Glossary of nautical terms (M-Z)

This is a list of nautical terms starting with the letters M to Z.

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)


Combination mast and stack.
Mae West
A Second World War personal flotation device used to keep people afloat in the water; named after the 1930s actress Mae West, well known for her large bosom.
magnetic north
The direction towards the North Magnetic Pole. Varies slowly over time.
maiden voyage
The first voyage of a ship in its intended role, ie excluding trial trips.
magnetic bearing
An absolute bearing using magnetic north.
The high sea; the open ocean.
main deck
The uppermost continuous deck extending from bow to stern.
One of the braces attached to the yard of the mainsail (the largest and lowest sail on the mainmast) on a square-rigged vessel.

Also main.

The tallest mast on a ship.[1]
The main brails on the mainsail.[2]
A sail control line that allows the most obvious effect on mainsail trim. Primarily used to control the angle of the boom, and thereby the mainsail, this control can also increase or decrease downward tension on the boom while sailing upwind, significantly affecting sail shape. For more control over downward tension on the boom, a boom vang may be used.
The stay running from the top of the mainmast to the bottom of the foremast, or from the top of the foremast to the ship's stem.
making way
When a vessel is moving under its own power.

Also man o' war.

A warship from the Age of Sail.
man overboard
1.  An emergency call that alerts the crew that someone aboard has gone overboard and must be rescued.
2.  A person who has fallen into the water from a ship or boat – the object of the resulting rescue attempt.
man the rails
To station the crew of a naval vessel along the rails and superstructure of the vessel as a method of saluting or rendering honors.
man the yards
To have all of the crew of a sailing vessel not required on deck to handle the ship go aloft and spread out along the yards. Originally used in harbors to display the whole crew to harbor authorities and other ships present to show that the vessel's guns were not manned and hence her intentions were peaceful, manning the yards has since become a display used in harbor during celebrations and other special events.
A document listing the cargo, passengers, and crew of a ship for the use of customs and other officials.
Marconi rig
An archaic term for Bermuda rig. The mainsail is triangular, rigged fore-and-aft with its luff fixed to the mast. The foresail (jib) is a staysail hanked onto the forestay. Refers to the similarity of the tall mast to a radio aerial.
A docking facility for small ships and yachts.
1.  A soldier trained for service afloat in a (primarily) infantry force that specializes in naval campaigns and subordinated to a navy or a separate naval branch of service rather than to an army. Often capitalized (e.g. a Marine or the Marines). Notable examples are the United Kingdom's Royal Marines, formed as the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot in 1664 with many and varied duties including providing guard to ship's officers should there be a mutiny aboard, and the US Marine Corps, formed in 1775 as a separate naval service alongside the US Navy. It is incorrect, and often viewed by marines as offensive, to refer to a marine as a "soldier" or "infantryman", as these terms refer to personnel of an army rather than those of a marine force. It also is incorrect, and sometimes considered offensive by both merchant mariners and marines, to refer to merchant mariners as "merchant marines", because merchant mariners are civilian sailors responsible for operating merchant ships and are not marines. Marines sometimes are thought by seamen to be rather gullible, hence the phrase "tell it to the marines", meaning that one does not believe what is being said.
2.  An alternative term for a navy, uncommon in English but common in other languages.
3.  Of or pertaining to the sea (e.g. marine biology, marine insurance, marine salvage).
4.  A painting representing a subject related to the sea.
marine sandglass (or glass)
An hourglass-like timekeeping instrument used aboard ships from at least the 14th century until reliable mechanical timepieces replaced it in the early 19th century. Marine sandglasses measured the passage of time in 30-minute increments to regulate time on watch, to measure a boat's speed, and to assist in determining a ship's position by measuring the time elapsed while she was on a given course.
A sailor.
1.  Of or related to the sea (e.g., maritime activities, maritime law, maritime strategy).
2.  Bordering on the sea (e.g., maritime provinces, maritime states).
3.  Living in or near the sea (e.g., maritime animals).
4.  Of or relating to a mariner or sailor.
A tool used in ropework for tasks such as unlaying rope for splicing, untying knots, or forming a makeshift handle.
A vertical pole on a ship that supports sails or rigging. If a wooden multi-part mast, this term applies specifically to the lowest portion.
mast case
A yachtsman's tabernacle. The iron fitting in which the heel of the mast is mounted.[2]
mast step
The place in the hull where the lowest point of a mast rests, taking the weight of the mast and the thrust imposed by the tension of the rigging, and preventing lateral and fore and aft movement of the bottom of the mast. With a wooden hull and mast, this is usually achieved by having a socket cut in the top of the keelson, a floor or some other major structural component. A tenon cut into the bottom of the mast sits snugly in the socket.[3] With a deck-stepped aluminium mast, the step may consist of a metal fitting bolted to the deck, to which bolts a matching fitting at the bottom of the mast.
mast stepping
The process of raising a mast.
A small platform partway up the mast, just above the height of the mast's main yard. A lookout is stationed here, and men who are working on the main yard will embark from here. See also crow's nest.
1.  The captain of a commercial vessel.
2.  A senior officer of a naval sailing ship in charge of routine seamanship and navigation but not in command during combat.
3.  (master) A former naval rank.
A non-commissioned officer responsible for discipline on a naval ship. Standing between the officers and the crew, commonly known in the Royal Navy as "the Buffer".
A traditional Royal Navy term for an ordinary sailor.
Military equipages of all descriptions for the naval services. The bombs, blankets, beans, and bulletins of the Navy and Marine Corps. Taken from Nelson's British navy as the US services became professional. See also materiel – military supplies, equipment and weapons.
Mediterranean mooring

Also Med moor and Tahitian mooring.

A method of mooring stern-to.
merchant marine
A collective term for all merchant ships registered in a given country and the civilians (especially those of that nationality) who man them; the ships and personnel in combination are said to constitute that country's merchant marine. Called the merchant navy in the United Kingdom and some other countries.
merchant mariner
A civilian officer or sailor who serves in the merchant marine. Sometimes such personnel are incorrectly called "merchant marines", but both merchant mariners and marines frown on this term; although merchant mariners are part of the merchant marine, they are civilians and are not in any way marines, which are a specialized type of military personnel.
merchant navy
A name bestowed upon the merchant marine of the United Kingdom by King George V, and since adopted by some other countries as well. The merchant navy's personnel are civilians, and the term "merchant navy" does not imply that they or their ships are a part of the navy. Synonymous with the term merchant marine.
A merchant ship - any non-naval passenger- or cargo-carrying vessel, including cargo ships, tankers, and passenger ships but excluding troopships.

Also messdeck.

1.  An eating place aboard a ship.
2.  A group of crew who live and eat together.
mess deck catering
A system of catering in which a standard ration is issued to a mess supplemented by a money allowance, which the mess may use to buy additional victuals from the pusser's stores or elsewhere. Each mess was autonomous and self-regulating. Seaman cooks, often members of the mess, prepared the meals and took them, in a tin canteen, to the galley to be cooked by the ship's cooks. As distinct from "cafeteria messing" where food is issued to an individual hand, which is now the general practice.
The midway point between a vessel's center of buoyancy when upright and her center of buoyancy when tilted.
metacentric height (GM)
A measurement of the initial static stability of a vessel afloat, calculated as the distance between her center of gravity and her metacenter. A vessel with a large metacentric height rolls more quickly and therefore more uncomfortably for people on board; a vessel with a small metacentric height will roll sluggishly and may face a greater danger of capsizing.
Middle Passage
The portion of the triangular trade pattern of the late 16th through the early 19th centuries in the Atlantic Ocean in which slaves were transported from Africa to the Americas. In the terminology of the slave trade itself, the Middle Passage linked the First Passage (the transportation of captives from the interior of Africa to African ports for sale as slaves) with the Final Passage (the transportation of slaves from their port of disembarkation in the Americas to the location where they were to work).
The middle brails on the mainsail, higher than the lowers, and lower than the mains.[2]
midship house
A superstructure built over the midships section of the hull, often housing the bridge and officers quarters, as well as passenger quarters aboard cargo liners. A common feature of tankers, cargo liners, and cargo ships up until the mid-20th century, when ship design moved away from the use of midship houses.
1.  During the 17th century, a naval rating for an experienced seaman.
2.  From the 18th century, a naval commissioned officer candidate.
3.  From the 1790s, an apprentice naval officer.
4.  From the 19th century, an officer cadet at a naval academy.
5.  In contemporary British usage, a non-commissioned officer below the rank of lieutenant. Usually regarded as being "in training" to some degree. Also known as "Snotty". It is "the lowest form of rank in the Royal Navy" where he has authority over and responsibility for more junior ranks, yet, at the same time, relying on their experience and learning his trade from them.
6.  In contemporary American usage, a cadet of either sex at the United States Merchant Marine Academy or the United States Naval Academy. When plural (midshipmen), the term refers to the student body of either academy, and more formally as "the Regiment of Midshipmen" for the Merchant Marine Academy and "the Brigade of Midshipmen" for the Naval Academy.
midshipman's hitch
An alternative to the Blackwall hitch, preferred if the rope is greasy. Made by first forming a Blackwall hitch and then taking the underneath part and placing it over the bill of the hook.[4]
midshipman's nuts
Broken pieces of biscuit as dessert.[5]
midshipman's roll
A slovenly method of rolling up a hammock transversely and lashing it endways by one clue.[5]

Also midship

A shortened form of amidships, with both alternative meanings.[6]
See nautical mile.
military mast
A hollow, tubular mast used in warships in the last third of the 19th century, often equipped with a fighting top armed with light-caliber guns.
Shipboard rats
A self-contained explosive device intended to damage or sink surface ships or submarines, designed to be placed in water and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, proximity of, or contact with, a surface ship or submarines.
A vessel designed or equipped to detect and destroy individual mines. It differs from a minesweeper, which is designed or equipped to clear areas of water of mines without necessarily detecting them first.
A vessel designed or equipped to deploy (or "lay") mines.
A vessel designed or equipped to clear areas of water of mines without necessarily detecting them first. It differs from a minehunter, which is designed or equipped to detect and destroy individual mines.
To be "in irons" (i.e. to lose forward momentum) when changing tack.
1.  A mizzen sail is a small sail (triangular or gaff) on a ketch or yawl set abaft the mizzenmast.[2]
2.  A mizzen staysail is an occasional lightweight staysail on a ketch or yawl, set forward of the mizzenmast while reaching in light to moderate airs.[2]
3.  A mizzenmast is a mast on a ketch or yawl, or spritsail barge. Its positioning afore of abaft the rudder post distinguishes between a ketch or a yawl. On a barge its rig determines if she is a muffie or a mulie.[2]

Also mizzen.

The third mast, or the mast aft of the mainmast, on a ship.
A massive structure, usually of stone or concrete, used as a pier, breakwater, or causeway between places separated by water. May have a wooden structure built upon it and resemble a wooden pier or wharf, but a mole differs from a pier, quay, or wharf in that water cannot flow freely underneath it.
1.  A turreted ironclad warship of the second half of the 19th century characterized by low freeboard, shallow draft, poor seaworthiness, and heavy guns, intended for riverine and coastal operations.
2.  In occasional 19th-century usage, any turreted warship.
3.  A shallow-draft armored shore bombardment vessel of the first half of the 20th century, designed to provide fire support to ground troops, often mounting heavy guns.
4.  (breastwork monitor) A 19th-century monitor designed with a breastwork to improve seaworthiness.
5.  (river monitor) A monitor specifically designed for riverine operations, used during the 19th and 20th centuries and more recently than other types of monitor. River monitors generally are smaller and lighter than other monitors.
monkey bridge
A high platform above the wheelhouse offering better visibility to the operator while maneuvering.
monkey's fist
A ball woven out of line used to provide heft to heave the line to another location. The monkey fist and other heaving-line knots were sometimes weighted with lead (easily available in the form of foil used e.g. to seal tea chests from dampness) although Clifford W. Ashley notes that there was a "definite sporting limit" to the weight thus added.
1.  To attach a boat to a mooring buoy or post.
2.  To dock a ship.
3.  To secure a vessel with a cable or anchor.

Also moorings.

A place to moor a vessel.
mother ship

Also mothership and mother-ship.

A vessel that leads, serves, or carries smaller vessels, in the latter case either releasing them and then proceeding independently or also recovering them after they have completed a mission or operation. A mother ship sometimes contrasts with a tender, which often (but not necessarily) is a vessel that supports or cares for larger vessels.
A template of the shape of the hull in transverse section. Several moulds are used to form a temporary framework around which a hull is built.
mould loft
Where the lines of the ship are drawn out full-size and the templates for the timbers are made.
Several turns of light line around the mouth of a hook, to prevent unhooking accidents.[2]
A barge rigged with a spritsail main, and a large gaff rigged mizzen afore the steering wheel. It is sheeted to the saddle chock.[2]
multipurpose vessel
A cargo ship that has fittings to carry standard shipping containers and retractable tweendecks that can be moved out of the way so that the ship can carry bulk cargo.
multiservice tactical brevity code
Codes used by various military forces to convey complex information in a few words.
muster drill
An exercise conducted by the crew of a ship prior to embarking on a voyage. Passengers are required to participate in the drill so that they can be instructed how to evacuate safely in the event of an emergency on board the ship.
muster station
A specific location on a vessel planned as a gathering place during an emergency or a muster drill. If a person is believed missing, all passengers must report to their muster station for a head count.
Iron ban around the mast to hold the heel of the sprit.[2]
M.V. (or MV)
An abbreviation for Motor Vessel, used before a ship's name.
M.Y. (or MY)
An abbreviation for Motor Yacht, used before a yacht's name.

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)


natural harbour
A body of water protected from the weather by virtue of its being mostly surrounded by land, and deep enough to provide anchorage for the vessels using it.
A type of boat designed specifically to fit the narrow canal locks of the United Kingdom.
A narrow part of a navigable waterway.
Of or pertaining to sailors, seamanship, or navigation; maritime.
nautical chart
A map of a sea or ocean area and adjacent coastal regions, intended specifically for navigation at sea. Nautical charts use map projections designed for easy use with hand instruments, such as the Mercator projection, and indicate depths, hazards, landmarks, aids to navigation such as buoys, and ashore facilities of interest to mariners. Nautical charts are generally originally published by government agencies such as the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and are now provided in both print form and digital for use in chartplotters.
nautical mile
A unit of length corresponding to approximately one minute of arc of latitude along any meridian arc. By international agreement, it is equivalent to exactly 1,852 metres (6,076 ft; 1.151 mi).
The British system of authorizing naval construction by an annual bill in Parliament.
1.  Sailors subordinated to a navy trained and equipped to operate ashore temporarily as an organized infantry force, but at other times responsible for the normal duties of sailors aboard ship.
2.  A specialized, permanent force of troops subordinated to a navy and responsible for infantry operations ashore. Although more specialized than sailors trained to operate temporarily as naval infantry and bearing similarities to a marine force or marine corps, such permanent naval infantry forces often lack the full capabilities of a marine force. Naval infantry forces also usually differ from marine forces in being subordinated directly to a navy rather than to a separate branch of naval service such as a marine corps.
All activities related to determining, plotting, and tracking the position and course of a ship in order to keep track of its position relative to land while at sea. Navigation charts have been used since ancient times, and remain in use as back-ups to modern satellite-based positioning systems. Numerous map projections including the common Mercator projection were developed specifically to make navigation at sea simple to perform with straight-edges and compasses.
Rules of the road that provide guidance on how to avoid collision and also used to assign blame when a collision does occur.
"No"; a reply in the negative. The opposite of "aye."
net laying ship

Also net layer, net tender, gate ship, or boom defence vessel.

A type of naval auxiliary ship equipped for and primarily tasked with laying torpedo nets or anti-submarine nets to protect individual ships at anchor, harbors, or other anchorages from torpedo attack and intrusions by submarines.
net tender
An alternative term for a net laying ship.
New Company ship
A term used for a ship trading between England and ports east of the Cape of Good Hope for the English Company Trading to the East Indies, a new company chartered in 1697 to compete with the "old" East India Company. The term fell into disuse when the two companies merged in 1707.[7]
night boat
(United States) A type of steamboat that provided sleeping quarters for passengers on overnight voyages, as opposed to a day boat that had no need of such facilities.
A short rope used to bind a cable to the "messenger" (a moving line propelled by the capstan) so that the cable is dragged along, too (used where the cable is too large to be wrapped around the capstan itself). During the raising of an anchor, the nippers were attached and detached from the (endless) messenger by the ship's boys. Hence the term for small boys: "nippers".
The throat of the mainsail.[2]
no room to swing a cat
The entire ship's company was expected to witness floggings, assembled on deck. If it was very crowded, the bosun might not have room to swing the cat o' nine tails (the whip).
See self-sustaining.
A type of navigational buoy, often cone-shaped, but if not, always triangular in silhouette, colored green in IALA region A or red in IALA region B (the Americas, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines). In channel marking its use is opposite that of a "can buoy".

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)


Any material, often tarred hemp fibres picked from old untwisted ropes, used for caulking gaps or seams between the planks of hulls.
A pole, usually of wood, with a blade at one end and a handle at the other, which is pivoted on a fulcrum on the side of a boat to provide propulsion by moving the blade through the water.[8]
oar crutch
A metal (or sometimes plastic) fitting that acts as the fulcrum point of an oar. Usually takes the form of a U-shape, with a pin underneath the bottom of the "U". The pin rotates in a socket in the gunwale of the boat; the oar rests in the "U".[9] Often referred to as a rowlock[10]
ocean liner
See liner.
The more distant part of the sea as seen from the shore and generally beyond anchoring ground.
1.  Moving away from the shore.
2.  (of a wind) Blowing from the land to the sea.
3.  At some distance from the shore; located in the sea away from the coast.
1.  (ship) A naval auxiliary ship with fuel tanks, which refuels other ships.
1.  (occupation) The job title of a seaman holding a junior position in a ship's engineering crew, senior only to the engine room wiper.

