A metal triangular bracket supporting a propeller shaft beneath the hull, just ahead of the propeller.  The form usually is a V


On the opposite side from which the wind is coming. The helm is a-lee when it is put down to Leeward.


Behind. A position abaft the mast like behind the mast. The opposite used to be afore, but today it is not used anymore. In collisions and other important occasions the word is commonly used in the phrase ‘Abaft the beam’.

To go about

To go about is to track the vessel through the wind. That is, to turn a sailing boat towards the wind, till the wind is dead ahead and to continue until the wind is on her other side.That done, she is about.


The habitable part of a boat. Do not confuse it with the accommodation ladder. The Accommodation ladder is over the ship’s side to help you come on board


Refers to something that is drifting on the water, such as a boat whose mooring has broken.


When the boat is resting on the bottom in a place where she would otherwise be afloat. Resting in the boatyard she is Ashore


Lying to the wind with no sail set. A heavy-weather tactic, used only when the wind is so strong that no canvas will stand anyway.


A empty box or tank, made of wood, metal or other, containing nothing but air and completely watertight to assure of buoyancy. The use of many separate tanks means that even if the hull is holed only one or two local tanks might be damaged, with little loss of buoyancy

Aldis lamp

A signaling lamp. Its beam is very narrow and concentrated, and thus visible at a great range only to those addressed. The pencil-wide beam is aimed by a telescopic sight on the top of the lamp

All Fours

A vessel is moored all fours when she is held by four lines, two from the bows and two from the quarters.


An annual tabulation of astronomical information, especially as required for celestial navigation.


By the side of the ship, or by the side of a quay or dock. Your dinghy may be alongside your boat, or you may put your boat alongside a quay. When berthing next to another boat one normally asks ‘May we come alongside?’


The centre part of a vessel. It refers to the point midway between fore-and-aft or athwart ships, i.e. halfway between the port and starboard sides

Anchor buoy

A buoy supporting the Anchor

Anchor Light

An all-round white light which must be shown by any vessel lying at anchor between the hours of sunset and sunrise. Normally in the fore-part of the vessel.


An instrument for measuring wind-speed


The response of a boat to her helm. We say «She doesn’t answer” when the rudder has dropped off or the boat is aground

Apparent wind

The wind direction and strength as measured from the boat herself. This is a compound of the natural, or True wind and the wind due to the boat’s own movement over the face of the earth.


An underwater surface which protrudes from a hull. That’s to say any sort of keel, rudder etc.


A sail is asleep when it has no wind in it


A position somewhere aft of the boat. For cars we say “reverse”, but boats ‘Go astern’ under the power of their engines


An object is aweigh when it is hanging by a rope or chain. Normally the term is used only of the anchor, which becomes aweigh when it is hanging free, either ready to drop, or ready to lift because it has just broken out of the ground


The azimuth of a heavenly body is its bearing in relation to True North, as observed by you

Back Water

Is the use the oars in reverse, so as to slow the boat or drive her astern.Backing

The changing of the wind direction anticlockwise


A sail of a yacht backwinds another sail when it turns the wind on to its
leeward side.


This is the quality of a yacht under sail which relates to her tendency to sail
a straight course unaided. Today most sailing boats are unbalanced or out of
balance, in other words, if the helm is left free the boat will no longer hold
her course.


Weight carried low in the boat to aid stability. In most modern yachts the
ballast is integral with the boat, and consists of lead or iron bolted to the keel


A light-weather sail which is cut full and rounded, a comparatively large

Bare poles

We have bare poles when no sail is set. In storm winds a boat may run at two
or three knots simply under the pressure of the wind upon her mast, rigging
and superstructure


Shell-fish which attach themselves to the bottom of your boat in large
numbers and cut your speed by a quarter.


A barometer which draws a continuous graph of the atmospheric pressure
changes. In Greece’s seas the changes are frequent


A fixed navigational mark, sometimes as a warning of shallows, and
sometimes as a reference-point of which you may take a bearing. There are
various types like radar reflectors, radio beacons, sonic and visual signals


The direction in which an object lies in relation to the observer, and normally
stated in relation to the compass. It is important to remember that bearings
are always stated from the position of the observer

Beaufort scale

A scale of wind speeds devised by Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, Hydrographer
of the Navy, 1829-55. The scale is strictly one of wind speed, and not of wind

Before the wind

Sailing with the wind astern, running free. Having the wind free.


To secure a rope or chain to any fixed object, usually a cleat or a bollard.

Bell buoy

The navigational buoy with a bell which sounds as the buoy rocks to the seas,
so that you can hear it even when fog obscures it.


