Alterations and additions to the structure, rigging and equipment of a warship.
Toward the stern, relative to some object ("abaft the fore hatch").
Abaft the beam
Further aft than the beam: a relative bearing of greater than 90 degrees from the bow: "two points abaft the beam, starboard side". That would describe "an object lying 22.5 degrees toward the rear of the ship, as measured clockwise from a perpendicular line from the right side, center, of the ship, toward the horizon."
An imperative to leave the vessel immediately, usually in the face of some imminent overwhelming danger. It is an order issued by the Master or a delegated person in command. It is usually the last resort after all other mitigating actions have failed or become impossible, and destruction or loss of the ship is imminent; and customarily followed by a command to "man the lifeboats" or life rafts.
On the beam, a relative bearing at right angles to the centerline of the ship's keel.
Also able-bodied seaman. A merchant seaman qualified to perform all routine duties, or a junior rank in some navies.
On or in a vessel. Synonymous with "on board." (See also close aboard).
"To go about is to change the course of a ship by tacking. Ready about, or boutship, is the order to prepare for tacking."
On or above the deck, in plain view, not hiding anything. Pirates would secret their crews below decks, thereby creating the false impression that an encounter with another ship was a casual matter of chance.
The hull section of a vessel above the waterline, the visible part of a ship. Also, topsides.
Special pennant flown to indicate absence of commanding officer, admiral, his chief of staff, or officer whose flag is flying (division, squadron, or flotilla commander).
Senior naval officer of Flag rank. In ascending order of seniority, Rear Admiral, Vice Admiral, Admiral and (until about 2001 when all UK five-star ranks were discontinued) Admiral of the Fleet (Royal Navy). Derivation Arabic, from Amir al-Bahr ("Ruler of the sea").
1. A high naval authority in charge of a state's Navy or a major territorial component. In the Royal Navy (UK) the Board of Admiralty, executing the office of the Lord High Admiral, promulgates Naval law in the form of Queen's (or King's) Regulations and Admiralty Instructions.
Body of law that deals with maritime cases. In the UK administered by the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice or supreme court.
1. Afloat and unattached in any way to the shore or seabed, but not under way. When referring to a vessel, it implies that thea vessel is not under control and therefore goes where the wind and current take her (loose from moorings or out of place).
2. Any gear not fastened down or put away properly.
3. Any person or thing that is misplaced or missing. When applied to a member of the navy or marine corps, such a person is "absent without leave" (AWOL) or, in United States Navy and United States Marine Corps terminology, is guilty of an "unexcused absence" (UA).
A note for one month's wages issued to sailors on their signing a ship's articles.
Of a vessel which is floating freely (not aground or sunk). More generally of vessels in service ("the company has 10 ships afloat").
1. The portion of the vessel behind the middle area of the vessel.
2. Towards the stern (of the vessel).
1. On larger ships, a secondary gangway rigged in the area aft of midship. On some military vessels, such as U.S. Naval vessels, enlisted personnel below E-7 board the ship at the afterbrow; officers and CPO/SCPO/MCPO board the ship at the brow.
A warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Since 1918, the term generally has been limited to a warship with an extensive flight deck designed to operate conventional fixed-wing aircraft. Also called a flat top.
1. On the lee side of a ship.
2. To leeward.
Entire ship's company, both officers and enlisted personnel.
All night in
Having no night watches.
Bringing a person or thing up short, that is an unforeseen and sudden stop.
A term used in maritime law - To impact a stationary object (not submerged), such as a bridge abutment or dolphin, pier or wharf, or another vessel made fast to a pier or wharf. More than incidental contact is required. The vessel is said to "allide" with the fixed object and is considered at fault. As opposed to collision.
In the rigging of a sailing ship. Above the ship's uppermost solid structure; overhead or high above.
1. In the rigging of a sailing ship.
2. Above the ship's uppermost solid structure.
3. Overhead or high above.
By the side of a ship or pier.
The middle section of a vessel with reference to the athwartships plane, as distinguished from port or starboard ("Put your rudder amidships.")
1. an object designed to prevent or slow the drift of a ship, attached to the ship by a line or chain; typically a metal, hook-like or plough-like object designed to grip the bottom under the body of water (but also see sea anchor).
2. to deploy an anchor ("She anchored offshore.")
Round black shape hoisted in the forepart of a vessel to show that it is anchored.
A small buoy secured by a light line to an anchor to indicate position of anchor on bottom.
Anchor chain (or anchor cable)
Chain connecting the ship to the anchor.
Group of men who handle ground tackle when the ship is anchoring or getting under way.
When the anchor is secured for sea. Typically rests just outside the hawsepipe on the outer side of the hull, at the bow of a vessel.
White light displayed by a ship at anchor. Two such lights are displayed by a ship over 150 feet (46 m) in length.
The anchor line, rope or cable connecting the anchor chain to the vessel. Also Rode.
A separate weight on a separate line which is loosely attached to the anchor rode so that it can slide down it easily. It is made fast at a distance slightly longer than the draft of the boat. It is used to prevent the anchor rode from becoming fouled on the keel or other underwater structures when the boat is resting at anchor and moving randomly during slack tide. Also called a kellet.
The crewmen assigned to take care of the ship while anchored or moored, charged with such duties as making sure that the anchor is holding and the vessel is not drifting. Most marine GPS units have an Anchor Watch alarm capability.
A suitable place for a ship to anchor. Area of a port or harbor.
Said of an anchor when just clear of the bottom.
Traditional lower-deck slang term for the Royal Navy.
A pair of fluid-filled, usually water, tanks mounted on opposite sides of a ship below the waterline. Fluid would be pumped between them in an attempt to dampen the amount of roll.
Purportedly an acronym. A type of sonar used by the Allies for detecting submarines during the First and Second World War. abbreviation: Allied Submarine Devices Investigation Committee (World War I). The term has been generically applied to equipment for "under-water supersonic echo-ranging equipment" of submarines and other vessels.
1. On the beach, shore, or land (as opposed to aboard or on board).
2. Towards the shore.
3. "To run ashore": To collide with the shore (as opposed to "to run aground," which is to strike a submerged feature such as a reef or sandbar)
Over to the starboard side.
1. Toward the stern (rear) of a vessel.
2. Behind a vessel.
The gear or gears which, when engaged with an engine or motor, result in backwards movement or force. Equivalent to Reverse in a manual transmission automobile.
A harbour used to provide shelter from a storm. See "Harbor of refuge."
At right angles to the fore and aft or centerline of a ship.
A naval ship designed to operate in any number of roles supporting combatant ships and other naval operations, including a wide range of activities related to replenishment, transport, repair, harbor services, and research.
Stop, cease or desist from whatever is being done. From the Dutch hou' vast (“hold on”), the imperative form of vasthouden (“to hold on to”) or the Italian word "Basta" Compare ¡Ya basta!
Aviso (formerly also an adviso)
A kind of dispatch boat or advice boat, survives particularly in the French navy, they are considered equivalent to the modern sloop.
So low in the water that the water is constantly washing across the surface.
Position of an anchor just clear of the bottom.
Fire oriented towards the ends of the ship; the opposite of broadside fire. In the age of sail this was known as 'raking' fire.
Reply to an order or command to indicate that it, firstly, is heard; and, secondly, is understood and will be carried out. ("Aye, aye, sir" to officers). Also the proper reply from a hailed boat, to indicate that an officer is on board.
Instrument used to take bearings of celestial objects.
A style of standing rigging used on sailboats that lacks a backstay. The mast is said to be supported like a "tripod," with swept-back spreaders and a forestay. Used widely on Hunter brand sailboats, among others. Designed and named by Lars Bergstrom and Sven Ridder and protected by US Patent number 3866558, dated February 18, 1975.
Back and fill
To use the advantage of the tide being with you when the wind is not.
Large mass of sand or earth, formed by the surge of the sea. They are mostly found at the entrances of great rivers or havens, and often render navigation extremely dangerous, but confer tranquility once inside. See also: touch and go, grounding. Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "Crossing the bar" is an allegory for death.
1. During the second half of the 19th century, a fixed armored enclosure protecting a ship's guns aboard warships without gun turrets, generally taking the form of a ring of armor over which guns mounted on an open-topped rotating turntable could fire.
2. Since the late 19th century, the inside fixed trunk of a warship's turreted gun-mounting, on which the turret revolves, containing the hoists for shells and cordite from the shell-room and magazine.
A two- or three-masted lugger used for fishing on the coasts of Spain and Portugal and more widely in the Mediterranean Sea in the late 17th century and 18th century. The British Royal Navy also used them for shore raids and as dispatch boats in the Mediterranean.
An arrangement for the chartering or hiring of a vessel, whereby the vessel's owner provides no crew or provisions as part of the agreement; instead, the people who rent the vessel are responsible for crewing and provisioning her.
A type of large capital ship of the first half of the 20th century, similar in size, appearance, and cost to a battleship and typically armed with the same kind of heavy guns, but much more lightly armored (on the scale of cruiser) and therefore faster than a battleship but more vulnerable to damage.
A type of large, heavily armored warship of the second half of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century armed with heavy-caliber guns, designed to fight other battleships in a line of battle. It was the successor to the ship-of-the-line of the Age of Sail.
1. The ram on the prow of a fighting galley of ancient and medieval times.
2. The protruding part of the foremost section of a sailing ship of the 16th to the 18th century, usually ornate, used as a working platform by sailors handling the sails of the bowsprit. It also housed the crew's heads (toilets).
The scale describing wind force devised by Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort in 1808, in which winds are graded by the effect of their force (originally, the amount of sail that a fully rigged frigate could carry).
To cut off the wind from a sailing vessel, either by the proximity of land or by another vessel.
Unable to move due to lack of wind; said of a sailing vessel.
Before the mast
Literally, the area of a ship before the foremast (the forecastle). Most often used to refer to men whose living quarters are located here, officers being quartered in the stern-most areas of the ship (near the quarterdeck). Officer-trainees lived between the two ends of the ship and become known as "midshipmen". Crew members who started out as seamen, then became midshipmen, and later, officers, were said to have gone from "one end of the ship to the other" (also see hawsepiper).
1. To make fast a line around a fitting, usually a cleat or belaying pin.
2. To secure a climbing person in a similar manner.
3. An order to halt a current activity or countermand an order prior to execution.
A layer of heavy metal armor plated onto or within the outer hulls of warships, typically on battleships, battlecruisers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers, usually covering the warship from her main deck down to some distance below the waterline. If built within the hull, rather than forming the outer hull, the belt would be installed at an inclined angle to improve the warship's protection from shells striking the hull.
A triangular mainsail, without any upper spar, which is hoisted up the mast by a single halyard attached to the head of the sail. This configuration, introduced to Europe about 1920, allows the use of a tall mast, enabling sails to be set higher where wind speed is greater.
A fore-and-aft rigged sailing vessel with Bermuda rig developed in Bermuda in the 17th century. In its purest form, it is single-masted, although Bermuda sloops can have up to three masts, three-masted ships being referred to as schooners. Originally gaff rigged, but evolved to use Bermuda rig. The Bermuda sloop is the basis of nearly all modern sailing yachts.
a small European merchant sailing ship with two masts, the mainmast lateen-rigged with a trapezoidal mainsail, and the foremast carrying the conventional square course and square topsail. Used in the Netherlands for coast and canal traffic and occasionally in the North Sea, but more frequently used in the Mediterranean Sea.
A ship's sick list. The list of men unable to report for duty was given to the officer or mate of the watch by the ship's surgeon. The list was kept at the binnacle.
Verb used in reference to a rudder, as in "the rudder begins to bite." When a vessel has steerageway the rudder will act to steer the vessel, i.e. it has enough water flow past it to steer with. Physically this is noticeable with tiller or unassisted wheel steering by the rudder exhibiting resistance to being turned from the straight ahead - this resistance is the rudder "biting" and is how a helmsman first senses that the vessel has acquired steerageway.
The engineering crew of the vessel, i.e., crewmembers who work in the vessel's engine room, fire room, and boiler room, so called because they would be covered in coal dust during the days of coal-fired steamships.
A short board or swatch of heavy canvas, secured in a bridle of ropes, used to hoist a man aloft or over the ship’s side for painting and similar work. Modern boatswain's chairs incorporate safety harnesses to prevent the occupant from falling.
See boatswain's call.
See boatswain's call.
A maker of boats, especially of traditional wooden construction.
