List of Nautical Terms Defined

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: Florida Fishing Spots > Topics and Descriptions >

: List of Nautical Terms


A list of nautical terms; some remain current, many date from the 17th-19th century.


Above board - On or above the deck, in plain view, not hiding anything.
Act of Pardon / Act of Grace - A letter from a state or power authorising action by a privateer.
Abaft - Towards the stern ("to go abaft")
Abaft the beam - The half of the ship between the amidship section and the taffrail.
Abeam - 'On the beam', at right angles to the centerline of the ship's keel.
Abel Brown - A vulgar sea song.
Aboard - On or in a vessel. Close aboard means near a ship.
Absentee pennant - Special pennant flown to indicate absence of commanding officer, admiral, his chief of staff, or officer whose flag is flying (division, squadron, or flotilla commander).
Accommodation ladder - A portable flight of steps down a ship's side.
Admiralty - Body of law that deals with maritime cases.
Adrift - Loose from moorings, or out of place.
Advance note - A note for one month's wages issued to sailors on their signing a ship's articles.
Aft - Towards the stern (of the vessel)
Afternoon watch - The 1200-1600 watch.
Aground - Resting on or touching the ground or bottom.
Ahead - Forward of the bow.
Ahoy - A cry to draw attention. Term used to hail a boat or a ship, as "Boat ahoy!"
All hands - Entire ship's company, both officers and enlisted personnel.
All night in - Having no night watches.
Aloft - Above the ship's uppermost solid structure; overhead or high above.
Alongside - By the side of a ship or pier.
Amidships (or midships) - In middle portion of ship, along the line of the keel.
Anchorage - Suitable place for a ship to anchor. Area of a port or harbor.
Anchor's aweigh - Said of an anchor when just clear of the bottom.
Anchor ball - Black shape hoisted in forepart of a ship to show that ship is anchored in a fairway.
Anchor buoy - A small buoy secured by a light line to anchor to indicate position of anchor on bottom.
Anchor cable - Wire or line running between anchor and ship.
Anchor chain - Heavy stud-linked chain running between anchor and ship.
Anchor detail - Group of men who handle ground tackle when the ship is anchoring or getting underway.
Anchor light - White light displayed by ship at anchor. Two such lights are displayed by a ship over 150 feet in length.
Anchor watch - Detail of men standing by at night as a readiness precaution while ship is in port.
Armament - A ship's weapons.
Ashore - On the beach, shore or land.
Astern - Toward the stern; an object or vessel that is abaft another vessel or object.
ASW - Anti-submarine warfare.
Athwart, athwartships - At right angles to the fore and aft or centerline of a ship
Avast - Stop! Cease or desist from whatever is being done.
Awash - So low in the water that the water is constantly washing across the surface.
Aweigh - Position of an anchor just clear of the bottom.
Aye, aye - Reply to an order or command to indicate that it is understood and will be carried out. ("Aye, aye, sir" to officers)
Azimuth compass - An instrument employed for ascertaining the sun's magnetic azimuth. The azimuth of an object is its bearing from the observer measured as an angle clockwise from true north.
Azimuth circle - Instrument used to take bearings of celestial objects.
Back and fill - To use the advantage of the tide being with you when the wind is not.
Backstays - Long lines or cables, reaching from the rear of the vessel to the mast heads, used to support the mast.
Bar - Large mass of sand or earth, formed by the surge of the sea. They are mostly found at the entrances of great rivers or havens, and often render navigation extremely dangerous, but confer tranquility once inside. See also: Touch and go, grounding. Alfred Lord Tenneyson's poem 'Crossing the bar' an allegory for death.
Bear - Large squared off stone used for scraping clean the deck of a sailing man-of-war.
Bear down - Sail rapidly downwind.
Before the mast - Literally, the area of a ship before the foremast (the forecastle). Most often used to describe men whose living quarters are located here, officers being housed behind (abaft) the mast and enlisted men before the mast.
Belaying pins - Bars of iron or hard wood to which running rigging may be secured, or belayed.
