Maritime Dictionary – Everything that Starts with the Letter “K”

by | Last updated Nov 24, 2023 | Maritime Dictionary | 0 comments

K – Code flag; I wish to communicate with you. Morse Code; ▬ ● ▬.

K.B. – The height above the keel of the centre of buoyancy.

K.G. – The height of the vertical centre of gravity above the keel or base line.

K.P.I. – Key performance indicator (critical statistics).

Kamal – Mediaeval Arabian instrument for observing the altitude of a star. A small tablet of wood was attached to a knotted string. The tablet was held so that its lower edge was in line with the horizon and the star rested on the upper edge. The distance was measured by holding the string in the teeth, the number of knots left hanging gave a measure of the latitude.

Kamchatka Current – Sets SW along the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Kappa – Harmonic tidal value, in degrees of arc, representing lag of phase of a tidal constituent as compared with phase of the corresponding equilibrium constituent.

Kaskazi – Arabic name for NE monsoon on east coast of Africa.

Katabatic – Term applied to winds that How from elevated land to lower land. Caused by greater rapidity of heat radiation in the higher land. Also applied to any downward movement of air when due to convection.

Kataphraktos – Decked Greek vessel of classic times.

Kaupskip – Beamy sailing coaster of Norway and Baltic Sea, c. 900 A. D.

Kauri – Easily worked New Zealand timber very durable for marine planking.

Kaus – SE wind prevailing in Persian Gulf between December and April.

Kaus Australia – Star ε Sagittarii, S. H. A. 85°; Dec. S34°; Mag. 2.

Kayak – Eskimo boat constructed of sealskins stretched over light wooden framing.

Keckling – Winding small rope around a cable or hawser to prevent damage by chafing. 2. The rope with which a cable is keckled.

Kedge – A secondary anchor. To kedge is to warp a vessel ahead using the ship’s anchor.

Kedge Anchor – Small anchor used for kedging.

Kedging – Moving a vessel by laying out a small anchor and then heaving her to it.

Keel – Principal member of a ship’s construction. Lies fore and aft along centre line of bottom. May be an external or an internal construction. 2. Craft formerly used on River Tyne for carrying cargo, particularly coal. Propelled by three sweeps or, when possible, by a square sail. Usual capacity about 20 tons. See ‘Humber Keel’.

Keel – The longitudinal backbone of a vessel supporting the frames.

Keel Band – Metal strip going along the boat’s keel, at the forefoot it becomes the stem band.

Keel Blocks – Strong and adjustable erections along centre line of bottom of dry dock, or building slip, on which keel of a vessel rests and so allows workmen to pass underneath the vessel.

Keel Cooler – A water cooling system where hot engine water passes through pipes which run under the vessel’s keel and are cooled by the sea water.

Keel Hauled – To be dragged by ropes from one side of a vessel, under the keel and then up on the other side.

Keel Hauling – Olden punishment in which an offender was lowered from one yard arm and hauled under the keel by another halliard from the opposite yard arm.

Keel Rider – A plate running along the top of a vertical bar keel.

Keel Staple – Large copper staple fastening false keel to main keel in wooden ship.

Keelage – Money paid by a vessel for occupying space in a harbour. Also the right to exact keelage from vessels.

Keelboat – A sailing boat with a permanent keel as opposed to a centreboard.

Keeler – Man employed on a keel (craft). 2. Shallow tub that holds material for caulking seams in a vessel.

Keelson – Internal keel fitted immediately above the main keel.

Keep a sharp look out – A heightened requirement to maintain a lookout.

Keep Her Away – Injunction to helmsman to keep ship’s head from coming too close to wind.

Keep Her So – Order to helmsman to keep ship’s head on her heading when the order was given.

Keep the Luff – Order to helmsman to keep ship’s head closely to the wind.

Kelp – Large seaweed.

Kelpie – Fabulous spirit, generally in the form of horse, supposed to haunt ferries and fords. A Scottish water spirit.

Kelter – Good order and readiness, colloquial.

Kelvin – Unit of absolute temperature, freezing point of water 273K, boiling point of water 373K. The length of each unit being the same as on the Celsius scale.

Kelvin Deflector – See ‘Deflector’.

Kelvin Sounding Machine – Apparatus by which a sinker can be dropped to sea bottom at end of a wire, taking with it a glass tube sealed at upper end. Inside of tube is coated with a chromate preparation which, as water is forced into tube, changes into a chloride through action of salt in the water. When sinker is hauled up, the line of demarcation between chromate and chloride is a measure of water pressure at seabed. This pressure is an indication of depth.

Kelvin Tide-Prediction Machine – Apparatus by which tidal states and times, at any given place, can be determined mechanically when the machine has been set to conform with the harmonic tidal constants at the place.

Kelway Electric Log – Early type of submerged log. Rotator under bottom of ship sent electric impulses to an inboard indicator.

Kempstock – Old name for a capstan.

Kenne – ‘Kenning.’

Kennelly-Heaviside Layer – Atmospheric layer in stratosphere. Reflects radio waves at night.

Kennet – Old name for a large cleat.

Kenning – Sixteenth-century term for a sea distance at which high land could be observed from a ship. Varied between 14 and 22 miles according to, average atmospheric conditions in a given area.

Kenter Shackle – A detachable shackle link shaped which is used to join two chain links together.

