Difference between revisions of "Sailing ship types: Glossary"

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Applicable items in this glossary – and others as they are written – will appear below articles in this category. Hopefully it will end up being a useful ready-reference of nautical terms to do with the Age of Sail and other nautical articles.
 
Applicable items in this glossary – and others as they are written – will appear below articles in this category. Hopefully it will end up being a useful ready-reference of nautical terms to do with the Age of Sail and other nautical articles.
 
:Terms in '''bold''' will signify their inclusion as an item elsewhere in the glossary.
 
:Terms in '''bold''' will signify their inclusion as an item elsewhere in the glossary.
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'''Aft''': nautical for after, towards the stern. At the back of the boat.  If it is relative, it should be “abaft” as in “a yawl’s aft mast is abaft the tiller post.”
  
 
'''Bermudian''' (now usually referred to as "Bermuda”) refers to a triangular mainsail (rear sail) used on yachts and other craft since the early 20th century. It is more efficient, especially up-wind, than the '''gaff-sail''', but requires a longer mast.
 
'''Bermudian''' (now usually referred to as "Bermuda”) refers to a triangular mainsail (rear sail) used on yachts and other craft since the early 20th century. It is more efficient, especially up-wind, than the '''gaff-sail''', but requires a longer mast.
  
 
'''Boom''':  normally the spar or pole attached at one end to the mast and to which the foot of a sail is attached. It is usually used in '''fore-and-aft''' rigging, although the long yards holding [[lateen sail]]s can also be referred to as booms. It can also refer to a pole projecting out from the hull of a vessel such as the '''bowsprit'''.
 
'''Boom''':  normally the spar or pole attached at one end to the mast and to which the foot of a sail is attached. It is usually used in '''fore-and-aft''' rigging, although the long yards holding [[lateen sail]]s can also be referred to as booms. It can also refer to a pole projecting out from the hull of a vessel such as the '''bowsprit'''.
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'''Bow'''. The front of a boat. The “pointy end”.
  
 
'''Bowsprit'''. The '''boom''' projecting from the bow of a sailing vessel to which can be attached the forestaysails, also known as headsails, the leading one of which is referred to as the '''jib'''. Sometimes, during the [[Age of Exploration]] and after, a '''square-rigged''' sail would be set from it, or even from a tiny mast on it.  
 
'''Bowsprit'''. The '''boom''' projecting from the bow of a sailing vessel to which can be attached the forestaysails, also known as headsails, the leading one of which is referred to as the '''jib'''. Sometimes, during the [[Age of Exploration]] and after, a '''square-rigged''' sail would be set from it, or even from a tiny mast on it.  
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'''Deck''': the word has an interesting history – originally meaning a roof or canopy over the rowers or archers on a Mediterranean war galley. As ships became bigger and cannon replaced archers the “roof” became sturdy enough to be walked on, then to carry its own cannon (gundeck). Ships have not always had decks – [[Vicking ship]]s had no decks. The first “three-decker” was “Sovereign of the Seas”, launched in 1637.
  
 
A '''clew''' is a corner of a sail by which it is trimmed - that is the '''sheet''' is tautened or loosened so that the sail is set at the best angle to catch the wind. On a triangular sail the clew is at the bottom aft. On a square sail there are clews at the two bottom corners where one or other of the sheets can be shortened or loosened to alter the angle of the sail.
 
A '''clew''' is a corner of a sail by which it is trimmed - that is the '''sheet''' is tautened or loosened so that the sail is set at the best angle to catch the wind. On a triangular sail the clew is at the bottom aft. On a square sail there are clews at the two bottom corners where one or other of the sheets can be shortened or loosened to alter the angle of the sail.
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'''Gaff topsail''' is a triangular sail that uses the gaff of the '''gaff-sail''' below it as its '''boom'''.
 
'''Gaff topsail''' is a triangular sail that uses the gaff of the '''gaff-sail''' below it as its '''boom'''.
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'''Mizzen''' refers to the '''aft''' mast. The one at the stern.
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'''Port''': See [[Port and Starboard]].
  
