Sailing Glossary

As with every new experience, there are some basic words or terminology that is necessary for the effective understanding of a particular situation. With sailing, it is no different. There are some words that sailor’s use that would generally make no sense to a layman, but are extremely necessary when sailing. So, before sailing off on your adventure, be sure to get acquainted with the following words. They may well save your life!nf6

  • Aft: at the back of the vessel
  • Batten: A strip or strips of wood or plastic which allows the sail’s shape to be supported
  • Beam: The entire width of the vessel
  • Boom: The support for the bottom of the main sail
  • Bow: The front of the vessel
  • Current: The water flow made by the movement of the water
  • Gunwale: The edge of the vessel on which persons can sit
  • Heel: The angle at which the vessel leans when sailing
  • Jib: The smallest of all the forward sails
  • Leech: The back edge of the sail
  • Leeward: The side away from which the wind is blowing
  • Mainsail: The Largest sail on the mast
  • Mast: The vertical pole which supports the sails
  • Personal Flotation Device: Life jacket or life vest
  • Pinching: Sailing too close to the wind, thus, effectively slowing the vessel
  • Reaching: To sail across the direction from which the wind is coming
  • Running: Sailing along the same direction of the wind
  • Sheet: The rope used to modify the sails
  • Sheet in: To pull on the sheet thus correcting the position of the sails
  • Sheet off: To release the sheet gradually
  • Shrouds: Wires coming from the side of the vessel that attaches to the mast
  • Tack: To turn the bow of the vessel through the wind
  • Tide: A noticeable increase or decrease in the water level by Earth’s gravitational pull
  • Tiller: The lever that allows the captain to sit on the gunwale and still steer the vessel
  • Trim the sails: The adjustment made to the sails to accommodate the change in wind’s velocity, strength and direction
  • Windward: The side closest to the wind

So now that you have the basic sailing terminology under your cap, it is time to hoist those sails and shove off. Happy sailing!