Ready for a Sailboat Vacation? Learn the Lingo Before You Go

Updated: Oct 01, 2019
Heading out on a sailboat vacation? Learn some nautical terminology before you go to familiarize yourself with your vessel and get comfortable underway.

Got your yacht charter all booked up?

If you’re itching to get out the door and onto the open water, we can’t blame you — but there’s still one crucial thing to do before you leave.

Even though you’ll have a team of professionals working with you on your sailboat vacation, knowing some basic nautical terminology is always a good idea.

Learning the sailing lingo is a vital part of understanding how sailing works and helps you feel confident in your surroundings. Read on to get jiggy with the jargon and become acquainted with the wonderful world of watercraft.

Directional Terms to Learn Before Your Sailboat Vacation

There’s no doubt that your sailboat vacation will be full of sweet scenery and warm sunshine. However, you can make it even better by learning basic directional terms before you set off:

  • Aft: The aft is the very back end of a ship. Also known as the stern, this is where you and your family may find yourself hanging out to watch the wake.
  • Bow: The bow is the ship’s front end. Also known as the fore-end, the bow is the part of the boat from which the other main directions (port and starboard) are determined.
  • Port: The port side of a boat is on the left-hand side of the craft when you are facing the bow. If you’re facing the stern, the port side is on the right.
  • Starboard: The starboard side of the boat is on the right-hand side of the craft when you’re facing the bow. If you are facing the stern, starboard is to your left.

You’ll find that regular directions can get confusing out on the water. Having set terms which are determined using fixed reference points onboard eliminates complications and makes everything easier.

Basic Parts of the Boat You Need to Recognize

Do you know your directions like the back of your hand? Now it’s time to learn how to recognize important parts of the boat and sailing equipment onboard:

  • Mainsail: The mainsail is precisely what it sounds like — the mainsail on the ship, located aft of the jib. The mainsail is usually the largest sail, and its job is to catch the most wind for power.
  • Boom: The boom is a metal arm located on the bottom of the mainsail. Moving the boom adjusts the mainsail in relation to the wind, allowing it to catch wind power from any direction.
  • Jib: The jib is the smaller sail located in front of the mainsail. The jib’s job is to help determine the course and speed of the boat, though it also helps with wind power.
  • Rudder: The rudder is used for steering. It is located below the boat in the water and is controlled from the top deck using either a wheel or a rudder.

Set Sail Today with a Bank of Sailing Knowledge

Now that you know the basics, you’re ready to take on the world. Your sailboat vacation will provide the ultimate expedition experience, so don’t hesitate to get started choosing your adventure today.

Ready to put your terminology to the test in exotic destinations? Check out our itineraries page to see where the wind could take you.

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