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Sailing Terms Worth Knowing

Hello curious sailors. Whether you’re new to sailing or have been sailing for years, there are some sailing terms that you should know, and some that you may want to know for kicks. Grow your sailing smarts with these terms. Important terms have an asterisk in front of them.

Ahoy: Ahoy basically means “hello”. It’s used to greet or say goodbye to other sailors. Sometimes it’s used as a way to get attention.

*Aloof: To steer clear.

Bagglywrinkle: A soft covering for obstructions to help reduce damage to sails. 

*Buoy: Pictured below is what a buoy – an anchored floating device may look like. Buoys are often used as navigation marks or to signal hazards.

*Bow: The front of the boat.

Castaway: You may have heard this term before from the 2000 movie Cast Away. Castaway in terms of sailing simply means “a discarded person”.

Escutcheon: A plate on a boat where the boat’s name is written.

*Helm: The helm has to do with steering the boat. It’s a boat’s steering mechanism.

*Jibe: A type of sailing maneuver. Changing the direction of the boat and bringing it through the wind.

*Point of Sail: The point of sail is known as the sailing position. 

*Stern: The back of the boat.

*Tack: This is an important term that has two meanings: to change direction specifically by turning the boat through the wind and the course you are on relative to the wind, as the ASA defines it.

For even more terms, visit the American Sailing Association’s article Sailing Terms Everyone Should Know.

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