Also oilies.

Foul-weather clothing worn by sailors.
old man
Crew's slang for the captain, master, or commanding officer of a vessel.
old salt
Slang for an experienced mariner.
on board

Also onboard.

See aboard.
on her own bottom

Plural on their own bottoms.

Said of a vessel making a voyage without being carried aboard another vessel, e.g., "The yacht crossed the ocean on her own bottom," or in the plural, "Yachts rarely cross the ocean on their own bottoms."
on station
A ship's destination, typically an area to be patrolled or guarded.
on the beach
A Royal Navy term that means "retired from the Service."[11]
on the hard
A boat that has been hauled and is now sitting on dry land.
open registry
An organization that will register merchant ships owned by foreign entities, generally to provide a flag of convenience.
See in ordinary.
ordinary seaman
1.  A seaman in the British Royal Navy in the 18th century who had between one and two years of experience at sea. Later, a formal rank in the Royal Navy for the lowest grade of seaman, now obsolete.
2.  The second-lowest rank in the United States Navy from 1797 to 1917, between landsman and seaman. Renamed "seaman second class" in 1917.
3.  The rating for entry-level personnel in the deck department of a ship in the United States Merchant Marine. An ordinary seaman (abbreviated "OS") is considered to be serving an apprenticeship to become an able seaman.
ore carrier
A type of bulk carrier specially designed to carry ore.
A Great Lakes term for a vessel primarily used in the transport of iron ore.
orlop deck
1.  The lowest deck of a ship-of-the-line.
2.  The deck covering in the hold.
1.  International signal for a man overboard.
2.  Nickname for a water rescue training dummy. Also see paradummy.
1.  Situated outside the hull of a vessel.
2.  Situated within a vessel but positioned away (or farther away, when contrasted with another item) from her centerline.
3.  Farther from the hull, e.g. "The larger boat was tied up alongside the ship outboard of the smaller boat."
4.  Farther from the pier or shore, e.g. "The tanker and cargo ship were tied up at the pier alongside one another with the tanker outboard of the cargo ship."
5.  An outboard motor.
6.  A vessel fitted with an outboard motor.
outboard motor
A motor mounted externally on the transom of a small boat. The boat may be steered by twisting the whole motor, instead of or in addition to using a rudder.
The lower part of a sterndrive.
A line used to control the shape of a sail.
1.  Generally, a structure projecting from the side of a vessel.
2.  Any contraposing float rigging beyond the side of a vessel to improve the vessel's stability.
3.  A thin, long, solid, hull used to stabilize the inherently unstable main hull of an outrigger canoe or a sailboat.
4.  A variety of structures projecting from a keelboat by which the running rigging may be attached outboard of the hull.
5.  A pole or series of poles projecting from a fishing vessel that allow the vessel to trawl with more fishing lines in the water without the lines tangling and allowing lures and bait to simulate a school of fish.
6.  A triangular frame on a rowboat or galley that holds the rowlock away from the saxboard or gunwale to optimize leverage for the rowers. Also called a rigger.
outward bound
To leave the safety of port, heading for the open ocean.
To have too great a sail area up to safely maneuver in the current wind conditions.
Holding a course too long while tacking.
over the barrel
Adult sailors were flogged on the back or shoulders while tied to a grating, but boys were beaten instead on the posterior (often bared), with a cane or cat o' nine tails, while bending, often tied down, over the barrel of a gun, known as kissing the gunner's daughter.
To sail downwind directly at another ship, stealing the wind from its sails.
Off or outside a vessel. If something or someone falls, jumps, or is thrown off of a vessel into the water, the object or person is said to have gone overboard. See "Man overboard!"
Dangerously steep and breaking seas due to opposing currents and wind in a shallow area, or strong currents over a shallow rocky bottom.
The ceiling of any enclosed space below decks in a vessel, essentially the bottom of the deck above.
Hauling the buntline ropes over the sails to prevent them from chafing.
overtaking sea
Seas approaching a vessel from between 15° to port or starboard of astern at a speed greater than that of the vessel.[12]
Capsized or foundered.
Traditional Royal Navy term for the captain, a survival from the days when privately owned ships were often hired for naval service.
A cloud or other weather phenomenon that may be indicative of an upcoming storm.

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)



Also packet boat or packet ship.

1.  Originally, a vessel employed to carry post office mail packets to and from British embassies, colonies, and outposts.
2.  Later, any regularly scheduled ship, carrying passengers, as in packet trade.
packet trade
Any regularly scheduled cargo, passenger, and mail trade conducted by ship.
A seaman aboard a ship engaged in packet trade.
paddle box
A covering, usually made of wood, for the upper part of a paddle wheel on a paddle steamer.
paddle guards
See guards.
pagoda mast
A large and distinctive type of foremast installed aboard Imperial Japanese Navy battleships and battlecruisers during modernization and reconstruction of the ships in the 1930s. A pagoda mast was created by strengthening a ship's existing tripod foremast and adding platforms to it for searchlights, lookouts, sbelters, and other structures, giving the mast the appearance of a pagoda temple.
A rope attached to the bow of a vessel, used to make the vessel fast to a dock or a larger vessel, including when towed astern.[13]
A protective device, usually leather, worn on the hand when working with a sail needle to repair sails.
The pulsation in and out of the bow and stern plating as the ship alternately rises and plunges deep into the water.
1.  (Paravane (weapon)) A device stabilized by vanes that functions as an underwater glider and is usually streamed from the bow of a vessel and towed alongside. A submerged mine's mooring would be cut by the paravane or the explosive head on the paravane would destroy the mine [14]
2.  (water kite) A towed underwater object with hydrofoils, of use in commercial and sport fishing, water sports, marine exploration, the marine industry, and military operations, sometimes equipped with sensors and also of use in exerting a sideward holding force on a vessel. Also called a water kite.
A method of lifting a roughly cylindrical object such as a spar. One end of a rope is made fast above the object, a loop of rope is lowered and passed around the object, which can be raised by hauling on the free end of rope.
A discussion or conference, especially between enemies, over terms of a truce or other matters.
A movable loop or collar, used to fasten a yard or gaff to its respective mast. A parrel still allows the spar to be raised or lowered and swivel around the mast. It is sometimes with made of wire or rope and fitted with beads to reduce friction.
part brass rags
Fall out with a friend. From the days when cleaning materials were shared between sailors.
An interior corridor or hallway on a ship.
See cargo liner.
passenger-cargo ship
See cargo liner.
Small bars used to stop the barrel of a winch or capstan moving backward under an increased load or if the turning power was reduced. In early capstans, the pawls had to be manually moved in and out of the notches in which they worked. Later capstans had automatic pawls that dropped into notches as the barrel turned. In breaking out an anchor, a crew would "heave and pawl" if the bow was rising and falling with the waves, so giving a varying load on the cable.[15]
pay off
1.  To let a vessel's head fall off from the wind (to leeward.)[2]
2.  During the Age of Sail, the practice of paying a crew its wages for the voyage when a vessel completed her voyage, at which point the crew was paid off.
2.  In British and Commonwealth usage, to decommission a warship, e.g., "The old destroyer paid off after returning to port at the end of her final cruise."
Filling a seam (with caulking or pitch), lubricating the running rigging; paying with slush, protecting from the weather by covering with slush. See also the devil to pay.
The officer responsible for all money matters in Royal Navy ships including the paying and provisioning of the crew, all stores, tools, and spare parts. See also purser.
pea coat
Heavy topcoat originally made from pilot cloth.[16] Officers and chief petty officers wear a variation with gold buttons called a reefer or a longer model called a bridge coat.
1.  The upper aftermost corner of a fore-and-aft sail; used in many combinations, such as peak-halyards, peak-brails, etc.[2]
2.  The narrow part of a vessel's bow, or the hold within it.
3.  The extremity of an anchor fluke; the bill.
The uppermost brails on the mainsail. Upper and lower peaks are normal, but a barge may carry a third set, too.[2]
1.  Living in the open ocean rather than coastal or inland waters (e.g. a pelagic shark).
2.  Taking place in the open ocean (e.g. pelagic fishing, pelagic sealing).
pelican hook
A hook with a hinge in the curve of the hook, normally held closed by a metal ring that keeps the two hinged parts together. Can be instantly released by knocking the ring along the hook so that it frees one of the hinged parts which swings open and releases whatever the hook is holding. Often seen on opening sections of guard rails and life-raft lashings, but also used on more heavily loaded components. May also be called a slip-hook or a Davey hook.[10][17]
1.  A length of wire or rope secured at one end to a mast or spar and having a block or other fitting at the lower end.
2.  A length of wire or rope hooked to a tackle on leeboards.[2]
3.  An alternate spelling of pennant.[18]
A long, thin triangular flag flown from the masthead of a military ship (as opposed to a burgee, the flags thus flown on yachts).
An obsolete (circa 17th century) term for a pirate: From Spanish
picket boat
A boat on sentry duty, or one placed on a line forward of a position to warn against an enemy advance.
A raised structure, typically supported by widely spread piles or pillars, used industrially for loading and unloading commercial ships, recreationally for walking and housing attractions at a seaside resort, or as a structure for use by boatless fishermen. The lighter structure of a pier contrasts with the more solid foundations of a quay or the closely spaced piles of a wharf. In North America, the term "pier" used alone connotes either a pier used (or formerly used) by commercial shipping or one used for fishing, while in Europe the term used alone connotes a recreational pier at a seaside resort.
pier-head jump
When a sailor is drafted to a warship at the last minute, just before she sails.
A specially knowledgeable person qualified to navigate a vessel through difficult waters, e.g. harbour pilot, etc.
pilot boat
A type of boat used to transport maritime pilots between land and the inbound or outbound ships that they are piloting.
pilot ladder
A highly specialized form of rope ladder, typically used to embark and disembark pilots over the side of a ship. Sometimes confused with Jacob's ladders, but the design and construction of pilot ladders is governed tightly by international regulation and includes spreaders – elongated versions of the standard machined step – rather than the type of steps generally found on Jacob′s ladders.
Points (or plan) of intended movement. The charted course for a naval unit's movements.
1.  (ship's boat) A small, light boat propelled by oars or a sail, used as a tender to larger vessels during the Age of Sail.
2.  (full-rigged pinnace) A small "race built" galleon, square-rigged with either two or three masts.
3.  In modern usage, any small boat other than a launch or lifeboat associated with a larger vessel.
The pin or bolt on which a ship's rudder pivots. The pintle rests in the gudgeon.
pipe (bos'n's)

Also bosun's call.

A whistle used by boatswains (bosuns or bos'ns) to issue commands. Consisting of a metal tube that directs the breath over an aperture on the top of a hollow ball to produce high-pitched notes. The pitch of the notes can be changed by partly covering the aperture with the finger of the hand in which the pipe is held. The shape of the instrument is similar to that of a smoking pipe.
pipe down
A signal on the bosun's pipe to signal the end of the day, requiring lights (and smoking pipes) to be extinguished and silence from the crew.
piping the side
A salute on the bosun's pipe(s) performed in the company of the deck watch on the starboard side of the quarterdeck or at the head of the gangway, to welcome or bid farewell to the ship's captain, senior officers, and honoured visitors.
An act of robbery or criminal violence at sea by the occupants of one vessel against the occupants of another vessel (and therefore excluding such acts committed by the crew or passengers of a vessel against others aboard the same vessel). Piracy is also distinguished from privateering, which is authorized by national authorities and therefore a legitimate form of war-like activity by non-state actors.
One who engages in an act of piracy.
A vessel's motion, rotating about the beam/transverse axis, causing the fore and aft ends to rise and fall repetitively.
To capsize a boat stern over bow, rather than by rolling over.
To turn a sailing barge in shallow water by dropping the leeboard so it drags in the mud, then putting the helm hard over. The maneuver is often used to enter congested harbours.
To skim over the water at high speed rather than push through it.
Plimsoll line

Also National Load Line.

A special marking, positioned amidships, that indicates the draft of the vessel and the legal limit to which the vessel may be loaded for specific water types and temperatures.
plotting room
See transmitting station.
A unit of bearing equal to 132 of a circle, i.e. 11.25 degrees. A turn of 32 points is a complete turn through 360 degrees.
point up

Also heading up.

To change the direction of a sailboat so that it is more upwind. To bring the bow windward. This is the opposite of falling off.
points of sail
The course of a sailing vessel in relation to the direction of the wind, divided into six points: in irons (pointed directly into the wind), close hauled (sailing as close into the direction of the wind as possible), close reach (between close hauled and beam reach), beam reach (perpendicular to the wind), broad reach (wind behind the vessel at an angle), and running downwind or running before the wind (wind directly behind the vessel).

Also polacre.

A 17th-century sailing vessel commonly seen in the Mediterranean, similar to a xebec with two or three masts; two-masted polaccas were known as brig-polaccas and three-masted polaccas as ship-polaccas or polacca-settees. Polacca-settees had a lateen sail on the foremast, a European-style square rig on the mainmast, and a gaff or lateen on the mizzenmast.
A three-masted polacca.
Another name for a polacca.
A type of xebec with a square rig on her foremast, lateen sails on her other masts, a bowsprit, and two headsails. A polacre-xebec differed from a felucca in that a felucca had only lateen sails.
A flat-bottomed vessel used as a ferry, barge, or car float, or a float moored alongside a jetty or a ship to facilitate boarding.
poop deck
A high deck on the aft superstructure of a ship.
1.  (of a ship or boat) to have a wave break over the stern when travelling with a following sea.[19]
2.  (colloquially) Exhausted.[19]
The left side of a ship or vessel. Towards the left-hand side of the ship facing forward (formerly larboard). Denoted with a red light at night.[2]
port of registry
The port listed in a vessel's registration documents and lettered on her stern. Often used incorrectly as a synonym for home port, meaning the port at which the vessel is based, but it may differ from the port of registry.
port tack
When sailing with the wind coming from the port side of the vessel. Vessels on port tack must give way to those on starboard tack.

Also simply port.

An opening in a ship's side, especially a round one for admitting light and air, fitted with thick glass and, often, a hinged metal cover, used as a window.
An obsolete form of nautical chart used prior to the development of lines of latitude and longitude that indicated distances and bearing lines between ports.
An obsolete alternative form of the rank of captain in the Royal Navy; once achieved, promotion thereafter was entirely due to seniority.
post ship
The British term used from the second half of the 18th century until 1817 for a sixth rate ship-rigged sailing warship armed with 20 to 26 guns, smaller than a frigate but large enough to require a post-captain as her commanding officer.
powder hulk
A hulk used to store gunpowder.
powder magazine
A small room/closet area in the hull of the ship used for storing gunpowder in barrels, or "kegs", usually located centrally so as to have easy access to the grated loading area. Sometimes may be an enclosed closet with a door, so it can be locked and only the captain would have the key, similar to how rum is stored.
The license given to a ship to enter port on assurance from her captain that she is free from contagious disease. A ship can signal a request for pratique by flying a square solid-yellow flag. The clearance granted is commonly referred to as free pratique.
A term used retrospectively after 1906 for a wide variety of steam battleships built between the 1880s and c. 1905 designed with only a few large guns for long-range fire, relying on an intermediate secondary battery used at shorter ranges for most of their offensive power, and having triple-expansion steam engines. They were rendered obsolete by the revolutionary dreadnought battleships, which began to appear in 1906 and differed from predreadnoughts in having steam turbine propulsion and an "all-big-gun" armament layout in which the ship's primary gun power resided in a primary battery of its largest guns intended for use at long range, with other gun armament limited to small weapons intended for close-range defense against torpedo boats and other small warships.
press gang
Formed body of personnel from a ship of the Royal Navy (either a ship seeking personnel for its own crew or from a "press tender" seeking men for a number of ships) that would identify and force ("press") men, usually merchant sailors, into service on naval ships, usually against their will.

Also gybe preventer and jibe preventer.

A sail control line originating at some point on the boom leading to a fixed point on the boat's deck or rail (usually a cleat or pad eye) used to prevent or moderate the effects of an accidental jibe.
Principal Naval Transport Officer
In British usage, a Principal Naval Transport Officer is a shore-based flag officer or captain responsible for sea transport duties, and for assisting the Senior Naval Officer in the preparation of naval orders and conducting disembarkations.
Principal Warfare Officer (PWO)
One of a number of Warfare branch specialist officers.
prison ship

Also prison hulk.

A vessel used as a prison, often to hold convicts awaiting transportation to penal colonies; particularly common in the British Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries.
private ship
In British usage, a commissioned warship in active service that is not being used as the flagship of a flag officer. The term does not imply in any way that the ship is privately owned.

Also private man of war.

A privately owned ship authorised by a national power (by means of a letter of marque) to conduct hostilities against an enemy.
A property captured at sea in virtue of the rights of war, as a vessel.
prize crew
Members of a warship's crew assigned to man a vessel taken as a prize.
1.  (fixed) A propeller mounted on a rigid shaft protruding from the hull of a vessel, usually driven by an inboard motor.
2.  (folding) A propeller with folding blades, furling to reduce drag on a sailing vessel when not in use.
propeller walk

Also prop walk.

