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The Bosunīs Mate Glossary of Terms

The Bosunīs Mate dictionary of Nautical Terms has been compiled from many sources and is constantly being augmented and revised in our attempt to capture as much of the rich yet complicated (and often conflicting) maritime termonology as possible.

You will find an extensive list of information about all sorts of nautical items from sailorīs knots to the sailors themselves, and from ships to the weather patterns of the seas they ply.

Random terms, by category

Abbreviations and Acronyms (41 terms)
SAR
Search And Rescue
The things sailors do (8 terms)
Avast!
The command to stop, or cease, in any operation.
Why say back when you can say aft instead! (20 terms)
Athwartships
At right angles to the fore-and-aft Line of the Boat; rowboat seats are generally positioned Athwartships.
Common sayings and expressions from maritime lore (149 terms)
Hoist
1. v. To raise Aloft.

2. n. A Line or Tackle that will facilitate raising something Aloft.

The foods of the sea (2 terms)
Scurvy
A disease historically common to seaman, caused by lack of Vitamin C the British Navy started to fight it bu adding lime juice to their water - this was the origin of the slan "Limey"
Various knots both functional and ornamental from the nautical to the ornamental and with both historic and present day value. (12 terms)
Lash
1) To Secure or bind something using Rope or twine.
Bits and bobs from life aboard ship (5 terms)
Q flag
All yellow signal flag meaning "My vessel is healthy and I request free passage.
Specific sailing maneuvers (33 terms)
Gybe
1. To go from one Tack to the other when running with the wind coming over the Stern.

2. The moment when the Boom swings across the Hull while changing tacks in this manner.

If handeled correctly a Fore and Aft rigged vessel should be able to Gybe safely regardless of wind strength. This is accomplished through easing Preventer tackle (if any) and by hauling in the main sheets so that there is less travel for the main Boom during the Gybe.

An unintentional Gybe, which can be the result ...
The points of sail and seamanship (76 terms)
Chart table
A table designated as the area in the Boat where the navigator will study charts and plot courses.
The parts of ships (131 terms)
Transom
1) The Planking that forms the Stern and closes off the sides of a wooden vessel.
2) The aftermost portion of the Stern of a vessel

Important people and/or their positions in nautical history (14 terms)
Nippers
1. Short lengths of Rope marled or braded and used when weighing the Anchor to bind the Cable to the Messenger or Viol. The (usually hemp) Cable was too thick to be brought around the capstain directly, and as such would be bound by the Nippers to the messanger which in turn was taken around the capstain.

2. The Boys or men responsible for working the Nippers were also referred to as Nippers themselves

3. Slings used when hoisting yards that were wet and slippery.

4. A lashed hammock wi...
Key locations of the maritime world (20 terms)
Hold
The space for cargo Below the Deck of the Ship, usually in the center (Fore and Aft wise)
Rigging components and terms (104 terms)
Reef-knot
A very common Knot used to Bend two Lines of the same diameter. If used to tie Lines of differing diameter it may slip.
Sails, their parts and materials (30 terms)
Foresail
The Sail set on the Foremast of a Schooner or the lowest square Sail on the Foremast of a Square rigged vessel
Types of vessels and some famous examples (22 terms)
FRC
Any type of vessel designed for high speed used primairly for SAR and in the military
The various spars used aboard ship (6 terms)
Mainmast
1. The tallest Mast of the Ship, on a Schooner, the Mast furthest Aft.


The tools of the trade (27 terms)
Purchase
1. A grouping of Block and Tackle to increase the force that may be applied to a Line.

2. Any sort of mechanical power employed in raising or removing heavy bodies.

3. To Purchase the Anchor, is to loosen it out of the ground.

terms awaiting clasification (36 terms)
none found
Meteorology and its relationship to sailing (7 terms)
El Niņo
A warm inshore Current annually flowing south along the coast of Ecuador. About every seven to ten years it extends down the coast of Peru, where it has a devastating effect in that region and is oftin the cause of unusual weather patterns around the entire eastern Pacific Rim.
 
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