Nautical Terms

Common maritime terms used to describe and operate a ship.

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Ship Classification Abbreviations

FV = Fishing Vessel

MS = Motor Ship

MV = Motor Vessel

RMS = Royal Mail Ship

RV = Research Vessel

SS = Steam Ship

SV = Sailing Vessel

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Nautical Terms

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Aft Fathom Midships
Amidships Forward Nautical Mile
Astern Embark Pitch
Ballast Even Keel Port
Beam Galley Roll
Berth Gangway Stabilizers
Bow Heel Starboard
Bridge Hull Stem
Bulkhead Keel Stern
Course Knot Tender
Companionway Leeward Wake
Draft List Waterline
Debark Mast Windward
Draft    

 

Terms

Aft

Towards the back.

Amidships

The middle of the ship.

Astern

The very back of the ship.

Ballast

Pumps carry water to the ballast tanks to help stabilize the ship.

Beam

The widest part of the ship.

 

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Berth

A space needed to move a ship around; the dock or pier; your cabin.

Bow

The front of the ship.

Bridge

The area at the front of the ship with the big glass windows where the crew go to command the ship.

 

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Bulkhead

A wall or walls dividing the ship into compartments and can be sealed to contain a fire or flood.

Companionway

The interior stairways.

Course

The direction in which the ship is headed.

 

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Debark

Leave the ship.

Draft

How far down the ship sits in the water when it's loaded with people and supplies.

Embark

Get on the ship.

Fathom

Used to measure water depth (6ft equal 1 fathom).

Forward

Move toward the front of the ship.

 

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Even Keel

When the ship is balanced in the water.

Galley

Where the food is prepared.

Gangway

The opening by which a ship is boarded.

 

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Heel

A tilt to the side, also know as a list.

Hull

The Shell of the ship.

Keel

The bottom middle of the ship.

Knot

One (1 ) knot equals 1.15 land miles, or one (1) nautical mile.

 

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Leeward

Go with the wind.

List

Tilt to the side as in sudden list .

Mast

Poles that support the sails and the equipment to raise and lower them.

Midships

Middle of the ship. See Amidships

 

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Nautical Mile

1.15  land miles.

Pitch

The way the ship goes up and down over the waves in the water.

Port

The left side of the ship facing forward.

Roll

The movement that makes you stumble side to side through the hallways on a rough day at sea.

 

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Stabilizers

when working properly, they help keep the ship from rocking in the water.

Starboard

The right side of the ship facing forward.

Stem

The very front of the ship.

Stern

The back of the ship.

 

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Tender

The small boats that take you back and forth to the dock when the ship is anchored in the water just outside the port.

Wake

The waves off to the side of the ship and the white foamy trail at the back of the ship

Waterline

How high up the water reaches when the ship is in the water.

Windward

Against the wind.

 

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