Superyacht Terminology

Monday, December 12, 2016
Superyacht Terminology - Article Image


ABAFT – Toward the rear (stern) of the boat. Behind.

ABEAM – At right angles to the keel of the boat, but not on the boat.

ABOARD – On or within the boat.

ABOVE DECK – On the deck (not over it – see ALOFT).

ABREAST – Side by side; by the side of.

ADRIFT – Loose, not on moorings or towline.

AFT – Toward the stern of the boat.

AFT DECK – The deck towards the stern of the boat

ALEE - The side of a boat or object away from the direction of the wind.
ALOFT - Above deck in the rigging or mast.

AMIDSHIPS - In the centre of the yacht.

ANCHORAGE – A place suitable for anchoring in relation to the wind, seas and bottom.

ANCHOR BALL – Round black shape hoisted up to show the Yacht is anchored.
ANTI-FOULING PAINT - A special paint applied to a boat's hull to prevent marine growth.
APPARENT WIND - The direction and speed of wind as felt in a moving boat - the way it 'appears”.
ASTERN - The direction toward or beyond the back of the boat (stern).
AWEIGH - An anchor that is off the bottom.



BACKSTAY - A support for the mast to keep it from falling forward.

BATTEN DOWN – Secure hatches and loose objects both within the hull and on deck.

BEAM – The greatest width of the boat.

BEARING – The direction of an object expressed either as a true bearing as shown on the chart, or as a bearing relative to the heading of the boat.

BEATING - Sailing upwind.
BEAR OFF - To turn away from the wind.

BELOW – Beneath the deck.

BERTH – 1) A cabin or other place to sleep aboard a boat. 2) A boat slip at a dock where the boat can be moored.

BIGHT – The part of the rope or line, between the end and the standing part, on which a knot is formed.

BILGE - The bilge is the lowest compartment on a ship, below the waterline, where the two sides meet at the keel, where water collects.

BITTER END – The last part of a rope or chain. The inboard end of the anchor rode.

BOAT – A fairly indefinite term. A waterborne vehicle smaller than a ship. One definition is a small craft carried aboard a ship.

BOAT HOOK – A short shaft with a fitting at one end shaped to facilitate use in putting a line over a piling, recovering an object dropped overboard, or in pushing or fending off.

BOOT TOP – A painted line that indicates the designed waterline.

BOSUN – A non-commissioned officer in charge of the deck crew.

BOW – The forward part of a boat.

BOW LINE – A docking line leading from the bow.

BOWLINE – A knot used to form a temporary loop in the end of a line.

BRIDGE – The location from which the yacht is navigated from.

BRIDLE – A line or wire secured at both ends in order to distribute a strain between two points.

BRIGHTWORK – Varnished woodwork and/or polished metal.

BULKHEAD – A vertical partition separating compartments.

BUOY – An anchored float used for marking a position on the water or a hazard or a shoal and for mooring.

BURDENED VESSEL – That vessel which, according to the applicable Navigation Rules, must give way to the privileged vessel. The term has been superseded by the term “give-way”.



CABIN – A compartment for passengers or crew.

CAPSIZE – To turn over.

CAPSTAN – A large vertical winch used for anchors or mooring lines.

CAST OFF – To let go.

CATAMARAN – A twin-hulled boat, with hulls side by side.

CHAFING GEAR – Tubing or cloth wrapping used to protect a line from chafing on a rough surface.

CHART – A map for use by navigators.

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.

CLEAT – A fitting to which lines are made fast. The classic cleat to which lines are belayed is approximately anvil-shaped.

CLOVE HITCH – A knot for temporarily fastening a line to a spar or piling.

COAMING – A vertical piece around the edge of a cockpit, hatch, etc. to prevent water on deck from running below.

COCKPIT – An opening in the deck from which the boat is handled.

COIL – To lay a line down in circular turns.

COURSE – The direction in which a boat is steered.

CUDDY – A small shelter cabin in a boat.

CURRENT – The horizontal movement of water.



DEAD AHEAD – Directly ahead.

DEAD ASTERN – Directly aft.

DECK – A permanent covering over a compartment, hull or any part thereof.

DINGHY – A small open boat. A dinghy is often used as a tender for a larger craft.

DISPLACEMENT – The weight of water displaced by a floating vessel, thus, a boat’s weight.

DISPLACEMENT HULL – A type of hull that plows through the water, displacing a weight of water equal to its own weight, even when more power is added.

