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Fag end, Fair, Fairlead, Fake, Fall, Falling home, Fall off, Fashion piece, Fast, Fastening, Fathom, Feather edged, Fender, Ferry, Fetch, Fibre, Fid, Fiddle, Fiddler's Green, Fife rail, Fifie, Figurehead, Fire, Firearm, Fire extinguisher, First watch, Fish, Fish finder, Fix, Fixed light, Flag, Flag officer, Flake, Flare, Flashing, Flaw, Fleet, Flemish coil, Float, Flog, Flood tide, Floor, Flotsam, Fluke, Fluxgate compass, Fly, Flying jib, Fog, Foil, Foot, Footrope, Force, Fore-and-aft, Forecast, Forecastle, Foredeck, Forefoot, Foremast, Forenoon, Forenoon watch, Forepeak, Foresail, Foreshore, Forestay, Forward, Foul, Foulies, Founder, Frame, Frap, Freeboard, Freighter, Fresh, "Freshen the nip", Frigate, Front, Frontal system, Fuel, Full and By, Funnel, Furl, Futtock, Futtock shrouds
A specially constructed piece of hardware mounted on the edge of the boat, or elsewhere, to guide sheets or warps.
See Flake, below.
A vessel is fast aground if it cannot be moved.
adj, adv A fast vehicle is one which can be moved quickly, or more quickly that is normally expected.
Something which permanently holds one part to another.
Nails, rivets and screws hold the two parts closely and tightly together so that friction prevents them moving against one another; the fastenings should be in tension, not shear.
Treenails may act in shear, but are big enough to prevent movement.
Glues act in tension or in shear: choose the correct glue!
A squashy, sausage shaped, or spherical, object hung from the rail or stanchions between the boat and the quayside to prevent damage to the topsides. Also called a ‘fendoff’.Truly salty sailors make their own fenders by knotting and plaiting lengths of old rope; if they sell these items they get money for old rope.
The North Sea ferries between Harwich and hoek van Holland carries dozens of vehicles and hundreds of people, with sleeping accommodation. The two vessels pass one another en route, so that a vessel leaves each port at the same time every day.
Ro-ro is an abbreviation for 'roll on, roll off', meaning that vehicles can drive onto and off the vessel without reversing.
The ferry across the River Deben carries up to 12 people, but no vehicles, between Felixstowe Ferry and Bawdsey on demand
n The distance, usually in nautical miles, which the wind blows over the sea.
All else being equal the fetch of the wind determines the sea state, or the height of waves. A Westerly wind blowing onto a Northern beach of Cornwall has a fetch of some 5,000 or 6,000 miles and lifts waves large enough for exciting surfing. The same Westerly over a Suffolk beach has no fetch at all: calm water means no surfing and smooth sailing.
Conventional ropes consist of three (sometimes four) strands twisted together. Each strand consists of a large number of fibres twisted together.
Modern ropes may be plaited or woven.
n A tapered bar of metal or wood passed through a hole in another piece to hold something in place.
A Swedish fid has a deep groove along one side so that a strand of rope can be passed before the fid is withdrawn.
n A stringed musical instrument played with a bow: a violin.
Violinists tend to play classical music; fiddlers tend to play folk music.
v To cheat or defraud: unscrupulous pursers might fiddle the ship's account books and defraud the men of their entitlement.
A legendary afterlife, with perpetual fiddle music, laughter & dancing and an endless supply of grog.
See Skaffie, Zulu.
The Vikings used carvings of fearsome beasts to frighten away the evil spirits of the sea.
Merchant and fighting ships of the Age of Sail used complex carving and gilding, often slightly erotic, to imply wealth and power.
See the image of The Amsterdam, under Heads.
The oxidation of a combustible material.
Oxidation is accompanied by the release of heat and light. The heat vapourises the material and a cone of oxidising gas and air forms a flame. Unoxidised material forms smoke, which is often partially oxidised to toxic gases.
A controlled fire, in a hearth or grate or stove provides heat for warmth and cooking. The gas ring of the galley stove provides a controlled fire for cooking food.
A controlled fire in an engine provides motive power and heat.
An uncontrolled fire destroys structures such as boats and buildings. It releases heat and toxic gases and smoke which kill people.
An uncontrolled fire is the single most dangerous event on a boat.
A device with a barrel for launching a projectile at high speed by igniting a material which releases a large volume of high pressure gas.
