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Aback - the condition of a ship's sails when the wind bears against their front surfaces. They are laid aback, when this is purposely effected to deaden her way by rounding in the weather-braces; and taken aback, when brought to by an unexpected change of wind, or by inattention in the helmsman.--All aback forward, the notice given from the forecastle, when the head-sails are pressed aback by a sudden change in the wind.
Abaft - a relative position toward the stern of a vessel from another object; as, "abaft the forward hatch".
Abeam - at right angles to, or beside the boat
Able Bodied Seaman - a member of the deck crew who is able to perform all the duties of an experienced seamen; certified by examination; must have three years sea service, and be an example to the "ordinary seamen" and "landsmen." Also called Able Seamen and A.B.
Aboard - on or in the boat
About Ship! - the command given to order the crew to tack a vessel
Above Board - on or above the deck, in plain view, not hiding anything
Above Deck - on deck, not over it - that would be "Aloft"
Above-water Hull - the part of the hull that is out of the water; between the waterline and the deck
Absolute Bearing - the bearing of an object in relation to North; either True North or Magnetic North. See also: Relative Bearing, Magnetic Bearing, True Bearing, and Bearing
Abreast -side by side, even with, or by the side. This can refer to two or more vessels or other objects
Abyss - that volume of ocean that is profoundly deep or lying below about 300 fathoms from surface.
Acockbill or A-Cock-Bill 1. Hanging at the cathead, ready to let go, as an anchor. 2. Said of a square-rigger's yard; topped up; having one yardarm higher than the other.
Acoustic Navigation - the use of a sonic depth finder to gauge water depth and bottom features for information to determine a ship's location.
Admeasure - a formal measurement of a vessel for the purpose of documentation
Admiral - an officer of the highest rank and command in the fleet, and who is distinguished by a flag displayed at his main-top-mast-head
Admiral of the Fleet - the officer who superintends the naval forces of a nation, and who is authorized to determine in all maritime decisions
Admiralty Law - the law of the seas, a term for maritime law derived from the British Admiralty department that governs naval affairs
Admiralty Pattern Anchor or Admiralty Anchor - an older (1840's), but very good anchor design that features long arms with a long iron stock set perpendicular to the arms and at the top end of the shank. No longer used for large ships but continues in use for small boats and for moorings. Although it has great holding power in a penetrable bottom it is extremely awkward and the long stock is vulnerable to mechanical damage. When in position the upstanding arm may foul a chain or pierce the hull of a vessel. Also called Fisherman's Anchor. See the illustration at Anchor
Adrift - not moored or anchored, driven without control by the wind, currents, and seas
Afloat - floating on the surface of the water; not aground
Afore - 1. Near the bow 2. further forward. Opposite of abaft
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Aft or After - toward the stern or behind it. See illustration at right.
After Bow Spring Line - a mooring line fixed to the bow of the boat and leading aft where it is attached to the dock. This prevents the boat from moving forward in its berth. Its opposite, the forward quarter spring line, is used to keep the boat from moving aft in its berth
Afterdeck - all parts of the upper deck of a ship that lies abaft amidships
After Leading - a line that goes from its point of attachment toward the stern
After-Sails - all sail which are extended on the mizen-mast, and on the stays between the mizen and main-mast. They are opposed to the head-sails, which include all spread on the fore-mast and bowsprit
Against the Sun - Anti-clockwise circular motion. Left-hand lay ropes are coiled against the sun
Agonic Line - an imaginary line on the earth's surface where there is no magnetic declination in relation to True North and South. The agonic line is a line of longitude on which a compass will show true north, since where magnetic declination is zero, magnetic north coincides with geographic north.
Age of Sail - the period in which international trade and naval warfare were dominated by sailing ships.
Agger - two consecutive high and low tides that show little range
Aground - when the hull or keel is touching, resting or lodged on the bottom of the body of water you have been sailing on
Ahead - forward, in front of the vessel
Ahead Reach - the distance traveled by a ship underway at full speed with engines reversed until she comes to a full stop
Ahoy - a seaman's call to attract attention; like "Hello"
Aid to Navigation - a marker or device external to your craft, designed to assist in determination of position of the craft, or of a safe course, or to warn of dangers. View a downloadable and printable US Coast Guard brochure about aids to navigation.
