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An Introduction to Critical Vocabulary for Novice Sailors

Benjamin Perlin

Outside of his volunteer work with Nashville-area organizations, Benjamin Perlin pursues a number of hobbies. One of Benjamin Perlin’s favorite pastimes is sailing. When learning to sail, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the terminology involved. In the very beginning, it helps to focus on the most important terms.

Four terms are used to describe the orientation of people and objects in relation to a boat. “Aft” refers to anything in the back of the boat and “bow” to anything in the front. “Bow” is used as a reference point to define the terms “port” and “starboard”: the left-hand side of the boat when facing the bow is “port,” and the right-hand side in this same position is “starboard.” These terms are important, since “front,” “back,” “left,” and “right” can become confusing on a boat.

Movement is described by the terms “windward,” which means “in the direction of the wind,” and “leeward,” which means “against the wind.”

In terms of parts of the boat, sailors should familiarize themselves with the boom, the horizontal pole protruding from the mast, and the rudder, the flat object under the boat that controls direction.


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