Firearms range from handguns (pistols and revolvers) through rifles and shotguns to (possibly) portable anti-tank weapons.
A device for stopping fires. See extinguisher.
Between 2000 and midnight (ship’s time).
n Gill-bearing aquatic vertebrates which have fins instead of limbs.
v To catch fish.
A fix marked on the chart is a dot, or a cross, surrounded by a circle and should have the time of the fix and the log reading of the boat marked against it. The time and location (latitude & longitude) of the fix should be entered into the navigators notebook.
If bearings are taken with a magnetic compass on fixed features, converted from °magnetic to °true, and plotted on the chart they form position lines: the boat lies somewhere on these position lines. Several (usually 3) such position lines, passing through roughly the same point, fix the position of the boat.
A position has been fixed when the time and log reading have been written on the chart, and the time and position (latitude and longitude) entered into the logbook.
A GNSS instrument can display the latitude and longitude of its position at any time. This can be marked on the chart (with time and log reading) as a fix.
A GNSS instrument can measure the bearing to a waypoint, and measure the distance to the waypoint (range). This fixes the position of the instrument.
When your boat passes an object the position of which is known (such as a buoy or a rock) you can mark the position of your boat on the chart for that moment.
A continuous and steady light.
Typically, the green and red lights on pierheads, wharfs and harbour entrances are fixed.
In IALA-A a wharf on the right hand side of the estuary (when returning to harbour) will show two fixed green lights vertically one above the other. Abbreviated 2.F.G (vert).
A multicoloured piece of cloth, or bunting, hoisted on a staff with a ha'lyard.
The ensign is flown on a staff as far aft as possible.
House flags are flown at the port crosstrees.
Signal flags are flown on a ha'lyard from the crosstrees; they convey messages to other stations. Signal flags are shown at the top right of each page of this dictionary, together with their meanings. Now that we have radios and mobile telephones, signal flags are rarely used.
The term is used differently in different countries:
n " . . a sort of platform made of hurdles. and supported by stanchions, and used for drying cod-fish in Newfoundland." Falconer, 1815.
n " . . a small stage hung over a ship's side, to calk or repair any breach," Falconer, 1815.
Referring to the light on a buoy or lighthouse where the duration of the light is less than the duration of darkness: the frequency is less than 30 times per minute. Abbreviated Fl.
Quick flash: the flashes are more frequent than 60 times per minute. Abbreviated QFl. or Q.
Very quick flash: the frequency is at least 100 times per minute. Abbreviated VQFl. or VQ.
Long flash: the duration of the flash is at least 2 seconds. Abbreviated L.Fl
See also Fixed, Directional, Isophase, Occulting.
n A weak point, perhaps a crack or void, in a structure.
adj A relatively archaic word for quick, speedy. "A tortoise is slow-moving, but a cheetah is fleet of foot."
v To fleet a tackle: to draw the blocks closer together, and so increase the tension, perhaps until the tackle is "block and block' or 'chock a'block'. To draw the deadeyes closer, perhaps because the shrouds have become slack.
The term is archaic; no-one in C21 would 'fleet a turnbuckle'.
It leaves permanent unbleached and dirty marks on a wooden deck, it forms grockles when the line is put to use and it eventually slides off the deck into the propeller. Lines should be hung from pins or cleats, in coils clear of the deck.
n Something which is partly immersed in a fluid.
v To punish with a whip or a cat o' nine tails. The criminal would be tied to a grating and whipped (lashed) up to 1000 times. He might survive a dozen or more lashes, unless the wounds became infected, but not 1000.
v A sail flogs when the sheet is loose and it whips backward and forward with the wind. A flogging sail will be destroyed within a short time. The fast-moving clew cringle or block can cause severe injury to people nearby.
adj An adjective describing the missing word, 'timber'; this is the transverse timber close to, or part of, the frame of a boat crossing, and on either side of, the keel. Its named purpose is to support the floorboards which constitute the 'sole'; its secondary purpose is to strengthen the junction of keel and frame timbers in the region of the garboard.
For a drawing of floor timbers, see Futtock, below.
n The loft floor is a large, flat, smooth area above the workshop where sails are spread, measured, cut and sewed and where the lines of new vessels are laid out for fairing and correction of the offsets.
The wedge shaped, or triangular, part of an anchor that digs into the seabed. The shank of the anchor lies flat on the seabed, and is held flat by the stock so that the flukes (or flooks, or palms) dig down into the seabed.