A sail control that lets one apply downward tension on a boom, countering the upward tension provided by the sail. The boom vang adds an element of control to sail shape when the sheet is let out enough that it no longer pulls the boom down. Boom vang tension helps control leech twist, a primary component of sail power.
2. Either side of the front (or bow) of the vessel, i.e., the port bow and starboard bow. Something ahead and to the left of the vessel is "off the port bow", while something ahead and to the right of the vessel is "off the starboard bow." When "bow" is used in this way, the front of the vessel sometimes is called her bows (plural), a collective reference to her port and starboard bows synonymous with bow (singular) as described in Definition (1).
A type of knot, producing a strong loop of a fixed size, topologically similar to a sheet bend. Also a rope attached to the side of a sail to pull it towards the bow (for keeping the windward edge of the sail steady).
A ring lifebuoy fitted with canvas breeches, functionally similar to a zip line, used to transfer people from one ship to another or to rescue people from a wrecked or sinking ship by moving them to another ship or to the shore.
1. (historically) A vessel with two square-rigged masts.
2. (in the US) An interior area of the ship used to detain prisoners (possibily prisoners-of-war, in war-time) & stowaways, and to punish delinquent crew members. Usually resembles a prison-cell with bars and a locked, hinged door.
When a sailing vessel loses control of its motion and is forced into a sudden sharp turn, often heeling heavily and in smaller vessels sometimes leading to a capsize. The change in direction is called broaching-to. Occurs when too much sail is set for a strong gust of wind, or in circumstances where the sails are unstable.
Wide (broad) in appearance from the vantage point of a lookout or other person viewing activity in the vicinity of a ship, e.g., another ship off the starboard bow with her side facing the viewer's ship could be described as "broad on the starboard bow" of the viewer's ship.
2. All the guns on one side of a warship or mounted (in rotating turrets or barbettes) so as to be able fire on the same side of a warship.
3. The simultaneous firing of all the guns on one side of a warship or able to fire on the same side of a warship.
4. Weight of broadside, the combined weight of all projectiles a ship can fire in a broadside, or the combined weight of all the shells a group of ships that have formed a line of battle collectively can fire on the same side.
The chief bosun's mate (in the Royal Navy), responsible for discipline.
The extension of the ship's side above the level of the weather deck.
Bull ensign (also "boot ensign" or "George ensign")
The senior ensign (q.v.) of a United States Navy command (i.e., a ship, squadron, or shore activity). The bull ensign assumes additional responsibilities beyond those of other ensigns, such as teaching less-experienced ensigns about life at sea, planning and coordinating wardroom social activities, making sure that the officers’ mess runs smoothly, and serving as an officer for Navy-related social organizations. The bull ensign also serves as the focal point for the unit’s expression of spirit and pride.
The Builder's Old Measurement, expressed in "tons bm" or "tons BOM", a volumetric measurement of cubic cargo capacity, not of weight. This is the tonnage of a ship, based on the number of tuns of wine that it could carry in its holds. One 252-gallon tun of wine takes up approximately 100 cubic feet – and, incidentally, weighs 2,240 lbs (1 long ton, or Imperial ton).
The transport of goods or passengers between two points in the same country, alongside coastal waters, by a vessel or an aircraft registered in another country.
Loaded vessels lashed tightly, one on each side of another vessel, and then emptied to provide additional buoyancy that reduces the draught of the ship in the middle.
A type of navigational buoy often a vertical drum, but if not, always square in silhouette, colored red in IALA region A or green in IALA region B (the Americas, Japan, Korea and the Philippines). In channel marking its use is opposite that of a "nun buoy".
A specialized watercraft designed for operation on a canal.
a type of antipersonnel cannon load in which lead balls or other loose metallic items were enclosed in a tin or iron shell. On firing, the shell would disintegrate, releasing the smaller metal objects with a shotgun-like effect.
A design for the stern of a yacht which is pointed, like a bow, rather than squared off as a transom.
Cape Horn fever
The name of the fake illness a malingerer is pretending to suffer from.
A navy's most important warships, generally possessing the heaviest firepower and armor and traditionally much larger than other naval vessels, but not formally defined. During the Age of Sail, generally understood to be ships-of-the-line; during the second half of the 19th century and the 20th century, understood to be battleships and battlecruisers; and since the 1940s considered to include aircraft carriers. Since the second half of the 20th century, ballistic missile submarines sometimes have been considered capital ships.
A large winch with a vertical axis. A full-sized human-powered capstan is a waist-high cylindrical machine, operated by a number of hands who each insert a horizontal capstan bar in holes in the capstan and walk in a circle. Used to wind in anchors or other heavy objects; and sometimes to administer flogging over.
1. The person lawfully in command of a vessel. "Captain" is an informal title of respect given to the commander of a naval vessel regardless of his or her formal rank; aboard a merchant ship, the ship's master is her "captain."
3. In the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Corps, a commissioned officer of a grade superior to a commander and junior to a rear admiral (lower half), equal in grade or rank to a United States Army, United States Marine Corps, or United States Air Force colonel.
Any sort of ship or vessel that carries cargo, goods, and materials from one port to another, including general cargo ships (designed to carry break bulk cargo), bulk carriers, container ships, multipurpose vessels, and tankers. Tankers, however, although technically cargo ships, are routinely thought of as constituting a completely separate category.
1. In the Age of Sail, a warrant officer responsible for the hull, masts, spars, and boats of a vessel, and whose responsibility was to sound the well to see if the vessel was making water.
2. A senior rating responsible for all the woodwork aboard a vessel.
A short nine-tailed whip kept by the bosun's mate to flog sailors (and soldiers in the Army). When not in use, the cat was kept in a baize bag, this is a possible origin for the term "cat out of the bag," though livestock trade was more likely where this phrase came from. "Not enough room to swing a cat" also derives from this.
Light variable winds on calm waters producing scattered areas of small waves.
A lining applied to the interior of a hull for both aesthetic reasons and to bar or insulate the ships cargo from the cold hull surface. Often made of thin strips of wood, attached horizontally with a small gap between to allow air flow to the interior hull surface.
Center of effort (or centre of effort)
The point of origin of net aerodynamic force on sails, roughly located in the geometric center of a sail, but the actual position of the center of effort will vary with sail plan, sail trim or airfoil profile, boat trim, and point of sail. Also known as center (or centre) of pressure
Center of lateral resistance (or centre of lateral resistance)
The point of origin of net hydrodynamic resistance on the submerged structure of a boat, especially a sailboat. This is the pivot point about which the boat turns when unbalanced external forces are applied, similar to the center of gravity. On a balanced sailboat the center of effort should align vertically with the center of lateral resistance. If this is not the case the boat will be unbalanced and exhibit either lee helm or weather helm and will be difficult to control.
Centerline (or centerline)
An imaginary line down the center of a vessel lengthwise. Any structure or anything mounted or carried on a vessel that straddles this line and is equidistant from either side of the vessel is on the centerline (or centreline).
Cannon balls linked with chain used to damage rigging and masts.
Chain-wale or channel
A broad, thick plank that projects horizontally from each of a ship's sides abreast a mast, distinguished as the fore, main, or mizzen channel accordingly, serving to extend the base for the shrouds, which supports the mast.
A cannon pointing forward or aft, often of longer range than other guns. Those on the bow (bow chaser) were used to fire upon a ship ahead, while those on the rear (stern chaser) were used to ward off pursuing vessels. Unlike guns pointing to the side, chasers could be brought to bear in a chase without slowing.
2. A line formed where the sides of a boat meet the bottom. Soft chine is when the two sides join at a shallow angle, and hard chine is when they join at a steep angle.
Hole or ring attached to the hull to guide a line via that point. An opening in a ships bulwark normally oval in shape designed to allow mooring lines to be fastened to cleats or bits mounted to the ship's deck. see also Panama chock and Dutchman's chock.
Rigging blocks that are so tight against one another that they cannot be further tightened.
1. A group of naval ships of the same or similar design.
2. A standard of construction for merchant vessels, including standards for specific types or specialized capabilities of some types of merchant vessels. A ship meeting the standard is in class, one not meeting them is out of class.
Clean bill of health
A certificate issued by a port indicating that the ship carries no infectious diseases. Also called a pratique.
At the helm, the watch keeper would record details of speed, distances, headings, etc. on a slate. At the beginning of a new watch the slate would be wiped clean.
To perform customs and immigration legalities prior to leaving port.
A stationary device used to secure a rope aboard a vessel.
A method of fixing together two pieces of wood, usually overlapping planks, by driving a nail through both planks as well as a washer-like rove. The nail is then burred or riveted over to complete the fastening.
The lower corners of square sails or the corner of a triangular sail at the end of the boom.
A type of sailing ship with a single mast and square-rigged single sail first developed in the 10th century and widely used, particularly in the Baltic Sea region, in seagoing trade from the 12th through the 14th century.
To formally place (a naval vessel) into active service, after which the vessel is said to be in commission. Sometimes used less formally to mean placing a commercial ship into service.
1. Commodore (rank), a military rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. Often equivalent to the rank of "flotilla admiral" or sometimes "counter admiral" in non-English-speaking navies.
2. Convoy Commodore, a civilian put in charge of the good order of the merchant ships in British convoys during World War II, but with no authority over naval ships escorting the convoy.
Navigational instrument showing the direction of the vessel in relation to the Earth's geographical poles or magnetic poles. Commonly consists of a magnet aligned with the Earth's magnetic field, but other technologies have also been developed, such as the gyrocompass.
The number of persons in a ship's crew, including officers.
To include or contain: As applied to a naval task force, the listing of all assigned units for a single transient purpose (mission). “The Task Force comprises Ship A, Ship B, and Ship C.” ‘Comprise’ means exhaustive inclusion – there aren't any other parts to the task force, and each ship has a permanent squadron existence, independent of the task force.
1. The armoured control tower of an iron or steel warship built between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries from which the ship was navigated in battle.
2. A tower-like structure on the dorsal (topside) surface of a submarine, serving in submarines built before the mid-20th century as a connecting structure between the bridge and pressure hull and housing instruments and controls from which the periscopes were used to direct the submarine and launch torpedo attacks. Since the mid-20th century, it has been replaced by the sail (United States usage) or fin (European and British Commonwealth usage), a structure similar in appearance which no longer plays a function in directing the submarine.
Unpowered Great Lakes vessels, usually a fully loaded schooner, barge, or steamer barge, towed by a larger steamer that would often tow more than one barge. The consort system was used in the Great Lakes from the 1860s to around 1920.
When two boats are approaching each other from any angle and this angle remains the same over time (constant bearing) they are on a collision course. Because of the implication of disaster (ships might collide) it has come to mean a problem or an obstacle which is heading your way. Often used in the sense of a warning, as in "watch out for this problem you might not see coming."
1. A flush-decked sailing warship of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries having a single tier of guns, ranked next below a frigate. Called in the United States Navy a sloop-of-war.
2. A lightly armed and armored warship of the 20th and 21st centuries, smaller than a frigate, capable of trans-oceanic duty.
The part of the stern above the waterline that extends beyond the rudder stock culminating in a small transom. A long counter increases the waterline length when the boat is heeled, so increasing hull speed.
To deliberately flood compartments on the opposite side from already flooded ones. Usually done to reduce a list.
The direction in which a vessel is being steered, usually given in degrees.
the lowest square sail on each mast — The mainsail, foresail, and the mizzen on a four masted ship (the after most mast usually sets a gaff driver or spanker instead of a square sail).
1. A ship's ventilator with a bell-shaped top which can be swivelled to catch the wind and force it below.
2. A vertical projection of a ship's funnel which directs the smoke away from the bridge.
Specifically a masthead constructed with sides and sometimes a roof to shelter the lookouts from the weather, generally by whaling vessels, this has become a generic term for what is properly called masthead. See masthead.
A passenger ship used for pleasure voyages, where the voyage itself and the ship's amenities are part of the experience, as well as the different destinations along the way. Transportation is not the prime purpose, as cruise ships operate mostly on routes that return passengers to their originating port. A cruise ship contrasts with a passenger liner, which is a passenger ship that provides a scheduled service between published ports primarily as a mode of transportation. Large, prestigious passenger ships used for either purpose sometimes are called ocean liners.
