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10 Sailing Terms You Should Know


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Do you know your stern from your bow? Find out what it all means with our list of basic sailing terminology.

Like many activities, sailing has a lingo of its own which allows for quick, efficient communication. We thought that being familiar with a few basic terms before embarking on the thrilling world of sailing will make the experience less intimidating to sailing newbies.  With the help of this mini-glossary, you’ll be able to not only sail like a sailor, but you’ll also be able to talk like one.

  1. Stern – This is a term used to describe the back part of a boat.
  2. Bow – The word bow is used to describe the front part of the hull of a boat.
  3. Aft is the direction towards the stern (back) of the boat
  4. Starboard refers to the right side of the boat when you’re looking forward
  5. Port is effectively the opposite of Starboard, i.e., the left side of the boat when you’re looking forward
  6. Leeward is an important point of sail and refers to the action of a boat moving away from the wind.
  7. Windward – Another point of sail and is the opposite of leeward. In other words, when a boat is moving windward it is moving toward the direction from which the wind is coming.
  8. No-Go-Zone as the term implies this is a range that a sailboat can’t sail indirectly. Basically, it’s an area that is so close to the wind that you can’t sail into effectively. The No-Go-Zone range varies according to the sailboat’s design, the force of the wind and the conditions of the sea.
  9. Tracking Since a sailboat can’t sail into the wind directly tracking, a zig-zagging sailing maneuver is used by sailors to sail through the no-go-zone.
  10. Gybing – This is another basic sailing technique which requires the sailor to shift the boat suddenly from one side to the other when sailing before the wind.

So there you have it our list of 10 essential sailing terms.

So what are you waiting for – don’t find yourself lost in the sailing jargon, learn how to talk the talk! Explore more on Book2Sail.

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