sea" being an allusion to keel hauling, but a
more popular version seems to be the seam between the waterway and thestanchions which
would be difficult to get at, requiring a cranked caulking iron, and a
restricted swing of the caulking mallet.
Devil to pay (or Devil to
pay, and no pitch hot)
"Paying" the devil is sealing thedevil
seam. It is a difficult and unpleasant job (with no resources) because
of the shape of the seam (up against thestanchions)
or if the devil refers to the garboard seam, it must be done with the ship
slipped or careened.
1. A type of small boat, often carried or towed as a ship's boat by a
2. Also a small racing yacht or recreational open sailing boat, often used
for beginner training rather than sailing full-sized yachts.
3. Utility dinghies are usually rowboats or have an outboard motor, but
some are rigged for sailing.
A light illuminating a sector or very narrow angle and intended to mark a
direction to be followed.
Dipping the eye
THe method of attaching more than one hawser to a single bollard, so that each
can be lifted off without disturbing the other's. The second hawser is
passed under the first, then up through the eye of the first (hence the
name), before being secured over the bollard.
A vessel ranging in size from a small boat to a large ship tasked to carry
military dispatches from ship to ship, from ship to shore, or, occasionally,
from shore to shore.
The weight of water displaced by the immersed volume of a ship's hull,
exactly equivalent to the weight of the whole ship.
A hull designed to travel through the water, rather than planing over it.
To reduce in rank or rating; demote.
A flag flown to distinguish ships of one seagoing service of a given country
from ships of the country's
other seagoing service's when ships of more than one of the country's
seagoing services fly the sameensign.
1. A fixed structure attached to shore to which a vessel
is secured when in port, generally synonymous withpierandwharf,
to refer to structures used for tying up commercial ships and to structures
extending from shore for use in fishing, whiledockrefers
more generally to facilities used for tying up ships or boats, including
2. To tie up along a pier or wharf.
A facility where ships or boats are built and repaired. Routinely used as a
is associated more closely with a facility used for maintenance and basing
activities, whileshipyard sometimes
is associated more closely with a facility used in construction.
A hood forward of a hatch or cockpit to protect the crew from wind and
spray. Can be soft or hard.
generally half the usual time (e.g. a two-hour watch rather than a four-hour
one). Such watches might be included in order to rotate the system over
different days for fairness, or to allow both watches to eat their meals at
approximately normal times.
A slang term (in the US, mostly) for a raised portion of a ship's deck. A
doghouse is usually added to improve headroom below or to shelter a hatch.
vane, sometimes improvised with a scrap of cloth, yarn or other light
material mounted within sight of the helmsman. Used on present day fighter
The equatorial trough, with special reference to the light and variable
nature of the winds.
A structure consisting of a number of piles driven into the seabed or
riverbed as a marker.
A small auxiliary engine used either to start a larger engine or
pumping water on steamships.
One of a ship's engineering crew. Often a crewman responsible for
donkey, or any machinery other than the main engines. On some ships, the
Petty Officer in charge of engine room ratings.
A shallow-draft, lightweight boat, about 16-20 feet long, with high
sides, a flat bottom and sharp bows. Traditionally used as fishing boats,
both in coastal waters and in the open sea.
The practice of loading smooth-bore cannon with two cannon-balls.
Very rough seas with large white capped waves.
1. A vessel traveling downstream.
2. Eastward-traveling vessels in theGreat
A line used to control either a mobilespar,
or the shape of a sail. A downhaul can also be used to retrieve a sail back
An extra strip of canvas secured below abonnet,
further to increase the area of a course
The depth of a ship's keel below the waterline.
A type of battleship designed with an "all-big-gun" armament layout in which
primary gun power resided in a primary battery of its largest guns intended
for use at long range, with other gun armament limited to small weapons
intended for close-range defense againsttorpedo
boatsand other small
warships. Most, but not all, dreadnoughts also had steam turbine propulsion.
Predominant from 1906, dreadnoughts differed from earlier steam battleships,
retroactively dubbed "pre-dreadnoughts",
which had only a few large guns, relied on an intermediate secondary battery
used at shorter ranges for most of their offensive power, and hadtriple-expansion
Dress overall or to Dress Out
Code of Signalsflags,
arranged at random, fromstemheadtomasthead,
between mastheads (if the vessel has more than one mast), and then down to
on a ship in harbor as a sign of celebration of a national, local, or
personal anniversary, event, holiday, or occasion. When a ship is properly
at each masthead unless displaced by another flag – for example, that of aflag
officeron board – in
addition to the ensign flown in the usual position at thestern.
1. Treating old sails with oil or wax to renew them.
2. A verbal reprimand.
Lines running fromstemheadtomasthead,
between mastheads, and then down to thetaffrail,
to which flags are attached when a ship isdressed
A type of fishing boat designed to catchherringin
net, long used in the Netherlands and Great Britain.
Overboard and into the water, as it fell into the drink.
The large sail flown from the mizzen gaff.
The fifth mast of a six-masted barquentine or gaff schooner. It is preceded
by the jigger mast and followed by the spanker mast.
A device to slow a boat down in a storm so that it does not speed
excessively down the slope of a wave and crash into the next one. It is
generally constructed of heavy flexible material in the shape of a cone. See
A narrow basin or vessel used for the construction, maintenance, and repair
of ships, boats, and other watercraft that can be flooded to allow a load to
be floated in, then drained to allow that load to come to rest on a dry
1. Loose packing material used to protect a ship's cargo from damage during
2. Personal baggage.
A part on a ship that has no use.
Small lines, by which the uppermost corners of the largest sails are secured
to the yardarms.
Echo sounding, or sounding
Measuring the depth of the water using asonardevice.
The condition where a sailing vessel (especially one which sails poorly to
windward) is confined between two capes or headlands by a wind blowing
An arrangement of gun turrets whereby the turret on one side of the ship is
placed further aft than the one on the other side, so that both turrets can
fire to either side.
Engine order telegraph
A communications device used by the pilot to order engineers in the engine
room to power the vessel at a certain desired speed.
One of the machinery spaces of a vessel, usually the largest one, containing
prime mover (usually a diesel or steam engine or a gas or steam turbine).
Larger vessels may have more than one engine room.
the principal flag or banner flown by a ship to indicate her nationality.
the lowest grade ofcommissioned
officerin the United States
carrier, smaller and slower than afleet
carrier, used by some navies in World War II to escort convoys, ferry
aircraft, and provide air support foramphibious
(also known as "in extremis") the point under International Rules of the
Rules) at which the privileged (or stand-on) vessel on collision course
with a burdened (or give-way) vessel determines it must maneuver to avoid a
collision. Prior to extremis, the privileged vessel must maintain course and
speed and the burdened vessel must maneuver to avoid collision.
A closed loop or eye at the end a line, rope, cable, etc. It is made by
unraveling its end and joining it to itself by intertwining it into the lay
of the line. Eyesplicesare
very strong and compact and are employed in moorings and docking lines among
A large ocean-going vessel with extensive on-board facilities for processing
and freezing caught fish or whales. Some also serve asmother
fishing or whaling vessels. Those used for processing fish are also known asfish
1. A smooth curve, usually referring to a line of the hull which has no
2. To make something flush.
fair when it has a clear run.
4. A wind or current is fair when it offers an advantage to a boat.
Fair winds and following
A blessing wishing the recipient a safe journey and good fortune.
A ring, hook or other device used to keep a line or chain running in the
correct direction or to prevent it rubbing or fouling.
A structure that improves the streamlining of a vessel.
The part of the tackle that is hauled upon.
To change the direction of sail so as to point in a direction that is more
down wind. To bring the bow leeward. Also bear away, bear off or head down.
This is the opposite of pointing up or heading up.
Aft end of the ship, also known as thePoop
Wood placed in bottom of ship to keep cargo dry.
Fastened or held firmly (fast aground: stuck on the seabed;made
fast: tied securely).
A unit of length equal to 6 feet (1.8 m), roughly measured as the distance
between a man's outstretched hands. Particularly used to measure depth.
A depth finder that uses sound waves to determine the depth of water.
A traditional wooden sailing boat with a rig consisting of one or two lateen
sails, used in protected waters of the Red Sea and eastern Mediterranean and
particularly along the Nile in Egypt and Sudan, and also in Iraq.
A command given to the crew to stop what they are now doing and to
immediately manually prevent the boat from banging into the docks or other
An air or foam filled bumper used in boating to keep boats from banging into
docks or each other.
1. The distance across water which a wind or waves have traveled.
2. To reach a mark without tacking.
1. A tapered wooden tool used for separating the strands of rope for
2. A bar used to fix an upper mast in place.
A freestanding pinrail surrounding the base of a mast and used for securing
that mast's sails' halyards with a series of belaying pins.
A sailing boat with two masts with a standard rig consisting of a main
sailand a mizzen standing
lug sail developed in Scotland; used for commercial fishing from the 1850s
until the 20th century.
U.S. Navy slang for a guided-missilefrigate,
especially of thePerryclass,
derived from its class designation ("FFG").
to allow gunfire downward onto an enemy ship. A fighting top could have
small guns installed in it or could serve as a platform forsnipersarmed
A symbolic image at the head of a traditional sailing ship or early steamer.
(Usually a beautiful woman carved out of wood)
A term used in European and British Commonwealth countries for a tower-like
structure on the dorsal (topside) surface of a submarine; called asailin
the United States.
Narrow (fine) in appearance from the vantage point of a lookout or
other person viewing activity in the vicinity of a ship, e.g., another ship
off the starboard bow with her bow or stern facing the viewer's ship could
be described as "fineon
the starboard bow" of the viewer's ship.
A ship loaded with flammable materials and explosives and sailed into an
enemy port or fleet either already burning or ready to be set alight by its
crew (who would then abandon it) in order to collide with and set fire to
Fire room, alsoboiler
The compartment in which the ship's boilers or furnaces are stoked and
The classification for the largest sailing warships of the 17th through 19th
centuries. They had 3 masts, 850+ crew and 100+ guns.
1. In the United States Navy, the officer on a ship serving as the senior
person in charge of all deck hands.
2 In the Royal Navy, the seniorlieutenanton
board; responsible to thecommanding
officerfor the domestic
affairs of the ship's company. Also known as 'Jimmy the One' or 'Number
One'. Removes his cap when visiting the mess decks as token of respect for
the privacy of the crew in those quarters. Officer in charge of cables on
The second-in-command of a commercial ship.
1. To repair a mast or spar with a fillet of wood.
2. To secure an anchor on the side of the ship for sea (otherwise known as
3. A slang term for a self-propelledtorpedo.
A sailing tactic for handling winds too strong for the sail area hoisted
when reefing the sails is not feasible or possible. The headsail is set
normally while the mainsail is let out till it is constantly luffing. This
creates loss of force on the main and also reduces the efficiency of the
headsail while still retaining sailing control of the vessel.
The period after a ship islaunchedduring
which all the remaining construction of the ship is completed and she is
trialsand delivery to her
A propeller mounted on a rigid shaft protruding from the hull of a vessel,
usually driven by an inboard motor; steering must be done using a rudder.
A number of signal flags strung together to convey a message, e.g., 'England
Flag of convenience
The business practice of registering a merchant ship in a sovereign state
different from that of the ship's
owners, and flying that state's
civil ensign on the ship. The practice allows the ship's
owner to reduce operating costs or avoid the regulations of the owner's
1. A commissioned officer senior enough to be entitled to fly a flag to
mark the ship or installation from which he or she exercises command, in
English-speaking countries usually referring to the senior officers of a
navy, specifically those who hold any of theadmiralranks
and in some cases to those holding the rank ofcommodore.
In modern American usage, additionally applied to U.S. Coast Guard andNational
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corpsofficers
and general officers in the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps
entitled to fly their own flags.
2. A formal rank in the mid-19th-century United States Navy, conveyed
temporarily upon senior captains in command of squadrons of ships, soon
rendered obsolete by the creation of the ranks ofcommodoreandrear
1. A vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships. The
term derives from the custom of the commander of such a group of ships,
officer, flying a distinguishing flag aboard the ship on which he or she
2. Used more loosely, the lead ship in a fleet of naval or commercial
vessels, typically the first, largest, fastest, most heavily armed, or, in
terms of media coverage, best-known.
The maximum speed of a ship. Faster than "full speed", wide-open.
1. A curvature of the topsides outward towards the gunwale.
2. A pyrotechnic signaling device, usually used to indicate distress.
A Great Lakes slang term for a vessel without any self-unloading equipment.
Slang term for anaircraft
To coil a line that is not in use so that it lies flat on the deck.
A warship suitable for commanding a flotilla of destroyers or other small
warships, typically a small cruiser or a large destroyer, in the latter case
known as adestroyer leader.
Debris or cargo that remains afloat after a shipwreck.
The wedge-shaped part of an anchor's arms that digs into the bottom.
An upper deck of a vessel that extends unbroken from stem to stern.
1. A United States Navy destroyer of theWorld
produced in very large numbers.
2. Any ship with aflush
Fly by night
A large sail used only for sailing downwind, requiring little attention.
A propeller with folding blades, furling to reduce drag on a sailing vessel
when not in use.
Wave or tidal movement going in the same direction as a ship
An impromptu musical band on late 19th-century sailing vessels, made up from
members of the ship's crew
1. The lower edge of any sail.
2. The bottom of a mast.
3. A measurement of 12 inches.
If the foot of a sail is not secured properly, it is footloose, blowing
around in the wind.
Each yard on a square rigged sailing ship is equipped with a footrope for
sailors to stand on while setting or stowing the sails
Fore, forward (often written "for'ard")
Towards the bow (of the vessel).
A sailing rig consisting mainly of sails that are set along the line of the
keel rather than perpendicular to it. Such sails are referred to as
A partial deck, above the upper deck and at the head of the vessel;
traditionally the sailors' living quarters. Pronounced/ˈfock-sul.
The name is derived from the castle fitted to bear archers in time of war.
The lower part of the stem of a ship.
An enlisted sailor, one who is housed before the foremast.
The part of the hold of a ship within the angle of the bow.
Long lines or cables, reaching from the bow of the vessel to the mast heads,
used to support the mast.
1. Having freedom of motion interfered with by collision or entanglement;
entangled; the opposite of clear. For instance, a rope is foul when it does
not run straight or smoothly, and an anchor is foul when it is caught on an
2. A breach of racing rules.
3. An area of water treacherous to navigation due to many shallow
obstructions such as reefs, sandbars, or many rocks, etc.
4. Foul the range: To block another vessel from firing her guns at a
the foul-weather clothing worn by sailors. See alsooilskins.
