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10 Beginner Sailing Terms Everyone Should Know
While our glossary page provides a comprehensive list of, we’ve also compiled this short list of 10 beginner sailing terms that everyone should know. If you’re just learning how to sail, these handy terms can provide a helpful overview of sailing basics you need to become familiar with.
- Aft – The back of a ship. If something is located aft, it is at the back of the sailboat. The aft is also known as the stern.2. Bow – The front of the ship is called the bow. Knowing the location of the bow is important for defining two of the other most common sailing 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 facing the bow. Because “right” and “left” can become confusing sailing terms when used out in the open waters, port is used to define the left-hand side of the boat as it relates to the bow, or front.
4. Starboard – Starboard is always the right-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow. Because “right” and “left” can become confusing sailing terms when used out in the open waters, starboard is used to define the right-hand side of the boat as it relates to the bow, or front.
5. Leeward – Also known as lee, leeward is the direction opposite to the way the wind is currently blowing (windward).
6. Windward – The direction in which the wind is currently blowing. Windward is the opposite of leeward (the opposite direction of the wind). Sailboats tend to move with the wind, making the windward direction an important sailing term to know.
- 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 move forward or backwards.8. Rudder – Located beneath the boat, the rudder is a flat piece of wood, fiberglass, or metal that is used to steer the ship. Larger sailboats control the rudder via a wheel, while smaller sailboats will have a steering mechanism directly aft.
9. Tacking – The opposite of jibing, this basic sailing 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 boon of a boat will always shift from one side to the other when performing a tack or a jibe.
10. Jibing – The opposite of tacking, this basic 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 boon of a boat will always shift from one side to the other when performing a tack or a jibe. Jibing is a less common technique than tacking, since it involves turning a boat directly into the wind.
used to be found at: http://boatingsailing.suite101.com/article.cfm/anatomy_of_a_simple_sailboat
The anatomy of a sailboat can be broken into three broad areas. These sections can be used help describe the parts of the sail, rigging, and hull. These are for a basic sailboat and you’ll see more complex examples of yachts in the marina. Parts are labeled in the accompanying illustrations.
Parts of a Sail – A sail is a large piece of strong fabric that catches the wind and provides propulsion for a sailboat. Many sailboats use more than one sail.
- Head – Topmost corner of a triangular shaped sail
- Mainsail – Normally the largest sail providing driving force for the sailboat
- Headsail – A sail set forward of a mast
- Jib – A triangular shaped headsail
- Leech – The aft or trailing edge of a sail
- Luff – The forward edge of a sail
- Tack – The lower corner of the forward edge of a sail
- Clew – The lower corner of the aft edge of a sail
- Foot – The lowest edge of a sail
Parts of the Sail
Parts of the Rigging – A sailboat’s rigging takes in all the components that support the mast and sails. Rigging varies greatly between different styles of boats.
- Mast – The main upright structural member of the sailboat that supports the sails
- Boom – The horizontal structural member attached to the foot of the mainsail
- Spreader – A bar that holds the shroud out away from the mast
- Standing Rigging – Wire ropes that support the mast. They include:
- Stay – A wire rope that runs from the top of the mast to locations fore and aft on the hull
- Shroud – A wire rope that adds additional lateral support to the mast
- Running Rigging – Generically all the lines used to raise, lower or control the sails
- Halyard – A line that raises or lowers the sail
- Sheet – A line that controls a sail
Bow – The forward part of the sailboatParts of the Hull – The body or fuselage of a sailboat is the hull. Hulls provide buoyancy required to carry cargo and a platform for mounting the sails.
- Centerboard or Keel – A structure that extends down into the water that improves stability, maneuverability and limits lateral movement in the water. Smaller vessels use a dagger or centerboard that is removable. Larger boats have a fixed keel that is often filled with ballast
- Stern – The back or aft part of the sailboat
- Rudder – A movable vertical plane at the stern of the sailboat that is used to steer a sailboat
- Tiller – On smaller sailboats, the rudder is controlled manually with a lever at the stern of the boat. Larger vessels depend on mechanical steering systems
- Transom – A flat surface at the aft end of a sailboat