B-class division – Divisions made of incombustible material and capable of preventing the passage of smoke and flame up to the end of the first ½ hour of the standard fire test.
B – Code flag; I am loading, carrying or discharging dangerous cargo. Sound signal; Last barge of a tow in restricted visibility.
Babbin – Soft white metal alloy used for shell type engine bearings.
Babcock Erith Stoker – Mechanical apparatus for feeding boiler furnaces with coal, and so arranging it that efficient consumption and clean fires were maintained.
Babcock Johnson Boiler – Water tube boiler of fairly small dimensions and weight, but having very high efficiency.
Babcock Wilcox Boiler – Water tube boiler for main steam purposes. Working pressure up to 1400 Ib. per sq. in.
Bac – Flat-bottomed boat, often with pram bow, used as a ferry. (French)
Bacassa – Seagoing three masted Carib vessel.
Back – To back engines is to put them astern. To back an oar is to reverse the action of rowing and propel the boat astern. To back a sail is to haul its clew to windward. To back anchor is to lay another anchor ahead of it, and with a cable or hawser extending tautly between them. Wind is said to ‘back’ when it changes direction anti-clockwise.
Back Altitude – Measurement of greater arc of vertical circle passing through an observed body. Taken when horizon at foot of smaller arc cannot be distinguished.
Back and Fill – To fill sails and then back them, alternately. Done to keep vessel in a position for the time being.
Back Flooding – Occurs when fluid passes in reverse through a pump or valve back into the fluid reservoir or compartment.
Backboard – Board athwart after end of stern sheets of a rowing boat, for passengers to lean against.
Backbone – Fore and aft wire along middle of an awning.
Back Freight – Money payable to ship for carrying cargo back to port of shipment when it was impossible to discharge cargo at destination.
Back Haul – Moving cargo on the return leg of a voyage for the purpose of minimizing ballast mileage and reducing transportation costs.
Back Letter – Name sometimes given to a ‘Letter of indemnity’.
Back Pressure – In a steam cylinder, is pressure set up by steam on exhaust side of piston. In a pump, is resistance generated when discharge has to be forced.
Backrail – Name formerly given to ‘Backboard’.
Back Rope – Small chain, or rope pendant, used for staying a dolphin striker.
Back Sailing – Hauling boom of mainsail, or mizen, to windward when a vessel loses way in going about. This forces her head on a new tack, and is a kind of box hauling.
Back Ship – To work ship astern with sails or engines.
Back Sight – Back altitude.
Backsplice – Method of finishing off end of a rope that is not required to reeve through a block. End is unlaid, ‘crown’ formed with the strands, ends tucked into rope below crown.
Backspring – Rope led aft, from forward in a ship, to a buoy, or bollard outside ship. Used for heaving ship astern, or for preventing her ranging ahead.
Backstaff – Forerunner of quadrant and sextant. Instrument devised by Captain Davis about 1590. Observer stood with his back to Sun and measured altitude by two concentric rings, one measuring 30°, the other 60°. The sun’s light concentrated by a pinhole to a bright spot, was brought in contact with the horizon through a slot.
Backstays – Ropes led from a mast to a position abaft it. They support mast against forces acting in a forward direction.
Backstay Stool – Short timber in which lower ends of backstays are set up when no room has been allowed for them in the chains.
Backwash – Troubled water thrown astern of mechanically propelled vessels, especially paddle steamers.
Backwater – Area of a river that is sheltered from main stream and in which there is a very little lateral movement of the water. 2. To back an oar. Baffle Plates. Iron or steel plates fitted in various parts of heating elements of a boiler to prevent radiation of heat, or to protect against corrosion by waste gases.
Backwinding – Wind deflected from a sail affecting flow over another.
Baffle Plate – A perforated partition in a tank to limit the surge of liquid as a boat moves.
Bag Cargo – Cargo that is stowed in bags.
Baggage Room – Compartment, in a passenger ship, for storage of passengers’ baggage that may be required during the voyage.
Baggala, Bagla – Two-masted dhow of about 200 tons. Used in Indian Ocean. Lateen rigged, mast raked forward; has high poop with windows, quarter galleries and lavish decoration.
Bagged Cargo – Commodities usually packed in sacks or in bags, such as sugar, cement, grain, etc.
Baggywrinkle – Baggy Rinkle. Padding of old rope, rubber or canvas wrapped round stays to prevent chafe on the sheeted out sails. Sennit used for chafing gear.
Bagpipe the Mizen – To haul on weather mizen sheet until mizen boom is close to weather mizen shroud, and sail is aback.
Bag Reef – Fourth reef of a topsail.
Baguio, Bagiou, Bagyo – The term for a typhoon in the Philippine Islands.
Bailer – Baler.
Bail Out – To remove water from a boat.
Baily’s Beads – Bead-like prominences apparently on limb of Moon during eclipse of Sun. Probably due to irradiation.
Baker Navigation Machine – Introduced to assist air navigation. Allows a transparent sheet, carrying curves of iso-azimuths to be adjusted over a chart. Invented by Cdr. T. Y. Baker, R. N.
Balaenidae – True, or ‘right’ whales. Have no teeth, but baleen (whale bone) instead. Have no dorsal fin. Greenland and Australian whales are examples.
Balaenoptera – Whales having soft dorsal fin and short baleen plates. Rorqual is an example.
Balanced Rudder – One in which rudder stock is not on leading edge of rudder, but an appropriate distance abaft it. Pressure on forward area of rudder nearly balances pressure on after area, thus reducing power necessary to turn rudder. Shearing stress on stock is increased, but torsional stress is decreased.
Balance Lug – Lugsail with foot laced to a boom that project forward of mast. Handy rig for small boats in fairly smooth waters, as boom remains on same side of mast on either tack.
Balances – Constellation of Libra. (Libra is Latin for Scales).
Balance Reef – Diagonal reef in spanker. Runs from throat earing to clew, so making sail triangular when reefed.
Balanced Frames – A steel ship’s midship frames that are of an identical square flanged shape.
Balance Piston – ‘Dummy Piston’.
Balancing – When applied to marine reciprocating marine engine, denotes the arranging of moving parts and adjustable weights so that engine runs smoothly and without undue vibration.
Balancing Band – Band and shackle, on shank of anchor, at such a position that anchor will lie horizontal when lifted by shackle of band. Not at centre of gravity of anchor, as allowance must be made for weight of attached cable.
Balandra – South American coasting vessel, of about 100 tons, having one mast. 2. One-masted vessel, fitted with outrigger, found in China Sea. Name is a form of ‘Bilander’.
Balcony – Alternative name for stern gallery of olden ships. Bale Yawl. Small Manx fishing vessel, with oars and lugsail, used in ‘bale’, or long line fishing.
Baldheaded Schooner – Schooner with no topsail on foremast.
Baldheader – Old nickname for a square rigged vessel that carried no sail above topgallant sails.
Bale – Package of cargo that is wrapped in canvas, hessian, etc. Also old name for bucket, whence ‘baler’.
Bale Capacity – Hold cargo capacity from inside frames or ceiling.
Bale Cargo – Cargo consisting entirely of bales.
Baleen – Whalebone obtained from mouth of true whale.
Baler – Small container for emptying a boat of water.
Bale Sling – Length of rope with its ends spliced together to form a loop strop.
Bale Space – Measurement of a hold based on volume calculated from distance from ceiling to lower edge of beams, distance between inner edges of opposite frames and length.
Balk – A square length of timber substantially dimensioned (e.g.100-300mm)
Ball valve – A valve consisting of a pierced internal sphere that opens/closes flow by rotation to become in line with/opposed to a pipelines input and output flow.
Ballace – Old form of ‘Ballast’.
Ballast– Heavy substances put into a vessel to improve stability or to increase submersion of propeller. 2. To take heavy items into a ship and so to dispose of them, that an increase in stability results.
Ballastage – Toll paid to harbour authority for permission to take ballast from the harbour or port.
Ballast Declaration – Short name for ‘Masters Declaration and Stores Content for Vessels Outward in Ballast’. Is one of the documents rendered to Customs authorities when clearing outwards a vessel with no cargo.
Ballast Ground – Area that ships can discharge solid ballast material.
Ballast Keel – A heavy keel that improves stability.
Ballast tanks – Tanks in a ship deigned to be flooded from the sea to maintain the stability of the ship as fuel and stores are expended.
Ballistic Deflection – The effect on a gyroscope caused by the change of course of the vessel.
Balsa – Extremely light wood from a South American tree. Specific gravity is about 1/7th that of water. 2. Small fishing raft used on coast of South America.
Balsa Raft – ‘Copper Punt’ used in Royal Navy when painting ship’s side in the vicinity of waterline.
Baltic Moor – To anchor to leeward by twin lines to the one anchor placed abeam, hence holding the vessel off a light duty jetty.
Baltic Sea – Expanse of water between Sweden and the mainland south of 59 3/4°N, to about 12 1/2° E, but excluding gulfs of Finland, Riga and Dantzig.
Balza – Alternative form of ‘Balsa’.
Banca – Small dug-out canoe used for fishing in China Sea.
Bandrol – Small swallow-tailed flag, or pendant, flown at masthead as a wind vane or ornament.
Banjo Frame – Vertical frame holding the propeller of early screw-propelled steamers. When proceeding under sail only the banjo frame (and propeller) was hoisted up a well built through the counter until it was clear of the water, thus removing all propeller drag.
Bank – Area of sea bottom that rises rather considerably above surrounding ground.
Banker – Name given to cod fishing vessel on Grand Banks of Newfoundland.
Banking Oars – Properly means putting men to pull the oars, but rarely used in this sense. Generally used as meaning ‘double banking’.
Bank of Oars – Series of manned oars on one side and at one level in a craft propelled by rowing.
Banner Cloud – Lenticular cloud that may appear to be ‘flying’ from top of a high mountain during strong breeze.
Banyan Day – Nowadays, a day on which discipline is relaxed and concessions are made. Originally, a day on which no meat ration was issued. How change of meaning came about is not clear.
Bar – Bank across entrance to a harbour, which acts as a partial breakwater but may cause confused sea with onshore winds. 2. Unit of barometric pressure; equals one megadyne per square centimetre. Equivalent to 29.53 inches of mercury, with temperature of 273°A in Lat. 45°.
Barbarising – Scrubbing a deck with cleansing powder and sand.
Barber-hauler – A line with a block on the end through which a jib sheet is rove, led down to the rail abreast the mast.
Barbette – Fixed armoured rampart around a warship’s heavy guns; inside of which guns were trained, and over which they were fired. Superseded by turret mountings.
Barcarolle – Waterman’s song that keeps time with oars. Originally a song of Venetian gondoliers.