To fill with water and sink
In the BritishRoyal
Navy, a fourth rate was, during the first half of the 18th century, aship
of the linemounting from 46
up to 60 guns.
A transverse structural member which gives the hull strength and shape.
Wooden frames may be sawn, bent or laminated into shape. Planking is then
fastened to the frames. A bent frame is called a timber.
The height of a ship's hull (excluding superstructure) above the waterline.
The vertical distance from the current waterline to the lowest point on the
highest continuous watertight deck. This usually varies from one part to
1. In the 17th century, any warship built for speed and maneuverability.
2. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, a sailing warship with a single
continuous gun deck, typically used for patrolling, blockading, etc., but
not in line of battle.
3. In the second half of the 19th century, a type of warship combining sail
and steam propulsion, typically of ironclad timber construction, with all
guns on one deck.
4. In the 20th and 21st centuries, a warship, smaller than a destroyer,
originally introduced duringWorld
War IIas an anti-submarine
vessel but now general-purpose.
5. In the United States Navy from the 1950s until the 1970s, a type ofguided-missileantiaircraftship
built on a destroyer-sized
hull, all reclassified as "guided-missile
cruisers" in 1975.
Full and by
Sailing into the wind (by), but not as close-hauled as might be
possible, so as to make sure the sails are keptfull.
This provides a margin for error to avoid being taken aback (a serious risk
for square-rigged vessels) in a tricky sea. Figuratively it implies getting
on with the job but in a steady, relaxed way, without undue urgency or
A sailing vessel with three or more masts, all of them square-rigged. A
full-rigged ship is said to have a "ship rig".
The smokestack of a ship, used to expel boiler steam and smoke or engine
To roll or gather a sail against its mast or spar.
A narrow, light, and fast ship with shallow draft, powered by both oars and
sail, with a single mast carrying a lateen sail; a favorite of North African
corsairs during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Pieces of timber that make up a large transverse frame.
rig: The spar that holds the upper edge of a four-sided fore-and-aft
gaff: A hook on a long pole to haul fish in.
A boat rigged with a four-sided fore-and-aft sail with its upper edge
supported by a spar orgaffwhich
extends aft from the mast.
A line rigged to the end of a gaff and used to adjust a gaff sail's trim.
the kitchen of a ship.
a type of ship propelled byoarsused
especially in theMediterraneanfor
warfare, piracy, and trade from the 700s BC to the 1500s AD, with some in
use until the early 1800s.
3. A type of oaredgunboatbuilt
by the United States in the late 18th century, akin to abrigantinebut
termed "galley" for administrative and funding purposes.
A meeting of two (or more) whaling ships at sea. The ships each send out a
boat to the other, and the two captains meet on one ship, while the two
chief mates meet on the other.
The bow fitting which clamps the bowsprit to the stem.
A movable bridge used in boarding or leaving a ship at a pier; also known as
An opening in the bulwark of the ship to allow passengers to board or leave
The (illegal) practice of mixing cargo with garbage.
The strake closest to the keel (from Dutchgaarboard).
The planks immediately either side of the keel.
Any refuse or rubbish which is discarded into a refuse container or dustbin
which is known as "gash fanny" (South African Navy).
Refuse container or dustbin.
A large, lightweight sail used for sailing a fore-and-aft rig down or across
the wind, intermediate between a genoa and a spinnaker.
A largejib, strongly
overlapping the mainmast.
To sail slowly when there is apparently no wind.
A boat on naval ships at the disposal of the ship's
captain for his or her use in transportation to other ships or to the shore.
A pole that is attached perpendicular to the mast, to be used as a lever for
raising the mast. Also jin-pole.
Where two vessels are approaching one another so as to involve a risk of
collision, this is the vessel which is directed to keep out of the way of
A marine barometer. (Older barometers used mercury-filled glass tubes to
measure and indicate barometric pressure.)
A mess hall (dining area) reserved forChief
Petty officersin the US
Going about or tacking
Changing from one tack to another by going through the wind (changing
direction on a sailing vessel)
A traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat.
Fitting that attaches the boom to the mast, allowing it to move freely.
Of a fore-and-aft rigged vessel sailing directly away from the wind, with
the sails set on opposite sides of the vessel—for example with the mainsail
to port and the jib to starboard, to maximize the amount of canvas exposed
to the wind. See alsorunning.
Small balls of lead fired from acannon,
but on a larger scale. Similar tocanister
shotbut with larger
individual shot. Used to injure personnel and damage sails and rigging more than to
cause structural damage.
To clean a ship's bottom.
A narrow basin, usually made of earthen berms and concrete, closed by gates
or by acaisson,
into which a vessel may be floated and the water pumped out, leaving the
vessel supported on blocks; the classic form ofdrydock.
A passage of two vessels moving in the opposite direction on their starboard
sides, so called because the green navigation light on one of the vessels
faces the green light on the other vessel.
Temporary eye in a line (rope).
Watered-down pusser's rum consisting of a mug with an equal part of
water, issued to all seamen over twenty. (Chief Petty Officers and Petty Officers were issued with neat
rum) From the BritishAdmiral
Vernonwho, in 1740, ordered
of rumto be watered down. He
was called "Old Grogram" because he often wore agrogramcoat,
and the watered rum came to be called 'grog'. Often used (illegally) as
currency in exchange for favors in quantities prescribed as 'sippers' and
'gulpers'. Additional issues of grog were made on the command 'splice
the mainbrace' for celebrations or as a reward for performing especially
onerous duties. The British Royal Navy discontinued the practice of issuing rum in 1970. A
sailor might repay a colleague for a favor by giving him part or all of his
grog ration, ranging from "sippers" (a small amount) via "gulpers" (a larger
quantity) to "grounders" (the entire tot).
Drunk from having consumed a lot of grog.
The bed of the sea.
When a ship (while afloat) touches the bed of the sea, or goes "aground".
A small iceberg or ice floe which is barely visible above the surface of the
1. Up through the 19th century, a deck aboard a ship that was primarily
used for the mounting of cannon to be fired in broadsides.
2. On smaller vessels (of frigate size or smaller) up through the 19th
century, the completely covered level under the upper deck, even though in
such smaller ships it carried none of the ship's
3. On marine seismic survey vessels, the lowest deck on the ship, which
carries the seismic source arrays, consisting of air guns arranged in
4. In naval slang, to fabricate or falsify something; in modern usage,
meaning especially to falsify documentation in order to avoid doing work or
make present conditions seem acceptable without having made a real effort to
seeKissing the gunner's
The opening in the side of the ship or in a turret through which the gun
fires or protrudes.
Upper edge of the hull.
To change from one tack to the other away from the wind, with the stern of
the vessel turning through the wind. (See alsogoing
the lines of a ship, viewed from above and divided lengthwise.
Originally, ropes used for hoisting a spar with a sail attached; today, a
line used to raise the head of any sail.
Canvas sheets, slung from thedeckhead usually
in the mess area, or the holds
in which seamen slept. "Lash up and stow" a piped command to tie up hammocks
and stow them (typically) in racks inboard of the ship's side to protect
crew from splinters from shot (on warships) and provide a ready means of preventing
flooding caused by damage.
To furl a sail.
A ship using coal-fired boilers shoveled in by hand.
Hand over fist
To climb steadily upwards, from the motion of a sailor climbing shrouds on a
sailing ship (originally "hand over hand").
With a slow even motion, as when hauling on a line "handsomely".
A loose block and tackle with a hook or tail on each end, which can be used
wherever it is needed. Usually made up of one single and one double block.
A fastener attached to theluffof
Typical designs include a bronze or plastic hook with a spring-operated
gate, or a strip of cloth webbing with a snap fastener.
A harbor or haven, is a place where ships may shelter from the
weather or are stored. Harbors can be man-made or natural.
Harbor of refuge
A place where ships in transit can find shelter from a storm. These are
often man-made jetty enclosed areas along a featureless coastline where no
nearby natural deep water harbors exist.
A section of otherwise muddy shoreline suitable for mooring or hauling out.
Turn towards the wind; sail closer to the wind.
A large usually round tub lashed to a vessel's deck and containing dried and
salted provisions for daily use.
See "harness cask".
A hard and long-lasting dry biscuit, (A cracker) used as food on long journeys. Also
A covered opening in a ship's deck through which cargo can be loaded or
access made to a lower deck; the cover to the opening is called a hatch.
1. To steer (a vessel) closer to the direction of the wind.
2. To shift forward, i.e., more toward the bow of the vessel.
Pointing the ship towards the direction of the wind; generally not the
fastest point of travel on a sailing vessel.
Hawsepipe, hawsehole or
The shaft or hole in the side of a vessel's bow through which the anchor
An informal term for a merchant ship's officer who began their career as an
unlicensed merchant seaman, and so did not attend a traditional maritime
academy to earn their officer's license (see alsobefore
Large rope used for mooring or towing a vessel.
1. The forwardmost or uppermost portion of the ship.
2. The forwardmost or uppermost portion of any individual part of the ship,
e.g., themasthead, thebeakhead,
the stemhead, etc.
3. The top edge of a sail.
a vessel, which in sailing ships projected from the bows and therefore was
located in the "head" of the vessel.
A fishing boat that takes recreational fishermen out for a fee paid
individually by each person (i.e., per head). Ahead
boatdiffers from acharter
boat, which is a fishing boat that a party of fishermen hires for an
Head of navigation
The farthest point above the mouth of a river that can be navigated by
A curved rail that extends from thefigureheadto
the bow of a ship.
A sea where waves are directly opposing the motion of the ship.
A change in the wind direction which forces the helmsman of a close hauled
sailboat to steer away from its current course to a less favorable one. This
is the opposite of a lift.
The direction a thing's nose is pointing.
Any sail flown in front of the most forwardmast.
A vessel's transient, vertical, up-and-down motion.
Turn a ship on its side (for cleaning). Also known asCareening
To "Heave to", is to bring a vessel to a stop. On a
sailing vessel this is done by lashing the helm in opposition to the sails. The vessel
will gradually drift to leeward, the speed of the drift depending on the
1. The lean caused by the wind's force on the sails of a sailing vessel.
2. The inclination or canting of a vessel to one side or the other from the
vertical as she maneuvers, asThe
ship heeled to port as she turned to starboard.
3. The lowest or last part of something, such asthe
heel of the mastorthe
heel of the vessel.
A ship's steering mechanism (tiller or ship's
wheel) The wheel and/or wheelhouse area.
A person who steers a ship. Often a position assigned to a quartermaster.
A particular type of tensioning lever, usually for running backstays. Their
use allows the leeward backstay to be completely slackened so that the boom
can be let fully out.
A knot used to tie a rope or line to a fixed object. See alsobend.
1. A fore-and-aft structural member of the hull fitted over the keel to
provide a fixing for the garboard planks.
2. A rough flat scrubbing brush for cleaning a ship's bottom under water.
When the peak of a wave is amidships, causing the hull to bend so the ends
lower than the middle. The opposite ofsagging.
Also refers to a permanent distortion of the hull in the same manner caused,
over time, by the bow and stern of a ship being less buoyant than the
midships section. During the Age of Sail, shipwrights employed a number of
different designs of braces to stiffen ships' hulls against this warping.
The height of a fore-and-aft sail as measured next to the mast or stay.
In earlier use, below the orlop deck, the lower part of the interior of a
ship's hull, especially when considered as storage space, as for cargo. In
later merchant vessels it extended up through the decks to the underside of
the weather deck.
A gap in the coverage of newly applied paint, slush, tar or other
A chunk ofsandstoneused
to scrub the decks. The name comes from both the kneeling position sailors
adopt to scrub the deck (reminiscent of genuflection for prayer), and the
stone itself (which resembled a Bible in shape and size).
The port at which a vessel is based. Often confused with the ship'sport
of registry, which is the port listed in the vessel's
registration documents and lettered on her stern and which may differ from
her home port. In thecruiseship industry, the term "home port" often is mistakenly used to refer to
port of departure.
A sound signal which uses electricity or compressed air to vibrate a disc
A fore-and-aft structural member of the hull sloping up and backwards from
the keel to support the counter.
1. Attachment of sheets to deck of vessel (main-sheet horse).
2. (v.) To move or adjust sail by brute hand force rather than using
loadfor all non-propulsion
systems on a ship.
Attachments of stays to masts.
1. A ship, often an old ship or one that has become obsolete or
uneconomical to operate, that has had its rigging or internal equipment
removed and is incapable of going to sea, but that is afloat and continues
to serve a useful function, such as providing living, office, training,
storage, or prison space.
2. To convert a ship into such a hulk.
3. Less commonly, a ship that has beenlaunchedbut
4. Also less commonly, an abandoned wreck or shell of a ship.
The shell and framework of the basic flotation-oriented part of a ship.
Of a vessel when only its upper parts are visible over the horizon.
The maximum efficient speed of a displacement-hulled vessel.
Hung from a Yardarm
A form of punishment at sea (execution) for crewmembers planning or
participating in a mutiny or convicted by the captain and officers of
murder, treason, or other capital offense. Common practice in the British Royal
Navy, (pre-WWI) used rarely by the US Navy. A yardarm is part of the spar, the horizontal
support connected to a mast that supports a sail. The offender would be hung
by a rope attached to the outer portion of a yardarm.
A boat with wing-like foils mounted on struts below the hull, lifting the
hull entirely out of the water at speed and allowing water resistance to be
A special-purpose ship or boat designed to move and navigate through
A serious hazard where cold temperatures (below about −10°C) combined with
high wind speed (typically force 8 or above on theBeaufort
scale) result in spray blown off the sea freezing immediately on contact
with the ship
Members of a ship's company not required to serve watches. These were in
general specialist tradesmen such as the carpenter and the sail maker.
In ballast (or "in ballast
Of a vessel: Having only ballast – and no cargo – as a
When a sailing vessel has lost its forward momentum while heading into the
wind, rendering it unable to steer.
An 18th- and 19th-century term originally used to refer to a naval vessel
out of service for repair or maintenance, later coming to mean naval ships
in reserve with no more than a caretaker crew.
A method of surveying the underwater parts of ashipwhile
it is still afloat instead of having todry
for examination of these areas as was conventionally done.
In way of
In the vicinity of; in the area of.
1. Situated within a vessel.
2. Situated within a vessel and positioned close (or closer than another
item, when contrasted with that item) to her centerline
3. Situated outside a vessel but nearer to her hull, e.g.,The
larger boat was tied up alongside the ship inboard of the smaller boat.
4. Nearer the pier or shore, e.g.,The
tanker and cargo ship were tied up at the pier alongside one another with
the tanker inboard of the cargo ship.
