S Band – A radar with 10cm wavelength transmitting at 3000MHz.
S flag + two numerals – Code flags; Speed in Knots.
Sabik – Star η Ophiuchi. S. H. A. 103°; Dec. S16°; Mag. 2.6.
Sabot – Mini class of cat rigged sailing dinghy.
Saccade – The slatting of sails in slight airs and with heavy swells.
‘Sack of Coals’ – Old name for ‘Coal Sack’.
Sack the Monkey – Originally, to suck rum from a coconut—into which it had been (illicitly) inserted, the end of the nut resembling a monkey’s face. Later, illicitly to suck spirit from a cask, usually through a straw.
Sacred Anchor – Anchor, in ancient Greek vessels, that was not let go except when in imminent danger.
Sacred Knot – Old name for ‘Brahmin Knot’, or ‘Triangle Knot’.
Sacrificial Anode – Zinc blocks placed on the vessel’s hull, in the engine or in the cooling systems so that the anodes corrode first, reducing the amount of corrosion to the main component
Saddle – Shaped piece of wood attached to a mast or spar to form a rest for another spar. One on bowsprit takes heel of jib boom; those on yards take studdingsail yards; those on mast form a rest for jaws of gaff or boom. Unbroken part of the wave in surf.
Safe Haven – A place that can reduce the risk to a vessel and those persons on board the vessel by providing shelter from the sea and weather. A safe haven includes a port, harbour, designated sheltered water area and an inlet or river mouth that offers a good anchorage.
Safe Port – Port in which a vessel can lie at all times in good safety and free from perils of political, natural, hygienic, or other nature.
Safe Working Load – The stress that a rope, chain, hook, or appliance can safely carry without risk of deformation or fracture. Maximum weight permitted to be lifted by a lifting appliance.
Safety Certificate – International certificate compulsorily carried by every passenger steamer of 1600 tons and upward when proceeding on an international voyage. Modified certificate is given to a passenger vessel on a voyage not exceeding 200 miles from land.
Safety Hook – Cargo hook fitted with a self-mousing device.
Safety Management System (SMS) – Plans of vessel management for operations and emergencies.
SafetyNET – Communications service provided via Inmarsat for promulgation of maritime safety information including shore-to-ship relays of distress alerts and communications for search and rescue coordination.
Sag – To droop in the middle. 2. To drift to leeward.
Sag to Leeward – To make excessive leeway.
Sagging Strain – Excessive stress causing a sagging to develop.
Sagittarius – Constellation situated between R. A. 18h and 20 h, Dec. 16°-20° S. Has no star brighter than magnitude 3. 2. Ninth sign of Zodiac, extending from 240° to 270° celestial longitude. Sun is in this sign from November 23 to December 22 (about).
Sail – Shaped and fitted canvas, or other material, used for moving a vessel by force of the wind. 2. A sailing vessel when under sail. 3. A short voyage in a vessel under sail.
Sail Burton – Whip rove for sending a sail aloft for bending.
Sail Clutch – Iron band used, instead of hoop or lashing, to attach a sail to a mast or boom.
Sail Cover – Canvas covering put over sail when not in use.
‘Sail Ho’ – Report of a look-out man who has sighted a sailing vessel.
Sail Hook – Small hook for holding canvas while it is being stitched.
Sail Hoops – Rings encircling a mast and attached to luff of a fore and aft sail.
Sail Loft – Large covered space in which ships’ sails are cut, measured and made.
Sail Needle – Special needle used when sewing canvas. Pointed end is triangular in section. Made in four sizes, 14, 14 1/2, 15, 16, the higher numbers being less substantial than the lower.
Sail Numbers – Letters and numbers on sails of racing yachts. Upper number indicates length of yachts in metres; lower number is a private number; letter(s) indicate nationality.
Sail Numbers – Letters and numbers on the sails of yachts. May indicate nationality and class.
Sail Room – Compartment in which sails are stowed in ship.
Sail Twine – Seaming Twine.
Sailboard – A buoyant plank, fitted with mast, sail and wish-bone boom, upon which the sailor stands while sailing.
Sailcloth – Light grade canvas used for sails of boats. Supplied in 12-, 15-, and 18- inch widths.
Sailing – Proceeding under sail. 2. Departing from a port or harbour.
