Aback- A sail is 'aback' when it acts to drive the ship backward.

Abaft-  Toward the back or 'stern' of a ship.

Abroad- Used in reference to sails, means a ship is using all the sails it can.

Alee or A-lee- On or toward the sheltered side of the ship, away from the wind.

Amidships- The middle of, or towards the middle of a ship.


Beamy- Description meaning wide.

Bear, To- Make the vessel go in certain direction. Ex; Bear-Off; Avoid something, Bear-Down On; go towards something, Bear-Up; to slow down, Bear-Away; to change course.

Beat To Quarters- Sound Battle-Stations

Belay - To coil a rope securely about a 'Belaying-Pin'.  Also to stop an action or disregard an order.

Bells - The ship's bell is struck every half-hour of elapsed in a watch. A watch that starts at 12noon, 12:30 is one bell, 1 o'clock is 2 bells and so on to 4:00 o'clock, which is 8 bells. At 4:40 one bell is again struck. "How many bells have gone?" is a sailor's way of asking the time.

Bend - To make a rope fast or secure to another rope or 'spar', or to attach one object to another, ex; Bend a sail to a spar.

Brace-Up- Command to bring the yards closer fore & aft by hauling on the lee braces.

a wide berth is to keep clear of him or her.

Brail-up- Command to haul up the corners of a sail before 'furling'.

 Also a type of knot, by which one rope is made fast to another.

Broach To - A vessel broaches to when, sailing before the wind, she comes to the windward and lies in a trough of the sea. This may be the result of bad steering, a very high sea, or from some accident to the rudder or sails.

By The Head, By The Stern - Said of a vessel when one end is lower in the water than the other.


Cat The Anchor - The act of bringing the anchor to the cathead.

Call Away (w). - The ready signal for a whaleboat to leave. The final order is "away"!

Cant - To turn, especially a vessel in a river or harbor.

Cast - To throw. To turn by throwing a vessel's head to port or starboard in getting under way.

Chapeling - Formerly, a ship was said to build a chapel when, without headway, she turned completely around in a light or baffling wind. Now used for the act of wearing a ship around without bracing the head yards.

Check - To slack off a bit on a rope or a brace, usually following the order to belay.

Cheerily Men! - Sometimes just 'cheerily'. Quickly and with a will.

Choke The Luff - To jam the sheave of a block with an end of rope.

Clap On - To put on more sail, sometimes an order to seize hold of a rope or other object

Clear for Action-to prepare the ship for combat. Remove all extra obstacles, mostly wooden one that could cause extra splinters.

Clear Decks and Up Spirits- Command for rum rations to be issued.

Close Hauled - Applied to a vessel with sails trimmed to sail as close to the wind as possible.

Clubbing - Drifting with the current with an anchor dragging the bottom.

Clubhauling - Bringing the vessel's head around on the other tack by letting go the lee anchor as soon as the wind is out of her sails, after which, the moment her headsails are aback, the helm is put amidships, the cable slipped or cut, and the sails trimmed on the other tack.

Crowd On - To put on all sail possible.

Furl- To roll up and neatly bind a sail to it's yard.

Haul- To pull, or to change direction.

Hoist- To raise a flag, pennant, or a group of flags for signaling.

Lay-  A command. meaning to come or go to a place or Location. As in 'lay Aloft' meaning to go up into the rigging.

Lay By- To bring a vessel to a stop with it's bow into the wind.

Lay-out or Lay-in - When on a yardarm, to go out farther or in closer.

Lie To- To bring a vessel to a near standstill, bow as near to the wind as possible.

Make Sail- To spread sail to get underway from a stand still.

Pay-Off- To cause to fall to leeward, away from the wind.

Reef- 'To Reef' is to shorten the length of a sail by rolling it up and securing it and securing it with the 'Reef-Points' at the 'Reef-Band'.