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Back -To back a sail, is to haul the sheet to windward.


Back and Fill - To luff up in the wind, and then fill off again. Often a vessel is worked up a narrow channel with a weather tide by backing and filling: that is, the helm is put down slowly, and the vessel kept moving until she is nearly head to wind; the helm is then put smartly up, and the vessel filled again. Care must be always taken to fill before the vessel loses way. Figuratively, to back and fill is to blow hot and cold, or assent and dissent, or to go backwards and forwards with opinions.


Backing - Timber fitted at the back of other timbers.


Backstay - A wire support for the mast, usually running from the stern to the head of the mast.The stays that support the topmast with a beam or stern wind. The topmast shrouds or rigging. (See "Shifting Backstay" and "Preventer.")


Backwater - The water thrown back when waves strike a wall or other solid object. The water that appears to follow under the stern of a ship. To back water is to move the oars of a boat so that the boat moves astern instead of ahead.


Baffling Wind - A wind that is continually shifting its direction, so that it is difficult to keep the sails full or steady; more frequently used when the vessel is close or nearly close hauled.


Bag - Sails are said to bag when they do not sit flat.


Baggywrinkle - Clumps of frayed rope that protect the sails from charing against the lines.

Bagpipe - To bring the sheet of an after-sail, such as the mizen, forward to the weather rigging, so that the sail forms a bag, or back sail: when head to wind useful to put stern way on a vessel.


Balance Lug - A lug sail with a boom and yard. About one-twelfth of the sail is on the fore side of the mast, and thus "balances" on the mast, requiring no dipping when going about; apparently adapted from the Chinese lug sail.


Balance Reef - In gaff sails a hand with reef points or eyelet holes for lacing, sewn from the throat to the clew. The reef is taken in by lowering the jaws down to the boom and lacing the sail along the reef band to the boom. Sometimes the gaff end is lowered down to the boom end; in which case the reef band is laced along the gaff.


Bail - To throw water out of a vessel or boat by buckets or balers.


Bailer - A small basin-like vessel, used for throwing water out of a boat.


Bale - A fitting on the end of a spar, such as the boom, to which a line may be led.

Ballast - usually metal, placed low in a boat to provide stability. Dead weight carried to assist the stability of a vessel. A ship is said to be in ballast when she has no merchandise on board, but only sand, gravel, mud, or rubbish as ballast. A yacht in marine parlance is always "in ballast."


Ballast, To Keep Clean or Sweeten -

The ballast of an old vessel should be removed every other season, scrubbed, and whitewashed with hot lime, or coated with black varnish, paraffin, or red lead. The hold of the yacht should at the same time be thoroughly cleansed and black varnished, distempered, or red leaded, or coated with one of the patent paints. A mixture of two-thirds Stockholm tar and one-third coal tar boiled together will make a good composition for the ballast and the inside of a vessel below the floor. Many vessels are regularly hauled up every year, and of course their ballast is taken out and stored. The ballast of a new vessel generally requires cleansing when she is laid up, as the soakings from the oak frames make a very unpleasant odour. (See "Distemper," "Laying Up," and "Limber Boards").


Ballast Bearers. (See "Bearers.")


Ballast, Shifting - To put ballast (usually duck shot in bags) in the weather side of a vessel during sailing.

Balloon Sails - Balloon canvas is a term applied to sails of large dimensions, made of light cotton canvas. The chief balloon sail is the spinnaker used for sailing when the wind is aft. A balloon jib used to fill up the whole space from the bowsprit end, masthead, and mast at deck; a balloon foresail is hanked to the forestay, but the clew extends some distance abaft the mast; in a schooner a balloon maintopmast staysail has an up and down weather leech extending below the lower corner of the sail, which is hanked to the maintopmast stay. It is sheeted on to the end of the main boom. A balloon jib topsail or "Yankee" jib topsail is a useful sail ; all modern balloon head sails are cut very high in the clew, so that the lead of the sheet nearly makes a right angle with the luff of the sail. Balloon jibs have long gone out of fashion. They were succeeded by "bowsprit spinnakers," whilst the bowsprit spinnaker, a low-footed sail, has in turn given place to the higher clewed balloon jib topsail A balloon topsail is another name for a jackyard topsail, or a topsail set with two yards. The upper or "topsail yard" is a vertical continuation of the topmast. The "lower" yard or jackyard is parallel with the gaff and should act as a direct continuation or extension of it. In setting a jackyard topsail a certain amount of "drift" or "space" should be left between the gaff and the lower yard so that there may be play to take up the slack of the sheet.

A jackyard topsail should set as flat as a card. Formerly, the foot yard was short and the head yard was of great length -- as long as could be stowed on the deck of a yacht -- and the sail, very heavy to hoist, was quite unfit for close-hauled work. As the hoisting of these heavy yards was an operation of so much labour, they fell into disuse for some years between 1873 and 1888. After that date the sail was reintroduced with a comparatively short head yard and longer foot yard, after a pattern designed in American waters. The sail had consequently as much area as the old fashioned "balloon topsail," and the combined weight of head yard and foot yard was about half that of the old yard; beyond this, as the sail was well peaked, it sits and stands well on a wind in moderate breezes. In the present century with the introduction of hollow yards the area of the sail has been further increased, and the extreme lightness of yards has enabled the balloon topsail to be carried efficiently in fresh and even strong winds.


Bamboo Spars - In small boats these are often used on account of their lightness. They vary much in strength, and should be from 10 to 20 percent greater diameter than solid wood spars.

Barber Hauler - A line attached to the jib or jib sheet, used to adjust the angle of sheeting by pulling the sheet toward the centerline of the boat.

Bare Poles - With no sail set. With all the sails furled or stowed at sea for scudding before a heavy gale, or sometimes for lying to.


Bargee - A slang term for the crew of a barge.


Bar Harbour - A harbour that has a bank or bar of sand or gravel at its month, so that it can only be entered at certain hours of the tide.

Barque or Bark - usually a three masted vessel, the fore and main masts square rigged and the mizzen mast or after mast rigged fore and aft.

Barquentine - a vessel with the foremast rigged square, and the other masts rigged fore and aft.

Barra Boats - Vessels of the Western Isles of Scotland, with almost perfect V section.


Barrel or Drums - The part of a capstan, windlass, or winch round which the cable or rope is wound whilst heaving. Sometimes termed the drum.

Base Line - In naval architecture a level line near the keel, from which all heights are measured perpendicularly to it. Generally in yacht designs the load waterline, as shown so a Sheer Plan, is made the base line, and all depths arid heights are measured perpendicularly or at right angles to it.


Batten Down - Secure hatches and loose objects both within the hull and on deck. Also putting tarpaulins over hatches or skylights, and securing them by iron bars or wood battens.

Battens - Flexible strips of wood or plastic, most commonly used in the mainsail to support the aft portion, or roach, so that it will not curl. OR A long piece of wood need to lash to yards or booms to strengthen them. Thin pieces of hard wood fitted to spars to prevent their being chafed or cut. Thin splines of wood used by draughtsmen to make curved lines. A general term for a thin strip of wood. Battens are fitted to sails to keep the leach flat.

