Sailing Vocabulary
Dictionary of Boating Terms

Dictionary of Boating Sailing, Schooners, Naval, Ships, Boat and Seafaring Terms

M N O P Qflag image R
Y Z          





C Sailing Terms

Cabin -A compartment for passengers or crew.
Cabin sole -the bottom surface of the enclosed space under the deck of a boat
Cable - The rope or chain made fast to the anchor. 2 .Nautical unit of distance, having a standard value of 1/10th of a nautical mile (608 ft.) or 100 fathoms.
Cable-bitt - Large vertical timbers, morticed into the keel, to which anchor and mooring cables were attached.
Cardinal points- The points of North, South, East and West as marked on a compass rose.
Carlins- Structural pieces running fore and aft between the beams.
Carrick bend- A knot used to tie two lines together.
Carvel planking - Solid wood planks, butted together, fastened to the frames, with a flexible caulking between the planks.
Catamaran- A twin hulled boat. Catamaran sailboats are known for their ability to plane and are faster than single hulled boats (monohulls) in some conditions.
Cat Boat A sailboat rigged with one mast and one sail.
Chafe - damage to a line caused by rubbing against another object
Chafe gear
-- gear used to prevent damage by rubbing
Chronmeter - Ships clock
Cam cleat- A mechanical cleat used to hold a lineline automatically. It uses two spring loaded cams that come together to clamp their teeth on the line,
The arch or slope deck , usually higher in the center so the water can drain off Also known as round of beam
Camel - Hollow vessel of iron, steel or wood, that is filled with water and sunk under a vessel. When water is pumped out, the buoyancy of camel lifts ship. Usually employed in pairs. At one time were usual means of lifting a vessel over a bar or sandbank. 2.  wooden float  use between dock and ship.
Can Bouy - A cylindrical buoy painted green and having an odd number used in the United States as a navigational aid
Can Hooks - Two flat hooks running freely on a wire or chain sling. Hooks are put under chime of casks, weight is taken on chain sling or wire. Weight of lift prevents unhooking.
Canal A manmade waterway used to connect bodies of water that do not connect naturally
Canoe stern - A pointed stern, such as those on a canoe
Canvas -- slang for sail. Originally sails were made of canvas.
Capstan: - the drum-like part of the windlass, which is a machine used for winding in rope, cables or chain connected to an anchor cargo.
Capsize -To turn over.
Captain- The person who is in charge of a vessel and legally responsible for it and its occupants.
Car - A sliding fitting that attaches to a track allowing for the adjustment of blocks or other devices attached to the car.
Cardinal points-The points of North, South, East and West as marked on a compass rose
Carline Wood stringer support for hatches and cabins
Carrick Bend-. - A knot used to tie two lines together
Cast Off - to release lines holding boat to shore or mooring, to release sheets.
Casting Line- A heaving line
Catamaran- A twin hulled boat.
Catboat- - A sailboat rigged with one mast and one sail
Catenary - The sag in a line strung between two points such as the anchor line.
Calk to fill wooden vessel seams with oakum and cotton using caulking irons and hammer
Caulking- Material used to seal the seams in a wooden vessel, making it watertigh.
Celestial navigation - to calculate your position using time, the position of celestial bodies, and mathematical tables
Centerboard - a fin shaped, often removable, board that extends from the bottom of the boat as a keel
Center line-- The imaginary line running from bow to stern along the middle of the boat.
Center of effort - The center of wind pressure on the sail plan
Checking - Longitudinal separation of the fibers in wood that do not go through the whole cross section. Checks result from tension stresses during the drying process.
Chafe - damage to a line caused by rubbing against another object
Chafe gear -- gear used to prevent damage by rubbing
Chain plate - A steel plate or bar by which the standing rigging is attached to the hull.
Chantey-  also Chanty or Shanty - A shipboard song, or chant primarily on merchant ships during heavy work, such as turning the capstan or hoisting a sail, to help coordinate the men's efforts and to pass the time.
Chandler- A dealer in provisions and equipment.
Channel -1. That part of a body of water deep enough for navigation through an area otherwise not suitable. It is usually marked by a single or double line of buoys and sometimes by range markers.2. The deepest part of a stream, bay, or strait, through which the main current flows.3. A name given to a large strait, for example, the English Channel.