In the cabin, and not on deck or in the cockpit. In a yacht you don’t say to ‘go
inside’ but ‘get below’


It is the whole space in the bottom of the boat under the cabin and cockpit


The housing for the steering compass. An upstanding pedestal with the
compass housed in the top.


Stout posts or vertical timbers, arranged in pairs, sometimes with a crossbar,
to which mooring ropes can be belayed


The flattened or “palm” end of an oar or paddle. The underwater area of a


A long pole with a hook at the end, for picking up a mooring buoy or booming
out a jib.


chiefly a spar at the foot of a sail to give control.


A motor driven propeller near the bow that operates laterally to move the
bow one way or the other to help with maneuvering. It can be found in larger

Bring up

To bring a boat up, is to anchor her. The term is also sometimes used of
mooring to a quay or another boat.


A floating mark, anchored to the bottom. It serves either as a marker for a
laid mooring, or a navigational mark. Navigation buoys may be lit or unlit may
carry a radar reflector or even a radar transmitter responding to the emissions
of a ship’s radar


The power to float, inherent in a body whose density is less than that of
water. The word is often used to define a buoyant material or construction, as
in ‘This boat is well equipped with buoyancy’, meaning that she has a number
of buoyant bags or tanks fitted


A small triangular flag flown at the masthead usually to a design and color
peculiar to the owner’s club. The burgee serves to indicate wind direction.

C (letter)

In the International Code of Signals the letter C stands for Yes (or
Affirmative). In the phonetic alphabet it is the “Charlie”

Canting keel

A ballasted keel that, instead of being fixed laterally, can be canted to
windward to increase the righting moment


A boat is capsized when she turns upside-down, but it the case of a sailing
boat, she is capsized if her mast reaches the water

Carbine hook

A hook with spring closure, basically similar to the hook on a dog-lead or a
watch-chain, but made to a higher specification.

Cardinal points

The four principal points of the compass, North, East, South and West.

Carry her way

A boat carries her way when she continues moving by her own momentum
after the propelling force has ceased to act

Cast off

To let go from a mooring. To undo a rope, free a vessel.

Cat, to

To secure an anchor on board. Some yachts have a Cat-head, a small crane
or spar to which the anchor is lifted and at which it may be stowed.

Cathedral hull

A hull whose bottom is has the form of a triple V. When at rest or moving
slowly, all three Vs are immersed, but at speed the hull rises and the outer Vs
barely touch the water

Cats paw

A gentle puff of wind.

Celestial navigation

Finding one’s position on the surface of the earth by using the stars and other
heavenly bodies as reference points. The essential tools are the Sextant to
measure angles between the horizon and a celestial body, the Chronometer
to give Greenwich Mean Time and a pre-calculated table of star positions.

Chain plates

The metal fittings on each side of the hull to which the shrouds are attached.


A map of the sea, showing shore lines, depths, useful marks and buoys


To hire a yacht or a boat.


A simple instrument for measuring speed. A flat, triangular-shaped board has
a bridle consisting of a line from each corner, meeting at a single logline. The
board is weighted at one edge so that it will float upright when dropped over
the stern.

Clipper bow

The shape of bow in which the stem forms a hollow curve on its underside.
The sections of such a bow are flared and hollow above the waterline

Coach roof

The part of a cabin of the yacht, which stands up above deck level.


A vertical ridge or barrier, of wood, steel etc., to keep water out. A cockpit
usually has a coaming down each side, and perhaps all round

Coming home

When you pull the anchor cable and the anchor comes towards the boat
instead of the boat going towards the anchor, then the anchor is “coming


The president, or senior officer, of a yacht club.


An upstanding box designed to support a steering wheel, the various
instruments, the throttle levers, etc


The direction in which the ship is pointing or heading. The compass course is
the direction expressed in terms of compass degrees

Courtesy flag

When entering a foreign port, you should fly the flag of that country from her
starboard Spreader, continuing to fly her own national ensign from its usual


An eye in the edge of a sail, formed in the roping and usually fitted with a
metal or plastic thimble against chafe.


Two or more bearings from which crossing position lines can be drawn to
indicating your actual position

Delta- Letter

The single-letter signal means, ‘Keep clear of me because I am maneuvering with difficulty’. Phonetically it is Delta.


A type of anchor with excellent holding power


A small sailing boat, a few feet more or less than twenty, without a cabin, and used for pleasure sailing..


An unlit beacon, normally rather large and erected on the land, to provide a reference point by daylight. Day-marks take the form of towers of brick, stone or steel, and should be high enough to be clearly spotted.


The rise of the bottom of a boat from the keel outward to the turn of the bilge.