An engine mounted within the hull of a vessel, usually driving a fixed
propeller by a shaft protruding through the stern. Generally used on larger
vessels. See alsostern
A type of clip for attaching a flag to a flag halyard.
1. Near (especially in sight of) or toward the shore.
2. Of a wind, blowing from the sea to the land.
A slang term for autopilot.
An auxiliary motor on a schooner.
What sailors call inboard engines.
A steam-propelled warship protected by iron or steel armor plates of the
period from 1859 until the 1890s (when the term "ironclad" fell out of use).
carrierthat extends above
the flight deck. A carrier that lacks one is said to beflush-decked.
1. A sailor. Alsojack taror
2. A flag. Typically the flag was talked about as if it were a member of
the crew. Strictly speaking, a flag is only a "jack" if it is worn at the
jack staff at the bow of a ship.
Sometimes spelled jackass bark, is asailing
shipwith three (or more)
masts, of which theforemastissquare-riggedand
the main is partially square-rigged (topsail,topgallant,
etc.) and partiallyfore-and-aft
masts fore-and-aft rigged.
A naval stores clerk.
A sailor dressed in 'square rig' with square collar. Formerly with a tarred
Jacklinesor jack stays
Lines, often steel wire with a plastic jacket, from the bow to the stern on
both port and starboard. A crewmember clips his safety harness to a
jackline, allowing him to walk along the deck while still being safely
attached to the vessel.
A man-made wall in open water rising several feet above high tide made of
rubble and rocks used to create a breakwater, shelter, erosion control, a
channel, or other such purpose.
Debris ejected from a ship that sinks or washes ashore. See alsoFlotsam.
the front of a ship.
A spar used to extend the bowsprit.
The fourth mast, although ships with four or more masts were uncommon, or
the aft most mast where it is smallest on vessels of less than four masts.
Traditional Royal Navy nickname for the Royal Marines.
a slender triangular recess cut into the faying surface of a frame or
steamed timber to fit over the land ofclinker
or cut into the faying edge of a plank or rebate to avoid feather ends on astrakeof
planking. The feather end is cut off to produce a nib. The joggle and nib in
this case is made wide enough to allow acaulkingiron
to enter the seam.
A person (either a sailor or a passenger) who carries a jinx, one whose
presence on board brings bad luck and endangers the ship.
1. Old cordage past its useful service life as lines aboard ship. The
strands of old junk were teased apart in the process called pickingoakum.
2. A sailing ship of classic Chinese design with characteristic full batten
sails that span the masts usually on unstayed rigs.
Both the act of rigging a temporary mast and sails and the name of the
resulting rig. A jury rig would be built at sea when the original rig was
damaged, then it would be used to sail to a harbor or other safe place for
A technique for moving or turning a ship by using a relatively light anchor
known as a kedge. The kedge anchor may be dropped while in motion to create
a pivot and thus perform a sharp turn. The kedge anchor may also be carried
away from the ship in a smaller boat, dropped, and then weighed, pulling the
The central structural basis of the hull.
Maritime punishment originating with the British Royal Navy in the 11th century and
abolished in 1893. The crewmember being punished was dragged under the keel of a ship
(usually from bow to stern) almost always resulting in drowning or bleeding
to death from scraping along the barnacles on the keel. This form or
punishment (or execution) was used by the British, German, Swedish, and
Norwegian Navies and coastal pirates in the 1700's and 1800's. (Not
practiced by the US Navy)
The timber immediately above the keel of a wooden ship.
Weights (often scrap orpig
iron) used as permanent high-densityballast.
A two-masted fore-and-aft rigged sailboat with the aft mast (themizzen)
afore (in front of) the rudder.
A fouled killick is the substantive badge of non-commissioned officers in
the RN. Seamen promoted to the first step in the promotion ladder are called
'Killick'. The badge signifies that here is an able seaman skilled to cope
with the awkward job of dealing with a fouled anchor.
A rope, tackle or hydraulic ram running from the mast at or just above deck
level to a point part-way along the boom of a yacht's mainsail or mizzen.
Its function is to pull the boom down, flattening the sail in strong winds,
reducing twist and preventing the boom from kicking up when running.
The centerline plank of a laid deck. Its sides are often recessed, or
nibbed, to take the ends of their parallel curved deck planks.
A valve, which can be opened from the inside of the ship, that connects the
sea to internal fuel, water, or ballast tanks (see alsoseacock).
Kissing the gunner's daughter
Bending over the barrel of a gun for punitive beating with a cane or cat.
Hinged cowling around a fixed propeller, allowing the drive to be directed
to the side or forwards to maneuver the vessel.
1. Connects two parts roughly at right angles, e.g. deck beams to frames.
2. A vertical rubber fender used on tug boats or piers, sometimes shaped
like a human leg bent slightly at the knee
1. A mitered backing timber which extends the after line of the rabbet in
the stem to give extra support to the ends of the planks and the bowsprit.
2. A bollard or bitt.
3. Either of two timbers rising from the keel of a sailing ship and
supporting the inner end of the bowsprit.
The condition of a sailboat being pushed abruptly to horizontal, with the
mast parallel to the water surface.
A unit of speed: 1 nautical mile (1.8520 km; 1.1508 mi) per hour. Originally
speed was measured by paying out a line from the stern of a moving boat; the
line had a knot every 47 feet 3 inches (14.40 m), and the number of knots
passed out in 30 seconds gave the speed through the water in nautical miles
per hour. Sometimes "knots" is mistakenly stated as "knots per hour," but
the latter is a measure of acceleration (i.e., "nautical miles per hour per
hour") rather than of speed.
Know the ropes
A sailor who 'knows the ropes' is familiar with the miles of cordage and
ropes involved in running a ship.
On board a ship, all "stairs" are called ladders, except for literal
staircases aboard passenger ships. Most "stairs" on a ship are narrow and
nearly vertical, hence the name. Believed to be from the Anglo-Saxon word
hiaeder, meaning ladder.
Debris that has sunk to the seabed.
To be placed inreserveormothballed.
The latter usage is used in modern times and can refer to a specific set of
procedures used by the US Navy to preserve ships in good condition.
Great Lakesslang for a
vessel which spends all her time on the five Great Lakes.
A person unfamiliar with being on the sea.
A rope that ties something off.
Obsolete term for the left side of a ship. Derived from "lay-board"
providing access between a ship and a quay, when ships normally docked with
the left side to the wharf. Replaced byport
to avoid confusion withstarboard.
Lateen sailor Latin-rig
A fore-and-aft triangular sail set on a long yard mounted at an angle to the
A system of aids to navigation in which characteristics of buoys and beacons
indicate the sides of the channel or route relative to a conventional
direction of buoyage (usually upstream).
1. Traditionally, alaunchwas
the largest ship's
boat carried by a warship.
2. In modern usage, a largemotorboat.
dispatch a shipdown aslipway,
To come and go, used in giving orders to the crew, such as "lay forward" or
"lay aloft". To direct the course of vessel. Also, to twist the strands of a
rope together. To make it to a mark, buoy, or harbor, such as "We will lay
An unexpected delay time during a voyage often spent at anchor or in a
harbor. It is usually caused by bad weather, equipment failure or needed
Laying the keelof a ship in
begin her construction.
1. A small stowage locker at the aft end of a boat.
2. A ship or building used for quarantine of sick patients.
3. An area on some merchant ships where provisions are stored.
4. In modern shipbuilding and on powerboats of all sizes, the location of
the steering gear equipment for the vessel.
Lazy jacks, lazyjacks
A network of cordage rigged to a point on the mast and to a series of points
on either side of the boom that cradles and guides the sail onto the boom
when the sail is lowered.
1. A plummet or mass of lead attached to a line, used in sounding depth at
2. In former usage, to estimate velocity in knots.
An instrument used in navigation to measure water depth; the line attached
to a lead.
A sailor who takes soundings with a lead, measuring the depth of water.
A unit of length, normally equal to threenautical
The tendency of a sailboat to turn to leeward in a strong wind when there is
no change in the rudder's position. This is the opposite of weather helm and
is the result of a dynamically unbalanced condition. See alsoCenter
of lateral resistance.
The side of a ship sheltered from the wind (weather side).
A shore downwind of a ship. A ship which cannot sail well to windward risks
being blown onto a lee shore and grounded.
A fin mounted on the side of a boat (usually in pairs) that can be lowered
on the lee side of the ship to reduce leeway (similarly to acenterboard,
The aft or trailing edge of a fore-and-aft sail; the leeward edge of a
spinnaker; a vertical edge of a square sail. The leech is susceptible to
twist, which is controlled by the boom vang, mainsheet and, if rigged with
one, the gaff vang.
Lee-oh or hard-a-lee
The command given to come about (tack through the wind) on a sailing boat.
In the direction that the wind is blowing towards.
The amount that a ship is blown leeward by the wind. Also the amount of open
free sailing space available to leeward before encountering hazards. See
In navigation, a segment of a voyage between two waypoints.
Length between perpendiculars
The length of a vessel along thewaterlinefrom
the forward surface of the stem, or main bow perpendicular member, to the
after surface of the sternpost, or main stern perpendicular member. Believed
to give a reasonable idea of the vessel's
carrying capacity, as it excludes the small, often unusable volume contained
in her overhanging ends.
Length overall, or LOA
The maximum length of a vessel's
hull measured parallel to the waterline, usually measured on the hull alone,
and including overhanging ends that extend beyond the main bow and main
stern perpendicular members. For sailing vessels, this may exclude the
bowsprit and other fittings added to the hull, but sometimes bowsprits are
Let go and haul
An order indicating that the ship is now on the desired course relative to
the wind and that the sails should be trimmed ('hauled') to suit.
Letter of marque and reprisalor
just Letter of marque
A warrant granted to aprivateercondoning
specific acts of piracy against a target as a redress for grievances.
A relatively short period when a sailor is allowed ashore for recreation.
See alsoshore leave.
To have the ship's
sails arranged so as to counteract each other. A ship in this condition or
in the process of achieving this condition islying
Lifebelt, lifebuoy, lifejacket, life preserver, personal flotation
A device such as a buoyant ring or inflatable jacket which keeps a person
afloat in the water.
lifeboat, kept on board a vessel and used to take crew and passengers to
safety in the event of the ship being abandoned.
lifeboat, usually launched from shore, used to rescue people from the
water or from vessels in difficulty.
An inflatable, covered raft, used in the event of a vessel being abandoned.
An enabling wind shift that allows a close hauled sailboat to point up from
its current course to a more favorable one. This is the opposite of a
A flat-bottomed barge used to transfer goods and passengers to and from
moored ships, traditionally unpowered and moved and steered using "sweeps"
with their motive power provided by water currents.
The process of transferring cargo from one vessel to another to reduce the
draft of the first vessel. Done to allow a vessel to enter a port with
limited depth or to help free a grounded vessel.
A permanently anchored vessel performing the functions of a lighthouse,
typically in a location where construction of the latter is impractical.
These have largely been replaced by buoys or, as construction techniques
have improved, actual lighthouses.
The correct nautical term for the majority of the cordage or "ropes" used on
a vessel. A line will always have a more specific name, such asmizzentopsailhalyard,
that specifies its use.
In naval warfare, aline
of battleformed behind a
1. During theAge
of Sail, aship-of-the-line,
a major warship capable of taking its place in the main battle line of
2. Any cargo or passenger ship running scheduled service along a specific
route with published ports of call, excluding ferriesand
other vessels engaged in short-sea trading. When referring to cargo ships,linerin
this sense contrasts with tramp, which refers to a ship engaged in
spot-market trade that does not follow a regular schedule or make regular
calls at specific ports. When referring to passenger ships,linerin
this sense refers to ships providing scheduled transportation between
regular ports of call and excludescruise
ships, which voyage merely for recreational purposes and not primarily
as a form of transportation between ports.
liner: Any large and prestigious passenger ship, including cruise
A vessel's angle of lean or tilt to one side, in the direction called roll.
Typically refers to a lean caused by flooding or improperly loaded or
shifted cargo (as opposed to 'heeling', which see).
Loaded to the gunwales
Literally, having cargo loaded as high as the ship's rail; also means
The technique used to convert a scaled drawing to full size used in boat
An iron ball attached to a long handle, used for driving caulking into seams
and (occasionally) in a fight. Hence: 'at loggerheads'.
The relative slackness of an anchor chain; this term means taut and
1. In the Age of Sail, a double-banked open boat carried by a sailing ship,
rowed by eight or ten oarsmen, two per thwart, although designed also to be
rigged for sailing; more seaworthy than a cutter or dinghy and with a beam
greater than that of a gig. Eventually supplanted by thewhaleboat.
2. The largest, and thus the most capable, of boats carried on a ship.
A type of ship invented and used by the Vikings for trade, commerce,
exploration, and warfare, evolving over several centuries and appearing in
its complete form between the 9th and 13th centuries.
A member of the crew specifically assigned to watch surrounding waters for
other vessels, land, objects in the water, hazards, threats, etc. Lookouts
usually have duty stations high on a vessel's superstructure or in her
rigging in order to enhance their field of view.
An irresponsible and reckless individual whose behavior (either intended or
unintended) endangers the group he or she belongs to. A loose cannon,
weighing thousands of pounds, would crush anything and anyone in its path,
and possibly even break a hole in the hull, thus endangering the
seaworthiness of the whole ship.
A mainsail that is not connected to a boom along its foot.
1. The deck of a ship immediately above the hold.
2. In British usage, those members of a ship's company who are not
officers, often used in the plural (the lower decks)
A port cut into the bottom of the mizzen top (crow's-nest) allowing easy
entry and exit. It was considered "un-seamanlike" to use this easier method
rather than going over the side from the shrouds, and few sailors would risk
the scorn of their shipmates by doing so (at least if there were witnesses).
A vertical line inside a compass case indicating the direction of the ship's
The forward edge of a sail.
Luff and touch her
To bring the vessel so close to wind that the sails shake.
To steer a sailing vessel more towards the direction of the wind until the
pressure is eased on the [sheet].
1. When a sailing vessel is steered far enough towindwardthat
the sail is no longer completely filled with wind (theluffof
a fore-and-aft sail begins to flap first).
2. Loosening asheetso
far past optimal trim that the sail is no longer completely filled with
3. The flapping of the sail's) which results from having no wind in the
sail at all.
Waiting out a storm by dousing all sails and simply letting the boat drift.
Lakesship designed to carry
her own deck load of lumber and to tow one or two barges. The barges were
big old schooners stripped of theirmastsand
running gear to carry large cargoes of lumber.
