Sailboat & Marine Parts, Hardware and Supplies
Glossary of Sailing & Marine Terms
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Boats & Sails
- rope or wire used for hoisting sails.
- metal hooks used to secure a sail to a stay; to hank on a
sail is to hook it on a stay using the hanks
- one of the fittings that attaches the luff of a headsail
and a staysail to a stay.
- hard alee:
- the command given to inform the crew that the helm is being
turned quickly to leeward, turning the boat windward.
- hand bearing compass:
- a hand-held compass incorporating a sighting apparatus and
used primarily for taking bearings.
- harden up:
- to steer closer to the wind, usually by pulling in on the
- a covered opening in the deck
- an opening in the deck giving access below, also, its cover.
- metal pipe through which the anchor chain passes. Some are
convertible into fishing-rod holders.
- the forward part of a boat, including the bow and adjacent
area; the uppermost corner of a triangular sail; a seagoing
- head knocker:
- a block with a jam cleat, located on the boom and used to
control the main sheet on small boats.
- sails set within the foretriangle, i.e. forward of the mast
and usually on a stay. Headsails include jibs and staysails.
- a wire support line from the mast to the bow.
- head to wind:
- the bow turned into the wind, sails luffing.
- forward movement of a boat
- the foremost stay supporting the mast. The jib is set on
- heave to:
- to stop a boat and maintain position (with some leeway) by
balancing rudder and sail to prevent forward movement, a boat
stopped this way is "hove to".
- upward displacing swells.
- the leeward lean of the boat caused by the winds action on
- the tiller or wheel, and surrounding area
- the device, usually a tiller or wheel attached or connected
to the rudder, by which a boat is steered.
- the member of the crew responsible for steering.
- leaning out over the side of the boat to balance it.
- hike out:
- climb to windward.
- hiking stick:
- an extension of the tiller that enables the helms man to
sit at a distance from it.
- when a sailor leans over the side of a boat to counteract
- horizon glass:
- on a sextant, the glass or lens through which the horizon
is observed. The half of the glass nearer to the sextant frame
is a mirror, the other half is clear.
- hull speed:
- the fastest a keelboat will go, usually dependent on length
of the hull at the waterline.
- a wind of 64 knots or more; a tropical cyclone with extremely
- in irons:
- having turned onto the wind or lost the wind, stuck and unable
to make headway.
- inspection port:
- a watertight covering usually small, that may be removed
so the interior of the hull can be inspected or water removed.
- intracoastal waterway:
- the system of inland waterway channels running along the
Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States from Manasquan
Inlet, New Jersey, to the Mexican border in Texas; commonly
abbreviated as ICW.
- electrical power converter; converts square-wave DC current
to sinewave AC current.
- iron spinnaker:
- auxiliary engine.
- jack line:
- a line run for safety purposes from the cockpit forward to
the bow of the boat, inside the rail. Clipping on to the jack
line with the lanyard of our safety harnesses we were able to
minimize being lost overboard when going forward to crew severe
- a foresail. On a cutter this is the forward most sail, as
opposed to staysail located between the jib and the main.
- also gybe; changing from one tack to the other when sailing
- jiffy reefing:
- a fast method of reefing. Lines pull down the luff and the
leech of the sail, reducing its area.
- the fixed underwater fin on the hull which helps provide
stability and prevents the boat from slipping sideways
- a main structural member, the backbone of the ship running
longitudinally along the bottom from stem to stern; also the
vertical downward extension of a sailboat's bottom, usually
ballasted, for stability and lateral resistance.
- describes a rudder or centerboard that rotates back and up
when an obstacle is encountered - useful when a boat is to be
- a nautical mile (equivalent to 1.15 miles or 1.852km)
- a unit of speed, one knot = 6,076 feet per hour.
- a sighting of or coming to land, also the land so approached
or reached; the land first sighted at the end of a sea voyage.
- a line attached to any small object for the purpose of securing
- an angular measurement or distance measured in degrees, north
or south from the equator which is 0.
- the direction in which the strands of a line are twisted,
usually right-handed or clockwise. In hard-laid line the strains
are tightly twisted; in soft-laid line the strands are more
- a stowage compartment a the stern.
- refers to the direction in which a line goes. A boom yang,
for example, may "lead to the cockpit"
- when pronounced "leed," the direction of a line; when pronounced
"led," the weight at the end of a line used for taking soundings.
- lead line:
- a line marked off in fathoms and weighted at one end with
a lead, used for measuring water depths-also called a sounding
- the side away from the direction of the wind, also used in
context to refer to a sheltered place out of the wind, as in
the lee of the island.
- lee boards:
- pivoting boards on either side of a boat which serve the
same function as a centerboard. The board to leeward is dropped,
the board to windward is kept up.
- lee shore:
- a shore that winds blows onto; it is best to stay well off
a lee shore in a storm.
- the aft edge of a triangular sail
- the back edge of a sail.
- leech line:
- a line running through the leech of the sail, used to tighten
- downwind or away from the wind.
- a cable fence that surrounds the deck to assist in the prevention
of crew falling overboard
- safety lines and guardrails rigged around a boat's deck to
prevent the crew from being washed overboard.
- line of position:
- a straight line somewhere along which a ship is presumed
to be. The line may be determined either by ranges, or by visual
or electronic bearings.
- the leaning of a boat due to excess weight on one side or
- a device for measuring the rate of a ship's motion through
the water; also, a ship's journal or written record of the vessel's
day-by-day performance, listing speeds, distances traveled,
weather conditions, landfalls and other information.
- distance in degrees east or west of Greenwich, England, meridian
which is 0.
- a bright of line that forms at least a half circle. Bringing
the end parts near each other forms a closed loop, leaving them
apart makes an open one.
- a radio positioning system that allows navigators to make
position fixes by the reception of synchronized low-frequency
radio transmissions. The word loran is an acronym for long-range
- the forward edge of a sail, or- to stall or flap the sail
at its forward edge, or over the entire sail
- compass mark indicating fore-and-aft.
A B C
D E F G
H I J K L
M N O P Q
R S T
U V W X Y Z
Boats & Sails
A Glossary of Sailing Terms · Special to the San Diego Daily Transcript
Glossary of Sailing Terms · Oze Mail
Glossary of Sailing Terms · Sailing Gulf Waters
Glossary of Sailing Terms · The Seed Organization
The Time-Life Library of Boating by Time-Life Books 1975
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company