Berth A bed on a boat, or a space in a port or harbour where a vessel can be tied up.
Between the Devil and the deep blue sea - See Devil seam.
Bilged on her anchor - A ship that has run upon her own anchor.
Binnacle - The stand on which the ship's compass is mounted.
Binnacle list - A ship's sick list. The list of men unable to report for duty was given to the officer or mate of the watch by the ship's surgeon. The list was kept at the binnacle.
Bitt, plural Bitts - Posts mounted on the ship's bow, merely comprising two wooden uprights supporting a crossbar, for fastening ropes or cables; also used on various ships to tie boys over for painful (posterior) discipline, more informally then kissing the gunner's daughter.
Bitter end - the anchor cable is tied to the bitts, when the cable is fully paid out, the bitter end has been reached. The last part of a rope or cable.
Bloody - An intensive derived from the substantive 'blood', a name applied to the Bucks, Scrowers, and Mohocks of the seventeenth centuries.
Blue Peter - A blue and white flag hoisted at the foretrucks of ships about to sail.
Boatswain or bosun - A non-commissioned officer responsible for the sails, ropes and boats on a ship who issues "piped" commands to seamen.
Bollard - From 'bol' or 'bole', the round trunk of a tree. A substantial vertical pillar to which lines may be made fast. Generally on the quayside rather than the ship.
Bonded Jacky - A type of tobacco or sweet cake.
Booby hatch - A sliding hatch or cover.
Boom - A spar used to extend the foot of a sail.
Booms - Masts or yards, lying on board in reserve.
Boom vang (vang) - A sail control that lets one apply downward tension on the boom, countering the upward tension provided by the mainsail. The boom vang adds an element of control to mainsail shape when the mainsheet is let out enough that it no longer pulls the boom down. Boom vang tension helps control leech twist, a primary component of sail power.
Bow - The front of a ship.
Bowline - A type of knot, producing a strong loop of a fixed size. Also a rope attached to the side of a sail to pull it towards the bow (for keeping the windward edge of the sail steady).
Bowse - To pull or hoist.
Bowsprit - A spar projecting from the bow used as an anchor for the forestay and other rigging.
Brail - To furl or truss a sail by pulling it in towards the mast, or the ropes used to do so.
Brake - The handle of the pump, by which it is worked.
Brass monkeys or brass monkey weather - Very cold weather, origin unknown. A widely circulated folk etymology claiming to explain what a brass monkey is has been discredited by several people including Snopes [1] and the Oxford English Dictionary.
Bring to - Cause a ship to be stationary by arranging the sails.
Broaching-to - A sudden movement in navigation, when the ship, while scudding before the wind, accidentally turns her leeward side to windward.
Buffer - The chief bosun's mate (in the Royal Navy), responsible for discipline.
Bull of Barney - A beast mentioned in an obscene sea proverb.
Bumboat - A private boat selling goods.
Bumpkin - An iron bar (projecting out-board from a ship's side) to which the lower and topsail brace blocks are sometimes hooked.
Buntline - One of the lines tied to the bottom of a square sail and used to haul it up to the yard when furling.
Buoyed Up - Lifted by a buoy, especially a cable that has been lifted to prevent it from trailing on the bottom.
By and Large - By means into the wind, while large means with the wind. By and large is used to indicate all possible situations "the ship handles well both by and large".
By the board - Anything that has gone overboard.
Cable - A large rope. Also a measure of length or distance - (UK) 1/10 nautical mile, approx. 600 feet; (USA) 120 fathoms, 720 feet (219 m); Other countries use different values.
Cape Horn fever - The name of the fake illness a malingerer is suffering from.
Capstan - A rotating wheel mounted vertically, used to wind in anchors or other heavy objects.
Careen - Cause the ship to tilt on its side, usually to clean or repair the hull below the water line.
Cat - 1. To prepare an anchor, after raising it by lifting it with a tackle to the Cat Head, prior to securing (fishing)it alongside for sea. (An anchor raised to the Cat Head is said to be catted). 2. The Cat o' Nine Tails. 3. A cat-rigged boat or catboat.
