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It is funnier if you know what the "real" definitions of these terms are. But, that being said, here is a humorous glossary of common sailing terms...


  • Amidships - condition of being surrounded by boats.

  • Anchor - a device designed to bring up mud samples from the bottom at inopportune or unexpected times.

  • Anchor Light - a small light used to discharge the battery before daylight.

  • Back Stay - Spending time at home. When your partner goes sailing in October.

  • Bare Boat - Clothing Optional.

  • Beam Sea - A situation in which waves strike a boat from the side, causing it to roll unpleasantly. This is one of the four directions from which wave action tends to produce extreme physical discomfort. The other three are `bow sea' (waves striking from the front), `following sea' (waves striking from the rear), and `quarter sea' (waves striking from any other direction).

  • Berth - a little addition to the crew.

  • Bilge - cheap beer (see freeboard)

  • Boat ownership - Standing fully -clothed under a cold shower, tearing up 100 -dollar bills

  • Boom - sometimes the result of a surprise jibe.

  • Boom - Called boom for the sound that's made when it hits crew in the head on its way across the boat. For slow crew, it's called `boom, boom.'

  • Bottom Paint - what you get when the cockpit seats are freshly painted.

  • Calm - Sea condition characterized by the simultaneous disappearance of the wind and the last cold beverage.

  • Chart - a type of map which tells you exactly where you are aground.

  • Clew - an indication from the skipper as to what he might do next.

  • Companionway - a double berth.

  • Course - The direction in which a skipper wishes to steer his boat and from which the wind is blowing. Also, the language that results by not being able to.

  • Cruising - Fixing your boat in exotic locations.

  • Crew - Heavy, stationary objects used on shipboard to hold down charts, anchor cushions in place and dampen sudden movements of the boom.

  • Current - Tidal flow that carries a boat away from its desired destination, or towards a hazard

  • Dead Reckoning - a course leading directly to a reef.

  • Deadrise - getting up to check the anchor at 0300.

  • Deck Fluff - a scantily clad North American Big Hair, commonly placed on the foredeck of a sailing yacht with the sole purpose to distract the competition while rounding the mark inside their position.

  • Deviation - any departure from the Captain's orders.

  • Dinghy - the sound of the ship's bell.

  • Displacement - when you dock your boat and can't find it later.

  • Draft - The gap in your oilies between the trousers and the jacket.

  • Estimated Position - a place you have marked on the chart where you are sure you are not.

  • First Mate - crew member necessary for skippers to practice shouting instructions to.

  • Fix - the crew's estimate of your current position.

  • Emergency Flares - old pair of trousers to change into if you fall overboard.

  • Flashlight - Tubular metal container used on shipboard for storing dead batteries prior to their disposal

  • Fluke - The portion of an anchor that digs securely into the bottom, holding the boat in place; also, any occasion when this occurs on the first try.

  • Foul Wind - breeze produced by flying turkey.

  • Freeboard - food and liquor supplied by the owner.

  • Gybe - A common way to get unruly guests off your boat.

  • Headway - what you are making if you can't get the toilet to work.

  • Head up - Leaving the boat toilet seat up. When boat skipper is female, leaving the head up is a serious offense

  • Heads - the deciding factor whether to set out or not.

  • Heave -Ho - what you do when you've eaten too much Ho.

  • Jack Lines - `Hey baby, want to go sailing?'

  • Jibe - either you like it or you don't and it gets you.

  • Keel - term used by 1st mate after too much heel by skipper.

  • Ketch - A sailboat with good wine in the cabin

  • Landlubber - anyone on board who wishes he were not.

  • Latitude - the number of degrees off course allowed a guest.

  • Log - Semi submerged object responsible for suddenly rousing the skipper on a night passage.

  • Mast - religious ritual used before setting sail.

  • Mate - the term used to refer to the skipper just before explaining that the hand bearing compass has fallen overboard

  • Mizzen - an object you can't find.

  • Motor Sailer - A sailboat that alternates between sail/rigging problems and engine problems, and with some booze in the cabin.

  • Noserly - What to call the wind direction when it comes from where you're going

  • Ram - an intricate docking maneuver sometimes used by experienced skippers.

  • Rhumb Line - two or more crew members waiting for a drink.

  • Sailing - The fine art of getting wet and becoming ill, while going no where slowly at great expense.

  • Schooner - A sailboat with a fully stocked liquor cabinet in the cabin

  • Sea Cock - (see Jack Lines)

  • Sheet - cool, damp, salty night covering.

  • Shroud - equipment used in connection with a wake.

  • Small Craft Warnings - Power Boats come in, Sailboats go out.

  • Spreaders - Barclay Card and Visa - useful for extending the sailing season.

  • Starboard - special board used by skippers for navigation (usually with "Port" on the opposite side.)

  • Stays - position in harbour when gales are forecast.

  • Stowaway - rapid handling of alcoholic spirits as the customs boat approaches.

  • Swell - a wave that's just great.

  • Square Rigger - a rigger over 30.

  • Sloop - A sailboat with beer and/or wine in the cabin.

  • Tack - A maneuver the skipper uses when telling the crew what they did wrong without getting them mad.

  • Tree - object to sit under, as a cure for seasickness.

  • Wind Indicator - Sensitive person who suddenly throws open the vents and hatches.

  • Warp - The other skipper's version of events.

  • Yawl - A sailboat from Texas, with some good bourbon stored down yonder in the cabin

  • Zephyr - Warm, pleasant breeze. Named after the mythical Greek god of wishful thinking, false hopes, and unreliable forecasts. - -

Unskilled and Unaware

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