SAIL - A piece of cloth that catches the wind and so powers a vessel


SAILING - The fine art of getting wet and becoming ill, while slowly going nowhere at great expense.


SAILING ICE - Small masses of drift ice with waterways in which a vessel can sail.


SAILING RIG - The equipment used to sail a bost, including sails, booms and gaffs, lines and blocks.




SALLYING -Rolling a vessel, that is slightly ice-bound, so as to break the surface ice around her. May sometimes be done when a vessel is lightly aground, but not ice-bound.


SALON - Also saloon; main social cabin of a boat


SAMPSON POST - A strong post used for to attach lines for towing or mooring.


SANDBAGGER - A type of broad shallow open or partly decked  center board boat sailing boat which originated around the 1850  They carried tremendous sail area for their size .


SATELLITE NAVIGATION - A form of position finding using radio transmissions from satellites with sophisticated on-board automatic equipment.


SCALE – Of a chart, the ratio of distance on a chart to distance on the Earth’s surface


SCHOONER - Sailing ships with at least 2 masts (foremast and mainmast) with the mainmast being the taller. Word derives from the term "schoon/scoon" meaning to move smoothly and quickly. (A 3-masted vessel is called a "tern")


SCOPE - Technically, the ratio of length of anchor rode in use to the vertical distance from the bow of the vessel to the bottom of the water. Usually six to seven to one for calm weather and more scope in storm conditions.


SCREW - A boat's propeller.


SCRIMSHAW  - A sailors carving or etching on bones, teeth, tusks or shells


SCROLL HEAD - A scroll-shaped figurehead attached to the bow of a sailing vessel.


SCULL - Moving the rudder back and forth in an attempt to move the boat forward.


SCUPPERS - Drain holes on deck, in the toe rail, or in bulwarks or (with drain pipes) in the deck itself.


SCURVY - disease historically common to seaman -- was caused by lack of Vitamin C


SCUTTLE BUTT - Covered cask, having lid in head, in which fresh water for current use was formerly carried.


SEA ANCHOR -  Any device used to reduce a boat's drift before the wind.


SEA COCK - A through hull valve, a shut off on a plumbing or drain pipe between the vessel's interior and the sea.


SEA DOG -Old and experienced seaman. 2.Dog fish. 3. Elizabethan privateer.


SEA LAWYER - Nautical name for an argumentative person.


SEA SMOKE - Vapour rising like steam or smoke from the sea caused by very cold air blowing over it. Frost-smoke, steam-fog, warm water fog, water smoke.


SEAFARER - One who earns his living by service at sea.


SEAMANLIKE - In a manner, or fashion, befitting a seaman.


SEAMANSHIP - All the arts and skills of boat handling, ranging from maintenance and repairs to piloting, sail handling, marlinespike work, and rigging.


SEAMAN'S DISGRACE - A fouled anchor


SEA ROOM - A safe distance from the shore or other hazards.


SEAWORTHY - A boat or a boat's gear able to meet the usual sea conditions.


SECURE - To make fast


SELF-BAILING COCKPIT - Cockpit with drainage to outside of hull.


SEICHE -Short period oscillation in level of enclosed, or partly enclosed, area of water when not due to the action of tide-raising forces.


SEMI-DISPLACEMENT HULL – A hull that performs partly as a displacement hull and partly as a planing hull


SET – 1. Direction toward which the current is flowing. 2. The angular relationship of the sails to the wind. 3. To dig an anchor firmly into the bottom.


SETTEE - Built-in bench(es) usually with cushions for dining, either on deck or below.


SEWED - Said of a vessel when water level has fallen from the level at which she would float. Also said of the water that has receded and caused a vessel to take the ground.


SEXTANT - An entertaining, albeit expensive, device, which, together with a good atlas, is of use in introducing the boatman to many interesting areas of the earth's surface which he and his craft are not within 1,000 nautical miles of.


SHA – See Sidereal Hour Angle


SHACKLE - A metal link which can be open and closed for joining chain to anchor, etc.


SHAKE A LEG - There was a time when women went to sea with their sailors on certain ships. The crew and their women slept in hammocks, slung on hooks. When the Bos'n rousted out the crew for a sail change or other evolution he would yell "Shake a leg". He could then tell by the leg if it was a crewman that had to be rolled out.


SHAKE OUT - to release a reefed sail and hoist the sail aloft


SHALLOP - Small boat for one or two rowers. 2. Small fishing vessel with foresail, boom mainsail, and mizen trysail. 3. A sloop.


SHEATHING - A covering to protect the bottom of a boat.


SHEAVE - The wheel of a block pulley.


