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SAILING GLOSSARY

Below you will find some key sailing terms.

Aft deck

Part of the deck that is aft of the cockpit.

Adjuster plates

The stainless steel multi-holed plates used to attach the shrouds to the chainplates. The outboard plates are hooked for the spinnaker guy.

Aft

Located in or toward the rear.

Backlash

A backward rotation of the halyard winch spools caused by the spring tension of the wire that is wound on the spools.

Bail

Stainless steel strap made to form a loop.

Batten

A thin flexible fiberglass strip inserted into the batten pockets in the leech of the mainsail to support the leech. Long battens are 40"and short battens are 30".

Batten pocket

A pocket sewn roughly at right angles to the leech of the mainsail shaped to hold the batten safe after it has been slipped in.

Becket

A becket block has a loop or eye to which a line can be attached.

Block

Has a roller or sheave, which turns on a pin between two metal or plastic cheeks.

Bolt rope

Rope attached to the luff and foot of the mainsail so that the sail can be fed into the mast or boom.

Boom

13’ aluminum spar that holds the foot of the mainsail

Boom crutch

A 1" dia. aluminum post with a plastic fork at one end used to support the boom when the sail is lowered.

Boom vang

A block and tackle system used to pull the boom down keeping it horizontal while sailing.

Bow

The forward part of the boat.

Bow eye

Cast eye in bow plate used for tie-up.

Bow line

Twisted nylon 3/8" line with a loop spliced at one end used to tie the boat to the dock.

Bow plate

Chrome plated cast brass fitting at the bow through which the jib tack and forestay extension wires pass; incorporates an eye for tie-up.

Bow shackle

Shackle with curved sides.

Bowline

A knot tied to make a loop that will neither slip or jam, and that can be undone after it has been subjected to tension.

Carrying forks

Front and rear mast forks used to carry mast for trailering

Centerboard

The weighted board that is lowered through a slot in the bottom to reduce leeway and provide lateral resistance.

Centerboard cable

A 5/32"cable that winds onto the shaft of the centerboard winch to raise the centerboard.

Centerboard hoist

See centerboard winch

Centerboard line

¼" line on the starboard side of the centerboard trunk used to operate the centerboard winch in raising and lowering the centerboard.

Centerboard trunk

The long narrow casing running fore and aft on the centerline that houses the raised centerboard.

Centerboard winch

Differential winch located on the starboard side of the stanchion used to raise and lower the centerboard. Provides 16:1 mechanical and consists of a ¼" line pulling on an 8" wheel turning a 1" shaft that winds up a 5/32" cable rigged with 2:1 purchase. Sometimes called the centerboard hoist.

Centerboard winch drum

The 8"wheel that is part of the centerboard hoist.

Chain plate

A 1-1/8" stainless strap that protrudes from the side deck near the forward end of the cockpit to which the shrouds are attached

Clevis pin

A 3/16" or ¼" locking pin, headed at one end, with an eye at the other through which a keeper pin is passed to prevent accidental withdrawal

Clew

The after lower corner of a sail where the foot and leech meet.

Close-hauled

Sailing a course as close to windward as possible.

Coaming

Raised area around the cockpit that prevents water from entering.

Cockpit

Open space in the deck where the crew can sit or stand.

Cunningham

A block and tackle system used to control tension on the luff of the mainsail.

Cunningham hole

Reinforced grommet in the luff of the mainsail a few inches above the tack through which the cunningham is rigged.

D shackle

Shackle with straight sides.

Dead-ended

To terminate a purchase with a knot.

Deck

Large molded section that covers the hull and provides the seats

Downwind

Direction to leeward.

Drain plug

Rubber and metal plug with metal flip lever used to close the drain hole at the center of the lower transom.

End boom casting

Cast aluminum alloy fitting attached to the end of the boom with a stainless steel swivel tang and two holes to anchor the outhaul.

Eye strap

Strong stainless strap that is formed with a loop and screwed or bolted to the structure. Generally used to attach fittings to a surface.

Fairlead

Fitting through which a working line is rove to alter the direction of the lead.

Fiddle block

A block with two sheaves, one above the other on separate pins; is supposed to look rather like a violin because the upper block is larger.

Figure-eight knot

A knot, shaped like an 8, made in the end of a line to prevent it from unreeving through a block, fairlead etc.

Foot

The lower edge of a sail.

