A B C of Sailing Terms

A B C of Sailing Terms

Learning how to operate a sailboat or a yacht is not a very easy task and simply takes time and practice. But it all starts with the basics and the basics of sailing are the key nautical terms that you need to learn in order to be able to navigate your boat at sea. The first thing that comes to mind of a rookie sailor is how weird the terms may sound at first.

There are specific terms (common to all boats) that are used to describe its various parts. Each end, side, length and width of the boat - and even its accessories, has its own specific name. Boaters should be familiar with the following terms before operating any boat:

  • the hull, or body of the vessel
  • the gunwales, or upper edges of a vessel on the sides
  • the transom is the cross section of the stern
  • a cleat is a metal fitting to which a rope or cable can be fastened
  • the sidelights - red for port and green for starboard
  • there is also and all-around white light located at the rear of the vessel

In addition to the previous terms, the following terminology is used to describe the different parts of the boat:

  • the bow or the front of the vessel
  • the stern or the rear of the vessel
  • port means the left hand side of the vessel
  • starboard right hand side of the vessel

Some of the additional terms that boaters should be familiar with before operation a boat:

  • aft - near or at the stern of the boat
  • beam - the width of the boat, also the direction at right angles to the centerline of the vessel
  • bilge - the lowest point of a boats interior hull
  • draft - the vertical distance from the waterline to the lowest point of the keel; the minimum depth of water in which a vessel will float
  • forward - aboard a boat, the direction to the front - to the bow
  • freeboard - the vertical distance from the waterline to the gunwale
  • keel - the main structural member of a boat; its backbone. The lateral area beneath the hull that helps to provide stability and reduce the sideways drift of a boat
  • waterline - the intersection of a boats hull and the waters surface

There are many more terms that a boater has to know and even more so if you are planning to operate a? sailboat. However, with enough determination you can remember them all, especially if you will be constantly sailing on your yacht.