A small sailing vessel withlug
sailsset on two or more
masts and perhaps lug topsails, widely used as traditional fishing boats,
particularly off the coasts of France, England and Scotland.
supported by a spar along the top that is fixed to the mast at a point some
distance from the center of the spar.
1. A World War II personal
flotation deviceused to keep
people afloat in the water; named after the 1930s actress Mae
2. A term for a person in the water awaiting
An absolute bearing using magnetic north.
The direction towards theNorth
Magnetic Pole. Varies slowly over time.
The uppermost continuousdeckextending
One of thebracesattached
The tallest mast on a ship.
Sail control line that allows the most obvious effect onmainsailtrim.
Primarily used to control the angle of the boom, and thereby the mainsail,
this control can also increase or decrease downward tension on theboomwhile
sailing upwind, significantly affecting sail shape. For more control over
downward tension on the boom, use aboom
from the top of the mainmast to the bottom of the foremast, or from the top
of the foremast to the ship's stem.
When a vessel is moving under its own power.
Man-of-waror man o' war
An emergency call that alerts the crew that someone aboard has
gone overboard and must be rescued.
Man the rails
To station the crew of a naval vessel along the rails and superstructure of
the vessel as a method of saluting or rendering honors.
Man the yards
To have all of the crew of a sailing vessel not required on deck to handle
the ship go aloft and spread out along the yards.
Originally used in harbors to display the whole crew to the harbor
authorities and the other ships present to show that the vessel's
guns were not manned and hence her intentions were peaceful,manning
the yardshas since became a
display used in harbor during celebrations and other special events.
A document listing the cargo, passengers, and crew of a ship for the use of
customs and other officials.
Another term for Bermudan rig. The mainsail is triangular, rigged
fore-and-aft with the lead edge fixed to the mast. Refers to the similarity
of the tall mast to a radio aerial.
a docking facility for small ships and yachts.
1. A soldier trained for service afloat in a (primarily) infantry force
that specializes in naval campaigns and subordinated to a navy or a separate
naval branch of service rather than to an army. Often capitalized (e.g., "aMarine,"
or "the Marines").
States Marine Corps, formed in 1775 as a separate naval service
alongside the United States Navy. It is incorrect, and often viewed by
marines as offensive, to refer to a marine as a "soldier" or "infantryman,"
as these terms refer to personnel of an army rather than those of a marine
force. It also is incorrect, and sometimes considered offensive by both
merchant mariners and marines, to refer tomerchant
marines," because merchant mariners are civilian sailors responsible for
operating merchant ships and are not marines. Marines sometimes are thought
by seamen to be rather gullible, hence the phrase "tell it to the marines,"
meaning that one does not believe what is being said.
2. An alternative term for anavy,
uncommon in English, but common in other languages.
3. Of, or pertaining to, the sea (e.g, marinebiology,
4. A painting representing a subject related to the sea.
1. Of or related to the sea (e.g., maritimeactivities,
2. Bordering on the sea (e.g., maritimeprovinces,
3. Living in or near the sea (e.g., maritimeanimals).
4. Of or relating to a mariner or sailor.
A tool used inrope workfor
tasks such as unlaying rope for splicing, untying knots, or forming a
A vertical pole on a ship which supports sails or rigging. If a wooden,
multi-part mast, this term applies specifically to the lowest portion.
The process of raising the mast.
A small platform partway up the mast, just above the height of the mast's
main yard. A lookout is stationed here, and men who are working on the main
yard will embark from here. See alsocrow's
a commercial vessel.
2. A senior officer of a naval sailing ship in charge of routine seamanship
and navigation but not in command during combat.
a former naval rank.
officer (noncom) responsible for
discipline on a naval ship. Standing between the officers and the crew,
commonly known in the Royal Navy as 'the Buffer'.
A traditional Royal Navy term for an ordinary sailor.
Military equipages of all descriptions for the naval services. The bombs,
blankets, beans and bulletins of the Navy and Marine Corps. Taken from
Nelson's British navy as the U.S. services became professional. Related:Materiel–
the military equipages of the Army and Air Force, taken from Napoleon's
French army as the U.S. services became professional.
A collective term for all merchant ships registered in a given country and
the civilians (especially those of that nationality) who man them; the ships
and personnel in combination are said to constitute that country'smerchant
A civilian officer or sailor who serves in themerchant
Sometimes such personnel are incorrectly called "merchant marines,"
but both merchant mariners and marines frown on this term; although merchant
mariners are part of themerchant
marine, they are civilians and are not in any waymarines,
which are a specialized type of military personnel .
Any non-naval passenger- or cargo-carrying vessel, includingcargo
1. An eating place aboard ship.
2. A group of crew who live and eat together.
Mess deck catering
A system of catering in which a standard ration is issued to a mess
supplemented by a money allowance which may be used by the mess to buy
additional victuals from thepurser's
stores or elsewhere. Each mess was autonomous and self-regulating. Seaman
cooks, often members of the mess, prepared the meals and took them, in a tin
canteen, to the galleyto
be cooked by the ship's cooks. As distinct from "cafeteriamessing"
where food is issued to the individual hand, which now the general practice.
The midway point between a vessel'scenter
of buoyancywhen upright and
her center of buoyancy when tilted.
Metacentric height(also GM)
A measurement of the initial static stability of a vessel afloat, calculated
as the distance between hercenter
of gravity and hermetacenter.
A vessel with a large metacentric height rolls more quickly and therefore
more uncomfortably for people on board; a vessel with a small metacentric
height will roll sluggishly and may face a greater danger of capsizing.
The middle section of a vessel with reference to the longitudinal plane, as
distinguished from fore or aft. (Compare Amidships.)
1. During the 17th century, a naval rating for an experienced seaman.
2. From the 18th century, a naval commissioned officer candidate.
3. From the 1790s, an apprentice naval officer.
4. From the 19th century, an officer cadet at a naval academy.
5. In contemporary British usage, anon-commissioned
officerbelow the rank oflieutenant.
Usually regarded as being "in training" to some degree. Also known as
'Snotty'. 'The lowest form of rank in the Royal Navy' where he has authority
over and responsibility for more junior ranks, yet, at the same time,
relying on their experience and learning his trade from them.
6. In contemporary American usage, a cadet of either sex at the United
States Merchant Marine Academy or the United States Naval Academy. When
plural (Midshipmen), the term refers to the student body of either
academy, and more formally as "the Regiment ofMidshipmen"
for the United States Merchant Marine Academy and "the Brigade of
for the United States Naval Academy.Midshipmenalso
is the name of the United States Naval Academy's sports teams.
An alternative to theBlackwall
hitch, preferred if the rope is greasy. Made by first forming a
Blackwall hitch and then taking the underneath part and placing over the
bill of the hook.
Broken pieces of biscuit as dessert.
A slovenly method of rolling up a hammock transversely, and lashing it
endways by one clue.
Hollow tubular masts used in warships in the last third of the 19th century,
often equipped with afighting
toparmed with light-caliber
A self-contained explosive device intended to damage or sink surface ships
or submarines, designed to be placed in water and left to wait until they
are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, a surface ship or
A sail on aketchoryawl,
usually lightweight, set from, and forward of, the mizzen mast while
reaching in light to moderate air.
The third mast, or mast aft of the mainmast, on a ship.
A massive structure, usually of stone or concrete, used as a pier, a
breakwater, or a causeway between places separated by water. May have a
wooden structure built upon it and resemble a woodenpierorwharf,
but a mole differs from a pier, quay, orwharfin
that water cannot flow freely underneath it.
1. A turreted ironclad warship of the second half of the 19th century
characterized by low freeboard, shallow draft, poor seaworthiness, and heavy
guns, intended for riverine and coastal operations.
2. In occasional 19th-century usage, any turreted warship.
3. A shallow-draft armored shore bombardment vessel of the first half of
the 20th century, designed to provide fire support to ground troops, often
mounting heavy guns.
monitor: A 19th-century monitor designed with a breastwork to improve
monitor: A monitor specifically designed for riverine operations, used
during the 19th and 20th centuries and more recently than other types of
monitor. River monitors generally are smaller and lighter than other
A high platform above the wheelhouse offering better visibility to the
operator while maneuvering.
A ball woven out of line used to provide heft to heave the line to another
location. The monkey fist and other heaving-line knots were sometimes
weighted with lead (easily available in the form of foil used to seal e.g.
tea chests from dampness)
1. To attach a boat to a mooring buoy or post.
2. To dock a ship.
3. To secure a vessel with a cable or anchor.
A place to moor a vessel.
A vessel which leads, serves, or carries smaller vessels, in the latter case
either releasing them and then proceeding independently or also recovering
them after they have completed a mission or operation. Amother
shipsometimes contrasts with
which often (but not necessarily) is a vessel that supports or cares forlargervessels.
A template of the shape of the hull in transverse section. Several moulds
are used to form a temporary framework around which a hull is built.
A cargo ship that has fittings to carry standard shipping containers and
retractable tweendecks that can be moved out of the way so that the ship can
carry bulk cargo.
The location on a vessel a person goes either during an emergency or a drill
to prepare for one. i.e. AMuster
Drill.If a person is
believed missing, all hands would report to their muster station for a head
M.V. (or MV)
Prefix for "Motor
Vessel", used before a ship's
M.Y. (or MY)
Prefix for "Motor
yacht", used before a yacht's name.
A narrow part of a navigable waterway.
A unit of length corresponding approximately to oneminute
arc. By international agreement it's 6,076 feet. (A little longer than a
1. Sailors subordinated to a navy trained and equipped to operate ashore
temporarily as an organized infantry force, but at other times responsible
for the normal duties of sailors aboard ship.
2. A specialized, permanent force of troops subordinated to a navy and
responsible for infantry operations ashore. Although more specialized than
sailors trained to operate temporarily as naval infantry and bearing
similarities to a marine(q.n.)
force ormarine corps,
such permanent naval infantry forces often lack the full capabilities of a
marine force. Naval infantry forces also usually differ from marine forces
in being subordinated directly to a navy rather than to a separate branch of
naval service such as a marine corps.
Rules of the roadthat
provide guidance on how to avoid collision and also used to assign blame
when a collision does occur.
"no"; the opposite of "aye".
Short rope used to bind a cable to the "messenger" (a moving line propelled
by the capstan) so that the cable is dragged along too (used where the cable
is too large to be wrapped round the capstan itself). During the raising of
an anchor the nippers were attached and detached from the (endless)
messenger by the ship's boys. Hence the term for small boys: "nippers".
No room to swing a cat
The entire ship's company was expected to witness floggings, assembled on
deck. If it was very crowded, the bosun might not have room to swing the
"cat o' nine tails" (the whip).
A type of navigational buoy often cone shaped, but if not, always triangular
in silhouette, colored green In channel marking its use is opposite
that of a "can buoy".
Material used for caulking hulls. Often hemp picked from old untwisted
the more distant part of the sea as seen from the shore and generally beyond
1. Moving away from the shore.
2. Of a wind, blowing from the land to the sea.
3. At some distance from the shore; located in the sea away from the coast.
1. A naval auxiliary ship with fuel tanks and dry cargo holds designed to
replenish other ships with fuel and supplies while underway on the high
2. The job title of a seaman holding a junior position in a ship's
engineering crew, senior only to the engine roomwiper.SeeOiler
Foul-weather clothing worn by sailors.
Old man, (The)
slang for the captain (master or commanding officer) of a vessel.
Slang for an experienced mariner.
On board (sometimes
A ship's destination, typically an area to be patrolled or guarded.
On the hard
A boat that has been hauled and is now sitting on dry land.
An organization that will register merchant ships owned by foreign entities,
generally to provide aflag
Great Lakes term for a vessel primarily used in the transport of iron ore.
The lowest deck of a ship of the line. The deck covering in the hold.
1. Situated outside the hull of a vessel.
2. Situated within a vessel but positioned away (or farther away, when
contrasted with another item) from her centerline
3. Farther from the hull, e.g.,The
larger boat was tied up alongside the ship outboard of the smaller boat.
4. Farther from the pier or shore, e.g.,The
tanker and cargo ship were tied up at the pier alongside one another with
the tanker outboard of the cargo ship.
5. An outboard motor
6. A vessel fitted with an outboard motor.
A motor mounted externally on the transom of a small boat. The boat may be
steered by twisting the whole motor, instead of or in addition to using a
The lower part of a stern drive
A line used to control the shape of a sail.
To leave the safety of port, heading for the open ocean.
To have too great a sail area up to safely maneuver in the current wind
When tacking, holding a course too long.
Over the barrel
A form of discipline (on British Navel ships) where sailors were flogged on the back or shoulders while tied to a grating,
but boys were beaten instead on the posterior (often bared), with a cane or
cat, while bending, often tied down, over the barrel of a gun, known as
the gunner's daughter."
To sail downwind directly at another ship, stealing the wind from its sails.
Off or outside a vessel. If something or someone falls, jumps, or is thrown
off of a vessel into the water, the object or person is said to have gone
overboard. See "Man overboard!"
Dangerously steep and breaking seas due to opposing currents and wind in a
shallow area, or strong currents over a shallow rocky bottom.
The ceiling of any enclosed space below decks in a vessel, essentially the
bottom of the deck above you.
Hauling the buntline ropes over the sails to prevent them from chafing.
Capsized or foundered.
traditional Royal Navy term for the Captain, a survival from the days when
privately owned ships were often hired for naval service.
A cloud or other weather phenomenon that may be indicative of an upcoming
Packet, Packet boat, or
1. Originally, a vessel employed to carry post office mail packets to and
from British embassies, colonies and outposts.
2. Later, any regularly scheduled ship, carrying passengers, as inpacket
Any regularly scheduled cargo, passenger and mail trade conducted by ship.
A seaman aboard a ship engaged inpacket
A rope attached to the bow of a dinghy, usually used to tow dingy or handle
it at dockside, or in water.
The pulsation in and out of the bow and stern plating as the ship
alternately rises and plunges deep into the water
A method of lifting a roughly cylindrical object such as a spar. One end of
a rope is made fast above the object, a loop of rope is lowered and passed
around the object, which can be raised by hauling on the free end of rope.
a discussion or conference, especially between enemies, over terms of a
truce or other matters.
A movable loop or collar, used to fasten a yard or gaff to its respective
mast. Parrel still allows the spar to be raised or lowered and swivel around
the mast. Can be made of wire or rope and fitted with beads to reduce
Part brass rags
Fall out with a friend. From the days when cleaning materials were shared
Hallway of a ship.
A merchant ship configured primarily for the transportation of cargo but
also for the transportation of at least some passengers.