Barcolongo – Spanish name for a long, narrow, undecked vessel that was propelled by oars and, or, sails.
Bareboat – The hire of a vessel without supply of crew, fuel or stores.
Bareboat Charter – A bareboat charter owner leases the ship and manages only its technical and trading operations. See bareboat.
Bareca – Original form of ‘Breaker’ and ‘Barricoe’. Small keg used in a boat for holding drinking water or spirits.
Bare Poles – Masts when no sail is set.
Barge – Large flat-bottomed boat used for the conveyance of goods. Capacity from 50 to 1000 tons. 2. Flat-bottomed sailing craft, carrying about 100 tons, used in narrow seas and inland waters. 3. Fourteen oared, double banked boat used in Royal Navy. 4. Power boat carried for exclusive use of flag officer in Royal Navy. 5. Pleasure boat, or boat of state, fitted for comfort and display.
Barge Pole – Long pole, sometimes fitted with hook, used as a boat-hook, bearing off spar, or quant.
Bark – Poetic word for a ship or boat. Barque.
Barkantine – Barquentine.
Bar Keel – Projecting keel that extends downwards outside plating.
Barnacle – Small marine animal in valved shell. Has lees like curled hair, and a stalk-like body. Attaches itself to underwater surface of hull, thus greatly increasing water friction.
Barnacle Paint – Preparation formerly put on ships’ bottoms in an endeavour to prevent attachment of barnacles and other marine life. Was forerunner of antifouling paints.
Barograph – Self-recording barometer, either mercurial or aneroid. That used at sea is, strictly speaking, an aneroidograph.
Barometer – Instrument for measuring pressure of atmosphere. For use at sea it can be either ‘mercurial’ or ‘aneroid’.
Barometric Light – Luminous glow in vacuum of a barometer when mercury is agitated. Probably due to friction between mercury and glass, or to splashing of mercury, when these occur in a vacuum.
Barometric Tendency – Rate and direction in which barometric pressure changes. Is of utmost importance in weather prediction.
Barotherniograph – Instrument that gives a graphical registration of both pressure and temperature.
Barque – Sailing vessel with three or more masts: fore and aft rigged on aftermast, squared rigged on all others.
Barquentine – Sailing vessel with three or more masts. Square rigged on foremast, fore and aft rigged on all others.
Barracuda – Edible but vicious pike-shaped fish that attacks fishing nets and bathers.
Barratry – Any wrongful act knowingly done by the master or crew of a vessel to the detriment of the owner of either ship or cargo; and which was done without knowledge or consent of owner or owners.
Barre – Old name for tidal bore in river Seine.
Barrel – Wooden cask holding about 36 gallons.
Barrel of Capstan – Main member of capstan; circular in shape to allow hawsers to be passed around for heaving; fitted with poppets, in which capstan bars can be inserted; having pawls that take in a pawl ring around its lower edge.
Barricoe – Small cask often used in boats for storing drinking water. Also called ‘breaker’ or ‘bareca’.
Barrier Ice – ‘Shelf Ice.’
Barrow’s Dip Circle – Instrument used in hydrographic surveying for measuring magnetic dip and total magnetic force at a place.
Bar Shoe – Suspended fitting, across stem of a ship, to take towing wires of a paravane.
Bar Taut – Said of a rope when it is under such tension that it is practically rigid.
Barysphere – Solid mass of iron, and other metals, assumed to exist inside Earth and under lithosphere.
Base – That solid ingredient in a paint that is responsible for its body.
Base Line – A horizontal line used in ship plans, drawn the length of the ship at greatest draught of the keel, from which heights are measured.
Base Metals – Those that do not resist action of acids. All metals except those in gold, silver and platinum groups.
Basin – Artificially enclosed space of water in which ships are placed for loading, discharging or for repairs.
Basking Shark – Sometimes called ‘Sunfish’. Lies motionless on sea surface for fairly long periods. Is about 36 feet long. Although a member of shark family, is not at all ferocious.
Bateau – Name formerly given to a lightly-constructed boat that was relatively narrow for its length. Usually broad at middle length but narrowed quickly towards ends, French origin.
Bathometer – Instrument for measuring oceanic depths.
Bathyal Zone – Between 100 and 500 fathoms below sea surface. Bed is usually mud; perhaps containing organic oozes.
Bathybic – Existing in the depths of the sea.
Bathymetric – Pertaining to oceanic soundings.
Bathymetry – Measurement of deep sea soundings.
Bathysphere – Bathyscaphe. Spherical diving chamber capable of withstanding oceanic pressures at great depths.
Batil – Two-masted sailing craft of China Seas. About 50 feet long and fitted with outrigger.
Batten – Long, narrow, thin strip of wood or metal used for different purposes, particularly for securing hatch tarpaulins. 2. Length of sawn timber from 2 to 4 inches thick and from 5 to 7 inches wide.
Batten Down – To securely cover a hatch with one or more tarpaulins that are secured by hatch battens and wedges.
Battened Sails – Sails stiffened with horizontal battens. The battens help to keep a taut sail when on a wind, and sail may be quickly struck in a squall. Though fairly common in the East they are not often seen in home waters.
Batten Observations – Method of determining amount of roll of a ship by having a sighting hole in centre line of ship, and a vertical graduated batten in same transverse line but near ship’s side. Amount of roll is determined by noting where sea horizon cuts graduated batten.
Battery – A group of guns. All guns on one side of ship. 2. In electricity is two or more cells connected together, either in parallel or in series.
Battledore – Flat metal fitting put athwartships through cable bitts, and projecting on either side, to keep turns of cable from riding.
Battleship. –Heavily armed and armoured warship in which a certain amount of speed is yielded to obtain maximum hitting power and protection. Displacement may approximate 50, 000 tons.
Bauer Wach Turbine – Auxiliary turbine geared to propeller shaft and driven by exhaust steam from triple expansion main engines.
Baulk – Beam. Beam-shaped piece of timber.
Baulk Yawl – Bale yawl.
Bawley – Sailing boat used in lower reaches of Thames for shrimping or whitebait and sprat fishing. Usually cutter rigged with loose-footed mainsail.
Bawse – Old name for a ship’s boat. See ‘Buss’.
Bay – Arm of sea extending into land and with a seaward width that is greater than amount it goes into the land. 2. Compartment, in hold or store, with entrance not less, in width, than depth of the compartment.
Bay Ice – Alternative name for ‘Young Ice’.
Bayou – Long, narrow channel, often marshy, in Louisiana and nearby areas.
Beach – Sandy or shingle shore on which waves break. To beach a ship is to haul, or drive her ashore above high water line.
Beachcomber – Unemployed seaman who frequents the waterfront of ports abroad.
Beach Master – An officer whose duties are to supervise the landing of stores, and the disembarkation of men, on a beach.
Beacon – Erection on land, or in shoal waters, intended as a guide or warning to vessels navigating in sight of it. May be fitted with a light, or lights, or may emit a radio signal. Always carries some distinctive characteristic so that it may be identified.
Beak – Originally, a brass projection from prow of ancient ships, designed to pierce, or hold, an enemy vessel. Later, was a small deck forward of forecastle and supported by knees from stem and forward timbers.
Beak Head – Another name for ‘Beak’.
Beam – Transverse member that goes between opposite frames, or ribs, to support ship’s side against collapsing stresses, and to support a deck. As a dimension, is greatest width of a vessel. As a relative bearing, is a direction at right angles to ship’s fore and aft line.
Beam (of Anchor) – Old name for the shank. Beam Clamp. Clamp fitted to grip bulb of a beam and provide an attachment for block of purchase.
Beam Ends – Vessel said to be ‘on her beam ends’ when she is lying over so much that her deck beams are nearly vertical.
Beam Line – A design line corresponding to the top of the frames.
Beam Plate Angle – A beam made from flat plate bent into an L section.
Beam Fillings – Shifting boards fitted between beams of a hold to prevent movement of surface of a bulk grain cargo.
Beam Hooks – Strong and tested hooks used when lifting hatch beams.
Beam Knee – Member that connects a beam to the frame of a ship. Types in general use are bracket, slabbed, split, turned, welded knees.
Beam Sections – Those used in steel shipbuilding comprise angle, bulb angle, channel bar, T bar, T bar bulbed, built T, bulbed T (or Butterfly) and built girder.
Beam Shelf – In timber vessel construction, a longitudinal stringer that supports the deck beams.
Beam Trawl – Trawl in which mouth of purse is kept open by a beam. Usually fitted with iron trawl heads to keep trawl clear of ground.
Beam Wind – A wind from over the side of a vessel.
Beamwidth – The angular width of a radar beam, horizontal or vertical, the power of which is easured at the half power points.
Bear, Bears, Bearing – Words used to indicate a direction of an object; expressed as a compass direction, or as relative to ship’s for and aft line.
Bear – Short name for constellation Ursa Major, the ‘Great Bear’.
Bear – Heavy scrubber, weighing about 40 Ib., used for cleaning decks. Paunch mat, loaded with holystones, used for same purpose.
Bear a Hand – To assist; to hasten; to work quickly.
Bear Away – To turn away from the wind by putting up the helm. To ‘bear up’.
Bearding – Term used, in wood shipbuilding, for removing wood to modify a curve or line. Bearding of rudder is rounded fore edge that takes in a corresponding recess (also called a ‘bearding’) in stern post.
Bear Down – To approach: to move towards. To move tiller to leeward so that vessel’s head comes to the wind.
Bearers – Short beams going across just above keelson of a wooden ship, or stern sheets of a boat. Also called ‘Flat floor’.
Bearing –Direction in which an object, or position, lies from an observer. Usually defined by the angular measurement between a line from an observer’s position and a datum line passing through that position. Can be a ‘Relative’, ‘True’, or ‘Compass’ bearing.
Bearing Plate – Graduated and ballasted plate by which relative bearings may be taken when it is inconvenient to use compass.
Bearings – Widest part below plank sheer of wooden ship.
Bear Off – To thrust away; to hold off. Order given to bowman of boat when he is required to push boat’s head away from jetty, gangway or other fixture at which boat is alongside. Order given, also, when it is required to thrust away, or hold off, an approaching object.
Bear Up – To put helm to windward, thus turning to leeward. Bear away.
Beating – Sailing close hauled to get to windward on alternate tacks.
Beaufort, Admiral Francis – 19th Century Surveyor and Hydrographer to the British Navy and developer of the wind scale bearing his name.
Beaufort Notation – Code by which weather conditions may be tersely expressed by a combination of letters of alphabet.