Deck light

A thick piece of glass let into the deck to allow light below

Deck log

A note-book in which the captain can keep notes for neat compilation of the proper Log at some later time.

Deck saloon

A raised coach roof with large windows that allow people inside to see out


In meteorology an area of relatively low atmospheric pressure and announcing a bad weather.


The compass error resulting from the influence of magnetic materials aboard the ship


A small open boat, used under oars, sail, or outboard.

Dipping light

A light at such a distance that it appears and disappears over the horizon as the ship lifts to the swell.


The weight of water which is displaced by a floating boat, and in other words the weight of the boat herself.

Distress Signals

There are fourteen internationally agreed signals which may be made when a vessel or her crew is in danger and help is required. We shall be back on the subject with extended info’s

Docking Line

Just a rope which is used to make a boat fast to a harbor wall, a pile, or even another boat


The depth of water a vessel draws, in other words the depth of water she needs to float

E- Letter

The single letter E means, ‘I am altering my course to starboard’. Echo in the phonetic alphabet

Ebb, to

When the tide falls, it ebbs. The event is the Ebb. The contrary term is Flood


The echo sounder is a depth-measuring electronic system for indirectly determining ocean floor depth. Based on the principle that water is an exceptional medium for the transmission of sound waves, the instrument transmits a sound pulse. The time interval between the initiation of a sound pulse and echo returned from the bottom, can be used to determine the depth of the bottom.

Electrolytic corrosion

Corrosion caused by current leaking from the boat’s own electrical system


The flag of nationality worn by a vessel. The ensign is hoisted at 0800 in summer and 0900 in winter, and is lowered at sunset or 2100, whichever is earlier.


The time of year when the length of day and night are equal. The 20th of  March and 22nd of September.


In the International Code of Signals the letter F means, “I am disabled”, Phonetically it is “Foxtrot”

Fair wind

The wind that allows a vessel to sail from point A to point B without the need of a tack


The main navigable channel in a harbor, that should be kept by all means clear of anchoring etc


Awkwardly, we say that a vessel is “fast” when she is held a boat is fast when she is held at a standstill, by mooring ropes or if she is stuck on the mud


A unit of length equal to six feet, when we are measuring depth and/or the length of the anchor cable. Increasingly out of use in our days, because of the existing metric system.


Aplasti or elastic cushion, like a ball, a pear or a sausage, and with an eye for attachment of a lanyard, which is used to protect and pad the ship’s side when she is alongside a wall or another vessel.

Fisherman’s anchor

The most traditional type of anchor.


A firework intended to create a bright light, red as a sign of distress, or white to indicate position. White flares as used in small boats are always hand-held; red flares may be, but they may also be projected skyward by rocket, and may descend by parachute

Flashing light

An intermittent light showing a single flash at regular intervals. The period of light is less than the intervening periods of darkness

Flog, to

A sail flogs when it flaps widely from side to side.


A group of vessels, an organized charter in company with several boats led by a skippered yacht from the charter operator.


The flattened and broadened area of an anchor which digs in the bottom. Also known as the Palm


The horizontal dimension of a flag. The vertical dimension is the Hoist.

Following wind

The opposite of headwind- that’s to say a wind up your tail.


The lower edge of a sail.


An adjective, when it has the opposite sense to After: fore cabin and after cabin, fore deck and after deck.


The height of a boat’s deck above the water level

Full and change

The times of the full and new moon, considerable dates in tidal predictions

G – Golf

In the International Code of Signals the letter G signifies, “I require a pilot”. Phonetically it is “Golf”


The plan view of a vessel’s accommodation. The General Arrangement


The word is used to describe winds of Beaufort force 8 and 9


The space in the accommodation area of a boat, used for kitchen purposes.

Galvanic corrosion

Corrosion that occurs when different metals are connected and immersed in salt water

Gammon iron

A metal ring or band which holds the bowsprit to the stemhead. A bowsprit is rare in  modern yachts


The boarding plank to come aboard a boat

Gate start

A method of starting a race when a large number of boats is involved. The starting line lies between a moving boat and a free-floating buoy


A large triangular headsail, extending abaft the mast and usually coming right down to the deck. A very efficient sail.


Concentric, metal rings allowing a compass or a lamp, to swing freely and so to remain upright no matter how the ship pitches or rolls.

Go about (or put about)

To turn the ship’s head through the wind, to tack.

Goose neck

The gooseneck is the swivel connection on a sailboat by which the boom attaches to the mast. The boom moves from side to side and up and down by swiveling on the goose neck


Global Positioning System. A highly accurate navigational aid using the automatic measurements from a multiplicity of artificial satellites.