To let a vessel's head fall off from the wind (to leeward.)
Filling a seam (with caulking or pitch), lubricating the running rigging;
paying with slush, protecting from the weather by covering with
slush. See also:the devil to
pay. (French frompaix,
The officer responsible for all money matters in RN ships including the
paying and provisioning of the crew, all stores, tools and spare parts. See
1. The upper aftermost corner of a fore-and-aft sail; used in many
combinations, such aspeak-halyards,peak-brails,
2. The narrow part of a vessel's bow, or the hold within it.
3. The extremity of an anchor fluke; the bill.
1. Living in the open ocean rather than coastal or inland waters, (e.g., "
2. Taking place in the open ocean (e.g., "pelagicfishing,"
A length of wire or rope secured at one end to a mast or spar and having a
block or other fitting at the lower end. Often used incorrectly when
referring to a Pennant (flag).
A long, thin triangular flag flown from the masthead of a military ship (as
opposed to aburgee,
the flags thus flown on yachts).
A boat on sentry duty, or one placed on a line forward of a position to warn
against an enemy advance.
A raised structure, typically supported by widely spread piles or pillars,
used industrially for loading and unloading commercial ships, recreationally
for walking and housing attractions at a seaside resort, or as a structure
for use by boatless fishermen. The lighter structure of a pier contrasts
with the more solid foundations of aquayor
the closely spaced piles of awharf.
In North America, the term "pier" used alone connotes either a pier used (or
formerly used) by commercial shipping or one used for fishing, while in
Europe the term used alone connotes a recreational pier at a seaside resort.
When a sailor is drafted to a warship at the last minute, just before she
Navigator. A specially knowledgeable person qualified to navigate a vessel
through difficult waters, e.g. harbor pilot etc.
A type of boat used to transport maritime pilots between land and the
inbound or outbound ships that they are piloting.
Points (or plan) of intended movement. The charted course for a naval unit's
(ship's boat), a small, light boat propelled by oars or a sail, used as
a tender to larger vessels during the Age
pinnace, a small "race built" galleon, squared rigged with either two or
3. In modern usage, any small boat other than alaunchorlifeboatassociated
with a larger vessel.
The pin or bolt on which a ship's rudder pivots. The pintle rests in the
Pipe (Bos'n's), or a
A whistle used byBoatswains(bosuns
or bos'ns) to issue commands. Consisting of a metal tube which directs the
breath over an aperture on the top of a hollow ball to produce high pitched
notes. The pitch of the notes can be changed by partly covering the aperture
with the finger of the hand in which the pipe is held. The shape of the
instrument is similar to that of a smoking pipe.
A signal on the bosun's pipe to signal the end of the day, requiring lights
(and smoking pipes) to be extinguished and silence from the crew.
Piping the side
the bos'n's pipe performed in the company of the deck watch on thestarboardside
at the head of the gangway, to welcome or bid farewell to the ship'sCaptain,
senior officers and honored visitors.
An act of robbery or criminal violence at sea by the occupants of one vessel
against the occupants of another vessel (thus excluding such acts committed
by the crew or passengers of a vessel against others aboard the same
vessel). Piracy is distinguished fromprivateering,
which is authorized by national authorities and therefore a legitimate form
of war-like activity by non-state actors.
One who engages in an act ofpiracy.
A vessel's motion, rotating about the beam/transverse axis, causing the fore
and aft ends to rise and fall repetitively.
To capsize a boat stern over bow, rather than by rolling over.
To skim over the water at high speed rather than push through it.
Plimsoll line(also national
A special marking, positioned amidships, that indicates the draft of the
vessel and the legal limit to which the vessel may be loaded for specific
water types and temperatures.
A unit of bearing equal to one thirty-second of a circle, i.e., 11.25°. A
turn of 32 points is a complete turn through 360°.
To change the direction of a sailboat so that it is more up wind. To bring
the bow windward. Also called heading up. This is the opposite of falling
Points of sail
The course of a sailing vessel in relation to the direction of the wind,
divided into six points:in
irons(pointed directly into
the wind),close hauled(sailing
as close into the direction of the wind as possible),close
reach(between close hauled
and beam reach),beam reach(perpendicular
to the wind),broad reach(wind
behind the vessel at an angle), andrunning downwindorrunning
before the wind(the wind is
behind the vessel).
A flat-bottomed vessel used as aferry,barge,
float, or afloatmoored
A high deck on the aft superstructure of a ship.
1. Swamped by a high, following sea.
The left side of the boat. Towards the left-hand side of the ship facing
forward (formerly Larboard). Denoted with a red light at night.
Port of registry
The port listed in a vessel's
registration documents and lettered on her stern. Often used incorrectly as
a synonym for "home
port", meaning the port at which the vessel is based, but which may
differ from her port of registry.
When sailing with the wind coming from the port side of the vessel. Must
give way to boats onstarboard
Porthole or port
an opening in a ship's side, esp. a round one for admitting light and air,
fitted with thick glass and, often, a hinged metal cover, a window
an obsolete alternative form of the rank of captain in the Royal Navy; once
achieved promotion thereafter was entirely due to seniority.
A small room/closet area in the hull of the ship used for storinggunpowderin
barrels, or, "kegs", usually located centrally so as to have easy access to
the grated loading area. Sometimes may be an enclosed closet with a door, so
it can be locked and only the captain would have the key, similar to how rum
Term used retrospectively after 1906 for a wide variety of steam battleships
built between the 1880s and c. 1905 designed with only a few large guns for
long-range fire, relying on an intermediate secondary battery used at
shorter ranges for most of their offensive power, and havingtriple-expansion
steam engines. They were rendered obsolete by the revolutionarydreadnoughtbattleships
which began to appear in 1906 and which differed from predreadnoughts in
turbinepropulsion and an
"all-big-gun" armament layout in which the ship's
primary gun power resided in a primary battery of its largest guns intended
for use at long range, with other gun armament limited to small weapons
intended for defense againsttorpedo
boatsand other small
Formed body of personnel from a ship of theRoyal
Navy(either a ship seeking
personnel for its own crew or from a 'press tender' seeking men for a number
of ships) that would identify and force (press) men, usually merchant
sailors into service on naval ships usually against their will.
A sail control line originating at some point on the boom leading to a fixed
point on the boat's deck or rail (usually a cleat or pad eye) used to
prevent or moderate the effects of an accidentaljibe.
A privately owned
armed ship, officered by private individuals
holding a government commission and authorized for use in war, especially in
the capture of enemy merchant shipping or the ship itself, referred to as
"Taking a Prize." Also called aprivate
man of war. Many privateer's were nothing more than legal pirates.
Edward Teach, also know as Blackbeard, considered himself a privateer and
was pardoned by the governor of North Carolina twice. (Then a colony)
A property captured at sea in virtue of the rights of war, as a vessel.
Members of a warship's
crew assigned to man a vessel taken as a prize.
A propeller mounted on a rigid shaft protruding from the hull of a vessel,
usually driven by an inboard motor;
A propeller with folding blades, furling to reduce drag on a sailing vessel
when not in use.
Propeller walkor prop walk
tendency for a propeller to push the stern sideways. In theory a right hand
propeller in reverse will walk the stern to port.
a poetical alternative term for bows.
Fibres of old rope packed between spars, or used as a fender.
A mechanical method of increasing force, such as a tackle or lever.
The person who buys, stores and sells all stores on board ships, including
victuals, rum and tobacco. Originally a private merchant, latterly a warrant
The aftermost deck of a warship. In the age of sail, the quarterdeck was the
preserve of the ship's officers.
1. A stone or concrete structure on navigable water used for loading and
unloading vessels, generally synonymous with awharf,
although the solid foundations of a quay contrast with the closely spaced
piles of a wharf. When "quay" and "wharf" are used as synonyms, the term
"quay" is more common in everyday speech in the United Kingdom,
and the Republic of Ireland, while "wharf" is more commonly used in the
2. To land or tie up at a quay.
1. An area alongside a quay.
2. Having the attribute of being alongside a quay, e.g., "The ship is
A groove cut in wood to form part of a joint.
Acronym for Radio Detection And Ranging. An electronic system designed to
transmit radio signals and receive reflected images of those signals from a
"target" in order to determine the bearing and distance to the "target".
A special fixture fitted to a vessel or incorporated into the design of
certain aids to navigation to enhance their ability to reflect radar energy.
In general, these fixtures will materially improve the visibility for use by
vessels with radar.
To incline from the perpendicular; something so inclined israkedorraking,
stern, mast, funnel, etc.
1. A weapon consisting of an underwater prolongation of the bow of a vessel
to form an armored beak, intended to be driven into the hull of an enemy
vessel in order to puncture the hull and disable or sink that vessel.
2. An armored warship of the second half of the 19th century designed to
use such a weapon as her primary means of attack.
3. To intentionally collide with another vessel with the intention of
damaging or sinking her.
4. To accidentally collide bow-first with another vessel.
A clockwork device used aboard a warship to continuously calculate the range
to an enemy ship.
Two lights associated to form a range (a line formed by the extension of a
line connecting two charted points) which often, but not necessarily,
indicates the channel centerline. The front range light is the lower of the
two, and nearer to the mariner using the range. The rear light is higher and
further from the mariner.
Rate / Rating / Rank
In the US Navy and US Coast Guard
the word "rate" describes an enlisted members pay grade.
(basically their rank) The word "rating"
refers to the enlisted members area of occupational specialization.
The word "rank" only refers to position levels among naval
(also "rattlins" or
The rungs fastened between the shrouds permanently rigged frombulwarksandtopsto
the mast to form ladders enabling access to thetopmastsand
1. A sailing ship that has been cut down to reduce the number of decks.
2. To cut down a sailing ship to reduce the number of decks.
Sailing across the wind: from about 60° to about 160° off the wind. Reaching
consists of "close reaching" (about 60° to 80°), "beam reaching" (about 90°)
and "broad reaching" (about 120° to 160°). See alsobeatingandrunning.
A specifically designed sail for tighter reaching legs. Reaching sails are
often used in racing with a true wind angle of 35 to 95 degrees. They are
generally used before the wind angle moves aft enough to permit spinnakers
to be flown.
A call to indicate imminent tacking (seegoing
Receiver of Wreck
A government official whose duty is to give owners of shipwrecks the
opportunity to retrieve their property and ensure that law-abiding finders
of wreck receive an appropriate reward.
Receiving hulk or
in harbor to house newly recruited sailors before they are assigned to a
A passage of two vessels moving in the opposite direction on their port
sides, so called because the red navigation light on one of the vessels
faces the red light on the other vessel.
A light version on the cat o'nine tails for use on boys; also called "boys'
To temporarily reduce the area of a sail exposed to the wind, usually to
guard against adverse effects of strong wind or to slow the vessel.
Rock or coral, possibly only revealed at low tide, shallow enough that the
vessel will at least touch if not go aground.
Small flat lengths of braided cord attached by eyelets to a sail along the
reef band, used to secure the excess fabric after reefing. Typically, a reef
point consists of two lengths of cord which taper towards their ends—the
narrow end of each is threaded through an eye in the wide end of the other
and then the pair are rove through the eyelet in the reef band such that one
length hangs before and the other abaft the sail.
Long pieces of rough canvas sewed across the sails to give them additional
Ropes employed in the operation of reefing.
1. A shipboard refrigerator.
cargo ship, used to carry perishable goods that require refrigeration
(Past tense rove) To thread a line through blocks in order to gain a
mechanical advantage, such as in a block and tackle.
A series of boat races, usually of sailboats or rowboats, but occasionally
of powered boats.
A bearing relative to the direction of the ship: the clockwise angle between
the ship's direction and an object. See also absolute bearingandbearing.
A ship designed and equipped to carry out research at sea, especiallyhydrographic
The system of masts and lines on ships and other sailing vessels.
The force which tends to restore a ship to equilibrium once a heel has
altered the relationship between her centre of buoyancy and her centre of
The rim or 'eyebrow' above a port-hole or scuttle.
A man-made pile of rocks and rubble often surrounding an off-shore
lighthouse or as a base for an aid to navigation.
A sheltered area outside a harbor where a ship can lie safe at anchor, also
known as aroads.
The anchor line, rope or cable connecting the anchor chain to the vessel.
Also Anchor Rode.
A surprisingly large wave for a given sea state; formally, a wave whose
height is more than twice thesignificant
wave height(i.e., the mean
of the largest third of waves in a wave record).
A vessel's motion rotating from side to side, about the
fore-aft/longitudinal axis. Listing is a lasting, stable tilt, or heel,
along the longitudinal axis. Roll is also an alternate name for the
longitudinal axis (roll axis).
A vessel designed to carry wheeled cargo that can drive on and off the ship
on its own wheels.
A number of pulleys, engaged to confine the yard to the weather side of the
mast; this tackle is much used in a rough sea.
In a convoy, a ship that breaks ranks and "romps" ahead.
the lines in the rigging.
A summary punishment device.
1. A period, traditionally on Wednesday afternoons, when a tailor boarded a
sailing warship while the vessel was in port; the crew was excused from most
duties and had light duty mending uniforms and hammocks and darning socks.
When the ship was at sea, the crew similarly was excused from most duties on
Wednesday afternoons to engage in mending chores. Wednesday afternoons, like
Sundays, thus were a more social time which allowed crewmen a rest from
their normal duties, similar to a Sunday, and, because the crew usedrope
yarnfor mending, Wednesday
afternoon became known asrope
2. After uniforms began to require less care, and through the mid-20th
century, a period on Wednesday afternoon when naval crew members were
excused from their regular duties to run personal errands.
3. Since the mid-20th century, any period of free time when a naval crew is
given early liberty or otherwise excused from its normally scheduled duties.
RORO or ro-ro
A bracket providing the fulcrum for anoar.
1. In large sailing ships, a mast right above the topgallant mast.
2. The sail of such a mast.
An extra plank fitted to the outside of the hull, usually at deck level, to
protect the topsides.
A steering device which can be placed aft, externally relative to the keel
or compounded into the keel either independently or as part of the
A fast boat. The name originated in the alcohol prohibition period of the
1920's and 1930's in the US. It was a fast boat that carried bootleg liquor
designed to outrun government law enforcement authorities when being chased.
1. A place or room for the stowage of cargo in a vessel.
2. The act of stowing cargo aboard a vessel.
3. To arrange (cargo, goods, etc.) in the hold of a vessel; to move or
rearrange such goods; the pulling and moving about of packages incident to
close stowage aboard a vessel.
4. To search a vessel for smuggled goods, e.g.,After
the long voyage, the customs officersrummagedthe
1. The stern of the underwater body of a ship from where it begins to curve
upward and inward.
