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Y   Yankee

I am carrying mails


Yacht,  Yard,  Yardarm,  Yaw,  Yawl,  Yoke,  Yuloh 


A smart pleasure vessel,  either sail or power,  usually with accommodation for the owner,  crew and guests.


n  A long piece of timber,  supported partway along its length at the mast by a ha’lyard,  below which a four-sided sail is attached.

On a square-rigged vessel the yard would be horizontal,  square (at right angles) to,  and symmetrical about the mast and controlled by a brace at each yardarm.

On a lug- or lateen-rigged vessel the yard is rarely horizontal,  symmetrical or square to the mast and is controlled by  a sheet and (sometimes) a vang.

n   A place where boats are built and repaired:  a boatyard or shipyard.

n   A length of three feet,  a little less than one metre.   A fathom (a measure of depth of water (obsolete except in the USA)) is two yards (six feet).


n   A roofless area,  enclosed by a fence or hedge,  attached to a building.

Traditionally,  the depth at which a human body is buried in a grave is six feet.   On a handheld lead line there is no mark at six fathoms,  leaving a ‘deep’,  or space.   A curious mix of metaphors has led to the expression “to deep six” an unwanted item,  meaning to discard it into the sea.



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. 

Syn   Yole   Yoal

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries a yawl is a two masted sailing boat where the mizzen mast is small and thought (by most people) to be stepped abaft or alongside the rudder head.   (See ketch)   The main sail might be Bermudan or gaff rigged,  with one or two staysails or jibs,  or even a lugsail.   The mizzen sail is usually Bermudan,  and is a steering sail more than a driving sail.   Indeed,  the mizzen mast of many Thames barges was mounted on the rudder post and the sail (usually gaff rigged,  often sprit rigged) was sheeted to the rudder itself.

Folkard,  in 1906,  described the Norway Yawl as having “ . . . a single lugsail . . . narrow at the top,  the lower part being more than twice the width of the upper;  the tack is made fast at the inner part of the weather bow,  the clew being sheeted in the boat’s aft quarter.”   We would now (early 21st century) describe this as a dipping lug.


Warington Smyth,  writing at the end of the 19 century and beginning of the 20th,  described the Yarmouth yawl as being rigged  “with three lug sails and jib.”


Admiral W. H. Smyth,  writing in the 19th century,   described a yawl as “a man-of-war’s boat,  resembling a pinnace,  but . . smaller”.   The yawl in the Customs Act is a cutter with a mizzen lug sail;  also used by yachts.

It is also a small fishing vessel.


To Falconer,  in 1815,  a yawl was “a boat usually rowed with four or six oars”.


A boat yaws when it deviates from it’s course in a horizontal plane.

See roll,  pitch.


The end of a yard,  outboard of the final bend of the sail.


A cross-piece of timber or metal fitted on the rudder-head in place of a tiller.   The ends of the yoke have lines to the helmsman's hand or to a wheel.


A specially shaped,  bent oar used over the stern of boats in China for sculling,  or moving the boat forward.

The technique was known to,  and used by,  William Hutchinson to move a British privateer in the 18th Century but did not become accepted in the Western world until the end of the 20th Century and then only in small,  cult boats.

More recently Slieve McGalliard has given detailed (relative) measurements for the construction of a yuloh.


John Starkie

March 2019

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or can't find a word

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