Beach.-- A shore. To beach is to lay ashore, or strand.


Beach Boats.-- Flat floored boats that can be readily beached.


Beacon - A stake, boom, or post put on a sandbank or shoal as a warning for vessels.


Beacon Buoy - A buoy with a cross, ball, or triangle, &c., on the top.


Beam - The greatest width of the boat. OR A timber that crosses a vessel transversely to support the deck. The breadth of a vessel. "Before the beam" is forward of the middle part of a ship. The wind is said to be before the beam when the ship makes a less angle than 90 with the wind. A beam wind is a wind that blows at right angles to a vessel's keel. "Abaft the beam "is towards the stern.


Beam and Length - The proportion a vessel's beam bears to her length varies according to her type. In sailing yachts it is found that for cruising a good proportion is about three and a-quarter to three and a half beams to waterline length.


Beam Ends - A vessel is said to be on her beam ends when she is hove down on her side by the wind or other force, so that the ends of her deck beams are on the water, or her deck beams perpendicular to the water. However, in sea parlance, a ship is said to be on her beam ends when knocked down by a squall to say 45, so that when a ship is described as being on her "beam ends" the meaning need not be taken literally.


Beam Trawl - A trawl whose mouth is extended by a long spar or beam, as distinct from the otter trawl, which is distended by boards.


Bear, To - The direction an object takes from a ship expressed in compass points or by points in the vessel; as in reference to another vessel she bears S.E. or W.S.W., &c., or on the port bow, or weather bow, port beam or weather beam, port quarter or weather quarter; or two points on the weather bow or port bow.


Bear a Hand There! -- An admonition to hurry.


Bear Away, or Bear Up - To put the helm to windward and keep the vessel more off the wind. Generally used in close-hauled sailing when a vessel begins to alter her course by sailing off the wind. (See "Wear.")


Bearers - The beams which carry the cabin floor or platform of a yacht, termed platform bearers.


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.

The direction between one object and another; generally the direction of an object on land to a ship. The widest part of a vessel which may either be above or below water. A vessel is said to be on her bearings when she is heeled over, so that her greatest breadth is in the water


Bearings by Compass - An object is said to bear, so many points on the port or starboard bow, or port or starboard quarter, or port or starboard beam as the case may be; or an object may be said to bear E.N.E. or E. or W., from the point of observation. The usual plan of taking a bearing is to stand directly over the binnacle, and notice which point on the compass card directly points to the object. A more accurate way of taking bearings may be followed thus on each quarter-rail abreast of the binnacle, have a half compass plate of brass fixed, or mark off compass points on the rail, and let two opposite points (say north and south) be in direct line or parallel with the keel. A pointer or hand, eight or nine inches long, must be fitted to the plate, to ship and unship on a pivot; move tire pointer until it points directly to the object, then read off the number of points it is from the direction of the ship's head. Next observe the direction of the ship's head by the binnacle compass ; if the ship's head points N., and the pointer showed the object to be, say, four points away westerly from the direction of the ship's head, then the object will bear N.W., and so on. If very great accuracy be required, and if the ship be yawing about, one hand should watch the binnacle compass, whilst another makes the observations with the pointer.

Bear On The Bow -An object is said to bear "on the bow" if its direction in relation to the ship does not make a greater angle with the keel of the vessel than 45. If the direction of the object makes a greater angle than that it would be said to bear "before the beam" ; next on the beam, then abaft the beam, on the quarter, right astern.


Beat - To beat to windward is to make way against the wind by a zigzag course, and frequent tacking. (See "Plying," "Thrashing," and "Turning to Windward.")


Beating to Windward.-- (See "Beat.")


Becalm - To deprive a vessel of wind, as by one vessel passing to windward of another.


Becalmed - In a calm; without wind.


Becket - A piece of rope used to confine or secure spars, ropes, or tackles. Generally an eye is at one end ; sometimes an eye at either end; or a knot at one end and an eye at the other.


Beef - Manual strength; generally the weight of the men hauling on a rope. "More beef here" is a request for help when hauling. Probably the term originated with the casks of beef used for food on shipboard.


Before the Beam - Towards the bow or stem of a vessel.


Before the Mast - A term used to describe the station of seamen as distinguished from officers. Thus a man before the mast means a common sailor, and not an officer. The term owes its origin to the fact that the seamen were berthed in the forecastle, which is usually "before the mast."


Before the Wind - Running with the wind astern.


Behaviour - The performance of a ship in a seaway or under canvas is generally termed by sailors her "behaviour."


Belay That - An order given whilst men are hauling on a rope, &c., to cease hauling and make fast to the last inch they have got in. Also slang for cease talking or fooling.


Belay, To - To make fast a rope or fall of a tackle. In hauling upon a rope the signal to cease is usually, "Belay!" or "Belay there!" "Belay that !" or "Avast hauling ! Belay!"


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 - A rounding of the hull along the length of the boat where the bottom meets the side.

Bilge Boards - Similar to centerboards, and used to prevent lee way.

Bilgeboards - are on either side of the centerline at the bilges.

Binnacle - A support for the compass, raising it to a convenient position.

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. A submarine is always a boat no matter what length.

Board - In beating to windward a board is the time a vessel is on one tack and the distance she makes on that tack. Thus it may be a long board or a short board. Working to windward by a long board and a short board is when a vessel can more nearly lie her course on one tack than on another. Thus, suppose the wind be S.W., and the vessel's course from headland to headland S.S.W., and the vessel can lie four points from the wind; then on the starboard tack the vessel will head S., or two points off her course ; on the port tack she will lie W., or six points off her course. The long board will be the one on the starboard tack. A vessel is said to make a good board when the wind frees her on one tack; a bad board when it heads her. A stern board is to get stern way on whilst tacking.


Board, To - To board a ship is to enter upon her deck, generally supposed to mean without invitation.

"By the board" - To fall close by the deck. A mast is said to go by the board when it breaks by the deck and falls overboard.


Board and Board - Vessels are said to work board and board when they keep in company and tack simultaneously.


Boat Chocks or Skills.--

Pieces of wood with a score in them to take the keel of boats when they are lifted in upon deck.


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. A wood pole with a metal hook and prong at one end; sometimes with two hooks. A yacht's gig has two boat hooks-one for the use of the bowman, another for the stroke; by these means a boat is held alongside the stops of a jetty or by the gangway of a vessel

Boat Keeper - The man left in charge of a boat when the other part of her crew go on shore.


Boat's Crew - Men told off to always man a particular boat, such as the gig, cutter, or dinghy of a yacht.


Boatswain - An officer who takes charge of a yacht's gear, and it is his duty to superintend all work done upon the spars, rigging, or sails. He also takes charge of all spare gear and sails, and sees that everything on deck and above deck is neat, clear, and ship-shape. He must in every sense of the word be a thorough seaman, and must know how all work upon rigging and sails should be done. As he has constantly to handle the sails and rigging, he necessarily has a knowledge of their condition, and it is his duty to report all defects in the same.


