CABIN - A compartment for passengers or crew.


CABIN SOLE -the bottom surface of the enclosed space under the deck of a boat

CABLE - The rope or chain made fast to the anchor. 2. Nautical unit of distance, having a standard value of 1/10th of a nautical mile (608 ft.) or 100 fathoms.

CAMBER - The arch or slope from side to side of a vessel's weather deck for water drainage. Also known as round of beam.

CAM CLEAT - A mechanical cleat used to hold a line automatically. It uses two spring-loaded cams that come together to clamp their teeth on the line,

CAMEL - Hollow vessel of iron, steel or wood, that is filled with water and sunk under a vessel. When water is pumped out, the buoyancy of camel lifts ship. Usually employed in pairs. At one time were usual means of lifting a vessel over a bar or sandbank. 2.  wooden float  use between dock and ship.

CAN BUOY - A cylindrical buoy painted green and having an odd number used in the United States as a navigational aid

CAN HOOKS - Two flat hooks running freely on a wire or chain sling. Hooks are put under chime of casks, weight is taken on chain sling or wire. Weight of lift prevents unhooking.

CANAL - A manmade waterway used to connect bodies of water that do not connect naturally

CANOE STERN - A pointed stern, such as those on a canoe.

CANT FRAMES - Angled frames in the extreme forward or aft ends of a ship which form the sharp ends of the vessel's hull


CAPSIZE - To turn over. What you should know when buying the captain a gift


CAPSTAN - The drum-like part of the windlass, which is a machine used for winding in rope, cables or chain connected to an anchor cargo.


CAPE HORN FEVER - The feigned illness of a malingerer



CAREEN - To list a vessel so that a large part of her bottom is above water. Formerly done to remove weed and marine growth, to examine the bottom, to repair it and to put on preservative or anti-fouling. Still done with small craft.


CANVAS - An abrasive sailcloth used to remove excess skin from knuckles


CAR - A sliding fitting that attaches to a track allowing for the adjustment of blocks or other devices attached to the car.


CARDINAL BUOY – An aid to navigation that indicates the cardinal direction of safe water


CARDINAL POINTS -The points of North, South, East and West as marked on a compass rose


CARLINE - Wood stringer support for hatches and cabins


CARRICK BEND - A knot used to tie two lines together.


CAST OFF - To let go.


CATAMARAN - A twin hulled boat, with hulls side by side.


CATBOAT - A sailboat rigged with one mast and one sail.


CATCHING UP ROPE - Light rope secured to a buoy to hold vessel while stronger moorings are attached.


CATCH A CRAB - An oar caught aback when rowing


CATENARY - The sag in a line strung between two points such as the anchor line.


CAT'S SKIN - Light, warm wind on surface of sea.


CAULK - Any one of a number of substances introduced into the spaces between planks in the hull and decking of a boat that give a smooth, finished appearance while still permitting the passage of a significant amount of seawater.


CELESTIAL EQUATOR – A projection of the terrestrial equator on the celestial sphere


CELESTIAL MERIDIAN – Projections of terrestrial meridians on the celestial sphere


CELESTIAL NAVIGATION - to calculate your position using time, the position of celestial bodies, and mathematical tables

CELESTIAL POLES – Projections of the terrestrial poles on the celestial sphere

CELESTIAL SPHERE – An imaginary sphere of infinite diameter, with the same center as the Earth

CENTERBOARD - An adjustable keel that drops through a slot in the bottom of a boat to provide ballast and sailing stability.

CENTER LINE - The imaginary line running from bow to stern along the middle of the boat.

CENTER OF EFFORT - The center of wind pressure on the sail plan

CENTER OF GRAVITY – The point through which the force of gravity produced by the vessel’s mass can be considered to act

CENTREBOARD – A pivoted board that can be raised or lowered through a slot in the keel

CHAFE - damage to a line caused by rubbing against another object

CHAFING GEAR - Tubing or cloth wrapping used to protect a line from chafing on a rough surface.

CHAIN PIPE (NAVEL PIPE) – A pipe through the deck giving passage to the anchor rode from the chain locker

CHAIN PLATE - A steel plate or bar by which the standing rigging is attached to the hull.

CHANDLER - A shop that sells boating equipment.

CHARLEY NOBLE - Many a rookie sailor has been sent to find Charley Noble. Usually after much searching and being unable to find the person named, he will eventually discover that Charley Noble is the galley stove pipe. This is akin to being put on lookout duty for the mail buoy.

CHANNEL -1. That part of a body of water deep enough for navigation through an area otherwise not suitable. It is usually marked by a single or double line of buoys and sometimes by range markers.2. The deepest part of a stream, bay, or strait, through which the main current flows.3. A name given to a large strait, for example, the English Channel.

CHART DATUM - The water level used to record data on a chart. Usually the average low tide water level.

CHART TABLE - A table designated as the area in the boat where the navigator will study charts and plot courses.

CHART - A map for use by navigators.

CHAIN LOCKER - A compartment in the lower part of a ship for stowing an anchor chain

CHANTY - Shanties are the work songs that were used on the square-rigged ships of the Age of Sail. Their rhythms coordinated the efforts of many sailors hauling on lines

CHECK - To ease a rope a little, and then belay it.

CHEEK BLOCK - A block with one end permanently attached to a surface such as on the sides of the mast.

CHINE - The intersection of the bottom and sides of a flat or v-bottomed boat.

CHOCK - A fitting through which anchor or mooring lines are led. Usually U-shaped to reduce chafe.

CHOCK - Sudden and usually unpleasant surprise suffered by Spanish seaman.

CHOCKABLOCK - When a line is pulled as tight as is can go, as when two blocks are pulled together. Also know as "two blocks"

CHOP - Small, steep disorderly waves.

