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21 essential sailing terms every beginner should know

To any novice sailor, the terminology can seem as vast as the waters they’re looking to sail on. It is crucial to become familiar with the terms in order to sail safely, and to be able to set and receive orders. Here is a list of 20 terms that are crucial for any aspiring sailor, to help them in anything from navigating around the boat, to understanding simple manoeuvers.

1 | Aft: This is the back of a ship. If something is located aft, it is at the back of the sailboat. It can also be referred to as the stern.

2 | Bow: The front of the ship is called the bow. It crucial in knowing the bow’s location in order to be able to correctly use the four definitions below.

3 | Port: When facing the bow, the port always refers to the left hand side of the boat.

4 |  Starboard: Alternatively, when facing the bow, starboard refers to the right hand side of the boat.

5 | Tacking: Tacking is accomplished by turning the bow through the wind, allowing the wind to change from one side of the boat to the other. It is effectively sailing into oncoming wind in a zig-zag motion, as sailing directly into the wind can be difficult. It should be performed when the boat is going at a significant speed.

6 | Gybing:Gybing is the opposite, and is a manoeuvre that allows the boat to travel downwind. It involves turning the stern of the boat through the wind, but can be dangerous. The boom (defined after) can move aggressively than when tacking, so caution and practise are crucial.

7 | Boom: A horizontal pole which, when adjusted towards the direction of the wind, allows the sailboat to harness wind power in order to move forward or backwards.

8 | Starboard Tack: When wind comes from the starboard side of the boat.

9 | Port Tack: Alternately, when wind comes from the port side of the boat.

10 | Windward:Moving towards the wind.

11 |Leeward: Moving away from the wind.

12 | Rudder: A  fibreglass, wood or metal fin that is found under the hull, and can be adjusted to correct any drift and steer the boat. Drift is common due to an imbalance between the wind and your boat.

13 | Muster Station:The point of meeting that members on the ship go to during an emergency (or a drill). If somebody is believed to be missing, a headcount takes place at their muster station.

14 | Fender:A cushion barrier that stops a boat from being damaged when docked by another boat or a pier.

15 | Boot top line:A marking of the water line on a boat.

16 | Lifeline:A wire that runs the length of the deck to help confine passengers, and ensure that nobody accidentally slips overboard.

17 | Heeling:As the boat tilts to one side.

18 | Luffing: When the airflow over the sail is disrupted, and the sail begins to flap in the wind due to not being held tight.

19 | Keel: A heavy paddle on the bottom of the boat that provides stability and is responsible for ensuring a boat does not capsize.

20 | Hull: The hull is the watertight body of a ship or boat. Above the hull is the superstructure and/or deckhouse, where present. The line where the hull meets the water surface is called the waterline. The structure of the hull varies depending on the vessel type.

21 | Head Down: The action of steering a boat away from the wind.