7 Boating Vocabulary Words You Probably Don’t Know

Written by Boatsetter Team
January 29, 2018

Last Updated on January 13, 2022 by Boatsetter Team

So you think you are boating expert? Well, let’s just see. Here are seven of Boatsetter essential vocabulary words that even some of the most seasoned captains may not even know! The funny thing is, you probably have seen many of these things, you just never knew the terms for them before.

1.Bosun’s Chair

Ships can get pretty large. Some of the biggest are the length of several football fields. Even if your boat is a good deal smaller than that, you probably have needed this device. A Bosun’s chair is a device that is used to keep a person up in the air.

It is like a suspension cable so you can swing along the side of a boat and clean it or do any kind maintenance. They have been around for centuries and began with just simple wooden planks, now they are much sturdier and more comfortable!

2. Listing

Okay, we then an easy one your way. Even if you are just learning how to become a captain, you should still know this one. Listing is how far your boat leans to the side. A listing boat is one that is actually equilibrium and if you lists in one direction or the other that means there is something off with your ballast or another issue.

3. Running Backstay

Your sailors (and we mean real sailors as in those who use sailboats) better know this one. A running backstay is a device is a removable piece of equipment (a stay) that provides support to your mast typically from the backside of the sail.

Originally, it was needed to counter the limits of how much weight sailing equipment can handle, but not it is used in more precision style sailing.

4. Halyard

This is easy. You definitely have done this on your ship. The halyard is the rope for lowering/raising a flag, particularly on a sailing vessel.

5. Boom

Now the sound. Now the type of microphone. This Is another sailing term thrown your way. Sorry, motorboys! The boom is pole along the aft of a rigged sail that significantly improves the control of your vessel through the angle and shape of the sail. It helps keep the foot of the sail flatter when the sail’s angles drift from the center of the boat.

6. Jib

I like the cut of your jib. We have all heard this expression. But what exactly is a jib? A jib is triangular almost mini-sail at the front of the ship. Again, you’ve seen it, just probably didn’t know the name.

7. Gunnels

Okay, you fisherman out there better know this one. Gunnels are compressed, long fish. But gunnels are actually also known as gunwales which is the top edge portion of a ship. You five-star captains better have gotten this one!

8. Reef the Main

This sounds like instructions for how to not steer your ship! But to reef the main means to actually reduce the size of your sail. You usually do this by folding or rolling the sail and it provides you with more stability particularly during rough conditions.

9. Spinnaker

It’s fair if you don’t know this one. A spinnaker is a special type of sail that is designed actually for sailing off-wind as in opposite direction. The spinnaker will actually fill up with wind and looks like a massive balloon when it is utilized. Bonus! Doing this is called flying.

Better Study Up!

We threw seven key boating terms plus two extras in there for you. How well did you do? Next up is a quiz, let’s see how well you can do on that one!

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