Sailing Boat – Small boat propelled by sails.
Sailing Directions – Books dealing with winds, weather, currents, and other circumstances prevailing in a given area. Compiled to give the navigator all helpful and relevant information available. Name was given formerly to ‘Sailing Instructions’, and to ‘Sailing Orders’.
Sailing Free – Sailing with wind between right aft and that direction in which vessel would be close-hauled.
Sailing Ice – Small masses of drift ice with waterways in which a vessel can sail.
Sailing Instructions – Orders given by officer commanding a convoy to commanders of ships under convoy; detailing action to be taken in particular circumstances, code of signalling and special signals, position of rendezvous and other necessary orders and instructions. 2. Orders given relative to a particular voyage.
Sailing Master – Formerly, an officer in Royal Navy responsible to the captain for the correct navigation of the ship.
Sailing Orders – Final orders given to a warship. 2. Orders specifying time of sailing.
Sailing Thwart – That thwart, in a boat, at which a mast is clamped or shipped.
Sailing Vessel – Means any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used according to the collision regulations.
Sailings – The description of navigational techniques. See Parallel, Plane, Traverse, Mercator, Great circle sailings.
Sailmaker – Man whose occupation is to make and repair sails, together with other canvas work.
Sailmaker’s Eye Splice – Used only in ropes stitched to canvas. Strands are tucked with the lay, for neatness.
Sailmaker’s Whipping – The most efficient of the whippings, particularly suitable when end of rope is exposed to wind. In addition to the turns of whipping passed round the end of rope, trapping turns are passed round whipping in each cantline of the rope.
Sailor – Man or boy employed in sailing deep-water craft. Word is sometimes loosely used to include men who go to sea. Used officially to denote a seaman serving on deck. At one time was a man with previous sea experience, but who was not rated able seaman.
Sailor’s Disgrace – Nickname for the ‘foul anchor’ badge of the Lords of the Admiralty. Was the badge of Lord Howard of Effingham, who commanded the English Fleet against the Armada.
Sailors’ Home – Establishment or hostel, in a seaport, for the reception, accommodation, and entertainment of seamen temporarily on leave, or awaiting a ship.
Saint Elmo’s Fire – Discharge of atmospheric electricity sometimes observable on masts and yards in certain states of stormy weather. Positive discharge gives the appearance of streamers; negative discharge has the appearance of a luminous coating.
Saint Nicholas – The patron saint of seamen; which accounts for the number of seaports having churches dedicated to him.
Saker – Olden gun that threw a ball weighing five to seven pounds.
Salacia – Wife and queen of Roman Sea God Neptune.
Salamba – Bamboo fishing raft, with mast and sail, used in sea around Manila.
Salinity – Saltiness. The amount of dissolved salt in water. Usually expressed as a ratio as compared with fresh water—fresh water being 1000 and sea water about 1026 but varying, in ports and harbours, between 1000 and 1031 (Port Said). Also known as the specific gravity of sea water.
Salinometer – Instrument for indicating the proportion of salt in a given quantity of water.
Salinometer Cock – Small cock, on a marine boiler, by which water may be drawn for test purposes.
Sallee Man – Old name for the ‘Portuguese Man o’ War’.
Sallee Rovers – Moroccan pirates, from the port of Sallee, who preyed on Mediterranean shipping in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Their galleys were neither large nor formidable, and the prowess of the rovers has been greatly exaggerated.
Sally Port – Aperture, in quarter of a fire ship, for escape of crew after she has been ignited.
Sallying – Rolling a vessel, that is slightly ice-bound, so as to break the surface ice around her. May sometimes be done when a vessel is lightly aground, but not ice-bound.
Salmiel Wind – ‘Simoon.’
Saloon – Mess room for deck officers in a merchant ship. 2. Main cabin in a passenger ship.
Salt – Landsman’s nickname for a seaman.
Salt Beef Squire – Naval nickname for an officer promoted from the lower deck.
Salt Fish – Fish preserved with salt solution.
Salt Horse – Salt beef. In R. N. the name is jocularly applied to an officer who has specialised in seamanship.
Salt Junk – Salt beef.
Salted – Packing rock salt between the frames of a timber vessel to prevent rot from fresh water and condensation.
