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7 Sailing terms you need to know


If you are just getting into the yachting world, there are several things to learn, including all the weird-sounding words you have certainly heard somewhere. Below we provide small, but useful, glossary that will get you introduced to the

  • -Aft: The back of the ship. If something is located aft, it is on the back-end of the boat. Also referred to as the stern.
  • -Bow: The front of the ship. Knowing the location of the aft and the bow is important for defining the other two sailing terms to refer to the sides of the boat: port and starboard.
  • -Port: When facing the bow, Port is always the left-hand side of the bow. Because saying “right” and “left” can be confusing, as it depends on which direction each person is facing, port is used to refer to the left-hand side of the boat in relation to the bow.
  • -Starboard: As with port, the starboard is the right-hand side of the boat when facing the bow. Opposite of port.
  • -Helm: The helm refers to whatever the vessel is steered with, usually a wheel, and controls the boat’s rudder.
  • -Rudder: The Rudder is the primary control surface that makes the boat change direction. It deflects the water flow, increasing the force on one side and decreasing it on the other, allowing the boat to turn.
  • -Lines: For sailboats, this is the term used for all the ropes.

Some of these terms might sound a bit arcane, and they are. These terms have been used by sailors for hundreds of years and have become part of the sailing tradition, so when you use them properly, you are participating in the sailing tradition and keeping it alive! 


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