Glossary of Sailing Terms
Schooner rigger vessels known for their speed that became famous during the War of 1812 as blockade-runners and privateers and subsequently notorious as slave ships after the slave trade was outlawed by international agreement. Their hulls were long and low with sharp ends and a deep V shape below the waterline. These design features were later incorporated into the true clipper ships that first appeared in the 1840s.
The width of a vessel at its widest point.
Spar that runs along the foot of a fore-and-aft sail.
Front end of a vessel.
Two masted square-rigged vessels.
To turn the vessel so that the bow goes through the eye of the wind.
Also known as tacking as it involves a switch from one tack to the other.
The distance below the water line that a vessel’s keel extends.
A sail that is attached to the mast or stay along its leading edge can carry the wind on either surface depending on the tack and sets parallel to the vessel when in its neutral position. A fore-and-aft rig one that carries that type of sail.
The shorter mast further forward on a schooner rig.
The sail carried on the foremast on a schooner rig.
The sail carried inside and below both the jib topsail and jib and set on a wire cable (stay; see standing rigging) that runs from the bowsprit to the foremast.
The distance between the waterline and the level of the deck on a vessel when it is level.
Spar that runs along the top of a fore-and-aft sail in a traditional schooner rig.
Main body of a vessel.
The sail carried inside and below both the jib topsail and jib and set on a wire cable (stay; see standing rigging) that runs from the jib-boom to the foremast.
The extension of the bowsprit on the bow of a vessel.
The sail carried furthest forward in front of the foremast. It is set on a wire cable (stay; see standing rigging) that runs from the end of the jib-boom to the top of the foremast.
To turn the vessel so that the stern passes through the eye of the wind. The maneuver results in a change of tracks. In a square rigged vessel this maneuver is known as wearing.
Away from the direction that the wind is coming from.
The taller mast that is further back on a schooner rig.
Points of sail
The relative angle of sailing vessel to the wind. See points of sail diagram.
The arrangement of masts and sails on a vessel.
Vertical piece of wood attached to the stern of a vessel, which allows it to be steered.
The lines on a sailing vessel that move either to raise or adjust the sails.
Two masted fore-and-aft rigged vessel generally used in the fisheries and the coastal trade.
Square Fore Topsail
A square sail carried on the foremast below the top gallant on the type of schooner rig common on the Baltimore Clippers.
A sail that is attached to the mast along its center carries the wind on only one surface and sets across the vessel (“square” to the vessel) when in its neutral position. A square rig is one that carries primarily that type of sail (most will carry some fore-and-aft sails as well).
The lines on a sailing vessel (usually wire cable) that hold up the masts. The standing rigging is made up of Stays, which run up to the masts from the forward and back ends of the vessel and Shrouds that run up from the sides of the vessel.
Back of a vessel.
A course defined by which side of the vessel that the wind is on. Stated as either Starboard Tack (wind on the right side of the vessel) or Port Tack (wind on the left side of the vessel). As a verb, to tack means to change course so that the tack changes. (See come about)
The square sail carried at the top of the foremast on the type of schooner rig common on the Baltimore Clippers.
Toward the direction that the wind is coming from.