1. From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, a classification for a wide variety of gun- and sometimes torpedo-armed warships, usually but not always armored, intended for independent scouting, raiding, or commerce protection; some were designed also to provide direct support to a battlefleet. Cruisers carried out functions performed previously by the cruising ships (sailing frigates and sloops) of the Age of Sail.
2. From the early 20th century to the mid-20th century, a type of armored warship with varying armament and of various sizes, but always smaller than a battleship and larger than a destroyer, capable of both direct support of a battle fleet and independent operations, armed with guns and sometimes torpedoes.
3. After the mid-20th century, various types of warships of intermediate size armed with guided missiles and sometimes guns, intended for air defense of aircraft carriers and associated task forces or for anti-ship missile attack against such forces; virtually indistinguishable from large destroyers since the late 20th century.
A join between two lines, similar to an eye-splice, where each rope end is joined to the other a short distance along, making an opening which closes under tension.
The "valley" between the strands of a rope or cable. Before serving a section of laid rope e.g. to protect it from chafing, it may be "wormed" by laying yarns in the cuntlines, giving that section an even cylindrical shape.
Cut and run
When wanting to make a quick escape, a ship might cut lashings to sails or cables for anchors, causing damage to the rigging, or losing an anchor, but shortening the time needed to make ready by bypassing the proper procedures.
Cut of his jib
The "cut" of a sail refers to its shape. Since this would vary between ships, it could be used both to identify a familiar vessel at a distance, and to judge the possible sailing qualities of an unknown one. Also used figuratively of people.
A wooden block with holes (but no pulleys) which is spliced to a shroud. It is used to adjust the tension in the standing rigging of large sailing vessels, by lacing through the holes with a lanyard to the deck. Performs the same job as a turnbuckle.
A strong shutter fitted over a porthole or other opening that can be closed in bad weather.
The design angle between the keel (q.v.) and horizontal.
A wooden part (vertical timbers or planking) of the centerline structure of a boat, usually between the sternpost and amidships. It is used to "fill the spaces where, owing to the shape of the vessel, the floor-timbers have to be discontinued."
In a keel boat, a death roll is the act of broaching to windward, putting the spinnaker pole into the water and causing a crash-gybe of the boom and mainsail, which sweep across the deck and plunge down into the water. During a death roll, the boat rolls from side to side, becoming gradually more unstable until either it capsizes or the skipper reacts correctly to prevent it.
The top of the boat; the surface is removed to accommodate the seating area. The structures forming the approximately horizontal surfaces in the ship's general structure. Unlike flats, they are a structural part of the ship.
Deck hand or decky
A person whose job involves aiding the deck supervisor in (un)mooring, anchoring, maintenance, and general evolutions on deck.
The person in charge of all evolutions and maintenance on deck; sometimes split into two groups: forward deck supervisor, aft deck supervisor.
The under-side of the deck above. The inside of the boat is normally paneled over to hide the structure, pipes, electrical wires. It can be in thin wood planks, often covered with a vinyl lining, or in thin PVC or now even in fiberglass planks.
A situation in which the deck of the vessel is partially or wholly submerged, possibly as a result of excessive listing or a loss of buoyancy.
To formally take (a naval vessel) out of active service, after which the vessel is said to be out of commission or decommissioned. Sometimes used less formally to mean taking a commercial ship out of service.
A ship which acts as a mobile or fixed base for other ships and submarines or supports a naval base.
Depth of hold
The height from the lowest part of the hull inside the ship, at its midpoint, to the ceiling that is made up of the uppermost full length deck. For old warships it is to the ceiling that is made up of the lowermost full length deck.
A type of fast and maneuverable small warship introduced in the 1890s to protect capital ships from torpedo boat attack, since increased in size and capabilities to become a long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy, or battle group and defend them against submarines, surface ships, aircraft, and missiles.
The United States Navy term for a smaller, lightly armed warship built in large numbers during World War II (and ins smaller numbers thereafter), cheaper, slower, and less-well-armed than a destroyer but larger and more heavily armed than a corvette and designed to escort convoys of merchant ships or naval auxiliaries or second-line naval forces. Employed primarily for anti-submarine warfare, but also provided some protection against aircraft and smaller surface ships. Generally known as "frigates" in other navies, and designated as such in the U.S. Navy as well by the 1970s.
A large destroyer suitable for commanding a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships; a type of flotilla leader.
The devil was possibly a slang term for the garboard seam, hence "between the devil and the deep blue sea" being an allusion to keel hauling, but a more popular version seems to be the seam between the waterway and the stanchions which would be difficult to get at, requiring a cranked caulking iron, and a restricted swing of the caulking mallet.
Devil to pay (or Devil to pay, and no pitch hot)
"Paying" the devil is sealing the devil seam. It is a difficult and unpleasant job (with no resources) because of the shape of the seam (up against the stanchions) or if the devil refers to the garboard seam, it must be done with the ship slipped or careened.
the generic name of a number of traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with lateen sails used in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region, typically weighing 300 to 500 tons, with a long, thin hull. They are trading vessels primarily used to carry heavy items, like fruit, fresh water or merchandise. Crews vary from about thirty to around twelve, depending on the size of the vessel.
1. A type of small boat, often carried or towed as a ship’s boat by a larger vessel.
2. Also a small racing yacht or recreational open sailing boat, often used for beginner training rather than sailing full-sized yachts.
3. Utility dinghies are usually rowboats or have an outboard motor, but some are rigged for sailing.
A light illuminating a sector or very narrow angle and intended to mark a direction to be followed.
Dipping the eye
Dipping the eye
Method of attaching more than one hawser to a single bollard, so that each can be lifted off without disturbing the other(s). The second hawser is passed under the first, then up through the eye of the first (hence the name), before being secured over the bollard.
A flag flown to distinguish ships of one seagoing service of a given country from ships of the country's other seagoing service(s) when ships of more than one of the country's seagoing services fly the same ensign.
1. In American usage, a fixed structure attached to shore to which a vessel is secured when in port, generally synonymous with pier and wharf, except that pier tends to refer to structures used for tying up commercial ships and to structures extending from shore for use in fishing, while dock refers more generally to facilities used for tying up ships or boats, including recreational craft.
2. In British usage, the body of water between two piers or wharves which accommodates vessels tied up at the piers or wharves.
A facility where ships or boats are built and repaired. Routinely used as a synonym for shipyard, although dockyard sometimes is associated more closely with a facility used for maintenance and basing activities, while shipyard sometimes is associated more closely with a facility used in construction.
A hood forward of a hatch or cockpit to protect the crew from wind and spray. Can be soft or hard.
A short watch period, generally half the usual time (e.g. a two-hour watch rather than a four-hour one). Such watches might be included in order to rotate the system over different days for fairness, or to allow both watches to eat their meals at approximately normal times.
A slang term (in the US, mostly) for a raised portion of a ship's deck. A doghouse is usually added to improve headroom below or to shelter a hatch.
A small weather vane, sometimes improvised with a scrap of cloth, yarn or other light material mounted within sight of the helmsman. (See tell-tale)
A structure consisting of a number of piles driven into the seabed or riverbed as a marker.
One of a ship's engineering crew. Often a crewman responsible for maintaining a Steam donkey, or any machinery other than the main engines. On some ships, the Petty Officer in charge of engineroom ratings.
One of a family of traditional paddled long boats of various designs and sizes found throughout Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands. For competitive events, they are generally rigged with decorative Chinese dragon heads and tails. Dragon boat races are traditionally held during the annual summer solstice festival.
A type of battleship designed with an "all-big-gun" armament layout in which the ship's primary gun power resided in a primary battery of its largest guns intended for use at long range, with other gun armament limited to small weapons intended for close-range defense against torpedo boats and other small warships. Most, but not all, dreadnoughts also had steam turbine propulsion. Predominant from 1906, dreadnoughts differed from earlier steam battleships, retroactively dubbed "predreadnoughts", which had only a few large guns, relied on an intermediate secondary battery used at shorter ranges for most of their offensive power, and had triple-expansion steam engines.
To string International Code of Signals flags, arranged at random, from masthead to masthead (if the vessel has more than one mast) and then down to the taffrail, on a ship in harbor as a sign of celebration of a national, local, or personal anniversary, event, holiday, or occasion. When a ship is properly dressed overall, ensigns fly at each masthead unless displaced by another flag – for example, that of a flag officer on board – in addition to the ensign flown in the usual position at the stern.
1. Treating old sails with oil or wax to renew them.
A type of fishing boat designed to catch herring in a long drift net, long used in the Netherlands and Great Britain.
The large sail flown from the mizzen gaff.
The fifth mast of a six-masted barquentine or gaff schooner. It is preceded by the jigger mast and followed by the spanker mast. The sixth mast of the only seven-masted vessel, the gaff schooner Thomas W. Lawson, was normally called the pusher-mast.
A device to slow a boat down in a storm so that it does not speed excessively down the slope of a wave and crash into the next one. It is generally constructed of heavy flexible material in the shape of a cone. Also see sea anchor.
A narrow basin or vessel used for the construction, maintenance, and repair of ships, boats, and other watercraft that can be flooded to allow a load to be floated in, then drained to allow that load to come to rest on a dry platform.
One of the machinery spaces of a vessel, usually the largest one, containing the ship's prime mover (usually a diesel or steam engine or a gas or steam turbine). Larger vessels may have more than one engine room.
1. Ensign, the principal flag or banner flown by a ship to indicate her nationality.
(also known as “in extremis”) the point under International Rules of the Road (Navigation Rules) at which the privileged (or stand-on) vessel on collision course with a burdened (or give-way) vessel determines it must maneuver to avoid a collision. Prior to extremis, the privileged vessel must maintain course and speed and the burdened vessel must maneuver to avoid collision.
A closed loop or eye at the end a line, rope, cable, etc. It is made by unraveling its end and joining it to itself by intertwining it into the lay of the line. Eye splices are very strong and compact and are employed in moorings and docking lines among other uses.
A large ocean-going vessel with extensive on-board facilities for processing and freezing caught fish or whales. Some also serve as mother ships (q.v.) for smaller fishing or whaling vessels. Those used for processing fish are also known as fish processing vessels.
1. A smooth curve, usually referring to a line of the hull which has no deviations.
2. To make something flush.
3. A line is fair when it has a clear run.
4. A wind or current is fair when it offers an advantage to a boat.
Fair winds and following seas
A blessing wishing the recipient a safe journey and good fortune.
A traditional fishing boat with a lateen sail on a single mast used by fishermen from the town of Komiža on the Adriatic island of Vis.
The part of the tackle that is hauled upon.
To change the direction of sail so as to point in a direction that is more down wind. To bring the bow leeward. Also bear away, bear off or head down. This is the opposite of pointing up or heading up.
A traditional wooden sailing boat with a rig consisting of one or two lateen sails, used in protected waters of the Red Sea and eastern Mediterranean and particularly along the Nile in Egypt and Sudan, and also in Iraq.
A command given to the crew to stop what they are now doing and to immediately manually prevent the boat from banging into the docks or other boats.
A sailing boat with two masts with a standard rig consisting of a main dipping lugsail and a mizzen standing lug sail developed in Scotland; used for commercial fishing from the 1850s until the 20th century.
An enlarged top designed to allow gunfire downward onto an enemy ship. A fighting top could have small guns installed in it or could serve as a platform for snipers armed with muskets or rifles.
A symbolic image at the head of a traditional sailing ship or early steamer.
A term used in European and British Commonwealth countries for a tower-like structure on the dorsal (topside) surface of a submarine; called a sail in the United States.
Narrow (fine) in appearance from the vantage point of a lookout or other person viewing activity in the vicinity of a ship, e.g., another ship off the starboard bow with her bow or stern facing the viewer's ship could be described as "fine on the starboard bow" of the viewer's ship.
A ship loaded with flammable materials and explosives and sailed into an enemy port or fleet either already burning or ready to be set alight by its crew (who would then abandon it) in order to collide with and set fire to enemy ships.
1. In the Royal Navy, the senior lieutenant on board; responsible to the commanding officer for the domestic affairs of the ship's company. Also known as 'Jimmy the One' or 'Number One'. Removes his cap when visiting the mess decks as token of respect for the privacy of the crew in those quarters. Officer in charge of cables on the forecastle.
2. In the United States Navy, the officer on a ship serving as the senior person in charge of all deck hands.
A sailing tactic for handling winds too strong for the sail area hoisted when reefing the sails is not feasible or possible. The headsail is set normally while the mainsail is let out till it is constantly luffing. This creates loss of force on the main and also reduces the efficiency of the headsail while still retaining sailing control of the vessel.
