NAUTICAL DICTIONARY


       

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

 
 

A

  • Abaft
    Toward the rear (stern) of the boat. Behind.
  • Abeam
    At right angles to the keel of the boat, but not on the boat.
  • Aboard
    On or within the boat.
  • Above Deck
    On the deck (not over it - see Aloft)
  • Abreast
    Side by side; by the side of.
  • Adrift
    Loose, not on moorings or towline.
  • Aft
    Toward the stern of the boat.
  • Aground
    Touching or fast to the bottom.
  • Ahead
    In a forward direction.
  • Aids to Navigation
    Artificial objects to supplement natural landmarks indicating safe and unsafe waters.
  • Alee
    Away from the direction of the wind. Opposite of windward.
  • Aloft
    Above the deck of the boat.
  • Amidships
    In or toward the center of the boat.
  • Anchorage
    A place suitable for anchoring in relation to the wind, seas and bottom.
  • Astern
    In back of the boat, opposite of ahead.
  • Athwartships
    At right angles to the centerline of the boat; rowboat seats are generally athwart ships.
  • Aweigh
    The position of anchor as it is raised clear of the bottom

 

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B

  • Bow
    The front of the boat.
  • Batten Down
    Secure hatches and loose objects both within the hull and on deck.
  • Beam
    The greatest width of the boat.
  • Bearing
    The direction of an object expressed either as a true bearing as shown on the chart, or as a bearing relative to the heading of the boat.
  • Below
    Beneath the deck.
  • Bight
    The part of the rope or line, between the end and the standing part, on which a knot is formed. BILGE - The interior of the hull below the floor boards.
  • Bitter End
    The last part of a rope or chain. The inboard end of the anchor rode.
  • Boat
    A fairly indefinite term. A waterborne vehicle smaller than a ship. One definition is a small craft carried aboard a ship.
  • Boat Hook
    A short shaft with a fitting at one end shaped to facilitate use in putting a line over a piling, recovering an object dropped overboard, or in pushing or fending off.
  • Boot Top
    A painted line that indicates the designed waterline.
  • Bow
    The forward part of a boat.
  • Bow Line
    A docking line leading from the bow.
  • Bowline
    A knot used to form a temporary loop in the end of a line.
  • Bridge
    The location from which a vessel is steered and its speed controlled. "Control Station" is really a more appropriate term for small craft.
  • Bridle
    A line or wire secured at both ends in order to distribute a strain between two points.
  • Brightwork
    Varnished woodwork and/or polished metal.
  • Bulkhead
    A vertical partition separating compartments.
  • Buoy
    An anchored float used for marking a position on the water or a hazard or a shoal and for mooring.
  • Burdened Vessel
    That vessel which, according to the applicable Navigation Rules, must give way to the privileged vessel. The term has been superseded by the term "give-way".

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C

  • Cabin
    A compartment for passengers or crew.
  • Capsize
    To turn over.
  • Cast Off
    To let go.
  • Catamaran
    A twin-hulled boat, with hulls side by side.
  • Chafing Gear
    Tubing or cloth wrapping used to protect a line from chafing on a rough surface.
  • Chart
    A map for use by navigators.
  • Chine
    The intersection of the bottom and sides of a flat or v-bottomed boat.
  • Chock
    A fitting through which anchor or mooring lines are led. Usually U-shaped to reduce chafe.
  • Cleat
    A fitting to which lines are made fast. The classic cleat to which lines are belayed is approximately anvil-shaped.
  • Clove Hitch
    A knot for temporarily fastening a line to a spar or piling.
  • Coaming
    A vertical piece around the edge of a cockpit, hatch, etc. to prevent water on deck from running below.
  • Cockpit
    An opening in the deck from which the boat is handled.
  • Coil
    To lay a line down in circular turns.
  • Course
    The direction in which a boat is steered.
  • Cuddy
    A small shelter cabin in a boat.
  • Current
    The horizontal movement of water.

