Host Your Event

Back to top

Maritime Terms
  • Aloft - up on the higher rigging of the ship.
  • Amidships - the middle of the ship.
  • Anchor - a very heavy "hook" thrown overboard with a line attached that keeps a vessel in one place. LADY MARYLAND's anchor comes from the first PRIDE OF BALTIMORE.
  • "Avast" - a command to stop hauling lines or heaving machinery.
  • Ballast - a load of weight in the bottom of a ship that balances the vessel. Originally stones or bricks, now usually lead bars.
  • Baltimore Clipper - a famous schooner built for speed and maneuverability. They were very light on the water, narrow and had many sails. In the War of 1812, Baltimore Clippers served as profitable privateers and blockade-runners. The PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is a Baltimore Clipper.
  • Belaying Pins - wooden pins in the rail that are used to secure, or "belay" lines.
  • Bilge - the lowest part on the inside of a boat's hull. It is normal to find some water in the bilge. Bilge pumps remove this water.
  • Block - a nautical pulley holding line of the rigging.
  • Boom - the horizontal pole that supports the bottom of the sails.
  • Bow - the forward end of the ship.
  • Captain's Cabin - usually the cabin furthest aft. Typically, it is larger and more comfortable than other spaces onboard and serves as the ship's office.
  • Companionway - the openings in the deck leading down to the ship's compartments.
  • Crew - the men and women who operate a ship under the Captain's direction.
  • Dredge ¬ 1. verb: To remove sludge (mud, or silt) from the bottom of water using big machine (such as a steam shovel on a barge). 2. To catch oysters by dragging a large rake with a chain bag (called a "dredge") over the sea floor. Noun: The rake-like device used to catch oysters
  • "Ease Off" - a command to ease tension on a line.
  • Fo'c'sle (forecastle) - the crew's living quarters in the forward part of the ship.
  • Forepeak - the furthest compartment forward in the ship.
  • Furl - to bring down and fold (flake) a sail.
  • Gaff - the upper spars attached to the foresail and mainsail that raise and lower the top of the sail.
  • Galley - a ship's kitchen.
  • Halyard - originates from "hauling yards". A halyard is a line or rope that is used to lift (hoist) a sail and keep it up.
  • Head - a ship's toilet.
  • Helm - the steering wheel, which controls the rudder.
  • Hull - the body of a ship.
  • Keel - the fin shaped structure that runs along the bottom of the hull that keeps a boat from slipping sideways when sailing.
  • Knot – a unit to measure boat speed. One knot (nautical mile) equals approximately 1.15 miles per hour on land. Derives from old method of measuring speed in which a sailor threw a "chip log" (a piece of wood tied to a very long line with knots tied at even intervals) over the side and than counted the number of knots as they passed through his hands overboard.
  • Lazarette - a compartment located in the stern of the vessel. Traditionally, on large vessels, this space was used to quarantine the sick. Today it is usually used for storage.
  • Leeward - the side away from the wind - downwind.
  • Log - a nautical journal kept by the captain and crew, a record of the ship's position and sailing conditions.
  • Main Hold - the main compartment in the middle of a vessel that would hold cargo.
  • "Make Fast" - a command from the captain or crew to secure a line.
  • Mast - a long vertical pole that supports the sails.
  • Mast Hoops - wooden rings that encircle the mast. The sail is attached to these rings, allowing the sail to be pulled up the mast easily.
  • Nautical Mile - is approximately equivalent to 1.15 statute (land) miles. One nautical mile is the same distance as one minute of latitude and 60 minutes of latitude equals one degree of latitude.
  • Navigation - the science of determining a vessel's position while safely sailing from one position to another using navigational aids (charts, instruments, stars, etc.).
  • Oyster Dredging - a process of collecting oysters by scraping the bottom of the Bay using a rake-like instrument.
  • Peak - the after end of the gaff (away from the mast). Both the throat and the peak have halyards attached to them that are used to raise the sails.
  • Pilot Schooner - a boat that delivered pilots to large vessels entering the Chesapeake Bay. The pilot would then navigate the large ship through the tricky Bay channels. Pilot schooners had to be fast, because the first pilot schooner to reach the large ship would be paid for their service. Pilot schooners were the inspiration for fast vessels such as Baltimore Clippers, pungy schooners (such as LADY MARYLAND), and the yacht AMERICA (name sake of the America's Cup).
  • Port - left side of ship when facing forward (remember "port" and "left" both have four letters). The word "port" also can refer to a harbor.
  • Privateering - legal pirating in early U.S. history authorized by the Government. Baltimore Clippers were very successful Privateers in the War of 1812.
  • Pungy - a fast schooner of Chesapeake Bay origin that thrived in the 1800's as a workboat engaged in oystering and carrying cargo.
  • Rake - the angle formed when the mast leans backward.
  • Ratline - narrow rope ladder following the shrouds aloft to the top of the mast.
  • Reefing Points - small lines attached to the sail that are used to shorten (or "reef") the sail when the wind becomes too strong. The sail is lowered to the reefing points that are then tied around the boom.
  • Rigging - 1. Running rigging - all lines that are moved in the operation of sailing to raise and trim the sails. 2. Standing rigging - all lines that do not move but which support the masts.
  • Shroud - the standing rigging that supports the masts (from the port to the starboard side). In the old days, they had so many shrouds attached to the masts that the masts were shrouded (blocked) from view.
  • Skipjack - a native Chesapeake Bay sailboat with a V-shaped bottom and one large mainsail. Skipjacks are used for dredging oysters.
  • Spar - the large rounded poles, including masts, booms, gaffs, yards and bowsprits, that connect sails to the vessels.
  • Starboard - right side of ship when looking forward.
  • Schooner - a ship with two or more masts where the forward mast is shorter or of the same height as the aft masts. Schooners are usually "fore and aft" rigged, meaning their sails are parallel with the keel of the vessel.
  • Stays - the fore and aft standing rigging, headstays (bow) and backstays (stern).
  • Stern - the rear of the vessel.
  • Sheet - the line attached to the sail that pulls the sail in or lets it out. A sheet adjusts the sails angle to the wind (trims the sail).
  • Shipsmith - the person who forges the metal fittings for the ship by hand. Like blacksmith, the shipsmith uses a coal fire and anvil to hammer hot metal into a desired shape.
  • Shipwrights - the men and women who specialize in building wooden ships.
  • Throat - the end of a boom or gaff where it travels up and down the mast.
  • Topsides - up on the deck – the top floor of the ship.
  • Trunnel - (tree nail) the wooden nails that hold a ship together. Unlike a metal nail, trunnels move with the expanding and contracting wood.
  • Watch - a portion of the crew that is on duty at a given time.
  • Windward - the side from which the wind is blowing upwind.

Recent Posts

Join the conversation

YouTube Videos

More videos
802 S. Caroline Street
Baltimore, MD 21231
Copyright ©2018 All Rights Reserved. Designed and Developed by innovativeconsultants, LLC.