Important sailing lingo you need to learn

November 3, 2015

If you're learning how to sail, you already know that there is a lot to learn. Here are some of the most important terms for you to know:

Important sailing lingo you need to learn

Sailing terms you need to know

From figuring out what the different parts of the boat and sail are, to learning how to steer and avoiding accidents, it can take some time before you feel comfortable navigating your own sailboat. One of the best ways to get started learning more about sailing is to familiarize yourself with the different sailing lingo:


  • The aft refers to the back of the ship. Some people also call it the stern.


  • The bow is the front of the ship. Once you have determined which end of the ship is the bow, you can also figure out which is the left, or port side, and which is the right, or starboard side.


  • Port always refers to the left-hand side of the boat when you are looking toward the bow. It can be confusing to call the different sides right and left when sailors might be facing different directions, so the term port is always used.


  • Likewise, starboard is used to refer to the right-hand side of the boat when you're looking toward the bow.


  • Windward means the direction that the wind is blowing, which is usually the direction the sailboat will be moving in.


  • Leeward means the direction that is opposite to the direction in which the wind is blowing.


  • The rudder is located under the boat. It's a flat piece of wood, fiberglass, or sometimes metal that is controlled with a steering mechanism, and is used to control the direction of the ship.


  • The boom is a long horizontal pole that sticks out from the mast. It's used to adjust the direction of the sail to give the ship wind power to move.


  • Tacking means turning the front of the boat through the wind so that the wind blows on one side of the boat instead of the other.


  • Jibing is the opposite of tacking--turning the back of the boat through the wind so it blows on the opposite side of the boat.

These are some of the most important sailing terms that you should know as you're beginning to learn. You'll learn many more on the way, but this basic lingo will help you in your early lessons. By learning the language, you're well on your way to being able to handle yourself on a boat.

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