Catamaran - A vessel with two hulls.
Catboat - A cat-rigged vessel with only one sail, usually on a gaff.
Cat o' nine tails - A short nine-tailed whip kept by the bosun's mate to flog sailors (and soldiers in the Army).
Cat Head - A beam extending out from the hull used to support an anchor when raised in order to secure or 'fish' it.
Centreboard - A removable keel used to resist leeway.
Chain shot - cannon balls linked with chain - used to damage rigging and masts.
Chase guns - Cannons mounted on the bow or stern. Those on the bow could be used to fire upon a ship ahead, while those on the rear could be used to ward off pursuing vessels.
Chock-a-block - Rigging blocks that are so tight against one another that they cannot be further tightened.
Clean bill of health - A certificate issued by a port indicating that the ship carries no infectious diseases.
Clean slate - At the helm, the watch keeper would record details of speed, distances, headings, etc. on a slate. At the beginning of a new watch the slate would be wiped clean.
Clew-lines - Used to truss up the clews, the lower corners of square sails.
Coaming - The raised edge of a hatchway used to help keep out water.
Courses - The mainsail, foresail, and the mizzen.
Coxswain or cockswain - The helmsman or crew member in command of a boat.
As the crow flies - A direct line between two points (which might cross land) which is the way crows travel rather than ships which must go around land.
Crow's nest - The highest lookout point on a mast.
Cunningham - A line used to control the shape of a sail.
Cunt splice - A join between two lines, similar to an eye-splice, where each rope end is joined to the other a short distance along, making an opening which closes under tension.
Cut and run - When wanting to make a quick escape, a ship might cut lashings to sails or cables for anchors, causing damage to the rigging, or losing an anchor, but shortening the time needed to make ready by bypassing the proper procedures.
Cut of his jib - The "cut" of a sail refers to its shape. Since this would vary between ships, it could be used both to identify a familiar vessel at a distance, and to judge the possible sailing qualities of an unknown one.
Daggerboard - A type of centerboard that is removed vertically.
Deadeye - A round wooden blank which serves a similar purpose to a block in the standing rigging of large sailing vessels.
Devil seam - The curved seam in the deck planking closest to the side of the ship, next to the scuppers. A sailor slipping on the deck would be "between the Devil and the deep blue sea".
Devil to pay(and no pitch hot) - 'Paying' the Devil is sealing the devil seam. It is a difficult and unpleasant job (with no resources) because of the shape of the seam (closest to the hull).
Dogwatch - A short watch period, generally half the usual time (eg a two hour watch between two four hour ones). Such a watch might be included in order to slowly rotate the system over several days for fairness, or to allow both watches to eat their meals at approximately normal times.
Downhaul - A line used to control either a mobile spar, or the shape of a sail.
Draft - The depth of a ship's keel below the waterline.
Draught - See draft.
Dressing down - Treating old sails with oil or wax to renew them, or a verbal reprimand.
Driver - The large sail flown from the mizzen gaff.


Earrings - Small lines, by which the uppermost corners of the largest sails are secured to the yardarms.
Embayed - The condition where a sailing vessel is confined between two capes or headlands, typically where the wind is blowing directly onshore.
Fathom - A unit of length equal to 6 feet (1.83 m).
Fireship - A ship loaded with flammable materials and explosives and sailed into an enemy port or fleet either already burning or ready to be set alight by its crew (who would then abandon it) in order to collide with and set fire to enemy ships.
First rate - The classification for the largest sailing warships of the 17th through 19th centuries. They had 3 masts, 850+ crew and 100+ guns.
Fish - 1. To repair a mast or spar with a fillet of wood. 2. To secure an anchor on the side of the ship for sea (otherwise known as "catting".)
Fluke - The wedge-shaped part of an anchor's arms that digs into the bottom.
Fly by night - A large sail used only for sailing downwind, requiring little attention.
