January 29, 2020

Please reload

Basic Sailing Terms

February 16, 2015



Following are terms related to the act of sailing. Go here for terms related to sailboats and their equipment.


Apparent wind - The wind felt on a boat (the result of true wind and wind produced by the boat's own motion)


Bearing - A compass direction to a point (such as a waypoint ahead)


Beat - To sail close to the wind (as noun: point of sail close to the wind)


Bend on - To attach a sail to the boom or forestay


Beam reach - The point of sail with the wind coming straight across the beam (from the side)


Broad reach - The point of sail mostly downwind (but not entirely downwind on a run)


Chart - A nautical map showing depths and underwater characteristics


Course - The compass direction in which the boat is being steered (race course: the series of buoys to be rounded in order)


Close-hauled - The point of sail as close to the wind as possible;


Dead reckoning - Navigation and determination of the boat's position based on its direction, speed, and time


Ease - To let out a mainsheet or jibsheet (such as when adjusting a sail)


Ebb tide - The outgoing or falling tide (opposite of Flood tide)


Fix - The boat's position on a chart determined by taking bearings to two or more fixed objects (or as determined by a GPS unit)


Flood tide - The incoming or rising tide (opposite of Ebb tide)


Give way - A vessel that must avoid another vessel that has right of way, under the rules of the road


Gybe (or jibe) - To turn the boat downwind across the wind, with the sails moving from one side to the other


Head off - To turn farther away from the wind


Head up - To turn closer to the wind


Heading - The compass course being steered


Heave-to - To position the boat moving only slowly with the jib backwinded


Heel - The sideways tipping of the boat due to the wind's effect


Hike - To lean far out from the cockpit to help minimize heeling and balance the boat with one's own weight


Holding ground - The bottom under the water in reference to anchoring; for example, "poor holding ground" means the anchor may drag


Hull speed - The theoretical fastest speed of a keelboat that must push water aside rather than plane on top of the water


Jibe - Another spelling for gybe: to turn the boat downwind across the wind, with the sails moving from one side to the other


Jury rig - To fix damaged boat equipment in an improvised way with materials at hand


Knot - A unit of speed (for the boat or the wind) equal to one nautical mile per hour; a nautical mile is 1.15 miles


Lee (or leeward) - A directional term referring to downwind, such as the lee side of the boat or a shore downwind of the boat


Leg - A (usually straight) section of a boat's overall course (in a race or when sailing to a particular destination)


Luffing - A shaking or flapping of the front edge of a sail (the luff) when the sail is let out too far for the course being steered


Make fast - To secure (such as tying off a line)


Nautical mile - see Knot


Offshore - Direction of wind from land toward the water


Onshore - Direction of wind from the water toward the land


Pinching - Sailing too close to the wind when close-hauled; see Points of Sail and Sail Trim


Pitchpole - A type of capsizing when the boat's bow digs into a wave and the boat is flipped forward and over by the next wave


Plane - The boat lifts and sails fast over the surface of the water


Plot - On a nautical (paper or electronic) chart, to draw in the boat's position and course


Point of sail - The direction the boat is pointing relative to wind direction; see diagram here


Reach - A course sailed across the wind, such as a beam reach; see Points of sail


Right of way - According to the rules of the road (navigation laws), the vessel with right of way maintains its present course to avoid collision with another vessel (the give-way vessel)


Route - A term used in chartplotters designating a planned course through a series of waypoints


Rules of the road - Navigation laws specifying which boat must give way to another boat to prevent collision; see Rules of the Road for Sailboats


Run - The point of sail directly downwind; see Points of Sail and Sail Trim


Scope - The ratio of the length of anchor rode that is let out to the water depth; see How to Anchor a Sailboat


Shoal - Shallow


Tack - To turn the boat upwind and across the wind, with the sails moving from one side to the other; see How to Tack a Sailboat


Tail - When using a winch for a halyard or sheet, to tail is to pull on the line behind the winch to maintain pressure on the winch drum


Tender - A boat characteristic of heeling easily; also used to refer to a dinghy used with a larger boat


Trim - In general, to adjust the angle of a sail for greatest efficiency; more specifically, to pull in on the sheet (trim in vs. let out); see How to Trim the Jib


True - With directions, true north is straight up on the chart, as opposed to magnetic north


True wind - The direction the wind comes from not relative to the boat's motion; see Apparent wind


Waypoint - A point marked on a nautical chart (paper or electronic) to assist with navigation (such as to plot a route through a number of waypoints)


Weather helm - The tendency of a sailboat to head up toward the wind when not counteracted by the rudder


Article courtesy of

Please reload


March 17, 2020

January 29, 2020

February 16, 2015

Please reload

Company Info

About Us

Contact Us


Company News


Find a Dealer

Request a Quote

Resort Central

Customer Service 

Privacy Policy

Returns and Warranty Policy

Shipping and Delivery

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Useful Blogs




Docking Solutions

Ship Brokerage

Water Taxi Services

Inflatable Boat Repair

Land and Marine Decking

Copyright © 2020 BangkaPro Aquatics Inc. All rights reserved.