Nautical & Sailing Terms You Should Know

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While our glossary page provides a comprehensive list of boating terms, we’ve likewise compiled this list of 10 novice cruising terms that everybody must know. If you’re simply discovering how to sail, these convenient terms can provide a helpful overview of cruising essentials you need to end up being knowledgeable about.

10 Nautical & Cruising Terms Everybody Need to Know

1. Aft – The back of a ship. If something lies aft, it is at the back of the sailboat. The aft is also referred to as the stern.

2. Bow – The front of the ship is called the bow. Understanding the location of the bow is important for defining two of the other most common cruising terms: port (left of the bow) and starboard (right of the bow).

3. Port – Port is always the left-hand side of the boat when you are dealing with the bow. Due to the fact that “right” and “left” can end up being confusing cruising terms when used visible waters, port is used to specify the left-hand side of the boat as it associates with the bow, or front.

4. Starboard – Starboard is always the right-hand side of the boat when you are dealing with the bow. Because “right” and “left” can end up being complicated sailing terms when used exposed waters, starboard is used to specify the right-hand side of the boat as it relates to the bow, or front.

5. Leeward – Also referred to as lee, leeward is the instructions opposite to the method the wind is currently blowing (windward).

6. Windward – The direction where the wind is currently blowing. Windward is the reverse of leeward (the opposite direction of the wind). Sailboats tend to move with the wind, making the windward direction a crucial sailing term to know.

7. Boom – The boom is the horizontal pole which extends from the bottom of the mast. Adjusting the boom towards the direction of the wind is how the sailboat is able to harness wind power in order to progress or in reverse.

8. Rudder – Located beneath the boat, the rudder is a flat piece of wood, fiberglass, or metal that is used to steer the ship. Bigger sailboats manage the rudder via a wheel, while smaller sailboats will have a guiding mechanism directly aft.

9. Tacking – The reverse of jibing, this fundamental cruising maneuver refers to turning the bow of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side. The boom of a boat will constantly shift from one side to the other when carrying out a tack or a jibe.

10. Jibing – The opposite of tacking, this standard sailing maneuver refers to turning the stern of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side. The boom of a boat will always shift from one side to the other when performing a tack or a jibe. Jibing is a less common method than tacking, considering that it includes turning a boat directly into the wind.

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