Sailboat Terminology

Sailboat. Image Credit: U Wallpaper.

Here at Eris Propellers, we love boats and we tend to throw around a lot of boating terms like hull, spars, sails and rigging. We’ve compile a short breakdown of some of the main parts of a sailboat.

The hull is the body of the sailboat, which has a bow at the front of the hull and stern at the rear. Almost all sailboats have fixed keel or movable centerboard, which are flat parts which extend into the water from the bottom of the hull to prevent the boat from shifting to either side and to keep it steady. While the keel is immovable, the centerboard can be adjusted through a slot under the hull.

Spars are poles that support the sails and have masts (upright poles that hold the sails). Masts are then broken down into the mainmasts which support the heaviest and largest sails, while large sailboats may have more than one mast, and have secondary shorter masts called mizzenmast towards the stern or foremast towards the bow.

Booms (poles that extend at right angles to the masters and hold out the sails) and gaffs. The booms are fastened to the bottom of the sail and gaffs and the fastened to the top.

Rigging includes all the rope components of a sailboat. Standard rigging is permanent and are used to support the masters. They include the shrouds that descend from the bow to the mast. Running rigging includes all the movable ropes with adjust sails and booms, while the ropes that raise and lower the sails are called halyards. The ropes then used to adjust or trim the sales are called sheets.

And of course, sailboats have sails. The largest sail is called the mainsail and it is attached to the back of the mainmast. A smaller, triangle shaped sail in front of the mainmast is a called a jib. The Genoa jib is a large jib that overlaps the mast and stretches back next the mainsail. The spinnaker is a balloon shaped sail used for added speed against the wind.

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