GLOSSARY OF MARINE TERMS

A Glossary of Marine Terms put together by Handy Mariner as a reference to all things nautical.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Anchor Rode: the rope (or chain) that links your boat to its anchor.

B

Bend: knots used to join two ropes.
Bight: is a curve in the rope created by folding your rope in half so the working end and standing end are parallel to each other. Not to be confused with a loop!
In the Bight is a term used when a knot is made in a bight. This can be useful when neither end in available to work with. Some knot’s can be created in the bight to form a quick loop such as the figure a eight knot.
– The term Bight can be used to indicate the amount of braiding layers in decorative knots such as the Turk’s Head.
Binding Knot: used to hold an item in place or bundle several items together. Not to be confused with lashing, whipping or seizing as these are technically not knots.
Bitter End: the working end of a rope tied off to a (mooring) bitt.
Block: nautical term for a single or multiple pulley.
Bow Line: the line used at the bow of the boat for docking, mooring and towing.
Breaking Strain: or breaking load indicated how much strain a rope theoretically can handle before it breaks.
Buntlines: are lines used to control the sails of a square rigged vessel. The buntlines are used to control the middle part of the sail.

C

Capsizing a Knot: A deformed knot caused by tying it wrong are putting unbalanced strain when dressing the knot.
Clewlines: are lines used to control the sails of a square rigged vessel. The clewlines are used to control the clews (corners) of the sail.
Core: the strong inner yarns of a rope that can either be braided or twisted.

D

Dinghy: a small boat, often used as a means to get between land and a larger vessel.
Downhaul: the rope used to adjust the tension on the luff (front part, parallel to the mast) of the sail.
Dressing (a knot): Finishing off a knot by tightening it whilst arranging the different parts into the right place to create a strong, tight and neat looking knot.

E

Elbow: formed by two twist close together in a bight or loop.

F

Flake: is a turn in the rope made whilst flaking it. “Flaking a line” is the term used for coiling a rope.
Frapping Turns: turns made across previously made turns during flaking, whipping or lashing to secure, bundle or tighten.
Friction Hitch: is a hitch used to attach two ropes to each other, but still allow you to easily slide the attached rope along the main rope.

G

H

Halyard: the line/rope used to pull a sail up.
Hawser: thick lines or cables used to tow a (large) ship.
Hitch: used to tie a rope to another object such as a pole. As opposed to a knot where you tie two ropes to each other other the rope to itself.
Hollow Braid: a loosely woven braid without a core.

I

J

Jamming Knot: a knot that is very difficult to untie. Avoid using these knots on any ropes that carry tension.

K

Kern Mantle: a rope made with a core (kern) which is covered by a sheath (mantle)

L

Lanyard: Short length of rope, typically used to create a handle.
Lashing: a way of tying multiple items rigidly together.
Lay: the direction in which a rope twists.
Line: nautical term for ropes.
Loop: forming a circle in the rope. When the end cross, it’s called a crossing turn.
Loop Knot: a fixed loop created by tying a knot.

M

Mooring Lines: Lines used whilst mooring/docking a boat or rafting two boats together.

N

Noose: a sliding loop knot that tightens when put under pressure.

O

Open Loop: a loop where the ends of rope are not crossing nor touching.
Outhaul: Rope used to tighten the foot of the sail, stretch the sail along the boom and can be used to slightly manipulate the shape of the sail.

P

Painter: the Bow Line of a dinghy.

Q

R

Racking Turns: Lashing turns which pass between two line or poles.
Ratlines: rope steps along the sides of the vessel used to climb up the mast. Usually seen on tall ships.
Round Turn: passing the rope around an object twice to create 1½ circles.

S

Seizing: creates a loop by tying two ends of rope together. Similar to lashing.
Setting: tightening the knot, same as dressing.
Sheath: the covering over the core op modern ropes. The sheath is usually braided (of 16 or more yarns) and adds strength and gives protection to the core of the rope.
Sheet: rope tied to the clew of the sail used to trim the sail.
Slipped Knot: a knot that is easily untied by pulling the tail.
Solid Braid: tightly woven rope that is difficult to/ cannot be spliced.
Splice: a knot made at the end of a rope using individual strands of rope as opposed to the whole rope at once.
Spring lines: mooring/docking lines to prevent the boat from moving forwards or backwards. Usually used as a pair.
Standing End: the inactive part of a rope whilst tying a knot.
Stopper Knot: a knot tied at the end op a rope used to prevent the rope from slipping through pulleys or holes. Can also be used to temporarily stop the rope from fraying until it can be whipped.
Strands: each individual length of fibres in a braided or twisted rope.

T

Tail: short end of the rope, on the past of rope that carries no pressure.
Topping Lift: rope that carries the weight of the boom when the sail is down. Can also be used to slightly change the shape of the sail.
Turn: the rope passed over one side of an object.

U

V

VB Cord: short for Venetian Blind Cord, is a thin synthetic braided rope. It can be used for many purposes and is considered to be a staple by most sailors.

W

Whipping: a knot made with twine to stop the rope from fraying.
Working End: the active end of a rope whilst tying a knot.

X

Y

Z

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