Gradient wind

More specifically wind speed gradient  or wind velocity gradient, is the vertical gradient of the mean horizontal wind speed in the lower atmosphere. A wind resulting from a difference in barometric pressure across the face of the earth


A multiple hook, with two, three or four prongs, intended to catch in a bush ashore, or to snare a lost cable on the bottom


A small marine creature, which eats underwater timber

Guard rail

The -at least two feet- high ‘fence’ around the deck to protect from falling overboard


A rope used to restrain and/or guide a boom.


Commonly gyro. A non-magnetic means of ascertaining a vessel’s heading by always pointing to true north.

H – Hotel

In the International Code H means, “I have a pilot on board”. Phonetically “Hotel”


An open boat with a certain amount of decking, mostly over the forepeak, the stern sheets, and along each side of the well.

Hand, to

To lower and furl a sail. It is proper naval term to say that, and not “get the mainsail down”.


The person in charge of a harbor


A hard chine in boating refers to a sharp angle in the hull, as compared to “soft chine” the rounded bottoms of most traditional boat hulls


An opening in a deck, through which people or goods can pass. Its cover is the  hatch-cover


A hole through the bows of the hull itself, where the anchor chain enters. In the good old traditional marine dictionary, the Italian word “occhio” (the eye), was used.


A boat’s heading is merely the direction in which she is heading


Any sail set forward of the mast, or on vessels with more than one mast, the fore-mast.

Heave, to

To bring the vessel to a stop, as fast as possible, using the sails or the engine

Heaving line

A heaving line is a light line, with a weighted end (called the Monkey fist), which can be used when mooring a ship to the dock or in passing a heavy line for any purpose.

High Water

Is the High water as compared to the Low water

Highfield lever

A device for tensioning stays. The lever swings fore and aft, and throws over top dead centre to lie on the deck when in either the forward or aft positions.

House flag

The private flag of a private owner. A very gentlemanly thing to have!!


A hull is the watertight body of a yacht or a boat. Above the hull is the superstructure and/ordeckhouse. The line where the hull meets the water surface is called the waterline.

Hull speed

The maximum speed that a hull can achieve, based on its waterline length

I – Letter

The single-letter signal means, »I am altering my course to port ‘. Phonetically it is India


In weather forecast Imminent means that the expected conditions will arrive in the area within six hours


A current setting into a bay or a sound


The inflatable boat is a rather small, light and stable vessel with a lot of uses. She is constructed with its sides and bow made of flexible tubes containing pressurized gas

Inglefield clips

Also known as a sister clip and a Brummel hook, is a clip for joining a flag or ensign quickly, easily and securely to flag halyards so that the flag can be hoisted

International Code of Signals – ICS

A system of signals and codes using mainly two letters in place of certain phrases and sentences, codes for use by vessels to communicate important messages (See related article)


A line on a map connecting points of equal water depth

K – Kilo

In the International Code of Signals the letter K stands for, ‘I wish to communicate with you‘. Phonetically it is “Kilo”, pronounced ‘key-low’


A rather small anchor of a vessel that has been dropped at some distance from it, to be drawn in this way. The kedge is normally used with a rope cable rather than chain.


A structural keel is a large beam around which the hull of a ship is built. The keel runs in the middle of the ship, from the bow to the stern, and serves as the foundation or spine of the structure


The keelson is the member which, mainly in a wooden vessel, lies parallel with its keel but above the transverse members such as timbers, or floors


A sailing boat with two-masts: the main mast and a shorter one abaft of the main mast but forward of the rudder.

King plank

The boat’s center flat timber on a laid deck

Kings spoke

The top spoke on a wheel when the rudder is centered.

Kitchen rudder

A combination rudder and directional propulsion delivery system for relatively slow speed boats. It turns the rudder into a directional thruster, and allows the engine to maintain constant revolutions and direction of drive shaft rotation while altering thrust by use of a control which directs thrust forward or aft.

L – Letter

In the International Code L means, “’You should stop your vessel immediately’”. Phonetically “Lima” (Lee-ma)

Laid deck

A deck made of narrow planks of teak, about two inches wide each


Acronym from Large Automatic Navigational Buoy, a type of big enough buoy to provide refuge for seamen in distress, such a buoy houses a diesel generator and a variety of sophisticated equipment.

Land breeze

A land breeze is a type of wind that blows from the land to the sea. When there is a temperature difference between the land surface and the sea, winds will move offshore. Land breezes usually occur at night


Weather forecasting term

A term in weather forecasts meaning ‘arriving after a lapse of twelve hours at least.’