Beaufort Wind Scale – Devised by Admiral Beaufort in 1808 to express wind force by use of numbers from 0 to 12. Revised in 1905 by Dr. G. C. Simpson. Further revised in 1926 to express wind speeds.
Becalmed – Said of a sailing vessel when she is unable to make way owing to absence of wind.
Becket – Loop of rope, sennit or wire used for fastening, or for attachment.
Becket Bend – Name sometimes given to ‘Sheet Bend’.
Becket Rowlock – Rope strop, around thole pin, to confine an oar when rowing.
Becueing – Sometimes called ‘Scowing’. Dropping anchor with cable made fast to crown but stopped to ring with medium-strength lashing. In normal circumstances anchor will hold in usual way. Should anchor get foul, extra force used in weighing will break stop at ring, and anchor can then be weighed by crown.
Bed – That on which anything—anchor, engine, etc., rests. Formerly applied to the impression left in the ground by a vessel that has grounded.
Bed of Bowsprit – That part which rests on stem, or in bowsprit hole. Is greatest diameter of bowsprit; outer end diameter being 2/3rds, and inner end diameter being 5/6ths, that of bed.
Bed of Capstan – Trued and strengthened part of deck on which capstan is placed. Also applied to flat steel plate that carries pawl rack.
Bedplate – In general, any plate on which a fitting is bedded. Bedplate of main engines is of cast iron or mild steel. Carries crankshaft and bears engines. Rests on cast iron chocks and is through fastened to tank tops by holding down bolts.
Bedding Compound – Flexible composition to isolate the bottom of a fitting from its deck foundation in order to seal from moisture or corrosion.
Bees Block – Hardwood fitting at head of bowsprit or on a boom. Takes its name from its shape, a capital B.
Bees of Bowsprit – Another name for ‘Bees Blocks’.
Beetle – Heavy wooden mallet.
Before – On the forward side of.
Before the Mast – Said of a man who goes to sea as a rating, and lives forward. Forward of a mast.
Before the Wind – When a sailing vessel has the wind coming from over the stern.
Bel – Radio unit for measuring loss or gain in strength.
Belat – Strong N. N. W. offshore wind prevalent off south coast of Arabia during winter.
Belay – To make fast a rope by turning up with it around a cleat, belaying pin, bollard, etc. Often used by seamen in the sense of arresting, stopping or cancelling; e. g. ‘Belay the last order’.
Belaying Pin – Pin-shaped pieces of wood or metal fitted in a socket and used for belaying ropes.
Belfry – Ornamental mounting for carrying ship’s bell.
Belfast Bow – Name given to raked stem introduced by Harland & Wolff of
Belfast – Allows larger forecastle deck without increasing waterline measurements; provides increased forward buoyancy when pitching.
Bell – Compulsory fitting in all seagoing ships. Must not be less than 12 in. diameter at mouth, and must be so placed that its sound is not obstructed. Frequent and rapid ringing of bell is required of an anchored vessel in fog. Ship’s time is indicated by half-hourly striking of bell.
Bell Suction – A flared end of a liquid cargo pipeline positioned close to the bottom of the tank.
Bellatrix – Star γ Orionis. S. H. A. 279°; Dec. N6°; Mag. 1.7. Name is Latin for ‘Warlike’. Astrologers maintained that star had a martial influence.
Bell Buoy – Buoy carrying bell often rung by action of waves, or wash of passing vessels.
Belleville Boiler – First large water tube boiler to be successful for marine purposes (1901).
Bell Rope – Small rope on tongue of bell for ringing it. 2. Rope on a pump handle to assist in turning it.
Belly – Rounded swell of sail caused by wind and stretching of the canvas.
Belly Band – Extra cloth of canvas in single topsail or course. Fitted below lowest reef points and in line with bowline bridle.
Belly Strap – A sling positioned around the centre of a barrel or ships boat.
Belly Halyard. –Gaff halyard leading through block at middle of gaff to give extra support.
Below – Beneath the deck. Under hatches.
Beluga – Arctic whale that comes as far south as St. Lawrence river, and sometimes ascends it. Has no dorsal fin and is less than 20 feet in length.
Bembridge Type – Cutter-rigged yacht with jib and mainsail. Overall length about 20 ft., beam 6 ft.
Benches – Seats in after part of boat or in cockpit of a yacht. Often called ‘Sheets’.
Bench Mark – Line cut in stone of a permanent erection to indicate a datum level or a distance from datum. British practice uses a line and an indicating small arrow; U. S. A. uses a 3 1/2-in. disc of copper alloy.
Bend – An intertwining of a rope so that it is securely attached to another rope.
Bend Cable – To attach cable to an anchor.
Bending Moment – Force, or sum of forces, that bends or tends to bend any member out of its normal line.
Bending Shackle – Shackle that connects outboard end of cable to anchor.
Bends – Strongest and thickest side strakes of wooden ship. First bend is on water line, second and third bends immediately above it. They are responsible for girder strength of ship and form anchorages for beams, knees and foot hooks.
Bends – Name often given to ‘Diver’s Palsy’ or ‘Caisson Disease’.
Bend Sail – To attach a sail to its appropriate spar. Square sails are bent, by robands, to jackstays on yards. Fore and aft sails are usually laced to gaffs and booms, but may be seized to them.
Bend Test – Applied to rivets. Shank is bent and hammered through 180° while cold, and should show no sign of fracture.
Beneaped – State of a vessel when aground and unable to float at high water because rise of neaping tide is insufficient. Also said of vessel unable to leave harbour or dock for want of sufficient water due to the same cause.
Benetnasch – Star η Ursae Majoris. S. H. A. 154°; Dec. N 50°; Mag. 1.9. Name is Arabic for ‘Mourners’. The four stars of Ursa Major were anciently looked upon as a bier, and the three stars as mourners (benetnasch. Star is now known as Al Kaid, ‘the chief (mourner’).
Bengal Light – Old name for ‘blue light’ pyrotechnic signal.
Benguela Current – Inshore branch of Agulhas Current, setting N’ly from Cape of Good Hope and merging in Equatorial Current.
Bennis Stoker – Mechanical stoker for feeding furnaces of Scotch boilers.
Benson Steam Generator – High pressure boiler in which water is carried in tubes. Can raise steam from cold water in 20 minutes.
Bent Heads – Old name for ribs of boat.
Bentick – See ‘Bentinck’.
Bentinck – Triangular course used as storm sail in American ships. Introduced by Captain Bentinck.
Bentinck Boom – Spar used for stretching foot of foresail in small square rigged vessels.
Bentinck Shroud – Shroud going from masthead to a spreader, or futtock stave, and thence to chains on opposite side of ship.
Bent Timbers – Ribs of a boat.
Berenice’s Hair – See ‘Coma Berenicis’.
Berg – Short form of ‘Iceberg’.
Bergy Bits – Pieces of ice, about the size of a small house, that have broken off a glacier, or from hummocky ice.
Berm – A shelf along the upper edge of the beach thrown up by storm waves.
Bermuda Rig – Yacht in which main feature is a triangular main sail with no gaff. Mast and head of sail are higher than with cutter rig, but centre of effort is somewhat lower. Owing to height of masthead it is usual to fit spreaders to shrouds.
Bernouilli’s Equation – Relates to the motion of any particle of a frictionless fluid, and is considered in study of wave motion. When P is pressure, D density, G gravity, Z depth below a given horizontal plane, and Q resultant velocity, equation is then given as: P/D + Q/2 = GZ + constant .
Berth – Place in which a vessel is moored or secured. Space around a vessel at anchor, and in which she will swing. An allotted accommodation in a ship.
Employment aboard a ship – To berth a vessel is to place her in a desired or required position.
Berth and Space – Alternative form of ‘Room and Space’.
Beset – Said of a vessel when she is entirely surrounded by ice.
Besselian Day Numbers – Quantities given in ‘Nautical Almanac’ for place of a star. They yield necessary corrections for long period precession, nutation and aberration.
Bessel’s Figure of Earth – Equatorial diameter 6, 377, 397 miles; polar diameter 6, 356, 079 miles. Compression 1/299.2.
Best Bower – Name sometimes given to starboard bower anchor, which formerly was slightly larger than port (or ‘small’) bower.
Betelgeuse, -guese, -guex – Star α Orionis. S. H. A. 272°; Dec. N 7°; Mag. 2.1 to 2.6. An enormous star some 24, 000, 000 times size of Sun. Distant 190 light years. Candlepower 1200 times that of Sun.
Between Decks – Between lower and upper decks. In cargo vessels, is space in holds between lower hold and main deck. Also called ‘Tween decks’.
Between Perpendiculars – Distance between fore side of stem and after side of stern post when measured along summer loadline.
Between Wind and Water – That area of a vessel’s outer plating that lies between her waterline when upright and her waterline when heeled away from wind.
Bibis – Small one-masted vessel, fitted with outrigger, used for trading in China Sea.
Bibby Alleyway – A passenger vessel’s passageway that is a cul-de-sac.
Bible – Seaman’s nickname for a large holystone.
Bidhook – A small boathook.
Bifurcated – Forked.
Bight – Indentation in land, forming a gulf or bay. 2. Bent part of rope or hawser that forms a loop. 3. That part of slack rope, sail or canvas, that hangs down between the fastenings or attachments.
Big Topsail – Name given to a square topsail sometimes carried by cutter rigged yachts.
Bilander – Originally was a small coasting vessel (by land-er) of North Sea. Usually had two masts and carried about 100 tons. Name has spread all over the world, and is identical with French ‘belandre’ and Spanish and Portuguese ‘balandra’.
Bilboes – Bar of steel, on which slide steel shackles for confining the ankles of unruly men.
Bilge – Originally ‘bulge’. Rounded part of ship’s underwater body where side curves round towards keel. 2. That part of a cask or barrel where circumference is greatest. 3. The lowest sections inside a vessel’s hull.
Bilge Blocks – Substantial blocks that support a vessel’s bilge when in dry dock.
Bilge Boards – Planks that cover bilges and prevent cargo being damaged by bilge water, or affecting flow of water to pump.
Bilged – Said of a ship when she takes the ground so that her bilges leak.
Bilge Keel – External keel placed along bilge of a steel ship. It assists in stiffening, protects plating from stresses when on ground, reduces rolling at sea. Similar keels are fitted to boats to reduce leeway, to protect bottom planking when on ground and to form hand grips in event of capsizing. All bilge keels cause a reduction in speed.
Bilge Keelson – Internal fitting going intercostally between floors, and along line of bilge, in vessels having no double bottom tanks. Margin plate of tanks fulfils this duty in modem ships.
Bilge Piece – Another name for ‘Bilge Keel’; but sometimes used to denote ‘Bilge Keelson’.
