Out of Gloucester


Terms in a Seaman's Dictionary
Some Nautical Expressions Explained to Curious Landsmen
A - K

A1 Reported by Lloyd's examiner in first class condition
A. B. Able Bodied; higher and more experienced that an "ordinary seaman"
Abaft Behind or on the side near the stern as "abaft the deckhouse"
Aft Near the stern, or behind the vessel
Athwart or thwart Across, generally across the slip; as the thwarts or seats on which rowers sit
Ballast Heavy material, such as iron, lead, bags of sand or shot, barrels or tanks of water, carried in the bottom of the ship to steady her or to prevent her leaning over too easily when the wind blows against her side or sails
Battens Strips of wood or flat iron bars used to fasten down the tarpaulins covering hatches
Beat To sail with the wind first on one bow and then the other
Before In front of, as before the deck-house; on the side nearer the bows
Belay To fasten a rope round a cleat or belaying pin
Belaying Pin Large bolts round which the ropes are twisted to fasten them
Bell The ship's bell is rung in a certain way at sea to indicate the time every half hour. At noon, by observation, eight strokes are given in four pairs of strokes; at 12:30, one stroke; at one o'clock, two strokes; at 1:30, tow strokes, and after a short pause, a third stroke; at two o'clock, two pairs of strokes; and so on to four o'clock when four pairs of strokes, or 'eight bells' are sounded. From four o'clock to eight o'clock are the first and second "dog watches", and in these the greatest number of strokes is four bells; but after that the bells are rung in the usual way until the following noon.
Berth A sleeping place; the place where a ship lies
Bilge A ship's bottom extending form the keel to the beginning of the curve of the sides
Bilge Keel A keel or projection fastened to the outside of the curve, for about two-thirds of the vessel's length to reduce rolling
Binnacle The stand for the compass by which the vessel is steered
Boom A fore and aft spar extending from a mast to stretch or extend a sail
Bows The two sided at the front of a vessel; that on the right is in the starboard bow, that on the left the port bow.
Bowsprit A spar projecting in front of the bows, and secured in place by various ropes, those to each side being "shrouds," and those beneath "bobstays".
Bridge A light structure extending across a steamer; reserved for the captain and other navigating officers.
Bulkhead A wall or partition in the interior of a vessel
Bulwarks The raised sides round a vessel's deck
Bunk A fixed sleeping berth
Buoy A floating iron can moored by a chain on the edge of a shoal to mark a safe channel; buoys are of a great variety of shapes, all of which have a definite meaning to the sailor; some carry bells rung by the motion of the sea, and others gas-lamps which burn night and day for weeks at a time
Caboose A revolving post fastened to a deck to haul up an anchor worked by steam or by men at the capstan bars.
Charthouse A small deckhouse in which the charts are kept; adjoins the bridge and is sometimes next to the captain's cabin
"Chips" Nickname for ship's carpenter
Clew Lower corner of a sail
Close Hauled Sailing close to the wind
Companion A staircase or ladder leading from the deck to an apartment below; also the hatch covering over this.
Crow's Nest A barrel-shaped, lookout place on the foremast; usually accommodates two men.
Cuddy A small cabin; a cooking galley
Cutter A one-masted fore and aft rig sailing vessel
Davits Steel or iron cranes, usually fitted in pairs at the sided of a ship for raising and lowering boats from and to the water.
"Davy Jone's Locker The bottom of the sea
Dead Reckoning In weather when navigating officers cannot see the sun or stars they estimate the ship's position by the distance traveled, as shown by the log, etc.; this is called "dead reckoning".
Deadlights Wood or metal coverings over port-holes or windows; also used in bad weather to prevent the sea smashing the glass
Derelict A forsaken ship
Dinghy A small open boat
"Doctor" Nickname for a ship's cook
Easting The degrees of longitude when sailing eastward
Fathom Six feet. Lead lines always and charts showing depth of water generally are marked in fathoms
Fender A long wooden beam usually swinging at the side of a pier to prevent ships chafing against them. Globular shaped plaited rope, or pudding fenders, are generally sued when a vessel is moving alongside another or a landing stage to lessen the shock of contact.
Flotsam Goods thrown into the sea from a ship and still afloat
Fore or Forward Opposite to "aft" "The fore or front part of a vessel"
Forecastle A small raised deck forward also the accommodation for the crew beneath this deck.
Foul Dirty, tangled.
Freeboard The vessel's side above water amidships.
Gunwale The top of the sides of a boat.
Half-deck Forecastle deck; a half-deck boat is one only partially decked.
Halliard, or Haulyard A rope or chain for raising or lowering a sail or flag
Hatch An opening in a deck for passengers or cargo one with a sliding top is a "booby hatch".
Hawse holes Holes in the bows through which anchor chains are passed.
Heel To lean over to one side.
Helm The tiller or handle controlling the rudder. To "port the helm" is to put it to the left and send the vessel to starboard, while to "starboard the helm" is to put it to the right and send the vessel to the left.
Hold The interior of a ship for cargo.
Hurricane Deck The topmast deck in a large steamship.
Jetsam Goods thrown overboard and washed ashore.
Jigger Mast The fourth mast in a vessel.
Jury Temporary makeshift, as a jury mast.
Ketch A vessel with one large mast and the after mast small; there are many varieties of this rig.

[I've looked for weeks afterward for "Terms L-Z", but have yet to find it in the newspaper.]



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