The Latitude is the angular distance of a location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is usually measured in degrees

Layout, to

To place an anchor ahead of the bow using another boat or on foot

To take an anchor out from your boat, in a dinghy or across the beach on foot, as distinct from dropping it underfoot, from the boat herself.


A locker in the stern used for storage of various items like ropes, color pots tec

Lee shore

A shore towards which the wind is blowing

A shore towards which the wind is blowing. A natural place of danger, since a vessel tends to be blown on to it


Anti-clockwise rotation of a propeller, when viewed from the rear. When the upper blade is rotating towards the left

Lie alongside

One boat next to another in harbor berth


A lifeboat is a small, rigid or inflatable boat carried for emergency reasons aboard a ship.


A lifejacket is a type of personal flotation device designed to keep your airway clear of the water whether you are conscious or unconscious. They  come in two types, inflatable and foam.


I line is commonly the smaller sizes of rope carried aboard a boat

Link shackle

A shackle in the form of a C, whose opening is closed by a screw nut, used in fastening or coupling


The Longitude is the angular distance of a location of any point on the earth’s surface measured as an angle east or west of the Greenwich meridian.

M – Mike

In the International Code M means, “‘My vessel is stopped and making no way through the water ‘”. Phonetically “Mike”

Main mast

The tallest mast, usually located near the center of the ship.

Man overboard! MOB

Man overboard is a situation in which a person has fallen from a boat or ship into the water and is in need of rescue. Whoever sees the person’s fall should shout «man overboard» to alert other crew members and attempt to maintain visual contact with the person in the water, by pointing continuously at the victim. Learn what to do if come across a man overboard case


A natural rope much used in the past, but now displaced by the synthetics.


Artificial yacht harbor

Marker buoy

The surface marker buoy, is an inflatable buoy used by scuba divers, with a line, to indicate the diver’s position while he is underwater


International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships


The mast on a sailing boat and/or a yacht is the pole from which the sails are rigged. A motor cruiser may have a mast that is no longer than a sailing cruiser’s ensign staff, but it is still called a mast. A mast has a Head at the top and a Foot at the bottom

Mast coat

A sleeve of canvas used to prevent water from passing down below decks. Both the lower and upper edges of the coat must be well sealed.


The chief officer of the vessel. The captain of the ship.

Masthead light

The white light that shines forward and to both sides and is required on all power-driven vessels. A masthead light must be displayed by all vessels when under engine power. The absence of this lightindicates a sailboat under sail.


Mayday is an emergency procedure, corresponding to SOS,  word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications. It derives from the French venez m’aider, meaning «come help me»In such a case Mayday call,  is to repeat the word ‘Mayday’ three times in succession and without haste, then give the name of your boat, her position, the nature of the trouble, and what action you are taking.

Mercator’s projection

Most commonly used method of showing the spherical world on paper, it shows parallels of latitude parallel. It also shows meridians of longitude as parallel, an accepted inaccuracy, because in practice they meet at the north and south poles.


The made-up lines which run due north and south between the poles of the earth, denoting longitude. The meridian which passes through Green­wich (England) is zero longitude and all others are measured as so many degrees east or west of that.


A unit of pressure marked on a barometer, which is itself one thousandth of a bar

Moderate (in meteorology)

Is the weather condition with a visibility is between 2 and 5 nautical miles. The wave height of 1.25m to 2.5m


A boat with more than one hull, such as a catamaran (two hulls) or trimaran (three hulls)

Mushroom anchor

An anchor used in soft mud, sometimes as part of a laid mooring. It is shaped like a mushroom with a very hollow crown.

N – Letter

In the International Code of Signals the letter N stands for, ‘ No or Negative”.
Phonetically it is “November”


The narrow part of a river, channel etc

Nautical almanac

A comprehensive publication describing the positions of a selection of celestial
bodies and a thousand and one useful items of information for the sailor.
They say that no boat should go to sea without one, as long as you do know
how to read it

Nautical mile

The international nautical mile is 1852 metres. A mile is divided into
ten ‘cables’, each of which is therefore approximately 200 yards


Navigation is the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a
craft or vehicle from one place to another. The art of finding a ship’s position
in the open sea

Nun buoy

A diamond-shaped buoy which is viewed from any side. It has a pointed top
and a pointed bottom


In the International Code O means, “Man overboard”. Phonetically “Oscar”


Oakum is a preparation of tarred fiber used for caulking or packing the joints of timbers in
wooden vessels and the deck planking of iron and steel ships


Implement used for rowing and propelling a boat without the use of sails or engine.
The difference between oars and paddles are that paddles are held by the paddler, and
are not connected with the vessel.

Occulting light

A steady light with periods of darkness at regular intervals, but the general effect
being lighter that dark. In other words a steady light with dark flashes.

