Glossary of nautical terms

Aloft – Above the decks of the yacht

Anchorage – An anchorage is an area of shallow water where a yacht can drop its anchor to moor temporarily

Beam – The greatest width of the yacht

Berth – A location where yachts can stay attached to land (see also ‘Port’ and ‘Marina’)

Bimini – A shelter used to cover the cockpit of a yacht from the sun

Blue water – The deep water found far out to sea

Bosun – A crew member responsible for the condition of the yacht and maintenance management

Bow – The front of the yacht

Bridge – The point where a motor yacht is steered and navigated from

Bulkhead –The surface on the sides of a room or structure, i.e. a ‘wall’!

Burgee – The type of small flag used to indicate a yacht’s association with a yacht club or organisation

Cabin – A sleeping compartment for guests or crew, i.e. a ‘bedroom’

Captain – The person legally responsible for a yacht and its occupants

Chief mate – The officer who is second in command of a yacht

Deck – The surface of the top of the yacht that people stand on, i.e. the ‘floor’

Deckhead – The surface of the top of a room or structure, i.e. the ‘celing’

Displacement – The measure of the weight of a boat based upon the amount of water it displaces

Dock – A platform or structure on land that yachts can tie to securely

Dry dock – A space where a yacht can be worked on out of the water. A yacht is usually moved into the space, then the water is pumped out so that the yacht is out of the water and work can be done on the hull

Fender – A cushion that protects the side of a yacht

Fore – Towards the front of the yacht

Foredeck – The forward part of the deck

Forepeak – The most far forward section of the interior of a yacht

Grab rails – Handholds located around the yacht to hold onto at sea

GRP – Glass Reinforced Plastic, the most commonly used material in modern boat building

Gullet – A traditional Turkish motorsailing yacht. Gullets have their origins in sponge trading boats.

Hatch – An opening in a yacht’s deck fitted with a watertight cover

Helm – Where the yacht can be driven from and where the ‘steering wheel’ is

Hull – The main body of a yacht which sits in the water

Keel – The centreline of a yacht under the water

Ketch – A sailing yacht with two masts

Knot – A unit of speed equating to one nautical mile per hour

Landfall – First sight of land

Lazarette – A storage area under the deck, usually at the stern of the yacht

Latitude – An angular measurement in degrees above or below the Equator

Longitude – Distance East or West of Greenwich, measured in degrees

Logbook – A yachts record of activity

Marina – A place where yachts can stay, as well as receive water and fuel (see also ‘Port’)

Midships – The middle of the yacht, between the bow and stern

Monohull – A yacht with only one hull

Multihull – A yacht with more than one hull

Passarelle – The passageway which you use to walk from the yacht to the dock

Planing hull – A hull design capable of rising partially out of the water, making it go faster

Port – Left hand side of the yacht as you face towards the bow

Port – A place where yachts can stay, as well as receive water and fuel (see also ‘Marina’)

Prop – A propeller

Radar – An instrument used to detect and measure other objects on the water’s surface, particularly in poor visibility. The larger the object the better for a clearer picture on the radar screen, which is affected by distance and weather.

Rail – The edge of a boats deck

Rudder – A flat surface at the back of the boat used to control the direction the yacht is heading in

Running lights – Lights required to be shown by a yacht at night whilst navigating

Salon/Saloon – The main living room on a yacht

Sea cock – A valve going through the yacht’s hull, between the interior and the sea

Slack – Not fastened, loose

Starboard – Right hand side of the yacht as you face towards the bow

Stern – The back of the yacht

Stow – To put an item in its proper place and secure it from moving

Tender – A small boat kept on board and used to transfer passengers ashore or be used for watersports etc

Transom – The stern cross section of a square sterned yacht

Underway – When the yacht is moving through the water

VHF – Short for ‘Very High Frequency’ radio, used by crew to communicate internally and for the yacht to communicate with other vessels

Windlass – A powered winch on the bow of the yacht used to raise the anchor

Yacht – A vessel larger than a boat but smaller than a ship

Zero speed stabilisers – Sophisticated stabilisation equipment found on some yachts which make the yacht more comfortable and move less when navigating or at anchor