Nautical terms

There is a lot to learn when being at sea. Everything from how to enter a hammock, to how to eat while the ship is heeling in high seas, and last but not least: Nautical terms. In this post I want to list a few nautical terms that is used regularly during sail training. This might be useful if you are joining a tall ship/ small ship voyage for the first time!

Aboard – On or in the boat                                                                                                                  Aloft – overhead, above. Usually used when climbing in the rigging

Block – a pulley. These are also nicknamed «widow makers» and it is important to pay attention to them if you stand close by.                                                                                              Buoy – an anchored float marking a position or for use as a mooring.                                    Belay- To secure a rope by winding on a pin or cleat


Rope belayed on pins

Clew– the lower aft corner of the fore and aft sails

Downhaul– Rope for holding down or hauling down a sail

Helm – the tiller or wheel, and surrounding area                                                              Helmsman – the member of the crew responsible for steering                                        Halyard- rope or tackle for hoisting and lowering sails


This is a helm!

Jib– a foresail

Knot – a unit of speed, one knot = 6,076 feet per hour

Leeward – downwind or away from the wind

Mast- A spar placed vertically in a boat to hold up the sails.

Nautical Mile- Measure of length at sea (2025 yards). 1 mile = 1,760 yards.

Port side – left; Left side of the boat/ ship

Reef – to reduce the size of a sail                                                                                                Rigging – the standing rigging is the mast and support lines, running rigging is the lines with which you adjust the sails


The rigging and the yards

Safety harness- a harness, usually made of webbing, worn over the shoulders and around the chest                                                                                                                          Starboard– right; on the right side of the boat/ship                                                    Stern- The back end of a boat.

Windward – upwind

Yard – tapering spar attached to ship’s mast to spread the head of a square sail

If you would like to read more about nautical terms, you can do that by pressing THIS LINK!

Fair winds,

– Eline

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