Foredeck

Part of the deck that is forward of the mast

Forestay

3/32" stainless wire with forked fittings at each end that provides fore-and-aft support for the mast and is the wire to which the jib luff is snapped

Forestay extension

17.5" x 3/32" stainless wire with a forked fitting at one end and a threaded fitting at the other that connects the forestay to the forestay turnbuckle through the bow plate

Forestay turnbuckle

A stainless steel coupling device consisting of a barrel piece internally threaded at both ends into which a threaded rod from below and the forestay extension from above are screwed in order to adjust the tension of the forestay.

Gooseneck

Fitting which attaches the boom to the mast and allows the boom to move in all directions.

Grommet

Metal eye fitted into a hole in a sail or canvas to take a line, shackle, etc.

Guy

The windward spinnaker sheet.

Guy hook

Hooked adjuster plate under which the spinnaker guy is hooked while the spinnaker is set.

Halyard winch

Phenolic device with aluminum spools mounted at the base of the mast used to raise the main and jib sails.

Halyard winch crank

Aluminum alloy handle used to turn the halyard winch spools when hoisting the main and jib sails. Designed as a shear pin to break at 30 lbs. of torque to protect more expensive pieces in the system.

Halyard winch spools

Aluminum spools in the halyard winch onto which the main and jib halyards are wound when hoisting the main and jib sails.

Head

The upper corner of a sail where the luff and leech meet to which the halyard is attached. Note - There are several other nautical uses of this word which are not covered here.

Headboard

Plastic reinforcement at the head of the mainsail.

Hull

The actual body of the boat.

Jib

The small triangular sail set on the forestay forward of the mast

Jib fairlead block

Block mounted on a sliding car and track arrangement on the side cockpit coaming. Used to adjust the tension on the jib leech.

Jib halyard

3/32" wire attached to the upper spool of the halyard winch at one end and with a shackle at the other used to raise the jib sail.

Jib halyard winch

Top spool in the halyard winch used to raise the jib sail.

Jib sail

Small triangular sail that is forward of the mast and snaps to the forestay

Jib sheet

The sheet that is rove through the jib blocks and controls the lateral movement of the jib sail.

Jib tack wire

19" X 3/32" stainless wire with a forked fitting at one end and a shackle at the other that connects the jib tack to the toggle through the bow plate.

Key shackle

A D shaped long stainless shackle with a retaining bar and a key type pin that cannot fall out.

Leech

The aftermost edge of a sail.

Leeward

Downwind, away from the wind, the direction to which the wind blows.

Luff

1. The forward edge of a sail.
2. To alter course so that the boat sails closer to the wind or turns into the wind. 3. A sail luffs when the wind backs it close to the luff, i.e. when the boat is pointed too close to the wind or when the sail is not trimmed in far enough.

Main halyard winch

Bottom spool in the halyard winch used to raise the main sail.

Mainsail

The largest and principal sail.

Mainsheet

The sheet that is rove through the mainsheet blocks and controls the lateral movement of the boom and mainsail.

Mast

26’ aluminum extrusion without which no sail can be set

Mast fork – front

Wood support that fits into stanchion used to carry forward end of mast for trailering

Mast fork – rear

Stainless support that fits into rudder fittings to carry aft end of mast for trailering

Mast hinge pin

Hinged stainless pin that slips into the sail track at the base of the mast to aid in raising the mast

Mast step

Deck fitting onto which the mast butt fits.

Mast tie downs

Lines and snubbers used to secure mast for trailering

Masthead

The top part of the mast to which the mainsail halyard sheaves are fitted.

Masthead fly

A device at the masthead that swivels to show the wind direction.

Mid-boom bail

Stainless steel strap made to form a loop that is mounted approximately at the center of the boom to which the mainsheet mid-boom block is attached using a screw pin D shackle.

Mid-boom block

Single mainsheet block that attaches to the middle of the boom with a screw pin D shackle.

Outhaul

The tackle system by which the mainsail clew is hauled out towards the end of the boom.

Pawl

Short lug which drops into a toothed wheel or rack to prevent it from running back.

Port

The left hand side when looking forward towards the bow.

Ratchet block

A block with a serrated sheave, which grips the sheet, and a pawl which permits it to turn in one direction only, thus taking much of the load.

Reeve

To pass the end of a rope or line through a hole or aperture such as an eye, block or sheave.

Rove

Past tense of reeve.

Rudder

A vertically hinged aluminum plate in a fiberglass housing mounted at the stern for directing the vessel’s course.

Rudder blade

Aluminum plate mounted in the fiberglass rudder head. Pivots up in shallow water or for launching.

Rudder fitting

Four stainless steel fittings mounted to the rudder head and transom through which the rudder pin passes and attaches the rudder to the transom.

Rudder head

Molded fiberglass housing for the rudder blade to which the tiller connects.