On the beam

Location description of an observed object in a line with the beams, or at right angles
with the keel.

On the bow

When we observe in either side of the forward end, especially with reference to the
direction of a distant object: for example, mooring three points off the starboard bow.

On the wind

Sailing with the wind coming from forward of abeam.


An outboard motor is a propulsion system for boats, consisting of a self-contained
unit that includes engine, gearbox and propeller or jet drive, fitted beyond the normal
area of the deck.


A rope used to pull something in an outward direction in relation to the centre of the
boat. An outhaul pulls the tack of the jib to the bowsprit-end

Overtaking light

Any vessel approaching in the arc through which this white light shines (67.5 degrees
to port and starboard of dead astern) is an overtaking vessel in the meaning of the
International Regulations, and must keep clear. The same arc holds force in daylight.


In the International Code of Signals the letter P stands for, ‘I am ‘about to proceed to sea ‘. Phonetically it is “Papa”


A leather pad worn on the hand like a glove to protect the palm when sewing sailcloth.


Traditional hauling and purchasing technique. The above picture explains the way it works. If one end of a rope is made fast and the other is passed around a log, say, then as you pull the free end the log rolls towards you. A possible use for the yachtsman is to get an inert body from the water to deck level,


A trip in a boat from one place to another is usually called a passage. “Voyage” is the  round trip


A gangway used in yachts for boarding from the shore, often fitted with stanchions

Pelican hook

A metal hook with a cam-action tongue which can be opened. Used for joining guard rails among other things.

Pillar buoy

A buoy with a tall and relatively slender structure to make it visible from a greater distance, and often placed at the seaward end of a series of channel buoys to act as a Landfall buoy


A pilot is experienced captain with detailed knowledge of local waters who guides ships through dangerous or congested waters, such as harbors or river mouths. Small pleasure boats like yachts are not obliged to have one, but they can ask for one if they choose to, and if they can afford him


The ability of finding one’s way around in waters where the coast, rocks, buoys etc provide visual references


A pintle is a pin or bolt, usually inserted into a gudgeon, which is used as part of a pivot or hinge, as insailing to hold the rudder onto the boat

Piston hank

The metal clip with sliding plunger used to attach the Luff of a headsail to the forestay

Plow anchor

The anchor with a single blade


Any of the 32 horizontal directions indicated on the card of a compass of a yacht

Point of sail

The point of sail describes a sailing boat’s course in relation to the wind direction


A floating structure, such as a flat bottom boat, that is used to support a bridge or a dock.

Poor (visibility)

Visibility between 1,000 metres and 2 nautical miles

Pop rivet

A rivet which can be closed from one side with a special tool


The boat’s own left-hand side. Starboard is the right hand side


Pratique is the license given to a ship to enter port on assurance from the captain to convince the authorities that the boat is free from contagious disease. In other words the license to come ashore.

Prime Meridian

The Meridian which passes through Greenwich Longitude zero

Prolonged blast

A sound signal of a single hoot lasting from four to six seconds. A short blast lasts about one second

Q – Letter

In the International Code of Signals the letter Q stands for, My vessel is healthy and I request a free pratique”. It may relate to health, customs or immigration rules, hence the association of Q and quarantine”. Phonetically it is “Quebec” spelled “kay-Beck”. In the Navy the flag means “Boat recall; all boats return to ship”.


The after end of the side of a boat. The starboard quarter is the ‘back right-hand corner’. The quarters complement the Bows, and like bows they indi­cate no precise point, but rather a region and a direction. Thus a ship may be seen ‘coming up on the port quarter’ which is equivalent to an approach from over your left shoulder.

Quarter badge

an ornament on the side of a vessel near, the stern

Quick flashing light

A light which flashes at a rate of sixty times a minutes or more.

R- Letter

In the International Code R means nothing for pleasure boats, yachts etc. In the Navy indicates the ready for duty ship. Phonetically it is “Romeo”

Racing flag

The racing flag a small rectangular flag or burgee, used to indicate that the boat was actually participating in a race

Racking seizing

A way of binding two ropes together by wind­ing the line between and round so as to make a number of figure-eight turns

Radar reflector

A radar reflector is a passive reflector of radar emissions which is attached to a boat to make it more visible on radar. Any private craft, of whatever material of construction, should carry a radar reflector if she moves in waters where she may encounter ships

Raft, to

To moor several boats side by side, all lying to the single anchor or mooring of one of them, a common spectacle in the Greek ports

Rake of a mast

Is the forward or aft inclination of the mast.


A type of radar beacon occasionally used to mark maritime navigational hazards. The word is an acronym for RA-dar MARK-er.