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D

  • Danger Zone
    An arc of 112.5 degrees, measured from dead ahead to just aft of the starboard beam.
  • Dead Ahead
    Directly ahead.
  • Dead Astern
    Directly aft.
  • Deck
    A permanent covering over a compartment, hull or any part thereof.
  • Dinghy
    A small open boat. A dinghy is often used as a tender for a larger craft.
  • Displacement
    The weight of water displaced by a floating vessel, thus, a boat's weight.
  • Displacement Hull
    A type of hull that plows through the water, displacing a weight of water equal to its own weight, even when more power is added.
  • Dock
    A protected water area in which vessels are moored. The term is often used to denote a pier or a wharf.
  • Dolphin
    A group of piles driven close together and bound with wire cables into a single structure.
  • Draft
    The depth of water a boat draws.

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E

  • Ebb Current
    Water running away from the shore or downstream.

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F

  • Flood Current
    Water flowing toward the shore or upstream.
  • Fathom
    Six feet.
  • Fender
    A cushion, placed between boats, or between a boat and a pier, to prevent damage.
  • Figure Eight Knot
    A knot in the form of a figure eight, placed in the end of a line to prevent the line from passing through a grommet or a block.
  • Flare
    The outward curve of a vessel's sides near the bow. A distress signal.
  • Flood
    A incoming current.
  • Floorboards
    The surface of the cockpit on which the crew stand.
  • Fluke
    The palm of an anchor.
  • Following Sea
    An overtaking sea that comes from astern.
  • Fore-and-Aft
    In a line parallel to the keel.
  • Forepeak
    A compartment in the bow of a small boat.
  • Forward
    Toward the bow of the boat.
  • Fouled
    Any piece of equipment that is jammed or entangled, or dirtied.
  • Freeboard
    The minimum vertical distance from the surface of the water to the gunwale.

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G

  • Galley
    The kitchen area of a boat.
  • Gangway
    The area of a ship's side where people board and disembark.
  • Gear
    A general term for ropes, blocks, tackle and other equipment.
  • Give-way Vessel
    A term used to describe the vessel which must yield in meeting, crossing, or overtaking situations.
  • Grab Rails
    Hand-hold fittings mounted on cabin tops and sides for personal safety when moving around the boat.
  • Ground Tackle
    A collective term for the anchor and its associated gear.
  • Gunwale
    The upper edge of a boat's sides.

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H

  • Hard Chine
    An abrupt intersection between the hull side and the hull bottom of a boat so constructed.
  • Hatch
    An opening in a boat's deck fitted with a watertight cover.
  • Head
    A marine toilet. Also the upper corner of a triangular sail.
  • Heading
    The direction in which a vessel's bow points at any given time.
  • Headway
    The forward motion of a boat. Opposite of sternway.
  • Helm
    The wheel or tiller controlling the rudder.
  • Helmsperson
    The person who steers the boat.
  • Hitch
    A knot used to secure a rope to another object or to another rope, or to form a loop or a noose in a rope.
  • Hold
    A compartment below deck in a large vessel, used solely for carrying cargo.
  • Hull
    The body of the boat. Commonly made of fiberglass, wood or aluminum. The hull has one of three basics shapes: flat bottom, round bottom or v-shaped bottom. Multi-hull boats have two or more hulls joined by a deck or cross beams.

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I

  • Inboard
    More toward the center of a vessel; inside; a motor fitted inside a boat.
  • Intercoastal Waterway (ICW)
    bays, rivers, and canals along the coasts (such as the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts), connected so that vessels may travel without going into the sea.

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J

  • Jacobs Ladder
    A rope ladder, lowered from the deck, as when pilots or passengers come aboard.
  • Jetty
    A structure, usually masonry, projecting out from the shore; a jetty may protect a harbor entrance.