DOCK – A protected water area in which vessels are moored. The term is often used to denote a pier or a wharf.

DOLPHIN – A group of piles driven close together and bound with wire cables into a single structure.

DRAFT – The depth of water a boat draws.



EBB – A receding current.

EPIRB – Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacon.



FAIR LEAD – Device uses to guide a line, rope or cable around an object, out of the way or to stop it from moving laterally.

FATHOM – Six feet.

FENDER – A cushion, placed between boats, or between a boat and a pier, to prevent damage.

FIGURE EIGHT KNOT – A knot in the form of a figure eight, placed in the end of a line to prevent the line from passing through a grommet or a block.

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS – You will cover this in Basic Fire Fighting STCW 95.

FIRST MATE (Chief Officer) – Second in Command.

FLARE – The outward curve of a vessel’s sides near the bow. A distress signal.

FLOTILLA - A group of yachts cruising together.

FLOOD – An incoming current.

FLOORBOARDS – The surface of the cockpit on which the crew stand.

FLUKE – The palm of an anchor.

FOLLOWING SEA – An overtaking sea that comes from astern.

FORE-AND-AFT – In a line parallel to the keel.

FOREPEAK – A compartment in the bow of a small boat.

FORWARD – Toward the bow of the boat.

FOULED – Any piece of equipment that is jammed or entangled, or dirtied.

FREEBOARD – The minimum vertical distance from the surface of the water to the gunwale.

FURLING - Rolling or folding a sail on its boom. Many charter yachts today are 'self furling” which take much of the work out of dropping the sails.



GALLEY – The kitchen/cooking area of a boat.

GANGWAY – The area of a ship’s side where people board and disembark.

GEAR – A general term for ropes, blocks, tackle and other equipment.

GIVE-WAY VESSEL – A term used to describe the vessel which must yield in meeting, crossing, or overtaking situations.

GRAB RAILS – Hand-hold fittings mounted on cabin tops and sides for personal safety when moving around the boat.

GROUND TACKLE – A collective term for the anchor and its associated gear.

GUNWALE – The upper edge of a boat’s sides.

GYBE (also spelled jibe) - To change the course of a boat by swinging a fore-and-aft sail across a following wind (e.g. the wind is blowing from behind the boat).



HALYARD - Line (rope) used to hoist a sail.

HARBOR MASTER - The person at a harbour in charge of anchorages, berths and harbour traffic.

HARD CHINE – An abrupt intersection between the hull side and the hull bottom of a boat so constructed.

HATCH – An opening in a boat’s deck fitted with a watertight cover.

HEAD – A marine toilet. Also the upper corner of a triangular sail.

HEADING – The direction in which a vessel’s bow points at any given time.

HEADWAY – The forward motion of a boat. Opposite of sternway.

HEEL - To temporarily tip or lean to one side. Monohulls heel more than catamarans.

HELM – The wheel or tiller controlling the rudder.

HELMSPERSON – The person who steers the boat.

HITCH – A knot used to secure a rope to another object or to another rope, or to form a loop or a noose in a rope.

HOLD – A compartment below deck in a large vessel, used solely for carrying cargo.

HULL – The main body of a vessel.



INBOARD – More toward the centre of a vessel; inside; a motor fitted inside a boat.

INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY – ICW: bays, rivers, and canals along the coasts (such as the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts), connected so that vessels may travel without going into the sea.



JACOBS LADDER – A rope ladder, lowered from the deck, as when pilots or passengers come aboard.

JETTY – A structure, usually masonry, projecting out from the shore; a jetty may protect a harbour entrance.

JIB -Triangular sail projecting ahead of the mast.
JIBE - See gybe.



KEEL – The centreline of a boat running fore and aft; the backbone of a vessel.

KNOT – A measure of speed equal to one nautical mile (6076 feet) per hour (1 knot equal to 1.852 km/h).

KNOT – A fastening made by interweaving rope to form a stopper, to enclose or bind an object, to form a loop or a noose, to tie a small rope to an object, or to tie the ends of two small ropes together.



LATITUDE – The distance north or south of the equator measured and expressed in degrees.

LAZARETTE – A storage space in a boat’s stern area.

LEE – The side sheltered from the wind.

LEEWARD – The direction away from the wind. Opposite of windward.

LEEWAY – The sideways movement of the boat caused by either wind or current.

LINE – Rope and cordage used aboard a vessel.