 
A '''Sheet''' (strangely to non-nautical ears) is not a sail but a length of rope. It is a line that is attached to a '''clew''' and is therefore the means whereby a sail is trimmed to gain its greatest efficiency. A ship with sheets improperly set is liable to lurch and wallow in the wind, giving cause to the phrase ''“three sheets to the wind”'', meaning drunk.
 
A '''Sheet''' (strangely to non-nautical ears) is not a sail but a length of rope. It is a line that is attached to a '''clew''' and is therefore the means whereby a sail is trimmed to gain its greatest efficiency. A ship with sheets improperly set is liable to lurch and wallow in the wind, giving cause to the phrase ''“three sheets to the wind”'', meaning drunk.
  
 
'''Square-rigged''' refers to the set of the sails on what most people would consider the classic large sailing ship – the [[galleon]] or the [[clipper]] for example, or any large warship of the age of sail. The sails are set across the bow to stern line of the vessel and are four-sided and attached to '''yards''' that can be angled according wind direction. (Very few vessels in the last 500 years have been purely square-rigged – almost every ship has had triangular '''staysails''' set between the masts or from the foremast to the bow and most have a '''gaff-sail''' on its stern-most mast – usually called a “[[spanker]]” – whether or not there is square rigging on that mast.)
 
'''Square-rigged''' refers to the set of the sails on what most people would consider the classic large sailing ship – the [[galleon]] or the [[clipper]] for example, or any large warship of the age of sail. The sails are set across the bow to stern line of the vessel and are four-sided and attached to '''yards''' that can be angled according wind direction. (Very few vessels in the last 500 years have been purely square-rigged – almost every ship has had triangular '''staysails''' set between the masts or from the foremast to the bow and most have a '''gaff-sail''' on its stern-most mast – usually called a “[[spanker]]” – whether or not there is square rigging on that mast.)
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'''Starboard''': see [[Port and Starboard]]
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'''Stern''' The back of the boat. The blunt end.
  
 
'''Staysail''': refers to a triangular sail set between two masts with two corners attached to the aftmost.  (This corner is called the clew and it is here that the sail is trimmed by tightening or loosening it.) If set from the foremast it is called a headsail or forestaysail. If there is only one on the foremast that sail is called the '''jib'''. If more than one headsail, then jib refers only to the topmost.
 
'''Staysail''': refers to a triangular sail set between two masts with two corners attached to the aftmost.  (This corner is called the clew and it is here that the sail is trimmed by tightening or loosening it.) If set from the foremast it is called a headsail or forestaysail. If there is only one on the foremast that sail is called the '''jib'''. If more than one headsail, then jib refers only to the topmost.
  
'''Trim''': the term is usually meant to adjust the sails to the most favourable setting to catch the wind. This is normally done by tautening or loosening the sheets*. It can also refer to the position of a vessel in the water, which can be trimmed by moving cargo or ballast fore or aft so that the craft is “balanced”.
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'''Trim''': the term is usually meant to adjust the sails to the most favourable setting to catch the wind. This is normally done by tautening or loosening the '''sheets'''. It can also refer to the position of a vessel in the water, which can be trimmed by moving cargo or ballast fore or aft so that the craft is “balanced”.
  
 
'''Yard''' refers to the spar (pole) which is attached more or less half way along its length to a mast. The portions on either side are called “yardarms.”  To yards are attached the standard four sided sails of the '''square-rigged''' ship. The term also refers to the cross-spar atop a [[lateen sail]] or with the trapezoid lug sails of a [[lugger]].
 
'''Yard''' refers to the spar (pole) which is attached more or less half way along its length to a mast. The portions on either side are called “yardarms.”  To yards are attached the standard four sided sails of the '''square-rigged''' ship. The term also refers to the cross-spar atop a [[lateen sail]] or with the trapezoid lug sails of a [[lugger]].

Revision as of 23:09, 29 December 2012

Sailing ship types: glossary

Applicable items in this glossary – and others as they are written – will appear below articles in this category. Hopefully it will end up being a useful ready-reference of nautical terms to do with the Age of Sail and other nautical articles.

Terms in bold will signify their inclusion as an item elsewhere in the glossary.