Kentledge – A pig iron weight used in a vessel inclining test or as permanent ballast.

Kentner – A lugless joining shackle for anchor cable.

Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion – 1. Every planet moves in an ellipse having Sun at one of its foci. 2. Radius vector of any planet sweeps through equal areas in equal times. 3. Squares of periodic times of planets are proportional to cubes of their mean distances from Sun.

Kerf – The slit left in a material after the waste has been removed by the saw’s cut.

Ketch – Sailing vessel having fore and aft rig on each of two masts. Mainmast carries foresails, jib, mainsail. Mizen carries mizen- sail. Mizenmast is stepped about one-fifth of length of ship from aft.

Kevel – Large bitt, or cleat, used for belaying large sized ropes. 2*. Palm of an anchor.

Kevel Head – Projection of rib timber above gunwale when shaped for use as a kevel.

Kevlar – A costly material with high impact resistance. Used in modern sailmaking.

Kew Pattern Barometer – Mercury barometer specially designed for use at sea. Is mounted in gimbals and has a constricted tube to minimise ‘pumping’ in a seaway.

Key – A reef or low island. Sand or coral islet.

Key of Keelson – Fictitious article for which greenhorns at sea are sometimes sent.

KHz. – Of frequencies; a thousand Hertz.

Kicker – A fore guy.

Kicking Strap – A tackle placed between boom and deck to prevent the boom rising.

Kid – Small, shallow wooden tub, usually circular in shape. May be made of tinplate and used to carry food.

Kidd, Captain William – British pirate that was captured and publically hanged.

Killer Whale – Savage and bloodthirsty whale of dolphin family. They haunt sealing-grounds and kill and devour sperm whales.

Killick – Nautical name for an anchor. Originally was a stone used as an anchor.  A jury anchor, usually of timber with a boulder for weight.

Kinetic Energy – Energy due to motion.

King Billy Pine – Quality Australian timber with high marine durability used for planking.

King Plank – Central deck plank.

King Post – Alternative name for a ‘Samson Post’. The main central pillared mooring post of a ship often called a sampson post.

King Spoke – Marked ‘midship’ spoke of a steering-wheel. Acts as an indicator to helmsman.

Kink – Short bend in a rope, due to twist or turns, that prevents free running. Causes severe strain if under tension. A twist in a wire or rope.

Kippage – Former name for the equipment (equipage) of a vessel, and included the personnel.

Kisbie Lifebuo –. Annular life-buoy made of cork, covered with canvas and fitted with rope beckets.

Kit – Seaman’s outfit of clothes. 2. A set of tools. 3. A kid.

Kit-bag  – Canvas bag in which a seaman’s clothes are stowed.

Kites – Fine-weather sails set above royals.

Knarr – Scandinavian large open boat used chiefly in coastwise trading in and around 10th century.

Knee – Wood grown, or shaped, to a right-angled form. Used for connecting and supporting two members perpendicular to one another. 2. Steel or iron plates, roughly triangular, used for above purpose.

Knee Timber – Wooden knee.

Knight Heads – Heads of two strong timbers, usually of oak, that came up on either side of stem and on either side of bowsprit, which they supported. Also called ‘Bollard Timbers’.

Knittles – ‘Nettles.’

Knock – Shift in the wind direction to head a yacht when close-hauled and the opposite of “lift”.

Knocked Down – When a vessel is listed by the wind sufficiently to lie on her side.

Knot – Nautical unit of velocity representing a speed of 6080 ft. per hour, 101.3 ft. per minute, 1.69 ft. per second. Nearly equal to .5 metres per second. One metre per seconds 1.944 knots. Is the only unit of velocity in existence. Name is derived from the knots in the common log line. 2.  A unit of speed of one nautical mile per hour. Methods of joining rope that will not come undone but will undo easily.

Knuckle – Outer side of a sharp bend in a jetty or breakwater. An acute angle in certain wooden timbers of a vessel.

Knuckle Timber – One of the top timbers, of angular form, in fore body of a wooden ship, where there is a sharp change in form of the body.

Koff – Former two-masted Dutch sailing vessel having spritsail on each mast.

Køppen’s Classification – Climate classification based on the mean temperature and precipitation while considering vegetation limits.

Kort Nozzle – A propeller housed in a short tube that optimises thrust, minimises transverse thrust and limits fouling by floating ropes or nets.

Kraken – Fabulous sea monster supposed to have been seen off coasts of America and Norway. Sometimes mistaken for an island. Legendary giant ship-attacking squid.

Krang – Carcase of a whale after all blubber has been removed.

Krennels – Small cringles for bowline bridles, on a square sail.

Krill – Plankton like crustaceans found in the Southern Ocean.

Kudastre – Two-masted sailing craft of China Seas. About 50 ft. in length; fitted with outrigger.

Kuro Siwo – Ocean current running ENE-ward from SE coast of Japan towards American coast. Rate and direction vary with prevailing winds.

Kuroshio (Japan) Current – A warm North Pacific current setting northerly along the far East Asian coast and offshore islands.

Kuzi – Arabic name for SW monsoon on E coast of Africa.

Kymograph – An instrument that records pressure variations of sound waves.

Kynaston’s Apparatus – Early form (1880) of quick-release gear for boats lowered in a seaway. Principle was pretty much the same as that of the Robinson release gear.



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