A compass which is electronically calibrated and adjusted.
Airborne water droplets close to the ground; visibility is less than 1km.
Advection fog forms when warm moist air blows over a cold sea. The water vapour condenses into water droplets: fog. Warm sun does not dissipate advection fog; it may make it thicker. Advection fog vapourises when the sea temperature rises or when the wind falls.
Radiation fog forms over land when the air temperature falls below the dew point and the water in the warm ground continues to evaporate. This normally happens in Spring and Autumn when the ground is warmer than the air at night. Radiation fog gets thicker near dawn, when the air temperature is lowest. It evaporates when the sun warms the air and it dissipates with the wind. Radiation fog affects the sailor when the fog, behaving as a fluid heavier than air, flows down the river valleys and out to sea.
n The lowermost edge of the sail.
A sail is an aerofoil which moves the boat and (to a degree) controls its heading.
There are two forms of windvane: one is an aerofoil which is linked to the rudder to control the heading of the boat with respect to the wind: the other is a device near the top of a mast to indicate the direction (and perhaps) the strength of the wind.
A rudder is a vertical hydrofoil which controls the heading of the boat.
A hydrofoil (!) is a horizontal foil which lifts a boat mostly or entirely out of the water.
Click on the photograph of The Amsterdam (on the right) to see details of the footropes and their hangers.
A 'push' or a 'pull'. An interaction which causes a mass to accelerate. A force is a vector with both direction and magnitude.
The wind acts as a force which accelerates an object (such as a boat). The acceleration ceases (and speed remains constant) when opposing forces (such as friction of the water) equal the force of the wind.
On a fore-and-aft rigged vessel the mainsails are attached by their luff to a mast; on a gaff-rigged vessel their heads are attached to the gaff. The staysails are attached by their luffs to the stays. The mainsail is reefed and furled to the boom or (occasionally) the mast. The staysails are furled either by rolling them around the stay or by hauling them down to the deck.
On a square-rigged vessel the square-sails are suspended by their heads from horizontal yards forward of the mast. The forward lower corner of the course sail (the tack) is tacked down to a bow; the after lower corner is sheeted to the rail aft. The yards are square (at right angles) to the mast and symmetrical about the mast. When necessary the sails are reefed or furled up to the yard.
The wind flows along the sail from the fore-leech to the after-leech.
A square-rigged vessel on the port tack carries its port yardarms braced well forward and its starboard yardarms braced well aft. The portside clew is tacked down to the port bow and the starboard side clew is drawn aft by a sheet(line).
The wind flows along the sail from the fore-leech (on the port side) to the after-leech (on the starboard side)
When changing tack by staying, the yards are braced the other way; the erstwhile tack of the course sails becomes the clew and is sheeted aft; the erstwhile clew becomes the tack and is tacked down to the starboard bow. At some time while staying all of the square-sails are aback, possibly for several minutes. (see boxhaul)
When changing tack by wearing, the tacks, clews and yards are worked in the same way, but the square-sails are never aback.
The luff and leech, tack and clew of fore-and-aft sails are not interchangeable as they are with square-rigged sails.
A fore-and-aft rigged vessel on the port tack carries its boom, and the clew of its staysail(s), out to starboard, ‘braced’ by their sheets on the starboard side. The same is true of the staysails and spanker of a square-rigged vessel.
When changing tack by staying the staysail sheets (attached to the clews) are moved to the port side, and the mainsail boom moves over to the port side. At no time are the sails aback, and the tacks are never moved.*
When a fore-and-aft rigged vessel changes tack by gybing the mainsail boom and the staysail clew are moved to the other side; for a short time both sails are alee, but not aback. The tacks are not moved.
Lug rigs are intermediate between square-rig and fore-and-aft rig. They have yards which are rarely square to the mast and never symmetrical about the mast. The sails are never reefed or furled upward to the yard**; usually the yard is brought down into the boat.
When changing tack by staying the tack of balanced lugs and standing lugs is not moved; the tack of a dipping lug is changed from one bow to the other by being brought abaft the mast, but even then, the same tack (of the sail) is used. The sheets (at the clews) are taken to the other side. The sails are never aback.
When changing tack by gybing the tacks and clews are treated in the same way; the sails are, for a short time alee, but not aback
Lug rigs are stayed and gybed as though they were fore-and-aft rigged.
