ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Learn to Sail for Newbies - Sailing Terms 101

Updated on September 6, 2010

Three Steps to Sailing Terms Mastery!

To learn to sail well, you will need to learn a few nautical terms before you step aboard.

Think of sailing as a second language--or lingo. Once you understand some of this sailing lingo, you will be able to:

* Understand the parts of a sailboat.
* Learn the parts of a sail and how they attach to a boat.
* Shape your sails for speed and power (like using a gear shift).

Let's build on your sailing language skills in groups of 10. Right now, you will learn the first ten parts you will need to know on any sailboat in the world. Here we go--enjoy!

Areas of a Sailboat


The widest part of a sailboat hull. Imagine you are a seagull flying above a boat and look straight down. You would see the top of your boat--the deck. Find the widest part of the deck, and you will find your beam.

Any part of the sailboat forward of (in front of) the beam. When you go to the bow, you move forward. When you move from the bow toward the stern, you move aft.

Any part of the sailboat aft of (in back of) the beam. When you move from the stern toward the bow, you move forward. When you move toward the stern, you move aft.

What's Located in Each Area

At the bow, you use one of a group of sails, referred to as "headsails". These have names like jib, Genoa, or spinnaker. Sailboats also keep their anchor and anchor line (rope) or chain near the bow.

Near the beam, you will find the sailboat mast and sailboat boom. Way back in the days of the square riggers, the sailboat mast was called the "mainmast". Today, you call the sail attached to the mast and boom the mainsail. Your mainsail gives you the most power of all sails aboard. We will discuss later how the mast attaches to the boat to keep it upright.

Near the stern, you will find the cockpit, a large square or roundish bowl shaped area where you steer the boat, do most of the sail trimming (pull on lines to shape the sails), and where your crew can sit and relax.

Directions on a Sailboat

Forward of the Bow
Straight ahead of the bow. For example, someone might say that they see something floating in the water just "forward of the bow". So, you would look straight ahead.

To one side of the beam of the boat. Also might be stated "off the beam". For example, someone might say that they see a buoy abeam. This means they see a floating aid to navigation (buoy) off one side of the boat. If it's off the left side (port side) they would say "abeam to port". If it's off the right side (starboard side) they would say "abeam to starboard".

Behind the boat. Of, aft of the boat. For example, someone might say that they see a large powerboat overtaking you from "astern". You would need to glance astern to make sure that their boat will clear your boat.

New Sailing Term-of-the-Day!

Every day, learn one new term related to sailing, sails, or a saiboat. Today's new term...

You steer your sailboat with a wheel or a tiller. The wheel looks similar to your automobile wheel. Tillers have been around for thousands of years. The tiller looks like a horizontal wooden handle and attaches to the rudder.

So, if the skipper asks you to "take the helm", he or she wants you to steer the boat. Or, if he or she says "who's got the helm right now?", you can tell them which of the crew are steering the boat.


Now you can see just how easy and fun these learn to sail tips and terms can be. In no time, you will be a savvy salt ready to sail the seven seas like a sailors!

Next time, you will learn all about how the mast attaches to the boat, how to raise or lower a sail, and how the sailboat boom helps you sail your boat with awesome speed and power!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)