Rapidly (in shipping forecast)

Moving at 35 to 45 knots

Rather quickly (in shipping forecast)

Moving at 25 to 35 knots

Reach, to

To sail with the wind abeam or forward of the beam


A helmsman’s warning to the crew that he is going to tack, so headsail sheets must be trimmed


A kind of Foghorn which uses a vibrating reed to make the sound

Reef knot

The most common knot for joining two ends of a line together.

Reef a sail, to

The sailing manoeuvre intended to reduce the area of a sail on a sailboat or sailing ship, which can improve the ship’s stability and reduce the risk of capsizing, or damaging sails or boat hardware in a strong wind

Reefing gear

Mechanical apparatus for roller reefing of a mainsail around its boom or of a headsail around its luff-spar or rod.

Render, to

To ease a rope through a block or round a Samson post. The rope itself renders if it runs freely through a block.

Reserve buoyancy

the difference between the volume of a hull below the designed waterline and the volume of the hull below the lowest opening incapable of being made watertight.

Rhumb line

A straight line drawn between two points on an ordinary chart. It is NOT in fact the shortest distance between two points because the chart shows a distorted picture of the face of the earth.

Rigging screw

A device for adjustment of length fitted at the lower end of shrouds, stays. Rigging screws are the norm on modern boats for tensioning the rigging.

Right-handed propeller

A propeller which, when viewed from astern, rotates clockwise

Rogue’s yarn

A yarn of distinctive color, material, or twist, laid in a strand or strands of a rope to identify the owner or the maker


A yacht rolls when she rotates about the longitudinal (front/back) axis

Rough (in shipping forecast)

Wave height of 2.5 to 4m

Round up or Round to

To bring a boat’s head up to the wind.


The U-shaped metallic or plastic rowlock attaches an oar to a boat


The distance covered in a stated time. The ‘day’s run’ implies a 24-hour day, noon to noon

Running lights

Navigation lights prescribed for a vessel making way, in the International regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

T- Letter

In the International Code of Signals the letter T stands for, “Keep clear; I am engaged in trawling”.  In the Navy stands for “Do not pass ahead of me”’. Phonetically it is “Tang-go”


The parts of a sail –usually the edges- which are reinforced by doubling or trebling the thickness of the material and over sewing.


An instrument for measuring the rate of revolution of the engine


1) The lower, forward corner of a sail.

2) Tack, to (verb)

When sailing close-hauled, to turn the boat’s head through the wind so that the sails draw on the opposite side. The boat is coming is ‘on the port tack, when sailing with the wind coming from port, and ‘on starboard’ when the wind comes from her starboard side


The rail around the stern of a boat to prevent fromfalling overboard. Today the yachts do not have the elegant wooden rails of their forebears, but have tubular metal railings instead, called Pushpits.

Tail, to

To pull on a rope that is round a winch

Telegraph buoy

The buoy that marks the position of a submarine cable


The special compass which mounted over the skipper’s berth to check what the helmsman is doing.


Any small boat –mostly inflatable- used to take people or stores out to a bigger one.


The metal fittings that form eyes or attachments in the ends of wire ropes

Thermal wind

A wind caused by differential heating of sea and land. For example the sun heats the land more rapidly than the sea, the air rises over the land and a sea breeze flows towards the shore to replace it.

Thole pins

Wooden pegs shipped vertically in pairs in the gunwale to constrain an oar for rowing

Thumb cleat

A small cleat with only one horn

Topping lift

A rope from the mast to the boom end which supports the boom and allows you to lift or lower it.


The sides of the hull between the waterline and the deck.


The vessel’s progress over the face of the earth. The actual line along which she travels


A net of rope filling the gap between the two hulls of a catamaran


Any of several transverse beams affixed to the sternpost of a wooden ship and forming part of the stern


A period of duty at the helm or on watch. A nautical term

Tricolor lamp

A lamp showing red in the proper port sector, green in the starboard sector, and white astern, allowed on some small sailboats instead of the normal bow and stern lights

Trim, to (verb)

To adjust the set of the sails for best results

True wind

The wind with the direction and velocity measured by a stationary observer. Apparent wind is the wind experienced by a moving object

Turk’s head

A decorative knot with a variable number of interwoven strands, forming a closed loop

Twin keels

This is a proper term to use for some sailing boats which have a pair of keels, but no central keel

U – Letter

One of the most important in the International Code of Signals is the letter U. U stands for ‘You are running into danger ‘. Phonetically it is “YOU-nee-form”


A rock or any other obstruction which is never covered by water at any state of the tide.