The tendency for a propeller to push the stern sideways. In theory, a right-hand propeller in reverse will walk the stern to port.
1.  The forwardmost part of a vessel′s bow above her waterline.
2.  An alternative term for the bow of a vessel, sometimes used poetically.
Fibres of old rope packed between spars or used as a fender.[20]
(of an oar, as used at sea) using an oar for propulsion of a boat where each person (of several) uses one oar. This contrasts with rowing (at sea), where each person uses two oars, one each side of the boat. See row for a full explanation of the complexities of the strict definitions.[21]: 135 
pump boat
An outrigger canoe powered by a small gasoline engine or diesel engine, used in the Philippines and by Sama-Bajau migrants and refugees in Sabah and eastern Indonesia.
A flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow designed for use in small rivers or other shallow water and typically propelled by pushing against the riverbed with a pole. In this way it differs from a gondola, which is propelled by an oar.
Boating in a punt.
A mechanical method of increasing force, such as a tackle or lever.[2]
The person who buys, stores, and sells all stores on board ships, including victuals, rum, and tobacco. Originally a private merchant, latterly a warrant officer.

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)


Designation for the aft part of the ship between 120° and 180° to starboard, or 180° and 240° to port.
The aftermost deck of a warship. During the Age of Sail, the quarterdeck was the preserve of the ship's officers.
quartering sea
Seas approaching a vessel from between 105° and 165° to port or starboard. Aft of a beam sea and abeam of a following sea.[12]
1.  In merchant marine usage, the seaman responsible for steering a ship. In naval usage, additional duties in running the ship's routine are included.[22]
2.  US Navy enlisted rating (QM) who, in addition to the above duties, assists with the navigation of the ship.[23][22]
Queen's Regulations

Also King's Regulations.

The standing orders governing the British Royal Navy issued in the name of the current Monarch.
1.  A stone or concrete structure on navigable water used for loading and unloading vessels, generally synonymous with a wharf, although the solid foundations of a quay contrast with the closely spaced piles of a wharf. When "quay" and "wharf" are used as synonyms, the term "quay" is more common in everyday speech in the United Kingdom, many Commonwealth countries, and the Republic of Ireland, while "wharf" is more commonly used in the United States.
2.  To land or tie up at a quay.
1.  An area alongside a quay.
2.  Being alongside a quay, e.g. "The ship is moored quayside."

Also lining.

The ceiling inside the hull above the turn of the bilge, usually being of lighter dimensions than the ceiling lower down (spirketting).[3]
A wedge used to assist in the aiming of a cannon

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)



Also rebate.

A groove cut in wood to form part of a joint.
An electronic system designed to transmit radio signals and receive reflected images of those signals from a "target" in order to determine the bearing and distance to the target. The term is an acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging.
radar reflector
A special fixture fitted to a vessel or incorporated into the design of certain aids to navigation to enhance their ability to reflect radar energy. In general, these fixtures materially improve the visibility for use by vessels with radar.
A flat structure used for support or transportation over water, lacking a hull and kept afloat by buoyant materials or structures such as wood, balsa, barrels, drums, inflated air chambers such as pontoons, or extruded polystyrene blocks.
raft ship
Another name for a disposable ship.
rail meat
A term used to describe the members of a sailboat crew that are using their body weight to control the angle of heel of the boat.
To incline from the perpendicular; something so inclined is said to be raked or raking (e.g. a stem, stern, mast, funnel, etc.).
1.  A weapon consisting of an underwater prolongation of the bow of a vessel to form an armored beak, intended to be driven into the hull of an enemy vessel in order to puncture the hull and disable or sink that vessel.
2.  An armored warship of the second half of the 19th century designed to use such a weapon as her primary means of attack.
3.  To intentionally collide with another vessel with the intention of damaging or sinking her.
4.  To accidentally collide bow-first with another vessel.
1.  To lay out a rope or chain on deck in a zig-zag or (for rope) a figure‐eight pattern (as opposed to in a coil) so that it can run freely. The zig-zag pattern may be described as flakes.[10][22]
2.  The difference between the heights of the high and low tides – a figure that will vary from place to place and day to day.[22]
3.  The distance from an observer to a target, such as in gunnery.[22]
range clock
A clockwork device used aboard a warship to continuously calculate the distance or range to an enemy ship.
range lights
See leading lights.

Also rate or bluejacket.

1.  In British usage, a junior enlisted member of a country's navy; i.e., any member of the navy who is not an officer or warrant officer.
2.  In contemporary U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard usage, rating is the occupational specialty of an enlisted member of the service, rate denotes enlisted pay grade, and rank generally applies to commissioned officer pay grades.
3.  A classification system of Royal Navy sailing warships.

Also rattlins or ratlins.

The rungs fastened between the shrouds permanently rigged from bulwarks and tops to the mast to form rope ladders enabling access to the topmasts and yards.[2]
1.  A sailing ship that has been cut down to reduce the number of decks.
2.  To cut down a sailing ship to reduce the number of decks.
1.  A section of a stream or river along which similar hydrologic conditions exist, such as discharge, depth, area, and slope.[24]
2.  In sailing usage, a straight section of water that can be traversed in a single reaching maneuver, without tacking.
Sailing across the wind; i.e. bearing anywhere between about 60° and 160° relative to the direction from which the wind is blowing. Reaching can be further subdivided into "close reaching" (about 60° to 80°), "beam reaching" (about 90°), and "broad reaching" (about 120° to 160°). Compare beating and running.
reaching sail
A sail specifically designed for tighter reaching legs. Reaching sails are often used in racing with a true wind angle of 35 to 95 degrees. They are generally used before the wind angle moves aft enough to permit spinnakers to be flown.
ready about
A call to indicate imminent tacking. See also going about.[2]
Receiver of Wreck
A government official whose duty is to give owners of shipwrecks the opportunity to retrieve their property and ensure that law-abiding finders of wrecks receive an appropriate reward.
receiving hulk

Also receiving ship.

A hulk used in harbor to house newly recruited sailors before they are assigned to a crew.
Red Duster
A traditional nickname for the Red Ensign, the civil ensign flown by civilian vessels of the United Kingdom.
Red Ensign

Also Red Duster.

A British flag flown as an ensign by certain British ships. Since 1854, it has been flown by British merchant ships (except for those authorized to fly the Blue Ensign) as the United Kingdom′s civil ensign. Prior to 1864, ships of the Royal Navy′s Red Squadron also flew it, but its naval use ended with the reorganisation of the Royal Navy in 1864.
Red Right Return
A phrase used as a mnemonic to remember that the navigational standard for a vessel entering ("returning to") a port in the Americas (excluding Greenland), Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines is for her to steer so that red-marked navigational aids lie to starboard (to the "right") of an observer facing forward on the vessel, while green-marked aids must lie to port (i.e. to the "left"). This contrasts with the rest of the world, where the standard is the opposite, i.e. green markers must lie to starboard and red ones to port.
A passage of two vessels moving in the opposite direction on their port sides, so called because the red navigation light on one of the vessels faces the red light on the other vessel.
reduced cat

Also boys' pussy.

A light version of the cat o'nine tails for use on young sailors.
1.  (noun) Rock or coral that is either partially submerged or fully submerged but shallow enough that a vessel with a sufficient draft may touch or run aground.
2.  (verb) To temporarily reduce the area of a sail exposed to the wind, usually to guard against adverse effects of strong wind or to slow the vessel.[2]
Lengths of rope attached to a sail and used to tie up the part of a sail that is taken out of use when reefed. In older systems, such as square or gaff rigs, the reef points take some of the load on the sail and distribute it to the boltrope; with slab reefing, the reef-points just keep the sail fabric controlled in a tidy manner. Reef points may either be sewn to each side of the sail or passed through eyelets.[19][10][25]
Long pieces of rough canvas sewn across the sails to give them additional strength.
Ropes employed in the operation of reefing.[26]
reefer ship

Also simply reefer.

1.  A refrigerated cargo ship used to carry perishable goods that require refrigeration.
2.  A shipboard refrigerator.
To thread a line through blocks in order to gain a mechanical advantage, such as in a block and tackle.[26]
A series of boat races, usually of sailboats or rowboats but occasionally of powered boats.
regular ship
A term used by the British East India Company from the 17th to the 19th centuries for merchant ships that made "regular voyages" for the company between England (later the United Kingdom) and ports east of the Cape of Good Hope, a trade over which the company held a strict monopoly. The company chartered most of its ships; "regular ships" were those under long-term charter, and the company kept their operations under tight control. A set of "regular ships" set off for Asian ports during each sailing season (September through April), and returned up to two years later. The status and role of "regular ships" differed from that of ships the company referred to as chartered ships, country ships, extra ships, and licensed ships.[7]
relative bearing
A bearing relative to the direction in which the vessel is pointing or traveling; the angle between the vessel's forward direction and an object, as measured clockwise from the bow. See also absolute bearing.
repair ship
A naval auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to other ships.
replenishment oiler
A naval auxiliary ship which provides fuel and dry stores to other ships.
research vessel
A ship designed and equipped to carry out research at sea, especially hydrographic surveys, oceanographic research, fisheries research, naval research, polar research, and oil exploration.
reserve fleet
A collection of naval vessels fully equipped for service but partially or fully decommissioned because they are not currently needed. In the modern United States, a reserve fleet is sometimes informally called a ghost fleet. During the Age of Sail and well into the 19th century, ships in a reserve fleet were said to be in ordinary.
rib tickler
A bargeman's name for the tiller.[2]
riding light
A light hung from the forestay when at anchor.[2]
The system of masts and lines on ships and other sailing vessels.[26]
rigging chocks
Thick blocks of wood fixed outside the rails to take the chain plates for the shrouds.[2]
rigging screw
A bottle screw used to keep wires taut.[2]
righting couple
The force that tends to restore a ship to equilibrium once a heel has altered the relationship between her center of buoyancy and her center of gravity.
The rim or "eyebrow" above a porthole or scuttle.
rip rap
A man-made pile of rocks and rubble used as a base to support an aid to navigation, often an offshore lighthouse.
See roll-on/roll-off ship.
See roadstead.

Also roads.

A sheltered area outside a harbour where a ship can lie safe at anchor.
Roaring Forties
An area of persistent strong westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere, generally between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees south. During the Age of Sail, ships took advantage of the Roaring Forties to speed their trips, and yacht sailors still do today.

Also anchor rode.

The anchor line, rope, or cable connecting the anchor chain to the vessel.
rogue wave
Any unusually large wave for a given sea state; formally, a wave whose height is more than twice the significant wave height of that sea state (i.e. the mean of the largest third of waves in a wave record).
1.  The side-to-side motion of a vessel as it rotates about the fore-aft (longitudinal) axis. Listing is a lasting, stable tilt, or heel, along this longitudinal axis.
2.  Another name for the longitudinal axis itself (e.g. the "roll axis").
roll-on/roll-off ship

Also RORO or ro-ro.

A vessel designed to carry wheeled cargo that can drive on and off the ship on its own wheels.
A number of pulleys, engaged to confine the yard to the weather side of a mast; this tackle is much used in a rough sea.[27]
rolling vang
A second set of sprit-head vangs played out forward to rail near the bows, used to give additional control and support when needed in a seaway.[2]
In a convoy, a ship that breaks ranks and "romps" ahead out of formation with the other ships.
ropes, the
1.  All cordage; the lines in the rigging.
2.  Any cordage of over 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.[27]
rope's end
A summary punishment device used as a flog.
rope yarn
1.  A period, traditionally on Wednesday afternoons, when a tailor boarded a sailing warship while the vessel was in port; the crew was excused from most duties and had light duty mending uniforms and hammocks and darning socks. When the ship was at sea, the crew similarly was excused from most duties on Wednesday afternoons to engage in mending chores. Wednesday afternoons, like Sundays, thus were a more social time when crewmen rested from normal duties, similar to a Sunday, and, because the crew used rope yarn for mending, Wednesday afternoon became known as rope yarn Sunday.
2.  After uniforms began to require less care, and through the mid-20th century, a period on Wednesday afternoons when naval crew members were excused from their regular duties to run personal errands.
3.  Since the mid-20th century, any period of free time when a naval crew is given early liberty or otherwise excused from its normally scheduled duties.
4.  One of the threads in a rope.[27]
round to
To turn the bow of a vessel into the wind.
Past tense of reeve.[26]
1.  (in general speech) to propel a boat with oars
2.  (more precisely, as used at sea) to propel a boat with oars, where each rower handles two oars, one on each side of the boat. This contrasts with the inland waters definition. When, at sea, a person is working just one oar, this is termed pulling[21]: 135 
2.  (more precisely, as used at in inland waters) to propel a boat with oars, where each rower uses just one oar. On inland waters, one person using two oars, one on each side of the boat, is termed sculling[21]: 135 
1.  The cutout in the washstrake of a boat into which an oar is placed, so providing a fulcrum when the oar is in use.[28]
2.  A common term for an oar crutch, the u-shaped metal fitting, with a pin underneath that fits in a socket in the gunwale of a boat to provide the fulcrum for an oar.[10] See also thole pin.
1.  On large sailing ships, a mast right above the topgallant mast.
2.  The sail of such a mast.
rubbing strake
An extra plank fitted to the outside of the hull, usually at deck level, to protect the topsides.
A steering device that is placed aft and pivoted about a (usually vertical) axis to generate a yawing moment from the hydrodynamic forces that act on the rudder blade when it is angled to the flow of water over it. There are several types of rudder, which generally divide into outboard or inboard. An outboard rudder is hung (hinged) on the stern of the vessel. An inboard rudder has a stock which passes through a gland in the hull, with the structure of the hull continuing towards the stern above the rudder. A spade rudder is hinged solely on the stock and has no lower bearing to help take the loads. Other rudder types may be hinged on an extension of the keel or on a skeg. Rudders may be balanced, by having some of the blade extend in front of the stock. On simple watercraft, the rudder may be controlled by a tiller—essentially, a stick or pole attached to the top of the rudder to allow it to be turned by a helmsman. In larger vessels, the rudder is often linked to a steering wheel via cables, pushrods, or hydraulics.
Model of a sternpost-mounted pintle-and-gudgeon rudder
rudder stop
A fitting that limits the swing of the rudder.
The structural part of a rudder that transmits the torque created by the tiller or steering gear to the rudder blade. It may consist of a steel tube which passes through bearings in the hull above the rudder, or with a stern-hung rudder, is the structure carrying all or some of the pintles or gudgeons on which the rudder pivots.
A serrated iron ring attached to the barrel of the anchor winch and to which the pawl is applied to prevent backruns of the anchor chain.[2]
See go-fast boat.

Also romage.

1.  A place or room for the stowage of cargo in a vessel.
2.  The act of stowing cargo aboard a vessel.
3.  To arrange (cargo, goods, etc.) in the hold of a vessel; to move or rearrange such goods; the pulling and moving about of packages incident to close stowage aboard a vessel.
4.  To search a vessel for smuggled goods, e.g. "The customs officers rummaged the ship."
rummage sale
A sale of damaged cargo (from French arrimage).
1.  The stern of the underwater body of a ship from where it begins to curve upward and inward.
2.  A voyage, particularly a brief or routine one.
running before the wind

Also simply running.

Sailing more than about 160° away from the direction from which the wind is blowing (i.e. moving in the same or nearly the same direction as the wind). If moving directly away from the wind, it is called a dead run. Compare reaching and beating.
running backstays
A backstay that can be released and moved out of the way so that it does not interfere with sails or spars on the leeward side. On tacking, the new windward running backstay must be set up promptly to support the mast.[2]
running gear
1.  The propellers, shafts, struts, and related parts of a motorboat.
2.  The running rigging of a sailing vessel.
running rigging

Also running gear.

Rigging used to manipulate sails, spars, etc. in order to control the movement of a sailing vessel. Contrast standing rigging.[29]

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)


safe harbour
A harbour that provides safety from bad weather or attack.
safe haven
A safe harbour, including natural harbours, which provide safety from bad weather or attack.
safety briefing
See muster drill.
saddle chock
A transverse beam placed over the transom with fairleads for mooring warps.[2]
A condition in which the hull of a vessel deflects downward so the ends of the keel are higher than the middle. The opposite of hogging. Sagging can occur when the trough of a wave is amidships or during loading or unloading of a vessel and can damage her or even break her in half.
1.  A piece of fabric attached to a vessel and arranged such that it causes the wind to drive the vessel along. Sails are typically attached to the vessel via a combination of mast, spars, and ropes.
2.  The power harnessed by a sail or sails to propel a vessel.
3.  To use sail power to propel a vessel.
4.  A trip in a boat or ship, especially a sailboat or sailing ship.
5.  In American usage, a sail is a tower-like structure on the dorsal (topside) surface of submarines constructed since the mid-20th century—similar in appearance to a fabric sail or fin, and originally containing instruments and controls for the periscopes to direct the submarine and launch torpedo attacks. Modern sails or fins do not perform these functions.
sail loft
A large open space used by sailmakers to spread out sails.
A set of drawings showing various sail combinations recommended for use in various situations.
sailing skiff
See skiff.
A craftsman who makes and repairs sails, working either on shore in a sail loft or aboard a large, oceangoing sailing ship.
London term for a sailing barge, or a bargeman.[2]
sally ship
A method of freeing a vessel grounded on mud, in which the crew forms a line and runs back and forth athwartships to cause her to rock back and forth, breaking the mud's suction and freeing her with little or no damage to the hull. When this is required, the crew is given the order "Sally ship!"
A social lounge on a passenger ship.
Great Lakes term for a vessel that sails the oceans.
salty dog
Slang for a sailor, especially for a seaman in the navy.
salvage tug

Sometimes called a wrecking tug.

