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Backing (Wind)
The changing of the wind direction, opposite of veering. Clockwise in the southern hemisphere, counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere.
A method of weaving the end of a rope to keep it from unraveling.
A stay (line or cable) used to support the mast. The backstay runs from the masthead to the stern and helps keep the mast from falling forward.
When the wind pushes on the wrong side of the sail, causing it to be pushed away from the wind. If the lines holding the sail in place are not released, the boat could become hard to control and heel excessively.
To remove water from a boat, as with a bucket or a pump.
A weight at the bottom of the boat to help keep it stable. Ballast can be place inside the hull of the boat or externally in a keel.
A region of shallow water usually made of sand or mud, usually running parallel to the shore. Bars are caused by wave and current action, and may not be shown on a chart
A long vessel with a flat bottom used to carry freight on rivers. Barges are usually not powered, being pushed or towed by a tugboat instead.
An instrument used to keep a record of atmospheric pressure, such as on a paper drum.
An instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure, usually measured in inches of mercury or millibars. Inches of mercury are used because some barometers use the height of mercury in a sealed tube as a measuring device.
Barometric Pressure
Atmospheric pressure as measured by a barometer.
(1) A thin strip of hard material, such as wood or plastic. (2) Battens are attached to a sail to stiffen it to a more preferred shape. They are placed in pockets sewn into the sail called batten pockets. (3) Battens also used to be used to secure hatches.
Batten Down
Also batten the hatches. To put away all loose objects on the ship and to close all openings, such as ports and hatches, in preparation for heavy weather. Hatches used to be secured with battens.
Batten Pockets
Pockets in a sail where battens can be placed to stiffen the sail.
Batten the Hatches
Also batten down. To put away all loose objects on the ship and to close all openings, such as ports and hatches, in preparation for heavy weather. Hatches used to be secured with battens.
An enclosed body of water with a wide mouth leading to the sea.
(1) The widest part of a boat. (2) Abeam, at right angles to the length of the boat. (3) Sturdy wooden timbers running across the width of a boat . Used to support the deck of a wooden boat.
Beam Reach
Sailing on a point of sail such that the apparent wind is coming from the beam (side) of the boat at about a 90 angle. A beam reach is usually the fastest point of sail. A beam reach is a point of sail between a broad reach and a close reach.
Bear Away, Bear Off
To fall off. A boat falls off the wind when it points its bow further from the eye of the wind. The opposite of heading up.
The direction of an object from the observer. "The lighthouse is at a bearing of 90 degrees."
To sail on a tack (direction) toward the wind.
Tacking. To sail against the wind by sailing on alternate tacks (directions).
Beaufort Wind Scale
A method of measuring the severity of the force of wind, named after Admiral Beaufort who created the system. 0 is no wind, whereas 12 would be a hurricane.
A loop at the end of a line.
Bedding Compound
A material used to join two objects completely. Usually used to create a water tight or very secure joint.
A type of knot used to connect a line to a spar or another line. Also the act of using such a knot.
Bend on
To attach a sail and prepare it for use.
(1) A place for a person to sleep. (2) A place where the ship can be secured. (3) A safe and cautious distance, such as "We gave the shark a wide berth."
The center of a slack line. (i.e: where it sags). Also a small indented curve in a shoreline.
The lowest part of the interior of the boat where water collects.
Bilge Pump
A mechanical, electrical, or manually operated pump used to remove water from the bilge.
A cover used to shelter the cockpit from the sun.
The mount for the compass, usually located on the wheel's pedestal.
A pair of small telescopes, one for each eye, used to magnify distant objects.
A sturdy post mounted on the bow or stern to which anchor or mooring lines may be attached.
Bitter End
The end of a line. Also the end of the anchor rode attached to the boat.
One or more wheels with grooves in them (pulleys) designed to carry a line and change the direction of its travel. A housing around the wheel allows the block to be connected to a spar, or another line. Lines used with a block are known as tackle.
Block and Tackle
A combination of one or more blocks and the associated tackle necessary to give a mechanical advantage. Useful for lifting heavy loads.