Boatswain's Call - A whistle consisting of a hollow ball and a tube leading to a hole in it. By varying the sounds the men are "piped" to their work just the same as soldiers are ordered by the sound of a bugle. The pipe is seldom met with in English yachts, except in some of large size, and the boatswain has little to do with giving orders.

Bobstay - Wire Stay underneath the bowsprit; helps to counteract the upward pull exerted by the forestay.

Body - Part of a vessel's hull, as fore-body, middle-body, and after-body. A vessel is said to be long-bodied when the fullness is carried well towards the ends ; short-bodied when the fore-and-aft lines taper very suddenly; a long-body thus means a great parallel length of middle-body. (See "Straight of Breadth.")


Body Plan - A plan which contains the cross sections of a vessel. The midship section or largest section is generally shown on the right-hand side of the middle line of the body plan; sometimes on both sides.


Bollard - A stout timber to fasten ropes and warps to.


Bollard Timbers - The bollard timbers of a vessel are the same as the knightheads; originally the knightheads were carved figures of knights (fitted near the foremast to receive the windlass), hence the name knightheads. (See "Knightheads.")


Bollock Blocks - Two blocks in the middle of a topsail yard of square rigged vessel, used in hoisting.


Bolsters - Pieces of hard wood bolted to the yoke or lower cap on the mast for the rigging to rest upon. They are sometimes covered with leather or sheepskin with the hair on, or raw hide, to prevent the rigging chafing. (See "Rigging Plans.")


Bolt - A fastening of metal. An eye bolt is a bolt with an eye in it used to hook blocks to. A ring bolt is a bolt with an eye and a ring in the eye. An ear bolt or lug bolt is a bolt with a kind of slot in it to receive the part of another bolt, a pin keeping the two together and forming a kind of joint. Bay bolts are bolts with jagged edges to prevent their drawing. A bolt applies to a roll of canvas.


Bolt Rope - The rope sewn round the edges of sails. It is made of the very best quality hemp, dressed with Stockholm tar. A fore-and-aft sail is roped on port side, a squaresail on aft side. There is the weather (luff) rope, leech rope, toot rope, and head rope. Steel wire is used for the luff ropes of all racing sails.


Booby Hatch - A hatch on coamings used to give greater height in the cabin of small yachts, and which can be removed. It is also called a "coach roof."

Boom Crutch - Support for the boom, holding it up and out of the way when the boat is anchored or moored. Unlike a gallows frame, a crutch is stowed when boat is sailing.

Boom - free swinging spar attached to the foot of the sail with forward end pivoting on the mast. A spar used to extend the foot of sails. To top the boom is to make sail and away. To boom off is to shove off a wharf, bank, &c., by the aid of spars. Stakes of wood used to denote a channel through shoal water are termed booms.

Boom Crutch - Support for the boom, holding it up and out of the way when the boat is anchored or moored. Unlike a gallows frame, a crutch is stowed when boat is sailing.

Boom Irons - Iron bands on square yards, with eyes, in which studding sail booms travel.


Boomkin - A short boom of great strength, usually written "bumpkin."


Boom Vang - A system used to hold the boom down, particularly when boat is sailing downwind, so that the mainsail area facing the wind is kept to a maximum. Frequently extends from the boom to a location near the base of the mast. Usually tackle- or lever-operated.

Boomkin (bumpkin)- Short spar extending aft from the transom. Used to anchor the backstay or the sheets from the mizzen on a yawl or ketch.

Boot Top - A painted stripe that indicates the waterline.

Bore - A sudden tide wave, which rolls along rapidly at certain times on some rivers, and makes a great noise.


Boreas - The north wind. An old sailor's saying is, "as cold as Boreas with an iceberg in each pocket." Popularly the god that rules the wind, as Aeolus is supposed to do.


Bore Away - Did bear away. Said of a vessel that alters her course in a leewardly direction, as "she bore away."


Bore by the Head - A vessel is said to bore by the head when she, whilst passing through the water, is depressed by the bead.


Boring - Forcing a vessel through loose ice in the Arctic seas.


Boss - A slang American term for sailing master, or chief in command, or the manager or master of any business or show.


Both Sheets Aft - When a square-rigged ship has the wind dead aft, so that the sheets lead aft alike, with the yards square.


Bottom - Usually understood as the part of a vessel below the water line or bilge.


Bottomry - The hull or bottom of a ship pledged as security for a loan. If the ship be lost the money is lost unless the lender has covered himself by other means.


Bound - Encased with metal bands. Also referring to the destination of a vessel. Wind-bound means that a vessel is in a port or at an anchorage because the wind is unfavourable for her to proceed. Formerly square-rigged ships were everlastingly windbound, i.e., waiting in port because the wind was adverse; now they go out and look for a fair wind, and generally can sail so well on a wind that waiting for a fair wind would be considered an unpardonable piece of folly.

Bow - The forward part of a boat.The fore part of a vessel ; forward of the greatest transverse section. In taking bearings an object is said to be on the bow if its direction does not make more than an angle of 45 with the line of the keel.


Bower Anchor - The anchor in constant use.


Bow Fast - A warp for holding the vessel by the bow.


Bowing the Sea - Meeting the sea bow on or end on, or nearly end on, as in close-hauled sailing. When the sea runs the with the wind.

Bowline - Knot used to form a temporary loop in a line


BowLine - Ropes made fast to cringles in the weather leech of square sails, to pull them taut and steady when sailing on a wind. The bow lines usually lead into a bridle. Sailing on a bow line means sailing on a wind when the bow lines would be hauled taut; hence the phrase "sailing on a taut bowline." Sailing on an easy bow line means sailing with the sails well full, and the bow lines eased up a little, so that the vessel is not quite "on a wind" or close hauled.

Bow Line - A docking line leading from the bow.

Bow-lines - Continuation of buttock lines, showing the outline of vertical fore-and-aft sections in the forebody. Generally the whole line is termed a buttock line.


Bowsing.-- Hauling with a will upon a rope.

Bowsprit - A short spar extending forward from the bow. Normally used to anchor the forestay. A running bowsprit is one that can easily be reefed in like a cutter's. Sometimes when a bowsprit is reefed in by the fids it is wrongly said to be housed; a bowsprit is housed when run close in to the cranse iron. A standing bowsprit is one fitted in a shoe.


Bowsprit Bitts - Timbers fitted into carlines on the deck to take the bowsprit.


Bowsprit Cranse - The metal cap at the bowsprit end, to which the gear is spliced or shackled.


Bowsprit Shrouds. The horizontal stays from the bowsprit to the sides of the vessel.


Boxhauling - In tacking a ship to make her turn on her heel by hauling the head sheets aweather, and getting sternway on. Practised by square-rigged ships, sometimes in working narrow channels.


Bowing off - Assisting to pay a vessel's head off the wind by hauling the bead sheets a-weather.


Bow Scarf - A method of joining two pieces of timber by letting each into the other one-half its own thickness; sometimes termed a butt scarf.


Box the Compass - To call over all the points of a compass in regular order. To understand the compass points and subdivisions. (See "Compass.")


Braced Sharp Up - Said of a square-rigged ship when the weather braces are slacked up and the lee ones hauled in taut so as to trim the sails as close to wind as possible.


