My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.
Definition of sailing – The fine art of getting wet and becoming ill, while going nowhere slowly at great expense.
Sailors and non-sailors alike are often baffled by all the jargon of sailing; much of it seems obscure and unnecessary and, of course, comes from the great days of square-rigged sailing ships. However, having precise words that everyone on a boat understands saves a lot of time and avoids confusion which sometimes can be dangerous. Here’s a list with new tongue-in-cheek definitions of many of the common sailing terms:
Amidships – condition of being surrounded by boats.
Anchor – a device designed to bring up mud samples from the bottom at inopportune or unexpected times.
Anchor Light – a small light used to discharge the battery before daylight.
Back Stay – Spending time at home. When your partner goes sailing in October.
Bare Boat – Clothing Optional.
Beam Sea – A situation in which waves strike a boat from the side, causing it to roll unpleasantly. This is one of the four directions from which wave action tends to produce extreme physical discomfort. The other three are `bow sea’ (waves striking from the front), `following sea’ (waves striking from the rear), and `quarter sea’ (waves striking from any other direction).
Berth – a little addition to the crew.
Bilge – cheap beer (see freeboard)
Boat ownership – Standing fully-clothed under a cold shower, tearing up 100-dollar bills
Boom – sometimes the result of a surprise jibe. Boom – Called boom for the sound that’s made when it hits crew in the head on its way across the boat. For slow crew, it’s called `boom, boom.’
Bottom Paint – what you get when the cockpit seats are freshly painted.
Calm – Sea condition characterized by the simultaneous disappearance of the wind and the last cold beverage.
Chart – a type of map which tells you exactly where you are aground.
Clew – an indication from the skipper as to what he might do next.
Companionway – a double berth.
Course – The direction in which a skipper wishes to steer his boat and from which the wind is blowing. Also, the language that results by not being able to.
Cruising – Fixing your boat in exotic locations.
Crew – Heavy, stationary objects used on shipboard to hold down charts, anchor cushions in place and dampen sudden movements of the boom.
Current – Tidal flow that carries a boat away from its desired destination, or towards a hazard
Dead Reckoning – a course leading directly to a reef.
Deadrise – getting up to check the anchor at 0300.
Deviation – any departure from the Captain’s orders.
Dinghy – the sound of the ship’s bell.
Displacement – when you dock your boat and can’t find it later.
Draft – The gap in your oilies between the trousers and the jacket.
Estimated Position – a place you have marked on the chart where you are sure you are not.
First Mate – crew member necessary for skippers to practice shouting instructions to.
Fix – the crew’s estimate of your current position.
Emergency Flares – old pair of trousers to change into if you fall overboard.
Flashlight – Tubular metal container used on shipboard for storing dead batteries prior to their disposal
Fluke – The portion of an anchor that digs securely into the bottom, holding the boat in place; also, any occasion when this occurs on the first try.
Foul Wind – breeze produced by flying turkey.
Freeboard – food and liquor supplied by the owner.
Gybe – A common way to get unruly guests off your boat.
Headway – what you are making if you can’t get the toilet to work.
Head up – Leaving the boat toilet seat up. When boat skipper is female, leaving the head up is a serious offense
Heads – the deciding factor whether to set out or not.
Heave-Ho – what you do when you’ve eaten too much Ho.
Jack Lines – `Hey baby, want to go sailing?’
Jibe – either you like it or you don’t and it gets you.
Keel – term used by 1st mate after too much heel by skipper.
Ketch – A sailboat with good wine in the cabin
Landlubber – anyone on board who wishes he were not.
Latitude – the number of degrees off course allowed a guest.
Log – Semi submerged object responsible for suddenly rousing the skipper on a night passage.
Mast – religious ritual used before setting sail.
Mate – the term used to refer to the skipper just before explaining that the hand bearing compass has fallen overboard
Mizzen – an object you can’t find.
Motor Sailer – A sailboat that alternates between sail/rigging problems and engine problems, and with some booze in the cabin.
Noserly – What to call the wind direction when it comes from where you’re going
Ram – an intricate docking maneuver sometimes used by experienced skippers.
Rhumb Line – two or more crew members waiting for a drink.
Sailing – The fine art of getting wet and becoming ill, while going nowhere slowly at great expense.
Schooner – A sailboat with a fully stocked liquor cabinet in the cabin
Sea Cock – (see Jack Lines)
Sheet – cool, damp, salty night covering.
Shroud – equipment used in connection with a wake.
Spreaders – Barclay Card and Visa – useful for extending the sailing season.
Starboard – special board used by skippers for navigation (usually with “Port” on the opposite side.)
Stays – position in harbour when gales are forecast.
Stowaway – rapid handling of alcoholic spirits as the customs boat approaches.
Swell – a wave that’s just great.
Square Rigger – a rigger over 30.
Sloop – A sailboat with beer and/or wine in the cabin.
Tack – A maneuver the skipper uses when telling the crew what they did wrong without getting them mad.
Tree – object to sit under, as a cure for seasickness.
Wind Indicator – Sensitive person who suddenly throws open the vents and hatches.
Warp – The other skipper’s version of events.
Yawl – A sailboat from Texas, with some good bourbon stored down yonder in the cabin
Zephyr – Warm, pleasant breeze. Named after the mythical Greek god of wishful thinking, false hopes, and unreliable forecasts. —
(My thanks to portisheadcruisingclub.org.uk)