Here’s a list of words you’ll often hear when you come aboard Bedouin. It’s not a comprehensive list of all nautical terms but if you become familiar with these words you’ll look like seasoned pro even if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. 

AFT – The back of the boat.  Also referred to as “stern.”

ANCHOR BOUY – A floating marker that shows the position of the anchor at the below.

ANCHOR WATCH – During significant weather conditions, when crew members are assigned lookout duty on rotation throughout the night to make sure anchor is holding.

BOOM – The horizontal pole along the bottom of the mainsail that starts at the mast and runs aft.

BOSUN/BOATSWAIN – The deck boss.  A person designated to run and oversee the topside jobs onboard the boat including: sails, fenders, anchoring, etc.  Our youngest daughter Chloe is always our bosun when she’s aboard—miss bossy pants runs a tight ship.

BOW – The front of the boat.  Also referred to as “forward.”

CABIN – Sailors use this term instead of “bedroom.”

CLEAT – A “T” shaped piece of metal fastened to a boat or dock that is primarily designed to rip your toes painfully off your foot.  A cleat is also used to secure lines (rope) to.

FOLLOWING SEA(s) – Waves or tides going in the same direction as the boat. Following seas are much more comfortable to sail than beating into the waves.

FOOT – The bottom of a sail. Also, it’s the part of your body that get hammered by the cleat and can induce bouts of cussing when contact between the two are made. (see “cleat”)

FORWARD – The front of the boat.  Also referred to as “bow.”

FREEBOARD – The height of the boat starting at the waterline extending up.

FURL – To roll up a sail.

GALLEY – Sailors use this term instead of “kitchen.”

HALYARD – Sailors call the line (rope) used to raise the top of the mainsail.

HEAD – Sailors use this term instead of “bathroom.”

HEADSAIL – A sail flown forward of the mast. Another term for “jib.” On Bedouin we have two headsails; a “genoa” and a “code zero.”

HELM – The place on the boat where the wheel or rudder is located to steer the boat. Often you will find Captain Mark here with binoculars in hand looking for things to point at like a five-year-old kid at sea for the first time.

HULL – The main body of a vessel.  Catamarans have two hulls joined by a “bridge deck” in between.

JIB – A triangle shaped sail at the front of the boat.

LINES – Sailors use this term instead of saying “rope”.

LUFF – When a sail flutters due to lack of wind. It also refers to a leading edge of a sail.

MAINSHEET – This is not a like a flat or fitted sheet on a bed but rather a line (rope) that is attached to the mainsail and used to control the angle of the boom.

MAN OVERBOARD! – This is shouted loudly if someone falls overboard.

MAST – The vertical pole on a boat that supports the mailsail.

MED MOOR – Short for “Mediterranean mooring,” because this docking technique is common practice in the Med. The first time we tried this on Bedouin we were freaking out on the inside while trying to looks composed on the outside.  Since it involves backing in the boat, stern to, often in a tight space, squeezing in between boats it can feel intimidating to a sailor not used to this Mediterranean style of docking.

NAVY SHOWER – A water-saving technique for showering that significantly reduces water usage. The method: 1) turning the water on to get wet then turning it off  2) soaping up  3) turning water back on to rinse.

PORT – Facing forward, this is the left side of the boat.

REEFING – Making a sail smaller due to increasing winds.

RUNNING RIGGING – Primarily the lines (ropes) used to manipulate and control all the sails.

SCUTTLEBUTT – Slang used for boat gossip. (see the page “Stuff You Say from Sailing” for the history behind this term.) 

SHEET – The line (rope) used to control the sail.

SKIPPER – Captain of the ship.

STANDING RIGGING – Permanent non-moving wires and cables used to support the masts on the boat.

STARBOARD – Facing forward, this is the right side of the boat.

STERN – The back of the boat. Also referred to as “aft.”

STERN TIE – An anchoring method where the boat is backed into position and then tied to shore using floating lines from the stern of the boat..

TRIM – Actively easing or tightening a sail’s angle in increments to capture the desired amount of wind.

WATCH – A specific period of time in which a crew member is on duty, generally to make sure the ship is safe and on course.

WEIGH ANCHOR – To raise the anchor in preparation to sail or motor.

WINDLASS – This refers to the winch that is used to raise and lower the anchor.