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Marine Glossary Terms

Learn marine and sailing terms quickly by searching through the information available below.

Block : A device used to change a line's direction

Boom : The horizontal spar which extends aft (backwards) from the mast to which the foot of the mainsail abuts

Boom Topping Lift : A line which extends from the boom to the mast. Supports boom when mainsail is taken down

Boom Vang : Line which places downward tension on the boom

Bow : The front end of a boat

Bowsprit : The bowsprit is a spar that extends forward of the hull of a boat. It can be used for a variety of things, including a more forward point to attach a forestay and/or a sail such as a spinnaker or jib.

Broad reach : The wind is coming from behind the boat at an angle. This represents a range of wind angles between Beam Reach and Running Downwind. The sails are eased out away from the boat, but not as much as on a run or dead run (downwind run).

Chine : The part of the boat below the waterline

Cleat : A metal or plastic device used to secure a line

Clew : Bottom back corner of the sail

Close hauled : A boat is sailing close hauled when its sails are trimmed in tightly and it is sailing as close to the wind as it can without entering in irons. This point of sail lets the boat travel diagonally upwind. This is a precise point of sail. However, the exact angle relative to the wind direction varies from boat to boat. A boat is considered to be "pinching" if the helmsman tries to sail above an efficient close-hauled course and the sails begin to luff slightly.

A square rigged ship cannot operate well in the close reach position, as the maximum deflection offered by the braces is typically 45 degrees off the running position. When heading up beyond a beam reach, many square-riggers must rely on their staysails and spanker.

Close reach : This is any upwind angle between Close Hauled and a Beam Reach. "Fetch" (or "fetching") is a synonym in many English-speaking countries for a close reach.

Coming-About (Tacking) : In this maneuver, the bow of the boat goes through the wind as one changes from a close-hauled point-of-sail on one tack (direction) to a close hauled point-of-sail on the other direction. Only the jib needs to be adjusted, the working sheet of the jib is changed and the new working sheet is placed on a winch. The mainsail is left alone and will by itself often assume the correct position.

Deck : Top of the boat which covers the hull

Down Haul : Line keeps spinnaker pole from being pulled up by spinnaker sail

Draft : The depth of a vessel's keel below the surface

Earrings : Small lines, by which the uppermost corners of the largest sails are secured to the yardarms

ease : To let out the sails

Flotsam : Jetsam. The floating wreckage of a ship

Foot : Bottom of the sail

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