2. A voyage.
Running before the windor
Sailing more than about 160° away from the wind. If directly away from the
wind, it's adead run.
The propellers, shafts, struts and related parts of amotorboat.
Riggingused to manipulate
sails, spars, etc. in order to control the movement of the ship. Cf.
A harbor which provides safety from bad weather
A safe harbor, including natural harbors, which provide safety from bad
weather or attack.
When the trough of a wave is amidships, causing the hull to deflect so the
ends of thekeelare
higher than the middle. The opposite of hogging.
1. A piece of fabric attached to a vessel and arranged such that it causes
the wind to drive the vessel along. It may be attached to the vessel via a
2. The power harnessed by a sail or sails to propel a vessel.
3. To use sail power to propel a vessel.
4. A trip in a boat or ship, especially a sailboat or sailing ship.
a tower-like structure on the dorsal (topside) surface of submarines
constructed since the mid-20th century which houses periscopes, access
trunks for the bridge, etc.; It differs from theconning
towerof earlier submarines,
which was similar in appearance to a sail or fin, but housed instruments and
controls from which the periscopes were used to direct the submarine and
functions not performed in a modern sail (or fin).
A large open space used bysail
A set of drawings showing various sail combinations recommended for use in
A craftsman who makes and repairs sails, working either on shore in asail
loftor aboard a large,
ocean-going sailing ship.
A method of freeing a vessel grounded on mud in which the crew forms a line
and runs back and forth athwartships to cause her to rock back and
forth, breaking the mud's
suction and freeing her with little or no hull damage. When this is
required, the crew is given the orderSally
Great Lakes term for a vessel that sails the oceans.
Slang for a sailor, especially for a seaman in the navy.
A person engaged in salvage of a ship or items lost at sea.
A relatively flat bottomed Chinese wooden boat from 3.5 to 4.5 m long; some
with a small shelter and may be used as permanent habitation on inland
waters; generally used in coastal areas or rivers and as traditional fishing
boats. It is unusual for a sampan to sail far from land as they do not have
the means to survive rough weather.
A strong vertical post used to support aship'swindlassand
the heel of a ship'sbowsprit.
To reduce the area and efficiency of a sail by expedient means (slacking the
peak and tricing up the tack) without properly reefing, thus slowing boat
speed. Also used in the past as a sign of mourning.
Dimensions of ships structural members, e.g., frame, beam, girder, etc.
A type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on
two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts,
first used by the Dutch in the 16th or 17th century.
1. A method of preparing an anchor for tripping by attaching an anchor
cable to the crown and fixing to the ring by a light seizing (also known as
becue). The seizing can be broken if the anchor becomes fouled.
2. A type of clinker dinghy, characteristically beamy and slow.
3. An inland racing boat with no keel, a large sail plan, and a planing
This is a specialty sail whose name comes from combining the namesspinnakerandReachingsails
and can be used as an upwindgenoa
sail, reaching sail, or downwind sail.
A name given by sailors to the lowest clouds, which are mostly observed in
A term applied to a vessel when carried furiously along by a tempest.
1. An oar used forsculling.
2. A boat propelled by sculling, generally for recreation or racing.
A method of using oars to propel watercraft in which the oar or oars touch
the water on both the port and starboard sides of the craft, or over the
stern. On sailboats with transom-mounted rudders, forward propulsion can be
made by a balanced side to side movement of the tiller, a form of sculling.
Originally a series of pipes fitted through the ship's side from inside the
thicker deck waterway to the topside planking to drain water overboard,
larger quantities drained through freeing ports, which were openings in the
A small opening, or lid thereof, in a ship's deck or hull.
1. A barrel with a hole in used to hold water that sailors would drink
from. By extension (in modern naval usage), a shipboard drinking fountain or
2. Slang forgossip.
Making a hole in the hull of a vessel or opening seacocks, especially in
order to sink a vessel deliberately.
A stabilizer deployed in the water forheaving
toin heavy weather. It acts
as a brake and keeps the hull in line with the wind and perpendicular to
waves. Often in the form of a large bag made of heavy canvas. See alsodrogue.
A watertight box built against the hull of the ship communicating with the
sea through a grillage, to which valves and piping are attached to allow
water in for ballast, engine cooling, and firefighting purposes. Also a
wooden box used to store a sailor's effects.
The general condition of the free surface on a large body of water with
respect to wind waves and swell at a certain location and moment,
characterized by statistics, including thewave
spectrum. The sea state varies with time, as the wind conditions or
swell conditions change.
The testing phase of a boat, ship, or submarine, usually the final step in
her construction, conducted to measure a vessel's performance and general
seaworthiness before her owners take delivery of her.
High waterproof boots for use at sea. In leisure sailing, known assailing
The hunting ofseals.
Generic term for sailor, or (part of) a low naval rank
Certified for, and capable of, safely sailing at sea.
Also calledsecond officer,
a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship, third – or on
some ocean liners fourth – in command; a watchkeeping officer, customarily
navigator. Other duties vary, but the second mate is often the medical
officer and in charge of maintaining distress signaling equipment. On oil
tankers, the second mate usually assists the chief mate with tank-cleaning
A merchant ship which is able to unload herself without any assistance from
a harbor's facilities isself-sustaining,
while a ship which requires the assistance of a harbor's facilities to
unload herself isnon-self-sustaining.
Self-sustaining ships are more expensive to build, maintain, and operate
than non-self-sustaining ships, but have the advantage of being able to
operate in less-developed ports that lack the infrastructure necessary to
Great Lakes slang term for a vessel with a conveyor or some other method of
unloading the cargo without shoreside equipment.
A summary punitive implement
Navigational instrument used to measure a ship's latitude.
Section of a ship that houses the propulsion shaft, running from the engine
room to thestuffing
A cruise performed before a ship enters service or after major changes such
as a crew change, repair, or overhaul during which the performance of the
ship and her crew are tested under working conditions.
Pieces of barrels or casks broken down to save space. They are worth very
little, leading to the phrase "no great shakes".
Condition of a crewman involuntarily impressed into service on a ship.
The upward curve of a vessel's longitudinal lines as viewed from the side.
a diagram showing anelevationof
the ship's sheer viewed from thebroadside.
A rope used to control the setting of a sail in relation to the direction of
An extremely narrow, and often disproportionately long, rowing boat
outfitted with long oars, outriggers to hold the oarlocks away from the
boat, and sliding seats, specifically designed for racing or exercise.
An upper deck having no overhead protection from the weather itself, but
sheltering the deck below it.
Changing the flag and pennant display when a moored vessel becomes underway,
and vice versa. A highly coordinated display that ships take pride in; the
desired effect is that of one set of flags vanishing while another set
flashes out at precisely the same time. Also, slang for changing out of
one's Navy uniform into civilian clothes to go ashore. (The U.S. Navy's
newsletter for retired personnel is nicknamedShift
Colorsfrom this reason.)
Sighting the positions of the sun and moon using asextantand
almanacto determine the
location and phase of the moon and calculating the relative effect of the
tides on the navigation of the ship.
1. Noun – Strictly, a three-masted vessel square-rigged on all three masts,
or on three masts of a vessel with more than three. Hence a ship-rigged
barque would be a four master, square-rigged on fore, main and mizzen, with
spanker and gaff topsail only on theJigger-mast.
Generally now used refers to most medium or large vessels outfitted with
smaller boats. As a consequence of this, submarines may be larger than small
ships, but are called boats because they do not carry boats of their own.
2. Verb – To bring something aboard swiftly, as in "Ship oars."
A type of sailing warship constructed from the 1600s through the mid-1800s
to serve as part of theline
of battle; the largest and most powerful warships of the era.
Verb – To reenlist. When a sailor extends his or her service another term.
Seefull rigged ship.
A type ofsloop-of-warintroduced
in the 1740s which had three square-rigged masts (in contrast to thebrig
sloop introduced in the 1770s, which had two masts).
Striking the ship's bell is the traditional method of marking time and
regulating the crew's watches. Each bell (from one to eight) represents a
30-minute period since the beginning of a four-hourwatch.
For example, in the classical system, "Three bells in the morning watch"
represents 90 minutes since the beginning of the morning watch, or 5:30am.
"Eight bells" indicates the end of a watch.
The number of persons in a ship's
crew, including officers.
Once widely used term, now obsolete, for the man at a dockyard in charge of
repairs to a ship. The term derived from the notion that the ship was a
"lady" who needed to visit her "husband" when in need of repairs.
A person who designs, builds, and repairs ships, especially wooden ones .
A facility where ships or boats are built and repaired. Routinely used as a
is associated more closely with a facility used for maintenance and basing
is associated more closely with a facility used in construction.
Shallow water that is a hazard to navigation.
making the vessel capable of sailing in unusually shallow water.
Free time given to officers and crew of a naval vessel when they are off
duty and allowed to disembark and spend time on land. See alsoliberty.
The relative slackness of an anchor chain; this term means somewhat slack,
but not vertical nor fully extended.
1. To take in the slack of (a rope).
2. To reduce (sail) by taking it in.
Shot across the bow
A shot fired close to and in front of a moving vessel to warn her to stop,
often for boarding.
A rope or cable serving to hold a mast up from side to side.
Standing rigging running from a mast to the sides of a ships to support the
mast sideways. Theshroudswork
with the stays,
which run forward and aft, to support the mast's weight.
The compartment reserved for medical purposes.
One of an even-numbered group of seamen posted in two rows on the
quarterdeck when a visiting dignitary boards or leaves the ship,
historically to help (or even hoist) him aboard.
1. A side-mountedpaddle
wheelused for propulsion by
2. Propelled by a sidewheel (e.g., "sidewheelsteamer").
A sound signal which uses electricity or compressed air to actuate either a
disc or a cup shaped rotor.
A ship of the same class as, and therefore virtually identical in design and
appearance to, another ship. Sister ships share an identical or nearly
identical hull and superstructure layout, similar displacement, and roughly
comparable features and equipment. Often, sister ships become more
differentiated during their service lives as their equipment (and, in the
case of military ships, their armament) are separately altered.
A downward or sternward projection from the keel in front of the rudder.
Protects the rudder from damage, and inbilge
keelersmay provide one "leg"
of a tripod on which the boat stands when the tide is out.
A small boat, traditionally a coastal or river craft, for leisure or
fishing, with a single person or small crew. Sailing skiffs have developed
into high performance competitive classes.
A sail set very high, above the royals. Only carried by a few ships.
A small, triangular sail, above the skysail. Used in light winds on a few
That period between rising tide and falling tide. or that period between
falling tide and rising tide when there is no tidal induced current.
1. To pass a rope around something preparatory to attaching a hoisting or
lowering tackle to it.
2. A band of rope or iron for securing a yard to a mast; chiefly used in
the plural, "slings".
1. A berth for a ship or boat; a place for a ship or boat to moor.
2. The difference between the theoretical distance traveled per revolution
of a vessel's propeller and the actual advance of the vessel.
3. In marine engineering, the motion of the center of resistance of the
float of a paddle wheel or the blade of an oar through the water
4. In marine engineering, the difference between a vessel's actual speed
and the speed it would have if the propelling instrument acted upon a solid.
5. In marine engineering, the velocity relative to still water of the
backward current of water produced by the propeller.
6. In marine insurance, a memorandum of the particulars of a risk for which
a policy is to be executed, usually bearing the broker's name and initiated
by the underwriters.
A ramp on the shore by which ships or boats can be moved to and from the
water. Slipways are used for building and repairing ships and boats. They
are also used for launching and retrieving small boats on trailers towed by
automobiles and flying boats on their undercarriage.
A small to mid-sized sailboat larger than a dinghy, with one mast bearing a
main sail and head sail and located farther forward than the mast of acutter.
1. In the 18th and 19th centuries, a small sailing warship carrying 18 or
fewer guns with a single continuous gundeck.
2. In the 18th and 19th centuries, any sailing warship bearing fewer than
3. In the 19th-century United States Navy, the term used for the type of
sailing warship known in other navies as a corvette.
4. In the early and mid-20th century, a small ocean-going warship not
intended for fleet deployments, used instead for convoy escort, gunboat
A ship's store of merchandise, such as clothing, tobacco, etc., maintained
aboard merchant ships for sale to the crew.
Greasy substance obtained by boiling or scraping the fat from empty salted
meat storage barrels, or the floating fat residue after boiling the crew's
meal. In theRoyal
Navythe perquisite of the
cook who could sell it or exchange it (usually for alcohol) with other
members of the crew. Used for greasing parts of the running rigging of the
ship and therefore valuable to the master and bosun.
The money obtained by the cook selling slush ashore. Used for the benefit of
the crew (or the cook).
A traditional fishing boat used off the coast of England and the Atlantic
coast of America for most of the 19th century and in small numbers up to the
mid-20th century. Originally acutter-rigged
sailing boat, after about 1865 lengthened and given aketchrig.
Some had atopsailon
mast, others abowspritcarrying
Small bower (anchor)
The smaller of two anchors carried in the bow.
A form ofbrigwhere
driver is rigged on a "snow mast" a lighter spar supported in chocks close
Speed over ground, speed of the vessel relative to the Earth (and as shown
by a GPS). Referenced on many fishing forums.
a method of using sound pulses to detect, range, and sometimes image
underwater targets and obstacles or the bed of the sea. See alsoecho
2. The equipment used to conduct such searches, ranging, and imaging.
Measuring the depth of the water. Traditionally done byswinging
the lead, now commonly byecho
1. A storm from the south west.
2. A type of waterproof hat with a wide brim over the neck, worn in storms.
A fore-and-aft or gaff-rigged sail on the aft-most mast of a square-rigged
vessel and the main fore-and-aft sail (spanker sail) on the aft-most mast of
a (partially) fore-and-aft rigged vessel such as aschooner,
The aft-most mast of a fore-and-aft or gaff-rigged vessel such as schooners,
barquentines, and barques. A full-rigged ship has a spanker sail but not a
A wooden, in later years also iron or steel pole used to support various
pieces of rigging and sails. The big five-masted full-riggedtall
crossed 30 steel yards, but only one wooden spar—the little gaff of its
A weapon consisting of a bomb placed at the end of a long spar and attached
to a boat.
Spider band or Spider hoop
An iron band around the base of a mast which holds a set of iron belaying
Finely divided water swept from crest of waves by strong winds.
A large sail flown in front of the vessel while heading downwind.
A spar used to help control a spinnaker or otherheadsail.
A projection from the side of a vessel for protection, stability, or the
mounting of equipment such as armaments or lifeboats. A sponson that extends
a hull dimension at or below the waterline serves to increase flotation or
add lift when underway.
