Glossary of Common Nautical Terms

Abandon Ship

Leave the vessel immediately as there is imminent danger.

Adrift

Afloat but not controlled, unattached to the shore or seabed.

Aft

Towards the stern (of the vessel).

Ahoy

Exclamation, a call used to greet someone or draw attention to something from a distance.

Amidships

In the middle of the boat; as in: Example: You will find the galley amidships.

Awash

So low in the water that the water is constantly washing across the surface.

Aweigh

Anchor being lifted off the bottom.

Aye

Yes.

Ballast

Heavy material that is placed in the hold of a vessel to provide stability.

Batten Down

Prepare for heavy weather, i.e. batten down the hatches.

Boat hook

Pole with blunt tip and a hook on the end, used to assist in docking and undocking a boat.

Buoy

Floating aid to navigation.

Catamaran

A vessel with two hulls.

Cleat

Metal object around which a line can be fastened.

Dinghy

 A type of small boat, often carried or towed as a ship's boat by a larger vessel.

ECDIS

An Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) is a geographic information system used for nautical navigation as an alternative to paper nautical charts.

EPIRB

An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or EPIRB is used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency.

Forward

Towards the bow (of the vessel).

Furl

Roll or fold up a sail and secure neatly.

Harbor

 A place on the coast where vessels may find shelter.

Head

The bathroom on a boat.

Hull

The main body of a vessel/ the shell and framework of the basic flotation-oriented part of a ship.

Jetty

 A man-made wall in open water/ a landing stage or small pier at which boats can dock or be moored.

Keel

The longitudinal structure along the centerline at the bottom of a vessel's hull, on which the rest of the hull is built.

Knot

One nautical mile per hour.

Latitude

Angular distance in degrees north or south of the earth's equator; example: the North Pole is at 90° north latitude.

Leeward

Also known as lee, leeward is the direction opposite to the way the wind is currently blowing.

Longitude

The angular distance in degrees east or west of the prime meridian. (a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface).

Marina

A docking facility for small ships and yachts.

Mariner

A sailor.

Moored

To secure a ship or boat in a particular place, as by cables and anchors or by lines.

Nautical Charts

Maps designed specifically for navigation at sea.

Nautical mile

One minute of latitude or about 1.15 statute miles. (A nautical mile is easy to measure by referring to the latitude on a nautical chart).

Nay

No.

Port

Port is always the left-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow.

Radar

Acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging. A device for determining the presence and location of an object by measuring the time for the echo of a radio wave to return from it and the direction from which it returns.

Starboard

Starboard is always the right-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow.

Tallship

A large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessel.

Windward

The direction in which the wind is currently blowing.

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