Braces - Metal straps fitted round the main piece of rudder or rudder-post and fastened to the sternpost. -- Strengthening pieces of iron or wood to bind together weak places in a vessel. -- Ropes need in working the yards of a ship.


Brace-up and Haul Aft! - The order to trim sails after a vessel has been hove to with sails slack.


Brails - Ropes fast to the leeches of fore-and-aft sails and leading through blocks on the mast hoops. ; need to haul or truss the sail up to the mast instead of lowering it and stowing it. Partially furling sails to lessen wind resistance or partially unfurling sails to make them ready for instant use. On a square sail this is accomplished with leech and clew lines. See "Scandalize"

Breach - A breaking in of the sea. A clean breach is when a wave boards a vessel in solid form, and sometimes makes a clean sweep of the deck, taking crew, boats, and everything else overboard. To make a clean breach over a vessel is when the sea enters one side and pours out the other.


Break Aboard - When the crest of a wave falls aboard on the deck of a vessel.


Breakers - Casks for containing water. Also the disturbed water over reefs, rocks, shoals.


Breakers Ahead! -- The cry when breakers are sighted close ahead.


Break Off - In close-hauled sailing, when the wind comes more from ahead so as to cause the vessel's head to break to leeward of the course she had been sailing. Not to be confused with "fall off," which means that the vessel's head goes off farther away from the wind.


Break Tacks - When a vessel goes from one tack to the other.


Breaming - Cleaning off a ship's bottom by burning the excrescences thereon. Sometimes when a vessel is not coppered small worms will eat into the plank. It is usual then to scrape her bottom, coal tar her, and then bream her off by fire in basket breaming irons.


Breast Fast - A warp fastened to a vessel amidships to hold her.


Breasthook - A strong hook shaped wood knee used forward to bind the stem, shelf, and frame of a vessel together. Breasthooks are also used in other parts of a vessel. They are now usually made of wrought iron.

Breeze - In sailor's parlance, a strong blow of wind; but generally a wind of no particular strength, as light breeze, gentle breeze, moderate breeze, strong breeze. (See "Wind.")


Breeze of Wind.-- A strong wind.


Breeze-up - The wind is said to "breeze-up" when it increases fast in strength from a light wind.


Breezy Side - The windward side of an object.

Bridge - The location from which a vessel is steered and its speed controlled. "Control Station" is really a more appropriate term for small craft.

Bridge Deck - The transverse partition between the cockpit and the cabin.

Bridle - A short length of wire with a line attached at the midpoint. A bridle is used to distribute the load of the attached line. Often used as boom travelers and for spinnaker down hauls. or The parts of moorings to hold on by; many ropes gathered into one.

Brig - A two-masted vessel, square-rigged on both masts.

Brigantine - a two masted vessel square rigged on the foremast, with fore-and-aft sails on the mainmast

Bring To, or Bring Her To - To luff or to come close to wind.


Bring to Wind - To luff a vessel close to the wind after she has been sailing off the wind.


Bring Up - To come to anchor.


Bring Up all Standing - To come to anchor, or to a stop suddenly without notice, or without any sail being lowered. To anchor without lowering sail.


Bristol Fashion - In the best manner possible, Bristol shipbuilding and seamen formerly having a great reputation for excellence.


Broach To - To come to against the wind and helm.


Broad Pennant - The swallowtail flag of a commodore. (See "Burgee.")


Broadside On - When a vessel moves sideways, or when she is approached by an object at right angles to her broadside.


Broken Water - When waves lose their form by breaking over reefs, rocks, or shallows, or by meeting waves from another direction, termed a cross sea.


Broom at the Masthead - A signal that a boat or vessel is for sale. The origin of the custom appears to be unknown; but it is ingeniously argued that brooms were hoisted as a signal that a man wanted to make a clean sweep of his vessel; or the custom may have arisen from the common practice of selling brooms in the streets.


Brought To - After a vessel has been sailing off a wind when she is brought to wind, or close to wind.

Brought Up with a Round Turn - Figuratively, suddenly stopped: as for instance, when a rope is being payed out rapidly, if a turn or bight catches round some object and checks the paying out of the rope.


Buckler - Blocks of wood used to stop the hawse pipes.

Brightwork - Varnished woodwork and/or polished metal.

Bulkhead - An interior partition commonly used to stiffen the hull. May be watertight.The athwartship partitions which separate a vessel into compartments, cabins, &c. Fore and aft partitions are also termed bulkheads. In yachts it is not customary to employ watertight bulkheads.


Bull's Eye - A block without a sheave, and with one hole in it. They are usually metal bound.

Bullseye - A round eye through which a line is led, usually in order to change the direction of pull.

Bulwark - A vertical extension above deck level designed to keep water out of and sailors in the boat

Bumboat - A boat used by shore people to carry provisions on sale to ships.


Bumpkin - See "Boomkin."

Bunk - Sleeping Berth

Bunt - The middle part of a sail. To gather up the bunt is take hold of the middle part of a sail and gather it up.


Bunting - Woollen stuff of which flags are made.


Bunter - A kind of tackle.


Bunt Lines - Ropes attached to sails to haul them up by.

Buoy - An anchored float used for marking a position on the water or a hazard or a shoal and for mooring.

Buoyancy - The quality of floating or being supported or borne up by a fluid. A vessel is buoyant in proportion as she is bulk for bulk lighter than the fluid that supports her.


Burden or Burthen - Supposed to mean the quantity in tons of dead weight that a vessel will carry. The quantity would be the difference between the weight or displacement of the ship when light and the weight or displacement of the ship when she was laden as deeply as prudent.


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".

Burton - A tackle composed of two single blocks; a double Spanish burton consists of two single and one double block.


Butt - The joining or meeting of two pieces of wood endways. Butt and butt means that two planks meet end to end, but do not overlap.


Butt End - The biggest end of a spar.


Buttock - The after-part of a vessel from her run upwards.


Buttock Lines - Planes in a fore-and-aft direction, showing the outline of vertical fore-and-aft sections in the after-body.


By and Large - Backing and filling, which see. (See also "Large.")


By the Board - To fall overboard; as when a mast breaks short off at the deck.


By the Head - When the vessel is trimmed or depressed by the head so that her proper line of flotation is departed from.


By the Lee - To bring a vessel by the lee is when nearly before the wind she falls off so much as to bring the wind on the other quarter ; or the wind may shift from one quarter of the vessel to the other without the vessel altering her course (See "Lee").


By the Stern - The contrary to being down by the head.


By the Wind - Close hauled; hauled by the wind.



Cabin - A compartment for passengers or crew.

Cable - A rope or chain by which a vessel is held at anchor. The length for a cable, according to the Admiralty, is 120 fathoms. The length of a cable for a yacht varies from 45 fathoms for a 10-tonner to 150 for a 300-tonner. A yacht of 60 tons should, however, have at least 75 fathoms.

Cable's Length - A measure of one-tenth of a sea mile, 600 feet, 101 fathoms, or 203 yards.

Caboose - The cooking room or kitchen of a merchantman. Also the "galley fire" or cooking stove of a yacht or ether vessel.