Boarding Ladder
A ladder used to board the vessel. Boarding ladders may be designed to be useful from either the water or a dock and are usually stowed when not in use.
Boarding Wave
A wave that breaks over the deck of the boat.
A small vessel used to travel on the water, powered by either wind, power or oars. Also any small vessel carried on a larger ship.
Boat Hook
A pole with an attached hook at the end, used for either retrieving objects or fending them off.
Also bosun, bos'n, bo's'n, and bo'sun, all of which are pronounced bosun. A crew member responsible for keeping the hull, rigging and sails in repair.
A large pillar, usually made of concrete or steel, to which a boat's mooring lines can by tied.
Bolt Rope
A line (rope) sewn into the luff of a sail. The bolt rope fits in a notch in the mast or other spar when the sail is raised.
A pole securing the bottom of a sail, allowing more control of the position of a sail.
Boom Vang
Any system used to hold the boom down. This is useful for maintaining proper sail shape, particularly when running or on a broad reach.
Also boatswain, bos'n, bo's'n, and bo'sun, all of which are pronounced bosun. A crew member responsible for keeping the hull, rigging and sails in repair.
Bosun's Chair
A chair traditionally made from a plank and rope, used to hoist workers aloft to maintain the rigging.
Bosun's Locker
A locker where tools for maintaining the deck, rigging and sails are kept.
The front of the boat.
Bow & Beam Bearings
A set of bearings taken from an object with a known position, such as a landmark, to determine the ship's location. A type of running fix.
A reference book named after the original author, Nathaniel Bowditch. Updated versions contain tables and other information useful for navigation.
A knot used to make a loop in a line. Easily untied, it is simple and strong. The bowline is used to tie sheets to sails.
A pole extending from the bow of a boat. The bowsprit is used to attach the headstay forward of the front of the boat's deck. This allows added sail area for the head sail.
A guy. A line used to control the movement of the object at the other end, such as a spar.
Braided Line
A method of making lines that allows for greater strength and durability when using modern materials.
A wave that approaches shallow water, causing the wave height to exceed the depth of the water it is in, in effect tripping it. The wave changes from a smooth surge in the water to a cresting wave with water tumbling down the front of it.
Breaking Seas
With sufficiently strong wind, large waves can form crests even in deep water, causing the wave tops to tumble forward over the waves.
A structure build to improve a harbor by sheltering it from waves.
Breast Line
A line attached laterally from a boat to a dock, preventing movement away from the dock.
(1) The room from which a ship is controlled. On a smaller boat this is usually not a room, is outside, and is known as a cockpit. (2) A man made structure crossing a body of water, usually for the use of automobiles or train. A boat intending to pass under a bridge needs to make sure it has sufficient vertical clearance unless it is a swinging bridge or a drawbridge.
Pieces of wood trim and also any polished metal on a vessel.
Bristol Fashion
A term used to describe a clean and orderly ship. "Shipshape and Bristol fashion."
Broach to
An undesirable position in which a vessel is turned to expose its side to the oncoming waves.
The unplanned turning of a vessel to expose its side to the oncoming waves. In heavy seas this could cause the boat to be knocked down.
Broad on the Beam
The position of an object that lies off to one side of the vessel.
Broad Reach
Sailing with the apparent wind coming across the quarter of the ship. A broad reach is a point of sail between a beam reach and running.
An interior wall in a vessel. Sometimes bulkheads are also watertight, adding to the vessel's safety.
Buntline Hitch
A type of knot used to attach a line to a shackle.
A floating device used as a navigational aid by marking channels, hazards and prohibited areas.
Burdened Vessel
The vessel responsible for moving out of another vessels path according to the navigation rules. Also known as the give way vessel.
A type of flag used to identify a boater's affiliation with a yacht club or boating organization.
By the Lee
A point of sail similar to running where the wind is coming over the quarter of the sailboat on the same side that the main sail and boom are on. This point of sail is considered dangerous because of the possibility of an accidental jibe.
Woodside Bottom
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