Sailing Glossary (TP)

Sailing Glossary

Aft – And the opposite of the front of the boat is of course the back, which is known in sailor-talk as the aft. Just to confuse things a little more however, the aft of a boat is sometimes referred to as the stern…best get to know both.

Boom – The ship’s boom is the pole that sticks out of the bottom of the mast horizontally and is used to turn the mast to capture the wind and thus gain movement.

Bow – Bow is nautical talk for the front of the ship or boat and given the fact that this is usually the business end, chances are you could benefit from knowing it.

Helm – The tiller or the wheel that steers the boat

Jib – The triangular headsail set on a stay forward of the foremast.

Jibing (Gybing) – Jibing is the easiest way of referring to a process whereby a sailor or boater turns the boat’s stem in order to shift the blowing of the wind from one side of the boast to the other.

Keel – The centerline backbone at the bottom of a boat

Leeward – The opposite of the above, leeward travel means to be moving against the wind in the opposite direction…considerably less easy for sailboats.

Port – And in the same vein as the above, the port side of the boat is the left hand side when facing the bow…aka the opposite of starboard. Learn these two and you’re half way there, sort of!

Rigging – The ropes and wire stays of a boat; securing masts and sails.

Rudder - Another reasonably easy entry, the rudder is of course that flat feature on the bottom of the boat at the back…or the aft…that’s needed to steer the boat in the right direction. Some are controlled directly with a simple stick and others are connected to the wheel of the boat or ship.

Spinnaker – The large, light, balloon-shaped sail set forward of the mainsail when running before the wind.

Starboard – Because the words ‘right’ and ‘left’ don’t really mean a great deal when you and your boat could be facing any direction at the time, you’ll come to learn starboard as being the right side of the boat when facing the front…or the bow.

Tacking – Not to be confused with jibing, tacking is the opposite process whereby the bow of the boat is turned through the wind in order to change the side on which it blows. • Trimming – Adjusting the angle of the sails

Windward – An easy one to remember now, windward refers to direction the wind is blowing in at the time. As such, a boat traveling in the same direction as the wind would said to be traveling windward – usually the case with sailboats.