A specialized tugboat used to assist ships in distress or in danger of sinking, or to salvage ships which have already sunk or run aground.
A person engaged in the salvage of a ship or items lost at sea.
A relatively flat-bottomed Chinese wooden boat from 3.5 to 4.5 metres (11 to 15 ft) long, generally used in coastal areas or rivers and as traditional fishing boats. Some have a small shelter, and they may be used as a permanent habitation on inland waters. It is unusual for sampans to sail far from land as they are not designed to survive rough weather.
sampson post
A strong vertical post used to fasten the anchor cable or mooring warps, for towing another vessel, or to support a ship's windlass, the heel of a ship's bowsprit, the base of a cargo derrick or any other heavy load. In a smaller vessel, is usually fastened to the keel at its lower end.[19][10]
A barge that collects sand from the bottom of lakes.
S.B. (or SB)
Prefix for "Sailing Barge", used before a ship's name.
To reduce the area and efficiency of a sail by expedient means (slacking the peak and tricing up the tack) without properly reefing, thus slowing boat speed. Also used in the past as a sign of mourning.
Dimensions of a ship's structural members, e.g. frame, beam, girder, etc.
A type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts. First used by the Dutch in the 16th or 17th century. A topsail schooner has a square topsail (and may also have a topgallant) on the foremast.
schooner barge
A type of barge either converted from a schooner or purpose-built as a barge with a schooner rig, primarily in use from the 1860s to the 1940s, initially on the Great Lakes and later in salt-water environments as well. A schooner barge required a smaller crew than a schooner and needed to be towed, but under favorable conditions could hoist sails to reduce fuel consumption by the vessel towing her.[30][31]
Another name for a Dutch barge.
The length of cable extended when a ship rides at anchor.
1.  A method of preparing an anchor for tripping by attaching an anchor cable to the crown and fixing to the ring by a light seizing (also known as becue). The seizing can be broken if the anchor becomes fouled.
2.  A type of clinker dinghy, characteristically beamy and slow.
3.  An inland racing boat with no keel, a large sail plan, and a planing hull.
scow schooner
A vessel with a scow-like (def. 2) hull and a schooner rig. Scow schooners appeared on the Great Lakes during the 1820s and served there into the 20th century, and also were common on San Francisco Bay and in New Zealand.[32]
scow sloop
A vessel with a scow-like (def. 2) hull and a sloop rig. Scow sloops were common in North America by 1725.[32]
Screaming Sixties

Also called the Shrieking Sixties.

Strong westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere, south of 60 degrees. They are stronger than the similar "Roaring Forties" to their north.
A specialty sail which can be used as an upwind genoa sail, reaching sail, or downwind sail. The name comes from combining "spinnaker" and "reaching".
1.  A propeller.
2.  Propeller-driven (e.g. a screw frigate or screw sloop).
A name given by sailors to the lowest clouds, which are mostly observed in squally weather.
A term applied to a vessel when carried furiously along by a tempest.
1.  (verb) In sport or recreational rowing, especially on inland water, to propel a boat by oars, where each of one or several persons uses two oars, one on each side of the boat. This contrasts with the maritime traditional working boat or naval usage, where this activity is called rowing[21]: 135 
2.  (verb) To propel a boat with a single oar resting in a notch at the stern, using a figure of eight motion of the blade of the oar, which is continuously immersed in the water
3.  (noun) An oar used for sculling
4.  (noun) A boat propelled by sculling, generally for recreation or racing
Originally a series of pipes fitted through a ship's side from inside the thicker deck waterway to the topside planking in order to drain water overboard, with larger quantities drained through freeing ports, which were openings in the bulwarks.
1.  A small opening, or lid thereof, in a ship's deck or hull.
2.  To sink a vessel deliberately.
1.  A barrel with a hole in it, used to hold water that sailors would drink from. By extension (in modern naval usage), a shipboard drinking fountain or water cooler.
2.  Slang for gossip.
Making a hole in the hull of a vessel or opening seacocks, especially in order to sink a vessel deliberately.
sea anchor
A stabilizer deployed in the water for heaving to in heavy weather. It acts as a brake and keeps the hull in line with the wind and perpendicular to the waves. Often in the form of a large bag made of heavy canvas. See also drogue.
sea chest
A watertight box built against the hull of the ship communicating with the sea through a grillage, to which valves and piping are attached to allow water in for ballast, engine cooling, and firefighting purposes. Also, a wooden box used to store a sailor's effects.
sea shanty/chanty/chantey
Work song to accompany rhythmical labor.
sea state
The general condition of the free surface on a large body of water with respect to wind waves and swell at a certain location and moment, characterized by statistics, including the wave height, period, and power spectrum. The sea state varies with time, as the wind conditions or swell conditions change.
sea trial
The testing phase of a boat, ship, or submarine, usually the final step in her construction, conducted to measure a vessel's performance and general seaworthiness before her owners take delivery of her.
1.  A ship's boat kept ready for immediate use at sea, and used, for example, for retrieving a man overboard, or taking a boarding party to another vessel. Usually rigged with patent disengaging gear that allows both falls to be released simultaneously and quickly, so enabling the boat to be launched from a ship with way on.[33]
2.  A term used for any vessel when assessing her physical behavior at sea. A vessel that performs well in challenging weather or sea conditions such as heavy seas is a good seaboat, while one which does not is a bad seaboat.
High waterproof boots for use at sea. In leisure sailing, known as sailing wellies.
A valve in the hull of a vessel used to allow seawater into or out of the vessel. Seacocks are used to admit seawater for purposes such as cooling an engine, feeding a saltwater faucet, or scuttling a vessel, or to drain a sink or toilet into the sea. On warships, seacocks may be used to flood ammunition magazines with seawater to prevent them from exploding during a fire.
The ability of a watercraft to remain seaworthy in the conditions she encounters while underway. A vessel with a good seakeeping ability is very seaworthy even in rough weather.
(of a boat or ship) Having a comfortable motion in rough seas[34]
A vessel designed for or engaged in seal hunting.
1.  The hunting of seals.
2.  The caulked floor of the hold. Also ceiling.[2]
A generic term for a sailor, or (part of) a low naval rank.
A large geologic landform rising from the ocean floor that does not reach the surface; an underwater mountain.
Certified for and capable of safely sailing at sea.
second mate

Also called a second officer.

A licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship, third – or, on some ocean liners, fourth – in command; a watchkeeping officer, customarily the ship's navigator. Other duties vary, but the second mate is often the medical officer and in charge of maintaining distress-signaling equipment. On oil tankers, the second mate usually assists the chief mate with tank-cleaning operations.
see you on the one - CUOTO
Used principally by Pilot's and River Tug and Barge deck and Officer crew as (a) a friendly farewell (similar to the phrase "catch you later") or (b) more properly used in vessel to vessel VHF (or when needed ship's whistle) communication, along with its companion phrase "see you on the two" to indicate which side a head-to-head vessel crossing is going to occur. The correct response to the challenge is to repeat it back to the apposing vessel in agreement, and if not in agreement to ask for an alternative arrangement. The "on the one" indicates a single whistle sound signal, or port to port crossing, whilst "on the two" is a dual (two) whistle sound signal, or starboard to starboard crossing. In the USA, a "one whistle" or port to port crossing is the normal and preferred crossing side.
London term for sailing barges that sought cargo, carrying cargo for other merchants at a fee, rather than for the owner.[2]
A fishing vessel rigged to fish by seining.
To bind two ropes together with small line.[35]
A merchant ship that can unload herself with no assistance from harbor facilities is self-sustaining, while a ship that needs harbor facilities to unload is non-self-sustaining. Self-sustaining ships are more expensive to build, maintain, and operate than non-self-sustaining ships, but have the advantage of being able to operate in less-developed ports that lack infrastructure.
Great Lakes slang term for a vessel with a conveyor or some other method of unloading the cargo without shoreside equipment.
Cord formed by plaiting rope-yarn by hand. There are many types of plait, which may be flat, round, or square in section, and many uses.[36][22]
sennet whip
A summary punitive implement.
Cover a rope or splice by wrapping with thin line to protect it.[2] Compare with whipping
The direction toward which the current flows.
(of a ship or boat): sink lower in the water, often prior to sinking altogether.
A navigational instrument used to measure a ship's latitude.
U-shaped iron, with a screw pin at the open end used for securing stays to sails, allowing easy removal.[2]
1.  A propeller shaft. The term shaft can be used instead of "propeller" to describe the number of propellers a ship has, e.g., The ship has two shafts or The ship's engines drive three shafts.
2.  To push or propel (a boat) with a pole.[37]
shaft alley
The section of a ship that houses the propulsion shaft, running from the engine room to the stuffing box.
shaft log
A shaped piece of timber or metal fitted to a vessel's deadwood, keel, or keelson at the point where the stern tube passes through the hull.[38]
shakedown cruise

Also simply called a shakedown.

A cruise performed before a ship enters service or after major changes such as a crew change, repair, or overhaul during which the performance of the ship and her crew are tested under working conditions.
Pieces of barrels or casks broken down to save space. They are worth very little, leading to the phrase "no great shakes".
1.  A term used for a variety of boats and small ships used for coastal navigation beginning in the 17th century.
2.  A large boat armed with cannon used by the Danes as gunboats during the Gunboat War (1807–1814).
The condition of a crewman involuntarily impressed into service on a ship.
(traditionally pronounced "shiv")
The wheel in a block, which rotates as the rope runs.[2]
A hole or slot in a spar, fitted with a sheave to allow a rope to run.[35]
The upward curve of a vessel's longitudinal lines as viewed from the side.[2]
sheer line
The intersection of the external hull surface and the main deck surface, shown by a line on the sheer plan.
sheer plan
In shipbuilding, a diagram showing an elevation of the ship's sheer viewed from the broadside.
A rope attached to the clew and used to control the setting of a sail in relation to the direction of the wind. The sheet is often passed through a tackle before being attach to fixed points on the deck, or in the case of a barge, to a traveller on the main horse.[2]
sheet anchor
Historically, the heaviest anchor aboard a sailing ship, to be used only in case of emergency, and located amidships. In more general usage, the term has come to mean a person or thing that is very reliable in times of emergency.[39] For example, during the first inauguration of Thomas Jefferson, he advocated, "the preservation of the General [Federal] Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad."[40]
sheet bend
A bend to attach a rope to a small eye or clew, e.g. to attach a hammock to a clew or a painter to the Jacobs Ladder.[41]

Also called a fine boat in the United Kingdom.

An extremely narrow, and often disproportionately long, rowing boat outfitted with long oars, outriggers to hold the oarlocks away from the boat, and sliding seats, specifically designed for racing or exercise.
shelter deck
An upper deck having no overhead protection from the weather itself, but sheltering the deck below it.
shift colors
1.  Changing the flag and pennant display when a moored vessel becomes underway, and vice versa. A highly coordinated display that ships take pride in; the desired effect is that of one set of flags vanishing while another set flashes out at precisely the same time.
2.  Slang for changing out of one's Navy uniform into civilian clothes to go ashore. (The US Navy's newsletter for retired personnel is nicknamed Shift Colors for this reason.)[42]
shift tides
Sighting the positions of the Sun and Moon using a sextant, using a nautical almanac to determine the location and phase of the Moon, and calculating the relative effect of the tides on the navigation of the ship.[43][44]
1.  (n.) Strictly, a sailing vessel of three-masts or more and square-rigged on all masts.[45][46]
2.  (n.) More generally, any medium or larger seagoing vessel. Smaller vessels or those used in sheltered waters are generally called boats. Exceptions include submarines which are always referred to as boats.[46]
3.  (v.) To send (an item or cargo) via waterborne transport, or in the derived meaning, by any means of transport (such as rail).[47]
4.  (v.) To bring something aboard a vessel.[47]
5.  (v.) To put something in its place aboard a vessel, ready for use.[47]
6.  (v.) To take employment to serve aboard a vessel.
7.  (v.) To embark or travel on a vessel.
8.  (v.) To take water over the bow or sides of a vessel, e.g., "The freighter shipped a great deal of water during the storm."
ship a sea
(Of a ship or boat): be flooded by a wave.
ship breaking

Also called ship cracking, ship demolition, ship dismantling, or ship recycling.

The demolition of ships for spare parts and scrap metal. A ship on her way to be scrapped is said to be going to the breakers.
ship cemetery
Another name for a ship graveyard.
A type of sailing warship constructed from the 1600s through the mid-1800s to serve as part of the line of battle; one of the largest and most powerful warships of the era.
ship graveyard

Also called a ship cemetery.

