Sailing Terms vs Cruising Terms

When sailing or cruising there is certain lingo that we all use in order to run a tight ship. Here are some that we have “decoded” for those young and old headed out to the big blue.
For example:
When sailing, “about” means: on the opposite tack. When cruising, the term is used like so: “How ‘about’ another beer? 
We understand that these terms can be confusing at first, so we have decoded a few others to get your crew ready for the high seas.
Term  Nautical Usage  Cruiser Usage
 Aft At or near the stern.   “Do I ‘aft’ to do the dishes?”
 Jib A triangular headsail set on a stay forward of the foremast.  “What’s my ‘jib’ today, capt’n’?”
 Winch A mechanical device, consisting usually of a metal drum turned by a handle, around which a line is wound to give the crew more “help” when tightening a line.  “What does that ole’ ‘winch’ want with my wallet?!”
 Headway Moving forward.  -“What’s a ‘headway’?”-“Oh about 8 lbs.”
 In Irons To head into the wind and refuse to fall off.  “I got too much salt water ‘in-me-irons!'”
 Tack The lower forward corner of the sail, where the luff and the foot meet; also the diagonal made with the wind by a sailboat when  “We’ve got everything we need, I thinking we’re right on ‘tack’ to set sail.”
 Beat Sailing against the wind by tacking (sailing a zigzag course towards the wind).  “Who do I have to ‘beat’ around here for a drink?!”
 Ashore On land, opposite of on boat.  “Make ‘ashore’ all the haches are close!”
 Hank Fitting used to attach the luff of a sail to a stay.   “‘Hank’ you for helping me tie up to the dock!”
 Dinghy A small boat used to ferry people to a yacht; also used for sailing or rowing; also called a tender.  “Don’t be such a ‘dingy’, Cruising Outpost is the best sailing magazine around!” (Wink wink)
 Falling off Turn away from the direction of the wind.  “Make sure to tighten that bikini to keep if from ‘falling off’!”
 Guy Adjustable steadying rope of a boat’s rig.  “Well, would you look at that ‘guy’ and his fancy powerboat?”
 Course The direction in which a vessel is steered, usually given in degrees.  “Of ‘course’ we should stay here another night!”
 Beating to Windward To sail to windward close-hauled, tacking as you go, to reach an objective to windward.  “‘Windward’ there, will you let me know?!”
 Cutter Single-masted fore-and-aft boat having an inner staysail and outer jib.  “Make sure we dont ‘cutter’ loose too soon!”
 Moor To hold the ship in place with lines at a berth.  “What ‘moor’ can you ask for, then sunshine and wind in your face?!”
 Port The left-hand side of a boat, looking forward towards the bow (opposite of starboard).  -“Let’s make ‘port’ here, when we’re done, I’ll have a glass of our best ‘port’!”-“Capt’n’, we only have Boone’s Farm..”-“That’ll do.”
 Tell-tales Small lengths of wood sewn through a sail near the luff and leech to allow the air flow over the sail to be checked.  “You know they ‘tell-tales’ in these parts of Davey Jones and his locker… “
 Step  A recess into which the fell of the mast is placed.  “Watch your ‘step’, the winds have picked up!”


Know others? Comment below and we will add them in!- Know a better one than the one we came up with- you got it, comment below or email me at




  1. Just had a look at the sail to the south pacific, I'm headed that way this year after a stay in good old Mexico. I talked to MK and Will and truly wish I could get the lost sole back for you guys, so meny memories… it will happen I'm sure, good things happen to good people. I was a little scared about the corel reefs but after seeing you glide right through them every time hell no prob right! Love the life living on the boat for two years now and traveled about 5000 miles and looking for a new adventure. Sorry missed the San Diego boat show but hope to see you and Catalina for cruisiers weekend!
    Sandy bottoms,
    Cpt. Jeff Overley
    Member of the founders club and proud of it!

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