The business practice of registering a merchant ship in a sovereign state different from that of the ship's owners, and flying that state's civil ensign on the ship. The practice allows the ship's owner to reduce operating costs or avoid the regulations of the owner's country.
1. A commissioned officer senior enough to be entitled to fly a flag to mark the ship or installation from which he or she exercises command, in English-speaking countries usually referring to the senior officers of a navy, specifically those who hold any of the admiral ranks and in some cases to those holding the rank of commodore. In modern American usage, additionally applied to U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps officers and general officers in the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps entitled to fly their own flags.
2. A formal rank in the mid-19th-century United States Navy, conveyed temporarily upon senior captains in command of squadrons of ships, soon rendered obsolete by the creation of the ranks of commodore and rear admiral.
1. A vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships. The term derives from the custom of the commander of such a group of ships, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag aboard the ship on which he or she is embarked.
2. Used more loosely, the lead ship in a fleet of naval or commercial vessels, typically the first, largest, fastest, most heavily armed, or, in terms of media coverage, best-known.
A Dutch transoceanic sailing cargo vessel, square-rigged with two or three masts that were much taller than the masts of a galleon, developed in the 16th century and widely used in the 17th and 18th centuries.
A partial deck, above the upper deck and at the head of the vessel; traditionally the sailors' living quarters. Pronounced /ˈfoʊksəl/. The name is derived from the castle fitted to bear archers in time of war.
The lower part of the stem of a ship.
An enlisted sailor, one who is housed before the foremast.
The part of the hold of a ship within the angle of the bow.
1. Having freedom of motion interfered with by collision or entanglement; entangled; the opposite of clear. For instance, a rope is foul when it does not run straight or smoothly, and an anchor is foul when it is caught on an obstruction.
2. A breach of racing rules.
3. An area of water treacherous to navigation due to many shallow obstructions such as reefs, sandbars, or many rocks, etc.
4. Foul the range: To block another vessel from firing her guns at a target.
A slang term for oilskins, the foul-weather clothing worn by sailors. See also oilskins.
In the British Royal Navy, a fourth rate was, during the first half of the 18th century, a ship of the line mounting from 46 up to 60 guns.
A transverse structural member which gives the hull strength and shape. Wooden frames may be sawn, bent or laminated into shape. Planking is then fastened to the frames. A bent frame is called a timber.
The height of a ship's hull (excluding superstructure) above the waterline. The vertical distance from the current waterline to the lowest point on the highest continuous watertight deck. This usually varies from one part to another.
Sailing into the wind (by), but not as close-hauled as might be possible, so as to make sure the sails are kept full. This provides a margin for error to avoid being taken aback (a serious risk for square-rigged vessels) in a tricky sea. Figuratively it implies getting on with the job but in a steady, relaxed way, without undue urgency or strain.
A traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat.
Fitting that attaches the boom to the mast, allowing it to move freely.
Of a fore-and-aft rigged vessel sailing directly away from the wind, with the sails set on opposite sides of the vessel—for example with the mainsail to port and the jib to starboard, to maximize the amount of canvas exposed to the wind. See also running.
Small balls of lead fired from a cannon, analogous to shotgun shot but on a larger scale. Similar to canister shot but with larger individual shot. Used to injure personnel and damage rigging more than to cause structural damage.
A narrow basin, usually made of earthen berms and concrete, closed by gates or by a caisson, into which a vessel may be floated and the water pumped out, leaving the vessel supported on blocks; the classic form of drydock.
A passage of two vessels moving in the opposite direction on their starboard sides, so called because the green navigation light on one of the vessels faces the green light on the other vessel.
Watered-down pusser's rum consisting of half a gill with equal part of water, issued to all seamen over twenty. (CPOs and POs were issued with neat rum) From the British Admiral Vernon who, in 1740, ordered the men's ration of rum to be watered down. He was called "Old Grogram" because he often wore a grogram coat, and the watered rum came to be called 'grog'. Often used (illegally) as currency in exchange for favours in quantities prescribed as 'sippers' and 'gulpers'. Additional issues of grog were made on the command 'splice the mainbrace' for celebrations or as a reward for performing especially onerous duties. The RN discontinued the practice of issuing rum in 1970. A sailor might repay a colleague for a favour by giving him part or all of his grog ration, ranging from "sippers" (a small amount) via "gulpers" (a larger quantity) to "grounders" (the entire tot).
Drunk from having consumed a lot of grog.
The bed of the sea.
When a ship (while afloat) touches the bed of the sea, or goes "aground" (q.v.).
A small iceberg or ice floe which is barely visible above the surface of the water.
1. Up through the 19th century, a deck aboard a ship that was primarily used for the mounting of cannon to be fired in broadsides.
2. On smaller vessels (of frigate size or smaller) up through the 19th century, the completely covered level under the upper deck, even though in such smaller ships it carried none of the ship's guns.
3. On marine seismic survey vessels, the lowest deck on the ship, which carries the seismic source arrays, consisting of air guns arranged in clusters.
4. In naval slang, to fabricate or falsify something; in modern usage, meaning especially to falsify documentation in order to avoid doing work or make present conditions seem acceptable without having made a real effort to improve them.
see Kissing the gunner's daughter.
The opening in the side of the ship or in a turret through which the gun fires or protrudes.
Canvas sheets, slung from the deckhead in messdecks, in which seamen slept. "Lash up and stow" a piped command to tie up hammocks and stow them (typically) in racks inboard of the ship's side to protect crew from splinters from shot and provide a ready means of preventing flooding caused by damage.
To furl a sail.
A ship using coal-fired boilers shoveled in by hand.
Hand over fist
To climb steadily upwards, from the motion of a sailor climbing shrouds on a sailing ship (originally "hand over hand").
With a slow even motion, as when hauling on a line "handsomely".
A loose block and tackle with a hook or tail on each end, which can be used wherever it is needed. Usually made up of one single and one double block.
An enclosed deck, usually beneath the flight deck, on an aircraft carrier intended for use as a hangar in servicing and storing aircraft.
A fastener attached to the luff of the headsail that attaches the headsail to the forestay. Typical designs include a bronze or plastic hook with a spring-operated gate, or a strip of cloth webbing with a snap fastener.
An informal term for a merchant ship’s officer who began their career as an unlicensed merchant seaman, and so did not attend a traditional maritime academy to earn their officer's licence (also see before the mast).
1. The forwardmost or uppermost portion of the ship.
2. The forwardmost or uppermost portion of any individual part of the ship, e.g., the masthead, the beakhead, the stemhead, etc.
3. The top edge of a sail.
4. The toilet or latrine of a vessel, which in sailing ships projected from the bows and therefore was located in the "head" of the vessel.
A fishing boat that takes recreational fishermen out for a fee paid individually by each person (i.e., per head). A head boat differs from a charter boat, which is a fishing boat that a party of fishermen hires for an agreed-upon period.
When the peak of a wave is amidships, causing the hull to bend so the ends of the keel are lower than the middle. The opposite of sagging. Also refers to a permanent distortion of the hull in the same manner caused, over time, by the bow and stern of a ship being less buoyant than the midships section. During the Age of Sail, shipwrights employed a number of different designs of braces to stiffen ships' hulls against this warping.
The height of a fore-and-aft sail as measured next to the mast or stay.
In earlier use, below the orlop deck, the lower part of the interior of a ship's hull, especially when considered as storage space, as for cargo. In later merchant vessels it extended up through the decks to the underside of the weather deck.
A gap in the coverage of newly applied paint, slush, tar or other preservative.
A chunk of sandstone used to scrub the decks. The name comes from both the kneeling position sailors adopt to scrub the deck (reminiscent of genuflection for prayer), and the stone itself (which resembled a Bible in shape and size).
The port at which a vessel is based. Often confused with the ship's port of registry, which is the port listed in the vessel's registration documents and lettered on her stern and which may differ from her home port. In the cruise ship industry, the term "home port" often is mistakenly used to refer to a ship's port of departure.
A sound signal which uses electricity or compressed air to vibrate a disc diaphragm.
A fore-and-aft structural member of the hull sloping up and backwards from the keel to support the counter.
1. Attachment of sheets to deck of vessel (main-sheet horse).
2. (v.) To move or adjust sail by brute hand force rather than using running rigging.
1. A ship, often an old ship or one that has become obsolete or uneconomical to operate, that has had its rigging or internal equipment removed and is incapable of going to sea, but that is afloat and continues to serve a useful function, such as providing living, office, training, storage, or prison space.
2. To convert a ship into such a hulk.
3. Less commonly, a ship that has been launched but not completed.
4. Also less commonly, an abandoned wreck or shell of a ship.
A serious hazard where cold temperatures (below about −10°C) combined with high wind speed (typically force 8 or above on the Beaufort scale) result in spray blown off the sea freezing immediately on contact with the ship
Members of a ship's company not required to serve watches. These were in general specialist tradesmen such as the carpenter and the sailmaker.
In ballast (or "in ballast condition")
Of a vessel: Having only ballast (q.v.) – and no cargo – as a load.
When a sailing vessel has lost its forward momentum while heading into the wind, rendering it unable to steer.
Lines, often steel wire with a plastic jacket, from the bow to the stern on both port and starboard. A crewmember clips his safety harness to a jackline, allowing him to walk along the deck while still being safely attached to the vessel.
A man-made wall in open water rising several feet above high tide made of rubble and rocks used to create a breakwater, shelter, erosion control, a channel, or other such purpose.
The fourth mast, although ships with four or more masts were uncommon, or the aft most mast where it is smallest on vessels of less than four masts.
Traditional Royal Navy nickname for the Royal Marines.
a slender triangular recess cut into the faying surface of a frame or steamed timber to fit over the land of clinker planking, or cut into the faying edge of a plank or rebate to avoid feather ends on a strake of planking. The feather end is cut off to produce a nib. The joggle and nib in this case is made wide enough to allow a caulking iron to enter the seam.
Both the act of rigging a temporary mast and sails and the name of the resulting rig. A jury rig would be built at sea when the original rig was damaged, then it would be used to sail to a harbor or other safe place for permanent repairs.
A technique for moving or turning a ship by using a relatively light anchor known as a kedge. The kedge anchor may be dropped while in motion to create a pivot and thus perform a sharp turn. The kedge anchor may also be carried away from the ship in a smaller boat, dropped, and then weighed, pulling the ship forward.
A two-masted fore-and-aft rigged sailboat with the aft mast (the mizzen) mounted (stepped) afore (in front of) the rudder.
A small anchor. A fouled killick is the substantive badge of non-commissioned officers in the RN. Seamen promoted to the first step in the promotion ladder are called 'Killick'. The badge signifies that here is an able seaman skilled to cope with the awkward job of dealing with a fouled anchor.
A rope, tackle or hydraulic ram running from the mast at or just above deck level to a point part-way along the boom of a yacht's mainsail or mizzen. Its function is to pull the boom down, flattening the sail in strong winds, reducing twist and preventing the boom from kicking up when running.
The centerline plank of a laid deck. Its sides are often recessed, or nibbed, to take the ends of their parallel curved deck planks.
A unit of speed: 1 nautical mile (1.8520 km; 1.1508 mi) per hour. Originally speed was measured by paying out a line from the stern of a moving boat; the line had a knot every 47 feet 3 inches (14.40 m), and the number of knots passed out in 30 seconds gave the speed through the water in nautical miles per hour. Sometimes "knots" is mistakenly stated as "knots per hour," but the latter is a measure of acceleration (i.e., "nautical miles per hour per hour") rather than of speed.
Know the ropes
A sailor who 'knows the ropes' is familiar with the miles of cordage and ropes involved in running a ship.
On board a ship, all "stairs" are called ladders, except for literal staircases aboard passenger ships. Most "stairs" on a ship are narrow and nearly vertical, hence the name. Believed to be from the Anglo-Saxon word hiaeder, meaning ladder.
Debris that has sunk to the seabed.
To be placed in reserve or mothballed. The latter usage is used in modern times and can refer to a specific set of procedures used by the US Navy to preserve ships in good condition.
Great Lakes slang for a vessel which spends all her time on the five Great Lakes.
Obsolete term for the left side of a ship. Derived from "lay-board" providing access between a ship and a quay, when ships normally docked with the left side to the wharf. Replaced by port side or port, to avoid confusion with starboard.
