Glossary of nautical terms




Glossary of nautical terms


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Glossary of nautical terms




Abaft                         Behind eg abaft the beam -behind the beam line


Ahead                        anything forward of the vessel


Angle of Indraft       the angle at which the wind cuts the isobar.


Anti cyclone              high pressure system


Aperture                    the space provided for the propeller


Astern            the propulsion of the vessel backward, or anything viewed behind    the vessel


Athwartships            at right angles to the fore and aft line


Backing                     the wind is said to be backing when it is changing its direction counter clockwise


Ballast                                    any weight used to increase a ships draft of lower her centre of     gravity


Bar                             an accumulation of sand at the entrance to a port or river mouth


Beam                          usually used to describe the maximum breadth of a vessel


Bilge                           two meanings:

1. the curved section between the side and bottom of a ship.

2. That area below the cabin sole on the lowest deck and the keel.


Bollard                       a mooring device on a wharf


Bow                            the foremost part of the vessel, nearest the stem


Broached                   a vessel that has turned beam on to he sea and capsised


Brought up                used to indicate the anchor has held and the vessel is being drawn forward on the anchor rode to the position it will adopt when finally     anchored


Bulkhead                   vertical wall or division between compartments


Bulwark                    an extension of the ship’s sides above the deck


Buoy                          a floating object, often a navigation mark or a mooring


Camber                     the (usually) upward curve of a deck


Capsized                    vessel is upside down, showing its keel


Chain Locker                       a compartment, usually in the fore part of the vessel in which the    anchor chain is stored


Chine                         the sharp intersection of the ships side and bottom


Cleats                         devices of metal or wood with two projecting arms, to which ropes are fastened


Col                             the region between two high pressure systems and two low  pressure systems that are diagonally opposed


Cold front                 usually at the edge of a low pressure system, where cold air   displaces warm air


Collision Bulkhead   the first athwartships bulkhead aft of the bow, made watertight to    prevent the vessel foundering in the event of a collision


(or combing)
             the raised edge around any deck opening to prevent the ingress of     water


Companionway        a hatch in the deck with a ladder leading below


Constrained by

her draft                    A vessel which because of her draft in relation to the available depth of water is unable to deviate from the course she is following


Current                     a dried grape, or the horizontal movement of the water, not due to    tides

Cyclone                      a low pressure system which is intense, usually below 990hpa.


Deck Beam                a beam running athwartships supporting the deck planking


Deck Girders            beams running longitudinally supporting the deck beams


Depression                 an area of low pressure, see Low or Cyclone


Deviation                    an error in he compass caused by magnetic influences on the vessel


Devils Claw               a device for securing the anchor and chain on the deck


Displacement             is the amount of water displaced by the vessels hull form in the

                                   water, the mass of this water is equal to the mass of the vessel


Drogue                       a device made of canvas or nylon to reduce the speed of the vessel      or liferaft, acts like a parachute


Ebb                            a reference to the falling tide


Fairlead                     a space through which ropes pass out of or on to the vessel, it is   normally re in forced and has rounded edges to prevent damage to                                              ropes, may have roller ends to reduce friction


Fender                       a device either portable or fixed, mounted on the outside of the      vessel, to protect against damage by rubbing


Flare                           two meanings:
1. the overhang of the ships upperworks forward                          
2. a pyrotechnic used for attracting attention


Fore and aft line       the line between the stem and the stern, following the keel


Forecastle (foc’sle)    the forward upper compartment of a vessel, used for   accommodation or stores


Foundering               sinking


Frames                       the ribs of a vessel, creating the hull shape


Free surface effect    the effect that liquids, such as bilge water or fuel, have on the    stability of a vessel


Freeing ports             openings in the bulwark to allow water to flow off the deck


Gipsy                         the device on a windlass to catch and roll in a chain


Grounding                an unintentional contact with the sea bed


Gunwale (gunnel)     the protective board fitted to the sheer plank


Hawse Pipe                a pipe leading from the deck to the outside through which the   anchor cable passes


Helm                          Steering wheel or tiller of


Helmsperson             the person at the wheel or tiller


Hitch                          the attachment of a line to a pole ring or hook


Hogging                      where the bow and stern of a vessel have a greater draft than midships, usually caused by a vessel sitting on a wave or by incorrect load distribution


Housed                       secured or stowed


Hove to                      a condition where the vessel is laying to the sea but making no headway


Isobar                        a line joining places of equal pressure on a weather chart


Keel                            the backbone of a vessel, running from forward to aft at the lowest      point of the hull, on the centreline


Knot                           the bending of a part of a rope around itself or another rope to secure them


Latitude                     measured in arc 0 to 90° north and south of the equator


Lay                             the way strands of rope or wires are put in relation to one another  to make a rope


Lazarette                   a locker at the stern of the vessel


Leeway                      the deflection off course caused by the wind


Lifebuoy                    a device thrown to a person in the water to assist with flotation


Log                             two meanings:

  1. a book used to record detail of a voyage and 
  2. a speed measuring device


Longitude                   measured in arc, 0 to 180° east and west of the Greenwich meridian


Longitudinal             anything running lengthwise in a vessel, parallel to the line of the keel


Made fast                  secured


Midships                    two meanings, anything in the centre of the vessel, or the rudder is       straight, in line with the keel.


