General Sailing

Getting to Know Basic Sailing Terms

31 October 2018

Getting to Know Basic Sailing Terms

For a safe, easy and enjoyable sail, it is a must for the sailors to be a part of the boat, for which it is mandatory to know the nautical terms. It is also very necessary to be safe while onboard. Imagine, while on a cruise, you hear the people around you talking in arcane terms that sound alien to you?

Such terms, tossed around you like they’re part of everyday vocabulary, would surely alienate you from important conversations and discussions, which is unhealthy for your enjoyment and safety onboard.

View from the top of a sailboat

Both things are extremely important and cannot be compromised on; so every sailor is required to know the basic sailing terms.

Sailing terms for beginners

Some of the most common sailing terms of the Sailor Vocabulary are mentioned below so you don’t feel lost on the boat. These include:

  • Port: The port or port side refers to the left side of the boat when facing the bow of the ship. Wondering why it is called port instead of left? It is so because previously, boats were controlled with a steering oar.
  • Starboard: The starboard refers to the right side of the ship while facing the ship’s bow.
  • Point of Sail: This is the direction in which the boat travels in relation to the true direction of the wind over the surface
  • Helm: In basic terms, the helm is the steering mechanism of the boat
Starboard of a sailboat

Other basic sailing terms you should familiarize yourself with include keel, heeling, tack, jibe, lines, mainsail, jib. While you don’t really need to know these terms if you’re a passenger, you can still benefit from knowing these terms.

In fact, you might even feel more confident when on a boat!

Are there any sailing commands?

In addition to the words mentioned earlier, it is also necessary for a person to pick up a handful of knowledge about sailing ship commands. Some nautical phrases used as sailing ship commands can be somewhat difficult to understand for a passenger.

It is obvious that when sailing on a boat, every single passenger must know of some of the most frequently used and urgent commands for safety measures.

Man adjusting bow on a sailboat

The sailors must also possess knowledge of how to recognize and manage wind shifts. Due to wind shifts, the sudden changes in the direction of the wind affect the speed and smooth sailing of the boat. The direction of the ship or boat is said to be forward when it is going in the direction of its bow.

Other important terms to know

The meaning of the bow of a boat and the stern of the boat or ship must be in everyone’s knowledge. Also, it is important to know that a boat is said to be going forward when it is moving in the direction of its bow. The opposite to the bow of the boat is the stern of the boat, which is the back side of the boat.

On the bow and stern of a boat are attached dock lines, which are used to prevent a boat from surging forward or backward.

Man tying knot on a sailboat

Talking about the direction and structure of the boats, it is also necessary to know that the right side of the boat when, it is going forward, is called starboard, the left is the port, and the hind is called a stern of the boat. Gaining a firsthand knowledge of how to tie different types of knots for sailing will also be very useful for the sailors and passenger.

All these basic nautical terms along with a beginners guide full of information shall ensure a happy and safe sail for you!