Bilge Planks – Doubling planks put in way of bilges of wooden ships, either externally or internally, to stiffen them.
Bilge Pump – Pump for drawing water from bilges. In modern ships this is operated by steam or electricity. In sailing ships it was worked by hand; in Scandinavian sailing ships it was compulsory to fit a windmill for working pumps.
Bilges – Spaces, between margin plates and ship’s side, into which water drains, and from which it can be pumped.
Bilge Shore – Wooden shore put under bilge of a vessel when in dry dock, or during building.
Bilge Water Alarm – Old fitting that caused a clockwork bell to ring when there was excessive water in bilges. Accumulated water raised a float that released an escapement on bell. Modern alarm is electronic.
Bilgeway – Foundation of the cradle that supports a vessel on the sliding ways during building and launching.
Bill – The point of a fluke on an anchor. A narrow coastal promontory.
Bill, of Anchor – Extreme and more or less pointed end of arm. Projects beyond fluke and assists anchor to bite into the ground.
Billage – Old form of ‘Bilge’.
Billboard – Inclined ledge, either of iron or sheathed with iron, that supported flukes of Admiralty pattern anchors when stowed.
Billet – Piece of steel, in an intermediate state, less than 36 inches sectional area.
Billet Head – Wooden post in bow of whaler, around which the harpoon line runs. 2. Decorative work on stem of a ship with no figure-head.
Bill of Adventure – Signed document issued by a person who states that the goods shipped by him belong to another person who stands by the risk or chance of the adventure. Also, signed document given by master or agent to one who ships goods at his own risk.
Bill of Entry – Document rendered by H. M. Customs by exporters or importers when shipping or unshipping goods. Gives nature, amount, and value of goods and declares port of origin, or destination.
Bill of Health – Medical certificate given to master by Health authorities at a port. States health conditions at that port and health conditions of ship’s personnel. Can be ‘Foul’, ‘Clean’, or ‘Suspected’, according to whether infectious disease exists, does not exist, or may exist.
Bill of Lading – Receipt given by shipmaster, or other representative of owner, to shipper of cargo when received on board. Is not a contract of carriage but should epitomise the conditions under which the goods specified are carried. Bill of Sight Entry at Customs when, owing to insufficient knowledge of goods, a Bill of Entry cannot be made out. Goods are then landed, in presence of Customs Officers, and Bill of Entry prepared.
Bill of Store – Document authorising shipment of dutiable articles as ship’s stores and free of duty.
Bill of Sufferance – Customs authority for a vessel to carry dutiable goods when trading in British waters.
Billow – Large, crested wave. Word is used more by poets than by seamen.
Billy Blue – Nickname given to Admiral Cornwallis (1744-1819) because he usually hoisted the ‘blue peter’ immediately after anchoring.
Billyboy – Small, bluff-bowed sailing vessel of Humber river.
Binary Star – One that appears to be a single star but is actually two stars revolving around a common centre of gravity. Sometimes one is dark star. In all cases the result is that apparent magnitude of star is a variable quantity.
Binnacle – Stand, of wood or metal, in which a compass is suspended and in which lighting and compensating units are carried. Top of binnacle protects compass from sea and weather and, also, reduces glare of lighting.
Binocle – Correct but never used name for binocular glass.
Binoculars – Common name for binocular, or ‘two-eyed’ glasses. A pair of small telescopes connected so that each eye looks through one of them. Those used by seamen are either ‘Prismatic’ or ‘Galilean’.
Bioluminescence – Life forms that emit light.
Bipod Mast – Mast consisting of two members joined at the top, their bases separated in athwartship direction, obviating the need for shrouds.
Bireme – Greek or Roman warship having two banks (or tiers) of oars on each side. Greek equivalent was ‘Dieres’.
Birlin – Large boat, with six or eight oars, anciently used by chieftains of West Hebrides.
Bissextile – Name applied to a leap year, because in the Roman calendar it had ‘two sixth’ days before the calends of March (February 24) instead of an additional day at end of February.
Bite – Anchor is said to bite when it begins to hold in ground.
Bittacle – Old name for binnacle. From Latin ‘habitaculum’ (lodging place), or from French ‘boite d’aiguille’ (box of the needle).
Bitt Compressor – Steel or iron lever with foot hinged near cable bitt, but with a sufficient clearance for cable to pass. By hauling on a tackle at head of compressor the cable is nipped against the bitt, and so held while turns are passed around bitt.
Bitter – Turn of cable passed around a riding bitt.
Bitter End – That part of a cable that is inboard of a riding bitt. It has been suggested that it should be ‘better end’; the inboard part having had less wear than the outboard.
Bitt Head – Upper end of a vertical timber passing through two decks, and well secured at each. Generally used for stoppering, or turning up with, hemp cables.
Bitting Cable – Passing one or two turns of cable around a cable bitt.
Bitt Pin – Steel bar, circular in section, passed fore and aft, through a cable bitt. Together with battledore, which passes transversely, it prevents cable from coming off bitt.
Bitts – Vertical fittings of steel, iron or wood, securely fixed and adequately strengthened for taking ropes that are subject to heavy stresses; e. g. towing hawsers mooring ropes, etc. In sailing ships, they carried sheaves for topsails sheets and other ropes.
Bitt Stopper – Cable stopper that holds outboard cable while inboard part is being turned up around bitt.
Bitumastic Paint – Consist largely of pitch. They have an excellent body, no action on metals; are waterproof, elastic and durable.
Bitumen – Asphalt, tar, pitch and other non-mineral products of coal and coal residues. To a certain extent, may be product of wood distillation.
Blackbirder – Vessel employed in transport of negro slaves from Africa to America, or Pacific Islanders.
Black Book of Admiralty – Vellum folio containing ancient statutes of the Admiralty. Based largely on the ‘Laws of Oleron’, the existing folio was completed in Tudor times, but it contains matter that is certainly as old as 13th century.
Black Down – To paint standing rigging, starting aloft and working downwards.
Black Gang – Stokers, firemen and trimmers in a steamship. Today, they are customs officers searching for contra-bands and smuggle items.
Black Ice – Thin, dark-coloured-ice with no snow on it.
Black Strake – Strake below lower deck gun ports of old warships when they were painted in light colours. This strake was painted with tar and lamp black.
Black Stream – English form of ‘Kuro Siwo’.
Blackbeard – Notoriously evil but unsuccessful 18th century Welsh pirate, Captain Edward Teach.
Blackwall Hitch – Manipulation of a rope for temporarily attaching it to a hook.
Blackwall Ratline – Length of rope seized to foremost shroud of lower rigging, and used to confine running gear.
Bladdy – Scottish word for squally weather accompanied by rain.
Blade Of oar – Broad, flat part that is put vertically in water to form pivot of a lever. 2. Of turbine, small piece of steel, perpendicular to rotor drum, against which steam impinges. 3. Of propeller. One of projections from boss, and shaped as part of a screw thread.
Blake Stopper – Steel chain and slip, secured to anchor deck, for temporarily holding outboard cable. Proof strength is one-third that of cable.
Blanket – To take the wind from a vessel to leeward.
Blare – Paste made of tar and hair. Used for caulking seams of boats.
Blast – Continuous. Prolonged; of six to eight seconds duration. Short; of up to two seconds duration.
Blast Pipe – Steam pipe, with restricted aperture, fitted in funnel to induce or accelerate draught when necessary.
Blazer – This article of men’s wear got its name from H. M. S. Blazer. In 1845 her captain, J. W. Washington, dressed his ship’s company in blue and white striped jerseys.
Bleed or Bleeding – A process of removing air from fluid lines or pipes.
Bleed a Buoy – To make a hole in it and drain it of water.
Bleed the Monkey – Surreptitiously to remove spirit from a keg or cask by making a small hole and sucking through a straw.
Bleeders – Draining plug holes for a vessel when slipped.
Blind Arc – An area totally shielded from radar transmissions by part of the ship’s structure.
Blind Bucklers – Hawse hole stoppers that completely close the holes; cable having been removed.
Blink – Pale yellow gleam in sky caused by light being reflected on cloud by ice. Rarely produced by bergs unless they are flat topped.
Blister – Compartment built on outside of ship’s underwater body to minimise effect of torpedo on hull plating.
Blister Ship – Any ship fitted with blisters.
Blizzard – Strong wind accompanied with low temperature and snow.
Block – Grooved sheave working in a frame or shell. Used to alter direction of a rope or chain, or to gain a mechanical advantage by reeving a purchase. Types vary largely, to suit different purposes. They are classified by their special peculiarities. These are: number of sheaves, number of scores, nature of stropping, nature and size of shell, etc. Wooden types are:Common (taking a rope one-third their size). Clump (taking a rope half their size) and snatch blocks. Sailing vessels may carry Sister, Fiddle, Fly, Tye, Furniture and other blocks. Parts of block are: shell, sheave, strop, score, swallow, choke and pin. Loss of effort when using blocks is from one-tenth to one-eighth for each sheave used.
Blockade – War operation to prevent approach to, or departure from, an enemy’s territory or coast, of all shipping and commerce.
Block and Block – ‘Two blocks.’
Block Coefficient – Ratio that the immersed volume of a vessel bears to the product of her immersed length, breadth and draught. Also termed ‘coefficient of fineness’.
Blood and Guts – Name sometimes given to Union Jack.
Blood Money – Bonus sometimes paid—usually to a keeper of a seaman’s boarding house—for finding a seaman to fill a vacancy in crew.
Bloom – Piece of steel, in an intermediate state, having a sectional area of more than 36 inches. 2. An iridescent coating on iron or steel, usually known as ‘Mill Scale’.
Blooper, Big Boy or Shooter – A very light large sail used in a yacht.
Blow – Gale of short duration. 2. Spouting of a whale.
Blow-by – Escape of gasses past the piston rings or valves during an engines work cycle.
Blower – A fan for compartment ventilation or engine aspiration purposes.
Blubber – Thick coating of fat directly under skin of whales.
Blubber Gay – Strong triatic stay on old whalers. Tackles were made fast to it when removing blubber from whales alongside.
Blubber Spade – Spadelike knife, with staff handle, used for cutting blubber from whales.
Blue Back – Chart produced by private firm and mounted on stiff blue paper. Although based on Admiralty and other surveys they embody additions, omissions and alterations that are intended to be helpful to those for whom they are produced. Introduced by Imray, Laurie, None & Wilson, London.
Blue End – Of magnet is south-seeking end.
Blue Ensign – Blue flag with Union flag in upper canton. May be worn by merchant vessels, under warrant from Admiralty, when stated conditions have been fulfilled, and some yacht clubs.