Cage Buoy - A buoy with an iron framework upon the top. Formerly "cages" were put on poles in intricate channels, and for two hours about the time of high water at night fires were lighted in them.

Call - See "Boatswain."

Callipers - An instrument consisting of a "straight edge" beam with two legs, used for measuring the breadth of yachts, packages of merchandise. Metal bowlegged compasses called callipers are used for measuring the diameter of spars.

Calm - Stillness of the air. Stillness or smoothness of the sea. An unrippled sea. Dead calm, stark calm, flat calm, clock calm, glass calm, glass smooth sea.

Cambered - When the keel of a vessel has its ends lower than its middle, thus. Opposed to rockered.

Cant Frames - The frame in the bow and quarter of a vessel that are not square to the keel.

Canvas Back - A term applied to boats covered with canvas to keep out the seas; also applied to yacht sailors who are fond of a salting.

Cap - A piece of trim, usually wood, used to cover and often decorate a portion of the boat, i.e., caprail.

Capful of Wind - A puff of wind soon passing away.

Capsize - To turn over.

Capstan - drum like part of the windlass used for winding in rope, cables, or chain connected to cargo or anchors. A mechanical contrivance for raising the anchor, said to have been introduced in Queen Elizabeth's reign. Sir Walter Raleigh says: "The shape of our ships have been greatly bettered of late. We have contrived the striking of the topmast, added the chain pump, devised studding sails, top gallant sails, sprit sails, and topsails. We have also lengthened our cables, and contrived weighing of the anchor by the capstan."

Capstan Bar - Bars of wood by which the capstan is turned, and so made to wind up the anchor or raise any weight.

Card - The dial of a compass upon which the points are marked. Cardinal Points - The compass points, E., W., N., and S.

Careen - To heel, to list, to haul over for cleaning the bottom.

Carlines - Pieces of timber fitted between the deck beams in a fore-and-aft direction.

Carry Away - The breakage of a spar, rope.

Carry Canvas - A vessel is said to carry her canvas well if she does not heel much in strong breezes.

Carvel Built - Built with the plank flush edge to edge, and the seams caulked and payed.

Cast - Said of a ship when she fills on one tack or the other after being head to wind. Used generally on getting under way, as cast to port. The word is variously used, as to cast anchor, to cast off a rope.

Cast Off - To let go.

Cat Boat - A boat with one sail

Catamaran - A twin-hulled boat, with hulls side by side.

Catch a Turn - To take a turn quickly with a rope round a belaying pin, or bitt, or cavel.

Cathead - Timber or iron projection from the how of a vessel by which the anchor is hoisted up to the rail, after it has been weighed to the hawse pipe.

Catspaws - In calms, when the water is rippled here and there with passing airs of wind, it is said to be scratched by catspaws. A "catspaw" is also a bight doubled in a rope.

Caulking - Driving oakum into the seams of a vessel.

Caulking Iron - A kind of blunt chisel used for driving oakum into the seams.

Caustic Soda.-- A mixture of three parts of caustic soda to two of unslacked lime is a good detergent. The soda is boiled in the water, and then the lime added. The mixture should be applied hot, and be of the consistency of thick whitewash. In applying it great care should be exercised so as not to allow it to touch the hands. A brush of vegetable fibre should be used, as the composition will destroy hair. Caustic soda is used for cleaning off old paint or varnish; the mixture should be put on nine or ten hours before it is scraped off if a very clean job is desired. If it is a deck that has to be cleaned it is desirable to damp it with fresh water before an application of the mixture; hence it is a good plan to apply it on a dewy morning. Mahogany should not be cleaned with this compound, which turns it black. A mixture of two parts soda and one part soap, simmered together and applied hot, is sometimes used. (See also "Sooji Mooji.")

Cavel - (sometimes spelt kavel or kevel) Stout pieces of timber fixed horizontally to the stanchions on bitts for belaying ropes to.

Ceiling - The inside planking of a vessel.

Centerboard - A board lowered through a slot in the centerline of he hull to reduce sideways skidding or leeway. Unlike a daggerboard, which lifts vertically, a centerboard pivots around a pin, usually located in the forward top corner, and swings up and aft.

Chafing Gear - Tubing or cloth wrapping used to protect a line from chafing on a rough surface.

Chain Locker - The compartment in the bold of a vessel wherein the mooring chain is stowed.

Chain plate - The fitting used to attach stays to the hull.

Chain Pipe - Iron pipe on the deck through which the cables pass into the lockers.

Chain Plates - Iron braces on the side of a ship to which the shrouds are attached with the screw lanyards of the rigging above.

Channel Deep - Said of a yacht when she is heeled over until her lee channels are under water.

Channel Plates - Braces secured to the sides of vessels and extended by pieces of timber termed channels. The rigging screws are shackled to the channel plates.

Channels - Originally strong pieces of timber fixed on the side of a ship inside the chain plates to give greater spread to the rigging. The timber is now superseded by steel construction.

Check, To - To check a sheet is to ease it a little. To check a vessel's way as by a warp, or by backing a sail. To check a tide is to keep a vessel from her course, in order to allow for the influence or drift of a tide. A vessel is said to check the tide when it throws her to windward. To check a vessel with the helm is to prevent her altering her course. (See "To Meet.")

Charley Noble - Galley stove pipe

Chart - A map for use by navigators.

Cheek Blocks - A sheave fitted on a spar inside a sort of cleat, as the cheek block for topsail sheet on the end of a gaff.


Cheeks of the Mast - The hounds.

Chill - In very light winds, if a cloud passes overhead and a puff comes out of it, it is called a chill-probably on account of its coldness.

Chine - The intersection of the bottom and sides of a flat or v-bottomed boat. A line, running along the side of the boat, where the bottom forms an angle to the side. Not found on round-bottom boats.The part of a waterway on the deck of a ship which joins the spirketting. The bilge joint of a barge is also termed a chime or chine.


Chinese Lug - A lug sail with battens.


Chips - A nickname for a ship's carpente

Chock a Block - Said of two blocks when, in hoisting or hauling, the two blocks of a tackle are brought close together. Generally when two things are brought so close together that they cannot be got closer.


Chock Full - Full to the brim. Frequently used in close-hauled sailing to let the helmsman know that the sails are full enough, and he need use no more weather helm. (See "Ramping Full.")


Chock Home.-- Close up.


Choppy Sea - A short, steep sea, which makes a vessel continuously pitch and 'scend.


Chuck - To throw.


Chuckle-headed - Full or bluff in the bow; thickheaded.


Chuck to Windward - A weather-going tide is said to chuck a vessel to windward, and the contrary a lee-going tide.


Circumference of a Circle - The diameter multiplied by 3.14159; in algebra denoted by the Greek letter pi or perimeter.


Clamp - A thick strake of wood worked inside a vessel under the shelf.


Clamps - A kind of wedge vice, used in boat building ding to hold the plank together. Various contrivances of wood or metal used in fitting up a vessel or in fixing parts in her construction.


Clap on Canvas - To put on more canvas. "Clap on here!" is a request frequently made to idlers to assist in hauling on a rope.


