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15 Sailing Terms for Beginners

Whether a complete novice or an experienced sailor, it is highly beneficial to have knowledge of the many sailing terms used in the day-to-day operation of a boat.

Sailing TermsBy having a fundamental grasp of the vocabulary used in sailing it will be that much easier to learn the different components of a boat and the relevant maneuvers. A sailor who is able to relay the right sailing terminology is certain to be that much more confident when it concerns conveying the right information and safely guiding a vessel.

Here are 15 useful sailing terms for the beginners:

  • Aft: aft relates to the rearmost region of a sailing boat.
  • Ballast: ballast is vital in sailboats to help weigh down or steady the boat to compensate for the lateral force of the sails. A sailboat with insufficient ballast is likely to heel or tip significantly in high winds.
  • Bilge: the bilge relates to the lowest and rounded region of the sailing boat, so forms the area between the sides and bottom of the hull.
  • Boom: the boom is designed to attach to the mast in a certain position to help with holding the foot or bottom of the mainsail.
  • Capsize: a boat that overturns is referred to as capsized.
  • Centerboard: a sector of the boat that is mounted to the bottom section of the vessel and helps with balancing and preventing the boat from drifting.
  • Helm: the helm relates to the equipment for steering the sailing boat, or an able skipper who is able to control such apparatus.
  • Keel: the keel is a structure of the hull which sticks down into the sea from the bottom region of a sailing boat, and helps with balance and avoids rolling.
  • Leeway: leeway relates to the drift or movement that is experienced by a sailing boat due to the wind or current.
  • Luffing: this is a term that relates to a sail that isn’t yet set and isn’t in a taught position and continues to move in the wind
  • Mast: the mast is there it help with supporting the mainsail. It is kept in a vertical position to the boat hull.
  • Rudder: the rudder is a suitably sized piece of plastic, metal, or wood which is mounted to a sailing boat to help with steering or turning the vessel. It helps with changing direction by altering the direction in which water or air pushes past a boat.
  • Seaworthy: relates to the condition of a vessel and ensures it is in a safe state to operate.
  • Starboard: relates to the right-side of a sailing boat (the opposite side of the boat is known as port).
  • Wake: a boats wake relates to the water mark that follows behind a faster moving vessel like a speed or a motorboat.