SHEEPSHANK - A knot used to temporarily shorten a line.


SHEER – 1. The shape of a deckline as seen from a point abeam. 2. A wide swing “off course”


SHEER OFF – To bear away


SHEET - Piece of line fastened to the sail and used to position relative to the wind.


SHEETBEND - A knot used to tie two ropes of unequal thickness together


SHEEPSHANK - A shortening knot, which enables a rope to be shortened non-destructively.


SHELF-ICE - Land ice, either afloat or on ground, that is composed of layers of sow that have become firm but have not turned to glacier ice.


SHELLBACK - An old and experienced seaman.


SHIP - A larger vessel usually thought of as being used for ocean travel. A vessel able to carry a "boat" on board.


SHIPSHAPE - A boat is said to be shipshape when every object that is likely to contribute to the easy handling of the vessel or the comfort of the crew has been put in a place from which it cannot be retrieved in less than 30 minutes.


SHOAL – A shallow area in a body of water


SHOAL DRAFT – As applied to a boat, one that is suitable for use in shallow water


SHORT SPLICE – A joining splice that increases the diameter of a line


SHORT STAY - Said of a vessel's anchor, or cable when the amount of cable out is not more than one-and-a-half times the depth of water.


SHOWER - Due to restricted space, limited water supplies, and the difficulty of generating hot water, showers on board ship are quite different from those taken ashore. Although there is no substitute for direct experience, a rough idea of a shipboard shower can be obtained by standing naked for two minutes in a closet with a large, wet dog.


SHROUD - a line or wire running from the top of the mast to the spreaders, then attaching to the side of the vessel.


SIDEREAL HOUR ANGLE – The angular interval West through 360° from the Hour Circle of Aries to the hour circle of a celestial point


SIGHT THE ANCHOR – To heave an anchor up to the water’s edge to make sure it is clear; it is then again let go


SINGLING UP - Taking in all ropes not wanted, so that only a minimum number of ropes will require casting off when leaving a berth or buoy.


SIXTEEN BELLS - Eight double strokes on ship's bell; customarily struck at midnight when new year commences. Eight bells are for 24 hours of passing year, eight bells for 00 hours of New Year.


SKEG – A projection aft of the keel or deadwood under the propeller


SKIP ZONE – The area where no radio signal is received between the outer limit of reception of ground waves and the inner limit of reception of sky waves


SLAB REEFING - Jiffy reefing.


SLACK - Not fastened; loose. Also, to loosen.  The interval of minimum horizontal tide movement of water


SLIDES - Fitting attached to sail for attaching sail to mast or boom.


SLOB - Loose and broken ice in bays, or along exposed edges of floes.


SLOOP - A single-masted fore-and-aft-rigged sailing vessel with a single headsail set from the forestay.


SLOP CHEST - Chest, or compartment, in which is stowed clothing for issue to crew.


SLOP ROOM - Compartment in which clothing for issue to crew is stowed.


SMALL STUFF – Cordage of less than 6mm (1/4”) diameter


SMELLING THE GROUND - Said of a vessel when her keel is close to the bottom and all but touching it.


SNARL – To tangle


SNATCH BLOCK - A block that can be opened on one side, allowing it to be place on a line that is already in use.


SNORTER - Alternative name for "Snotter". 2. A very high wind.


SNUB - To stop suddenly a rope or cable that is running.


SNUBBER LINE - Rope used for checking a vessel's way when warping her into a dock or basin.


SOFT CHINE – A rounded chine


SOLDIER - A sailor who dodges work


SOLDIER'S BREEZE - A fair, light wind


SOLE - Cabin or saloon floor. Timber extensions on the bottom of the rudder. Also the molded fiberglass deck of a cockpit.


SON OF A GUN - Many people use this, with no inkling of the original meaning. Going back to the days of sail, when a woman gave birth on (or under) the gun deck, the child was said to be a son of a gun. Usually the father's name was not known, hence calling some one a son of a gun is short of calling him a bastard.


SOUNDING - A measurement of the depth of water.


SOUTHWESTER – An oil-skin hat with a broad rear brim


SPANNER WRENCH - One of the most useful tools for engine repair; in come cases, the only suitable tool. Not currently manufactured.


SPAR - Horizontal or vertical poles attached to the vessel for either support of the sails or accessories, etc. (see mast).


SPAR BUOY – An anchored, floating spar used as an aid to navigation


SPAR DECK  - The upper deck running a ship's full length. In a sailing vessel, the upper deck from which sails, rigging and spars are controlled.