To come and go, used in giving orders to the crew, such as "lay forward" or "lay aloft". To direct the course of vessel. Also, to twist the strands of a rope together. To make it to a mark, buoy, or harbor, such as "We will lay the mark".
An unexpected delay time during a voyage often spent at anchor or in a harbor. It is usually caused by bad weather, equipment failure or needed maintenance.
The tendency of a sailboat to turn to leeward in a strong wind when there is no change in the rudder's position. This is the opposite of weather helm and is the result of a dynamically unbalanced condition. See also Center of lateral resistance.
The side of a ship sheltered from the wind (cf. weather side).
A fin mounted on the side of a boat (usually in pairs) that can be lowered on the lee side of the ship to reduce leeway (similarly to a centerboard, which see).
The aft or trailing edge of a fore-and-aft sail; the leeward edge of a spinnaker; a vertical edge of a square sail. The leech is susceptible to twist, which is controlled by the boom vang, mainsheet and, if rigged with one, the gaff vang.
Lee-oh or hard-a-lee
The command given to come about (tack through the wind) on a sailing boat.
The length of a vessel along the waterline from the forward surface of the stem, or main bow perpendicular member, to the after surface of the sternpost, or main stern perpendicular member. Believed to give a reasonable idea of the vessel's carrying capacity, as it excludes the small, often unusable volume contained in her overhanging ends.
The maximum length of a vessel's hull measured parallel to the waterline, usually measured on the hull alone, and including overhanging ends that extend beyond the main bow and main stern perpendicular members. For sailing vessels, this may exclude the bowsprit and other fittings added to the hull, but sometimes bowsprits are included.
Let go and haul
An order indicating that the ship is now on the desired course relative to the wind and that the sails should be trimmed ('hauled') to suit.
A flat-bottomed barge used to transfer goods and passengers to and from moored ships, traditionally unpowered and moved and steered using "sweeps" (long oars), with their motive power provided by water currents.
A permanently anchored vessel performing the functions of a lighthouse, typically in a location where construction of the latter is impractical. These have largely been replaced by buoys or, as construction techniques have improved, actual lighthouses.
The correct nautical term for the majority of the cordage or "ropes" used on a vessel. A line will always have a more specific name, such as mizzentopsailhalyard, that specifies its use.
2. Any cargo or passenger ship running scheduled service along a specific route with published ports of call, excluding ferries and other vessels engaged in short-sea trading. When referring to cargo ships, liner in this sense contrasts with tramp, which refers to a ship engaged in spot-market trade that does not follow a regular schedule or make regular calls at specific ports. When referring to passenger ships, liner in this sense refers to ships providing scheduled transportation between regular ports of call and excludes cruise ships, which voyage merely for recreational purposes and not primarily as a form of transportation between ports.
3. Ocean liner: Any large and prestigious passenger ship, including cruise ships.
A vessel's angle of lean or tilt to one side, in the direction called roll. Typically refers to a lean caused by flooding or improperly loaded or shifted cargo (as opposed to 'heeling', which see).
Loaded to the gunwales
Literally, having cargo loaded as high as the ship's rail; also means extremely drunk.
The technique used to convert a scaled drawing to full size used in boat construction.
An iron ball attached to a long handle, used for driving caulking into seams and (occasionally) in a fight. Hence: 'at loggerheads'.
The relative slackness of an anchor chain; this term means taut and extended.
1. In the Age of Sail, a double-banked open boat carried by a sailing ship, rowed by eight or ten oarsmen, two per thwart, although designed also to be rigged for sailing; more seaworthy than a cutter or dinghy and with a beam greater than that of a gig. Eventually supplanted by the whaleboat.
2. The largest, and thus the most capable, of boats carried on a ship.
A type of ship invented and used by the Vikings for trade, commerce, exploration, and warfare, evolving over several centuries and appearing in its complete form between the 9th and 13th centuries.
A member of the crew specifically assigned to watch surrounding waters for other vessels, land, objects in the water, hazards, threats, etc. Lookouts usually have duty stations high on a vessel's superstructure or in her rigging in order to enhance their field of view.
An irresponsible and reckless individual whose behavior (either intended or unintended) endangers the group he or she belongs to. A loose cannon, weighing thousands of pounds, would crush anything and anyone in its path, and possibly even break a hole in the hull, thus endangering the seaworthiness of the whole ship.
A mainsail that is not connected to a boom along its foot.
1. The deck of a ship immediately above the hold.
2. In British usage, those members of a ship's company who are not officers, often used in the plural (the lower decks)
A port cut into the bottom of the mizzentop (crow's-nest) allowing easy entry and exit. It was considered "un-seamanlike" to use this easier method rather than going over the side from the shrouds, and few sailors would risk the scorn of their shipmates by doing so (at least if there were witnesses).
A vertical line inside a compass case indicating the direction of the ship's head.
A Great Lakes ship designed to carry her own deck load of lumber and to tow one or two barges. The barges were big old schooners stripped of their masts and running gear to carry large cargoes of lumber.
Sail control line that allows the most obvious effect on mainsail trim. Primarily used to control the angle of the boom, and thereby the mainsail, this control can also increase or decrease downward tension on the boom while sailing upwind, significantly affecting sail shape. For more control over downward tension on the boom, use a boom vang.
The stay running from the top of the mainmast to the bottom of the foremast, or from the top of the foremast to the ship's stem.
To have all of the crew of a sailing vessel not required on deck to handle the ship go aloft and spread out along the yards. Originally used in harbors to display the whole crew to the harbor authorities and the other ships present to show that the vessel's guns were not manned and hence her intentions were peaceful, manning the yards has since became a display used in harbor during celebrations and other special events.
1. A soldier trained for service afloat in a (primarily) infantry force that specializes in naval campaigns and subordinated to a navy or a separate naval branch of service rather than to an army. Often capitalized (e.g., "a Marine," or "the Marines"). Notable examples are the United Kingdom's Royal Marines, formed as the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot in 1664 with many and varied duties including providing guard to ship's officers should there be mutiny aboard, and the United States Marine Corps, formed in 1775 as a separate naval service alongside the United States Navy. It is incorrect, and often viewed by marines as offensive, to refer to a marine as a "soldier" or "infantryman," as these terms refer to personnel of an army rather than those of a marine force. It also is incorrect, and sometimes considered offensive by both merchant mariners and marines, to refer to merchant mariners (q.v.) as "merchant marines," because merchant mariners are civilian sailors responsible for operating merchant ships and are not marines. Marines sometimes are thought by seamen to be rather gullible, hence the phrase "tell it to the marines," meaning that one does not believe what is being said.
2. An alternative term for a navy, uncommon in English, but common in other languages.
3. Of, or pertaining to, the sea (e.g, marine biology, marine insurance, marine life, marine salvage).
4. A painting representing a subject related to the sea.
1. Of or related to the sea (e.g., maritime activities, maritime law, maritime strategy).
2. Bordering on the sea (e.g., maritime provinces, maritime states).
3. Living in or near the sea (e.g., maritime animals).
A non-commissioned officer responsible for discipline on a naval ship. Standing between the officers and the crew, commonly known in the Royal Navy as 'the Buffer'.
A traditional Royal Navy term for an ordinary sailor.
Military equipages of all descriptions for the naval services. The bombs, blankets, beans and bulletins of the Navy and Marine Corps. Taken from Nelson’s British navy as the U.S. services became professional. Related: Materiel – the military equipages of the Army and Air Force, taken from Napoleon’s French army as the U.S. services became professional.
A collective term for all merchant ships registered in a given country and the civilians (especially those of that nationality) who man them; the ships and personnel in combination are said to constitute that country's merchant marine. Called the merchant navy in the United Kingdom and some other countries.
A civilian officer or sailor who serves in the merchant marine (q.v.). Sometimes such personnel are incorrectly called "merchant marines," but both merchant mariners and marines frown on this term; although merchant mariners are part of the merchant marine, they are civilians and are not in any way marines (q.v.), which are a specialized type of military personnel .
A name bestowed upon the merchant marine (q.v.) of the United Kingdom by King George V, and since adopted by some other countries as well; the merchant navy's personnel are civilians, and the term "merchant navy" does not imply that they or their ships are a part of the navy. Synonymous with the term merchant marine.
A system of catering in which a standard ration is issued to a mess supplemented by a money allowance which may be used by the mess to buy additional victuals from the pusser's stores or elsewhere. Each mess was autonomous and self-regulating. Seaman cooks, often members of the mess, prepared the meals and took them, in a tin canteen, to the galley to be cooked by the ship's cooks. As distinct from "cafeteria messing" where food is issued to the individual hand, which now the general practice.
A measurement of the initial static stability of a vessel afloat, calculated as the distance between her centre of gravity and her metacenter. A vessel with a large metacentric height rolls more quickly and therefore more uncomfortably for people on board; a vessel with a small metacentric height will roll sluggishly and may face a greater danger of capsizing.
1. During the 17th century, a naval rating for an experienced seaman.
2. From the 18th century, a naval commissioned officer candidate.
3. From the 1790s, an apprentice naval officer.
4. From the 19th century, an officer cadet at a naval academy.
5. In contemporary British usage, a non-commissioned officer below the rank of lieutenant. Usually regarded as being "in training" to some degree. Also known as 'Snotty'. 'The lowest form of rank in the Royal Navy' where he has authority over and responsibility for more junior ranks, yet, at the same time, relying on their experience and learning his trade from them.
6. In contemporary American usage, a cadet of either sex at the United States Merchant Marine Academy or the United States Naval Academy. When plural (Midshipmen), the term refers to the student body of either academy, and more formally as "the Regiment of Midshipmen" for the United States Merchant Marine Academy and "the Brigade of Midshipmen" for the United States Naval Academy. Midshipmen also is the name of the United States Naval Academy's sports teams.
An alternative to the Blackwall hitch, preferred if the rope is greasy. Made by first forming a Blackwall hitch and then taking the underneath part and placing over the bill of the hook.
A self-contained explosive device intended to damage or sink surface ships or submarines, designed to be placed in water and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, a surface ship or submarines.
A massive structure, usually of stone or concrete, used as a pier, a breakwater, or a causeway between places separated by water. May have a wooden structure built upon it and resemble a wooden pier or wharf, but a mole differs from a pier, quay, or wharf in that water cannot flow freely underneath it.
1. A turreted ironclad warship of the second half of the 19th century characterized by low freeboard, shallow draft, poor seaworthiness, and heavy guns, intended for riverine and coastal operations.
2. In occasional 19th-century usage, any turreted warship.
3. A shallow-draft armored shore bombardment vessel of the first half of the 20th century, designed to provide fire support to ground troops, often mounting heavy guns.
4. Breastwork monitor: A 19th-century monitor designed with a breastwork to improve seaworthiness.
5. River monitor: A monitor specifically designed for riverine operations, used during the 19th and 20th centuries and more recently than other types of monitor. River monitors generally are smaller and lighter than other monitors.
A high platform above the wheelhouse offering better visibility to the operator while maneuvering.
a ball woven out of line used to provide heft to heave the line to another location. The monkey fist and other heaving-line knots were sometimes weighted with lead (easily available in the form of foil used to seal e.g. tea chests from dampness) although Clifford W. Ashley notes that there was a "definite sporting limit" to the weight thus added.
A vessel which leads, serves, or carries smaller vessels, in the latter case either releasing them and then proceeding independently or also recovering them after they have completed a mission or operation. A mother ship sometimes contrasts with a tender (q.v.), which often (but not necessarily) is a vessel that supports or cares for larger vessels.
A template of the shape of the hull in transverse section. Several moulds are used to form a temporary framework around which a hull is built.
A cargo ship that has fittings to carry standard shipping containers and retractable tweendecks that can be moved out of the way so that the ship can carry bulk cargo.
The location on a vessel a person goes either during an emergency or a drill to prepare for one. i.e. A Muster Drill. If a person is believed missing, all hands would report to their muster station for a head count.
A unit of length corresponding approximately to one minute of arc of latitude along any meridian arc. By international agreement it is exactly 1,852 metres (approximately 6,076 feet).
The British system of authorizing naval construction by an annual bill in Parliament.
1. Sailors subordinated to a navy trained and equipped to operate ashore temporarily as an organized infantry force, but at other times responsible for the normal duties of sailors aboard ship.