*The phrase 'changing tack' has lost its original meaning. The noun 'tack' has two meanings: one is applied to the heading of a fore-and-aft rigged boat relative to the wind: the second defines the forward lower corner of a sail. The verb 'to tack' now means to change the wind (not the tack of the sail) from one side of the boat to the other.
**Except in the cases of the lateen and the settee.
v To say something will happen before it does happen. To predict a future occurrence on the basis of past and present data.
n The weather forecast is a service provided (by the Meteorological Office through, among others, the BBC and the MCA) for the benefit of mariners. It predicts winds and precipitation on the basis of the movements of high and low pressure systems.
Galleons of the 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries had high fighting castles forward and aft. With time, the height of these castles was reduced; eventually they disappeared, but fo’c’s’l’ is still used to describe the forward part of a ship.
Where a vessel has more than one mast, the foremast is the one nearest the head of the vessel, except in ketches and yawls, where the foremost mast is the mainmast and the aftermost mast is a mizzen mast.
Between 0800 (local time) and noon (1200).
Between 0800 (local time) and noon (1200). See Watch.
Not clear; at risk of entanglement.
An anchor is foul when it has become entangled.
A foul wind is blowing in the wrong direction.
Foul water is cloudy, murky, unfit to drink.
v To fill with water and sink.
n The person who starts something, such as a school or institution or tradition.
The timbers at the sides of the ship to the inside of which is attached the ceiling and to the outside of which is attached the planking. They may be entire, or may be constructed with a number of futtocks (qv).
The structural components which maintain the shape of the ship.
Frames are sometimes known as ribs, from their superficial similarity to the ribs of a vertebrate animal.
A seizing is frapped with two or more turns at right angles to the seizing to tighten and contain the original turns.
A ha'lyard is frapped when a couple of turns of line are taken around the ha'lyard and a shroud. The frapping keeps the ha'lyard away from the mast and prevents it tapping. The sound of a ha'lyard tapping against the mast is amplified by the hull and keeps everyone awake. The sound is transmitted through water and keeps awake the occupants of neighbouring boats.
The eye in the photograph is not spliced, but has been made by seizing the two ends with many turns of small stuff. The seizing has been frapped with two turns of the same small stuff
A cargo vessel.
Fresh water is drinkable; salt water is not.
River water is fresh (but often not drinkable); sea water is salt.
A breeze of wind freshens when it becomes stronger.
"Freshen the Nip"
Readjust the line (tow, sea anchor, mooring) occasionally to move a point of chafe.
Sailing boats are now (early C21) defined by their rig. In earlier centuries they were defined more by their purpose or size. As the purpose, size and rig evolved over decades and centuries names tended to linger, so that in two different centuries boats with the same type-name might be very different.
By 1815 they were “light, nimble ships, built for . . sailing swiftly.” They carried 20 to 50 guns and were used for patrolling and carrying messages. Typically, they had a quarterdeck and a forecastle both 4 or 5 steps up from the waist and were ship-rigged.
Now (early C21) oil (or even nuclear) powered frigates are used to protect other warships and merchant ships.
The moving boundary between two masses of air at different temperatures or pressures. Where a mass of warmer air is moving toward, displacing or rising above colder air there is a warm front. Where a mass of colder air moves toward, displaces or sinks below warmer air a cold front develops. Where a cold front overtakes, and merges with, a warm front an occluded front is formed. Frontal systems tend to form around depressions.
A depression with two or more fronts.
Full and by
Coll. Getting on with a job without fuss.
Something which can be burned to release heat which can be turned into useful work.
n On a ship, a funnel is a cylindrical structure above the deck which carries the smoke and exhaust from the engines high above the ship. When steamships were fuelled with wood or coal the funnel acted as a chimney, carrying hot gases upward and drawing fresh air into the fire.
n A hollow cone, with a hollow stem, to direct the flow of a liquid into a narrow aperture.
v Wind may be funnelled, or channelled, between high hills or buildings and create strong gusts at sea. A tidal stream or river current may be accelerated, or funnelled, around a headland or between banks.
The word is occasionally used as a noun, but a more appropriate noun is 'stow'.
A 'harbour-stow' is neat and tidy: 'ship-shape and Bristol fashion'.
In this drawing by Trevor Kenchington 1 and 5 are floor (timbers), 6, 7 and 8 are frame futtocks, 9 is a top timber. The planks would be fastened to the outside of the floor timbers, the futtocks and the top timbers; the ceiling would be fastened to the inside.
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