Any of a number of heavy, hook-shaped devices that is dropped over the side of the boat on the end of a length of rope and/or chain, and which is designed to hold a vessel securely in place until (a) the wind exceeds 2 knots, (b) the owner and crew depart, or (c) 3 a.m.

Long, low-lying navigational hazard, usually awash, found at river mouths and harbour entrances, where it is composed of sand or mud, and ashore, where it is made of mahogany or some other dark wood. Sailors can be found in large numbers around both.

Any horizontal surface whose total area does not exceed one half of the surface area of an average man at rest, onto which at least one liter of some liquid seeps during any 12-hour period and above which there are not less than 10 kilograms of improperly secured objects.

Break Out Another Thousand.

Laterally mounted pole to which a sail is fastened. Often used during jibing to shift crew members to a fixed, horizontal position.

Burdened Vessel:

The boat which, in a collision situation, did not have the right-of-way. See PRIVILEGED VESSEL.


An abrasive sailcloth used to remove excess skin from knuckles

Any one of a number of substances introduced into the spaces between planks in the hull and decking of a boat that give a smooth, finished appearance while still permitting the passage of a significant amount of seawater.

Sudden and usually unpleasant surprise suffered by Spanish seaman.

Circuit Breaker:
An electromechanical switching unit intended to prevent the flow of electricity under normal operating conditions and, in the case of a short circuit, to permit the electrification of all conductive metal fittings throughout the boat. Available at most novelty shops.
Club, Yacht Club, Racing Association:

Troublesome seasonal accumulation in costal areas of unpleasant marine organisms with stiff necks and clammy extremities. Often present in large numbers during summer months when they clog inlets, bays, and coves, making navigation almost impossible. The infestations are most serious along the coasts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine. They can be effectively dislodged with dynamite, but, alas, archaic federal laws rule out this option.

Heavy, stationary objects used on shipboard to hold down charts, anchor cushions in place and dampen sudden movements of the boom.
Waterborne pleasure journey embarked on by one or more people. A cruise may be considered successful if the same number of individuals who set out on it arrive, in roughly the same condition they set out in, at some piece of habitable dry land, with or without the boat.

Tidal flow that carries a boat away from its desired destination, or toward a hazard.

Distress Signals:
International signals which indicate that a boat is in danger. For example, in American waters: the sudden appearance of lawyers, the pointing of fingers, and repression of memories; in Italian waters: moaning, weeping, and wild gesticulations; in French waters: fistfights, horn blowing, and screamed accusations; in Spanish waters: boasts, taunts, and random gunfire; in Irish waters: rhythmic grunting, the sound of broken glass, and the detonation of small explosive devices; in Japanese waters: shouted apologies, the exchange of calling cards, and minor self-inflected wounds; and in English waters: doffed hats, the burning of toast, and the spilling of tea.

Sailboats are equipped with a variety of engines, but all of them work on the internal destruction principle, in which highly machined parts are rapidly converted into low-grade scrap, producing in the process energy in the form of heat, which is used to boil bilge water; vibration, which improves the muscle tone of the crew; and a small amount of rotational force, which drives the average size sailboat at sppeds approaching a furlong per fortnight.

A line circling the earth at a point equidistant from both poles which separates the oceans into the North Danger Zone and the South Danger Zone.

Marine custom establishes a code of social behavior and nautical courtesy for every conceivable occasion. Thus, for example, a boat belonging to another boatman is always referred to as a "scow", a "tub", or a "pig-boat". When one skipper goes aboard another's boat, he does not hesitate to tell him frankly about any drawbacks or disadvantages he finds in comparison to his own craft. Sailors welcome every opportunity to improve their vessels, and so he knows that his remarks will be greatly appreciated. When one sailboat passes another, it is customary for the captain of the passing boat to make a bladderlike sound with his lips and tongue, and for the captain of the passed boat to return the courtesy by offering a smart salute consisting of a quick upward movement of the right hand with the second digit extended.

Decorative dummy found on sailboats. See CAPTAIN.

Any of an number of signalling pennants or ensigns, designed to be flown upside down, in the wrong place, in the wrong order, or at an inappropriate time.

Sailboats without auxiliary engines do not require fuel as such, but an adequate supply of a pale yellow carbonated beverage with a 10 percent to 12 percent alcohol content is essential to the operation of all recreational craft.

1. Ancient: Aspect of seafaring associated with slavery
2. Modern: Aspect of seafaring associated with slavery

Movable mountings often found on shipboard lamps, compasses, etc., which provide dieting passengers an opportunity to observe the true motions of the ship in relation to them, and thus prevent any recently ingested food from remaining in their digestive systems long enought to be converted into unwanted calories.

1. Any boat over 2 feet in length. 2. The skipper of any such craft. 3. Any body of water. 4. Any body of land within 100 yards of any body of water.

In maritime use, the ability to keep persons on board ship without resorting to measures which substantially violate applicable state and federal statutes

A situation calling for LEADERSHIP
Life Preserver:
Any personal flotation device that will keep an individual who has fallen off a vessell above water long enough to be run over by it or another rescue craft.

Commercial dock facility. Among the few places, under admiralty law, where certain forms of piracy are still permitted, most marinas have up-to-date facilities for the disposal of excess amounts of U.S. currency that may have accumulated on board ship, causing a fire hazard.