2. A specialized, permanent force of troops subordinated to a navy and responsible for infantry operations ashore. Although more specialized than sailors trained to operate temporarily as naval infantry and bearing similarities to a marine (q.n.) force or marine corps, such permanent naval infantry forces often lack the full capabilities of a marine force. Naval infantry forces also usually differ from marine forces in being subordinated directly to a navy rather than to a separate branch of naval service such as a marine corps.
Rules of the road that provide guidance on how to avoid collision and also used to assign blame when a collision does occur.
"no"; the opposite of "aye".
Short rope used to bind a cable to the "messenger" (a moving line propelled by the capstan) so that the cable is dragged along too (used where the cable is too large to be wrapped round the capstan itself). During the raising of an anchor the nippers were attached and detached from the (endless) messenger by the ship's boys. Hence the term for small boys: "nippers".
No room to swing a cat
The entire ship's company was expected to witness floggings, assembled on deck. If it was very crowded, the bosun might not have room to swing the "cat o' nine tails" (the whip).
A type of navigational buoy often cone shaped, but if not, always triangular in silhouette, colored green in IALA region A or red in IALA region B (the Americas, Japan, Korea and the Philippines). In channel marking its use is opposite that of a "can buoy".
Adult sailors were flogged on the back or shoulders while tied to a grating, but boys were beaten instead on the posterior (often bared), with a cane or cat, while bending, often tied down, over the barrel of a gun, known as Kissing the gunner's daughter.
To sail downwind directly at another ship, stealing the wind from its sails.
Off or outside a vessel. If something or someone falls, jumps, or is thrown off of a vessel into the water, the object or person is said to have gone overboard. See "Man overboard!"
Dangerously steep and breaking seas due to opposing currents and wind in a shallow area, or strong currents over a shallow rocky bottom.
The ceiling of any enclosed space below decks in a vessel, essentially the bottom of the deck above you.
Hauling the buntline ropes over the sails to prevent them from chafing.
Capsized or foundered.
traditional Royal Navy term for the Captain, a survival from the days when privately owned ships were often hired for naval service.
A cloud or other weather phenomenon that may be indicative of an upcoming storm.
A method of lifting a roughly cylindrical object such as a spar. One end of a rope is made fast above the object, a loop of rope is lowered and passed around the object, which can be raised by hauling on the free end of rope.
A movable loop or collar, used to fasten a yard or gaff to its respective mast. Parrel still allows the spar to be raised or lowered and swivel around the mast. Can be made of wire or rope and fitted with beads to reduce friction.
Part brass rags
Fall out with a friend. From the days when cleaning materials were shared between sailors.
Hallway of a ship.
A merchant ship configured primarily for the transportation of cargo but also for the transportation of at least some passengers.
To let a vessel's head fall off from the wind (to leeward.)
Filling a seam (with caulking or pitch), lubricating the running rigging; paying with slush (q.v.), protecting from the weather by covering with slush. See also: the devil to pay. (French from paix, pitch)
The officer responsible for all money matters in RN ships including the paying and provisioning of the crew, all stores, tools and spare parts. See also: purser.
1. The upper aftermost corner of a fore-and-aft sail; used in many combinations, such as peak-halyards, peak-brails, etc.
2. The narrow part of a vessel's bow, or the hold within it.
3. The extremity of an anchor fluke; the bill.
1. Living in the open ocean rather than coastal or inland waters, (e.g., " a pelagic shark").
2. Taking place in the open ocean (e.g., "pelagic fishing," "pelagic sealing").
A length of wire or rope secured at one end to a mast or spar and having a block or other fitting at the lower end. Often used incorrectly when referring to a Pennant (flag).
A raised structure, typically supported by widely spread piles or pillars, used industrially for loading and unloading commercial ships, receationally for walking and housing attractions at a seaside resort, or as a structure for use by boatless fishermen. The lighter structure of a pier contrasts with the more solid foundations of a quay or the closely spaced piles of a wharf. In North America, the term "pier" used alone connotes either a pier used (or formerly used) by commercial shipping or one used for fishing, while in Europe the term used alone connotes a recreational pier at a seaside resort.
When a sailor is drafted to a warship at the last minute, just before she sails.
The pin or bolt on which a ships rudder pivots. The pintle rests in the gudgeon.
Pipe (Bos'n's), or a bos'n's call
A whistle used by Boatswains (bosuns or bos'ns) to issue commands. Consisting of a metal tube which directs the breath over an aperture on the top of a hollow ball to produce high pitched notes. The pitch of the notes can be changed by partly covering the aperture with the finger of the hand in which the pipe is held. The shape of the instrument is similar to that of a smoking pipe.
A signal on the bosun's pipe to signal the end of the day, requiring lights (and smoking pipes) to be extinguished and silence from the crew.
Piping the side
A salute on the bos'n's pipe(s) performed in the company of the deck watch on the starboard side of the quarterdeck or at the head of the gangway, to welcome or bid farewell to the ship's Captain, senior officers and honoured visitors.
An act of robbery or criminal violence at sea by the occupants of one vessel against the occupants of another vessel (thus excluding such acts committed by the crew or passengers of a vessel against others aboard the same vessel). Piracy is distinguished from privateering, which is authorized by national authorities and therefore a legitimate form of war-like activity by non-state actors.
The course of a sailing vessel in relation to the direction of the wind, divided into six points: in irons (pointed directly into the wind), close hauled (sailing as close into the direction of the wind as possible), close reach (between close hauled and beam reach), beam reach (perpendicular to the wind), broad reach (wind behind the vessel at an angle), and running downwind or running before the wind (the wind is behind the vessel).
The port listed in a vessel's registration documents and lettered on her stern. Often used incorrectly as a synonym for "home port", meaning the port at which the vessel is based, but which may differ from her port of registry.
When sailing with the wind coming from the port side of the vessel. Must give way to boats on starboard tack.
Porthole or port
an opening in a ship's side, esp. a round one for admitting light and air, fitted with thick glass and, often, a hinged metal cover, a window
an obsolete alternative form of the rank of captain in the Royal Navy; once achieved promotion thereafter was entirely due to seniority.
A small room/closet area in the hull of the ship used for storing gunpowder in barrels, or, "kegs", usually located centrally so as to have easy access to the grated loading area. Sometimes may be an enclosed closet with a door, so it can be locked and only the captain would have the key, similar to how rum is stored.
Term used retrospectively after 1906 for a wide variety of steam battleships built between the 1880s and c. 1905 designed with only a few large guns for long-range fire, relying on an intermediate secondary battery used at shorter ranges for most of their offensive power, and having triple-expansion steam engines. They were rendered obsolete by the revolutionary dreadnought battleships which began to appear in 1906 and which differed from predreadnoughts in having steam turbine propulsion and an "all-big-gun" armament layout in which the ship's primary gun power resided in a primary battery of its largest guns intended for use at long range, with other gun armament limited to small weapons intended for defense against torpedo boats and other small warships.
Formed body of personnel from a ship of the Royal Navy (either a ship seeking personnel for its own crew or from a 'press tender' seeking men for a number of ships) that would identify and force (press) men, usually merchant sailors into service on naval ships usually against their will.
Preventer (gybe preventer, jibe preventer)
A sail control line originating at some point on the boom leading to a fixed point on the boat's deck or rail (usually a cleat or pad eye) used to prevent or moderate the effects of an accidental jibe.
The standing orders governing the British Royal Navy issued in the name of the current Monarch.
1. A stone or concrete structure on navigable water used for loading and unloading vessels, generally synonymous with a wharf (q.v.), although the solid foundations of a quay contrast with the closely spaced piles of a wharf. When "quay" and "wharf" are used as synonyms, the term "quay" is more common in everyday speech in the United Kingdom, many Commonwealth countries, and the Republic of Ireland, while "wharf" is more commonly used in the United States.
2. To land or tie up at a quay.
1. An area alongside a quay.
2. Having the attribute of being alongside a quay, e.g., "The ship is moored quayside."
Acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging. An electronic system designed to transmit radio signals and receive reflected images of those signals from a "target" in order to determine the bearing and distance to the "target".
A special fixture fitted to a vessel or incorporated into the design of certain aids to navigation to enhance their ability to reflect radar energy. In general, these fixtures will materially improve the visibility for use by vessels with radar.
To incline from the perpendicular; something so inclined is raked or raking, e.g., a raked or raking stem, stern, mast, funnel, etc.
1. A weapon consisting of an underwater prolongation of the bow of a vessel to form an armored beak, intended to be driven into the hull of an enemy vessel in order to puncture the hull and disable or sink that vessel.
2. An armored warship of the second half of the 19th century designed to use such a weapon as her primary means of attack.
3. To intentionally collide with another vessel with the intention of damaging or sinking her.
4. To accidentally collide bow-first with another vessel.
A clockwork device used aboard a warship to continuously calculate the range to an enemy ship.
Two lights associated to form a range (a line formed by the extension of a line connecting two charted points) which often, but not necessarily, indicates the channel centerline. The front range light is the lower of the two, and nearer to the mariner using the range. The rear light is higher and further from the mariner.
Sailing across the wind: from about 60° to about 160° off the wind. Reaching consists of "close reaching" (about 60° to 80°), "beam reaching" (about 90°) and "broad reaching" (about 120° to 160°). See also beating and running.
A specifically designed sail for tighter reaching legs. Reaching sails are often used in racing with a true wind angle of 35 to 95 degrees. They are generally used before the wind angle moves aft enough to permit spinnakers to be flown.
A call to indicate imminent tacking (see going about).
A passage of two vessels moving in the opposite direction on their port sides, so called because the red navigation light on one of the vessels faces the red light on the other vessel.
A light version on the cat o'nine tails for use on boys; also called "boys' pussy".
1. Reefing: To temporarily reduce the area of a sail exposed to the wind, usually to guard against adverse effects of strong wind or to slow the vessel.
2. Reef: Rock or coral, possibly only revealed at low tide, shallow enough that the vessel will at least touch if not go aground.
Small flat lengths of braided cord attached by eyelets to a sail along the reef band, used to secure the excess fabric after reefing. Typically, a reef point consists of two lengths of cord which taper towards their ends—the narrow end of each is threaded through an eye in the wide end of the other and then the pair are rove through the eyelet in the reef band such that one length hangs before and the other abaft the sail.
Long pieces of rough canvas sewed across the sails to give them additional strength.
A vessel's motion rotating from side to side, about the fore-aft/longitudinal axis. Listing is a lasting, stable tilt, or heel, along the longitudinal axis. Roll is also an alternate name for the longitudinal axis (roll axis).
A vessel designed to carry wheeled cargo that can drive on and off the ship on its own wheels.
A number of pulleys, engaged to confine the yard to the weather side of the mast; this tackle is much used in a rough sea.
In a convoy, a ship that breaks ranks and "romps" ahead.
the lines in the rigging.
A summary punishment device.
1. A period, traditionally on Wednesday afternoons, when a tailor boarded a sailing warship while the vessel was in port; the crew was excused from most duties and had light duty mending uniforms and hammocks and darning socks. When the ship was at sea, the crew similarly was excused from most duties on Wednesday afternoons to engage in mending chores. Wednesday afternoons, like Sundays, thus were a more social time which allowed crewmen a rest from their normal duties, similar to a Sunday, and, because the crew used rope yarn for mending, Wednesday afternoon became known as rope yarn Sunday.
2. After uniforms began to require less care, and through the mid-20th century, a period on Wednesday afternoon when naval crew members were excused from their regular duties to run personal errands.
3. Since the mid-20th century, any period of free time when a naval crew is given early liberty or otherwise excused from its normally scheduled duties.
1. A piece of fabric attached to a vessel and arranged such that it causes the wind to drive the vessel along. It may be attached to the vessel via a combination of mast, spars, and ropes.
2. The power harnessed by a sail or sails to propel a vessel.
3. To use sail power to propel a vessel.
4. A trip in a boat or ship, especially a sailboat or sailing ship.
5. In American usage, a sail is a tower-like structure on the dorsal (topside) surface of submarines constructed since the mid-20th century which houses periscopes, access trunks for the bridge, etc.; called a fin in European and British Commonwealth countries. It differs from the conning tower of earlier submarines, which was similar in appearance to a sail or fin, but housed instruments and controls from which the periscopes were used to direct the submarine and launch torpedo attacks, functions not performed in a modern sail (or fin).
