Sailors Choice
Nautical Terms

CABIN The room in a small boat, sleeping quarters in a larger boat
CABLE  The line or chain that is secured to the anchor
CALKING/CAULKING  Forcing material into the seams of the planks in a boat's deck or sides to make them watertight
CALM Little or no wind and flat seas
CAM CLEAT A spring-loaded cam that clamps a fed line in its teeth
CAMBER  The arch of the deck sloping downward from the center towards the sides or of a sail under load
CAN BUOY A cylindrical green, odd numbered buoy used in US waters to be kept to the left when returning from one body of water to another
CANVAS Sails or sail area or the sail cover, dodger, etc. usually made from cotton, linen or hemp, as opposed to modern sailcloth
CAPSIZE  To turn over, either a boat or a knot on itself
CAPSTAN a machine for moving or raising heavy weights that consists of a vertical drum which can be rotated and around which cable is turned, much like a windlass or winch
CAPTAIN The person in charge of the boat and having legal responsibility for it and its passengers and crew
CAR The slider on a track to which blocks or other hardware is attached to allow adjustment
CARDINAL POINTS The compass points of north, east, south and west. Intercardinal points are southeast, southwest, northwest and northeast
CAST OFF  To let go of a line, to be free of one's mooring 
CATAMARAN  A craft with two hulls joined by crossbeams
CAT BOAT A small boat with the mast stepped far forward, carrying a single sail
CAT RIG Rigged to carry only a mainsail, no jib
CATENARY  The curve of a rope hung between two points such as the anchor rode or towing line
A method to determine a position using the sun, moon and stars by measuring with a sextant the apparent altitude of one of these objects above the horizon, recording the sightings with an accurate clock and calculating using the Nautical Almanac
CENTER OF EFFORT  The center of wind pressure on the sail plan
CENTERBOARD  A board that is raised and lowered in a watertight box called the trunk or well to increase the draft and  lateral area of the hull
CENTERLINE The imaginary line that runs down the middle of the boat from bow to stern
CHAFE Abrasion or wear
CHAFING GEAR Canvas, rubber  or other material around a line or cable to protect it from wear and abrasion
CHAIN LOCKER Similar to an anchor locker, storage area for the anchor chain
CHAIN PLATES  Metal straps or rods  bolted to the hull structure  to which the shrouds are attached
CHANDLERY A marine hardware store
CHANNEL A navigable waterway, usually marked that is charted as to depth.
CHART A nautical map
CHARTER To rent a boat
CHEEK BLOCK A block whose sheave is mounted against the side of a surface such as a spar
CHINE The line of intersection between the sides and bottom of a boat, where the deck joins the hull
CHOCK Deck fairlead used to direct anchor or mooring lines
CHOP Short waves at rapid intervals
CHUM A fishing term for animal or vegetable matter (as chopped fish or corn) thrown overboard to attract fish 
CIRCUMNAVIGATE To sail around the world
CLEAR  Free, not entangled 
CLEAR FOR RUNNING  A sheet or halyard coiled  so that it will run out quickly without becoming tangled
CLEAT  A device of wood or metal with two horns around which ropes are made fast, not good for bare feet
CLEW  The lower, after corner of a  mainsail, jib, mizzen, and both lower corners of a spinnaker
CLEW OUTHAUL  The tackle used to adjust the clew in and  out on the boom
CLOSE ABOARD  In close proximity to
CLOSE-HAULED  Sailing as close to the wind as possible - "beating" and "on the wind"
CLOVIS PIN A pin that secures one fitting to another.
CLOVE HITCH  A knot to fasten a line to a spar or another line
COAMING The low wall around a cockpit
COCKPIT  The lowered area in the after deck housing the tiller or wheel and for the use of the helmsman and crew
CODLINE According to "The Oxford Companion To Ships And The Sea", a codline is a: Small line laid up with eighteen threads. It was originally the line used in fishing for cod, but also has a variety of uses on board ship for purposes where small rope would be too large and clumsy.  Cheers from the sloop LITTLE WING
COIL  To lay a line down in circular turns or to arrange in  loops so it can be stowed. Line is sold by the coil, which contain 200 fathoms 
COMPANIONWAY The area leading down from the deck to the cabin., usually with steps (ladder)
COMPASS A glass dome containing a  magnetized card indicating the direction to magnetic north
COMPASS COURSE The direction of a ship's heading based on the ship's compass
COMPASS ERROR The amount the compass is deflected from the true direction by variation and deviation together
COMPASS ROSE A circle graduated in points, or degrees, or both, from which courses are laid
CORDAGE Any line or rope
COTTER PIN A small double-pronged bendable pin used to secure a clovis pin 
COUNTER  "The underside of the overhand of the afterpart of the hull"
COURSE  1) The compass direction steered by the vessel  
2) The sequence of marks rounded in a race 
COURSE PROTRACTOR  An instrument with a movable arm to plot a course on a chart
COURTESY FLAG A smaller sized flag of the host country flown from the starboard spreader
COWLS Scooped devices to direct airflow into a boat
CQR ANCHOR Coastal Quick Release anchor, also known as plow anchor designed to bury itself in the bottom
CRADLE The bridles on a spinnaker pole which attach to the topping lift and the downhaul or the framework  that supports a boat when hauled out 
CREW Everybody who helps sail a boat but not the captain
CRINGLE A large eye of line around a thimble worked in the leach and clew of a sail, ie, the reef cringle and clew cringle
CROSS BEARING  Two or more bearings are noted on the chart in order to determine the ship's position at the intersect
CUDDY  A small shelter cabin in a small boat
CUNNINGHAM A block and tackle system invented by Briggs Cunningham and used to adjust the tension on the luff of the mainsail 
CURRENT  The horizontal movement of water which  may be periodic caused by  the tides or seasonal winds
CUT The shape of a sail
CUTTER A sailboat with one mast, rigged with a mainsail and two headsails



These are informative only and are not the last word!
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