Claw - To hang well to windward, as to "claw off a lee shore."


Claw to Windward - To beat to windward under difficulties. To claw off a lee shore is to boat off and avoid getting stranded.


Clean Full - Barely close-hauled when all the sails are full.


Clear for Going Afloat - A question often asked when work is being done on deck, and the vessel has to be put about: "Are ye all clear there for going about?"

Chock - A fitting through which anchor or mooring lines are led. Usually U-shaped to reduce chafe.A block or wedge of wood.

Cleat - A fitting to which lines are made fast. The classic cleat to which lines are belayed is approximately anvil-shaped. Pieces of wood with one or more arms fastened to spars, &c., for belaying to, or to prevent ropes slipping, &c, (See "Thumb Cleats" and "Cruickshanks'

Clew - For a triangular sail, the aftmost cornet.

Clove Hitch - A knot for temporarily fastening a line to a spar or piling.

Clew - For a triangular sail, the aftmost cornet.The lower corners of a square sail; in fore-and-aft sails only the lower after corner is called the clew.


Clew Lines.-- Clew garnets. Ropes used for hauling up the clews of sails.


Clew Up - To haul up a sail by the clew lines for furling, &c. Also used as a slang term for shut up or cease.


Clinch - To fasten a rope by a half hitch, and seize the end hack to the other part; a method adopted with very large ropes or hawsers after they have to be bent to rings, &c. in a hurry. To clinch is also to beat the end of a bolt or rivet until it forms a head; or to turn the end of a nail in so that it will not draw.


Clincher Work.-- See "Clench."


Clinker - The hard cinder which forms on furnace bars. Sometimes wrongly used for clincher work in boat building. (See" Clench Work.")


Clinometer - An instrument for measuring the angle of inclination or the extent of heel a ship has under canvas or whilst rolling.


Clip Hook.--

A double hook (hinged below the eye) whose parts overlap when attached to a ring, &c. A hook not much in favour, as it so frequently breaks or gets half detached.


Clipper - A fine ship ; first applied to the sharp bowed ships that sailed out of Baltimore, U.S.


Clipper Stem or Bow - An overhanging stem or prow.


Clock Calm - So calm and still that the ticking of a clock could be heard.


Close Aboard - Near to, as the land is said to be close aboard when a vessel has approached it very closely.


Close-hauled - With all the sheets trimmed flat aft, and every rope that helps extend the sails hauled taut. Hauled as close to the wind as the sails will admit without shaking their luffs. When a square-rigged ship is close-hauled she is about from five to six points off the wind. A fore-and-aft schooner, with everything nicely trimmed for racing, will lie within four and a half points of the wind ; a cutter within four and a quarter points. This, of course, supposes the water to be smooth and the wind of what is known as "whole sail strength." In rough water a vessel cannot be sailed so close.


Close Reefed - When the last reef is taken in, generally the fourth reef; but some modern yachts with laced mainsails have only three reef hands, and it is thought that when the fourth reef is wanted that it is time to set the trysail.


Close to Wind - Close hauled. As close to the wind as the sails will bear without lifting.

Clothes Lines - A sail is said to be across a clothes lines when it is girted by a rope.

Cloth in the Wind, A - When the foremost cloth or luff of a sail is shaking through the vessel being brought too near the wind. A man is said to be three cloths in the wind when intoxicated.

Clove Hitch - Two turns of a rope round a spar, &c., the ends coming out under the middle part, one on each side.

Coach Roof - Also trunk. The cabin roof, raised above the deck to provide headroom in the cabin.

Coaming - A vertical extension above the deck to prevent water from entering the cockpit. May be broadened to provide a base for winches. A raised frame fitted to and above the deck for the hatches, skylights, to rest upon. Sometimes wrongly spelt combings.


Coastal Schooner - the work horse of our coastal trade. She was probably not much more than a hundred tons, and carried everything from timber and coal to bricks, general cargo, and a load of hay to offshore island communities. Our schooner is shown with only a main topmast, but many also carried a fore topmast. Note the yawl boat towing astern.

Coated - Sails stowed and covered up by the coats.


Coats - Painted canvas used to cover sails when they are stowed.

Cockpit - An opening in the deck from which the boat is handled.

Coil - To lay a line down in circular turns.

Collar - An eye or bight of a shroud, stay, or rope to go over the masthead as the collar of the forestay. Also a ring on a bolt.


Collision - When one vessel comes into contact with another.


Colours - Flags denoting nationality, ownership, or other identity.


Comb - The crest part of a wave.


Comber - A big surf-like wave.

Come no Nearer - An order to the helmsman not to bring the vessel nearer the wind.


Come To - To fly up in the wind; to come nearer or closer to the wind; to luff. Generally used when a vessel comes nearer the wind after having falling off the wind.


Come Up - Generally to slacken up. Whilst hauling on the fall of a tackle and the order comes, "Avast hauling there!" the hand that has to belay sings out, "Come up behind!"; all hands instantly release the fall, so that the one who has to belay may catch the turn round the belaying pin or cavel without "losing any."


Come Up, To - A vessel is said to come up when the wind frees her so that she can head nearer her course, or look, or point her course. In beating, a helmsman in reporting the progress made by the vessel may say, "She has come up two points this tack, sir," according to the extent of the wind freeing; if the wind came more ahead, he might say she has broken off or fallen off two points


Come Up With - To overtake.

Companion - The structure with sliding hath which forms the entrance from the deck to the cabins below

Companionway - The main entrance to the cabin similar to a hall or corridor in land terms

Compass Bowl - The bowl within the binnacle containing the compass.


Compass Card - A circle divided into 32 parts, called points; and each part is again divided into 4 parts, and the whole is divided into 360 degrees.

Compass Point.-- The 32nd part of 360 degrees or practically 11-1/4 degrees.


Complement.-- The full number; the whole ship's crew.

Compressor - A contrivance to prevent the chain cable being veered too quickly, or to stop its veering altogether.

Conning - Directing a steersman in the use or management of the helm, Telling him how to steer.


Contrary Wind.-- A wind that blows adversely down a vessel's course.

Corky - Light, buoyant, easily set in motion by the waves ; floating with a high side out of the water.


Cornette - A swallowtailed flag.

Counter - At the stern of the boat, that portion of the hull emerging from below the water, and extending to the transom. Apr to be long in older designs, and short in more recent boats.

Course - The direction in which a boat is steered.

Courses - The lower square sails of a ship.


Covering Board - The outside dock plank fitted over the timber heads. See "Plank Sheer."

Coxswain - Sailor in charge of and steering a small boat

Crabbing - When a vessel tumbles down under a heavy press of canvas, or when she sags to leeward badly.


Cracking On - Carrying a large quantity of sail.


Cracks in a Mast or other Spars, To Stop - When the spar is quite dry, run in marine glue; when the glue is hard, scrape out some of it, and stop with putty, coloured to imitate the colour of the wood.


Craft - A vessel; also need in the plural, thus a number of craft, or a lot of craft, means a number of vessels.


Crank - Not stiff under canvas; a boat that can be heeled or listed very easily ; generally a dangerous boat.