Airs - a measurement of wind speed. Here is a table showing Airs and their relation to jib usage on a knockabout or sloop.
| STANDARD JIB SELECTION FOR VARIOUS WIND CONDITIONS ON A KNOCKABOUT OR SLOOP
||0 -10 Knots
||110% - 150%
||10 - 20 Knots
||90% - 110%
|| 20 Knots or more
AIS - Automatic Identification System
Aka - the beams connecting the main hull and the smaller amas on a trimaran, or the windward ama on a Proa or similar vessel
Aldis Lamp - See Signal Lamp
Alee - downwind; opposite of "Windward"
Algae - aquatic plants which thrive near the surface and frequently attach to rocks, pilings, and the bottoms of boats
Alidade - a telescope or other device mounted over a compass, compass repeater or compass rose, for measuring direction; a telescopic azimuth circle
All Hands - entire ship's company, both officers and enlisted personnel, on duty or not
All Night In - having no night watches
Aloft - above the deck; not on deck
Along-Side - side by side, or joined to a vessel, wharf, etc. and lying parallel to the vessel
Altair - a first magnitude (very bright) star, often used in celestial navigation
Altitude - the angle between the horizon and a celestial body. In practice, the celestial navigator will consult tables to estimate the azimuth and altitude of each star line he will attempt, and preset the sextant as an aid to identification of the star or planet. Then he will measure the exact altitude of the body and use that figure to calculate a line on the chart.
Ama - the outrigger(s) on a trimaran, Proa, or similar sailing vessel
American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) - a U.S.- based private classification, or standards setting organization for merchant ships and other marine systems.
America's Cup - The America's Cup race, dating from 1851, is the oldest trophy in sailing and is considered yacht racing's Holy Grail. The race was originally called the Hundred Guineas Cup, presented by the British Royal Yacht Club, and raced around the Isle of Wight. The winning vessel that year was the "America", and the name of the race was changed to "America's Cup". Because of the enormous costs involved, the race is only held approximately every three years.
Amidships - the middle of the boat; either along the longitudinal centerline, or halfway from bow to stern, but not necessarily both. See General Shipboard Directions illustration.
Amplitude - a measurement of the arc between true East or West and the plane of a selected star or planet at a precise moment in time
Analog - a readout of an instrument which is displayed with a dial and pointer rather than numerically
Anchor - an object designed to grip the bed (lake bed, seabed, riverbed) or ground, under a body of water, to hold the boat in a selected area
Formerly the largest and strongest anchor was the sheet anchor (hence, best hope anchor or last refuge anchor), called also waist anchor. Now the bower and the sheet anchor are usually alike. Then came the best bower and the small bower (so called from being carried on the bow of the vessel). The stream anchor is about one fourth the weight of the bower anchor. Kedges or kedge anchors are light anchors used in warping and kedging.
Parts of an anchor: (All anchors don't have all parts.)
All Anchors Don't Have All Parts
|Old Fisherman's or Admiralty Pattern Anchor
|Stockless Navy-Type Anchor
- Ring (Shackle) - Device used to attach the anchor chain to the shank of the anchor. The ring is secured to the top of the shank with a riveted pin.
- Shank - The long center part of the anchor running between the ring and the crown.
- Crown - The lower section of the anchor to which the shank is secured. The shank is fitted to the crown with (on some anchors) a pivot or ball-and-socket joint that allows a movement from 30o to 45o either way.
- Stock - a crossmember, spar, or rod, that rolls the anchor into an attitude that enables the flukes to dig into the sea bed. Most newer anchors are stockless.
- Arms - The parts that extend from each side of the crown.
- Throat - The inner part of an arm where it joins the shank.
- Fluke or Palm - The broad shield part of the anchor that extends upward from the arms.
- Blade - That part of the arm extending outward below the fluke.
- Bill or Pea