Under bare poles

With no sail set, but making way due to the wind pressure on hull and rigging

Under sail

According to the Collision Regulations a vessel being propelled by both sail and power is regarded as under power, and subject to the relevant rules. A rule all skippers should keep in mind!

Under way or Underway

A vessel is Underway if she is not aground, not at anchor or not been made fast to a dock, the shore, or other stationary object.


An anchor or any other object is underfoot when it lies vertically beneath the boat’s Forefoot, whether it be at the surface, or on the bottom

V – Letter

In the International Code of Signals is the letter V stands for “I require assistance”. Phonetically it is “VIK-tah”

Vane gear

Automatic steering gear holding the boat at a constant angle to the apparent wind. The vane senses the wind direction and actuates the tiller so as to correct any deviation from the pre-set relationship between boat’s head and wind direction. Obviously not a reliable instrument.

Variable pitcher propeller

Is a type of propeller with blades that can be rotated around their long axis to change their pitch. If the pitch can be set to negative values, the reversible propeller can also create reverse thrust for braking or going backwards without the need of changing the direction of shaft revolutions


A form of hull the two halves of whose bottom meet at the keel in a shallow V

Very high (in shipping forecast)

Wave with a height of 9 to 14 m.

Very light

A pyrotechnic signal in a system of signaling using white or colored balls of fire projected from a special pistol. Named after the inventor

Very rapidly (in shipping forecast)

Moving at more than 45 knots.

Very rough (in shipping forecast)

Wave with a height of 4 to 6 m.


The Vessel is defined in the Collision Regulations as “every description of water craft, including non-displacement craft and seaplanes, used, or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water”


A warning on a navigational chart indicating a possible rock, shoal, or any other hazard, the exact position of which is unknown..

Violent storm (in shipping forecast)

Winds of force 11 (56-63 knots).

W – Letter

In the International Code of Signals the letter W stands for, ‘ I require medical assistance”. Phonetically it is “Whiskey” spelled “WISS-kee”.


The middle part of a boat, the region where her beam is greatest


The turbulent or smooth water left astern of a moving boat. The wake reveals the actual track of the vessel through the water. A common test for the apprentice helmsman to see if he can keep a straight course!

Wall knot

A knot forming a useful knob at the end of a rope, made by unwinding the strands and weaving them together


Heavier rope or wire used for mooring, anchoring and towing

Warp, (verb)

To move a vessel by hauling on ropes


The turbulent Wake left by a moving boat. Wake causes no noticeable disturbance, but wash does


A period on duty or a detachment of crew members acting as a unit for watch-keeping purposes


The line traced by the water level around the sides of a floating hull, The line on the hull of a ship to which the surface of the water rises. “Issala” is the term used in Greek waters


The art and practice of handling small open craft, such as a rowing boat, in relatively sheltered water. The art or skill in rowing


The movement through the water. A vessel ‘makes way’ when she moves, either ahead or astern. She is ‘under way’ when actually moving, and then she is said to ‘have way on’


It is to the side from which the wind is blowing. ‘Going to weather’ is going to windward. Generally, the weather condition

Weigh anchor, to

To break out the anchor from the sea bed and pulling it up to the side of the vessel

Wetted surface

The total underwater area of a boat. “Vrehamena” is the term used traditionally in Greek waters

Wheel effect

The sideways push of a rotating propeller, mainly noticeable when it first begins to turn or when its speed increases. If the propeller is ‘right-handed’ (turning clockwise when viewed from astern) it will tend to take the stern to the right (starboard)


A navigational buoy which hoots or makes a whistling noise

White horses

The gleaming white crests of just-breaking waves in the open sea. The white foam of the waves. In Greek waters are called “Little lambs”


a sail or funnel rigged as an air scoop over a hatch to catch breezes and divert them to the accommodation below


Towards the point from which the wind is coming. The opposite of Leeward


Abandoned craft, either adrift or cast up on the shore are technically wrecks

X- Letter

In the International Code of Signals the letter X stands for ‘ Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals”. In a sailing regatta means “Individual Recall”. Phonetically it is “X-ray” spelled “ECKS-ray”.

Y – Letter

In the International Code of Signals the letter Y stands for “I am dragging anchor”. In a sailing regatta means “Wear Life Jackets. Phonetically it is “Yankee” spelled “YANG-kee”


A hull in the water can yaw, i.e. turning left to right.


A yawl is a two-masted boat with an additional mast located well aft of the main mast, specifically aft of the rudder post

Z – Letter

In the International Code of Signals the letter Z stands for I require a tug”. Phonetically it is “Zulu” spelled “ZOO-loo”


In navigation, the point in the celestial sphere which is directly above the observer