Blue Funnel – Nickname given to line of ships owned by Alfred Holt & Co., of Liverpool, whose funnels are of this colour.
Blue Jacket – Seaman of Royal Navy. Often used to include other ratings who wear a somewhat similar uniform.
Blue Light – Pyrotechnic flare used as signal for pilot, and for some other purposes.
Blue Magnetism – Magnetism that is of same polarity as North Pole of Earth. It is, therefore, south seeking.
Bluenose – Name applied to a Nova Scotian vessel or seaman.
Blue Peter – ‘P’ flag of international Code of Signals. Hoisted singly, its significations is that vessel hoisting it is about to sail, and that all persons concerned are to repair on board.
Blue Pigeon – Name sometimes given to the hand lead. Name is also given to ‘A Handy Book for Shipowners and Masters’, on account of colour of its binding.
Blue Pole – That end of a magnet that has same polarity as Earth’s north magnetic pole. It is usual to make an arbitary assumption that lines of magnetic force enter at blue pole.
Bluff – Large, high, steep cliff that projects into the sea.
Bluff Bowed – Said of a vessel with broad bow and rather obtuse entry.
Bluff Headed – ‘Bluff bowed.’
Blunt-Headed Cachalot – The sperm whale.
Board – Track of a sailing vessel between one tack and the next. 2. To go on or into a ship. 3. To forcibly enter a ship after beating down the defence. 4. Sometimes used as meaning the side of a ship.
Board and Board – Said of two ships that are close alongside each other. Sometimes used as meaning ‘Tack and alternate tack’.
Board a Tack – To haul on a tack so that it is nearly two blocks.
Boarders – Men detailed for boarding an enemy vessel.
Boarding – Going on board a ship either peaceably or forcibly. Boarding Nets. Rope netting formerly placed to deter boarders.
Boarding Pike – Spear, about 6 ft. long, formerly used both by boarders and defenders against boarders.
Boards – Sawn timber less than 2 1/2- in. thick and more than 4 in. wide.
Boat – Small craft not normally suitable for sea passages but useful in sheltered waters and for short passages. Often used with an adjectival noun, lifeboat, ships boat for example.
Boat Boom – Spar projecting from ship’s side, when in harbour, and fitted with lizards and ladders for securing boats and for manning them.
Boat Drill – Statutory mustering at lifeboat stations so that all on board are fully aware of their duties and stations in the event of emergencies that require the use of boats.
Boat Flag – Small flag for use in a boat.
Boat Hook – Long wooden shaft with hook at one end. Used in a boat to extend reach of bowman or stern sheet man, and for fending off.
Boat Lead and Line – Small lead, about 7 Ib., with five or six fathoms of small line attached. Marked in same manner as hand lead—but in feet instead of fathoms.
Boat Note – Note given to Mate, for a parcel of cargo brought alongside in a boat, barge or lighter. Is acknowledgement that this has been put alongside. When cargo is on board and the note is signed it becomes a Mates receipt.
Boat Your Oars – To place the oars fore and aft in boat after ‘rowing’.
Boat Pulling – Seaman’s term for ‘rowing’.
Boat Rope – Led from forward in a ship to a boat riding alongside, to hold it fore and aft against sea, wind and tide. Secured in sea boat to prevent boat broaching if foremost fall is released before after fall.
Boat’s Badge – Distinctive badge or emblem on bows of naval boats, to distinguish boats of any one ship from similar boats of other ships.
Boat Skids – Transverse pieces of hard wood, on which a boat may rest when stowed inboard.
Boats Recall – Signal flag, or flags, hoisted by a ship to recall a particular boat or boats.
Boat-falls – Blocks and tackle for hoisting a boat onto its davits.
Boatswain – The oldest rank of officer in shipping. Originally was the husband and master. In R. N. is a commissioned officer who, with other duties, is responsible for rigging of a ship and for the upkeep of it. In M. N., is a trustworthy and experienced petty officer who is foreman of the seamen.
Boatswain’s Call – Small whistle, of unusual shape, that is used in R. N. to enjoin silence while an order is given; or to give an order. Has two notes, high and low, both of which can be ‘trilled’. Most orders have a conventional ‘call’. Parts are: Gun (pipe), Buoy (barrel or spherical chamber at end of gun), Orifice (hole in buoy). Keel (flat stifiener attached to gun and buoy). Shackle (ring in keel for attachment to chain).
Boatswain’s Chair or Bosun’ Chair – Flat piece of wood with two holes in each end through which a strop is rove. An eye is seized to the strop for the attachment to a gantline. It may have been any handy seat for hoisting a man aloft but it is now subject to the Code of Safe Working Practices.
Boatswain’s Mate – Assistant to a boatswain. In R. N. is a petty officer whose duties are to repeat all orders and ‘pipes’, and to assist the officer of the watch.
Boatswain’s Pipe – Name erroneously given to ‘Boatswain’s Call’.
Boatswain’s Plait – Intertwining three strands of rope by using one as a heart and plaiting and hitching the other two around it.
Boatswain’s Pride – Slight forward rake of a mast.
Bobstay – Rope or chain that stays a bowsprit downward. Lower end is secured to stem.
Bobstay Fall – Hauling part of bobstay purchase.
Bobstay Holes – Holes in stem to take lower end of bobstay.
Bobstay Purchase – Tackle in upper end of bobstay, for setting it up; fall leading inboard along bowsprit.
Bode’s Law – Is not a law, but a remarkable coincidence. Writing 0, 3, 6, 12, and so on, and then adding 4 to each of the numbers we have a close approximation of relative distances planets are from Sun. Inserting a decimal point, we get approximate distances in ‘astronomical units’. Neptune, however, does not conform.
Body Hoops – Bands around a built mast.
Body Plan – Drawing that shows end elevation of a vessel, either forward or aft, with water line, buttock lines, diagonals, etc.
Body Post – Forward part of stern frame, carrying end of tail shaft.
Boiler – Generator in which water is heated and converted into steam. Two main types used by ships are Scotch and water-tube boilers.
Boiler Casing – A partition that insulates the heat of a boiler.
Boiler Mountings – Fittings on a boiler that are necessary for its efficient working. Include safety valve and its easing gear, water gauge, test cocks, pressure gauges, main and auxiliary stop valves, feed check valves, scum cock or valve, blow down valve, whistle valve, salinometer cock, etc.
Boiler Scale – Deposit that forms on inside of boiler, particularly on heating surfaces of furnaces and tubes. Its action is to obstruct transmission of heat to water, so causing a rise in fuel consumption, and to increase density of water. Scale is mainly sulphate of lime with smaller quantities of chalk and chloride of magnesia.
Bolide – Large meteor, particularly one that explodes.
Bolinder Engine – Two-stroke semi-Diesel type that requires a hot bulb to expedite vaporisation of fuel, but does not require air for fuel injection.
Bollard – Large and firmly secured post of circular section and used for securing hawsers, mooring ropes ashore. Also rotating post in bow of whale-boat. Used for taking a turn with harpoon line.
Bollard pull – The rated force that a tug boat can apply to a tow line.
Bollard Timber – Alternative name for ‘Knight head’.
Bollocks – Blocks in bunt of topsail yards of large ships. Topsail ties are rove through them to increase lifting power.
Bolometer – Instrument for measuring amount of radiant energy by measuring difference of resistance to electrical current when a fine wire is exposed to the radiation.
Bolster plate – A doubling protective plating around the entry of the hawse pipe.
Bolsters – Shaped pieces of timber, sometimes canvas, placed in hawse pipe, on mast, or other position, to take chafe off a moving rope.
Bolt – Length of canvas as supplied. About 39 to 40 yards.
Boltrope – Special type of long thread rope sewn around edges of sail to strengthen it and to carry cringles and thimbles. Stitched on after side of square sails, and on port side of fore and aft sails.
Boltsprit – Old name for ‘Bowsprit’.
Bolt Strake – That timber of a wooden ship, through which the bolts fastening the beams were passed.
Bombard – Olden pieces of ordnance, of large calibre, that threw bombs up to about 300 Ib.
Bomb Ketch – Small vessel with specially strengthened beams for carrying a bombardment mortar.
Bomb Vessel – Strongly-built vessel that carried a heavy gun for bombardment purposes.
Bonaventure Mizzen – The fourth mast carrying a lateen sail. (16th century).
Bond Note – Written authority to remove goods in bond from a bonded store; either for export or for transference to another store.
Bonding conductor – A normally non-current-carrying conductor used to connect the non current-carrying metal parts of a boat and the non-current-carrying parts of the direct current devices on the boat to the boat’s common ground point for purposes of reducing hazards of stray-current corrosion, lightning and accumulated static, and to reduce radio noise.
Bonded Goods – Those held in a bonded warehouse pending payment of Customs charges.
Bonded Store – Bonded warehouse.
Bonded Warehouse – Building in which dutiable goods are stored until they are required, and duty is paid. Owner gives a bond to Customs authorities for payment of duty when goods are withdrawn.
Bonds – Items attracting customs and excise taxation that must be imported through a bond port (first port of call) and may be stored in a bonded warehouse.
Bonding – The electrical joining of all significant metals components on a boat.
Bone – Foam at stem of a vessel underway. When this is unusually noticeable she is said to ‘have a bone in her teeth’.
Bongrace – Matting made of old rope and used for protecting outside of vessel when working amongst ice.
Bonito – Fish of mackerel family, found in Mediterranean. Is great enemy of flying fish.
Bonnet – Extension of a sail, that is laced along the foot of sail.
Booby Hatch – Sliding cover that has to be pushed away to allow passage to or from a store room, cabin of small craft, or crew’s quarters. 2. An entry into a cargo hatch for personnel.
Boom – Spar for extending foot of sail; usually for fore and aft sails—but studding sails were sheeted to booms. 2. Floating and moored obstruction placed across a navigable channel to prevent passage of enemy vessels, and to detain them while under fire. 3. A derrick boom. 4. Dhow largely used in Persian Gulf. Double ended, straight stem, steered by a yoke, plank bowsprit.
Boom Cradle – Block having a semi-circular recess for end of boom to rest in.
Boom Crotch – Vertical support for a boom when not in use.
Boom Foresail or Foregaff – Sail on after side of schooner’s foremast, and having a gaff and boom. It is, actually, the foresail, but is given the name to differentiate it from the forestaysail — which is often called the ‘foresail’.
Boom Guy – After guy of a spinaker or studdingsail boom.
Boom Irons – Flat, circular fittings at quarters and ends of yards of square rigged ships that carry studdingsail booms.
Boom Jigger – Tackle used for rigging out a studdingsail boom.