1.  A location where the hulls of discarded ships are left to decay and disintegrate.
2.  An area where shipwrecks accumulate due to hazardous navigation conditions, deliberate scuttling, or losses in combat.
3.  An anchorage for ships of a reserve fleet.
ship over
To reenlist. When a sailor extends his or her service another term.
A three-masted polacca.
ship rig
See full-rigged ship.
ship sloop
A type of sloop-of-war introduced in the 1740s that had three square-rigged masts (in contrast to the brig sloop introduced in the 1770s, which had two masts).
ship stores
The materials, supplies and equipment required for the navigation, maintenance, operation and upkeep of a ship.
Ship Taken Up From Trade
ship's bell
Striking the ship's bell is the traditional method of marking time and regulating the crew's watches. Each bell (from one to eight) represents a 30-minute period since the beginning of a four-hour watch. For example, in the classical system, "Three bells in the morning watch" represents 90 minutes since the beginning of the morning watch, or 5:30 AM. "Eight bells" indicates the end of a watch.
ship's biscuit
See hard tack.
ship's company
The crew of a ship.
ship's complement
The number of persons in a ship's crew, including officers.
ship's husband
A legal term for an agent based on land, who has authority to make repairs and attend to the management, equipment, and general management of a ship in the home port.[48][49]
ships husbandry
All aspects of maintenance, cleaning, and general upkeep of the hull, rigging, and equipment of a ship. It may also be used to refer to aspects of maintenance which are not specifically covered by the technical departments.[50][51]
Another name for a shipwreck.
1.  Passage or transport on a ship; maritime transport.
2.  The body of ships belonging to one country, port, or industry.
1.  The remains of a ship that has sunk.
2.  The remains of a ship that has run aground such that she is no longer seaworthy.
3.  An event in which a ship sinks or otherwise becomes a wreck.
To wreck a ship through a mishap.
A person marooned due to the loss of a ship he or she was aboard is said to be shipwrecked.
A person who designs, builds, and repairs ships, especially wooden ones.
A facility where ships or boats are built and repaired. Routinely used as a synonym for dockyard, although dockyard is sometimes associated more closely with a facility used for maintenance and basing activities, while shipyard sometimes is associated more closely with a facility used in construction.
Shallow water that is a hazard to navigation.
shoal draught
An especially shallow draught on a vessel, making the vessel capable of sailing in unusually shallow water.
shore leave
Free time given to officers and crew of a naval vessel when they are off duty and allowed to disembark and spend time on land. See also liberty.
short stay
The relative slackness of an anchor chain; "short stay" means the chain is somewhat slack, and neither vertical nor fully extended.
1.  To take in the slack of (a rope).
2.  To reduce (sail) by taking it in, e.g. "shorten sail".
shot across the bow
A shot fired close to and in front of a moving vessel to warn her to stop, often for boarding.
Shrieking Sixties
See screaming Sixties.
A fishing vessel rigged for shrimp fishing.
A rope or cable serving to support a mast from either side.
Standing rigging running from a mast to the sides of a ship to support the mast sideways. The shrouds work with the stays, which run forward and aft, to support the mast's weight.[2]
sick bay
A compartment reserved for medical purposes.
One of an even-numbered group of seamen posted in two rows on the quarterdeck when a visiting dignitary boards or leaves the ship, historically to help (or even hoist) him aboard.
1.  A side-mounted paddle wheel used for propulsion by a paddle steamer.
2.  Propelled by sidewheels (e.g. "sidewheel steamer").
A paddle steamer propelled by a pair of paddle wheels, one mounted on each side.
(of the arrangement of oars on a boat) having only one oarsman seated on each thwart, operating one oar on one side of the boat, with the oars alternating between port and starboard along the length of the boat. This contrasts with double-banked, where two oarsmen are seated on each thwart, each of whom operates one oar on their side of the boat. A third arrangement is to have one rower on each thwart working two oars, one on each side of the boat.[21]: 135 
single up
to reduce the number of mooring lines to a minimum immediately prior to getting under way. In a small vessel this would usually be a reduction to a mooring line at just the bow and the stern. In a larger vessel this may be a reducton to headrope, sternrope and two springs.[52]
A sound signal that uses electricity or compressed air to actuate either a disc or a cup-shaped rotor.
sister ship
A ship of the same class as, and therefore virtually identical in design and appearance to, another ship. Sister ships share an identical or nearly identical hull and superstructure layout, similar displacement, and roughly comparable features and equipment. Often, sister ships become more differentiated during their service lives as their equipment (and, in the case of military ships, their armament) are separately altered.
A type of small sailing vessel used for fishing, primarily during the 19th century and mostly in the Moray Firth region of Scotland.
A downward or sternward projection from the keel in front of the rudder. Protects the rudder from damage, and in bilge keelers may provide one "leg" of a tripod on which the boat stands when the tide is out.
skeleton crew
A minimal crew, usually employed during an emergency or when a vessel is inactive, generally consisting of the minimum number of personnel required to maintain or operate the vessel.
A small boat, traditionally a coastal or river craft, for leisure or fishing, with a single person or small crew. Sailing skiffs have developed into high-performance competitive classes.
A type of sailboat used as a traditional fishing boat on the Chesapeake Bay for oyster dredging. It arose around the end of the 19th century as the successor to the bugeye as the chief oystering boat on the bay.
The captain of a ship.
A square sail set above the royals, typically only carried by large barques and ships, such as the Primrose Hill (1885), Oweenee (1819), and Mushkosa (1819).[20][53]
A small triangular sail above the skysail. Used in light winds on a few ships.[citation needed]
slack tide
The period between rising tide and falling tide, or the period between falling tide and rising tide when there is no tidal-induced current.
Slamming occurs when wave or wind action cause part of the vessel to rise out of the water and then slam back down onto the surface of the sea.
slave ship
A large cargo ship specially converted for the transportation of slaves in the slave trade. Also known as a slaver or Guineaman, the latter term deriving from the Guinea coast of West Africa.
Another name for a slave ship.
The cabin hatch on a barge.[54]
1.  To pass a rope around something in preparation for attaching a hoisting or lowering tackle to it.
2.  A band of rope or iron for securing a yard to a mast; chiefly used in the plural, slings.
1.  To let go a rope at a precise moment, such as when releasing the last attachment to a buoy, when getting under way.[55]
2.  To slip an anchor: to let go the anchor cable, abandoning the anchor so as to get under way in an emergency, rather than spend time hauling in the cable to raise the anchor in the normal way. The released anchor cable is usually buoyed to aid recovery later.[55]
3.  The difference between the theoretical distance traveled per revolution of a vessel's propeller and the actual advance of the vessel.
4.  In marine engineering, the motion of the center of resistance of the float of a paddle wheel or the blade of an oar through the water horizontally.
5.  In marine engineering, the difference between a vessel's actual speed and the speed it would have if the propelling instrument acted upon a solid.
6.  In marine engineering, the velocity of the backward current of water produced by the propeller relative to still water.
7.  In marine insurance, a memorandum of the particulars of a risk for which a policy is to be executed, usually bearing the broker's name and initialled by the underwriters.
slip rope
A mooring rope that is intended to be the last to be released when getting under way and is arranged so that it can be released from on-board. An example of this would be a rope that is led from the ship (or boat), through a ring on a mooring buoy, and then back to the ship.[56]
A ramp on the shore by which ships or boats can be moved to and from the water. Slipways are used for building and repairing ships and boats. They are also used for launching and retrieving small boats on trailers towed by automobiles and flying boats on their undercarriage.
In modern usage (from circa 1850s), a single-masted fore and aft sailing rig with one headsail set on the forestay, and a mainsail abaft the mast. The sloop rig is very common in modern leisure sailing vessels. In older usage, a sloop may have more than one headsail, but with the jib (the outer headsail) also set on a stay. This differentiates from a cutter of the same era, where the jib would be set flying and a running bowsprit was used. Any bowsprit that might be fitted on a sloop was part of the standing rigging and remained in place at all times.[57]
1.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, a small sailing warship carrying 18 or fewer guns with a single continuous gundeck.
2.  In the 18th and 19th centuries, any sailing warship bearing fewer than 20 guns.
3.  In the 19th-century US Navy, the term used for the type of sailing warship known in other navies as a corvette.
4.  In the early and mid-20th century, a small oceangoing warship not intended for fleet deployments, and used instead for convoy escort, gunboat duties, etc.
slop chest
A ship's store of merchandise, such as clothing, tobacco, etc., maintained aboard merchant ships for sale to the crew.
Greasy substance obtained by boiling or scraping the fat from empty salted meat storage barrels, or the floating fat residue after boiling the crew's meal. In the Royal Navy, it was a perquisite of the ship's cook, who could sell it or exchange it (usually for alcohol) with other members of the crew. Used for greasing parts of the running rigging of the ship and therefore valuable to the master and bosun.
slush fund
The money obtained by the cook selling slush ashore. Used for the benefit of the crew (or the cook).
A traditional fishing boat used off the coast of England and the Atlantic coast of America for most of the 19th century and in small numbers up to the mid-20th century. Originally a cutter-rigged sailing boat, after about 1865 lengthened and given a ketch rig. Some had a topsail on the mizzen mast, others a bowsprit carrying a jib.
small bower
The smaller of two anchors carried in the bow.
smoking lamp
Restricted flame source lighted only during authorized smoking hours.[16]
1.  Snag, also deadhead: A tree or tree branch fixed in the bottom of a navigable body of water and partially submerged or rising nearly to the surface that can pierce and sink vessels. Snags were a particularly severe hazard in the 19th and early 20th centuries; to be snagged is to suffer damage from or to be sunk by such a hazard.
2.  An underwater obstruction on which equipment trailed from a vessel, such as fishing lines and nets, becomes caught, sometimes resulting in loss of the equipment.
A river boat resembling a barge with a superstructure for crew accommodations, equipped with deck-mounted cranes and hoists for removing snags and other obstructions from rivers and other shallow waterways.
snatch block
A block with one cheek that is hinged, so that the bight of a rope can be inserted in the block (as opposed to threading the end of the rope into an ordinary block).[58]
1.  Member of a ship's engineering department.
2.  Mythical object of a "snipe hunt" for inexperienced crewmembers.
A short rope, spliced together at the ends and covered with hide, that is seized to the mast to hold the lower end of a sprit.[59]
Royal Navy slang for a midshipman.[60]
A form of brig where the gaff spanker or driver is rigged on a "snow mast", a lighter spar supported in chocks close behind the mainmast.
To quickly stop a line that is running out - usually by taking or tightening a turn on a bollard, cleat or winch drum.[61]
snug loaded
When all the cargo on a barge is stowed below in the hold and there is nothing on deck. In contrast to carrying a stack.[54]
soft eye
An eye splice without a thimble fitted.
An abbreviation of "speed over ground", the speed of the vessel relative to the Earth (and as shown by a GPS). Referenced on many fishing forums.
1.  An acronym for "SOund Navigation And Ranging", a method of using sound pulses to detect, range, and sometimes image underwater targets and obstacles or the bed of the sea. See also echo sounding and ASDIC.
2.  The equipment used to conduct such searches, ranging, and imaging.
International distress signal.
1.  A storm originating from the southwest.
2.  A type of waterproof hat with a wide brim over the neck, worn in storms.
soul, souls
With a quantifier, can apply to the number of people on board ship; hence, SOS, “Save Our Souls”.[62]
Measuring the depth of the water. Traditionally done by "swinging the lead", now more commonly by echo sounding.
A fore-and-aft or gaff-rigged sail on the aftmost mast of a square-rigged vessel and the main fore-and-aft sail (spanker sail) on the aftmost mast of a (partially) fore-and-aft rigged vessel such as a schooner, barque, or barquentine.[36]
The aftmost mast of a fore-and-aft or gaff-rigged five-masted vessel such as a schooner or barquentine. A full-rigged ship has a spanker sail but not a spanker-mast (see jigger-mast).[35]
A wooden (in later years also iron or steel) pole used to support various pieces of rigging and sails. The big five-masted full-rigged tall ship Preussen (German spelling: Preußen) had crossed 30 steel yards, but only one wooden spar – the little gaff of its spanker sail.
spar torpedo
A weapon consisting of a bomb placed at the end of a long spar and attached to a boat.
speaking tube
See communication tube.
A trysail.[35]
spider band

Also spider hoop.

An iron band around the base of a mast that holds a set of iron belaying pins.[2]
Finely divided water swept from the crests of waves by strong winds. The presence of spindrift may be used to approximately estimate wind speed.
1.  A large sail flown in front of the vessel while heading downwind.[63]
2.  A headsail set windward when running before the wind. The bargeman's spinnaker is his topmast staysail, tacked to the mast, and sheeted round the weather crosstree.[2]
spinnaker pole
A spar used to help control a spinnaker or other headsail.
The thicker planks of the ceiling, found at the bottom of the hold and continuing up the inside of the hull to the start of the quickwork (or lining).[3]
To join lines (ropes, cables, etc.) by unravelling their ends and intertwining them to form a continuous line; to form an eye or a knot by splicing.[59]
splice the mainbrace
An order given aboard naval vessels to issue the crew with a drink, traditionally grog. The phrase "splice the mainbrace" is used idiomatically meaning to go ashore on liberty, intending to go out for an evening of drinking.
split lugsail
Two sails, foresail and mainsail on a lugsail yard, removing the need to dip the yard around the mast every time the vessel tacked.[64]
A projection from the side of a vessel for protection, stability, or the mounting of equipment such as armaments or lifeboats. A sponson that extends a hull dimension at or below the waterline serves to increase flotation or add lift when underway. In salvage of a damaged or disabled vessel, a sponson may be a flotation tank attached to provide stability or buoyancy.
Spoke (to) another ship, as in "Spoke a brig from Rio" in Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe.
The person, traditionally a woman, who christens a ship at its launching ceremony.
spotting top
A platform on a mast used to aid in gun laying.
A spar on a sailboat used to deflect the shrouds to allow them to better support the mast.[2]
A mooring warp that goes from the bow to a position on the quayside level with the stern (backspring) or led forward from the stern to a point level with the bow (forespring). A spring may be used in conjunction with the engine to swing the bow or stern away from a quayside to enable safe departure.[65]
Big tides caused by the alignment of the Moon and Sun.[54]
A spar that supports a spritsail. It is attached to the mast near the deck and extends diagonally up to the peak of the sail. It is steadied by vangs.[2]
1.  A fore-and-aft sail, where the peak is supported by a sprit. It may be free-footed or use a boom.
2.  A rig that uses a spritsail.[2]
3.  A square-sail flown beneath the bowsprit.[66]
A spritsail-rigged barge.[2]
spurling pipe
A pipe that connects to the chain locker, from which the anchor chain emerges onto the deck at the bow of a ship.
1.  In general, any significant group of warships considered too small to be a fleet, but otherwise not strictly defined by size. In some navies, the term flotilla may be used instead of or in addition to squadron.
2.  Such a group of warships assigned to and named after a particular ocean, sea, or geographical region, commanded by an admiral who may be the naval commander-in-chief in that theatre, e.g. the Asiatic Squadron, the North Atlantic Squadron, etc.; generally synonymous with similar naval formations known as stations.
3.  During the Age of Sail, a temporary subdivision of a fleet.
4.  A temporary detachment of ships from a fleet.
5.  Especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a permanent battle formation of a fleet, equipped and trained to operate as a tactical unit under the overall command of the fleet or when detached from the fleet.
6.  Especially in modern usage, an administrative naval command responsible for the manning, training, supply, and maintenance of a group of ships or submarines but not for directing their operations at sea.
To place at right angles with the mast or keel and parallel to the horizon, e.g. "to square the yards".
square meal
A sufficient quantity of food. Meals on board ship were served to the crew on a square wooden plate in harbor or at sea in good weather. Food in the Royal Navy was invariably better or at least in greater quantity than that available to the average landsman. However, while square wooden plates were indeed used on board ships, there is no established link between them and this particular term. The OED gives the earliest reference from the US in the mid-19th century.
square rig
A generic type of sail and rigging arrangement in which the primary driving sails are carried on yards that are perpendicular, or "square", to the keel of the vessel and to the masts. A ship mainly so rigged is said to be square-rigged.[35]
square rigger
A square-rigged ship.
squared away
Yards held rigidly perpendicular to their masts and parallel to the deck. This was rarely the best trim of the yards for efficiency but made a pretty sight for inspections and in harbor. The term is applied to situations and to people figuratively to mean that all difficulties have been resolved or that the person is performing well and is mentally and physically prepared.
squat effect
The phenomenon by which a vessel moving quickly through shallow water creates an area of lowered pressure under its keel that reduces the ship's buoyancy, particularly at the bow. The reduced buoyancy causes the ship to "squat" lower in the water than would ordinarily be expected, and thus its effective draught is increased.
A derogatory term for a US Navy sailor.
S.S. (or SS)
To the purist, a prefix for Screw Steamer (i.e. with screw propulsion, meaning propellers). It is used before the name of a ship. Compare with "PS", which stands for "Paddle Steamer". Widely used as an abbreviation for "Steam Ship".

Also funnel.

1.  Another name for a funnel.
2.  Deck cargo.[2]
stack marking
A logo or other type of livery on a ship′s stack indicating which private entity, such as a shipping line, or government agency owns or operates her. Generally, all the ships belonging to the fleet of a single company or agency will have the same stack marking.
A barge designed to take a large deck cargo, usually of hay or straw needed to feed working horses.[2]
A vertical post near the edge of a deck that supports life-lines; a timber fitted in between the frame heads on a wooden hull or a bracket on a steel vessel, approx one meter high, to support the bulwark plank or plating and the rail.
(of a ship or its captain) To steer, sail, or steam, usually used in conjunction with a specified direction or destination, e.g. "The ship stood out of the harbor" or "The ship stood toward the east" or "The ship stood toward the missing vessel's last known position".
stand-on (vessel)
A vessel directed to keep her course and speed where two vessels are approaching one another so as to involve a risk of collision.
standing part
The section of a rope at a cleat or a block that is under tension, as opposed to the loose end.[2]
standing rigging
Rigging that supports masts and spars and is not manipulated during normal operations. Contrast running rigging.[35]
A heavy wire cable attached to the mast at the hounds to support the weight of a spritsail at the heel.[2]
The right side of a ship or boat; towards the right-hand side of a vessel facing forward (toward the bow).[2] Denoted with a green light at night. Derived from the old steering oar or "steerboard", which preceded the invention of the rudder.
starboard tack
When sailing with the wind coming from the starboard side of the vessel. Vessels on starboard tack generally have right-of-way over vessels on port tack.
A rope used as a punitive device. See teazer and togey.
1.  A superior cabin for a vessel's officer.
2.  In American usage, a private passenger cabin on a transport or cruise ship.
1.  In chiefly 19th- and early 20th-century usage, a naval formation under a commander-in-chief who controls all naval operations, and sometimes all naval shore facilities, within a specified geographic area (e.g. the China Station, the East Indies Station, etc.); sometimes synonymous with squadron.
2.  In Newfoundland, a harbour or cove with a foreshore suitable for a facility to support nearby fishing.
3.  Naval station: a naval base (a naval air station is a base for naval aircraft).
4.  Coaling station: a facility that supplies ships with coal.
station ship
A ship assigned to a particular station, such as a port or a geographic area, usually to support naval vessels and operations. A station ship may patrol the local area, or provide personnel to other ships, or provide fuel or services such as repairs.
1.  A strong rope supporting a mast and leading from the head of one mast down to some other mast or other part of the vessel; any rigging running fore (forestay) and aft (backstay) from a mast to the hull. The stays support a mast's weight forward and aft, while the shrouds support its weight from side to side.[67]
2.  To incline forward, aft, or to one side by means of stays, e.g. to "stay a mast".
3.  To tack; put on the other tack, e.g. to "stay ship".
4.  To change; tack; go about; be in stays, as a ship.
5.  A station or fixed anchorage for vessels.
6.  In stays or hove in stays: in the act of going about while tacking.
7.  Miss stays: an unsuccessful attempt to tack.
A flexible wire cable rove through blocks, one on the stemhead and one on the end of the forestay. This is the means by which the mainmast is lowered.[2]
A sail whose luff is attached to a stay. If set on the most forward (or only) mast, a staysail is a headsail. Where more than one headsail is set, the staysail is generally the one closest to the mast.[10]: headsail 

Also steamboat or steamship.

A vessel equipped with steam propulsion.
1.  The effect of the helm on a vessel; the act of steering a vessel.
2.  A 19th- and early 20th-century term for the section of a passenger ship that provided inexpensive accommodation with no individual cabins.
The minimum speed at which a vessel answers the helm, below which she cannot be steered. Speed sufficient for the rudder to "bite".
steering flat
The compartment on a vessel that contains the steering gear.
steering oar

Also steering board.

A long, flat board or oar that went from the stern to well underwater, used to steer vessels before the invention of the rudder. Traditionally on the starboard side of a ship (the "steering board" side).
Another name for a helmsman.
1.  A spar or derrick with a block at one end, used for stowing cargo.
2.  To incline upwards at an angle (used especially of a bowsprit) rather than lie horizontally; to set at a particular upwards incline.[36]
1.  An extension of the keel at the forward end of a ship.
2.  On a barge, the foremost timber set vertically to the keel, forming the head of the stem; it carries the forestay and other rigging.[2]
The rear part of a ship, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter rail to the taffrail. Contrast bow.
stern chaser
See chase gun.
stern tube
1.  The tube under the hull bearing the tailshaft for propulsion (usually at the stern).
2.  A torpedo tube mounted in the stern of a submarine.
Another name for an aftercastle.
A propeller drive system similar to the lower part of an outboard motor extending below the hull of a larger power boat or yacht, but driven by an engine mounted within the hull. Unlike a fixed propeller (but like an outboard), the boat may be steered by twisting the drive. See also inboard motor.
A gillnetter that fishes by deploying a gillnet from the stern.
The upright structural member (or post) at the stern of a (usually wooden) ship or boat, to which are attached the transoms and the rearmost corner part of the stern. It rests on ("fays to") the ship's keel, and may be vertical or tilted ("raked") slightly aft.
1.  The area at the stern of an open boat.[19]
2.  The benches at the stern of an open boat that forms the or seating in the stern.[19]
An external walkway or gallery for the use of officers installed on the stern, chiefly of British warships until the early 20th century.
The reverse movement of a boat or watercraft through the water.
1.  A stern-mounted paddle wheel used for propulsion by a paddle steamer.
2.  Propelled by a sternwheel (e.g. a "sternwheel steamer").
A paddle steamer propelled by a sternwheel.
A member of a vessel's crew involved in commissary duties or in personal services to passengers or other crew members.
See stand.
The frame that supports a ship or boat when it is being built.
See fireman.
stopper knot
A knot tied in the end of a rope, usually to stop it passing through a hole; most commonly a figure-eight knot.
A short rope to check a cable in a fixed position. Anchor stoppers hold the anchor when catted, bitt stoppers and deck stoppers are used to retain the cable when at anchor, shroud stoppers contain a damaged shroud, and foretack and sheet stoppers secure the tacks until they are belayed.[68]

Also store ship or stores ship.