The person, traditionally a woman, who christens a ship at its launching
A platform on a mast used to aid ingun
A line used parallel to that of the length of a craft, to prevent fore-aft
motion of a boat, when moored or docked.
To join lines (ropes, cables, etc.) by unraveling their ends and
intertwining them to form a continuous line. To form an eye or a knot by
Splice the mainbrace
it is an order given aboard naval vessels to issue the crew with a drink,
The phrase splice the mainbraceis
used idiomatically meaning to go ashore on liberty, intending to go out for
an evening of drinking.
A spar on a sailboat used to deflect the shrouds to allow them to better
support the mast.
A pipe that connects to the chain locker, from which the anchor chain
emerges onto the deck at the bow of a ship.
1. In general, any significant group of warships which is considered too
small to be designated a fleet, but otherwise not strictly defined by size.
In some navies, the termflotillamay
be used instead of or in addition to "squadron" to describe a significant
group of warships smaller than a fleet.
2. Such a group of warships assigned to and named after a particular ocean,
sea, or geographical region, commanded by an admiral who may be the naval
commander-in-chief in that theatre, e.g., theAsiatic
Atlantic Squadron, etc.; generally synonymous with similar naval
formations known asstations.
3. During theAge
of Sail, a temporary sub-division of a fleet.
4. A temporary detachment of ships from a fleet.
5. Especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a permanent battle
formation of a fleet, equipped and trained to operate as a tactical unit
under the overall command of the fleet or when detached from the fleet.
6. Especially in modern usage, an administrative naval command responsible
for the manning, training, supply, and maintenance of a group of ships or
submarines but not for directing their operations at sea.
To place at right angles with the mast or keel and parallel to the horizon
A sufficient quantity of food. Meals on board ship were served to the crew
on a square wooden plate in harbor or at sea in good weather. Food in the
Royal Navy was invariably better or at least in greater quantity than that
available to the average landsman. However, while square wooden plates were
indeed used on board ship, there is no established link between them and
this particular term. The OED gives the earliest reference from the U.S. in
the mid-19th century.
A generic type of sail and rigging arrangement in which the primary driving
sails are carried on yards which are perpendicular, or square, to the keel
of the vessel and to the masts. A ship mainly so rigged is said to besquare-rigged.
A ship which is square-rigged.
Yards held rigidly perpendicular to their masts and parallel to the deck.
This was rarely the best trim of the yards for efficiency but made a pretty
sight for inspections and in harbor. The term is applied to situations and
to people figuratively to mean that all difficulties have been resolved or
that the person is performing well and is mentally and physically prepared.
The phenomenon by which a vessel moving quickly through shallow water
creates an area of lowered pressure under its keel that reduces the ship's
buoyancy, particularly at the bow. The reduced buoyancy causes the ship to
"squat" lower in the water than would ordinarily be expected, and thus its
effective draught is increased.
S.S. (or SS)
Prefix for "Steam
Ship", used before a ship's
vertical post near a deck's edge that supports life-lines. A timber fitted
in between the frame heads on a wooden hull or a bracket on a steel vessel,
approx one meter high, to support the bulwark plank or plating and therail.
Stand (past tensestood)
Of a ship or its captain, to steer, sail, or steam, usually used in
conjunction with a specified direction or destination, e.g.,The ship
stood out of the harbororThe
ship stood toward the eastorThe
ship stood toward the missing vessel's last known position.
keep her course and speed where two vessels are approaching one another so
as to involve a risk of collision.
Riggingwhich is used to
support masts and spars, and is not normally manipulated during normal
operations. Cf. running rigging.
The right side of the boat. Towards the right-hand side of a vessel facing
forward. Denoted with a green light at night. Derived from the old steering
preceded the invention of the rudder.
When sailing with the wind coming from the starboard side of the vessel. Has
right of way over boats onport
A rope used as a punitive device. Seeteazer,togey.
1. A superior cabin for a vessel's
2. In American usage, also a private passenger cabin in a vessel
1. In chiefly 19th- and early 20th-century usage, a naval formation under a
commander-in-chief who controls all naval operations, and sometimes all
naval shore facilities, within a specified geographic area (e.g., theChina
Indies Station, etc.), sometimes synonymous withsquadron
a harbour or cove with a foreshore suitable for a facility to support nearby
3. Naval station, a naval base; anaval
air stationis a base for
4. Coaling station, a facility that supplies ships with coal.
1. A strong rope supporting a mast, and leading from the head of one mast
down to some other mast or other part of the vessel; rigging running fore (forestay)
and aft (backstay) from a mast to the hull. The stays support a
mast's weight forward and aft, while theshroudssupport
its weight from side to side.
2. To incline forward, aft, or to one side by means of stays, e.g., tostaya
3. To tack; put on the other tack, e.g., tostayship.
4. To change; tack; go about; be in stays, as a ship.
5. A station or fixed anchorage for vessels.
6. In staysorhove
in stays: in the act of going about while tacking.
7. Miss staysan
unsuccessful attempt to tack.
A sail whoseluffis
attached to a forestay.
A vessel equipped withsteam
1. The effect of the helm on a vessel; the act of steering a vessel.
2. 19th- and early 20th-century term for the section of a passenger ship
that provided inexpensive accommodation with no individual cabins.
The minimum speed at which a vessel will answer the helm, below which she
cannot be steered. Speed sufficient for the rudder to "bite."
In a vessel, the compartment containing the steering gear.
Steering oaror steering
A long, flat board or oar that went from the stern to well underwater, used
to steer vessels before the invention of the rudder.
Traditionally on the starboard side of a ship (the "steering board" side).
1. A spar or derrick with a block at one end, used for stowing cargo.
2. To incline upwards at an angle (esp. of a bowsprit) rather than lie
horizontally; to set at a particular upwards incline
The extension of keel at the forward end of a ship.
The rear part of a ship, technically defined as the area built up over the
sternpost, extending upwards from the counter rail to thetaffrail.
1. The tube under the hull to bear the tail shaft for propulsion (usually at
tubemounted in the stern of
A propeller drive system similar to the lower part of anoutboard
motorextending below the
hull of a larger power boat or yacht, but driven by an engine mounted within
the hull. Unlike a fixed propeller (but like an outboard), the boat may be
steered by twisting the drive. See alsoinboard
An external walkway or gallery for the use of officers installed on the
stern chiefly of British warships until the early 20th century.
The reverse movement of a boat or watercraft through the water.
A member of a vessel's
crew involved in commissary duties or in personal services to passengers or
other crew members.
(also "store ship" or "stores ship")
1. During theAge
of Sailand immediately
afterwards, a captured ship used to stow supplies and other goods for naval
2. Since the mid-20th century, a type of naval ship which provides supplies
such as frozen, chilled' and dry provisions and propulsion and aviation fuel
to warships which are at sea for an extended period of time. In some navies,
(archaic) A continuous line of plates or planks running from bow to
stern that contributes to a vessel's skin. The planks or plates next to the
keel are called the garboard strakes; the next, or the heavy strakes at the
bilge, are the bilge strakes; the next, from the water line to the lower
port sill, the wales; and the upper parts of the sides, the sheer strakes.
1. To haul down or lower (a flag, mast, etc.).
2. To surrender the vessel to the enemy, fromstrike
3. To remove a naval vessel's
name from a country's naval register (after which the vessel is consideredstricken).
Strike the colors
To surrender the vessel to an enemy, from the custom during theAge
of Sailof lowering the
indicate that she is surrendering.
A knot tied in the end of a rope, usually to stop it passing through a hole;
most commonly afigure-eight
Stove or Stove in
(past tense ofstave,
often applied as present tense) to smash inward, to force a hole or break
in, as in a cask, door or other (wooden) barrier.
to store, or to put away e.g. personal effects, tackle, or cargo.
the amount of room for storing materials on board a ship.
A trespasser on a ship; a person aboard a ship without permission and/or
without payment, and usually boards undetected, remains hidden aboard, and
jumps ship just before making port or reaching a port's dock; sometimes
found aboard and imprisoned in the brig until the ship makes port and the
prisoner can be transferred to the police or military.
In a convoy, a ship that is unable to maintain speed and falls behind.
One of the overlapping boards in aclinkerbuilt
an inclined foot rest, attached to the boat, to which a rower may place and
in some instances (usually in competition) attach his feet.
Long and narrow sails, used only in fine weather, on the outside of the
large square sails.
Speed through (the) water, speed of the vessel relative to the surrounding
water (and as shown by aLog).
Used in navigation.
A personal-sized, beach-launched sailingdinghywith
a pontoon-type hull, dagger board, and lateen sail mounted to an un-stayed
The parts of the ship or a boat, including sailboats, fishing boats,
passenger ships, and submarines, that project above her main deck. This does
not usually include its masts or any armament turrets.
A vessel's transient motion in a fore and aft direction.
Any type of ship or boat that is used for mapping a body of water's bottom,benthic
zone, full water column, and surface for purposes ofhydrographics,
archaeology, or the study of marine habitats.
1. A vessel's lateral motion from side to side.
2. To hoist: "Sway up my dunnage".
to steer an unpoweredlighter.
To take up the last bit of slack on a line such as a halyard, anchor line or
dockline by taking a single turn round a cleat and alternately heaving on
the rope above and below the cleat while keeping the tension on the tail.
Swinging the compass
Measuring the accuracy in a ship's magneticcompassso
its readings can be adjusted—often by turning the ship and taking bearings
on reference points.
Swinging the lamp
stories. Referring to lamps slung from thedeckheadwhich
swing while at sea. Often used to indicate that the story teller is
Swinging the lead
1. Measuring the depth of water beneath a ship using alead-weightedsounding
line. Regarded as a relatively easy job, thus:
2. Feigning illness etc to avoid a hard job.
A large bracket attached firmly to the deck, to which the foot of the mast
is fixed. It has two sides or cheeks and a bolt forming the pivot around
which the mast is raised and lowered.
1. A leg of the route of a sailing vessel, particularly in relation totackingand tostarboard tackandport
2. Hard tack.
3. The front bottom corner of a sail.
1. Zig-zagging so as to sail directly towards the wind (and for some rigs
also away from it).
2. Coming about
In sailboat racing on an upwind leg of the race course the complex maneuvers
of lead and overtaking boats to vie for the aerodynamic advantage of clear
air. This results from the ongoing strategy of the lead boat's effort to
keep the following boat's) in the blanket of disturbed bad air he is
The perpendicular distance between a ship's course when the helm is put hard
over and her course when she has turned through 180 degrees; the ratio of
the tactical diameter divided by the ship'slength
a dimensionless parameter which can be used to compare the maneuverability
A rail at the stern of the boat that covers the head of the counter timbers.
A kind of metallic shafting (a rod of metal) to hold the propeller and
connected to the power engine. When the tailshaft is moved, the propeller
may also be moved for propulsion.
An inattentive helmsmen might allow the dangerous situation to arise where
the wind is blowing into the sails 'backwards', causing a sudden (and
possibly dangerous) shift in the position of the sails.
Taking the wind out of his
To sail in a way that steals the wind from another ship. cf. overbear.
The operation of hauling aft the sheets, or drawing them in the direction of
the ship's stern.
A ship designed to transport liquids in bulk.
A vessel, typically an obsolete or captured warship, used for naval gunnery
practice or for weapons testing. The term includes both ships intended to be
sunk and ships intended to survive and see repeated use as a target.
Temporary naval organizations composed of particular ships, aircraft,
submarines, military land forces, or shore service units, assigned to
fulfill certain missions. Seemingly drawn originally from Royal Navy
heritage, the emphasis is placed on the individual commander of the unit,
and references to 'CTF' are common for "Commander Task Force".
Light cord attached to a mooring line at two points a few inches apart with
a slack section in between (resembling an inch-worm) to indicate when the
line is stretching from the ship's rising with the tide. Obviously only used
when moored to a fixed dock or pier and only on watches with a flood tide.
A light piece of string, yarn, rope or plastic (often magnetic audio tape)
attached to astayor
indicate the local wind direction. They may also be attached to the surface
indicate the state of the air flow over the surface of the sail. They are
referenced when optimizing the trim of the sails to achieve the best boat
speed in the prevailing wind conditions.
1. A type of navalauxiliary
provide advanced basing services in undeveloped harbors to seaplanes, flying
boats, torpedo boats, destroyers, or submarines.
2. A vessel used to provide transportation services for people and supplies
to and from shore for a larger vessel, sometimes called aship's
3. A vessel used to maintain navigational aids, such as buoys and
T.E.V. (or TEV)
Prefix for "Turbo-ElectricVessel,"
used before a ship's
Also called thethird officer,
a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship, fourth – or on
some ocean liners fifth – in command; a watchkeeping officer, customarily
also the ship's safety officer, responsible for the ship's
firefighting equipment, lifeboats, and other emergency systems. Other duties
of the third mate vary depending on the type of ship, its crewing, and other
Vertical wooden peg or pin inserted through the gunwale to form a fulcrum
for oars when rowing. Used in place of arowlock.
Three sheets to the wind
On a three-masted ship, having the sheets of the three lower courses loose
will result in the ship meandering aimlessly downwind. Also, a sailor who
has drunk strong spirits beyond his capacity.
A bench seat across the width of an open boat.
From the Frenchtimonnier,
is a name given, on particular occasions, to the steersman of a ship.
US Navy slang for adestroyer;
often shortened tocan
A lightly armored steam-powered river gunboat used by the United States Navy
during the American Civil War (1861–1865).
A thin temporary patch.
a lever used for steering, attached to the top of the rudder post. Used
mainly on smaller vessels, such as dinghies and rowing boats.
A low strip running around the edge of the deck like a low bulwark. It may
be shortened or have gaps in it to allow water to flow off the deck.
Toe the line or Toe the
At parade, sailors and soldiers were required to stand in line, their toes
in line with a seam of the deck.
A block of wood inserted into the barrel of a gun on a 19th-century warship
to keep out the sea spray; also used for covers for the ends of the barrels
of more modern ships' guns, the larger of which are often adorned with the
ship's crest or other decoration.
measures of the size or cargo carrying capacity of a ship, including:
tonnage, the total weight of a vessel, mostly without payload.
the total weight of a vessel.
register tonnage, the total internal volume of a vessel, with one gross
register ton equal to 100cubic
tonnage, a function of the volume of all of a ship's
5. Lightship or lightweight tonnage, the weight of a ship without any fuel,
cargo, supplies, water, passengers, etc. on board.
register tonnage, the volume of cargo a vessel can carry.
tonnage, the volume of all cargo spaces on a ship.
