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Parts of a boat How a Sail Works Points of Sail Manoeuvres Five Essentials Give Way Rules Glossary Links Back


Abeam: Across the boat.

Beat: A point of sail. Also called "Close-Hauled". When a boat is going as close to the wind as it can it is on a beat.

Crew: The people controlling the boat. In most larger dinghies there are two; a helmsman who steers the point and looks after the mainsail and the crew (the other person) who looks after the jib and boat balance.

Dinghy: A small sailing vessel of nearly any size without a keel and only one active hull.

Double Hulled: Boats with one hull inside another. They are usually sealed together. The main function is to make the boat unsinkable.

Genoa: A large foresail which takes the place of the jib. Can be furled without taking it down. Only on yachts.

Hike-out: On reaches and beats, the sideways force of the wind will tend to tip the boat over. Most dinghies are designed to sail on the level so they must be balanced correctly. To counter the force of the wind, the crew sometimes have to "sit out" of the boat, using only toestraps to keep them from falling out. This is hiking out.

Leeward/Windward: The windward side of anything is the side from which the wind is coming from. The leeward side is the side in shelter. Also used as directions, e.g."another boat to windward".

Points of Sail: The direction of the boat with respect to the wind. The point of sail determines the sail and centreboard positions.

Run: A point of sail. Heading downwind. Boats travel faster on a run than on any other point of sail.

Sideways Drift: When a boat is crossing the wind at any angle it will experience a force transverse to the direction of travel. This force tends to push the boat sideways. This is sideways drift.

Spinnaker: A large parachute type sail at the bow. Used only when on a run.

Steerage: The ability to control the direction of your boat. You need to have some forward movement for the rudder to have any effect on the direction of the boat. Therefore, adequate steerage is really adequate speed for steering.

Tack: As in "starboard tack" and "port tack". When you are sailing across the wind, the wind will be coming over one side of the boat. If it comes over the starboard side, it is a starboard tack. When running (with the wind coming over the stern) your tack is the side that the sail is not on. Very important for right-of-way rules.

Two Length Zone: The area around a mark or obstruction within two hull lengths of the boat nearest to it.

A Note on the Word "Tack": There at least five different meanings for the word "tack".

Tack: The side of the boat which the wind is coming over. A starboard tack or a port tack.

Tack: A corner of a sail. The lower corner of the luff, the leading edge.

Tack: To turn the boat into the wind so that you change from one tack to another (e.g. change from starboard tack to port tack).

Tack: To get upwind you sail as close as you can to the wind (you are on a beat) and then keep changing direction and sailing close to the wind until you get to where you want to go. You make a zig zag course. This is known as tacking - you tack upwind.

Last Updated October 30th, 2007 QUB Sailing club