A Sailor’s Terminology Guide

Being a sailor require a good memory; because not only do you have to remember what to do, you have to know what it’s called and what to say.

So here’s a wee bit of the Sailor’s Terminology Guide, made personally by yours truly.

“High Side” and “Low Side”:  this is what a mate or deckhand or shipmate might say to you if you are walking on the “low side” of the boat. If you look below you will see a demonstration of the high/low sides.



When you are sailing, the sails will billow the way the wind is blowing, causing the ship to move in the direction of the wind, too. Which means the boat will be tilted. If one was to walk on the low side and the boat suddenly hit a swell and you lost you’re balance, you’d go tumbling out of the boat.


Port Side: this is the left side of the boat

Starboard side: this is the right side of the boat

Bunk: your bed

Sole: the floor

Bulkheads: the walls

Galley: the kitchen

Head: the bathroom

Outer jib: sail farthest on the bow

Inner jib: second farthest on the bow

Staysail: third farthest

Foresail: fourth farthest

Mainsail: fifth farthest

Radar: the technological thing that is on the top mast that scans the surroundings for things like land, buoys, other boats, etc

Tack: when the wind is blowing you away from where you want to go, you will follow this procedure to keep yourself on course:


Tacking is basically just sailing into the wind, then against it, into, against, etc.


Jibe: Jibe is another sailing maneuver where the boat reaching downwind turns its stern through the wind so that the  wind direction changes from one side of the boat to the other. (I could not fully grasp the idea of jibe when they explained it so I looked this up on Wikipedia and now it makes so much more sense.) For a visual:



(I did not create this one. the internet helped me out with this one.)


Helm: the “wheel” of the boat. The thing you turn to make it go where you want

Gaff: Sailing rig

Line: Rope

Peak halyard: this is on the starboard side. Is a line that raises the end of a gaff further from the mast.

Throat halyard: this is on the port side. It is a line that raises the end nearer to the mast.

Coil: It is when you make a circle with the line [clockwise] and then hang it so that the line does not touch the deck. For a visual:


Remember I showed you this picture earlier? This is the Harvey Gamage

Ordered Course: where you are going

Mooring Ball: a giant buoy used for tying your ship off to. Kind of like anchoring but MUCH simpler.

Head rig: download (2)

That is the headrig. (this is the Harvey Gamage but I personally did not take this picture.)

Aloft: “Going aloft” means you climb to the top of the mast.


Haul away: pull down or out on the line


Ease away: slowly, carefully feed the the line forward

Hard right: when at the helm, if the mate tells you “hard right” it means to steer right AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Hard left: ” ” except left

Furl: it fold the sails. This is a difficult process.

Bowline: a type of knot

Slippery half hitch: another type of knot

Reefer: the freezer

Nav room: the navigation room

Brass-o: stuff used to polish the brass

Dead ahead: right in front of the ship

Main Salon: the “dining” room




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