The platform at the upper end of each (lower) mast of a square-rigged ship,
typically one-fourth to one-third of the way up the mast. The main purpose
of a top is to anchor the shrouds of the topmast that extends above it. See
The mast or sails above the tops. (Seetopgallant
A collective term for the masts, yards, sails and rigging of a sailing ship,
or for similarly insubstantial structures above the upper deck of any ship
A crewmember stationed in a top.
The second section of the mast above the deck; formerly the upper mast,
later surmounted by thetopgallant
mast; carrying the topsails.
a line which is part of the rigging on a sailing boat; it applies upward
force on a spar or boom. The most common topping lift on a modern sailing
boat is attached to the boom
The second sail (counting from the bottom) up a mast. These may be either
square sails or fore-and-aft ones, in which case they often "fill in"
between the mast and the gaff of the sail below.
the part of the hull between the waterline and the deck. Also,Above-water
1. Prior to about 1900, the term for a variety of explosive devices
designed for use in water, includingmines,spar
torpedoesand, after the
mid-19th century, "automotive," "automobile," "locomotive," or "fish"
torpedoes (self-propelled weapons which fit the modern definition of
2. Since about 1900, a term used exclusively for a self-propelled weapon
with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface,
propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on
contact with its target or in proximity to it.
Touch and go
1. The bottom of the ship touching the bottom, but not grounding.
2. Stopping at a dock or pier for a very short time without tying up, to
let off or take on crew or goods.
3. Practice of aircraft on aircraft carriers touching the carrier deck and
taking off again without dropping hooks.
The operation of drawing a vessel forward by means of long lines.
Traffic Separation Scheme
Shipping corridors marked by buoys which separate incoming from outgoing
vessels. Improperly calledSea
A decorative board at the bow of a vessel, sometimes bearing the vessel's
A ship used to train students as sailors, especially a ship employed by a
navy or coast guard to train future officers. The term refers both to ships
used for training at sea and to old, immobile hulks used to house
shipengaged in thetramp
in the tramp trade.
Shipping trade on the spot market in which the vessels involved do not have
a fixed schedule or itinerary or published ports of call. This contrasts
with freight liner service, in which vessels make regular, scheduled runs
between published ports.
A vessel engaged in the tramp trade.
British term for a room located in the interior of a ship containing
computers and other specialised equipment needed to calculate the range and
bearing of a target from information gathered by the ship's spotters and
range finders. These were designated "plotting rooms" by the United States
The aft "wall" of the stern; often the part to which an outboard unit or the
drive portion of a sterndrive is attached. A more or less flat surface
a vessel. Dinghies tend to have almost vertical transoms, whereas yachts'
transoms may be raked forward or aft.
Small fittings that slide on a rod or line. The most common use is for the
inboard end of the mainsheet; a more esoteric form of traveller consists of
"slight iron rings, encircling the backstays, which are used for hoisting
the top-gallant yards, and confining them to the backstays".
trawler, a fishing boat that uses atrawl
2. A fisherman who uses a trawl net.
trawler, a converted trawler, or boat built in that style, used for
trawler, a pleasure boat built in the style of a trawler.
trennel, or trunnel)
A wooden peg, pin, or dowel used to fasten pieces of wood together,
particularly the hull, gunnels, thwarts, etc.
To haul and tie up by means of a rope.
A period of time spent at the wheel ("my trick's over").
1. Relationship of ship's hull to waterline.
2. Adjustments made to sails to maximize their efficiency.
A vessel with three hulls.
person responsible for ensuring that a vessel remains in 'trim' (that the
cargo and fuel are evenly balanced). An important task on a coal-fired
vessel, as it could get 'out-of-trim' coal is consumed.
Operating as atroopship.
Troopship(also troop ship,
troop transport, or trooper)
A ship used to carry soldiers. Troopships are not specially designed for
military operations and unlikelanding
ships cannot land troops directly onto a shore; instead they unload
troops at a harbor or onto smaller vessels for transportation to shore.
An absolute bearing using true north.
The direction of the geographicalNorth
The rope or iron used to keep the center of a yard to the mast.
A boat that maneuvers other vessels by pushing or towing them. Tugs are
powerful for their size and strongly built, and some are ocean-going.
Hull shape, when viewed in a transverse section, where the widest part of
the hull is someway below deck level.
A knot passing behind or around an object.
Turn To (Turn Two)
A term meaning "Get to work," often hand-signed by two fingers and hand
motion in turning fashion.
1. Originally (in the mid-to-late 19th century), an enclosed armored
rotating cylindrical box mounting guns which fired through gun ports, the
turret rotating over a bearing mounted on a ship's deck or within her hull.
Turret-equipped ships contrasted sharply with those equipped withbarbettes,
which in the second half of the 19th century were open-topped armored rings
over which rotating gun's mounted on a turntable could fire.
2. Since the late 19th century, an enclosed armored rotating gun
mounted above a barbette, with the gun's and their rotating turntable
mounted in the barbette protected by the gun house; in 20th- and 21st-century
usage, this generally is any armored, rotating gun installation on a
has slight positive curvature when viewed in cross-section. The purpose of
this curvature is usually to shed water, but in warships it also functions
to make the deck more resistant to shells.
sailingespecially (but can
include other boats), a boat is said to beturtlingor
the boat is fully inverted with the mast pointing down to the lake bottom or
A deck on a generalcargo
shiplocated between themain
deck) and theholdspace.
A general cargo ship may have one or two tweendecks (or none at all).
The space on a tweendeck available for carrying cargo or other uses.
shipequipped with one or
Two six heave
Royal Navy slang term meaning to pull. Originally a sailing navy term
referring to the two members of a gun crew (numbers two and six) who ran out
the gun by pulling on the ropes that secured it in place.
A chain or rope used for hoisting or lowering a yard. A tye runs from the
horizontal center of a given yard to a corresponding mast and from there
down to a tackle. Sometimes specifically called achain
A voyage, usually singlehanded, with no intermediate port stops or physical
assistance from external sources.
Under the weather
Serving a watch on the weather side of the ship, exposed to wind and spray.
Under way or underway
A vessel that is moving under control: that is, neither at anchor, made fast
to the shore, aground nor adrift. Way refers to speed sufficient to steer
with the rudder. "Under weigh" is an erroneous synonym.
Underwater hull or
The underwater section of a vessel beneath the waterline, normally not
visible except when in dry-dock
A method employed by navies to transfer fuel, munitions, and stores from one
ship to another while underway. Sometimes abbreviation asUNREP.
1. To remove from a vessel.
2. To remove an oar or mast from its normal position
The relative slackness of an anchor chain where the anchor chain is slack
and hangs vertically down from the hawsepipe.
Slack off quickly and run slack to a belaying point. This order is given
when a line or wire has been stopped off or falls have been four-in-hand and
the hauling part is to be belayed.
1. A vessel traveling upstream.
2. Westward-traveling vessels in theGreat
Lakesregion (terminology as
used by theSt.
Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation).
Specially selected personnel destined for high office.
The shape of a boat or ship in which the contours of the hull come in a
straight line to the keel.
1. A rope (line) leading from gaff to either side of the deck, used to
prevent the gaff from sagging.
2. Seeboom vang.
The maximum degree of heel after which a vessel becomes unable to return to
an upright position.
Any craft designed for transportation on water, such as ashiporboat.
Voice pipe or voice tube
1. A long journey by ship.
2. To go on such a journey.
A signal flag on a vessel.
the central deck of a ship between the forecastle and the quarterdeck.
Turbulence behind a vessel. Not to be confused withwash.
Any of the strong and thick planks running lengthwise along a vessel,
forming the lower part of the vessel's sides.
1. The living quarters of a naval ship designated for the use ofcommissioned
officersother than the
2. A collective term for the commissioned officers of a naval ship
excluding her captain; e.g.,The
captain rarely referred to his wardroom for advice, and this led to their
1. To move a vessel by hauling on a line or cable that is fastened to an
anchor or pier; especially to move a sailing ship through a restricted place
such as a harbor.
2. A line or cable used in warping a ship.
The waves created by a vessel. Not to be confused withwake.
A period of time during which a part of the crew is on duty. Changes of
watch are marked by strokes on theship's
The allocation of crew or staff to a Watch
Water transport vessels.Ships,boats,personal
water craft, etc.
The line where the hull of a ship meets the water's
A sail hung below the boom on gaff rig boats for extra downwind performance
a navigable body of water.
2. A strake of timber laid against the frames or bulwark stanchions at the
margin of a laid wooden deck, usually about twice the thickness of the deck
Speed, progress, or momentum, or more technically, the point at which there
is sufficient water flow past a vessel's rudder for it to be able to steer
the vessel (i.e., the rudder begins to "bite," sometimes also called
"steerage way.") To make wayis
to move; to "have way on" or "to have steerage way" is to have enough speed
to control the vessel with its rudder; tolose
wayis to slow down or to not
have enough speed to control with the rudder. "Way enough" is a coxswain's
command that the oarsmen stop rowing, and allow the boat to proceed with its
An intermediate stop along the route of a steamboat.
A location defined by navigational coordinates, especially as part of a
The timbers of shipyard stocks that slope into the water and along which a
ship or large boat is launched. A ship undergoing construction in a shipyard
is said to beon the ways,
while a ship scrapped there is said to bebroken
up in the ways.
Tacking away from the wind in a square-rigged vessel. See alsogybe.
Whichever deck is that exposed to the weather—usually either the main deck
or, in larger vessels, the upper deck.
Weather gageor weather gauge
Favorable position over another sailing vessel with respect to the wind.
The tendency of a sailboat to turn to windward in a strong wind when there
is no change in the rudder's position. This is the opposite of lee helm and
is the result of a dynamically unbalanced condition. See alsoCenter
of lateral resistance.
A ship stationed in the ocean as a platform for surface and upper air
meteorological observations for use in weather forecasting.
The side of a ship exposed to the wind.
A ship that is easily sailed and maneuvered; makes little leeway when
sailing to windward.
To heave up (an anchor) preparatory to sailing.
Place in the ship's hold for pumps.
Properly set up or provisioned.
In sail boating, portion of the hull immersed in water.
1. A type of cargo steamship of unusual design formerly used on theGreat
America, notably for carrying grain or ore. The hull continuously curved
vertical to horizontal, and when the ship was fully loaded, only the rounded
portion of her hull (the "whaleback" proper) was visible above the
waterline. With sides curved in towards the ends, whalebacks had a spoon bow
and a very convex upper deck.
2. A type of high-speedlaunchfirst
designed for theRoyal
War II, or certain smaller rescue and research vessels most common inEuropethat,
like the Great Lakes vessels, have hulls that curve over to meet the deck,
although the "whaleback" designation comes not from the curve along thegunwaleas
in the Great Lakes vessels, but from the fore-and-aft arch in the deck.
3. A sheltered portion of the forward deck on certain British fishing boats
designed, in part, so that water taken over the bow is more easily shed over
the sides. The feature has been incorporated into some pleasure craft –
aboard which it is known as awhaleback
deck– based on the hull
design of older whaling boats.
1. A type of open boat that is relatively narrow and pointed at both ends,
enabling it to move either forwards or backwards equally well.
2. On modern warships, a relatively light and seaworthy boat for transport
3. A type of vessel designed as alifeboator
"monomoy" used for recreational and competitive rowing in the San Francisco
Bay area and coastal Massachusetts.
4. Informally, anywhalerof
5. Informally, any vessel engaged inwhale
1. A specialized vessel designed for catching or processing whales.
2. A person engaged in the catching or processing of whales.
A structure on the shore of a harbor or on the bank of a river or canal
where ships may dock to load and unload cargo or passengers. Such a
structure includes one or more berths (i.e., mooring locations), and may
warehouses, or other facilities necessary for handling the ships. The term
"wharf' is generally synonymous with "quay", although the solid
foundations of a quay contrast with the closely spaced piles of a wharf.
When "quay" and "wharf" are used as synonyms, the term "quay" is more common
in everyday speech in the United Kingdom, many Commonwealthcountries,
and the Republic of Ireland, while "wharf" is more commonly used in the
Wheelor ship's wheel
The usual steering device on larger vessels: a wheel with a horizontal axis,
connected by cables to the rudder.
Location on a ship where the wheel is located; also called pilothouse or
A small sailing pram.
A type of boat traditionally used for carrying cargo or passengers on rivers
and canals in England, particularly on the River Thames and the Norfolk and
A chiefly British term for a narrow clinker-built skiff having outriggers,
for one oarsman.
Spreaders from the bows to spread the bowsprit shrouds.
One of the pair of stays that stabilize the bowsprit horizontally affixed to
forward end of the bowsprit and just aft the stem.
White horses or whitecaps
Foam or spray on wave tops caused by stronger winds (usually aboveForce4).
To leave room between two ships moored (berthed) to allow space for
A vertical lever connected to a tiller, used for steering on larger ships
before the development of the ship's wheel.
Sea conditions with a tidal current and a wind in opposite directions,
leading to short, heavy seas.
Wind resistance of the boat.
A condition wherein the ship is detained in one particular station by
A large iron- or steel-hulled square-rigged sailing ship of the late 19th
and early 20th centuries with three, four, or five masts , built mainly
between the 1870s and 1900 to carry cargo on long voyages.
A winch mechanism, usually with a horizontal axis. Used where mechanical
advantage greater than that obtainable by block and tackle was needed (such
as raising the anchor on small ships).
A wide tube or funnel of canvas, used to convey a stream of air into the
lower compartments of a ship for ventilation.
In the direction that the wind is coming from.
An extension on the side of a vessel. Abridge
wingis an open-air extension
of the bridge to port or starboard, intended for use in signaling.
Training, usually including gunnery practice.
Worm, parcel and serve
To protect a section of rope from chafing by: laying yarns (worming) to fill
in the cuntlines, wrapping marline or other small stuff (serving) around it,
and stitching a covering of canvas (parceling) over all.
A recreational boat or ship; the term includessailing
The horizontal spar from which a square sail is suspended.
numbers the ships that it has built in consecutive order. One use is to
identify the ship before a name has been chosen.
The very end of a yard. Often mistaken for a "yard", which refers to the
entire spar. As in to hang "from the yardarm" and the sun being "over the
yardarm" (late enough to have a drink).
Acknowledgement of an order, or agreement. Alsoaye,
A vessel's rotational motion about the vertical axis, causing the fore and
aft ends to swing from side to side repetitively.
A fore-and-aft rigged sailing vessel with two masts, main and mizzen, the
mizzen stepped abaft the rudder post.