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Mother-In-Law’s Lexicon

Sarah’s dictionary on sailboat parts & pieces:

Close hauled: sailing with the sail pulled in parallel with the side of the boat.

Down wind: sailing with the wind i.e. with the wind coming over the blunt end (stern) of the boat.

Lee: sheltered from the wind (lee bunk would be the side the wind is blowing to) or when sailing protected by an island so the wind is less forceful.

Beam: boats fattest part in the middle, just like me!

Quarter: position off the side towards the stern (back) of the boat; either side.

Port: left side.

Starboard: right side. Easy to remember as there are more letters in starboard & more letters in right!

Forestay: usually a wire rope that is attached to the bow (pointed front end) & halfway up the mast to help hold the mast up. The wires on the sides are called shrouds; well they would be wouldn’t they!

Jib: small sail attached to forestay , the ropes that are attached at the foot (bottom edge)so you can pull the jib to direct it are called sheets, of course, & the rope that pulls the sail up is called a halyard. This comes from when the big old sail ships had square sails & you hauled the sail up to a long horizontal pole called a yard arm which was attached to the mast.

Genoa: huge jib.

Spinnaker: an even bigger, and uncontrollable, balloon type sail for using when sailing down wind. Some racing crews use it when the wind is coming from the side BUT it can be tricky.

Main sail: big triangle attached all the way up the mast.

Boom: wooden length of wood which the foot (bottom) edge of the mainsail is attached to. The thing that seems to hit you on the head, rather hard usually!

Mizzen: Not all boats have one but Murre does. It is a small sail that is on a second small mast near the stern of the boat, really helpful in stabilizing & offer smaller rig in a blow.

Companion Way: Steps from cabin to cockpit.

Sails slatted: Sails are flapping back and forth, i.e. no wind filling them. This would be a good time to watch out for that boom!

Cheek blocks: pullies used to thread sheets or other lines through back and forth, to make it easier to pull in the main or jib.

Wing and wing: Jib out to one side & main out to other when sailing down wind to catch the most wind.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    May 21, 2011 1:18 am

    Rum line or rhumb line is the shortest distanct between2 points, which on our sperical worls is circular!

  2. Bolster permalink
    May 21, 2011 2:03 am

    Oh! Rum line is not the shortest route to a stout drink, then? I was confused.

    What about the Lazy Jack? All I know is it’s busted and someone needs to climb the mast to fix it.

    Thanks for the explanations. “Beam” was a good one.

  3. Bruce permalink
    June 27, 2011 6:24 pm

    On our boats we should also define wing, wing & wing, with the job and mizzen set to one side,, and the main set on the opposite side.

  4. Bruce permalink
    June 27, 2011 6:25 pm

    That would be a jib, not a job:)

  5. Bob & Karolynne permalink
    September 20, 2012 5:23 pm

    Welcome to Campbell River… so glad you enjoyed the chowder, wish we had more to give you! Safe trip to S. F.

    • September 20, 2012 7:16 pm

      Very nice to meet the two of you. Enjoyed half the chowder after my full dinner and had the other half for breakfast. Most excellent. Have a great time with you lovely new boat, and thanks again for the conversation.

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