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K

  • Keel
    Extended down from the hull is a keel, a centerboard or a daggerboard, which is used to keep the boat from moving sideways under certain wind conditions. It also increases the boat's stability and aids in steering it.
  • Knot
    A measure of speed equal to one nautical mile (6076 feet) per hour.
  • Knot
    A fastening made by interweaving rope to form a stopper, to enclose or bind an object, to form a loop or a noose, to tie a small rope to an object, or to tie the ends of two small ropes together.

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L

  • Leeward
    The side of the boat away from the wind.
  • Lattitude
    The distance north or south of the equator measured and expressed in degrees.
  • Lazarette
    A storage space in a boat's stern area.
  • Lee
    The side sheltered from the wind.
  • Leeward
    The direction away from the wind. Opposite of windward.
  • Leeway
    The sideways movement of the boat caused by either wind or current.
  • Line
    Rope and cordage used aboard a vessel.
  • Log
    A record of courses or operation. Also, a device to measure speed.
  • Longitude
    The distance in degrees east or west of the meridian at Greenwich, England.
  • Lubber's Line
    A mark or permanent line on a compass indicating the direction forward parallel to the keel when properly installed.

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M

  • Marlinspike
    A tool for opening the strands of a rope while splicing.
  • Midship
    Approximately in the location equally distant from the bow and stern.
  • Mooring
    An arrangement for securing a boat to a mooring buoy or a pier.

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N

  • Nautical Mile
    One minute of latitude; approximately 6076 feet - about 1/8 longer than the statute mile of 5280 feet.
  • Navigation
    The art and science of conducting a boat safely from one point to another
  • Navigation Rules
    The regulations governing the movement of vessels in relation to each other, generally called steering and sailing rules.

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O

  • Outboard
    Toward or beyond the boat's sides. A detachable engine mounted on a boat's stern.
  • Overboard
    Over the side or out of the boat.

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P

  • Pier
    A loading platform extending at an angle from the shore.
  • Pile
    A wood, metal or concrete pole driven into the bottom. Craft may be made fast to a pile; it may be used to support a pier (see Piling) or a float.
  • Piling
    Support, protection for wharves, piers etc.; constructed of piles (see PILE)
  • Piloting
    Navigation by use of visible references, the depth of the water, etc.
  • Planning
    A boat is said to be planning when it is essentially moving over the top of the water rather than through the water.
  • Planning Hull
    A type of hull shaped to glide easily across the water at high speed.
  • Port
    The left side of the boat.
  • Port Tack
    When the wind comes from the left to the right, it blows over the port side of the boat.
  • Privileged Vessel
    A vessel which, according to the applicable Navigation Rule, has right-of-way (this term has been superseded by the term "stand-on").
  • Prolonged Blast
    A horn blast of four to six seconds duration.

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Q

  • Quarter
    The sides of a boat aft of amidships.
  • Quartering Sea
    Sea coming on a boat's quarter.

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R

  • Right-of-way
    The right and duty to maintain course and speed.
  • Rode
    The anchor line and/or chain.
  • Rope
    In general, cordage as it is purchased at the store. When it comes aboard a vessel and is put to use it becomes line.
  • Rudder
    Attached to the stern is the rudder, which is controlled by the helm-tiller or a steering wheel. The rudder is turned to starboard (right) or port (left) to steer the boat.
  • Run
    To allow a line to feed freely.
  • Running Lights
    Lights required to be shown on boats underway between sundown and sunup.

