Nautical Dictionary


Anchor Light - A small light used to discharge the battery.

Backstay - The last thing to grab as your falling overboard.

Bilge - A storage area in the bottom of the boat for all the things you cannot find. Also a mixing area for water, fuel and head output.

Bilge Pump - An electrical device designed to remove the charge from your batteries. These devices only operate when the vessel is not taking on water.

Bow - Best part of the boat to ram another with.

Carbon Fibre - Colour: Black. Cost: Absolutely outrageous. Life expectancy: 2/3 days.

Caulk - Any one of a number of substances introduced into the spaces between planks in the hull and decking of a boat that give a smooth, finished appearance while still permitting the passage of a significant amount of seawater.

Centreboard - Vantage point for the helmsman to occupy whilst blaming the crew for capsizing the boat.

Chart - A type of map which tells you where you are aground or what you just hit.

Circuit Breaker - Electro-mechanical switch designed to electrify all conductive metal fittings throughout the boat and flatten batteries. Available at most chandlers.

Companionway - A hole to fall into. (See "Hatch")

Crew - People working on your vessel, usually friends who dont find out about the "work" part of the trip until you are away from the dock. Crews have a high turnover rate, and normally will never want to see you again, let alone set foot on your boat again.

Cruising - Fixing your boat in distant locations. Leaving boat, returning home by train for several weeks and then collecting boat when unforecast storms finally ease.

Deck Fitting - Device for letting water into the cabin.

Engine - Sailboats are equipped with a variety of engines, but all of them work on the internal destruction principle, in which highly machined parts are rapidly converted into low-grade scrap, producing in the process energy in the form of heat, which is used to boil bilge water; vibration, which improves the muscle tone of the crew; and a small amount of rotational force, which drives the average size sailboat at speeds approaching a furlong per fortnight.

Flashlight - Tubular metal container used for storing dead batteries prior to disposal.

GPS - An electronic device that allows you to navigate out of sight of landmarks just before the batteries die.

Gybe - A great way to end up on Port Tack right in front of the whole fleet thats approaching the mark on Starboard. Also a quick way to wash out your racing dinghy.

Hatch - 1. Another name for a hole to fall into. 2. An opening for admitting water into the vessel.

Hazard - Any boat or any body of water. Any body of land near any body of water.

Helmsman - The nut attached to the rudder through a steering mechanism. The only Crew member who might enjoy a gybe.

Keel - A very heavy depth depth gauge.

Ketch - Sailboat with good wine in the cabin.

Motor Sailer - A boat that alternates between sail/rigging problems and engine problems with beer in the cabin.

Personal Floatation Device - A multifunction device normally used as a cushion, packing material or sponge. Coastguards require one for each person on board to ensure they have something soft to sit on in case seating is limited.

Porthole - Glass-covered opening in the hull cleverly designed to let in water when closed.

Propeller - Underwater winch designed to wind up any lines or sheets left hanging over the side.

Racing Rules of Sailing - A handy book of jokes published by the RYA.

Sailing - The most expensive and complicated way of going slowly, getting wet and becoming ill known to man.

Schooner - A boat with a fully stocked drinks cabinet in the cabin.

Sheet- A line made to rip gloves or hands part. Has the ability to tangle on anything.

Sloop - A boat with beer and wine in the cabin.

Spinnaker - 1. Large sail used in dead calm to keep the sun off the crew. 2. An extremely large, lightweight piece of cloth trailed in the water to slow the boat down.

Spinnaker Pole - A tubular device, the outer end designed to sever any connection it may have with the spinnaker while the inner end clamps itself to rigging, clothing, etc.

Stem Fitting - The hole made in a competitors boat when your helmsman misjudges a Port / Starboard crossing.

Stern - The flat, back end of your boat, included so you have a place to paint the name on.

Through Deck / Hull Fittings - A leak.

Yacht Race - Several boats going in different directions.