A Beginners Guide to Sailing – Sailboat Terminology

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If you are ready to take on the wonderful and relaxing world of sailing, then you will need to learn a few things. Here you will learn the mostly used terminology that you will hear, and soon be using yourself.

Boating Terms

  • A Beginners Guide to Sailing – Sailboat TerminologyAbeam: This means something lies at a right angel from the boat. Example: The buoy is abeam from us.
  • Aft: The portion of the vessel behind the middle area of the vessel
  • Ahead: This means in front of the boat. Example: The land is ahead.
  • Astern: This means behind the boat. Example: The competition is astern.
  • Beam: This is the widest part of your boat. Example: The boat’s length is 50′, but the beam is 14′.
  • Boom: This is the horizontal ple that extends from the bottom of the boat’s mast.
  • Bow: This is the front of the boat.
  • Crew: These are all those who participate in operating the boat.
  • Forward: This is toward the bow.
  • Freeboard: This is the height of your deck above the water.
  • Helmsman: (also called helmsperson) This is the one that steers the boat.
  • Lee and Leeward: (Pronouncing: “lee” and “loo ward”) This is downwind.
  • Port: 1 – This is the left side when you are looking forward. 2 – This is a window in the side of your boat. 3 – Location where boats and ships dock.
  • Rudder: This is beneath your boat. It is the flat piece of wood, metal, or fiberglass that is used to steer it.
  • Running Rigging: This is all of the lines that control any part of your sails, which includes the sheets, outhaul, and halyards.
  • Skipper: This is the person who is charge.
  • Standing Rigging: This is all of the wires or the cables that hold up the mast.
  • Starboard: This is the right side of the boat when you face forward.
  • Windward: This is towards wind.

Sailing Tips for Beginners

Now that you are aware of the typical terms used while sailing, here is a list of tips to help you when you are a beginner.

  • Choose un-crowded and calm water when you are beginning.
  • Pick a smaller boat.
  • Use a boat rigged with one sail to start.
  • Follow all sailing basics for the safety of you and passengers.
  • Research the wind, tide, and weather conditions.
  • Get familiar with the control of the sails.
  • Capsize to ensure you know how to manage should it happen for real.
  • Show respect to the boom.
  • Memorize the terms.
  • Practice as much as possible.

Learning to sail is very exciting, but make sure to take all rules, regulations, and safety information very seriously!


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

travel July 28, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Hmm is anyone else having problems with the
images on this blog loading? I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.

Any responses would be greatly appreciated.


Danielle Dulion August 1, 2016 at 5:45 pm

There is only one image on this article and I do see the picture. Try using this link to see if the image is available. Let us know if you still have trouble. Thank you!


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