Archive for the 'Sailing Terminology' Category

Jul 17 2008

Terminology: Sailing Terminology for Working with Rope

Sailors work with rope–although we do not call it by that name. Sailors actually work with lines.  The terms that we use for different types of it indicate where it is used on a boat.  I am going to give a quick overview on some terminology.


Lines: The term for the collective assembly of rope on a boat.  You can take a piece of rope, and the second you take it from shore and bring it onto a boat, it becomes a line.

Sail Related Terminology

Halyard: Is the line that runs a sail to the top of the mast–it attaches to the head of a sail. On some older boats, this line may be comprised of wire cable spliced into rope.

Topping Lift: Is a line that runs to the top of the mast (or a partial ways to the top) for the purposes of lifting things.  A topping lift is used to raise a spinnaker pole, and is sometimes attached to the boom.

Sheet: Is a line that connects the clew of a sail to the boat.

Outhaul: Is really a control used to pull tighten the foot of a sail.  In most cases, it is a line attached to the clew of the sail that pulls the foot away from the mast.

Reefing Lines: Are lines that make it easy to reef the main.  If you expect the conditions to be windy, you might rig your reefing lines prior to setting sail from the comfort of the harbor.  Reefing is no small task (especially on large main sails), and having the reefing lines run ahead of time only make it easier.

Anchor and Docking Lines

Rode: Is a line that is attached to an anchor.  This may or may not have chain in the collective rode.

Dock Lines: Are the lines used to secure the boat to the dock.

Spring Line: Is a special dock line used to cinch the boat close to the dock (or the other line).  Sometimes more than one spring line is used.

Painter: Is a line that stays attached to the bow of a ship.  It is a longer line and is used for all sorts of things.

Miscellaneous Terms

Life Lines: Are the lines attached to stantions on the deck of a boat.  Their primary purpose is to keep things (especially people) from falling overboard.

Preventer: Is a lashing that is fixed to the boom of a sailboat to prevent it from moving to one side or the other.  This is especially helpful when running downwind and trying to prevent an accidental jybe.

Thats a good place to start.  I will post more terminology as it comes along.

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Jul 06 2008

Cal Sailing Club: Dinghy Sailing and Rigging Lessons

The Cal Sailing Club may be the absolute best value in San Francisco for learning and practicing how to sail, repair boats, and just about everything else sailing-related.  In addition to running a fabulous sailing-co-op style club, they also like to barbeque, share with everyone involved, are welcoming, fun-loving, love to race, and even have members who have completed the Mini-Transat–a 30-day race with two legs from France to Brazil solo in 21-foot boats.  Uhhhhm–yeah.

Okay, Saturday rolls around, and myself and a friend roll up to the Cal Sailing Club.  We get a rigging lesson on the relatively new Laser Bahia (fantastic little boat), and then she gets a sailing lesson in a 14-foot Hunter dinghy.  Super-fun!

If you are looking for me during most of the summer, I have an idea where you might start . . . .

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Jun 13 2008

Ericson 29 Specs: Ericson 29 Owner’s Manual

A while back, I found the Ericson 29 Owner’s Manual at the Ericson Owner Association. As an owner of an Ericson 29, and constantly in need of specs and other information, I have only downloaded and provide a link to the Ericson 29 Owner’s Manual.

The Ericson Owner’s Association website has a really nice collection of documentation and specification. Here’s the link:

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May 19 2008

Terms: Windward Douse

There are many ways to do everything on a boat, and some better serve the situation than others.  When dousing the spinnaker, the windward douse is another tool in your bag of tricks.

The name holds the clues to what differentiates this douse from a leeward douse–what side of the boat your are using to bring down the spinnaker.

Here are the steps:

  1. When ready, have a crew member come forward (or the crew member working the mast can do this) and hold the working guy–which is on the windward side.
  2. Trip the spinnaker pole and drop the pole to the foredeck.
  3. At this point, the driver is starting to turn to windward.  Grab both clews and pull/feed it right into the open hatch.  The wind will push it right down the open hatch.

It is a pretty slick way to get the spinnaker down quickly.  One guy on board suggested that you grab both ends and simply sit down.  I presume that this saves your arms and the force starts the descent process of the sail and assists in starting the collapse of that big sail.

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May 18 2008

Terms: Leeward Douse

Coming around the windward mark of the course, the foredeck crew hoist the spinnaker–it provides the primary power for the boat while sailing downwind.  At the leeward mark, the foredeck crew raise the jib sail, then lower and retrieve the spinnaker.  A leeward douse is one of the ways to accomplish this.

On a leeward douse, the lazy spinnaker guy is taken and given to a crew member down the open hatch (if there is a crew member available).  The foredeck crew then each grab the foot of the spinnaker sail and pull the bulk of the sail down as fast as possible into the forward hatch.  This release of the spinnaker halyard is guided by the crew member working in the pit (if it is simply dropped, the sail will most likely go into the water).

Lastly, the hatch cover is closed, the pole is dropped to the deck and stowed, and the jib sheets are cleared to ensure that we can tack when necessary.  When achieved, the foredeck tells the back of the boat that the is tackable.

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