Cranse - An iron hoop baud with eyes, fitted to bowsprit ends or the ends of other spars.


Creek - An inlet of the sea.


Crests - The top edges of waves.


Crew - A ship's complement, and including every man employed on board in any capacity whatsoever, distinct from passengers. (See under "Seaman.")


Cringle - A metal thimble worked into the corners and leeches of sails.


Cripple - A - A vessel that does not carry her canvas stiffly.


Cross Chocks - Pieces of wood used for filling in between lower futtocks where their heels do not meet on the top of the keel.


Cross-jack -The Cross-jack-yard is the lowest yard on the mizzen mast. Pronounced "cro'-jack."


Cross Sea - Waves that come from divers directions, usually caused by sudden shifts of wind when it is blowing heavily.


Crosstrees - Horizontal members attaced to the mast acting as spreaders for the shrouds

Crow-foot - A number of lines attached to one line, and spreading out to support an awning.


Crown of an Anchor - The part of an anchor where the arms are joined to the shank.


Crow's Nest - A place of shelter at the topgallant masthead for a look out man, used by whalers in northern latitudes.


Crutch - The support for a boom when the sail is stowed

Cubic Measure of Water - One gallon contains 277.274 cubic inches, or 0.16 of a cubic foot. One cubic foot contains 1728 cubic inches, or 6.233 gallons. One ton of salt water contains 35 cubic feet. One ton of fresh water contains 35.9 cubic feet. A ton weight is equal to 2240lb. (See "Decimal Equivalents" and "Water.") Note: These are imperial gallons and British tons.


Cuddy - A small shelter cabin in a boat.

Cunningham - A mainsail control device, using a line to pull down the mainsail a short distance from the luff to the tack. Flattens the sail.

Current - The horizontal movement of water. The moving of the water in certain directions. To ascertain the rate or direction of a current when not at anchor or when becalmed, in a fog, or out of sight of fixed objects, see "Drifting."

Cutter - A ship's boat heavier than a gig, and used in bad weather when the lighter boat might get swamped. Also -A vessel with one mast rigged with mainsail, jib and staysail.


D. - The capital letter D is used by naval architects to denote the displacement or total weight of the yacht and her equipment, generally expressed in pounds or tons.

d - The italic letter d is used to denote the difference between the skin girth and the chain girth (approximately amidships) : measured with a tape and expressed in linear measurement generally in feet and decimal feet, or in metres. Hence a big bodied vessel is said to have "a small d measurement" and a fine bodied vessel a "large d measurement.' A bulb keeled vessel thus has "large d measurement."

Dagger Board - A board dropped vertically through the hull to prevent leeway. May be completely removed for beaching or for sailing downwind.

Dagger Knee - A piece of timber crossing the frames diagonally.

Dandy - A cutter rigged vessel with lug mizzen aft set on a jigger-mast.

Danger Zone - The area encompassed from dead ahead of your boat to just abaft your starboard beam. You must stand clear of any boat in the "danger zone".

Darning the Water - When a vessel keeps sailing backwards and forwards, as before a bar harbour or pier, waiting for water or orders

Davit Guys - The stays or ropes used to keep the davits steady

Davits - Small cranes used to raise or lower small boats and light items from deck to water level.

Dead Ahead - Directly ahead.

Dead Astern - Directly aft.

Dead Calm - Without a breath of wind.

Deaden-her-way - To stop a vessel's way by backing and filling, or by hauling a sail aback, or by yawing her about with the helm,

Dead Eyes - Blocks in the shroud rigging used to adjust tension. A circular block, with three holes in it (crow-foot fashion) without sheaves, formerly used to reeve the lanyards through for setting up the rigging.

Dead Flat - The midship section. The term is applied to the middle flat of a ship, where she gets no broader and no narrower ; that is, where the cross sections for some distance amidships are of the same size and form thus the side will present a "dead flat" for some distance; unusual in yachts.

Deadlight - Either a cover clamped over a porthole to protect it in heavy weather or a fixed light set into the deck or cabin roof to provide light below.

Dead on End - Said of the wind, when it blows straight down the course a vessel wishes to make.

Dead Reckoning - also Ded Reckoning. Abbreviation of Deduced Reckoning. The calculation of a ship's position by the log, the courses she has made, lee way, set of currents, wave patterns, speed an direction of wind, depth soundings and other close observations such as wave patterns or wildlife activity all without sighting known land or buoys or lights, celestial (sextant), or electronic information (GPS, Loran, Radar, Direction Finding.)

Dead Rise - The approach the floor timbers of a vessel makes to a vertical. In the case of ships, the frames in the after body are called the dead-risings, because they only rise from the keel at a sharp angle, all the middle frames starting out nearly horizontally from the keel. A yacht is said to have considerable dead rise on a very rising floor, when she is more or less of the V form, but really vessels of the T form have the greatest dead rise, as the heels of the floors forming the framing to take the garboards do rise nearly vertically.

Dead Water - The water in a vessel's wake, close to her sternpost, that follows the ship.

Dead Weight - Concentrated weight in a vessel's pattern, such as a heavy cargo of ore or ballast.

Dead Wood - The solid wood worked on top of the keel forward and aft.

Deck - A permanent covering over a compartment, hull or any part thereof. The platforms supported on the beams of ships. The old three deckers had upper deck, main deck, middle deck, lower deck, and orlop deck, no guns being carried on the latter. Below the orlop deck were the hold platforms, or decks. Yachts usually are said to have only one deck, i.e. the upper deck open to the sky; some large yachts, however, have a lower deck, laid and caulked. Smaller yachts have platform beams upon which the platform rests. The platform is the cabin floor or sole. The platforms supported on the beams of ships. The old three deckers had upper deck, main deck, middle deck, lower deck, and orlop deck, no guns being carried on the latter. Below the orlop deck were the hold platforms, or decks. Yachts usually are said to have only one deck, i.e. the upper deck open to the sky; some large yachts, however, have a lower deck, laid and caulked. Smaller yachts have platform beams upon which the platform rests. The platform is the cabin floor or sole.

Deck, to whiten - Make a mixture of 1-lb. oxalic acid to 1 gallon of water. Damp the deck with this and wash off.

Deep Sea Lead (pronounced "dipsey lead") - A lead of 28-lb. weight attached to a line of 200 fathoms.

Delivery - The quarter wash of a vessel. A yacht is said to have a good delivery if on passing through the water no large waves are raised at and about the quarters; she is then said to leave the water clean, to have a clean wake, clean delivery, or to run the water very clean aft; to have a sweet run.

Demurrage - Compensation paid to the owner of a ship when she has been detained longer than reasonable by a freighter or other person at a port.

Depth of Hold -In a single-deck vessel, the height between the kelson and deck.

Derelict - A vessel abandoned at sea. It is said that an owner's rights are not also abandoned if any live animal be left and found on board.

Derrick -A kind of crane.

Deviation - A movement of the compass needle due to local attraction, principally met with in iron or composite ships, and distinct from variation.

Dhow - A large Arab vessel, usually lateen-rigged.

Diagonal Braces - Strengthening straps of metal that cross the frames of a vessel diagonally.