CHORD - The principal horizontal member in a rigid framework. In Great Lakes shipbuilding, a heavy horizontal metal strap fastened around a hull at the level of the upper deck, supporting a framework of arches and cross bracing

CIRCUIT BREAKER - An electromechanical switching unit intended to prevent the flow of electricity under normal operating conditions and, in the case of a short circuit, to permit the electrification of all conductive metal fittings throughout the boat. Available at most novelty shops.

CIRCULAR LOP – An arc of a circle, usually determined by distance from an object, on which the ship is known to lie

CLEARING OF GUAM - Getting underway to nowhere.

CLEAT - A fitting to which lines are made fast. The classic cleat to which lines are belayed is approximately anvil-shaped.

CLEW - Lower aft corner of the fore and aft sail or the lower corners of a sq sail.

CLOCK CALM - Absolutely calm weather with a perfectly smooth sea.

CLIPPER - A sharp-bowed sailing vessel of the mid-19th century, having tall masts and sharp lines; built for great speed.

CLOSE ABOARD - Close alongside, Very near.

CLOSE HAULED - Sails and boom pulled in tight enabling the boat to point as high as possible to the direction the wind is coming from

CLOSE REACH - Sailing with the wind coming from the direction forward of the beam of the boat. A close reach is the point of sail between a beam reach and close hauled.

CLOVE HITCH - A knot for temporarily fastening a line to a spar or piling.

CLUB, YACHT CLUB, RACING ASSOCIATION - Troublesome seasonal accumulation in costal areas of unpleasant marine organisms with stiff necks and clammy extremities. Often present in large numbers during summer months when they clog inlets, bays, and coves, making navigation almost impossible. The infestations are most serious along the coasts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine. They can be effectively dislodged with dynamite, but, alas, archaic federal laws rule out this option.

COAMING - A vertical piece around the edge of a cockpit, hatch, etc. to prevent water on deck from running below.

COCKPIT - An opening in the deck from which the boat is handled.

COIL - To lay a line down in circular turns.

COLORS -The national flag and or other flags.

COME ABOUT – To turn the ship’s head through the wind, changing from one tack to the other

COMPASS - Navigation instrument, either magnetic (showing magnetic north) or gyro (showing true north).

COMPASS CARD - Part of a compass, the card is graduated in degrees, to conform with the magnetic meridian-referenced direction system inscribed with direction which remains constant; the vessel turns, not the card.

COMPASS COURSE – The course as indicated by the ship’s compass

COMPASS ERROR – The difference between true north and compass north

COMPASS NORTH – The direction indicated as north by the compass

COMPASS ROSE -The resulting figure when the complete 360° directional system is developed as a circle with each degree graduated upon it, and with the 000° indicated as True North. Also called true rose. This is printed on nautical charts for determining direction.

COMPANIONWAY - staircase that leads to the cabin

COMPENSATION – The adjusting of a compass so as to remove or reduce deviation

CON – Steer the boat by direct observation of landmarks

CONICAL BUOY – A cone-shaped buoy, floating with the point up

COORDINATED UNIVERSAL TIME (UTC) - The international time standard. It is the current term for what was commonly referred to as Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT). Zero (0) hours UTC is midnight in Greenwich England, which lies on the zero longitudinal meridian. Universal time is based on a 24 hour clock, therefore, afternoon hours such as 4 p.m. UTC are expressed as 16:00 UTC (sixteen hours, zero minutes). Since a day is 24 hours long, the world may be split into 15 degree wide longitudinal bands (360 degrees/24 hours). Each band represents one hour. As an example, Huntsville Alabama is located at approximately 90 degrees west longitude, hence, local time lags UTC time by 6 hours (90/15, assuming Central Standard Time, 5 hours in Central Daylight Time). So, if the universal time is 14:30 UTC, United States Central Standard Time would be 8:30 am CST

CORDAGE - Any rope or line

CORRECTING – The conversion of courses or bearings from compass to magnetic or true

COUNTER STERN – An overhanging stern

COURTESY FLAG - A smaller version of the flag of the country being visited. It is flown from the starboard spreader.

COURSE - The direction in which a boat is steered.

COURSE MADE GOOD – Actual motion of the ship over the bottom, expressed as a true direction

COVERING BOARD - The outermost plank of the upper deck running beneath the base of the bulwark and covering the frametops and the ends of the deck beams

CREW -  Heavy, stationary objects used on shipboard to hold down charts, anchor cushions in place and dampen sudden movements of the boom.

CRINGLE - A fitting in a sail that allows a line to fasten to it

CROWN – The point at which the shank joins the arms of an anchor

CROSS-TRACK ERROR – The distance away from the theoretical DR track.  Used in reference to electronic navigation systems

CROSSCUT - Sails in which the panels of cloth run perpendicular to the leech.

CROSSTREES - horizontal pieces of wood that cross the mast up high, acting as spreaders for the topmast shrouds.

CROW'S NEST - protected lookout position high on the foremast

CRUISING  - Waterborne pleasure journey embarked on by one or more people. A cruise may be considered successful if the same number of individuals who set out on it arrive, in roughly the same condition they set out in, at some piece of habitable dry land, with or without the boat

CUDDY - A small shelter cabin in a boat.

CULAGE - Laying up of a vessel, in a dock, for repairs.

CUNNINGHAM - Line adjusting tension of forward edge of mainsail.

CURRENT - The horizontal movement of water.

CURRENT - Tidal flow that carries a boat away from its desired destination, or toward a hazard.

CUTTER - A sailboat with one mast and rigged a mainsail and two headsails. Also see sloop.