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S

  • Sail
    The sails can be made of Dacron (a polyester material), Mylar or Kevlar (types of plastic) sewn together. The basic names for the sails are: the mainsail, which attaches to the mast and the jib, which attaches to the jibstay.
  • Satellite Navigation
    A form of position finding using radio transmissions from satellites with sophisticated on-board automatic equipment.
  • Scope
    Technically, the ratio of length of anchor rode in use to the vertical distance from the bow of the vessel to the bottom of the water. Usually six to seven to one for calm weather and more scope in storm conditions.
  • Screw
    A boat's propeller.
  • Scuppers
    Drain holes on deck, in the toe rail, or in bulwarks or (with drain pipes) in the deck itself.
  • Sea Cock
    A through hull valve, a shut off on a plumbing or drain pipe between the vessel's interior and the sea.
  • Seamanship
    All the arts and skills of boat handling, ranging from maintenance and repairs to piloting, sail handling, marlinespike work, and rigging.
  • Sea Room
    A safe distance from the shore or other hazards.
  • Seaworthy
    A boat or a boat's gear able to meet the usual sea conditions.
  • Secure
    To make fast.
  • Set
    Direction toward which the current is flowing.
  • Sheet
    A sheet is a rope that adjusts a sail's angle to the wind. A topping lift raises or lowers the outer end of the boom or pole. The fore-and-aft rig position of the poles is controlled.
  • Ship
    A larger vessel usually thought of as being used for ocean travel. A vessel able to carry a "boat" on board.
  • Short Blast
    A horn blast of one to two seconds duration.
  • Slack
    Not fastened; loose. Also, to loosen.
  • Slack Water
    The calm on the surface of the water, evident as the tide changes.
  • Sole
    Cabin or saloon floor. Timber extensions on the bottom of the rudder. Also the molded fiberglass deck of a cockpit.
  • Sounding
    A measurement of the depth of water.
  • Spars
    The mast, booms and any other poles used to support the rigging of a sailboat are called spars. They are usually made of aluminum or wood. The standing rigging is usually of stainless steel wire to hold up the mast. A stay runs from the top of the mast to the bow (front) or stern (rear) and the shrouds run from the top of the mast to the port (left) and starboard (right) side of the hull to give sideways support. The running rigging, which is usually line (fiber rope), wire rope, or a combination, is used to manipulate the sails.
  • Spring Line
    A pivot line used in docking, undocking, or to prevent the boat from moving forward or astern while made fast to a dock.
  • Squall
    A sudden, violent wind often accompanied by rain.
  • Square Knot
    A knot used to join two lines of similar size. Also called a reef knot.
  • Standing Part
    That part of a line which is made fast. The main part of a line as distinguished from the bight and the end.
  • Stand-on Vessel
    The vessel which has the right-of-way.
  • Starboard
    The right side of the boat.
  • Starboard Tack
    When the wind comes from the right to the left, it blows over the starboard side of the boat.
  • Stem
    The forward most part of the bow.
  • Stern
    The rear of the boat.
  • Stern Line
    A docking line leading from the stern.
  • Stow
    To put an item in its proper place.
  • Swamp
    To fill with water, but not settle to the bottom.

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T

  • Thwartships
    At right angles to the centerline of the boat.
  • Tide
    The periodic rise and fall of water level in the oceans.
  • Tiller
    A bar or handle for turning a boat's rudder or an outboard motor.
  • Topsides
    The sides of a vessel between the waterline and the deck; sometimes referring to onto or above the deck.
  • Transom
    The stern cross-section of a square sterned boat.
  • Trim
    Fore and aft balance of a boat.

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U

  • Underway
    Not at anchor, aground or attached to the dock or shore.

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V

  • V Bottom
    A hull with the bottom section in the shape of a "V".

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W

  • Wake
    Moving waves, track or path that a boat leaves behind it, when moving across the waters.
  • Waterline
    A line painted on a hull which shows the point to which a boat sinks when it is properly trimmed (see BOOT TOP).
  • Way
    Movement of a vessel through the water such as headway, sternway or leeway.
  • Windward
    The side of the boat that the wind is coming from.

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X


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Y

  • Yacht
    A pleasure vessel, a pleasure boat; in American usage the idea of size and luxury is conveyed, either sail or power.
  • Yaw
    To swing or steer off course, as when running with a quartering sea.

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Z


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