Do you have those moments when you say one thing but those around you think you meant something else?
Well, welcome to life on a sailboat. Sailing vocabulary is riddled with plenty of words that you think you know the meaning of but they seem to mean something entirely different once you get out on the water. In fact, quite a few words or sayings have multiple meanings on a sailboat.
Have no fear, your sailing education will give you the knowledge to decipher what the captain and crew are talking about even when the same word is used in multiple ways.
These are some of the new words you will learn in ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing that have multiple meanings. You will hear them and use them as you move through your sailing education.
Words with Multiple Definitions On A Sailboat
Beam (1): The width of a boat at its widest point
Beam (2): The region of the boat’s sides halfway between bow and stern
Not to be confused with:
Beam reach: The point of sail where the wind is abeam of the boat
Spelled the same but pronounced differently:
Bowline: A knot that forms a loop in the end of a line
Bow line: A dock line tied between the bow of a boat and a dock
The space makes a big difference.
Confuse by a line? Or is it a rope?
Coil (1) To make up a line into tidy loops
Coil (2) A line that has been coiled
Both are located in the same place?
Dock (1) A place where a vessel is berthed, but generally used to refer to the pier, quay, or pontoon to which it’s tied when in that berth
Dock (2) To bring a boat to its dock.
This has nothing to do with wind.
Draft (1) The depth of a boat below the water
Draft (2) The curvature of a sail
Two words, same meaning
Fake, Flake: To lay out a line in parallel lengths so it can run freely
These are not the same
Knot (1) A fastening made by entwining a rope, line, or cord with itself or with other ropes, lines, or cords
Knot (2) Unit of speed: one nautical mile (6,076 feet) per hour
Lee: Sheltered area to leeward of something (boat, building, island) that’s protected from the wind
Lee helm: The tendency of a sailboat when sailing to turn away from the wind
Lee side: The side away from the wind, or downwind side
Leeward: The direction, or side of the boat, away from the wind
Luff (1): The forward edge of a sail
Luff (2): The fluttering of a sail when the boat is too close to the wind for the sail’s trim
Luff (3): To head up so that the sails luff.
Outboard (1): Away from the centerline of a boat; outside the gunwale
Outboard (2): A portable motor that attaches (usually) to the stern of a boat.
Port (1): A harbor
Port (2): The left-hand side of a boat when facing forward
Reef (1): An area of rock or coral, usually submerged, that presents a hazard to navigation
Reef (2): To reduce the area of a sail that is exposed to the wind
Rig (1): To attach, as a sail
Rig (2): The total assembly of sails, spars, and rigging aboard a sailboat
Secure (1): To make fast (as a line)
Secure (2): To make safe
Is This Tacky?
Tack (1): The forward lower corner of a sail
Tack (2): To change course by turning the bow of the boat through the wind
Tack (3): A course designation according to which side of the boat (port or starboard) the wind is blowing onto
Don’t Wiggle It
Tail (1): The end of a working line (e.g. halyard, sheet) after the winch or snubber that is taking the load
Tail (2): To pull on the tail of a line
No Cutting Involved
Trim (1): To adjust a sail by hauling in on the sheet
Trim (2): The position a sail is set relative to the wind
Windward: Toward the wind
Windward side: The side upon which the wind is blowing