Boomkin – Small boom projecting from ship’s side to give more spread to sail. Rigged forward, it takes fore tack; further aft, it takes standing part of main tack; right aft, takes tack of main trysail.
Booms – Spar deck between fore and main masts; on which spare booms, spars and boats are stowed.
Boom Square Sail – Name given to fore course in some old ships when foot of sail was extended on a boom—to facilitate getting it over fore stay when tacking. The Bentinck boom was a particular example.
Boom Stays – Attachments of boom to mast, together with fittings that keep heel of boom in its correct place.
Bootes – (Greek = Ploughman) Constellation in approx. R. A. 14 h; Dec. 20°N. Has one bright star, Arcturus.
Booti – Small coastal dhow of 20 to 40 tons. Has mat bulwarks. Undecked.
Bootlegging – Carrying intoxicating liquors up to, sometimes into, territorial waters of U. S.A. during period when prohibition was in force (1920-33).
Boot Top – Ship’s side plating between light and load water lines.
Boot Topping – Paint or composition used for protection or preservation of boot top. In 18th century meant scraping ship’s side in way of water line and then coating this area with a compound of resin, sulphur and tallow as a protection against worm and weed.
Bora – NE’ly winter wind in Adriatic Sea, often dangerous because it arrives without warning.
Bordage – Planking on sides of wooden ship.
Borda’s Circle – Repeating reflecting circle for measuring horizontal angles with great precision.
Bore – Steep tidal wave that develops in certain rivers and passes up in advance of normal tide undulation. Caused by narrowing of channel and decrease in depth. Occurs in Severn, Seine, Trent, Ganges and other rivers.
Boreas – Greek name for North wind.
Boring – Forcing a vessel through newly-formed ice.
Borrowing – Setting a course that may appear to be unsafe but will be safe
through action of wind and/or current.
Bos’n – Bosun or Boatswain.
Bosom Piece – Short length of angle iron inside a butted joint of angle iron. Usually extends for at least three rivets spaces on either side of butt.
Boson – Old spelling of ‘Boatswain’.
Boss (Propeller) – That part in which blades are fixed, and through which the end of shaft passes.
Bosun’s Locker – A store for repair materials for hull, sails and rigging.
Bosun’s Pipe – An ancient palm held tin whistle used for signalling orders aboard ship, consisting of a flat plate (keel) supporting a bent pipe (gun), terminating with a blow hole (orifice) at a hollow sounding sphere (buoy). Still used in the Navy to pipe dignitaries aboard a ship.
Better – Dutch coasting craft with one mast, jib and staysail and a mainsail with short gaff. Usually double ended and with lee boards.
Bottle Screw – Left hand and right hand threaded screws led into outer ends of a shroud or ‘bottle’. Has largely superseded dead-eyes and lanyards for setting up rigging.
Bottom – Name sometimes given to hull of a ship.
Bottom Boards – Light boards fitted in bottom of boat to keep all weights off bottom planking, and on frames and timbers. Keep crew’s feet dry if any water in boat.
Bottom End Bearing – Crank pin bearing, over which connecting rod of reciprocating engine is fitted.
Bottom Plating – That part of a ship’s shell plating lying between the bilge and the keel plate.
Bottom shape – As it affects performance in a planing boat. Maximum speed will be achieved when the bottom of the boat that forms the planing surface is flat. When the planing surface is a vee, the boat will have a softer ride but less potential speed, and will take longer to come up on a plane. A “flat bottom” makes a better “drag” boat; a deep “V” will be a better rough water boat.
Bottomry – Pledging a ship or the freight she earns to raise money necessary to complete voyage. Repayment is contingent on safe arrival of vessel. Name was given, originally, to ‘Marine Insurance’.
Bottomry Bond Legal document given to one who advanced money on bottomry. Guarantees repayment on safe arrival at destination.
Bouguer’s Log – Invented by French scientist in 1747. Log ship consisted of a wood cone with a ballasting weight on a 50-ft. line, to prevent wind effect on cone.
Boulene – Old spelling of ‘Bowline’.
Boulter – Fishing line consisting of long pieces of tarred rope fitted with hooks at fathom intervals, and sinkers near each hook.
Bound – Proceeding in a specified direction, or to a specified place.
Boundary Cooling – The process of cooling down the area near the fire to stop its spread.
Bounding Bar – A steel bar connecting a bulkhead edge to a tank top.
Bourdon Gauge – Instrument for measuring pressure of steam by means of a curved piece of flattened bronze tubing, the end of which is sealed. When steam is admitted at open end the tube tends to straighten, thus moving sealed end. Appropriate gearing causes amount of movement to indicate corresponding pressure.
Bouse – To heave, or haul, downwards on a rope. Originally, and strictly, heave meant an upward pull, haul meant a horizontal pull, bouse meant a downward pull: but these distinctions have not survived.
Bow – That part of a ship’s side that extends aft and downwards from stem. 2. Direction between right ahead and 45° from it. 3. Bow of shackle is the rounded part opposite the jaw.
Bow Chaser – Gun mounted forward for firing at a pursued ship.
Bow Door – Door at the vessel’s bow to facilitate the loading/unloading of vehicles.
Bower Anchor – Principal anchor; carried forward and attached to a bower cable. Stowed in hawse pipe or on anchor bed.
Bower Cable – Cable attached to a bower anchor.
Bow Fast – Rope laid out from bow of vessel to a bollard or other fixure, on quay or wharf, for mooring.
Bowl – Hemispherical container of compass card.
Bowline – Rope leading from deck to leeches of topsails and courses when on a wind; weather bowlines being hauled taut to stop leeches from shivering. 2. Secure and quickly made loop that was put in end of bowline for attachment to bridle, and in bridles for attachment to bowline cringles. This very useful loop is used for numerous purposes in everyday work, and is particularly valuable for giving security to a man working with insecure foothold, or over the side.
Bowline Bridle – Rope stretched between two bowline cringles in leech of a square sail. Bowline rides on this bridle.
Bowline Cringles – Cringles fitted into leeches of square sail to take ends of bowline bridle. They had no thimble.
Bowline on a Bight – Bowline made with rope doubled and so made that two loops are formed. Gives increased safety to man working aloft or over side, one loop being under his arms, man sitting in other loop.
Bow Locker – Compartment just abaft stem. Usually contains boatswain’s gear that is in frequent use.
Bowman – In a pulling boat, is man who pulls a bow oar. In all boats he is responsible for working forward boat hook and for such other duties necessary at the bows.
Bow Oar – Foremost oar in a pulling boat. The bowman.
Bow Painter – Boat’s painter.
Bow Rudder – Additional rudder fitted at stem of certain vessels, ferries, etc., that work in restricted waters in which there is not always room to turn round.
‘Bows’ – Order given in a pulling boat when approaching ship’s gangway or landing place. Bowman boats his oar and stands by with boat hook.
Bowse – To pull downward on a rope or fall.
Bow Shackle – See Harp shackle.
Bow Sheets – Flooring in fore part of boat. Head sheets.
Bowsprit – Spar projecting over stem, on which it rests. Outer end is stayed down to stem by bobstay; inner end is secured by gammoning. In sailing ships is often prolonged with a jib boom and flying jib boom.
Bowsprit Cap – Vertical fitting at forward end of bowsprit to take heel of jib boom, jib boom footropes, heel chain and heel ropes of jib boom.
Bowsprit Collars – Strops or bands round bowsprit to take bobstay, bobstay shrouds and stays.
Bowsprit Shrouds – Ropes or chains extending from outer end of bowsprit to ship’s bows on either side. Give lateral support to bowsprit.
Bow Stopper – Short length of strong cable-laid rope with stopper knot in foremost end. Formerly used for holding hemp cables— to which it was lashed—while bitting or unbitting. Name is now given, by Merchant Navy, to a cable controller.
Bow Thruster – A controlable pitch propeller placed in an athwartship tunnel in the fore part of a ship open to the sea, which gives a transverse thrust to assist a ship when berthing or manoeuvring at slow speed.
Box Hauling – Wearing a sailing ship on her heel. Only done when there is no room to wear and ship misses stays while trying to tack. Headsails are thrown aback, and helm put down as ship gathers steraway.
Boxing the Compass – Reciting the points, or quarter points, of the compass in correct order, and starting at any named point.
Box Off – To pay off ship’s head from wind by flattening in head sails and bracing head yards close up. Done when ship has been brought too close to wind by bad steering, or if wind has shifted ahead.
Box Ventilator – Temporary wooden ventilator inserted in cargo, particularly rice, to ensure through ventilation. Usually square in section. Longitudinal sides may be solid planking or skeleton battens, depending on nature of cargo.
Boxwood Scale – Specially graduated scale for converting measurement of unchanged coating of a Kelvin sounding tube into fathoms of depth.
Boyer – Flemish sloop having superstructure, or ‘castle’ at each end. Used for buoy laying.
Boyle’s Law – The volume of a perfect gas, at constant temperature, varies inversely as the pressure on it. This law is fundamental in engineering and other branches, and is the fundamental principle of the Kelvin, and similar, sounders.
Brace – Rope or tackle by which a yard is adjusted in the horizontal plane.
Brace Aback – To adjust a yard so that wind comes on fore side of sail.
Brace In – To adjust a yard by bracing so that it becomes more athwartships.
Brace of Shakes – Very short interval of time. (Etymology very dubious.)
Brace Pendant – Pendant, from yard arm, through which a brace is rove.
Braces – Gudgeons of a rudder.
Brace To – Adjust a yard so that sail becomes a little aback. Done when tacking or wearing.
Brace Up – To adjust a yard so that it becomes less athwartships.
Bracket Frame – Floor or frame in which frame and reverse frame are stiffened by plates (brackets).
Bracket Knee – More or less triangular plate secured to beam and frame to unite them, and to preserve the angle.
Bracketless System – Introduced by Sir Joseph Isherwood to dispense with brackets at end of longitudinal and bulkhead stiffeners. Loss is made good by increasing scantlings of girders.
Bracket Plate – Iron or steel plate secured with its plane perpendicular to another plate which it supports and stiffens.
Brackets –. Ornamental work. See ‘Hair Bracket’, ‘Console Bracket’.
Brackish Water – Fresh water mixed with sea water.
Bragozzi – Small fishing vessels of the Adriatic.
Brahmin Knot – Triangle knot.
Brailed Up – Said of spanker, gaffsail or trysail when it is gathered into mast by hauling on brails.
Brails – Ropes used for gathering a spanker, trysail or gaffsail into mast. Led through block on one side of mast, round sail and through block on other side of mast; being seized, at bight, on leech of sail.
Brake Horsepower (BHP) – A unit of power, numerically equivalent to a rate of 33,000 foot pounds of work per minute.
