‘Boaty’ Bits

I thought for the non-sailors among you, you might like a bit of a reference page for all this sailing talk, as, let’s be honest, all the names are a bid random and don’t make much sense.  There’s also a bit of a benefit for me writing this, it’s a good test for me to see how much I can remember and it’ll make me go and look up the bits that I don’t.  I hope it helps a bit both with names and with processes as I suspect that later on in my blog, when we’re at sea, I’ll be wittering on about what sails we’ve changed and how many sail changes we’ve done in x minutes etc, etc and I’ll probably be feeling quite proud about it or frustrated so this is your chance to get the jist of what I’m on about.  Enjoy…

PORT                          Left – ‘any port left?’

STARBOARD            Right – no aid memoir but it’s the only side left!

BOW                           Pointy bit at the front.

STERN                        The back of the boat.

SUN DECK                 Behind the wheel area at the stern of the boat where you can stand,                                        relax and enjoy the view, sadly no G&T’s!

SNAKE PIT                A shallow pit in the middle of the boat surrounded by winches                                                  therefore all the tail ends of the ropes fall into it.

HALYARD                 A bit of rope that is on the top of the sail that you use to raise it.

SHEET                       Another bit of rope that attaches to the corner of the sail to stop it                                         flapping about.

WINCHES                  Wind the ropes around these and turn with a winch handle to help                                          raise the sails (winching the halyard) or stop them flapping                                                      (winching the sheet).

COFFEE GRINDER     A big winch on a pedestal which two people can use to help raise                                              really big and heavy sails.

PIN RAIL                     A small metal bar to clip the ends of the halyards to, to keep them                                         tidy.

JACKSTAY                 Piece of webbing attached to the deck of the boat that you clip your                                        safety line to, to stop you falling in.

STAYS                         Bits of wire that run from the deck to the top of the mast that the                                            sails attach to.

HANKS                        Metal clips that are on the front edge of each sail which attach them                                       to the stay – making them ‘hanked on’.

SAIL TIE                     Little bits of rope which keep the sails from getting messy.  It’s                                                good to always have one or two in your pocket.

GUARD RAILS            A few rows of wire around the edge of the boat which stop you                                                falling overboard.

HEADS                         Toilets, ours have a shower curtain door – nice!

GALLEY                       Kitchen

SALOON                      Seating area – sadly no cowboys or a bar!

GHETTO                     The main sleeping area.

GIMP LOCKER           The ropes live in here.

DONKEY                     Engine

LAZERETTE               Storage place where all the smelly stuff lives.

WET LOCKER            Cupboard full of soggy kit.

GIMBELED                 When the cooker top swings with the motion of the boat.


Mainsail – the one that attaches to the mast and the boom.

Spinnaker/Kite – the one that you see on racing yachts with the logo on it.

Yankee – a big sail.

Staysail – also a big sail, but not as big as the Yankee.

Stormsail – a little one.

Wind seeker – does what it says on the tin.


Head – Top of the sail.

Luff – Long front edge, the one with the hanks on it.

Foot – Long bottom edge of the sail.

Tack – the corner between the Luff and the Foot.

Leach – Long edge at the back of the sail.

Clew – the corner of the sail between the Foot and the leach.

Tell Tails – Little flappy tabs that tell you if you have enough sail                                                                 tension.

Jobs that get done…

Just as the names for bits of the boat are little confusing to say the least, I thought I might as well explain some of the jobs on the boat:-

MOTHER WATCH      Two people spend the day cooking, cleaning and making coffee.

SAIL FLAKING            Folding the sails to put them away.

RIGGING THE BOAT  Setting up all the sails and ropes for leaving to go sailing.

TACK                              Putting the front of the boat through the wind.

JIBE                                Putting the back of the boat through the wind.

TRIMMING                   Altering the tension on various bits of sail to gain more speed.                                                 This happens almost constantly when racing to gain as much boat                                           speed as possible.

REEF                               Reducing the size of the mainsail by folding down some of the                                                   material.  Usually when it’s getting a bit scary – a bit like needing                                           to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, it’s best to do it the                                             first time you think about it.

MAN OVERBOARD     Not something you want to happen.  The chances of survival are                                              fairly slim as the sea is usually too cold and with the boat moving                                            quickly and high seas it can be very hard to find you.  So we                                                      practice time and time again what to do in a man overboard                                                      situation; Keep your eye on him, throw in a dan boy (floating tall                                            stick thing), radio a mayday,turn the engine on, ‘smoke’ (drop) the                                          sails and tie them down, everyone else clips on to stop them going                                          in too, get the rescue kit, bring the boat around to pick him up.                                                There are a lot of jobs to do and all need to be done very quickly                                              to give the MOB the best chance.

SAIL CHANGE            Taking down one sail and putting up another one.  No mean feat                                              when the sails are bigger than tennis courts and they are below                                                deck on the ghetto floor.  Once you’ve man-handled the sail up                                                from below you then have to unpack the new sail from the sail bag,                                          take the old sail down, unhank it, hank on the new sail, winch up                                              the halyard and winch in the sheet then flake the old sail into its                                              sail bag.  Phew!

ENGINEERING           Maintenance checks on the engine just like you’d do on a car.

So, if you’ve made it through reading all that and are a non-sailor, you now know as much as I do so feel free to jump on a round the world yacht!  If you are sailor you are probably shaking your head at any errors I’ve made or you have thought of plenty bits/names I’ve missed out!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s