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Glossary of Nautical and Boating Terms

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A room inside a boat.

Tightly woven cloth used for sails, covers and biminis. Typically made from cotton, hemp or linen. Modern sails are made out of synthetic materials generally known as sailcloth.

When a boat falls over in the water so that is no longer right side up.

A rotating drum used to haul heavy lines and chains. Similar to a winch, but mounted vertically.

The person who is in charge of a vessel and legally responsible for it and its occupants.

Cast off
To detach mooring lines, as when leaving a dock.

A twin-hulled boat. Catamaran sailboats are known for their ability to plane and are faster than single-hulled boats (monohulls) in some conditions.

Material used to seal the seams in a wooden vessel, making it watertight.

Celestial navigation
A method of using the stars, sun and moon to determine one's position. Position is determined by measuring the apparent altitude of one of these objects above the horizon using a sextant and recording the times of these sightings with an accurate clock. That information is then used with tables in the Nautical Almanac to determine one's position.

Maps for boaters are known as charts. Charts are usually issued by government agencies and include information on channels, navigational aids, water depth and hazards.

The location where the deck joins the hull of a boat.

A fitting to which a line may be attached easily.

The point of sail with the bow of the boat as close as possible to the wind.

A small wall to prevent water from entering the cockpit.

The location from which the boat is steered, usually toward the middle or rear of the boat.

Coordinated universal time
A time standard that is not affected by time zones or seasons. Time measured in coordinated universal time, labeled with the term zulu. It is used so that people around the world can communicate about time without regard to individual time zones.

The direction in which a boat is traveling or intends to travel.

CQR anchor
Also called a plow anchor. Short for coastal quick release anchor. An anchor that is designed to bury itself into the ground by use of its plow shape.

One or more people who aid in the operation of a boat.

Crow's nest
A small, sheltered platform close to the top of a ship's mast, used by the lookout.

Cruising guides
Books that describe features of particular sailing areas, such as hazards, anchorages, etc.

A sailboat with one mast and a mainsail and two headsails.

The generic term for a tropical weather system, including tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

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