Chart datum-- The water level used to record data on a chartchart. Usually the average low tide water level.
Chart table- - A table designated as the area in the boat where the navigator will study charts and plot courses.
Chart -A map for use by navigators.
Chanty - Shanties are the work songs that were used on the square-rigged ships of the Age of Sail. Their rhythms coordinated the efforts of many sailors hauling on lines
Charley noble: - galley stove-pipe
Check: To ease a rope a little, and then belay it..
Cheek block-- A block with one end permanently attached to a surface.such as on the sides of the mast.
Chine -The intersection of the bottom and sides of a flat or v-bottomed boat.
Chock -A fitting through which anchor or mooring lines are led. Usually U-shaped to reduce chafe
Chockablock-- When a line is pulled as tight as is can go, as when two blocks are pulled together. also know as "two blocks"
Chop-Small, steep disorderly waves.
Cleat - A wood or metal fitting with two horn around which ropes are made fast.
Clevis Pin- A  metal pin used to attach fittings to each other or their mounts
Clew- Lower aft corner of the fore and aft sail or the lower corners of a sq sail.
Clipper bow - A bow where the stem has a forward curve and sides have a lot of flair. Also called a schooner bow.
Close hauled - sails and boom pulled in tight, enabling the boat to point as high as possible to the direction the wind is coming from
Close reach - Sailing with the wind coming from the direction forward of the beam of the boat. A close reach is the point of sail between a beam reach and close hauled.
Close Reef - To reduce the size to the last reef point giving the minimum sailing area. 
Clove Hitch attach a rope to a pole, this knot provide a quick and secure result
Clipper was first a generic name to describe a very fast sailing ship
Coaming -- the raised border around the cockpit, or a hatch to keep out water
Coaster- A vessel that keeps close to land.
- the area, below deck level, that is somewhat more protected than the open deck, from which the tiller or wheel is handled
Coil - To lay a rope down in circular turns
Companionway -- staircase that leads to the cabin
Compass -Navigation instrument, either magnetic (showing magnetic north) or gyro (showing true north).
Compass Card -Part of a compass, the card is graduated in degrees, to conform with the magnetic meridian-referenced direction system inscribed with direction which remains constant; the vessel turns, not the card.
Compass rose -The resulting figure when the complete 360 directional system is developed as a circle with each degree graduated upon it, and with the 000 indicated as True North. Also called true rose. This is printed on nautical charts for determining direction.
Colors-The national flag and or other flags.
Cordage- Any rope or line
Course -- compass heading or the angle of the boat in sailing against the wind
Courtesy Flag- A smaller version of the flag of the country being visited. It is flown from the starboard spreader.
Cowl -The bell shape top of a ships or boats ventilator.
Cringle- A fitting in a sail that allows a line to fasten to it
Crosstrees - horizontal pieces of wood or metal that cross the mast up high, acting as spreaders for the topmast shrouds.
Crow's Nest - protected look-out position high on the foremast
Crutch -
A support for a spar when spar is no in use.
The horizontal movement of water.
Club footed jib - A jib with a boom or "club" on the foot of the sail.
Cutter- A sailboat with one mast and rigged a mainsail and two headsails. Also see sloop.
Cuddy -  A small compartment or cabin

A Sea of Words, Third Edition: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian
This comprehensive lexicon provides definitions of nautical terms, historical entries describing the people and political events that shaped the period, and detailed explanations of the scientific, medical, and biblical references that appear in the novels.

An A-Z of Sailing Terms
Handy and authoritative, this invaluable guide deserves a place on every sailor's bookshelf. Abridged from the acclaimed "Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, An A-Z of Sailing Terms" provides detailed explanations of nearly 1,500 sailing terms.


Full Sail Ahead
Home Art
Clipper Ships
Fishing Boats
Motor Boats
Ocean Liners
Schooner Art
Ship Wrecks
Steam Ships
Yachts Art


Sea Tale Books