Boat Terminology
Part V

Continuation of Boat Terminology Part IV


  • Sail ties: Lengths of light line or tape used to secure a sail to the boom after lowering.
  • Schooner: A yacht in which the after mast is taller than the main mast.
  • Sea anchor: This is a device to hold the bow of a boat into the wind when neither sailing nor anchored.
  • Sea clutter: This is a control on a radar display that reduces unwanted beam reflections caused by waves close to the boat.
  • Set: The direction towards which the tidal stream flows.
  • Sheet: A control rope attached to the clew of a sail or the boom, in case of the mainsail.
  • Shorten sail: To reef the sails or change to sails of a smaller size.
  • Sill: A wall or dam across the entrance to a harbour or marina.
  • SOLAS: Safety Of Life At Sea. This is a code of practice issued by the IMO to regularise safety equipment and classification aboard all vessels at sea.
  • Speed made good: The speed of a vessel over the ground.
  • Spring tide: A tide where the tidal range is large and the streams are at their strongest.
  • Springs: Ropes rigged to prevent a boat from moving forward or aft when secured alongside.
  • SSB: Single Side Band. This is a mode of emission of a radio signal, which optimises range and signal strength at the expense of sound quality. Therefore, it's ideal for Morse code or voice, but not for music radio transmissions.
  • Stanchions: Metal poles that support the guard rail lines.
  • Starboard: The right-hand side of the boat when you're looking forward.
  • STCW: Standards of Training Certification for Watchkeeping for Seafarers. It's an IMO convention that was substantially reviewed by a diplomatic conference in July 1995 to become known as STCW95.
  • Steaming light: Is the alternative name for masthead light. It's used when the vessel is driven by power.
  • Stern light: This is the light positioned at the stern of the boat. It's white and has a sector of 135˚ in total, which is 67,5˚ on either side of the fore and aft line. It's the same as the overtaking light.
  • Storm: A wind of, or exceeding, Beaufort Force 10.
  • Storm jib: A small headsail set in strong winds.
  • Swashway: A channel of deeper water, normally into a harbour or river.


  • Tack: To change course through the wind and set the sails on the other side.
  • Tell-tails: Small pieces of wool or cloth on the luff of a sail to indicate the path of the wind over the sail.
  • Thames tonnage: A measure of the volume of a vessel, not the weight. Originally used for taxation purposes.
  • Tidal range: The vertical distance between the level of high and low water.
  • Tide: The vertical rise and fall of the water level.
  • Topping lift: A line from the masthead to the end of the boom, used to support the boom when the mainsail is lowered.
  • Traffic separation scheme: An area of one-way traffic lines where special rules apply.
  • Transducer: The unit of an instrument system that converts depth, speed, etc into electrical signals.
  • Transit: Two objects are in transit when they are seen one behind the other, so in 1 straight line.
  • Transom: The flat part of the hull across the stern.
  • Traveller: A metal car on a track that allows the mainsheet lower end to move across the boat from one side to the other.
  • Tri-coloured light: A red, green and white light on the top of the mast. This may replace the lower green, red and stern light when under sail.
  • Trip line: A light line between the crown of an anchor and the anchor buoy.
  • Trysail: A small, heavy sail used to replace the mainsail in very strong winds.


  • Underway: A ship is underway when it's not attache to the seabed.
  • Up and down: The state of the anchor cable, when being weighed, just before it breaks out of the seabed.


  • Veer: The wind veers when it shifts direction in a clockwise direction.
  • Veer: To pay out an anchor cable or rope.
  • VHF: Very High Frequency. A short range radio band for transmission and reception, normally in line of sight. The marine stations use the band between 156MHz and 174 MHz.
  • VRM: Variable Range Marker on a radar display.


  • Wear: To change tacks by moving the stern of the boat through the wind.
  • Weigh: To weigh the anchor means to raise the anchor.
  • WGS: World Geodetic System. This is the Chart Datum system.
  • Withies: Small sticks or saplings used in rivers to mark the deeper water.


  • Yawing: Swinging from side to side of the set course.
  • Yawl: A two-masted yacht where the after mast is aft of the rudder post.

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