1.  During the Age of Sail and immediately afterwards, a captured ship used to stow supplies and other goods for naval purposes.
2.  Since the mid-20th century, a type of naval ship that provides supplies, such as frozen, chilled, and dry provisions, and propulsion and aviation fuel to warships at sea for an extended period. In some navies, synonymous with replenishment oiler, fleet replenisher, or fleet tanker.

Also stove in.

(past tense of stave, often applied as present tense) To smash inward; to force a hole or break in, as in a cask, door, ship's hull, or other (wooden) barrier.
To store or put away, e.g. personal effects, tackle, or cargo.
The amount of room for storing materials on board a ship.
A trespasser on a ship; a person aboard a ship without permission and/or without payment, who usually boards undetected, remains hidden aboard, and jumps ship just before making port or reaching a port's dock; sometimes found aboard and imprisoned in the brig until the ship makes port and the prisoner can be transferred to the custody of police or military.
In a convoy, a ship that is unable to maintain speed and falls behind.
A continuous line of planking on a wooden hull going from bow to stern. Successive strakes, one above the other, form the outer skin of a hull. In a steel hull the same term can be applied to a continuous line of steel plates all fastened at the same level.[69]
An inclined foot rest attached to the boat, to which a rower may place and in some instances (usually in competition) attach his feet.
1.  To haul down or lower (a flag, mast, etc.).
2.  To surrender the vessel to the enemy, from "strike the colors".
3.  To remove a naval vessel's name from a country's naval register (after which the vessel is considered stricken).
4.  An attack by a naval combat asset.
5.  To undergo training (as a "striker") to qualify for an enlisted rating.
strike the colors
To surrender the vessel to an enemy, from the custom during the Age of Sail of lowering the vessel's ensign to indicate that she is surrendering.
studding sails
(pronounced /ˈstʌnsəl/) Long and narrow sails, used in lighter winds, on the outside of the large square sails.[35]
British and Commonwealth acronym for Ship Taken Up From Trade, which refers to a civilian ship requisitioned for naval or other government service.
1.  A spritsail barge without a topmast. Normal form before 1850, the stumpies sprit was longer than those used in topsail barges, as the mainsail was cut with a higher peak.[2][70]
2.  A tops'l barge underway without her topsails set.[2]
An abbreviation of "speed through (the) water"; the speed of the vessel relative to the surrounding water (and as shown by a Log). Used in navigation.
1.  Generally, a watercraft capable of independent operations underwater, able to renew its own power and breathing air. A submarine differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capabilities. By naval tradition, any submarine is referred to informally as a "boat" regardless of its size.
2.  Most commonly, a large, crewed vessel capable of independent underwater operations.
3.  Historically and colloquially, a broad category of vessels capable of submerged operations, including large, crewed submarines but also medium-sized and smaller vessels such as midget submarines and wet subs and vessels technically considered submersibles because they require external support, such as remotely operated vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles.
submarine tender
A naval auxiliary ship designed to supply submarines and support their operations. Known in British English as a submarine depot ship.
A small watercraft capable of operating underwater but which requires the support of a surface vessel, a surface platform, a shore team, or a larger undersea vessel such as a submarine. A submersible contrasts with a submarine in that a submarine is capable of fully autonomous operations, including generation of its own power and breathing air. However, colloquially, the term "submarine" often indiscriminately refers to any vessel capable of underwater operations, including those that technically are submersibles.
A personal-sized, beach-launched sailing dinghy with a pontoon-type hull, daggerboard, and lateen sail mounted to an un-stayed mast.
A person aboard a vessel who is employed by the cargo owner. Duties include selling merchandise in ports, as well as buying and receiving goods for the return voyage.
Superfiring armament is a naval military building technique in which two (or more) turrets are located in a line, one behind the other, with the second turret located above ("super") the one in front so that the second turret can fire over the first.
The parts of a ship or boat, including a sailboat, fishing boat, passenger ship, or submarine, that project above her main deck. This does not usually include its masts or any armament turrets.
surface warfare officer/specialist
U.S. Navy qualification and insignia for surface warfare training.

Also surf boat.

An oar-driven boat designed to enter the ocean from a beach in heavy surf or large waves. Surfboats often play a lifesaving or rescue role when rescuers need to reach victims of a mishap directly from a beach.
1.  A vessel's transient motion in a fore and aft direction.
2.  To let a small amount of rope on a bollard or winch drum pay out – a controlled slackening of a rope under tension.[10]
survey vessel
Any type of ship or boat that is used for mapping a body of water's bottom, benthic zone, full water column, and surface for purposes of hydrography, general oceanography, marine salvage, dredging, marine archaeology, or the study of marine habitats.
An abbreviation of "Sailing Vessel", used before the ship's name.
The gap in the shell of a block through which a line passes over a sheave.[22]
A twisting channel navigable by shallow vessels at high water, generally found between sandbanks (e.g. in the Thames Estuary) or between a sandbank and the shore.
1.  A vessel's lateral motion from side to side.
2.  (v.) To hoist, e.g. "sway up my dunnage".[71]
1}.  A long oar used to row, steer or maneuver an unpowered lighter or sailing vessel when there is no wind.[22]
2.  (v.) To search for an underwater object using a towed submerged line or device which will snag on the target.[22]
To take up the last bit of slack on a line such as a halyard, anchor line, or dockline by taking a single turn round a cleat and alternately heaving on the rope above and below the cleat while keeping the tension on the tail.



Having a straight overhanging bow and stern.[22]

Also muffie.

A barge with a square overhanging bow, such as a swimhead lighter.[2]
A technique to finally tension a halyard, by pulling alternatively on the tail from the cleat and at right angles on the taut standing line.[2]
swinging the compass
Measuring the accuracy in a ship's magnetic compass so its readings can be adjusted, often accomplished by turning the ship and taking bearings on reference points. Essentially synonymous with swinging the ship (q.v.).
swinging the lamp
Telling sea stories. Refers to lamps slung from the deckhead that swing while at sea, and often used to describe a storyteller who is exaggerating.
swinging the lead
1.  Measuring the depth of water beneath a ship using a lead-weighted sounding line. Regarded as a relatively easy job.
2.  Feigning illness, etc., in order to avoid a difficult job.
swinging the ship
Turning the ship and steadying her on various headings while taking bearings on reference points to measure the accuracy of her magnetic compass. Essentially synonymous with swinging the compass (q.v.).

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)



Also mast case.

A large bracket attached firmly to the deck, to which the foot of the mast is fixed. It has two sides or cheeks and a bolt forming the pivot around which the mast is raised and lowered.[2]
1.  A leg of the route of a sailing vessel, particularly in relation to tacking and to starboard tack and port tack.
2.  Another name for hard tack.
3.  The front bottom corner of a sail.[2]
4.  A rope or purchase holding down the clew of a course.[72]
1.  A sailing manouevre by which a sailing vessel whose desired course is into the wind (i.e. in the opposite direction from which the wind is blowing) turns its bow toward and through the wind, such that the direction from which the wind fills the sails changes from one side of the boat to the other, thereby allowing progress in the desired direction. A series of tacking moves, effectively "zig-zagging" back and forth across the wind, is called beating, and allows the vessel to sail directly upwind, which would otherwise be impossible.[72]
2.  Another name for going about.
Overhead diagram of a tacking manouevre. The red arrow is the direction of the wind; note how the side of the sail that is filled by the wind changes as the vessel turns its bow.
tacking duels
In sailboat racing, on an upwind leg of the race course, the complex manoeuvres of lead and overtaking boats to vie for the aerodynamic advantage of clear air. This results from the ongoing strategy of the lead boat's effort to keep the following boat(s) in the blanket of disturbed bad air he is creating.
A pair of blocks through which is rove a rope to provide an advantageous purchase. Used for lifting heavy loads and to raise and trim sails.[2]
tactical diameter
The perpendicular distance between a ship's course when the helm is put hard over and her course when she has turned through 180 degrees; the ratio of the tactical diameter divided by the ship's length between perpendiculars gives a dimensionless parameter that can be used to compare the manoeuvrability of ships.
A rail at the stern of a boat that covers the head of the counter timbers.
The loose end of a rope that has been secured to a winch or a cleat.[2]
A kind of metallic shafting (a rod of metal) to hold the propeller and connected to the power engine. When the tailshaft is moved, the propeller may also be moved for propulsion.
taken aback
An inattentive helmsman might allow the dangerous situation to arise where the wind is blowing into the sails "backwards", causing a sudden (and possibly dangerous) shift in the position of the sails.
taking the wind out of his sails
To sail in a way that steals the wind from another ship. Compare overbear.
taking on water

Also taking water and taking in water.

Said of a vessel, to fill with water slowly, either because of a leak or because of waves washing across the deck. The term can be used to describe water entering the vessel by waves washing over her bow or stern, e.g., "The freighter took water over her bow," or "The motorboat took water over her stern." A vessel which continues to take on water eventually will sink.
tall ship
A large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessel.
The operation of hauling aft the sheets, or drawing them in the direction of the ship's stern.

Also tank ship or tankship.

A ship designed to transport liquids in bulk.
target ship
A vessel, typically an obsolete or captured warship, used for naval gunnery practice or for weapons testing. The term includes both ships intended to be sunk and ships intended to survive and see repeated use as targets.

Also tartan.

A small, lateen-rigged, single-masted sailing ship used in the Mediterranean for fishing and coastal trade from the 16th century to the late 19th century.
Task Force
Any temporary naval organisation composed of particular ships, aircraft, submarines, military land forces, or shore service units, assigned to fulfill certain missions. Seemingly drawn originally from Royal Navy heritage, the emphasis is placed on the individual commander of the unit, and references to "CTF" are common for "Commander Task Force".
tattle tale
Light cord attached to a mooring line at two points a few inches apart with a slack section in between (resembling an inchworm) to indicate when the line is stretching from the ship's rising with the tide. Obviously only used when moored to a fixed dock or pier and only on watches with a flood tide.

Also tell-tail.

A light piece of string, yarn, rope, or plastic (often magnetic audio tape) attached to a stay or a shroud to indicate the local wind direction. They may also be attached to the surface and/or the leech of a sail to indicate the state of the air flow over the surface of the sail. They are referenced when optimizing the trim of the sails to achieve the best boat speed in the prevailing wind conditions. See dogvane.

Also ship's tender.

1.  A type of naval auxiliary ship designed to provide advanced basing services in undeveloped harbors to seaplanes, flying boats, torpedo boats, destroyers, or submarines.
2.  A vessel used to provide transportation services for people and supplies to and from shore for a larger vessel.
3.  A vessel used to maintain navigational aids, such as buoys and lighthouses.
T.E.V. (or TEV)
A prefix for "turbo-electric vessel", used before a ship's name.
A structure or section of a steamboat that includes the pilothouse and the crew's quarters, located on the hurricane deck, in this case also called the texas deck.
texas deck

Also hurricane deck.

The deck of a steamboat on which its texas is located.
A round or heart-shaped grooved ring of iron inserted into an eye-splice.[36]
third mate

Also third officer.

A licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship, typically fourth, or on some ocean liners fifth, in command; a watchkeeping officer, customarily also the ship's safety officer, responsible for the ship's firefighting equipment, lifeboats, and other emergency systems. Other duties of the third mate vary depending on the type of ship, its crewing, and other factors.
third officer
See third mate.
thole pin
A vertical wooden peg or pin inserted through the gunwale to form a fulcrum for oars when rowing. Often used in pairs to create a gap in which the oar is placed, but used singly if the oar has a thickened section pierced with a hole which takes the thole pin. See also rowlock.
1.  The forward top corner of a square fore-and-aft sail.[2]
2.  The end of the gaff, next to the mast.[73]
three sheets to the wind
On a three-masted ship, having the sheets of the three lower courses loose will result in the ship meandering aimlessly downwind. Also used to describe a sailor who has drunk strong spirits beyond his capacity.
Alternative term for a hydroplane.

Pronounced /θwɔːrt/.

A bench seat across the width of an open boat.
Vessels moored alongside each other offshore.[74]
A lever used for steering, attached to the top of the rudder stock. Used mainly on smaller vessels, such as dinghies and rowing boats.
tilt boat
A square sail ferry operating out of Gravesend. Not less than 15 tons, carrying no more that 37 passengers, it had 5 oarsmen afore the mast.[75]
timber drogher
Another name for a disposable ship.
timber ship
Another name for a disposable ship.
A name given, on particular occasions, to the steersman of a ship. From the French timonnier.
tin can
United States Navy slang for a destroyer; often shortened to can.
A lightly armored steam-powered river gunboat used by the United States Navy during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Also called a light draft. A tinclad had thin iron armor, or in some cases thick wooden bulwarks rather than armor, sufficient to protect her machinery spaces and pilothouse against rifle fire but not against artillery fire. A tinclad contrasted with an ironclad, which had armor thick enough for protection against artillery fire.
A thin temporary patch.
A low strip running around the edge of the deck like a low bulwark. It may be shortened or have gaps in it to allow water to flow off the deck.
toe the line

Also toe the mark.

At parade, sailors and soldiers were required to stand in line, their toes in line with a seam of the deck.

Also tampion.

A block of wood inserted into the barrel of a gun on a 19th-century warship to keep out the sea spray; also used for covers for the ends of the barrels of the guns on more modern ships, the larger of which are often adorned with the ship's crest or other decoration.
1.  Any of various measures of the size or cargo-carrying capacity of a ship in terms of weight or volume.
2.  Builder's Old Measurement, also tons burden: a volumetric measurement of cubic capacity used to calculate the cargo capacity of a ship, used in England and later the United Kingdom, from approximately 1650 to 1849 and in the United States from 1789 to 1864. It estimated the tonnage of a vessel based on her length and maximum beam. The British formula yielded a slightly higher value than the U.S. formula.
3.  Deadweight tonnage: the total weight a vessel can carry, exclusive of the mass of the vessel itself.
4.  Displacement tonnage: the total weight of a vessel.
5.  Gross register tonnage: the total internal volume of a vessel, with one gross register ton equal to 100 cubic feet (2.8316846592 cubic meters).
6.  Gross tonnage: a function of the volume of all of a ship's internal spaces.
7.  Lightship or lightweight tonnage: the weight of a ship without any fuel, cargo, supplies, water, passengers, etc. on board.
8.  Net register tonnage: the volume of cargo a vessel can carry.
9.  Net tonnage: the volume of all cargo spaces on a ship.
10.  Thames Measurement tonnage: the volume of a small vessel, calculated based on her length and beam.
The platform at the upper end of each (lower) mast of a square-rigged ship, typically one-fourth to one-third of the way up the mast. The main purpose of a top is to anchor the shrouds of the topmast that extend above it. See also fighting top.[76]
The mast or sails above the tops. See topgallant mast and topgallant sail.[72]
1.  A collective term for the masts, yards, sails, and rigging of a sailing ship, or for similarly insubstantial structures above the upper deck of any ship.[77]
2.  Unnecessary spars and rigging kept aloft on a vessel′s masts.
A crewmember stationed in a top.
The second section of the mast above the deck; formerly the upper mast, later surmounted by the topgallant mast; carrying the topsails.[72]
topmast pole
Part of the spar between the hounds and the truck.[2]
topping lift
A line that is part of the rigging on a sailing boat; it applies upward force on a spar or boom. The most common topping lift on a modern sailing boat is attached to the boom.[76]
The second sail (counting from the bottom) up a mast. These may be either square sails or fore-and-aft ones, in which case they often "fill in" between the mast and the gaff of the sail below.
topsail schooner
A schooner that sets a square topsail on yards carried on the foremast. A topgallant may also be set above the topsail. (The term does not apply to a schooner setting just fore and aft topsails above gaff sails.) There is some terminological variation, both over time and place, on what square sails a vessel may set and still be termed a schooner.[78][79][80]
The part of the hull between the waterline and the deck. See also above-water hull.
1.  Prior to about 1900, the term for a variety of explosive devices designed for use in water, including mines, spar torpedoes, and, after the mid-19th century, "automotive", "automobile", "locomotive", or "fish" torpedoes (self-propelled weapons which fit the modern definition of torpedo).
2.  Since about 1900, a term used exclusively for a self-propelled weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with its target or in proximity to it.
torpedo net
A heavy net a ship could deploy around herself using booms or spars while at anchor, moored, or otherwise stationary to protect herself from torpedo attack. A torpedo net hung at a distance from the hull sufficient to detonate a torpedo without significant damage to the ship. Torpedo nets first appeared in the late 1870s and were used through the World War I era, and they were used again during World War II.
touch and go
1.  The bottom of the ship touching the bottom, but not grounding.
2.  Stopping at a dock or pier for a very short time without tying up, to let off or take on crew or goods.
3.  The practice of aircraft on aircraft carriers touching the carrier deck and taking off again without dropping hooks.
The operation of drawing a vessel forward by means of long lines.
traffic separation scheme
Shipping corridors marked by buoys that separate incoming from outgoing vessels. Sometimes improperly called sea lanes.
A decorative board at the bow of a vessel, sometimes bearing the vessel's name.
training ship
A ship used to train students as sailors, especially a ship employed by a navy or coast guard to train future officers. The term refers both to ships used for training at sea and to old, immobile hulks used to house classrooms.
tramp freighter
A cargo ship engaged in the tramp trade.
tramp steamer
A steamship engaged in the tramp trade.
tramp trade
The shipping trade on the spot market in which the vessels involved do not have a fixed schedule or itinerary or published ports of call. This contrasts with freight liner service, in which vessels make regular, scheduled runs between published ports.
Any vessel engaged in the tramp trade.
transmitting station
British term for a room located in the interior of a ship containing computers and other specialised equipment needed to calculate the range and bearing of a target from information gathered by the ship's spotters and range finders. These were designated "plotting rooms" by the United States Navy.[81]
1.  A lateral member fastened inside the sternpost, to which the hull and deckplanks are fitted.[2]
2.  The aft "wall" of the stern; often the part to which an outboard unit or the drive portion of a sterndrive is attached.
3.  A more or less flat surface across the stern of a vessel. Dinghies tend to have almost vertical transoms, whereas yachts' transoms may be raked forward or aft.
See troopship.
1.  Small fittings that slide on a rod or line. The most common use is for the inboard end of the mainsheet.
2.  A more esoteric form of traveller consists of "slight iron rings, encircling the backstays, which are used for hoisting the top-gallant yards, and confining them to the backstays".[76]
An iron ring that moves on the main horse on a sailing barge. It is fitted with an eye onto which is hooked the main sheet, of the loose-footed mainsail.[2]
1.  Commercial trawler: a fishing boat that uses a trawl net or dragnet to catch fish.
2.  A fisherman who uses a trawl net.
3.  Naval trawler: a converted trawler, or a boat built in that style, used for naval purposes.
4.  Recreational trawler: a pleasure boat built in the style of a trawler.