Aft: nautical for after, towards the stern. At the back of the boat. If it is relative, it should be “abaft” as in “a yawl’s aft mast is abaft the tiller post.”

Bermudian (now usually referred to as "Bermuda”) refers to a triangular mainsail (rear sail) used on yachts and other craft since the early 20th century. It is more efficient, especially up-wind, than the gaff-sail, but requires a longer mast.

Boom: normally the spar or pole attached at one end to the mast and to which the foot of a sail is attached. It is usually used in fore-and-aft rigging, although the long yards holding lateen sails can also be referred to as booms. It can also refer to a pole projecting out from the hull of a vessel such as the bowsprit.

Bow. The front of a boat. The “pointy end”.

Bowsprit. The boom projecting from the bow of a sailing vessel to which can be attached the forestaysails, also known as headsails, the leading one of which is referred to as the jib. Sometimes, during the Age of Exploration and after, a square-rigged sail would be set from it, or even from a tiny mast on it.

Deck: the word has an interesting history – originally meaning a roof or canopy over the rowers or archers on a Mediterranean war galley. As ships became bigger and cannon replaced archers the “roof” became sturdy enough to be walked on, then to carry its own cannon (gundeck). Ships have not always had decks – Vicking ships had no decks. The first “three-decker” was “Sovereign of the Seas”, launched in 1637.

A clew is a corner of a sail by which it is trimmed - that is the sheet is tautened or loosened so that the sail is set at the best angle to catch the wind. On a triangular sail the clew is at the bottom aft. On a square sail there are clews at the two bottom corners where one or other of the sheets can be shortened or loosened to alter the angle of the sail.

Fore-and-aft rigging refers to sails that are set along a line between bow and stern of a vessel. Obviously, depending on the direction of the wind in relation to the intended course of the ship, those sails attached to booms and/or gaffs* will be set at some sort of angle. Your standard yacht has fore-and-aft rigging.

Gaff-rigged refers to a spar attached, by means of a fixture that allows it to swivel and be raised and lowered, to a mast. To it can be “hung” a square sail with its bottom corners usually attached to a boom. This is “gaff-rigged” and is one of the two common forms of rigging for the mainsail on yachts and other fore and aft rigged boats and ships. (The other is Bermudian.)

Gaff topsail is a triangular sail that uses the gaff of the gaff-sail below it as its boom.


Mizzen refers to the aft mast. The one at the stern.


Port: See Port and Starboard.

A Sheet (strangely to non-nautical ears) is not a sail but a length of rope. It is a line that is attached to a clew and is therefore the means whereby a sail is trimmed to gain its greatest efficiency. A ship with sheets improperly set is liable to lurch and wallow in the wind, giving cause to the phrase “three sheets to the wind”, meaning drunk.

Square-rigged refers to the set of the sails on what most people would consider the classic large sailing ship – the galleon or the clipper for example, or any large warship of the age of sail. The sails are set across the bow to stern line of the vessel and are four-sided and attached to yards that can be angled according wind direction. (Very few vessels in the last 500 years have been purely square-rigged – almost every ship has had triangular staysails set between the masts or from the foremast to the bow and most have a gaff-sail on its stern-most mast – usually called a “spanker” – whether or not there is square rigging on that mast.)

Starboard: see Port and Starboard

Stern The back of the boat. The blunt end.

Staysail: refers to a triangular sail set between two masts with two corners attached to the aftmost. (This corner is called the clew and it is here that the sail is trimmed by tightening or loosening it.) If set from the foremast it is called a headsail or forestaysail. If there is only one on the foremast that sail is called the jib. If more than one headsail, then jib refers only to the topmost.

Trim: the term is usually meant to adjust the sails to the most favourable setting to catch the wind. This is normally done by tautening or loosening the sheets. It can also refer to the position of a vessel in the water, which can be trimmed by moving cargo or ballast fore or aft so that the craft is “balanced”.

Yard refers to the spar (pole) which is attached more or less half way along its length to a mast. The portions on either side are called “yardarms.” To yards are attached the standard four sided sails of the square-rigged ship. The term also refers to the cross-spar atop a lateen sail or with the trapezoid lug sails of a lugger.

To be continued...