Foot - The bottom of a sail.
Footloose - If the foot of a sail is not secured properly, it is footloose, blowing around in the wind.
Founder - To fill with water and sink → Wiktionary
Foremast jack - An enlisted sailor, one who is housed before the foremast.
Forestays - Long lines or cables, reaching from the front of the vessel to the mast heads, used to support the mast.
Freeboard - The height of a ship's hull (excluding superstructure) above the waterline.
Furl To roll or wrap a sail around the mast or spar to which it is attached.
Gaff - The spar that holds the upper edge of a sail.
Garbled - Garbling was the (illegal) practice of mixing cargo with garbage.
Grapeshot - Small balls of lead fired from a cannon, similar to shotgun shot on a larger scale. Used to hurt people, rather than cause structural damage.
Grog - Watered-down rum. From the British Admiral Vernon who, in 1740, ordered the men's ration of rum to be watered down. He was called "Old Grogram" because he often wore a grogram coat), and the watered rum came to be called 'grog'.
Groggy - Drunk from having consumed a lot of grog.
Gunwhale - Upper edge of the hull.
Halyard or Halliard - Ropes used for hoisting a spar with a sail attached.
Hand over fist - To climb steadily upwards, from the motion of a sailor climbing shrouds on a sailing ship (originally "hand over hand").
Haul wind - To point the ship so as to be heading in the same direction as the wind, to maximise speed.
Head - The toilet or latrine of a vessel, which for sailing ships projected from the bows
Headsail - Any sail flown in front of the most forward mast.
Heave 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).
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).
Horse - Attachment of sheets to deck of vessel ('Main-sheet horse).
Hounds - Attachments of stays to masts.


In the offing - Some considerable distance from the shore.
Jack - Either a flag, or a sailor. Typically the flag was talked about as if it were a member of the crew.
Jack Tar - A sailor dressed in 'square rig' - (now) with square collar - (formally) with tarred pigtail.
Jib - A triangular staysail at the front of a ship.
Killick - A small anchor.
Know the ropes - A sailor who 'knows the ropes' is familiar with the miles of cordage and ropes involved in running a ship.
Land lubber - A person unfamiliar with being on the sea.
Lanyard - A rope that ties something off.
Larboard - The left side of the ship - cf. starboard.
Large - See By and large.
League - A unit of length, normally equal to three nautical miles.
Leech - The aft or trailing edge of a fore-and-aft sail; the leeward edge of a spinnaker; a vertical edge of a square sail. The leech is susceptible to twist, which is controlled by the boom vang and mainsheet.
Lee side - The side of a ship sheltered from the wind (cf. weather side).
Lee shore - A shore downwind of a ship. A ship which cannot sail well to windward risks being blown onto a lee shore and grounded.
Leeway - The amount that a ship is blown leeward by the wind. See also weatherly.
Leeward - In the direction that the wind is blowing towards.
Let go and haul - An order indicating that the ship is in line with the wind.
Let the cat out of the bag - To break bad news (the "cat o' nine tails" being taken out of the bag by the bosun was bad news).
Letter of marque and reprisal - A warrant granted to a privateer condoning specific acts of piracy against a target as a redress for grievances.
Liner - Ship of The Line: a major warship capable of taking its place in the main (battle) line of fighting ships. Hence modern term for most prestigious passenger vessel: Liner.
List - The vessel's angle of lean or tilt to one side.
Loaded to the gunwhales - Literally, having cargo loaded as high as the ship's rail; also means extremely drunk.
Loggerhead - An iron ball attached to a long handle, used for driving caulking into seams and (occasionally) in a fight. Hence: 'at loggerheads'.
Luff - 1. The foreward edge of a sail. 2. To head a sailing vessel more towards the direction of the wind.
Luffing 1. When a sailing vessel is steered more to windward. 2. The flapping of the sails which results.


Mainmast (or Main) - The tallest mast on a ship.