A craftsman who makes and repairs sails, working either on shore in a sail loft or aboard a large, ocean-going sailing ship.
A method of freeing a vessel grounded on mud in which the crew forms a line and runs back and forth athwartships (q.v.) to cause her to rock back and forth, breaking the mud's suction and freeing her with little or no hull damage. When this is required, the crew is given the order Sally ship!
Great Lakes term for a vessel that sails the oceans.
Slang for a sailor, especially for a seaman in the navy.
A person engaged in salvage of a ship or items lost at sea..
A relatively flat bottomed Chinese wooden boat from 3.5 to 4.5 m long; some with a small shelter and may be used as permanent habitation on inland waters; generally used in coastal areas or rivers and as traditional fishing boats. It is unusual for a sampan to sail far from land as they do not have the means to survive rough weather.
To reduce the area and efficiency of a sail by expedient means (slacking the peak and tricing up the tack) without properly reefing, thus slowing boat speed. Also used in the past as a sign of mourning.
A type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts, first used by the Dutch in the 16th or 17th century.
1. A method of preparing an anchor for tripping by attaching an anchor cable to the crown and fixing to the ring by a light seizing (also known as becue). The seizing can be broken if the anchor becomes fouled.
2. A type of clinker dinghy, characteristically beamy and slow.
3. An inland racing boat with no keel, a large sail plan, and a planing hull.
A method of using oars to propel watercraft in which the oar or oars touch the water on both the port and starboard sides of the craft, or over the stern. On sailboats with transom-mounted rudders, forward propulsion can be made by a balanced side to side movement of the tiller, a form of sculling.
Originally a series of pipes fitted through the ships side from inside the thicker deck waterway to the topside planking to drain water overboard, larger quantities drained through freeing ports, which were openings in the bulwarks.
A small opening, or lid thereof, in a ship's deck or hull.
1. A barrel with a hole in used to hold water that sailors would drink from. By extension (in modern naval usage), a shipboard drinking fountain or water cooler.
A stabilizer deployed in the water for heaving to in heavy weather. It acts as a brake and keeps the hull in line with the wind and perpendicular to waves. Often in the form of a large bag made of heavy canvas. Also see drogue.
A watertight box built against the hull of the ship communicating with the sea through a grillage, to which valves and piping are attached to allow water in for ballast, engine cooling, and firefighting purposes. Also a wooden box used to store a sailor’s effects.
The general condition of the free surface on a large body of water with respect to wind waves and swell at a certain location and moment, characterized by statistics, including the wave height, period, and power spectrum. The sea state varies with time, as the wind conditions or swell conditions change.
The testing phase of a boat, ship, or submarine, usually the final step in her construction, conducted to measure a vessel’s performance and general seaworthiness before her owners take delivery of her.
Also called second officer, a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship, third – or on some ocean liners fourth – in command; a watchkeeping officer, customarily the ship's navigator. Other duties vary, but the second mate is often the medical officer and in charge of maintaining distress signaling equipment. On oil tankers, the second mate usually assists the chief mate with tank-cleaning operations.
See second mate.
A merchant ship which is able to unload herself without any assistance from a harbor's facilities is self-sustaining, while a ship which requires the assistance of a harbor's facilities to unload herself is non-self-sustaining. Self-sustaining ships are more expensive to build, maintain, and operate than non-self-sustaining ships, but have the advantage of being able to operate in less-developed ports that lack the infrastructure necessary to unload ships.
Great Lakes slang term for a vessel with a conveyor or some other method of unloading the cargo without shoreside equipment.
A cruise performed before a ship enters service or after major changes such as a crew change, repair, or overhaul during which the performance of the ship and her crew are tested under working conditions.
Pieces of barrels or casks broken down to save space. They are worth very little, leading to the phrase "no great shakes".
Condition of a crewman involuntarily impressed into service on a ship.
The upward curve of a vessel's longitudinal lines as viewed from the side.
An extremely narrow, and often disproportionately long, rowing boat outfitted with long oars, outriggers to hold the oarlocks away from the boat, and sliding seats, specifically designed for racing or exercise.
An upper deck having no overhead protection from the weather itself, but sheltering the deck below it.
Changing the flag and pennant display when a moored vessel becomes underway, and vice versa. A highly coordinated display that ships take pride in; the desired effect is that of one set of flags vanishing while another set flashes out at precisely the same time. Also, slang for changing out of one's Navy uniform into civilian clothes to go ashore. (The U.S. Navy's newsletter for retired personnel is nicknamed Shift Colors from this reason.)
Sighting the positions of the sun and moon using a sextant and using a nautical almanac to determine the location and phase of the moon and calculating the relative effect of the tides on the navigation of the ship.
1. Noun – Strictly, a three-masted vessel square-rigged on all three masts, or on three masts of a vessel with more than three. Hence a ship-rigged barque would be a four master, square-rigged on fore, main and mizzen, with spanker and gaff topsail only on the Jigger-mast. Generally now used refers to most medium or large vessels outfitted with smaller boats. As a consequence of this, submarines may be larger than small ships, but are called boats because they do not carry boats of their own.
2. Verb – To bring something aboard swiftly, as in "Ship oars."
Striking the ship's bell is the traditional method of marking time and regulating the crew's watches. Each bell (from one to eight) represents a 30-minute period since the beginning of a four-hour watch. For example, in the classical system, "Three bells in the morning watch" represents 90 minutes since the beginning of the morning watch, or 5:30am. "Eight bells" indicates the end of a watch.
The number of persons in a ship's crew, including officers.
Once widely used term, now obsolete, for the man at a dockyard in charge of repairs to a ship. The term derived from the notion that the ship was a "lady" who needed to visit her "husband" when in need of repairs.
A person who designs, builds, and repairs ships, especially wooden ones .
A facility where ships or boats are built and repaired. Routinely used as a synonym for dockyard, although dockyard sometimes is associated more closely with a facility used for maintenance and basing activities, while shipyard sometimes is associated more closely with a facility used in construction.
A ship of the same class as, and therefore virtually identical in design and appearance to, another ship. Sister ships share an identical or nearly identical hull and superstructure layout, similar displacement, and roughly comparable features and equipment. Often, sister ships become more differentiated during their service lives as their equipment (and, in the case of military ships, their armament) are separately altered.
A downward or sternward projection from the keel in front of the rudder. Protects the rudder from damage, and in bilge keelers may provide one "leg" of a tripod on which the boat stands when the tide is out.
A ramp on the shore by which ships or boats can be moved to and from the water. Slipways are used for building and repairing ships and boats. They are also used for launching and retrieving small boats on trailers towed by automobiles and flying boats on their undercarriage.
1. In the 18th and 19th centuries, a small sailing warship carrying 18 or fewer guns with a single continuous gundeck.
2. In the 18th and 19th centuries, any sailing warship bearing fewer than 20 guns.
3. In the 19th-century United States Navy, the term used for the type of sailing warship known in other navies as a corvette.
4. In the early and mid-20th century, a small ocean-going warship not intended for fleet deployments, used instead for convoy escort, gunboat duties, etc.
A ship's store of merchandise, such as clothing, tobacco, etc., maintained aboard merchant ships for sale to the crew.
Greasy substance obtained by boiling or scraping the fat from empty salted meat storage barrels, or the floating fat residue after boiling the crew's meal. In the Royal Navy the perquisite of the cook who could sell it or exchange it (usually for alcohol) with other members of the crew. Used for greasing parts of the running rigging of the ship and therefore valuable to the master and bosun.
A traditional fishing boat used off the coast of England and the Atlantic coast of America for most of the 19th century and in small numbers up to the mid-20th century. Originally a cutter-rigged sailing boat, after about 1865 lengthened and given a ketch rig. Some had a topsail on the mizzen mast, others a bowsprit carrying a jib.
1. An acronym for SOund Navigation And Ranging, a method of using sound pulses to detect, range, and sometimes image underwater targets and obstacles or the bed of the sea. Also see echo sounding and ASDIC.
2. The equipment used to conduct such searches, ranging, and imaging.
Measuring the depth of the water. Traditionally done by swinging the lead, now commonly by echo sounding.
A fore-and-aft or gaff-rigged sail on the aft-most mast of a square-rigged vessel and the main fore-and-aft sail (spanker sail) on the aft-most mast of a (partially) fore-and-aft rigged vessel such as a schooner, a barquentine, and a barque.
The aft-most mast of a fore-and-aft or gaff-rigged vessel such as schooners, barquentines, and barques. A full-rigged ship has a spanker sail but not a spanker-mast (see Jigger-mast).
A wooden, in later years also iron or steel pole used to support various pieces of rigging and sails. The big five-masted full-rigged tall shipPreussen (German spelling: Preußen) had crossed 30 steel yards, but only one wooden spar—the little gaff of its spanker sail.
A projection from the side of a vessel for protection, stability, or the mounting of equipment such as armaments or lifeboats. A sponson that extends a hull dimension at or below the waterline serves to increase flotation or add lift when underway.
The person, traditionally a woman, who christens a ship at its launching ceremony.
A euphemism, it is an order given aboard naval vessels to issue the crew with a drink, traditionally grog. The phrase splice the mainbrace is used idiomatically meaning to go ashore on liberty, intending to go out for an evening of drinking.
1. In general, any significant group of warships which is considered too small to be designated a fleet, but otherwise not strictly defined by size. In some navies, the term flotilla may be used instead of or in addition to "squadron" to describe a significant group of warships smaller than a fleet.
2. Such a group of warships assigned to and named after a particular ocean, sea, or geographical region, commanded by an admiral who may be the naval commander-in-chief in that theatre, e.g., the Asiatic Squadron, the North Atlantic Squadron, etc.; generally synonymous with similar naval formations known as stations (q.v.).
3. During the Age of Sail, a temporary sub-division of a fleet.
4. A temporary detachment of ships from a fleet.
5. Especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a permanent battle formation of a fleet, equipped and trained to operate as a tactical unit under the overall command of the fleet or when detached from the fleet.
6. Especially in modern usage, an administrative naval command responsible for the manning, training, supply, and maintenance of a group of ships or submarines but not for directing their operations at sea.
To place at right angles with the mast or keel and parallel to the horizon e.g., "to square the yards."
A sufficient quantity of food. Meals on board ship were served to the crew on a square wooden plate in harbor or at sea in good weather. Food in the Royal Navy was invariably better or at least in greater quantity than that available to the average landsman. However, while square wooden plates were indeed used on board ship, there is no established link between them and this particular term. The OED gives the earliest reference from the U.S. in the mid-19th century.
A generic type of sail and rigging arrangement in which the primary driving sails are carried on yards which are perpendicular, or square, to the keel of the vessel and to the masts. A ship mainly so rigged is said to be square-rigged.
A ship which is square-rigged.
Yards held rigidly perpendicular to their masts and parallel to the deck. This was rarely the best trim of the yards for efficiency but made a pretty sight for inspections and in harbor. The term is applied to situations and to people figuratively to mean that all difficulties have been resolved or that the person is performing well and is mentally and physically prepared.
The phenomenon by which a vessel moving quickly through shallow water creates an area of lowered pressure under its keel that reduces the ship's buoyancy, particularly at the bow. The reduced buoyancy causes the ship to "squat" lower in the water than would ordinarily be expected, and thus its effective draught is increased.
S.S. (or SS)
Prefix for "Steam Ship", used before a ship's name.
vertical post near a deck's edge that supports life-lines. A timber fitted in between the frame heads on a wooden hull or a bracket on a steel vessel, approx one meter high, to support the bulwark plank or plating and the rail.
Stand (past tense stood)
Of a ship or its captain, to steer, sail, or steam, usually used in conjunction with a specified direction or destination, e.g., The ship stood out of the harbor or The ship stood toward the east or The ship stood toward the missing vessel's last known position.
A vessel directed to keep her course and speed where two vessels are approaching one another so as to involve a risk of collision.
The right side of the boat. Towards the right-hand side of a vessel facing forward. Denoted with a green light at night. Derived from the old steering oar or steerboard which preceded the invention of the rudder.
When sailing with the wind coming from the starboard side of the vessel. Has right of way over boats on port tack.
A rope used as a punitive device. See teazer, togey.
1. A superior cabin for a vessel's officer.
2. In American usage, also a private passenger cabin in a vessel
1. In chiefly 19th- and early 20th-century usage, a naval formation under a commander-in-chief who controls all naval operations, and sometimes all naval shore shore facilities, within a specified geographic area (e.g., the China Station, the East Indies Station, etc.), sometimes synonymous with squadron (q.v.).
