Pirate and Buccaneer Sailing Terms


The first word listed is the correct English term for the part of the ship, or maneuver, etc.

Sailing Term

  1. Abeam

  2. Aboard

  3. Aft

  4. Aground

  5. Aloft

  6. Amidships

  7. Anchor

  8. Apparent Wind

  9. Astern

  10. Backstay

  11. Bail

  12. Ballast

  13. Battens

  14. Beam

  15. Beam Reach

  16. Bearing

  17. Belay

  18. Bight

  19. Bilge

  20. Block

  21. Boat Hook

  22. Bolt Rope

  23. Boom

  24. Boom Vang

  25. Bow

  26. Bowspirt

  27. Breast Line

  28. Broach

  29. Broad Reach

  30. Buoy

  31. By the Lee

  32. Can

  33. Capsize

  34. Cast Off

  35. Catboat

  36. Centerboard

  37. Chafe

  38. Chainplates

  39. Chock

  40. Cleat

  41. Clew

  42. Close Hauled

  43. Close Reach

  44. Cockpit

  45. Displacement

  46. Dock

  47. Downhaul

  48. Draft

  49. Drift

  50. Ease

  51. Fairlead

  52. Fathom

  53. Foot

  54. Forward

  55. Foremast

  56. Foresail

  57. Fouled

  58. Freeboard

  59. Furl

  60. Genoa

  61. Gimball

  62. Gooseneck

  63. Ground Tackle

  64. Gunwale

  65. Halyard

  66. Hard Alee

  67. Head

  68. Head to Wind

  69. Headsail

  70. Headstay

  71. Headway

  72. Heave To

  73. Helm

  74. Helmsman

  75. Heel

  76. Hike

  77. Hoist

  78. In Irons

  79. Jib

  80. Jibe

  81. Keel

  82. Ketch

  83. Knot

  84. Lanyard

  85. Lazarette

  86. Leech

  87. Leeward

  88. Lifeline

  89. Line

  90. List

  91. Luff

  92. Mainsheet

  93. Mizzen

  94. Mooring

  95. Nun

  96. Outhaul

  97. Painter

  98. Pennant

  99. Pinch

  100. Point

  101. Port

  102. Port Tack

  103. Privileged Vessel

  104. Reach

  105. Ready About

  106. Reef

  107. Rhumb Line

  108. Rigging

  109. Rode

  110. Rudder

  111. Running

  112. Scull

  113. Shake Out

  114. Sheave

  115. Sheet

  116. Shrouds

  117. Spinnaker

  118. Spreaders

  119. Spring Line

  120. Starboard

  121. Starboard Tack

  122. Step

  123. Stern

  124. Stow

  125. Tack

  126. Tender

  127. Tiller

  128. Topping lift

  129. Transom

  130. Traveler

  131. Trim

  132. Tuning

  133. Wake

  134. Whisker Pole

  135. Winch

  136. Windward


At right angles to , or beside, the boat

On or in the boat

Toward the stern

When the hull or keel is against the ground

Overhead, above

The middle of the boat

An object designed to grip the ground, under a body of water

The direction of the wind relative to the speed and direction of the boat

Behind the boat

A support wire that runs from the top of the mast to the stern

To remove water from the boat

Weight in the lower portion of a boat, used to add stability

Stiff strips of wood, placed in pockets of a sail, to help keep its form

The width of the boat at its widest

A point of sail where the boat is sailing at a right angle to the wind

A compass direction from one point to another

To make secure

A loop of line or rope

The lowest part of a boat, designed to collect water that enters the boat

A pulley

A device used to catch a line when coming alongside a pier or mooring

A rope sewn into a sail for use in attaching to the standing rigging

The horizontal spar which the foot of a sail is attached to

A line that adjusts downward tension on the boom

The front of the boat

A spar extending forward from the bow

A docking line going at a right angle from the boat to the dock

To spin out of control, either causing or nearly causing a capsize

When the boat is sailing away from the wind, but not directly downwind

An anchored float marking a position or for use as a mooring

Sailing with the wind from behind, and slightly to the side, the sails are on

A kind of navigation buoy

To turn a boat over

To release lines holding boat to shore or mooring, to release sheets

A one sail sailboat

A fin shaped board that extends from the bottom of the boat as a keel

Damage to a line caused by rubbing against another object

Metal plates bolted to the boat which standing rigging is attached to

A guide for an anchor, mooring or docking line, attached to the deck

A fitting used to secure a line to

The lower aft corner of a sail

A point of sail where the boat is sailing as close to the wind as possible

A point where the boat is sailing towards the wind but is not close hauled