Mainsheet - Sail control line that allows the most obvious effect on mainsail trim. Primarily used to control the angle of the boom, and thereby the mainsail, this control can also increase or decrease downward tension on the boom while sailing upwind, significantly affecting sail shape. For more control over downward tension on the boom, use a boom vang.
Man overboard!! - A cry let out when a seaman has gone overboard
Master - Either the commander of commercial vessel, or a senior officer of a naval sailing ship in charge of routine seamanship and navigation but not in command during combat.
Master-at-Arms - A non-commissioned officer responsible for discipline on a naval ship.
Midshipman - A non-commissioned officer below the rank of Lieutenant. Usually regarded as being "in training" to some degree.
Mizzenmast (or Mizzen) - The third mast on a ship.
Mizzen staysail - Sail on a ketch or yawl, usually lightweight, set from, and forward of, the mizzen mast while reaching in light to moderate air.
Nipper - Short rope used to bind a cable to the "messenger" (a moving line propelled by the capstan) so that the cable is dragged along too (Used because the cable is too large to be wrapped round the capstan itself). During the raising of an anchor the nippers were attached and detached from the (endless) messenger by the ship's boys. Hence the term for small boys: 'nippers'.
No room to swing a cat - The entire ship's company was expected to witness floggings, assembled on deck. If it was very crowded, the bosun might not have room to swing the 'cat o' nine tails' (the whip).
Oilskin Foul-weather gear worn by sailors.
Outhaul - A line used to control the shape of a sail.
Overbear - To sail downwind directly at another ship, stealing the wind from its sails.
Overhaul - Hauling the buntline ropes over the sails to prevent them from chaffing.
Overreach - When tacking, to hold a course too long.
Over the barrel - Adult sailors were flogged tied to a grating, but boys were beaten instead with a cane, while tied down over the barrel of a gun.
Overwhelmed - Capsized or foundered.
Ox-Eye - A cloud or other weather phenomenon that may be indicative of an upcoming storm.
Parrel - A movable loop, used to fasten the yard to its respective mast.
Part brass rags - Fall out with a friend. From the days when cleaning materials were shared between sailors.
Pay - Fill a seam (with caulking or pitch); see 'The Devil to Pay', or to lubricate the running rigging: 'pay' with slush (qv) or protect from the weather by covering with slush.
Pipe down - A signal on the bosun's pipe to signal the end of the day, requiring lights to be extinguished and silence from the crew.
Poop deck - A high deck on the aft superstructure of a ship.
Pooped - 1. Swamped by a high, following sea. 2. Exhausted.
Port - Towards the left-hand side of the ship facing forward (formerly Larboard).
Press gang - Formed body of personnel from a ship of the Royal Navy (either a ship seeking personnel for its own crew or from a 'press tender' seeking men for a number of ships) that would identify and force (press) men, usually merchant sailors into service on naval ships usually against their will.
Preventer (Gybe preventer, Jibe preventer) - A sail control line originating at some point on the boom leading to a fixed point on the boat's deck or rail (usually a cleat or pad eye) used to prevent an accidental jibe while sailing downwind.
Privateer - A privately-owned ship authorised by a national power (by means of a Letter of Marque) to conduct hostilities against an enemy. Also called a private man of war.
Reach - A point of sail from about 60° to about 160° off the wind. Reaching consists of "close reaching" (about 60&deg to 80°), "beam reaching" (about 90°) and "broad reaching" (about 120° to 160°)
Reef - 1. To temporarily reduce the area of a sail exposed to the wind, usually to guard against adverse effects of strong wind or to slow the vessel. 2. Rocks or coral, possibly only revealed at low tide, shallow enough that the vessel will at least touch if not go aground.
Reef points - Small lengths of cord attached to a sail, used to secure the excess fabric after reefing.
Reef-bands - Long pieces of rough canvas sewed across the sails to give them additional strength.
Reef-tackles - Ropes employed in the operation of reefing.
Rolling-tackle - A number of pulleys, engaged to confine the yard to the weather side of the mast; this tackle is much used in a rough sea.
