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Glossary of nautical terms

This is a glossary of nautical terms; some remain current, many date from the 17th-19th century.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
T
Tailshaft – A kind of metallic shafting (a rod of metal) to hold the propeller and connected to the power engine. When the tailshaft is moved, the propeller may also be moved for propulsion.
Taken aback – An inattentive helmsmen might allow the dangerous situation to arise where the wind is blowing into the sails 'backwards', causing a sudden (and possibly dangerous) shift in the position of the sails.
Taking the wind out of his sails – To sail in a way that steals the wind from another ship. cf. overbear.
Tally – The operation of hauling aft the sheets, or drawing them in the direction of the ship's stern.
Teazer – A rope used as a punitive device.
Three sheets to the wind – On a three-masted ship, having the sheets of the three lower courses loose will result in the ship meandering aimlessly downwind. Also, a sailor who has drunk strong spirits beyond his capacity.
Timoneer – From the French timonnier, is a name given, on particular occasions, to the steersman of a ship.
Toe the line or Toe the mark – At parade, sailors and soldiers were required to stand in line, their toes in line with a seam of the deck.
Togey – A rope used as a punitive device
Topsail – The second sail (counting from the bottom) up a mast. These may be either square sails or fore-and-aft ones, in which case they often "fill in" between the mast and the gaff of the sail below.
Topmast – The second section of the mast above the deck; formerly the upper mast, later surmounted by the topgallant mast; carrying the topsails.
Topgallant – the mast or sails above the tops.
Touch and go – The bottom of the ship touching the bottom, but not grounding.
Towing – The operation of drawing a vessel forward by means of long lines.
Travellers – Small fittings that slide on a rod or line. The most common use is for the inboard end of the mainsheet; a more esoteric form of traveller consists of "slight iron rings, encircling the backstays, which are used for hoisting the top-gallant yards, and confining them to the backstays".
Traffic Separation Scheme – Shipping corridors marked by buoys which separate incoming from outgoing vessels. Improperly called Sea Lanes.
Transom – a more or less flat surface across the stern of a vessel.
Trick – A period of time spent at the wheel ("my trick's over").
Trim – Relationship of ship's hull to waterline.
Turtling – When a sailboat (in particular a dinghy) capsizes to a point where the mast is pointed straight down and the hull is on the surface resembling a turtle shell.

U
Under the weather – Serving a watch on the weather side of the ship, exposed to wind and spray.
Under way – A vessel that is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.
Upper-yardmen – Specially selected personnel destined for high office.


V
Vanishing angle – The maximum degree of heel after which a vessel becomes unable to return to an upright position.

W
Wake – Turbulence behind a ship
Wales – A number of strong and thick planks running length-wise along the ship, covering the lower part of the ship's side.
Watch – A period of time during which a part of the crew is on duty. Changes of watch are marked by strokes on the ship's bell.
Watercraft – Water transport vessels. Ships, boats, personal water craft.
Weather gage – Favorable position over another sailing vessel to with respect to the wind.
Weather deck – Whichever deck is that exposed to the weather – usually either the main deck or, in larger vessels, the upper deck.
Weather side – The weather side of a ship is the side exposed to the wind.
Weatherly – A ship that is easily sailed and maneuvered; makes little leeway when sailing to windward.
Weigh anchor – To heave up (an anchor) preparatory to sailing.
Wells – Places in the ship's hold for the pumps.
White Horses – Waves in wind strong enough to produce foam or spray on the wave tops.
Wheelhouse – Location on a ship where the steering wheel is located, often interchanged with pilothouse and bridge.
Wide berth – To leave room between two ships moored (berthed) to allow space for maneuver.
Windage – Wind resistance of the boat.
Windbound – A condition wherein the ship is detained in one particular station by contrary winds.
Windward – In the direction that the wind is coming from.
Windlass – A winch mechanism, usually with a horizontal axis. Used where mechanical advantage greater than that obtainable by block and tackle was needed (such as raising the anchor on small ships).

Y
Yard – The horizontal spar from which a square sail is suspended.
Yardarm – The very end of a yard. Often mistaken for a "yard", which refers to the entire spar. As in to hang "from the yardarm" and the sun being "over the yardarm" (late enough to have a drink).
Yarr – Acknowledgement of an order, or agreement
Yaw – A vessel's motion rotating about the vertical axis, so the bow yaws from side to side.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 
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