The Humorous Sailing Glossary

Spend any time on a sailboat and you’ll soon find that sailors can be a bit salty. Their jokes are a bit off-color and their language might border on inappropriate. Is it a cliche to have the mouth of a sailor?

Well, this attempt at humor by ASA Instructor, Bill Dunbar, is safe for work and definitely PG-13. It just goes to show you that you can have fun while learning a little about sailing.  

Capt. Bill Dunbar expresses the importance of laughing and having fun while learning how to sail and integral in making sure people enjoy the learning process.  There is plenty of room for smiling in Capt. Bill Dunbar’s ASA courses. 

The Humorous Sailing Glossary

Amidships – Condition of being surrounded by boats.

Anchor A device shaped so as to grip the bottom.  It is secured to the anchor rode from the boat to hold the boat in the desired position.  The anchor is often controlled by a windlass. Will often bring up mud samples from the bottom at inopportune or unexpected times.

Berth – A little addition to the crew.

Bottom Paint – What you get when the cockpit seats are freshly painted.

Chart – A nautical map often telling you exactly where you are aground.

Clew – An indication from the skipper as to what he might do next.

Companionway – A double berth.

Dead Reckoning – A course leading directly to a reef.

Deadrise – Getting up to check the anchor at 03:00.

Deviation – Any departure from the Captain’s orders.

Displacement – When you dock your boat and can’t find it later.

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. 

Headway – What you are making if you can’t get the toilet to work.

Heave-Ho – What you do when you’ve eaten too much Ho.

Keel –  Term used by 1st mate after too much heel by the skipper.

Landlubber – Anyone on board who wishes he/she were not.

Latitude – The number of degrees off course allowed a guest.

Mast –  Religious ritual used before setting sail.

Mizzen – An object you cannot find.

Shroud – Equipment used in connection with a wake.

Starboard –  Special board used by skippers for navigation.

Stern – The back end of the boat.

Swell – A wave that’s just great.

Square Rigger – A rigger over 35.

Tender –  The possible condition of one’s head after being Three Sheets to the Wind.

Three Sheets to the Wind – Drunk.

“There was a young sailor named Bates,

Who danced the fandango on skates.

He fell on his cutlass,

Which rendered him nutless,

And practically useless on dates.”

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John Padgett
John Padgett

Foreguy: The 1st guy to the bar after the race
Afterguy: The last guy to leave the bar after the race
Spinnaker: an extremely large, lightweight, balloon-shaped piece of sailcloth frequently trailed in the water off the bow in a big bundle to slow the boat down.

Capt Dennis with Sailshare Yacht Deliveries
Capt Dennis with Sailshare Yacht Deliveries

Sailing: the fine art of slowly going nowhere at great expense while being wet and miserable.
Sailing lesson 1. After you get the sails up, you point the sailboat in any direction other than your destination.

Paula Kasteran
Paula Kasteran

Absolutely hilarious! Got some good laughs at a time when we needed them. Thanks.

Michael Pandzik
Michael Pandzik

Bow: The pointy end of the boat.