LIST – (also HEEL) – tilt to one side; “The balloon heeled over”; “the wind made the vessel heel”; “The ship listed to starboard”.

LOA - Length Over All. The length of a charter yacht as measured from 'stem to stern”. This is important because yachts are usually charged a price by the foot for dockage at marinas.

LOG – A record of courses or operation. Also, a device to measure speed.

LONGITUDE – The distance in degrees east or west of the meridian at Greenwich, England.

LUBBER’S LINE – A mark or permanent line on a compass indicating the direction forward parallel to the keel when properly installed.

LUXURY YACHT - a crewed charter yacht that strives to provide 5 star service to its charterers including cuisine, water sports, housekeeping and navigation.



MAINSAIL - The largest regular sail on a sailboat.
MAIN SALON - The primary indoor guest area on a yacht’s main deck.
MAKE FAST - To secure a line.

MARINA - A place where yachts dock and receive services such as provisioning, water and fuel. Typically marinas offer protection from bad weather, and have hundreds of slips for yachts of various sizes. Slips are rented long term or by the day.

MAST - Vertical spar that supports sails.
MASTER CABIN - Typically the best/largest cabin onboard any charter yacht.

MARLINSPIKE – A tool for opening the strands of a rope while splicing.

MEGAYACHT - A large, luxury motor yacht. No hard and fast definition, but normally crewed luxury yachts 100 feet or longer: similar to superyacht.

MIDSHIP – Approximately in the location equally distant from the bow and stern.

MONOHULL - A yacht with one hull, as opposed to a multihull or catamaran that has pontoons.  While most motor yachts are Monohulls, the term typically refers to sailing yachts.

MOORING – An arrangement for securing a boat to a mooring buoy or a pier.
MOTORSAILOR - A yacht built to sail and cruise under power with equal efficiency.



NAUTICAL MILE – One minute of latitude; approximately 6076 feet – about 1/8 longer than the statute mile of 5280 feet.

NAVIGATION – The art and science of conducting a boat safely from one point to another.

NAVIGATION RULES – The regulations governing the movement of vessels in relation to each other, generally called steering and sailing rules.



OUTBOARD – Toward or beyond the boat’s sides. A detachable engine mounted on a boat’s stern.

OVERBOARD – Over the side or out of the boat.



PASSARELLE - The passageway you walk on from the dock to the yacht. Often incorrectly called a gangplank.
PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE (PFD) - A safety vest or jacket capable of keeping an individual afloat.

PIER – A loading platform extending at an angle from the shore.

PILE – A wood, metal or concrete pole driven into the bottom. Craft may be made fast to a pile; it may be used to support a pier (see PILING) or a float.

PILING – Support, protection for wharves, piers etc.; constructed of piles (see PILE).

PILOTING – Navigation by use of visible references, the depth of the water, etc.

PLANING – A boat is said to be planing when it is essentially moving over the top of the water rather than through the water.

PLANING HULL – A type of hull shaped to glide easily across the water at high speed.

PORT (DIRECTION) - The left side of a boat when facing the bow. Signified by Red. Opposite side from Starboard. Trick to remember - 'After a party, there’s no red port left”.
PORT (PLACE) - A marina harbour or commercial dock for boats.

PRIVELEGED VESSEL – A vessel which, according to the applicable Navigation Rule, has right-of-way (this term has been superseded by the term “stand-on”).



QUARTER – The sides of a boat aft of amidships.

QUARTERING SEA – Sea coming on a boat’s quarter.



REACH - To sail across the wind.

REEFING – This is a way of reining in the sails in strong winds.
RIB (rigid inflatable boat) - An inflatable boat fitted with a rigid bottom, often used as a dinghy or tender.

RODE – The anchor line and/or chain.

ROPE – In general, cordage as it is purchased at the store. When it comes aboard a vessel and is put to use it becomes line.

RUDDER – A vertical plate or board for steering a boat.

RUN – To allow a line to feed freely.

RUNNING LIGHTS – Lights required to be shown on boats underway between sundown and sunup.



SAILING YACHT - A yacht whose primary method of propulsion is sails. Nearly all sailing yachts have engines in addition to their sails.

SATELLITE NAVIGATION – A form of position finding using radio transmissions from satellites with sophisticated on-board automatic equipment.

SCOPE – Technically, the ratio of length of anchor rode in use to the vertical distance from the bow of the vessel to the bottom of the water. Usually six to seven to one for calm weather and more scope in storm conditions.

