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Boating Terms

As a new boat owner you are faced with learning a number of new Boating Terms.  For some people it is like learning a new language.

Port - The left side when facing the bow.
Starboard - The right side when facing the bow.
Windward - The direction from which the wind is coming.
Leeward - The direction in which the wind is going.
Amidships - the mid point of the boat between bow and stern, or from side to side.
Abeam - A direction to either side of the boat at right angles to line from bow to stern.
Ahead - in front of the boat.
Tacking - Turning from one tack to the other, when the bow passes through the wind. Also know as Coming about.
Port tack - when a boat is sailing with the mainsail on the starboard side.
Starboard tack - when a boat is sailing with the mainsail on the port side.
Gybing - Going from one tack to the other with the stern passing through the wind.
Underway - when the boat is not moored, anchored or aground. It is floating free from the earth.
Leeway - the motion of the boat to leeward.
No way - when the boat is not moving.
In irons - when the boat is bow into the wind without control and starts to move backwards.
Upwind - In the direction from which the wind is coming.
Downwind - In the direction the wind is going.
Luffing - when the forward part (the luff) of a sail is fluttering.
Heading up - turning towards the wind.
Bearing away - turning away from the wind.
Sailing by the lee - sailing with the wind and the boom on the same side while sailing downwind.
Heeling - The leaning of the boat due to the wind pressure on the sails.
Astern - behind the boat.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Stott, co-founder of Gulf Islands Cruising School Ltd. has been a Canadian Yachting Association, now Sail Canada, certified instructor since 1971.  He has taught aboard both sail and power boats ranging in size from 8' to 86' and is the author of Home Study Coastal Navigation Course

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Bruce Stott
Bruce Stott
President/Chief Instructor
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