Brash – Ice broken into pieces, about 6 ft. in diameter and projecting very little above sea level.
Bratsera – Ubiquitous trader in the Aegean Sea carrying 50 to 150 tons of cargo. Originally a two-masted lugger.
Brave West Winds – Prevalent west winds in temperate latitudes.
Brazil Current – Southern branch of Equatorial Current. Sets S’ly from off Cape San Roque to approximately latitude of River Plate; there merging into ‘Southern Ocean Drift’.
Breach – Said of waves that break over a vessel.
Breadth – Of a flag, is measure of its vertical side. Also used to denote number of widths of bunting used; width of bunting being 18 inches, a five breadth flag would measure 7 ft. 6 in. vertically.
Breadth Extreme (BE) – This is the maximum breadth including all side plating, straps, etc.
Breadth Line – Longitudinal line of a ship, following the upper ends of timbers of frames.
Breadth Moulded (B) – This is the maximum beam, or breadth, of the ship measured inside the inner shell strakes of plating, and usually occurs amidships.
Break – Of forecastle or poop, is the midship end of the raised deck. 2. A wave is said to break when it curls over and foams. ‘
Break Bulk – To commence to discharge cargo. Loose itemized units of cargo.
Breaker – Small cask used for bringing off water in boats. Also used for carrying provisions in a boat. Anglicised form of Spanish ‘Bareca’. 2. Wave with broken or breaking crest.
Break Ground – To heave anchor out of ground. Term had a special meaning when sailing on Sunday was considered unlucky. If possible, ship broke ground on Saturday, moved a few yards and then re-anchored: voyage could then be considered as starting on Saturday. This subterfuge was known as
Breaking (a Flag) – Hoisting a flag that has been rolled up and secured by a bow knot in its halliard, and then freeing the flag by jerking on its downhaul. It is conventionally wrong to break a ship’s national ensign.
Break Out – To release something out of stowage.
Break Sheer – Said of a vessel at anchor when, due to action of wind or tide, she brings wind or tide on the opposite bow.
Breakers – Waves that collapse creating white water, often along the shoreline.
Breaking Sea – As above but at sea, also called white horses.
Breakwater – Construction, usually of masonry, erected on a seabed and extending above sea level. Intended to protect a harbour, anchorage or other area from effect of sea waves. Word is used, also, to denote any structure that defends against a free flow of water. 2. Strong construction athwart a ships foredeck to prevent seas sweeping down the deck.
Breaming – Removing fouling from a ship’s bottom by burning.
Breast – Mooring line leading approximately perpendicular to ship’s fore and aft line. To breast a sea is to point a ship’s bows in the direction from which the sea comes.
Breast Anchor – Anchor laid out from forward or aft, in direction at right angles to ship’s fore and aft line.
Breast Backstay – Royal or topgallant mast backstay that was set up, on either side, with tackles that could be slacked off when yard was braced sharp. Often called ‘shifting backstay’.
Breast Band – Name sometimes given to breast rope of leadsman’s chains.
Breast Gasket – One of the gaskets used for securing bunt of sail.
Breast Hooks – Horizontal plates in fore end of vessel. Are secured to ends of stringers, and thus hold two sides together and preserve the bow form. In wooden vessels, are horizontal knees fulfilling the same functions.
Breast Knees – ‘Breast Hooks.’
Breast Off – To move a vessel away from a wharf or jetty by forcing her sideways from it, either by warps or bearing off spars.
Breast Plate – Horizontal plate that connects the upward extensions of the side plating at the stem.
Breast Rail – Upper rail at fore end of poop.
Breast Rope – Mooring rope, leading from bow or quarter, at about right angles to ship’s fore and aft line. 2. Sennit band at top of apron of leadsman’s chains, against which leadsman leans when heaving lead. 3. Formerly, ropes attaching parrels to yards, and so confining yards to mast.
Breastwork – Stanchions and rails at fore end of poop and after end of forecastle in old ships; and, athwart upper deck of ships with no poop—to indicate forward limit of quarter deck.
Breech – Outside angle of a knee timber. 2. The rear end of a gun.
Breeches Buoy – Life-buoy fitted with canvas breeches on inner circumference and used, with rocket apparatus, for hauling ashore people in a vessel wrecked near the shore.
Breechings – Back ropes or backstays. 2. Ropes by which guns were hauled out before firing and which limited their recoil on firing.
Breeze – Wind of moderate strength. Usually convectional.
Brest Beam – The beam nearest to midships of the poop and forecastle deck.
Brereton’s Log Scale – For timber measurement. Gives actual or solid contents of a log in ‘board feet’. Is based on mean diameter of log. Invented by Bernard Brereton of Seattle, Washington..
Brickfielder – Hot N’ly wind in Australia during summer.
Bridge – Superstructure, on upper deck, having a clear view forward and on either side, and from which a ship is conned and navigated. 2. In boiler furnace, is an arch of firebricks built at combustion chamber end of furnace.
Bridge House – An upper deck superstructure of officer’s accommodation and staterooms..
Bridge Rectifier – An arrangement of diodes (electrical one way valves) that rectify DC current to AC current, often positioned within a heat sink casing to limit excessive temperature build up.
Bridge wing – Port and starboard extensions to the bridge, allowing improved side and rear sightlines, often installed with duplicate controls used for berthing and close manoeuvres.
Bridle – In general, any fairly short length of rope secured at both ends. In particular, length of rope used as ‘bowline bridle’.
Bridle Cable – Length of cable led from ship to middle of another length of cable that is anchored at each end.
Bridle Part – That part of cable that extends from hawse pipe to anchor when anchor is stowed outboard.
Bridle Port – Port, in bow, in which a bow chaser gun was mounted but which was used, also, for a bow fast or mooring bridle.
Brig – Vessel with two masts and square rigged on both of them.
Brigantine – Originally, a ship of brigands, or pirates. Up to end of 19th century was a two-masted vessel square rigged on foremast and main topmast, but with fore and aft mainsail. Latterly, a two-masted vessel with foremast square rigged, and mainmast fore and aft rigged.
Brightwork – Varnished woodwork and/or polished metal.
Briming – Fisherman’s name for phosphorescence of sea.
Brine – Non-freezing liquid made by dissolving calcium chloride in water—40 oz. per gallon—for refrigerating purposes.
Bring To – Stop way of ship. Bring ship’s head to wind. Bring ship to an anchor.
Bring Up – To bring ship’s head to the wind. To come to anchor.
Bristol Fashion – Good and seamanlike appearance. Precisely correct.
British Corporation – Former classification society that was founded to classify ships built on lines that
British Summer Time – Greenwich Mean Time plus one hour.
British Thermal Unit – Amount of heat necessary to raise temperature of one pound of fresh water from 62°F to 63°F. Equals 252 calories.
Broach – To turn a ship to windward.* 2. To pilfer or steal cargo. 3. To make a hole in a cask or barrel, generally with unlawful intent.
Broach To – Said of a ship under sail when she turns toward wind while running free, possibly putting all sails aback.
Broad Fourteens – Sea area off N. E. coast of Holland, having an almost uniform depth of about fourteen fathoms.
Broad on the Bow – Bearing of an object when 45° or more from right ahead, but before the beam.
Broad Pennant – Swallow tailed, tapering burgee, white with a red St. . George’s cross, flown by a British warship carrying a Commodore or the senior officer of a squadron when not of flag rank. May have a red ball in inner upper canton.
Broadside – Side of a ship as distinguished from bows and stern. 2. Salvo from all guns on one side of a warship.
Broken Backed – Said of a vessel excessively hogged.
Broken Stowage – Space, amongst the cargo in a hold, that it is impossible to fill on account of it being too small to take a unit of the cargo loaded. It might however be filled by breaking the units into individual items.
Broken Water – Turbulent and rough sea.
Broker – An intermediary between two principals. Insurance broker arranges insurance between a shipowner and underwriter. Ship-broker acts between shipowner and shipper or charterer.
Brokerage – Fee charged by a broker for his services.
Brook – Small stream.
Broom at Masthead – Traditional sign that a vessel is for sale. Rarely seen nowadays.
Brought by the Lee – Said of a vessel when running under sail and wind comes on the other quarter.
Brought To – Said of a rope or cable when it is brought to a capstan, windlass or a winch, and turns are taken for heaving.
Brought Up – Said of a ship when she rides to her anchor after dropping it. Also said when a vessel is under sail and the wind suddenly comes ahead and stops her way.
Brought up all standing – Said of a vessel under way when her sails are put aback by a sudden shifting of the wind. Used colloquially to mean ‘astounded’ or ‘flabbergasted’.
Brow – Substantial gangway used to connect ship with shore when in a dock or alongside a wharf.
Brown Boveri Turbine – Low-pressure exhaust turbine geared to propeller shaft of reciprocating engine. Reverses when going astern, and is then fed with live steam.
Brown Curtis Turbine – Impulse turbine of Curtis type and compounded for velocity.
Brown Gyro Compass – British made gyro compass with several novel features. See ‘Gyro Compass’.
Bubble Sextant – Sextant fitted with an attachment carrying a very sensitive bubble that indicates the horizontal. By use of this instrument sights can be taken when horizon is indistinct or invisible.
Buccaneer – Literally means ‘a smoker of meat or fish’. Name was given to privateers who traded with the New World, in defiance of Spain, between about 1524 and 1700.
Bucklers – Shaped blocks of wood inserted in hawse holes to prevent the entry of sea.
Bucko – A bullying and tyrannical officer.
Budgee Jack – Flag worn at spritsail topmast by British privateers of 17th and early 18th centuries. Consisted of Union flag with red border on outer and lower sides.
Budget – Flat vertical plate under after swim of Thames dumb barges: practically a fixed rudder.
Buffer – Spring unit inserted in rudder chains to absorb sudden shocks. 2. R. N. nickname for a Chief Boatswain’s Mate.
Buggalow – East Indian coasting vessel having one mast and lateen sail. Has navigated from Gulf of Cutch since time of Alexander the Great.
Building Slip – Sloping erection, in shipbuilder’s yard, on which ships are built.
Built Block – Wood pulley block with shell made of more than one piece of wood. Also called ‘Made block’.
Built Mast – Mast made from more than one tree or timber.
Bulb and Plate Keel – Vertical plate with additional weight distributed along lower edge. Gives additional stability to broad, shallow draught sailing craft.
Bulb Angle – Angle bar having one edge bulbed.
Bulb Lead Keel – Forerunner of ‘Bulb and Plate’ keel. Introduced in yachts by Bentall in 1880.
Bulbous Bow – Bows constructed with a bulb shaped projection rising from the bottom.