Rudder pin

The 3/8" stainless steel rod that is approximately 17" long and is used to attach the rudder to the hull.

S hook

A sharply bent stainless device used to attach the upper block of the broom vang to the boom

Safety pins

Clevis pin keepers for shrouds – must be taped

Safety wire

Small length of stainless steel wire used to prevent the forestay turnbuckle from turning itself and coming loose accidentally.

Sail track

Groove that runs the length of the aft side of the mast and the top side of the boom. The boltrope, sewn to the luff and foot of the mainsail, is fed into the track to hold the sail to the mast and boom.

Screw pin shackle

Shackle with a threaded pin. Some are made so that the pin cannot fall out.

Shackle

Stainless steel link used to connect sails, lines, blocks, etc.

Sheave

A wheel over which a rope or wire runs.

Sheet

Rope or line attached to the boom or corner of a sail, the lateral movement of which it controls. Named after the sail it serves, i.e. mainsheet, jib and spinnaker sheets.

Shroud

5/32" stainless wire with forked fittings at each end used to support the mast laterally

Shroud adjuster plates

The stainless steel multi-holed plates used to attach the shrouds to the chainplates. The outboard plates are hooked for the spinnaker guy.

Spinnaker

A large symmetrical balloon-shaped sail set when sailing downwind.

Spinnaker eye

Ring mounted to the front of the mast to which the inboard end of the spinnaker pole is attached when flying the spinnaker. Also commonly used as a place to secure lines and halyards when they are not in use.

Spinnaker fairlead

Fairlead mounted at the outer edge of the aft deck used to lead the spinnaker sheet to the cockpit.

Spinnaker guy

The windward spinnaker sheet.

Spinnaker hook

Hooked adjuster plate under which the spinnaker guy is hooked while the spinnaker is set.

Spinnaker pole

A 1.5"dia. x 7’spar which extends the spinnaker to windward.

Stanchion

Wood (usually mahogany or teak) deck support that transfers the compression forces from the mast to the hull. Also serves as the mounting platform for the centerboard winch and wooden spinnaker halyard cleats..

Starboard

The right hand side when looking forward towards the bow.

Stern

The afterpart of a vessel.

Swage

Compression sleeve at the end of a wire,

Swivel tang

Swiveling flat stainless steel strap that is bolted to the end boom casting to which the mainsheet fiddle block is attached.

Tack

1. The lower forward corner of a sail where the luff and foot meet.
2. A sailing boat is on a tack when she is not in the process of gybing or tacking. When she has the wind to starboard and the boom to port, she is on starboard tack. When she has the wind to port and the boom to starboard, she is on port tack.
3. To turn the boat so as to change from one tack to another with the bow passing through the eye of the wind.

Tack pin

Key type pin part of the gooseneck that holds the mainsail tack to the boom

Tackle

A purchase to increase pulling or hoisting power by means of a rope or line through one or more blocks.

Tang

Flat strap, usually stainless, with holes that allow a fitting to be attached or for it to be bolted or screwed to a spar or to the hull.

Tie-down strap

Strap with cinch to secure boat to trailer

Tiller

The wooden lever that is approximately 63" long and mounts to the top of the rudder and is used to turn the rudder and steer the boat.

Tiller keeper pin

Large brass cotter pin used to keep the tiller from slipping out of the rudder head accidentally. It is generally attached to the rudder head with a short line or wire.

Tiller tender

Piece of ¼" shock cord mounted under the aft deck at the back of the cockpit to hold the tiller at or near center.

Toggle plate

A stainless steel device attached to the hull under the foredeck that has the forestay attached at one end and the jib tack wire at the other. Used to evenly spread the load of the mast between the forestay and jib halyard.

Tongue, trailer

Forward part of trailer frame where coupler and winch stand are mounted

Trailer catwalk

Board bolted to the trailer that facilitates walking on the empty trailer.

Trailer winch

The stationary hand-powered pulling machine mounted forward on the trailer having a drum around which is wound the winch line attached to the boat.

Transom

The flat, vertical hull section that extends across the stern.

Traveler strap

Stainless steel strap made to form a loop that is mounted to the forward upper corner of the rudder head. Attachment point for the lower mainsheet block.

Vang bail

Stainless steel strap made to form a loop that is mounted to the boom and to which the upper broom vang block is attached using a stainless S-hook.

Winch crank

Aluminum alloy handle used to turn the halyard winch spools when hoisting the main and jib sails. Designed as a shear pin to break at 30 lbs. of torque to protect more expensive pieces in the system.

Windward

The direction from which the wind blows.

 

 

 

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