The area, below deck level, from which the tiller or wheel is handled

The weight of the water displaced by the boat

The area a boat rests in when attached to a pier to secure it

A line, attached to the tack, that adjusts tension in the sail

The depth of the boat at its lowest point, or the fullness of the sail

The leeway, or movement of the boat, when not under power

To loosen or let out

A fitting used to change the direction of a line without chafing

A measurement relating to the depth of water, one fathom is 6 feet

The bottom part of a sail

Toward the bow to the boat

The forward mast of a boat with more that one mast

The jib

Entangled or clogged

The distance from the highest point of the hull to the water

To fold or roll a sail and secure it to its main support

A large foresail that overlaps the mainsail

A device that suspends a compass so that it remains level

A device that connects the boom to the mast

The anchor, chain and rode

The railing of the boat at deck level

The line used to raise and lower the sail

The command given that the helm is being turned quickly to leeward

Top of the sail

The bow turned into the wind, sails luffing

A sail forward of the mast, a foresail

A wire support line from the mast to the bow

Forward motion

Stop a boat by balancing rudder and sail to prevent forward movement

The tiller or wheel, and surrounding area

The member of the crew responsible for steering

The leeward lean of the boat caused by the winds action on the sails

Leaning out over the side of the boat to balance it

To raise aloft

Having turned onto the wind or lost the wind, unable to make headway

A foresail, a triangle shaped sail forward of the mast

A change of tack while going downwind

A fin down the centerline of the bottom of the hull

A two-masted ship with a small mast mounted forward of the rudder post

A unit of speed, one knot=6,076 feet per hour

A line attached to any small object to secure the object

Spaces below the deck that are designed for storage

The back edge of a sail


A cable fence surrounding the deck to prevent crew falling overboard

Rope or cordage

The leaning of a boat to the side because of excess weight on that side

Front edge of a sail. Flapping in the wind of the front of the sail (luffing)

The line that controls the boom

The shorter mast behind the main mast on a ketch or yawl

An anchor attached to the sea floor, with a buoy at the surface

A kind of navigational buoy

The line that adjust tension along the foot of the sail along the boom

A line tied to the bow of a small boat to secure it to a dock

A triangular flag

To sail as close as possible towards the wind

To turn closer towards the wind (point up)

The left side of the boat

Sailing with the wind from the port side & the boom on the starboard

The ship with the right of way

Sailing with a beam wind

Prepare to come about

To reduce the size of a sail

A straight line compass course between two points

Rigging is the lines with which you adjust the sails

The line and chain that connect the anchor to the boat

A fin under the stern of the boat used in steering

A point of sail, going directly downwind

Moving the rudder back and forth in to move the boat forward

To release a reefed sail and hoist the sail aloft

The wheel of a block pulley

A line used to control the sail

Support wires for the mast

A large, light sail used in downwind sailing

Struts used to hold the shrouds away from the mast

Docking lines that keep the boat from drifting forward and back

The right side of the boat

A course with the wind from starboard & the boom on the port side

The frame that the bottom of the mast ends into

The back of the boat

To put away

To change course by turning into the wind, also to course with the wind

A small boat used to transport crew and equipment from shore

Controls the rudder and is used for steering

A line that holds up the boom when it is not being used

The back, outer part of the stern

A device attached to the mainsheet which allows it to be adjusted

To adjust the sails, also the position of the sails

The adjustment of the standing rigging for optimum performance

The swell caused by a boat passing through water

A light spar which holds the jib out when sailing downwind

A metal drum shaped device used to assist in trimming sails