|Glossary of nautical terms
This is a glossary of nautical terms; some remain current, many date from the 17th-19th century.
Halyard or Halliard – Originally, ropes used for hoisting a spar
with a sail attached; today, a line used to raise the head of any sail.
Hammock – Canvas sheets, slung from the deckhead in messdecks, in
which seamen slept. "Lash up and stow" a piped command to tie up
hammocks and stow them (typically) in racks inboard of the ship's side
to protect crew from splinters from shot and provide a ready means of
preventing flooding caused by damage.
Hand Bomber – A ship using coal-fired boilers shoveled in by hand.
Hand over fist – To climb steadily upwards, from the motion of a
sailor climbing shrouds on a sailing ship (originally "hand over
Handsomely – With a slow even motion, as when hauling on a line "handsomely."
Hank – A fastener attached to the luff of the headsail that
attaches the headsail to the forestay. Typical designs include a bronze
or plastic hook with a spring-operated gate, or a strip of cloth
webbing with a snap fastener.
Harbor – A harbor or harbour, or haven, is a place where ships
may shelter from the weather or are stored. Harbours can be man-made or
Haul wind – To point the ship so as to be heading in the same
direction as the wind, generally not the fastest point of travel on a
Hawse-hole – A hole in a ship's bow for a cable, such as for an anchor, to pass through.
Hawsepiper – An informal maritime industry term used to refer to
a merchant ship’s officer who began his or her career as an
unlicensed merchant seaman and did not attend a traditional maritime
college/academy to earn the officer license.
Head – The toilet or latrine of a vessel, which for sailing ships projected from the bows
Head of navigation – A term used to describe the farthest point
above the mouth of a river that can be navigated by ships.
Headsail – Any sail flown in front of the most forward mast.
Heave – A vessel's transient up-and-down motion.
Heaving to – To stop a sailing vessel by lashing the helm in
opposition to the sails. The vessel will gradually drift to leeward,
the speed of the drift depending on the vessel's design.
Heave down – Turn a ship on its side (for cleaning).
Heeling – Heeling is the lean caused by the wind's force on the sails of a sailing vessel.
Helmsman – A person who steers a ship
Hogging or hog – The distortion of the hull where the ends of the keel are lower than the center.
Hold – In earlier use, below the orlop deck, the lower part of
the interior of a ship's hull, especially when considered as storage
space, as for cargo. In later merchant vessels it extended up through
the decks to the underside of the weather deck.
Holiday – A gap in the coverage of newly applied paint, slush, tar or other preservative.
Holystone – A chunk of sandstone used to scrub the decks. The
name comes from both the kneeling position sailors adopt to scrub the
deck (reminiscent of genuflection for prayer), and the stone itself
(which resembled a Bible in shape and size).
Horn – A sound signal which uses electricity or compressed air to vibrate a disc diaphragm.
Horse – Attachment of sheets to deck of vessel ('Main-sheet horse).
Hounds – Attachments of stays to masts.
Hull – The shell and framework of the basic flotation-oriented part of a ship
Hydrofoil – A boat with wing-like foils mounted on struts below the hull.
Icing – A serious hazard where cold temperatures (below about
-10°C) combined with high wind speed (typically force 8 or above on
the Beaufort scale) result in spray blown off the sea freezing
immediately on contact with the ship
Idlers – Members of a ship's company not required to serve
watches. These were in general specialist tradesmen such as the
carpenter and the sailmaker.
In Irons – When the bow of a sailboat is headed into the wind and the boat has stalled and is unable to maneuver
In the offing – In the water visible from on board a ship, now used to mean something imminent.
Inboard-Outboard drive system – A larger Power Boating alternative drive system to transom mounted outboard motors.
Jack – Either a flag, or a sailor. Typically the flag was talked
about as if it were a member of the crew. Strictly speaking, a flag is
only a "jack" if it is worn at the jackstaff at the bow of a ship.
Jacklines or Jack Stays – Lines, often steel wire with a plastic
jacket, from the bow to the stern on both port and starboard. The Jack
Lines are used to clip on the safety harness to secure the crew to the
vessel while giving them the freedom to walk on the deck.
Jack Tar – A sailor dressed in 'square rig' with square collar. Formerly with a tarred pigtail.
Jib – A triangular staysail at the front of a ship.
Jigger-mast – The fourth mast, although ships with four or more
masts were uncommon, or the aft most mast where it is smallest on
vessels of less than four masts.
Jollies – Traditional Royal Navy nickname for the Royal Marines.
Junk – Old cordage past its useful service life as lines aboard
ship. The strands of old junk were teased apart in the process called