Also trenail, trennel, or trunnel.

A wooden peg, pin, or dowel used to fasten pieces of wood together, such as the hull, gunwales, thwarts, etc.[76]
trial trip
A (usually short) voyage for a new ship to test its capabilities and ensure that everything is functioning correctly. A new ship will usually have one or more trial trips before embarking on its maiden voyage.
triangular trade
A historical term for a pattern of trade among three ports or regions in which each port or region imports goods from one of the other two ports or regions in which there is no market for its exports, thus rectifying trade imbalances between the three ports or regions as well as allowing vessels to take the best advantage of prevailing winds and currents along the three trade routes. The best known example is the Atlantic triangular trade pattern of the late 16th through the early 19th centuries, in which vessels carried finished goods from northeastern North America or Europe to Africa, slaves from Africa to the Americas, and cash crops and raw materials from the Americas to either northeastern North America or Europe.
To lift up something by means of a rope running through a block set above it, to get it out of the way. Most commonly used in tricing up the tack of a loose-footed gaff sai to reduce sail area and (sometimes) to give better visibility to the helmsman.[10][82]
A period of time spent at the wheel, e.g. "my trick's over".
1.  The relationship of a ship's hull to the waterline.
2.  Adjustments made to sails to maximize their efficiency.
A vessel with three hulls.

Sometimes coal trimmer.

A person responsible for ensuring that a vessel remains "in trim" (that the cargo and fuel are evenly balanced). An important task on a coal-fired vessel, as it could get "out of trim" as coal is consumed.
tripod mast
A type of mast introduced aboard warships in the first decade of the 20th century, consisting of three large cylindrical tubes or columns supporting a raised platform for lookouts and fire control equipment and later for radar antennas and receivers. In succeeding decades, tripod masts replaced the earlier pole masts and lattice masts. Tripod masts persisted in some navies until the 1960s, when plated-in structures began to replace them, and in other navies until the early 2000s, when stealth designs began to move away from any type of open mast.
A fishing vessel rigged to fish by trolling.
Operating as a troopship.

Also troop ship, troop transport, or trooper.

Any ship used to carry soldiers. Troopships are not specially designed for military operations and, unlike landing ships, cannot land troops directly onto a shore; instead they unload troops at a harbor or onto smaller vessels for transportation to shore.
1.  A circular disc or rectangle of wood or a wooden ball- or bun-shaped cap near or at the top of a wooden mast, usually with holes or sheaves in it through which signal halyards can be passed. Trucks are also used on wooden flagpoles to keep them from splitting. The main truck is located on the main mast, the mizzen truck on the mizzen mast, and so on.[72]
2.  A temporary or emergency place for a lookout.
true bearing
An absolute bearing using true north.
true north
The direction of the geographical North Pole.
truncated counter
A counter stern that has been truncated to provide a kind of transom. It may have windows, serving a large aft stateroom. Popular on larger cruising yachts.
The rope or iron used to keep the center of a yard to the mast.

Also spencer.

A small, strong, fore-and-aft sail set abaft (behind) the mainmast or other mast of a sailing vessel in heavy weather.[72]

Also tug.

A boat that manoeuvers other vessels by pushing or towing them. Tugs are powerful for their size and strongly built, and some are ocean-going.
A hull shape, when viewed in a transverse section, in which the widest part of the hull is someway below deck level.
tuna clipper
A fishing boat based on the United States West Coast and used for commercial tuna fishing. A typical tuna clipper is diesel-powered, has her deckhouse forward and her bait tanks aft, and is outfitted with iron racks around her stem from which her crew uses heavy bamboo poles to fish for tuna.
A knot passing behind or around an object.
Turn To (Turn Two)
A term meaning "get to work", often hand-signed by two fingers and a hand motion in turning fashion.
See bottlescrew.
1.  Originally (in the mid-to-late 19th century), a rotating, enclosed, armored, cylindrical box with guns that fired through gunports. Turret-equipped ships contrasted sharply with those equipped with barbettes, which in the second half of the 19th century were open-topped armored rings over which rotating gun(s) mounted on a turntable could fire.
2.  Since the late 19th century, an enclosed, armored, rotating gunhouse mounted above a barbette, with the gun(s) and their rotating turntable mounted in the barbette protected by the gunhouse; in 20th- and 21st-century usage, this generally is any armored, rotating gun installation on a warship.
turtleback deck
A weather deck that has a distinct convex rounded over shape, similar to the back of a turtle. Used on ships of the whaleback type and on the forward weather deck of torpedo boats."[83]
In dinghy sailing especially (but also in other boats), a boat is said to be "turtling" or to "turn turtle" when the boat is fully inverted with the mast pointing down to the lake bottom or seabed.[A][84][85][86]
A deck on a general cargo ship located between the main deck (or weather deck) and the hold space. A general cargo ship may have one or two tweendecks (or none at all).
tweendeck space
The space on a tweendeck available for carrying cargo or other uses.
A general cargo ship equipped with one or more tweendecks.
two six heave
A command used to co-ordinate a group of people pulling on a rope. Originally a sailing navy term referring to the two members of a gun crew (numbers two and six) who ran out the gun by pulling on the ropes that secured it in place.
two blocks
When the two blocks in a tackle have become so close that no further movement is possible as in chock-a-block.[2]
A chain or rope used for hoisting or lowering a yard. A tye runs from the horizontal center of a given yard to a corresponding mast and from there down to a tackle. Sometimes more specifically called a chain tye or a rope tye.[72]

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)


unassisted sailing
Any sailing voyage, usually single-handed, with no intermediate stops or physical assistance from external sources.
under the weather
Serving a watch on the weather side of the ship, exposed to wind and spray.

Also under way.

(of a vessel) At sea; i.e. not at anchor, made fast to the shore, or aground. This definition has legal importance in the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.[87]
underwater hull

Also underwater ship.

The underwater section of a vessel beneath the waterline, normally not visible except when in drydock or, historically, when careened.
underway replenishment
A method employed by navies to transfer fuel, munitions, and stores from one ship to another while underway. Sometimes abbreviated as UNREP.
An abbreviation for "Unable to navigate, probably on course"; a 19th-century term used in log books of vessels left without accurate navigational guidance due to poor visibility and/or proximity to the North Pole (where magnetic compasses are difficult or impossible to use). Dropped out of common usage in the 1950s with improvements in maritime navigational aids.
To pull a rope from a sheave or block.[2]
1.  To remove from a vessel.
2.  To remove an oar or mast from its normal position.
The description given to the position of the anchor chain, usually used when the anchor is being raised and indicating that the chain has been hauled in tightly such that the vessel is floating directly above the anchor, which is just about to be broken out of the ground. Used more rarely to refer to a situation where the anchor chain is slack and hangs vertically down from the hawsepipe.[22]
An order to slack off quickly and run slack to a belaying point. This order is given when a line or wire has been stopped off or falls have been four-in-hand and the hauling part is to be belayed.
1.  Traveling upstream, against the current.[88]
2.  In the Great Lakes region, traveling westward (terminology used by the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation).[89]

Also peaks.

The brails above the mains.[2]
Specially selected personnel destined for high office.[citation needed]


The shape of a boat or ship in which the sections of the hull bottom slope downward in a straight line to the keel.
1.  A line leading from the gaff to either side of the deck, used to prevent the gaff from sagging.[72]
2.  One of a pair of ropes leading from the deck to the head of a spritsail. It steadies the sprit and can be used to control the sail's performance during a tack. The vang fall blocks are mounted slightly afore the main horse while rolling vangs are extra preventers which lead forward to keep the sail to leeward in heavy weather.[2]
3.  An abbreviation of boom vang.
4.  An abbreviation of gaff vang.
vanishing angle
The maximum degree of heel after which a vessel becomes unable to return to an upright position.

Also vedette boat.

A small naval patrol boat used for scouting enemy forces.
veer away
To let go a rope gently.[90]
vertical replenishment
A method of supply of seaborne vessels by helicopter. Abbreviated VERTREP.
very good
An affirmative response given by a senior to the report of a junior, e.g. if the helmsman reports, "Rudder is amidship, sir," an officer might respond, "Very good."[22]
very well
An affirmative response given by a senior to the report of a junior, e.g. if the helmsman reports, "Rudder is amidship, sir," an officer might respond, "Very well."
Any craft designed for transportation on water, such as a ship or boat.

Also voyl.

A large rope used to unmoor or heave up the anchor.[90]
voice pipe

Also voice tube.

See communication tube.
1.  A long journey by ship.
2.  To go on such a journey.
See viol.[90]

{For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)


Another name for a signal flag.
The central deck of a ship between the forecastle and the quarterdeck.[91]
waist clothes

Also armings or fights.

Colored cloths or sheets hung around the outside of a ship's upper works, both fore and aft, and before the cubbridge heads, used as an adornment during ceremonious occasions and as a visual screen during times of action in order to protect the men aboard.
Turbulence in the water behind a moving vessel. Not to be confused with wash.
A thicker strake, consisting of a wooden plank or group of planks, in the outer skin of the hull, running in a fore-and-aft direction, to provide extra stiffening in selected regions.[3]
1.  The living quarters of a naval ship that are designated for the use of commissioned officers other than the captain.
2.  A collective term for the commissioned officers of a naval ship excluding her captain; e.g. "The captain rarely referred to his wardroom for advice, and this led to their discontent".
warm the bell
Royal Navy slang from the Age of Sail for doing something unnecessarily or unjustifiably early. Holding a half-hour marine sandglass used until the early 19th century to time watches under one's coat or in one's hand to warm it allegedly expanded the glass′s neck to allow the sand to flow more quickly, justifying ringing the bell rung every half-hour to announce the passage of time on watch earlier than if the glass was cold, hence warming the bell and shortening the length of the watch.[92]
1.  To move a vessel by hauling on a line or cable that is fastened to an anchor or pier, especially so as to move a sailing ship through a confined or restricted space such as in a harbour.[93]
2.  A line or cable used in warping a ship.[2]
3.  The length of the shrouds from the bolster to the deadeye.[93]
The waves created by a moving vessel. Not to be confused with wake.
An additional strake fastened above the level of the gunwale of an open boat to increase the freeboard.[94]
A period of time during which a part of the crew is on duty. Changes of watch are marked by strokes on the ship's bell.

Also watchkeeping.

The allocation of crew or staff to specific roles on a ship in order to operate it continuously. These assignments, known as watches, are divided into regularly scheduled work periods of several hours or longer to ensure that some portion of the crew is always occupying the roles at all times. Those members of the crew who are on watch at a given time are called watchkeepers.
See fireman (definition 1).
water bus
A watercraft used to provide transportation on a scheduled service with multiple stops, usually in an urban environment, analogous to the way a bus operates on land. It differs from a water taxi, which is a similar watercraft that provides transport service to various locations on demand rather than on a predetermined schedule, analogous to the way a taxicab operates on land, although in North America these terms are often used interchangeably. A water bus also differs from a ferry, which usually refers to a watercraft that shuttles between only two points.
water kite
See paravane (definition 2).
water taxi
A watercraft used to provide transportation on demand to various locations, usually in an urban environment, analogous to the way a taxicab operates on land. It differs from a water bus, which is a similar watercraft that provides transportation on a scheduled service with multiple stops rather than at the rider's will, analogous to the way a bus operates on land, although in North America these terms are often used interchangeably. A water taxi also differs from a ferry, which usually refers to a watercraft that shuttles between only two points.
Any vessel intended for transportation on water, e.g. ships, boats, personal watercraft, etc.
The line where the hull of a ship meets the water's surface.
A sail hung below the boom on gaff rig boats for extra downwind performance when racing.[72]
1.  Any navigable body of water.
2.  A strake of timber laid against the frames or bulwark stanchions at the margin of a laid wooden deck, usually about twice the thickness of the deck planking.
Speed, progress, or momentum, or more technically, the point at which there is sufficient water flow past a vessel's rudder for it to be able to steer the vessel (i.e. when the rudder begins to "bite", sometimes also called "steerage way".) To "make way" is to move; to "have way on" or "to have steerage way" is to have enough speed to control the vessel with its rudder; to "lose way" is to slow down or to not have enough speed to use the rudder effectively. "Way enough" is a coxswain's command that the oarsmen stop rowing and allow the boat to proceed by its existing momentum.
An intermediate stop along the route of a steamboat.
The verb's origin, from wegelage, means "lying in wait, with evil or hostile intent". So to be waylaid refers to a ship that has been taken off its course, route, or way by surprise, typically by unfortunate or nefarious means. In Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby-Dick, the great white whale waylaid the Pequod and sank it with only a few souls surviving in lifeboats.[95]
A location defined by navigational coordinates, especially as part of a planned route.
The timbers of shipyard stocks that slope into the water and along which a ship or large boat is launched. A ship undergoing construction in a shipyard is said to be on the ways, while a ship scrapped there is said to be broken up in the ways.
wearing ship
Tacking away from the wind in a square-rigged vessel. See also gybe.
weather deck
A deck that is continually exposed to the weather – usually either the main deck or, in larger vessels, the upper deck.
weather gage

Also weather gauge or weather-beam.

Favorable position over another sailing vessel with respect to the wind.
weather helm
The tendency of a sailboat to turn to windward in a strong wind when there is no change in the rudder's position. This is the opposite of lee helm and is the result of a dynamically unbalanced condition. See also center of lateral resistance.
weather ship
A ship stationed in the ocean as a platform from which to record surface and upper-air meteorological observations for use in weather forecasting.
weather side

Also windward side or simply windward.

The side of a ship exposed to the wind, i.e. the side facing upwind or the direction from which the wind is blowing. Contrast lee side.
A ship that is easily sailed and maneuvered, or which makes little leeway when sailing to windward.
weigh anchor
To heave up an anchor preparatory to sailing.[2]
A place in the ship's hold for pumps.
Properly set up or provisioned.
West Indiaman
A British term used in the 18th and 19th centuries for any merchant sailing ship making voyages between the Old World and the West Indies or the east coast of the Americas, in contrast to an East Indiaman, which made voyages to the East Indies or South Asia. The term most frequently was applied to British, Danish, Dutch, and French ships.
(of a ship) Prone to taking water over her decks at sea. For example, a ship that tends to take water over her bow can be said to be "wet forward."
wetted area
In sailboating, the portion of the hull immersed in water (i.e. below the waterline).
1.  A type of cargo steamship of unusual design formerly used on the Great Lakes of North America, notably for carrying grain or ore. The hull continuously curved above the waterline from vertical to horizontal, and when the ship was fully loaded, only the rounded portion of her hull (the "whaleback" proper) was visible above the waterline. With sides curved in towards the ends, whalebacks had a spoon-shaped bow and a very convex upper deck.
2.  A type of high-speed launch first designed for the Royal Air Force during World War II, or certain smaller rescue and research vessels most common in Europe that, like the Great Lakes vessels, have hulls that curve over to meet the deck, although the "whaleback" designation comes not from the curve along the gunwale as in the Great Lakes vessels, but from the fore-and-aft arch in the deck.
3.  A sheltered portion of the forward deck on certain British fishing boats designed, in part, so that water taken over the bow is more easily shed over the sides. The feature has been incorporated into some pleasure craft – aboard which it is known as a whaleback deck – based on the hull design of older whaling boats.
1.  A type of open boat that is relatively narrow and pointed at both ends, enabling it to move either forwards or backwards equally well.
2.  On modern warships, a relatively light and seaworthy boat used for transport of the ship's crew.
3.  A type of vessel designed as a lifeboat or "monomoy" used for recreational and competitive rowing in the San Francisco Bay area and coastal Massachusetts.
4.  Informally, any whaling ship of any size.
5.  Informally, any vessel engaged in whale watching.
1.  Also whaling ship. A specialized vessel designed for catching or processing whales.
2.  A person engaged in the catching or processing of whales.
3.  In the Royal Navy, a Montagu whaler, a ship's boat often used as a seaboat.
A structure on the shore of a harbor or on the bank of a river or canal where ships may dock to load and unload cargo or passengers. Such a structure includes one or more berths (i.e. mooring locations), and may also include piers, warehouses, or other facilities necessary for handling the ships. The term "wharf" is generally synonymous with quay, although the solid foundations of a quay contrast with the closely spaced piles of a wharf. When "quay" and "wharf" are used as synonyms, the term "quay" is more common in everyday speech in the United Kingdom, many Commonwealth countries, and the Republic of Ireland, while "wharf" is more commonly used in the United States.
1.  A collective term for docks, piers, quays, and wharfs.
2.  A collective term for all wharfs in a given port, area, country, region, etc.
3.  A fee charged for the use of a wharf.

