Marine / Sailing Glossary A-C

Abaft
Toward the stern of a boat, but outside the boat

Abeam
Direction at right angles to the centreline of a boat.

Adrift
Floating without any means of propulsion, and without mooring.

Aft
Toward the stern of a boat.

Aground
When a boat is stranded on the shore, or on the bottom of the body of water, it is said to have run aground.

A-lee
To leeward, toward the opposite to the source of the wind side of a boat.

All standing
To have all sails flying when running before the wind.

Aloft
Overhead, above deck level

Amidships
In the middle of the boat

Anchor
Any type of hook or weight used to grip the bottom and attached by a cable prevent the boats drifting. There are different types of anchors.

Apparent wind
The combination of the true wind and the wind caused by the boat's own speed. This is the wind felt on the boat, as well as the one shown by the telltales.

Ashore
To be on or to go to the shore.

Aspect ratio
Concerns sails - the ratio of height to the length. A narrow but tall sail has a high aspect ratio, and a wide but shorter sail has a low aspect ratio.

Astern
Behind the boat

Athwartship
At right angles to the centerline of the boat.

Autopilot
A device - may be electronic or mechanical - used for keeping the boat on course without having to steer it. It uses a compass, and is attached to the boat's steering mechanism.

Auxiliary/Auxiliary power
An engine that is permanently installed on the boat. Unfortunately it has to be used sometimes to power the boat. The engine is also usually used to recharge the batteries.

Back a sail
To hold a sail in such a way, that the wind will fill it from the opposite to usual side. This maneuver is used to slow down the boat (as if applying brakes), or to force a boat to tack when in irons.

Backing wind
A change in wind direction running counterclockwise, as in from west to southwest.

Backstay
A rigging wire used to keep the mast from moving forward, as well as to vary the amount of bend in the mast. A permanent backstay goes to the transom. Running backstays go to each gunwhale.

Backwinded
If your sails are filled with the wind on the opposite side to what you want (for example, if they are trimmed for the starboard tack, but you get the wind from the port side), you are said to be backwinded.

Bail
To get rid of water accumulated in the boat. Dinghies are often fitted with self bailers which, when opened, drained water out of the boat.

Ballast
A very heavy material, such as lead or iron, placed in the keel of the boat, or in the bilge. It is used to provide stability. In sailing dinghies the crew uses their weight as ballast.

Bare poles
In a very strong wind it is possible to be propelled by the force of the wind on only the mast and the boom. To sail in such a way is called "bare poles".

Battens
Thin strips of wood or plastic inserted into batten pockets used to stiffen the leech (to preserve the shape of the sail).

Beam
The widest part of a boat.

Bearing
The direction an object from teh viewer (based on the compass heading).

Bilge
Lower part of a hull.

Block
A device containing at least one sheave (pulley wheel) for altering the directiuon of a rope or to provide a purchase.

Boom
A spar (a wooden or metal pole) attached to the mast at a right angle, used to support the foot of a sail.

Boltrope
A reinforcing rope along the luff or the foot of the sail, it is slid into a slot along the edge of a spar (mast, boom).

Bow
The front end of a boat.

Bobstay
Brace from the end of a bowspirit to the lower point of the stern.

Bollard
Strong point for securing a rope. This may be ashore or on another vessel.

Bowsprit
A spar that's attached to the bow of a boat, along the centerline of the boat. The forestay can be attached to it - thus allowing for a greater sail area.

Broad Reach
Sailing with the wind slightly aft of the beam.

Bulkhead
Upright partition across the boat.

Buoy
Any object floating as a marker and anchored to the bottom. It may be used as a naviagtional aid, a means of mooring or as an indicator of a racing course.

Buoyancy
Force which enables anything to float. Many boats have built in buoyancy tanks in case of the hull being holed or the boats capsizing.

Buoyancy Aid
Safety garment to keeps its wearer afloat but (in Britain) one without the qualities that permit it to be called a lifejacket.

Burgee
Small flag often at the mast head which is often used to indicate wind direction.

Catamaran
A twin hulled craft

Centerboard
A pivoting board that prevents the boat from sliding sideways.

Centerline
The center of the boat: from the stern to the bow.

Chart
A nautically specialized map.

Chine
The angle between the side and bottom of a boat.

Cleat
A fitting for securing a line. It can be wooden, metal or nylon.

Clew
An aft corner of a triangular sail.

Close Hauled
Sailing as close as possible to the wind

Cockpit
The rear boat area from where the crew operates the boat. Also refers to the area below decks.

Crew
People who operate a boat. The crew in a two man sailing dinghy usually refers to the person operating the jib sail /spinaker.

Cringle
Rope loop or eye formed in sail or net.

Cuddy
Shelter on a boat not large enough to be a cabin.

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