64th Birkenhead Sea Scouts

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Nautical terminology

Some of the most common nautical terms are described below:

(Note there are many more than are shown here)

Abaft Towards the ships stern
Abeam In a line at right angles to the ship's length
Aft Towards the ship's stern
Ahead In advance of the ships bows
Amidships Near the centre of the ship's length
Astern Behind the ship
Athwartships From one side of the ship to another
Athwart Transversely
Awash Level with the surface of the water
Aweigh Anchor just raised from the sea bed
Beam Greatest bredth of the ship
Boot-topping Area of a ships hull between the light and loaded water-lines, painted a distinctive colour
Bows Foremost part of the ship
Camber Athwartship upward curve of a ships deck
Draught Depth of water necessary to float a ship
Flare The outward and upward curve of a ship's side at the bows
Forecastle Forward most deck of a ship
Forward Towards the bows
Gaff Spar ahead of a fore-and-aft sail or diagonal spar for flags
Gunwale Upper edge of a boats side
Knot Unit of speed. A nautical mile traversed in one hour
Leeward Direction to which the wind is blowing
Lee Sheltered side away from the wind
Port Left hand side when looking towards the bows
Quarter Direction between abeam and astern and that part of a vessel's sides near the stern
Quarter deck After most deck of a warship
Rake Slope of the stem
Sheer Fore-and-aft curve of a hull or deck, rising between bows and stern
Starboard Right hand side when looking towards the bows
Stem Foremost part of a ship's hull
Stern Aftermost part of the hull
Topsides Sides of hull between boot-topping and shelter deck level
Trim Way a vessel sits in the water, i.e. on an even keel, down by the head, or down by the stern
Tumblehome Upward and inward curve of a vessel's side
Wake Foamy water left in track of a ship
Way/ Underway Passage of a ship through the water
Windward Direction from which the wind is blowing
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