Rummage sale - A sale of damaged cargo (from French arrimage).
Running rigging - Rigging used to manipulate sails, spars, etc. in order to control the movement of the ship. Cf. standing rigging.


Sail-plan - A set of drawings showing various sail combinations recommended for use in various situations.
Scud - A name given by sailors to the lowest clouds, which are mostly observed in squally weather.
Scudding - A term applied to a vessel when carried furiously along by a tempest.
Scuppers - An opening on the side rail that allows water to run off the deck.
Scuttle To cut a hole in, or sink something.
Scuttlebutt - A barrel with a hole in used to hold water that sailors would drink from. Also: gossip.
Shakes - Pieces of barrels or casks broken down to save space. They are worth very little, leading to the phrase "no great shakes".
Sheer - The upward curve of a vessel's longitudinal lines as viewed from the side.
Sheet - A rope used to control the setting of a sail in relation to the direction of the wind.
Shrouds- Standing rigging running from a mast to the sides of a ships.
Skysail - A sail set very high, above the royals. Only carried by a few ships.
Skyscraper - A small, triangular sail, above the skysail. Used in light winds on a few ships.
Slush - Greasy substance obtained by boiling or scraping the fat from empty salted meat storage barrels, or the floating fat residue after boiling the crew's meal. In the Royal Navy the perquisite of the cook who could sell it or exchange it (usually for alcohol) with other members of the crew. Used for greasing parts of the running rigging of the ship and therefore valuable to the master and bosun.
Slush fund - The money obtained by the cook selling slush ashore. Used for the benefit of the crew (or the cook).
Son of a gun - The space between the guns was used as a semi-private place for trysts with prostitutes and wives, which sometimes lead to pregnancies.
Spanker - A fore and aft, gaff-rigged sail on the aft-most mast of a square-rigged vessel.
Spar - A wooden pole used to support various pieces of rigging and sails.
Spinnaker - A large sail flown in front of the vessel while heading downwind.
Spinnaker pole - A spar used to help control a spinnaker or other headsail.
Standing rigging - Rigging which is used to support masts and spars, and is not normally manipulated during normal operations. Cf. running rigging.
Starboard - Towards the right-hand side of a vessel facing forward.
Square meal - A sufficient quantity of food. Meals on board ship were served to the crew on a square wooden plate in harbour or at sea in good weather. Food in the Royal Navy was invariably better or at least in greater quantity than that available to the average landsman. However, while square wooden plates were indeed used on board ship, there is no established link between them and this particular term. The OED gives the earliest reference from the U.S. in the mid 19th century.
Stay - Rigging running fore (forestay) and aft (backstay) from a mast to the hull.
Staysail - A sail whose luff is attached to a forestay.
Steering oar or steering board - A long, flat board or oar that went from the stern to well underwater, used to control the vessel in the absence of a rudder.
Stern - The rear part of a ship, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter to the taffrail.
Studding-sails - Long and narrow sails, used only in fine weather, on the outside of the large square sails.
Swinging the compass - Measuring the inaccuracy in a ship's magnetic compass so its readings can be adjusted.
Swinging the lead - Measuring the depth of water beneath a ship using a lead-weighted sounding line. A sailor who was feigning illness etc to avoid a hard job was said to be 'swinging the lead'.
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.
Three sheets to the wind - 1. On a three-masted ship, having the sheets of the three lower courses loose will result in the ship meandering aimlessly downwind. 2. To be drunk, and meandering aimlessly.
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.
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.
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".
Trick - A period of time spent at the wheel ("my trick's over").
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.
Under the weather - Serving a watch on the weather side of the ship, exposed to wind and spray.
Wales - A number of strong and thick planks running length-wise along the ship, covering the lower part of the ship's side.
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.
Wells - Places in the ship's hold for the pumps.
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.
Yardarm or Yard - The horizontal spar from which a square sail is suspended. Sometimes used to refer to just the ends of the yard. As in to hang 'from the yardarm' and the sun being 'over the yardarm' (late enough to have a drink).

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