SPEED – The rate of motion of the ship through the water


SPEED MADE GOOD – The rate of motion of the ship over bottom


SPILLING – A technique to make a sail less effective by causing it to lose it’s wind


SPINDRIFT - Finely-divided water swept from crest of waves by strong winds.


SPINNAKER - An extremely large, lightweight, balloon-shaped piece of sailcloth frequently trailed in the water off the bow in a big bundle to slow the boat down.


SPLICE - Method of joining two ropes by weaving together the individual strands of which they are composed. The resulting connection is stronger than any knot. Splicing is something of an art and takes a while to master. You can work on perfecting your technique at home by practicing knitting a pair of socks or a stocking cap out of a pound or so of well-cooked noodles.


SPLICE MAIN BRACE - To issue an extra ration of rum. The main brace, often a tapered rope, was spliced only in the most exceptional circumstances.


SPOONING - Running directly before wind and sea.


SPREADERS - small spars between the mast and shrouds


SPRING LINE - A pivot line used in docking, undocking, or to prevent the boat from moving forward or astern while made fast to a dock.


SPUME - Froth of foam of the sea.


SQUALL - A strong wind with sudden onset and more gradual decline, lasting for several minutes. In U.S. observational practice, a squall is reported only if a wind speed of 16 knots (8.23 meters per second) or higher is sustained for at least 2 minutes.


SQUARE KNOT - A knot used to join two lines of similar size. Also called a reef knot.


SQUARE RIG - A sailing-ship rig with rectangular sails set approximately at right angles to the keel line from horizontal yards


STABILITY – The tendency of a vessel to right itself after heeling


STAFF – A mast used to hoist flags upon


STANCHIONS - Uprights supporting lifelines.


STAND – The interval of zero vertical water motion at the turn of the tide


STANDING PART - That part of a line which is made fast. The main part of a line as distinguished from the bight and the end.


STANDING RIGGING - Shrouds and stays that secure the yards and mast in place.


STAND-ON VESSEL - That vessel which has right-of-way during a meeting, crossing, or overtaking situation.


STARBOARD - The right side of a boat when looking forward.


STARBOARD TACK - Wind over the starboard side.


STARCUT - Sails in which the panels of cloth radiate from all corners, along the warp.


STAY - a line or wire from the mast to the bow or stern of a ship, for support of the mast (fore, back, running, and triadic stays).


STAY SAIL/STAYSAIL - Any sail attached to a stay.


STEERAGE WAY - In order for the rudder to be able to properly steer the boat, it must be moving through the water. The speed necessary for control is known as steerage way.


STEM - The forward most part of the bow.


STEP - The frame that the bottom of the mast ends into


STERN - The after part of the boat.


STERNPOST – The aftermast vertical timber or casting and fitting into the after end of the keel


STERNWAY - Moving astern.


STERN LINE - A docking line leading from the stern.


STIFF – Of a boat, quick to right itself, having a rapid period of roll, and great early stability


STOCK – The crosspiece of an anchor.  When in fixed position, in use, it is at right angles to the shank


STOCKLESS ANCHOR - An anchor that is not secured to the rail at the bow of a ship, as stock anchors are, but is pulled up into the hawsepipes until the flukes meet the hull


STOPPER KNOT – A knot in the end of a line to prevent it running through a block


STORIS - Large drift ice, more than two years old, that passes down the south-east coast of Greenland.


STORM BOUND - Confined to an anchorage or haven through being unable to proceed because of stormy weather


STORM JIB - Small jib, used in strong winds.


STOVE – Broken in


STOW - To put something away.


STRAKE – A continuous planking or plating fitted end to end from stern to stern in a vessel’s side


STRETCH OFF THE LAND - Old sailing ship term for taking "forty winks".


STRUT – An outboard support for a propeller shaft


STUFFING BOX - A fitting around the propeller shaft to keep the bearing lubricated and to keep water out of the boat.


SUCK THE MONKEY - Originally, to suck rum from a coconut -- into which it had been (illicitly) inserted, the end of the nut resembling a monkey's face. Later, illicitly to suck spirit from a cask, usually through a straw.


SUN OVER FOREYARD - Nautical equivalent to "Time we had a drink."


SWAB - Seaman's mop for drying decks. Made of old rope unlaid and seized on the bight; about four feet in length. Sometimes made smaller and seized to a wooden handle for putting highly-alkaline solutions on deck for cleansing purposes.


SWALLOW THE ANCHOR - To leave the sea and settle ashore.


SWEAT UP - To haul on a rope to hoist the last possible inch or so.


SWIVEL - A rotating fitting used to keep a line from tangling.


SWAMP - To fill with water, but not settle to the bottom.