Bulbous Forefoot – A convex entry at the keel/stem junction (as opposed to a sharp vee) incorporated to soften the ride. When used in conjunction with a reverse curve at the chine, it usually makes sheet materials impractical requiring other planking methods in the forward section.
Bulge – Former name for ‘Bilge’. Now alternative name for ‘Blister’. The latter is a cellular compartment built on outside of bilge. Introduced during 1914-18 war to take impact of torpedo, and so preserve hull plating.
Bulgeway – Bilgeway.
Bulk – Old name for hull of a ship. ‘Bulkhead’ is a reminder.
Bulk Cargo – Cargo such as grain, coal, iron ore, etc., that is loaded in bulk and not in packages or containers.
Bulk Carrier – Bulker. Ship designed to carry unpackaged (flowing) dry cargos such as grain, sand, cement, ores, coal, etc.
Bulkhead – Transverse, or fore and aft, vertical partition in a vessel to divide interior into compartments. Not necessarily watertight. Increases rigidity of structure, localises effects of fire and, when watertight, localises inflow of water.
Bulkhead Stiffeners – Reinforcing steel sections along a bulkhead, most commonly vertical but horizontal (or a combination) may be used.
Bulk Oil – Oil cargo when carried in tanks instead of casks, drums, etc. Bull Bars. Galvanised iron bars between beams of holds in ships carrying carcases of meat.
Bull Dog Grip – U-shaped steel of circular section with a movable bridge that forms a clamp. Two wires being inside U, and clamp screwed up, the wires are incapable of independent movement.
Bulling – Putting water into empty cask or barrel to prevent it drying and becoming leaky. Colloquially used to signify diluting.
Bullivant’s Wire Nippers – Steel appliances for securely holding a wire when under stress. There are two types, fixed and portable. In either type an increase of stress results in an increase of clamping effect.
Bull Nosed Bow – A large and rounded underwater bow profile designed to displace water and reduce overall drag.
Bull Ring – Transverse circular steel ring at stem head. Fairleader for head ropes and tow rope. Also called ‘Panama Lead’.
Bull Rope – Rope leading downward from bowsprit to a buoy, to keep latter away from ship’s bows or stem. Name is generally given to any rope leading steeply downward from forward. 2. Length of rope used for hauling items of cargo under square of hatch for hoisting. 3. Rope used for topping a derrick so that standing topping lift can be shackled to deck.
Bull’s Eye – Solid, round wooden block with groove around circumference and three or four holes pierced transversely. Lower end of rigging is seized in around groove; lanyard is rove through holes to make a purchase for setting up the rigging. 2. A more or less circular patch of blue sky very often observable over centre of a revolving storm.
Bull’s Eye Cringle – Bull’s eye with one large hole in centre; sometimes used in tack or leech of sail.
Bull’s Nose – Masonry; with rounded front on outward side, between dock entrances.
Bulldog Clip – A threaded u bolt that will tenaciously grip two steel wire ropes due to its shaped clamping saddle tightening around the wires. To temporarily replace an eye splice, four clips should be used separated by a distance of 8 times the diameter of the wire.
Bullwanger – Small strop on yard arm through which a lashing is rove to keep head cringle of a sail in place.
Bulwarks – Plating or wooden erections around outboard edge of upper deck to protect deck from entry of sea.
Bulwark Stay – A brace between the deck and bulwark to increase its rigidity.
Bumboat – Shore boat that comes alongside ships in harbour with provisions for retail sale.
Bumping – Name given to the intermittent touching of the ground by a vessel in shoal water.
Bumpkins – Small booms projecting on either side of bows, to which the fore tacks are hauled down. 2. Small boom over the stern of a yacht to take a standing backstay.
Bunder Boat – Surf boat of Malabar Coast.
Bundling – The assembling of pieces of cargo into manageable units, in practice, of the weight of the available fork lift truck’s capacity.
Bung – Plug that closes the hole in bilge of a cask, keg, barrel, etc.
Bung Up and Bilge Free – Correct stowage of casks, barrels, etc., especially those containing liquids. It precludes leakage and ensures the head timbers of the cask being vertical. Bilge is kept free by support under quarters.
Bunk – Built in bed, or one of a series of beds, on board a ship.
Bunker Clause – Inserted in a charter party to define the terms on which the charterer takes over the bunkers at the commencement of a time charter, and the ship owner at the conclusion of the time charter.
Bunkers – Compartments in which coal is carried. Name is also given to the fuel (oil or coal) used for ship’s propelling and auxiliary machinery.
Bunt – Middle portion of a square sail.
Bunting – Thin, woollen material used for making flags, ensigns, etc.
Buntline – Line for hauling up middle of foot of a square sail when furling it.
Buntline Cloth – Additional cloth stitched to a square sail in way of buntlines. Keeps chafe of buntlines off sail.
Buntline Hitch – Made by passing buntline through its cringle and then clove hitching it around its own part, with final hitch next to the cringle.
Buoy – Floating object that is used to mark a position. 2. Object with a large eserve buoyancy that allows it to support a required load. 3. To buoy a position is to mark it with a buoy.
Buoyage – The act of placing buoys. 2. Establishment of buoys and buoyage systems. Applied collectively to buoys placed or established.
Buoyancy – Difference between weight of an immersed, or partly immersed, object and the upward pressure of the liquid in which it is. If the weight be lighter the buoyancy will be ‘positive’; if it be heavier the buoyancy will be ‘negative’. Also defined as the vertical component of the water pressures
acting on an immersed or partly immersed body.
Buoyancy Aid – A lifejacket which has less than the officially required buoyancy or does not keep the wearer face-up when floating.
Buoyancy Tank – Tank fitted in lifeboat to give one cubic foot of positive buoyancy for each person boat is certified to carry. Made of brass, copper, muntz or yellow metal, weighing at least 18 oz. per square foot.
Buoyant Apparatus – Life saving floats required in certain passenger ships.
Buoyant Jacket. Buoyancy Aid – Worn as a jacket.
Buoy Rope – Rope connecting a buoy with its moorings, or with the sunken object that it marks. Particularly applied to rope connecting anchor and anchor buoy.
Buoy Rope Knot – Very similar to a stopper knot. It was put in end of hemp cable when used for mooring to a buoy. Purpose was to prevent end of rope slipping through seizing by which it was secured.
Burden – Carrying capacity of a vessel expressed in tons. In M. S. A. means ‘Net registered tonnage’.
Burdened Vessel – That vessel which, according to the applicable Navigation Rules, must give way to the privileged vessel. The term has been superseded by the term “give-way”.
Burdwood’s Tables – Tables computed by Commander John Burdwood, R. N., to give Sun’s true azimuth at intervals of 4 mins. when observed between Lats. 30° and 60°. Later extended by Commander J. E. Davis and P. L. Davis of Nautical Almanac Office, to include Lats. 0° to 30°.
Bureau Veritas – International body that supervises building of ships and other maritime matters. An Assigning authority’ for Load Line.
Burgee – Rectangular flag with a swallow tail fly. 2. Triangular flag of a yacht club.
Burgoo – Seaman’s name for oatmeal porridge. First mentioned in Edward Coxere’s ‘Adventures by Sea’ (1656).
Burlap – Coarse cloth made from jute and other fibre. Used for protecting cargo.
Burr Edge – The rough edge of a metal plate.
Burton – Tackle made with single and double block. Standing part is spliced round neck of single block strop. Differs from a luff tackle in that strop of single block has a longer throat.
Barton’s Tables – Volume of navigational tables with 5-figure logarithm values. Led the way in giving comprehensive nautical quantities with minimum number of pages.
Burt’s Bag and Nipper – Ingenious apparatus that was one of the first attempts to give reliable soundings while under way. Lead line was rove through nipper on an inflatable bag that remained on surface—vertically above lead—as long as it was slacked out. When line was hauled in, nipper on bag gripped lead line, thus indicating depth.
Bush – Lining inserted in machinery and in sheaves of blocks to reduce friction and take wear that would otherwise come on member around which a particular item revolves.
Buss – Formerly, a cargo vessel with large stowage space, in the 16th century up to about 100 tons. Later, the name was given to a fore and aft rigged fishing vessel, with main and mizen masts and bowsprit, used in herring fishing.
Butt – Joining of timber or plates in which the ends are flush and in close contact. 2. Cask containing liquid, the quantity varying with the nature of the liquid. With beer, is 108 gallons and wine is 117 gallons.
Butter Battens – Special small-sized dunnage wood used when stowing butter or eggs. In frozen or chilled hold.
Buttterfly Block – Small snatch block, of clump type, with hemp strop and tail. Formerly used for hauling in deep sea lead line.
Butterworth Opening – A deck access designed for butterworth gear.
Butterworth – A washing process to clean tanks using hot water/chemicals sprayed through a patented rotating nozzle.
Butt Joint – Joining of two plates, or timbers, in which their ends are flush and in close contact. Can be strapped or welded.
Buttock – Overhanging and rounded-in part of a vessel’s stern. It commences aft and terminates, on either side, where it merges into the run.
Buttock Lines – Curves derived from a series of longitudinal sections of the hull of a vessel by vertical planes parallel to keel and at uniform intervals from it. They thus indicate the transverse form at any given thwartship position.
Butt Sling – Length of rope with eye splice in one end and whipping on other end.
Butt Strap – Piece of metal covering a butted joint. Riveted to each of the butted plates to regain strength lost by the butting.
Butt Weld – The joining of two members by putting their edges closely in contact and welding along the seam.
Buys-Ballot’s Law – Originally stated that if observer’s back is to a wind in Northern hemisphere then barometric pressure will be lower on his left hand than on his right; this rule being reversed in Southern hemisphere. Modem convention assumes man faces direction of wind, thus reading ‘higher’ for ‘lower’ in original rule.
By – Used with other words, in sailing, to mean close to the wind.
By and Large – Sailing with wind before the beam—and sailing with wind abaft the beam. 2. A nautical way of saying, ‘Taking the rough with the smooth‘ or ‘striking a mean‘.
By Points – Those points of the compass that contain the word ‘by’.
By the Board – Overboard and by the ship’s side. ‘
By the Deep –‘ Erroneous report sometimes made by leadsman when depth is judged to be an exact number of fathoms not marked on line. Should be ‘Deep.
By the Head – Said of a vessel when her draught forward exceeds her draught aft.
‘By the Mark’ – Prefix to a leadsman’s report of depth when the mark on a vertical lead line is at water level; this report being free from estimation.
By the Run – To let go a rope and let it run without hindrance.
By the Stern – Said of a vessel when her draught aft exceeds her draught forward.
By the Wind – Said of a vessel sailing close hauled.