SCREW – A boat’s propeller.

SCUPPERS – Drain holes on deck, in the toe rail, or in bulwarks or (with drain pipes) in the deck itself.

SEA COCK – A through hull valve, a shut off on a plumbing or drain pipe between the vessel’s interior and the sea.

SEAMANSHIP – All the arts and skills of boat handling, ranging from maintenance and repairs to piloting, sail handling, marlinespike work, and rigging.

SEA ROOM – A safe distance from the shore or other hazards.

SEAWORTHY – A boat or a boat’s gear able to meet the usual sea conditions.

SECURE – To make fast.

SET – Direction toward which the current is flowing.

SHIP – A larger vessel usually thought of as being used for ocean travel. A vessel able to carry a “boat” on board.

SLACK – Not fastened; loose. Also, to loosen.

SOLE – Cabin or saloon floor. Timber extensions on the bottom of the rudder. Also the moulded fiberglass deck of a cockpit.

SOUNDING – A measurement of the depth of water.

SPRING LINE – A pivot line used in docking, undocking, or to prevent the boat from moving forward or astern while made fast to a dock.

SQUALL – A sudden, violent wind often accompanied by rain.

SQUARE KNOT – A knot used to join two lines of similar size. Also called a reef knot.

STABILIZERS - A feature that helps to prevent a motor yacht from rolling too drastically, especially in bad weather, greatly improving the comfort of the guests. The most advanced form is a zero-speed stabilizer, which works both under way and at anchor.

STANDING PART – That part of a line which is made fast. The main part of a line as distinguished from the bight and the end.

STAND-ON VESSEL – That vessel which has right-of-way during a meeting, crossing, or overtaking situation.

STARBOARD – The right side of a boat when looking forward.

STEM – The forward most part of the bow.

STERN – The after part of the boat.

STERN LINE – A docking line leading from the stern.

STOW – To put an item in its proper place.

SWAMP – To fill with water, but not settle to the bottom.

SWIM PLATFORM - The space at the back of the yacht from which you typically can go swimming or board a dinghy. Lately, these have become entire pool/beach areas on some of the larger luxury yachts.



TACK (SAIL) - The lower corner of a sail. 
TACK (SAILING) - Each leg of a zigzag course, typically used to sail upwind.

THWARTSHIPS – At right angles to the centreline of the boat.

TENDER - A boat that a yacht carries or tows used for transfers to and from shore, short day cruises and water sports. Also sometimes called a dinghy.

THRUSTER - A bow thruster or stern thruster is a transversal propulsion device built into, or mounted to, either the bow or stern, of a ship or boat, to make it more manoeuvrable.

TIDE – The periodic rise and fall of water level in the oceans.

TILLER – A bar or handle for turning a boat’s rudder or an outboard motor.

TOPSIDES – The sides of a vessel between the waterline and the deck; sometimes referring to onto or above the deck.

TRANSOM – The stern cross-section of a square sterned boat.

TRIM – Fore and aft balance of a boat.

TRUE WIND - The direction and velocity of wind as measured on land, distinct from apparent wind which is how it appears on a moving yacht.



UNDERWAY – Vessel in motion, e.g. when not moored, at anchor, or aground.



V BOTTOM – A hull with the bottom section in the shape of a “V”.

VHF - Very high frequency; a bandwidth designation commonly used by marine radios.

VIP CABIN - Typically the second-best cabin onboard any charter yacht.



WAKE – Moving waves, track or path that a boat leaves behind it, when moving across the waters.

WATERLINE – A line painted on a hull which shows the point to which a boat sinks when it is properly trimmed (see BOOT TOP).

WAY – Movement of a vessel through the water such as headway, sternway or leeway.

WAYPOINT - The coordinates of a specific location.
WEIGH - To raise anchor.

WINCH – Horizontal rotating drum, turned by crank or by motor or other power source also known as a windlass. 

WINDLASS - Rotating drum device used for hauling line or chain to raise and lower an anchor.

WINDWARD – Toward the direction from which the wind is coming.



YACHT – A pleasure vessel, a pleasure boat; in American usage the idea of size and luxury is conveyed, either sail or power.

YACHTING - The experience of being on a yacht.

YAW – To swing or steer off course, as when running with a quartering sea.



ZERO-SPEED STABILIZERS - The most sophisticated type of motor yacht stabilizers that keep the yacht from rolling both under way and at anchor, significantly improving their comfort.