Mile (Nautical):
A relativistic measure of surface distance over water - in theory, 6076.1 feet. In practice, a number of different values for the nautical mile have been observed while under sail, for example: after 4 p.m., approximately 40,000 feet; in winds of less than 5 knots, about 70,000 feet; and during periods of threatening weather in harbor approaches, around 100,000 feet.

The act of bringing a boat to a complete stop in a relatively protected coastal area in such a fashion that it can be sailed away again in less than one week's time by the same number of people who moored it without heavy equipment and no more than $100 in repairs.
A form of movable internal ballast which tends to accumulate on the leeward side of sailboats once sea motions commence.

Traditional units of angular measurement from the viewpoint of someone on board a vessel. They are: Straight ahead of you, right up there; Just a little to the right of the front; Right next to that thing up there; Between those two things; Right back there, look; Over that round doohickey; Off the right corner; Back over there; and Right behind us.

A glass-covered opening in the hull designed in such a way that when closed (while at sea) it admits light and water, and when open (while at anchor) it admits, light, air, and insects (except in Canadian waters, where most species are too large to gain entry in this manner).

Technical maritime term for customs procedure on entering foreign waters. When passing through customs, particularly in the tropics - the most common foreign destination for American pleasure craft - it is customary to display a small amount of that country's official currency in a conspicuous place and to transfer it to the officer who examines the boat's documents during the parting handshake. A nice sharp slap on the back as the captain effects the transfer shows he cares about appearances. And it is by no means out of place for the skipper to add a friendly word or two, such as "Here, Sparky, this is for you. Why don't you go out and buy yourself some joy juice and get stupid?" incidentally, these inspectors are justly proud of their educational attainments, and the savvy boat owner can win some fast friends by remarking with surprise and admiration on their ability to read and write.

Privileged Vessel:
The vessel which in a collision was "in the right". If there were witnesses, the owner could bring an admiralty court case - know as a "wet suit" or a "leisure suit" - against the owner of the other boat, and if he proves "shiplash", he could collect a tidy sum.

Underwater winch designed to wind up at high speed any lines or painters left hanging over the stern.

Affectionate slang term for ship's captain

Popular nautical contact sport

Rapture of the Deep:
Also known as nautical narcosis. Its symptoms include an inability to use common words, such as up, down, left, right, front, and back, and their substitution with a variety of gibberish which the sufferer believes to make sense; a love of small, dark, wet places; an obsessive desire to be surrounded by possessions of a nautical nature, such as lamps made from running lights and tiny ship's wheels; and a conviction that objects are moving when they are in fact standing still. This condition is incurable.

A large, heavy, vertically mounted, hydrodynamically contoured steel plate with which, through the action of a tiller or wheel, it is possible, during brief intervals, to point a sailing vessel in a direction which, due to a combination of effects caused by tide, current, the force and direction of the wind, the size and angle of the waves, and the shape of the hull, it does not wish to go.

An entertaining, albeit expensive, device, which, together with a good atlas, is of use in introducing the boatman to many interesting areas of the earth's surface which he and his craft are not within 1,000 nautical miles of.

A boat is said to be shipshape when every object that is likely to contribute to the easy handling of the vessel or the comfort of the crew has been put in a place from which it cannot be retrieved in less than 30 minutes.

Due to restricted space, limited water supplies, and the difficulty of generating hot water, showers on board ship are quite different from those taken ashore. Although there is no substitute for direct experience, a rough idea of a shipboard shower can be obtained by standing naked for two minutes in a closet with a large, wet dog.

Spanner Wrench:
One of the most useful tools for engine repair; in come cases, the only suitable tool. Not currently manufactured.

An extremely large, lightweight, balloon-shaped piece of sailcloth frequently trailed in the water off the bow in a big bundle to slow the boat down.

Method of joining two ropes by weaving together the individual strands of which they are composed. The resulting connection is stronger than any knot. Splicing is something of an art and takes a while to master. You can work on perfecting your technique at home by practicing knitting a pair of socks or a stocking cap out of a pound or so of well-cooked noodles.

To shift the course of a sailboat from a direction far to the right, say, of the direction in which one wishes to go, to a direction far to the left of it.

Stub your "toe"? Well then, it's time to brush up on your nomenclature! In nautical terms, a toe is a catchcleat or snagtackle. A few others: head - boomstop; leg - bruisefast; and hand - blistermitten.

As worn by yacht club members and other shore hazards, a distinctive form of dress intended to be visible at a distance of at least 50 meters which serves to warn persons in the vicinity of the long winds and dense masses of hot air associated with these tidal bores.

Name of German sea dog.

High-fiction coating applied as a gloss over minor details in personal nautical recollections to improve their audience-holding capacity over frequent retellings.

Weather Helm:
Marked tendency of a sailboat to turn into the wind, even when the rudder is centered. This is easily countered by wedging a heavy object against the tiller. See CREW.

Sound made by Vang when he wishes to be fed.

Sound made by Vang to show that he doesn't like that dry, lumpy dog food you put in his dish.

Useful accessory if that dry, lumpy dog food is all you happen to have on board.

Yacht Broker:
Form of coastal marine life found in many harbours in the Northern Hemisphere generally thought to occupy a position on the evolutionalry scale above algae, but somewhat below the cherrystone clam.

Southern version of ahoy.

A warm, pleasant breeze named after the mythical Greek god of wishful thinking, false hopes, and unreliable forecasts.