Below are a few key words that will help you sound like a salty sea dog!

 

Abeam

Off the beam or on the side of the boat

 

Aft

Towards the stern of the boat; to move aft is to move back

 

Aladdin cleat

A cleat that attaches to the backstay over the cockpit, usually used for hanging a lantern

 

Astern

In the direction of, or behind, the stern

 

Backstay

A support wire that runs from the top of the mast to the stern

 

Beam

The width of the boat at its widest, usually the middle

 

Bearing

Direction according to compass

 

Berth

Sleeping bunk aboard the boat

 

Bow

Forward part of a boat

 

Bulkhead

A partition below decks that separates one part of the vessel from another

 

Buoy

An anchored float marking a position on the water

 

Capsize

To turn a boat over

 

Catamaran

A twin-hulled boat

 

Cleat

A two-horned fitting for securing a line

 

Dinghy

A small open boat, usually carried aboard a yacht for going ashore

 

Fathom

Nautical measurement equivalent to a depth of six feet

 

GPS

Global positioning system; uses satellites in fixed orbits

 

Gybe

Also jibe; to turn the boat downwind from one side of the wind to the other

 

Hard over

Turning the wheel as far as possible

 

Headsail

A sail forward of the mast

 

Heel

The lean of a sailboat when sailing; the extent of the tilt of the boat

 

Helm

The wheel

 

Hoist

To raise aloft

 

Jib

A foresail

 

Gybe

To turn the boat downwind from one side of the wind to the other

 

Knot

A nautical mile (equivalent to 1.15 miles or 1.852 kilometres). Also, a fastening made by interweaving rope to form various tangles

 

Latitude

An angular measurement or distance measured in degrees, north or south from the equator – which is 0

 

Lee

The side sheltered from the wind

 

Leeward

Downwind side

 

List

Inclination of a boat due to excess weight on one side or the other

 

Longitude

Distance in degrees east or west of Greenwich, England, meridian – which is 0

 

Nautical mile

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

 

Pinch

To sail as close as possible towards the wind

 

Port

The left side of the boat when looking forward

 

Reef

To shorten sail, usually by partially lowering it and tying it off with reefing lines

 

Rudder

A fin under the stern of the vessel used steering

 

Starboard

The right side of the boat when looking forward

 

Spinnaker

A large, light sail used in downward sailing

 

Staysail

On a cutter this is the sail located between the jib and the main sail

 

Stern

The rear of the boat

 

Trim

To adjust the sails

 

Trimaran

A boat with three hulls

 

Wake

The swell caused by a boat passing through water

 

Winch

Mechanical device for hauling in a line

 

Windward

Toward the direction from which the wind is coming

 

Yaw, Yawing

To turn from side to side in an uneven course