Mooring Bitts             devices on the vessel to secure the inboard end of the mooring lines


Mooring lines                        lines used to secure the vessel to a wharf or another vessel


Nautical Mile             the unit of measure of maritime distance, is related to Latitude.


Neap tides                  a time when there is less tidal range due to the influence of the sun   against the moon


Not Under

Command                 a condition of a vessel, when it is unable to manoeuvre in          accordance with the rules and is unable to keep out of the way of                                                other vessels


Pooped                       a condition where a wave has broken over the back deck (poop) of    a vessel


Port side                    the left hand side of a vessel looking forward from the stern


Pounding                   the heavy action of a vessel at sea hitting hard into the waves


Power Driven
                         a vessel propelled by machinery


Quarter                      that part of a vessel between midships and the stern


Racking                     the twisting of the hull of a vessel in the sea


Rake                          the angle at which a mast, funnel, stem, stern or the deckhouses, slope from a vertical line


Restricted in her
ability to
               means a vessel, which from the nature of her work cannot keep out of the way of certain other vessels.


Restricted visibility   any condition, rain, fog, snow, sandstorm etc., where the visibility       from a vessel is restricted


Rope                          the generic term for wire or fibre rope carried on board a vessel.  Only one is called a ROPE. the bell rope, all others have other                                       names describing their use, Mooring line, Sheet, Halyard etc.,


Rudder                      the device, usually aft of the propeller to steer the vessel


Sagging                      the opposite of Hogging, when the midships draft is greater thanthe bow and stern


Sailing Vessel            a vessel being propelled by the wind, provided that propelling

                                   machinery, if fitted is not being used.


Salvage                       either money paid by a ship in trouble to another vessel to help her or, goods picked up from such a vessel


Samson Post              a vertical post, usually connected to the keel, which protrudes from the foredeck to secure the vessel


Scupper                     see freeing port


Seaplane                    an aeroplane that can also manoeuvre on he water, it is a vessel   whilst so manoeuvring


Sheer                          the fore and aft curvature of the deck


Splice                          the joining of two ends of ropes or the end of a rope with the bodyof itself, by weaving the strands of one under the other


Sponson                     wood fender fitted to the hull of a small vessel to prevent chafing        and damage to the hull from contact with wharves


Spring Tides              when the sun and moon are working together and we have a large        tidal range


Spurling Pipe                        the pipe that leads the anchor cable from the deck to the Chain Locker


Starboard side          the right hand side of a vessel looking forward from the stern


Stem                           The foremost part of the vessel, the piece of timber to which all the hull planks fit.


Stern                          the aftermost part of a vessel


Stopper                      A device to secure a line until it is made fast


Stranding                  the accidental running of a vessel on to the shore or beach


Synoptic Charts         usually refer too an Isobar chart giving a synopsis of the weather


Tidal Stream             the horizontal movement of water due to tidal ebb and flow


Tides                          the vertical movement of water causing a variation in the height of       the surface of the water, influenced by the moon & sun


Transit                       when two terrestrial objects are in line


Transom                    the aftermost transverse frame


Tropical cyclone       see Cyclone


Underway                 the vessel is not moored or anchored but is floating freely


Veering                       Two meanings:
1. the wind is veering when it is changing its direction in a clockwise direction.
2. to run out the anchor cable


Vessel                         includes every description of craft capable of being used for  transportation on the water


Vessel engaged
in Fishing
                   means any vessel fishing with nets, trawls, lines, or other   fishing apparatus which restricts her ability to manoeuvre, but does                                  not include trolling lines or other equipment which do not

restrict vessel’s ability to manoeuvre


Warp                         to move a vessel by heaving on a line around a windlass, or an alternate name for the Anchor Cable or Rode


Warping drum          that part of a windlass for belaying a rope


 Weigh Anchor         to raise the anchor


Windage                    the vertical surfaces of a vessel that act like a sail and cause the    

                                   vessel to move with the wind


Windlass                     a mechanical device for raising an anchor, or lifting a mooring rope.





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