Diagonal Lines -Lines which cross the sections of a vessel shown in the body plan, in a diagonal direction with the middle vertical line.

Diameter of Circle - Circumference multiplied by 0.31831.

Diminishing Strakes -The strakes immediately above and below wales being the thickness of the wale on one edge, and diminishing to the thickness of the plank at the other.

Dinghy - A small open boat. A dinghy is often used as a tender for a larger craft. Orignally a small boat of Bombay, with a settee sail

Dinghy-man -The man who has charge of the dinghy of a yacht, whose duty it is to go on shore on errands.

Dip -The inclination the compass needle makes towards the earth in high latitudes.

Dip the Ensign, To -To lower the ensign as a salute, or token of respect. (See "Dipping the Ensign.")

Dipping Lug Sail - A sail hoisted by a halyard and mast hoop traveler. The sail is set to leeward of the mast, and the tack is usually fast to the stem or on the weather bow. In tacking or gybing the sail has to be lowered and the yard shifted to the other side of the mast. A plan has been proposed to perform this dipping by the aid of a topping and tripping line instead of by lowering the sail; but the balance lug, which requires no dipping whatsoever in tacking, is to be preferred to the best dipping arrangement.

Discharge Ticket - A formal document given to seamen when they are discharged.

Dismantled - Unrigged: without sails or spars.

Dismasted - When a vessel loses one or more vertical spars

Displacement - The weight of water displaced by a floating vessel, thus, a boat's weightis always equal to the total of her own weight, with everything on board.

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.

Displacement per inch of immersion -

It is often necessary to now how much weight would have to be put into a yacht to sink her an inch or more deeper in the water or lighten her to a similar extent. Roughly, this can be ascertained by the following rule: Multiply the length on the load line by the breadth on the load line and divide the product by 600. (LxB/600)

The quotient will be the weight in tons or fractions of a ton. This rule would not hold good if the yacht were lightened more than three or four inches or deepened to that extent.

The rule is based on the assumption that the area of the load line is .7 of the circumscribing parallelogram. That is to say, the length and breadth multiplied together and again multiplied by .7 will (approximately) give the area of load line. Divide this product by 12, and the area is reduced to cubic feet, and divide again by 35 and the answer will be given in tons or fractions of a ton. By this rough rule the displacement per inch at any part of the hull of the vessel (if the measurements are taken at the part) can be found approximately

( LxBx0.7/ (12x35)) = ( LxB/600 )

Ditty Bag - Small bag used for carrying and stowing small personal items or kits

Dock - A protected water area in which vessels are moored.The term is often used to denote a pier or a wharf. A general name for a place to receive ships for repair or cleaning A ship is said to dock herself when placed in a soft tidal bed of mud (she buries herself in it more or less or upon a grid placed for that purpose. A dry dock is a basin into which a ship is floated and the gates closed upon her; the water is then pumped out and the ship left dry, supported on a framework and by shores.

Dockyards - Places where ships are built ; usually, however, confined to Government yards.

Dog Shores - Pieces of timber used in launching ships.

Dog Vane - A light vane made of bunting, silk, or feathers, to show the direction of the wind, and sometimes put on the weather rail or topsail yard.

Dog Watches - The divided watch between four and eight in the evening ; thus the first dog watch is from four to six, and the second from six to eight. (See "Watches.'')

Doldrums - The state of being becalmed. Parts of the ocean where calms are prevalent. Most often found around the equator between the trade wind belts.

Dolphin - A group of piles driven close together and bound with wire cables into a single structure.


Dolphin Striker - The perpendicular spar under the bowsprit end by which more spread is given to the stay of the jib-boom. In a modern yacht the dolphin striker is a steel strut or spreader fitting into a socket in the stem, and it acts as a spreader to the bobstay. (See "Spreader" and "Strut.")

Dodger - A screen, usually fabric, erected to protect the cockpit from spray and wind.

Dory - A flat-bottomed deep boat much used fishing schooners with removable thwarts so they can be nested when stowed aboard.


Double-banked - When men sit on the same thwart to row oars from different sides of a boat. Double-banked frigates were two deckers, with the upper deck ports disguised.

Double Block - A block with twin sheaves.

Double Gimbals.-- See "Gimbals."

Doubling Plank - To put one thickness of plank over the other.

Douse or Dowse - To lower away suddenly, to take in a sail suddenly. "Dowse the glim." to pint out a light.

Dove-tail Plates - Plates in form like a dove's tail.

Dowel - A hard wood or metal pin used for connecting timber or the edges of plank.

Downhaul - A line used to pull a spar, such as the spinnaker pole, or a sail, particularly the mainsail, down.

Down Helm - An order to put the helm to leeward and cause the vessel to luff.

Down Oars - The order given for the crew of a boat to let fall their oars after having them on end in the boat. See "Let Fall" and "Give Way."

Down Wind - Sailing in the direction of or with the wind - before the wind; with tine wind astern.

Down Wind Down Sea - The sea will subside when the wind does; or the sea will go down when the wind Is blowing the same direction as a tidal current.

Draft or Draught - The depth of water a boat draws.

Drag - The increased draught of water aft compared with the draught forward.

Drag, To - To scrape the bottom; to search the bottom with grapnels.

Draw - A sail is said to draw when it is filled by the wind. To let draw is to ease up the weather sheet of a sail after it has been hauled to windward, arid trim the lee sheet aft.

Draw her to - In sailing large to bring a vessel closer to wind.

Dress - To dress ship is to hoist flags from deck to truck; or from bowsprit end to truck and taffrail. Sometimes referred to as dressed "rainbow fashion."

Drift - To float about with the tide or current.

Drift - The distance between two blocks of a tackle ; or the two parts of one thing.

Drifting - In a calm in the case of being out of sight of land. or in a dense fog. but not out of soundings, if it is desired to know the direction of the current or tide, (drop a pig of ballast or lead line overboard with enough line out to just reach the bottom. Then watch the direction in which it drags.

Drive - To move to leeward by the force of the wind or drive without control.

Dry rot - The decay timber is subject to often through imperfect ventilation.

Dry Sailing - When boats, especially smaller racers, are kept on shore instead of being left anchored or moored, they are dry sailed. The practice prevents marine growth on the hull and the absorption of moisture into it.

Duck - Light canvas of which boat sails and balloon sails used to be made. To duck is to dive under water

Ducks - A sailor's white suit of duck. "They are all black ducks," an expression of derision used by yacht hands on the East coast towards their mates if they sit err deck with their heads up" when racing, instead of lying flat on the weather rail in the orthodox fashion.

Duff - A sailor's facetious way of pronouncing dough, hence plum duff for plum pudding. Duff is sometimes applied to "soft tack" or fresh bread as distinct from biscuits.

Dumb Cleat - A thumb cleat.

Dump - A nail used in fastening plank to the timbers, as distinguished from a through-bolt.

Dungaree or Dongaree - A blue linen or cotton. cloth in use in India now much used for for rough. or working suits given to yacht sailors.

Dunnage - Loose material such as cork. bamboo, shavings, ferns, coir, or various size timbers used to jam in between a heavy cargo and hold them in place.