Q   Quebec

My vessel is healthy

and I request free pratique


A quarter of a circle.

A quadrant may be mounted on the rudder head in place of a tiller.   The quadrant is moved by lines to a wheel,  or even a separate tiller.


A long pole used for pushing a boat through shallow water.   The quant of a Norfolk wherry had a shoulder pad at the upper end and a fork at the lower end.   The wherryman would engage the fork in the mud and then walk from a bow to the stern,  pushing the boat as he did so.

Chatterton points out that the ancient Greek word for quant was used by Homer:  Greek galleys of about 500BC typically used three quants in shallow water and windless calms.


n   The ‘corners’ of the boat between the transom and the topsides.   The after part of a vessel’s side.

n   Mercy toward a surrendering enemy;  respect for a flag of truce;  care and consideration toward prisoners of war.

n   In the plural,  living space within the ship.


A period of time during which a ship that has contagious disease aboard may not land its people.   The yellow flag indicates that a ship is free of disease and requires to land its cargo and people.


A seaman's bed,  or bunk,  in one or other of the quarters.   On sailing yachts these are usually long narrow holes between the hull and the cockpit.


The after part of the upper deck.

The part of the weather deck reserved for officers.


Throughout history the aftermost part of the ship has been the centre of control and command.

During the Age of Sail,  when ships were built with high fighting castles forward and aft the quarterdeck (which occupied about a quarter of the ship's length aft) was raised above the level of the main deck as a sterncastle.  It was where the officers controlled the ship and where the wheel,  or tiller,  or whip staff,  was located.

Over the centuries the castles became lower,  and eventually they disappeared.

The 'quarterdeck' is now a ceremonial part of the ship;  the officers control the ship from the bridge.

Naval officers and ratings salute the quarterdeck (actually,  the ensign on the quarterstaff) when boarding the ship.

Quartering (seas)

Waves or swell which approach a vessel from an angle astern.   A quartering sea gives the vessel a rolling and pitching,  corkscrew,  motion which is often conducive to seasickness.



This word has many meanings,  depending on the country and service.

In the (British) Royal Navy a quartermaster at sea is a helmsman;  in harbour he (she) is responsible for the brow and its crew.

In the US navy a quartermaster is in charge of navigation and charts.


A structure built upon solid foundations for embarking and disembarking passengers and for loading and unloading cargo.   A quay is usually associated with buildings for storage,  sale of goods,  accommodation,  customs posts.

The word is now often associated with a shopping centre located close to a wharf.

See Pontoon,  Wharf,  Pier.


n   An orderly line of people each awaiting their turn to be seen or to buy goods.

Unknown in Asia,  scorned in Europe,  tolerated in the USA and popular in England.

n   The way in which a seaman's long hair was gathered at the nape of the neck,  braided and often tarred.


John Starkie

July 2020

If you disagree,

or can't find a word

please let me know.