Important Lingo to Learn for Sailing

Sailing is a great deal of fun and a healthy outdoor activity for a person to participate in. It is like other sports and activities, has its own terms and names for things, and thus it would be a good idea for a sailing enthusiast to learn the terms and lingo associated with sailing. It is a good idea to start by learning the terms for the different parts of the sail boat.

Parts of The Boat

The front of the boat is called the bow, and the back the stern. You may have heard of port and starboard before. Port is a term used to refer to the left side of the boat and starboard refers to the right side of the boat. These terms are taken from the bow or front of the boat, so if you are standing facing the front, then port is to your left side, and starboard is to your right side.

Most people have an idea what the mast of a boat is. This is the structure that stands upright and to which the main sail of the boat is attached. The horizontally positioned structure that extends back from the mast is known as the boom. The boom is often adjusted depending on where the wind is blowing from. The position of the boom can be changed so that the mast and main sail can be changed to a different angle so as to catch the most wind.

The deck of the boat is also a term many people may already know. This is the part of the boat that you stand on.


Sailing relies heavily on wind direction so two other essential terms to know are leeward and windward. The leeward side of the boat is the side opposite where the wind is coming from while the windward side of the boat is the side closest to where the wind is coming from. Obviously the windward and leeward sides will change in accordance with changes in the wind direction. Two more terms relative to wind direction are head up and head down. To head up is to move the boat into a direction that is closer to the wind while to head down means to move the boat into a direction that is away from the wind. Sometimes head down can also be called bear away.

Sail Terminology

There are many terms related to the sails of the boat. To sheet in means to pull the sails in while to ease out means to let the sails out. When you sail you adjust the sails to catch the wind. When you move the sails into the best angle to catch the wind to increase speed you are said to be trimming the sails.

Tacking is a basic sailing method in which you move the front of the boat (bow) through the wind so that the wind changes from one part of the boat to the other part of the boat. The opposite movement is known as gybing or jibing in which the back of the boat (stern) changes from one side to another and the boom of the boat also moves. These are the most important terms to learn if you are going sailing.


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