Basic Sailboat Terms
Rudder: A spade-like object at the back of the boat that steers the boat by deflection of the water.
Tiller: The lever that controls the rudder. Larger boats have a wheel instead of a tiller.
Winches: A mechanical device used to increase pulling power on a line. (purchase)
Gooseneck: The fitting that connects the boom to the mast. It works like a swivel allowing the boom to move up and down and swing from side to side.
Keel: The weighted fin at the bottom of the boat that keeps the boat from slipping sideways through the water.
Bow: Front end of the boat.
Stanchions: Vertical posts that hold lifelines in place.
Pulpit: Safety rail at the bow of the boat.
Stern: Back end of the boat.
Port: The left side of the boat when facing forward.
Starboard: The right side of the boat when facing forward.
Basic Standing Rigging
Mast: The large vertical stick that supports the sail and boom.
Boom: The horizontal stick used to hold and extend the foot of the main sail.
Forestay: The wire (cable) that supports the mast from the bow and prevents the top of the mast from moving aft.
Backstay: The wire that supports the mast from the stern and prevents the top of it from moving forward.
Shrouds: The wires that support the mast from the sides and prevent it from moving sideways.
Turnbuckle: Device for adjusting tension on shrouds and stays.
Basic Running Rigging
Halyards: Lines or wire rope used to hoist (raise) the sails.
Sheets: Lines used to control the sails.
Outhaul: Line used to tighten or tension the foot bottom edge) of the sail.
Downhaul: Line used to tighten or tension the luff (forward edge) of the sail. Boom Vang: Line used to pull the boom down. It prevents the boom from lifting which causes the top part of the sail to twist.
Topping Lift: Holds the end of the boom up and prevents it from falling into the cockpit when the main sail is lowered.
Basic Sail Terms
TERMS APPLYING TO BOTH MAIN AND JIB SAILS
Head:Top corner. (Where halyard connects to sail)
Tack: Bottom forward corner.
Clew: Bottom back corner.
Luff: Forward edge.
Foot: Bottom edge.
Cringle: Metal reinforcement ring.
TERMS THAT USUALLY APPLY TO MAIN SAILS
Battens: Wood or plastic strips that act as stiffeners for the sail. They help keep the leech from fluttering.
Batten Pockets: Pockets sewn into the trailing edge of the sail to hold the battens.
Roach: The unmeasured sail area along the back edge of the Sail.
Cunningham: The cringle (grommet) on the luff of the sail used to achieve luff tension for draft control. (sail shaping)
Reef Points: The row of points where the reef ties (gaskets) are attached to the sail. These are used for shortening sail in strong winds.