2. In Newfoundland, a harbour or cove with a foreshore suitable for a facility to support nearby fishing.
3. Naval station, a naval base; a naval air station is a base for naval aircraft.
4. Coaling station, a facility that supplies ships with coal.
1. A strong rope supporting a mast, and leading from the head of one mast down to some other mast or other part of the vessel; rigging running fore (forestay) and aft (backstay) from a mast to the hull. The stays support a mast's weight forward and aft, while the shrouds support its weight from side to side.
2. To incline forward, aft, or to one side by means of stays, e.g., to stay a mast .
3. To tack; put on the other tack, e.g., to stay ship.
4. To change; tack; go about; be in stays, as a ship..
5. A station or fixed anchorage for vessels.
6. In stays or hove in stays: in the act of going about while tacking.
A long, flat board or oar that went from the stern to well underwater, used to steer vessels before the invention of the rudder. Traditionally on the starboard side of a ship (the "steering board" side).
1. A spar or derrick with a block at one end, used for stowing cargo.
2. To incline upwards at an angle (esp. of a bowsprit) rather than lie horizontally; to set at a particular upwards incline
A propeller drive system similar to the lower part of an outboard motor extending below the hull of a larger power boat or yacht, but driven by an engine mounted within the hull. Unlike a fixed propeller (but like an outboard), the boat may be steered by twisting the drive. Also see inboard motor and outboard motor.
An external walkway or gallery for the use of officers installed on the stern chiefly of British warships until the early 20th century.
The reverse movement of a boat or watercraft through the water.
A member of a vessel's crew involved in commissary duties or in personal services to passengers or other crew members.
1. During the Age of Sail and immediately afterwards, a captured ship used to stow supplies and other goods for naval purposes.
2. Since the mid-20th century, a type of naval ship which provides supplies such as frozen, chilled' and dry provisions and propulsion and aviation fuel to warships which are at sea for an extended period of time. In some navies, synonymous with replenishment oiler, fleet replenisher, or fleet tanker.
(archaic) A continuous line of plates or planks running from bow to stern that contributes to a vessel's skin. The planks or plates next to the keel are called the garboard strakes; the next, or the heavy strakes at the bilge, are the bilge strakes; the next, from the water line to the lower port sill, the wales; and the upper parts of the sides, the sheer strakes.
1. To haul down or lower (a flag, mast, etc.).
2. To surrender the vessel to the enemy, from strike the colors.
3. To remove a naval vessel's name from a country's naval register (after which the vessel is considered stricken).
Strike the colors
To surrender the vessel to an enemy, from the custom during the Age of Sail of lowering the vessel's ensign to indicate that she is surrendering.
A trespasser on a ship; a person aboard a ship without permission and/or without payment, and usually boards undetected, remains hidden aboard, and jumps ship just before making port or reaching a port's dock; sometimes found aboard and imprisoned in the brig until the ship makes port and the prisoner can be transferred to the police or military.
In a convoy, a ship that is unable to maintain speed and falls behind.
To take up the last bit of slack on a line such as a halyard, anchor line or dockline by taking a single turn round a cleat and alternately heaving on the rope above and below the cleat while keeping the tension on the tail.
Swinging the compass
Measuring the accuracy in a ship's magnetic compass so its readings can be adjusted—often by turning the ship and taking bearings on reference points.
Swinging the lamp
Telling sea stories. Referring to lamps slung from the deckhead which swing while at sea. Often used to indicate that the story teller is exaggerating.
Swinging the lead
1. Measuring the depth of water beneath a ship using a lead-weighted sounding line. Regarded as a relatively easy job, thus:
1. Zig-zagging so as to sail directly towards the wind (and for some rigs also away from it).
2. Going about (q.v.).
In sailboat racing on an upwind leg of the race course the complex maneuvers of lead and overtaking boats to vie for the aerodynamic advantage of clear air. This results from the ongoing strategy of the lead boat's effort to keep the following boat(s) in the blanket of disturbed bad air he is creating.
The perpendicular distance between a ship's course when the helm is put hard over and her course when she has turned through 180 degrees; the ratio of the tactical diameter divided by the ship's length between perpendiculars gives a dimensionless parameter which can be used to compare the maneuverability of ships.
A vessel, typically an obsolete or captured warship, used for naval gunnery practice or for weapons testing. The term includes both ships intended to be sunk and ships intended to survive and see repeated use as a target.
Temporary naval organisations composed of particular ships, aircraft, submarines, military land forces, or shore service units, assigned to fulfill certain missions. Seemingly drawn originally from Royal Navy heritage, the emphasis is placed on the individual commander of the unit, and references to 'CTF' are common for "Commander Task Force".
Light cord attached to a mooring line at two points a few inches apart with a slack section in between (resembling an inch-worm) to indicate when the line is stretching from the ship’s rising with the tide. Obviously only used when moored to a fixed dock or pier and only on watches with a flood tide.
A light piece of string, yarn, rope or plastic (often magnetic audio tape) attached to a stay or a shroud to indicate the local wind direction. They may also be attached to the surface and/or the leech of a sail to indicate the state of the air flow over the surface of the sail. They are referenced when optimizing the trim of the sails to achieve the best boat speed in the prevailing wind conditions. (See dogvane)
Also called the third officer, a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship, fourth – or on some ocean liners fifth – in command; a watchkeeping officer, customarily also the ship's safety officer, responsible for the ship's firefighting equipment, lifeboats, and other emergency systems. Other duties of the third mate vary depending on the type of ship, its crewing, and other factors.
See third mate.
Vertical wooden peg or pin inserted through the gunwale to form a fulcrum for oars when rowing. Used in place of a rowlock.
Three sheets to the wind
On a three-masted ship, having the sheets of the three lower courses loose will result in the ship meandering aimlessly downwind. Also, a sailor who has drunk strong spirits beyond his capacity.
a lever used for steering, attached to the top of the rudder post. Used mainly on smaller vessels, such as dinghies and rowing boats.
A low strip running around the edge of the deck like a low bulwark. It may be shortened or have gaps in it to allow water to flow off the deck.
Toe the line or Toe the mark
At parade, sailors and soldiers were required to stand in line, their toes in line with a seam of the deck.
A block of wood inserted into the barrel of a gun on a 19th-century warship to keep out the sea spray; also used for covers for the ends of the barrels of more modern ships' guns, the larger of which are often adorned with the ship's crest or other decoration.
The platform at the upper end of each (lower) mast of a square-rigged ship, typically one-fourth to one-third of the way up the mast. The main purpose of a top is to anchor the shrouds of the topmast that extends above it. See also fighting top.
1. Prior to about 1900, the term for a variety of explosive devices designed for use in water, including mines, spar torpedoes and, after the mid-19th century, "automotive," "automobile," "locomotive," or "fish" torpedoes (self-propelled weapons which fit the modern definition of "torpedo").
2. Since about 1900, a term used exclusively for a self-propelled weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with its target or in proximity to it.
Touch and go
1. The bottom of the ship touching the bottom, but not grounding.
2. Stopping at a dock or pier for a very short time without tying up, to let off or take on crew or goods.
3. Practice of aircraft on aircraft carriers touching the carrier deck and taking off again without dropping hooks.
The operation of drawing a vessel forward by means of long lines.
A decorative board at the bow of a vessel, sometimes bearing the vessel's name.
A ship used to train students as sailors, especially a ships employed by a navy or coast guard to train future officers. The term refers both to ships used for training at sea and to old, immobile hulks used to house classrooms.
Shipping trade on the spot market in which the vessels involved do not have a fixed schedule or itinerary or published ports of call. This contrasts with freight liner service, in which vessels make regular, scheduled runs between published ports.
A vessel engaged in the tramp trade.
British term for a room located in the interior of a ship containing computers and other specialised equipment needed to calculate the range and bearing of a target from information gathered by the ship's spotters and range finders. These were designated "plotting rooms" by the United States Navy.
The aft “wall” of the stern; often the part to which an outboard unit or the drive portion of a sterndrive is attached. A more or less flat surface across the stern of a vessel. Dinghies tend to have almost vertical transoms, whereas yachts’ transoms may be raked forward or aft.
Small fittings that slide on a rod or line. The most common use is for the inboard end of the mainsheet; a more esoteric form of traveller consists of "slight iron rings, encircling the backstays, which are used for hoisting the top-gallant yards, and confining them to the backstays".
Troopship (also troop ship, troop transport, or trooper)
A ship used to carry soldiers. Troopships are not specially designed for military operations and unlike landing ships cannot land troops directly onto a shore; instead they unload troops at a harbor or onto smaller vessels for transportation to shore.
1. Originally (in the mid-to-late 19th century), an enclosed armored rotating cylindrical box mounting guns which fired through gunports, the turret rotating over a bearing mounted on a ship's deck or within her hull. Turret-equipped ships contrasted sharply with those equipped with barbettes, which in the second half of the 19th century were open-topped armored rings over which rotating gun(s) mounted on a turntable could fire.
2. Since the late 19th century, an enclosed armored rotating gunhouse mounted above a barbette, with the gun(s) and their rotating turntable mounted in the barbette protected by the gunhouse; in 20th- and 21st-century usage, this generally is any armored, rotating gun installation on a warship.
A deck that has slight positive curvature when viewed in cross-section. The purpose of this curvature is usually to shed water, but in warships it also functions to make the deck more resistant to shells.
In dinghy sailing especially (but can include other boats), a boat is said to be turtling or to turn turtle when the boat is fully inverted with the mast pointing down to the lake bottom or seabed.[A]
Royal Navy slang term meaning to pull. Originally a sailing navy term referring to the two members of a gun crew (numbers two and six) who ran out the gun by pulling on the ropes that secured it in place.
A chain or rope used for hoisting or lowering a yard. A tye runs from the horizontal center of a given yard to a corresponding mast and from there down to a tackle. Sometimes specifically called a chain tye or a rope tye.
A voyage, usually singlehanded, with no intermediate port stops or physical assistance from external sources.
Under the weather
Serving a watch on the weather side of the ship, exposed to wind and spray.
Under way or underway
A vessel that is moving under control: that is, neither at anchor, made fast to the shore, aground nor adrift. Way refers to speed sufficient to steer with the rudder. "Under weigh" is an erroneous synonym.
Underwater hull or underwater ship
The underwater section of a vessel beneath the waterline, normally not visible except when in drydock or (historically), careened.
2. A strake of timber laid against the frames or bulwark stanchions at the margin of a laid wooden deck, usually about twice the thickness of the deck planking.
Speed, progress, or momentum, or more technically, the point at which there is sufficient water flow past a vessels rudder for it to be able to steer the vessel (i.e., the rudder begins to "bite," sometimes also called "steerage way.") To make way is to move; to "have way on" or "to have steerage way" is to have enough speed to control the vessel with its rudder; to lose way is to slow down or to not have enough speed to control with the rudder.
An intermediate stop along the route of a steamboat.
A location defined by navigational coordinates, especially as part of a planned route.
The timbers of shipyard stocks that slope into the water and along which a ship or large boat is launched. A ship undergoing construction in a shipyard is said to be on the ways, while a ship scrapped there is said to be broken up in the ways.
The tendency of a sailboat to turn to windward in a strong wind when there is no change in the rudder's position. This is the opposite of lee helm and is the result of a dynamically unbalanced condition. See also Center of lateral resistance.
A structure on the shore of a harbor or on the bank of a river or canal where ships may dock to load and unload cargo or passengers. Such a structure includes one or more berths (i.e., mooring locations), and may also include piers, warehouses, or other facilities necessary for handling the ships. The term "wharf' is generally synonymous with "quay" (q.v.), although the solid foundations of a quay contrast with the closely spaced piles of a wharf. When "quay" and "wharf" are used as synonyms, the term "quay" is more common in everyday speech in the United Kingdom, many Commonwealth countries, and the Republic of Ireland, while "wharf" is more commonly used in the United States.
A large iron- or steel-hulled square-rigged sailing ship of the late 19th and early 20th centuries with three, four, or five masts , built mainly between the 1870s and 1900 to carry cargo on long voyages.
To protect a section of rope from chafing by: laying yarns (worming) to fill in the cuntlines, wrapping marline or other small stuff (serving) around it, and stitching a covering of canvas (parceling) over all.