Also ship's wheel.

The usual steering device on larger vessels: a wheel with a horizontal axis, connected by cables to the rudder.

Also pilothouse and often synonymous with bridge.

The location on a ship where the wheel is located.
A small sailing pram.
A type of boat traditionally used for carrying cargo or passengers on rivers and canals in England, particularly on the River Thames and the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads.
A chiefly British term for a narrow clinker-built skiff having outriggers and designed for one oarsman.
A small single block tackle, used to raise light loads from a hold.[93]
whip upon whip
Connecting two whips together. This runs more smoothly than using a double block with single block tackle, which would have the equivalent purchase. Can be used for topsail and top-gallant halliards.[93]
The binding with twine of the loose end of a rope to prevent it unravelling.[2]
A vertical lever connected to a tiller, used for steering on larger ships before the development of the ship's wheel.
Spreaders from the bow to spread the bowsprit shrouds.
One of the pair of stays that stabilize the bowsprit, horizontally affixed to the forward end of the bowsprit and just aft the stem.
white horses

Also whitecaps.

Foam or spray on wave tops caused by stronger winds (usually above Force 4).
White Ensign
A British flag flown as an ensign by certain British ships. Prior to 1864, ships of the Royal Navy′s White Squadron flew it; since the reorganisation of the Royal Navy in 1864, it has been flown by all Royal Navy ships and shore establishments, yachts of members of the Royal Yacht Squadron, and ships of Trinity House escorting the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom.
wide berth
To leave room between two ships moored (berthed) in order to allow space for manoeuvring.
Williamson turn
A type of man overboard rescue turn. Other variations include the Anderson turn, the quick turn, and the Scharnow turn.
A mechanical device for pulling on a rope (such as a sheet or halyard), usually equipped with a pawl to assist in control. It may be hand-operated or powered.
Sea conditions in which a tidal current and a wind are moving in opposite directions, leading to short, heavy seas.
The wind resistance of a boat.
A condition wherein a ship is detained in one particular station by contrary winds.
winding tackle
A tackle formed of two triple blocks or a triple and a double, used to raise heavy loads such as guns and anchors.[93]
A large iron- or steel-hulled square-rigged sailing ship of the late 19th and early 20th centuries with three, four, or five masts, built mainly between the 1870s and 1900 to carry cargo on long voyages.
A winch mechanism, usually with a horizontal axis, designed to move very heavy loads. Used where mechanical advantage greater than that obtainable by block and tackle was needed (such as raising the anchor on small ships).[93]
A wide tube or funnel of canvas used to convey a stream of air into the lower compartments of a ship for ventilation.
In the direction that the wind is coming from. Contrast leeward.
An extension on the side of a vessel, e.g. a bridge wing is an extension of the bridge to both sides, intended to allow bridge personnel a full view to aid in the manoeuvring of the ship.
The most junior rate among personnel who work in the engine room of a ship, responsible for cleaning the engine spaces and machinery and assisting the engineers as directed. A wiper is often serving an apprenticeship to become an oiler.
working up
Training on a warship to achieve the best possible effectiveness, usually after commissioniong or a refit.[96]
worm, parcel and serve

Often collectively called service.

To apply a multilayered protection against chafing and deterioration to a section of line by laying yarns to fill in the cuntlines (worming), wrapping marline or other small stuff around it (serving), and stitching a covering of canvas over all (parcelling).[97] It can be applied to the entire length of a line, such as a shroud, or selectively to specific parts of a line, such as over the spliced ends of a stay, where the chafe on the middle section of the stay precludes complete protection.
Example of the preservation of a cable, showing different sections serviced by various techniques, including worming, parcelling and serving
wrecking tug
Another name for a salvage tug.

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)



Variously spelled zebec, xebeck, xebeque, xebecque, zebeck, zebecque, chebec, or shebeck.

1.  A Mediterranean sailing ship, usually employed for trading, that is propelled by a combination of lateen sails and oars and characterized by a distinctive hull with a pronounced overhanging bow and stern; early xebecs had two masts and later ones had three.
2.  A small, fast warship of the 16th to 19th centuries similar in design to a trading xebec and used almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Sea. This kind of xebec was slightly smaller than a contemporary frigate and mounted slightly fewer guns.
A European warship that appeared late in the history of the xebec. It was fully square-rigged but otherwise designed like a xebec.
X.O. (or XO)
An abbreviation for executive officer.

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)


A recreational boat or ship; the term includes sailing yachts, motor yachts, and steam yachts.
1.  Yard: The horizontal spar from which a square sail is suspended.[97]
2.  The spar on which a lugsail or gunter sail is set.[98]
3.  A dockyard or shipyard.
yard number
Each shipyard typically numbers the ships that it has built in consecutive order. One use is to identify the ship before a name has been chosen.
yard tackle
Tackle to raise boats[97]
The very end of a yard. Often mistaken for a yard, which refers to the entire spar. As in to hang "from the yardarm" and the sun being "over the yardarm" (late enough to have a drink).[72]
Of a vessel, especially of a sailing vessel: Quick, agile, and easy to steer, hand (q.v.), and reef (q.v.).
Acknowledgement of an order, or agreement. Also aye, aye.
A vessel's rotational motion about the vertical axis, causing the fore and aft ends to swing from side to side repetitively.
1.  A fore-and-aft rigged sailing vessel with two masts, main and mizzen, the mizzen stepped abaft the rudder post.
2.  An un-decked boat, often beach-launched, worked under both oar and sail. Generally clinker built. Used for fishing, serving ships in anchorages, salvage work, etc. Those from the northern parts of Britain tended to be double ended.[21]: 74 
yawl boat
A rowboat on davits at the stern of the boat.
A US Navy enlisted rating (YN) responsible for administrative duties.

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)


An alternative spelling of xebec (q.v.).
A type of Scottish sailboat introduced in 1879, used for fishing. A zulu is carvel-built (q.v.), with the vertical stem of a fifie (q.v.) and the steeply raked stern of a skaffie (q.v.); two masts rigged with three sails (fore, mizzen, and jib); and a longer deck and shorter keel than previous Scottish fishing boats, allowing greater maneuverability. The term "zulu" came from the Zulu War, which the United Kingdom fought in 1879 at the time the zulu was introduced.

For nautical terms beginning with the letters A-L see Glossary of nautical terms (A-L)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ However, "to turn turtle" means putting a turtle on its back by grabbing it by the flipper, and conversely is used to refer to a vessel that has turned upside-down, or has cast off its crew.


  1. ^ Underhill 1955, p. 111.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp Renouf, David (2017). "Glossary of Barge terms". Thames Sailing Barges. Archived from the original on 2016-10-23.
  3. ^ a b c d Steffy 2013.
  4. ^ Admiralty Manual of Seamanship. Vol. I. London: HMSO. 1964.
  5. ^ a b Smyth, William Henry (1867). The Sailor's Word-Book. Glasgow: Blackie & Co.
  6. ^ Palmer 1975, p. 7.
  7. ^ a b "East India Company Ships – The Maritime Service 1600 to 1834".
  8. ^ Palmer 1975, p. 164.
  9. ^ Palmer 1975, p. 54.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Read, David (11 November 2014). "Glossary of Nautical Terms". Practical Boat Owner. Practical Boat Owner. Retrieved 2019-12-02.
  11. ^ "Royal Navy Diction & Slang". Retrieved 2012-09-18.
  12. ^ a b Saunders, Harold E. (1965). "10: Definitions and nomenclature for Seakeeping". In Taggart, Robert (ed.). Hydrodynamics in ship design. Vol. 3. New York, NY: Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. p. 156.
  13. ^ Manual of Seamanship. Vol. 1. London: HMSO. 1937.
  14. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Paravane" . Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York: The Encyclopædia Britannica Company.
  15. ^ Harland 1984, pp. 260–261, 276.
  16. ^ a b "Origin of Navy Terminology". Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  17. ^ Palmer 1975, p. 111.
  18. ^ "pendant". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  19. ^ a b c d e f Mayne 2000.
  20. ^ a b Underhill 1955, p. 112.
  21. ^ a b c d e f McKee, Eric (1983). Working Boats of Britain, Their Shape and Purpose (1997 ed.). London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0 85177 277 3.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Palmer 1975.
  23. ^ "U.S. Navy Quartermaster Careers |". Retrieved 2022-03-25.
  24. ^ What is a reach? US Geological Survey
  25. ^ Cunliffe 2016, p. 125.
  26. ^ a b c d Biddlecombe 1990, p. 24.
  27. ^ a b c Biddlecombe 1990, p. 25.
  28. ^ Palmer 1975, p. 205.
  29. ^ Biddlecombe 1990, p. 26.
  30. ^ "Schooner Barge". New Jersey Scuba Diving.
  31. ^ Karamanski 2000, pp. 35–41.
  32. ^ a b Golloway, Tori, L., Tamara L. Thomen, Caitlin N. Zant, and Victoria Kiefer, Scow Schooners: A Regional Analysis Wisconsin Historical Society, undated, pp. 2, 7 Accessed July 8, 2021
  33. ^ Manual of Seamanship: Volume 1 1937, pp. 244–252.
  34. ^ Mayne 2000, p. 253.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g Underhill 1955, p. 113.
  36. ^ a b c d Underhill 1955, p. 114.
  37. ^ Shaft
  38. ^ Boating Shaft Log
  39. ^ "Sheet-anchor". Your Dictionary. Retrieved 2021-06-17.
  40. ^ Kammen 2017, p. 43.
  41. ^ Admiralty manual of seamanship 1972, p. 159.
  42. ^ "Shift Colors". Retrieved 2011-06-24.
  43. ^ Leonard George Carr Laughton; Roger Charles Anderson; William Gordon Perrin (1958). The Mariner's Mirror. Society for Nautical Research.[full citation needed]
  44. ^ "shift, v. 13.b.". OED Online. Retrieved 2009-04-29.[dead link]
  45. ^ Bennett 2005, p. 8.
  46. ^ a b Palmer 1975, p. 222.
  47. ^ a b c "ship". Oxford English Dictionary.
  48. ^ "ship's husband". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  49. ^ Van Huis, William A. (1991). "Admiralty Opens its Doors to Agency Contracts which Are Maritime in Nature". Illinois University Law Journal. 17: 173.
  50. ^ Nelson, Mark. "Ship's Husbandry". Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy. Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  51. ^ Staff. "1: Hull Maintenance". Ship Husbandry (PDF). Royal Australian Navy Apprentice Training Establishment.
  52. ^ Palmer 1975, p. 229.
  53. ^ Underhill 1952, p. 196.
  54. ^ a b c Benham, Finch & Kershaw 1986, p. 187.
  55. ^ a b Palmer 1975, p. 231.
  56. ^ Palmer 1975, p. 232.
  57. ^ Bennett 2005, pp. 49–51.
  58. ^ Manual of Seamanship: Volume 1 1937, p. 115.
  59. ^ a b Biddlecombe 1990, p. 30.
  60. ^ "Snotty definition and meaning". Collins English Dictionary.
  61. ^ Palmer 1975, p. 234.
  62. ^ ""soul, n."", OED Online, Oxford University Press, def III.9a, March 2022, retrieved 2022-04-15
  63. ^ Mayne 2000, p. 282.
  64. ^ Carr 1951, p. 63.
  65. ^ Mayne 2000, p. 284.
  66. ^ "Shiprigging – The Way a VOC ship was rigged".
  67. ^ Biddlecombe 1990, p. 31.
  68. ^ Biddlecombe 1990, p. 32.
  69. ^ Palmer 1975, p. 247.
  70. ^ Carr 1951, p. 71.
  71. ^ Biddlecombe 1990, p. 33.
  72. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Underhill 1955, p. 115.
  73. ^ Biddlecombe 1990, p. 34.
  74. ^ "tier". Oxford English Dictionary. Vol. XVIII (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. 1989. p. 74.
  75. ^ Carr 1951, p. 37.
  76. ^ a b c d Biddlecombe 1990, p. 35.
  77. ^ Keegan, John (1989). The Price of Admiralty. New York: Viking. p. 281. ISBN 0-670-81416-4.
  78. ^ Cunliffe 2016, p. 26.
  79. ^ MacGregor, David R (1997). The Schooner, Its Design and Development from 1600 to the Present. London: Chatham Publishing. p. 48. ISBN 1-86176-020-5.
  80. ^ Greenhill, Basil (1951). The Merchant Schooners (1988 ed.). London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-475-X.
  81. ^ Friedman, Norman (1985). U.S. Battleships: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. p. 173. ISBN 0-87021-715-1.
  82. ^ Palmer 1975, p. 272.
  83. ^ "World War II Naval Dictionary". U.S.S. ABBOT DD 629. Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  84. ^ Smyth, W. H.; Belcher, E. (1867). The sailor's word-book: An alphabetical digest of nautical terms, including some more especially military and scientific... as well as archaisms of early voyagers, etc. London: Blackie and Son. pp. 702–703.
  85. ^ "turtle, turn turtle (of a boat) to turn over completely while sailing". Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  86. ^ "Definition of turtle in English "turn turtle" (chiefly of a boat) turn upside down: ". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  87. ^ "International Regulations for the Prevention of Collision at Sea" (PDF).
  88. ^ "Navigational Rules: International—Inland" (PDF). United States Coast Guard. pp. 21, 31. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-05-03. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  89. ^ "Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway System: An overview of North America's most dynamic waterway" (PDF). Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-02-21. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  90. ^ a b c Biddlecombe 1990, p. 36.
  91. ^ "waist definition". Retrieved 2008-12-11.
  92. ^ Oxford Reference: Warm the bell
  93. ^ a b c d e f Biddlecombe 1990, p. 37.
  94. ^ Admiralty manual of seamanship 1972, p. 214.
  95. ^ Moby Dick, Melville H
  96. ^ Palmer 1975, p. 293.
  97. ^ a b c Biddlecombe 1990, p. 38.
  98. ^ Leather, John (1979). Spritsails and Lugsails (1989 ed.). Camden, Maine: International Marine Publishing Company. ISBN 0-87742-998-7.


  • Admiralty Manual of Seamanship BR 67(1). Vol. 1 (Consolidated Edition 1972 ed.). London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 1972. ISBN 0117709735.
  • Manual of Seamanship: Volume 1. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. 1937.
  • Benham, Hervey; Finch, Roger; Kershaw, Philip (1986). Down tops'l: the story of the East Coast sailing-barges (3rd ed.). London: Harrap. ISBN 0245544879.
  • Bennett, Jenny (2005). Sailing Rigs, an Illustrated Guide. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 1-86176-243-7.
  • Biddlecombe, George (1990) [1848]. The art of rigging: containing an explanation of terms and phrases and the progressive method of rigging expressly adapted for sailing ships. New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 0486263436. (1848 edition)
  • Carr, Frank (1951). Sailing Barges (Revised ed.). London: Peter Davies.
  • Cunliffe, Tom (2016). Hand, Reef and Steer: Traditional Sailing Skills for Classic Boats (second, Kindle ed.). London and New York: Adlard Coles Nautical. ISBN 978-1-4729-2588-6.
  • Harland, John (1984). Seamanship in the Age of Sail: an account of the shiphandling of the sailing man-of-war 1600-1860, based on contemporary sources. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-1-8448-6309-9.
  • Kammen, Michael G. (2017). A Machine That Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-4128-0583-4.
  • Karamanski, Theodore J. (2000). Schooner Passage: Sailing Ships and the Lake Michigan Frontier. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 081432911X.
  • Mayne, Richard (2000). The Language of Sailing. Chicago, Ill: Fitzroy Dearborn; Taylor & Francis. ISBN 1-57958-278-8.
  • Palmer, Joseph (1975). Jane's Dictionary of Naval Terms. London: Macdonald and Janes. ISBN 0-356-08258-X.
  • Steffy, J. Richard (2013) [1994]. "Illustrated Glossary of Ship and Boat Terms". In Catsambis, Alexis (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Maritime Archaeology (Oxford Handbooks). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-537517-6.
  • Underhill, Harold (1952). Deep-water sail. Glasgow: Brown, Son & Ferguson, Nautical publishers.
  • Underhill, Harold (1955). Sailing Ships Rigs and Rigging (2nd ed.). Glasgow: Brown, Son & Ferguson, Nautical publishers.