Salterns – Natural salt pans.
Saltings – Low-lying land made marshy by salt water.
Saltire – Diagonal cross, of any colour, in a flag or ensign.
Salute – A mutual gesture of respect and greeting. Initiated by the inferior in rank, and returned by the superior. Made by hand, the firing of guns, the letting fly of sheets, the veiling of topsails and the dipping of ensigns.
Salvage – The saving of a vessel, or cargo, from extraordinary peril or danger. 2. Compensation or reward given for the salving of property in peril.
Salvage Agreement – Document, or undertaking, by which recompense for salvage services is agreed and promised under specified conditions.
Salvage Association – A corporate body that deals with salvage but does not actually carry it out. Incorporated, by Royal Charter, 1856. Governed by Lloyd’s and company underwriters.
Salvage Award – Sum of money awarded by Admiralty Court, or arbitrators, as recompense for salvage services rendered.
Salvage Clause – Inserted in a charter party to allow vessel to attempt or render salvage services for the preservation of property in peril at sea.
Salvage Company – Company specialising in marine salvage, and owning ships and plant designed and fitted for the purpose.
Sambuk – Arab dhow with a low-curved stem and a high stern that is often lavishly decorated.
Sampan – Punt-like boat used in Chinese waters, Java, and Madagascar for fishing, carriage and merchandise, and other purposes.
Samson Line – Small line supplied in 30-fathom hanks weighing from one to one and a quarter pounds.
Samson Post – Stump mast for a derrick. 2. Strong oak post on fore deck of a yacht; used as a mooring-post. 3. A cable bitt. 4. A towing bollard.
Sand Strake – Garboard strake of a boat.
Sand-Warped – Left on a sand bank at ebb tide. 2. A temporary stranding at half flood of tide.
Sandwich Core – A “one-off” fibreglass construction method that uses an inner core that is temporarily fastened to a form, covered with fibreglass laminates, removed from the form, and fibreglass laminates applied to the inside.
Santa Ana – A dry east/northeasterly wind of Southern California, also called the Sundowner.
‘Santa Clara’ – Ship named in the earliest marine insurance policy still existing— which is dated October 23, 1347, and covers her voyage from Genoa to Majorca.
SAR Datum Buoy – Droppable floating beacon used to determine actual sea current, or to
SAR Mission Coordinator (SMC) – The suitably trained or qualified official temporarily assigned to ccoordinate a response to a distress situation. In Australia, the acronym SARMC is also used in some jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions also use the term A/SARMC to describe the SMC’s assistants.
SAR Point of Contact (SPOC) – Rescue coordination centres and other established and recognised national points of contact that can accept responsibility to receive Cospas-Sarsat alert data to enable the rescue of persons in distress.
Sargasso – Floating seaweed.
Sargasso Sea – Area of Atlantic in which surface is extensively covered by ‘gulf weed’. Approximate extent is from 19° W to 47°W, and from 20° N to 25° N.
Saros – Period of 18. 03 years, which is the interval at which lunar and solar eclipses repeat themselves in approximately similar circumstances.
Satellite – A secondary planet that revolves around a primary planet. Is often, but erroneously, called a ‘moon’. Name is sometimes given to the fictitious bodies assumed in the harmonic analysis of tides.
Satellite Navigation – Navigation, and the instruments for it, by receiving and measuring signals from artificial satellites orbiting the earth. Related Article: Types of Marine Navigation – How Seafarers Find Their Way.
Satnav – A navigation system that receives information from satellites.
Saturated Adiabatic Lapse Rate (SALR) – the rate at which the temperature of water vapour saturated air changes as it ascends or descends. It is taken as 1.5 degree Celsius per 1000ft.
Saturated Steam – Steam that has the same temperature as the water from which it is generated—as distinguished from superheated steam.
Saturation – The carrying of the maximum amount of water vapour by the atmosphere in a given state. Amount that can be carried increases and decreases with air temperature.
Saturation – The point when air of a certain temperature carries its maximum water vapour and precipitation will follow.
Saturation Deficit – Difference between vapour pressure in a given state of the atmosphere and the maximum pressure it could carry.
Saturn – Sixth major planet from Sun. Diameter is about nine times that of Earth; distance from Sun is about 10 times that of Earth. Has nine satellites and a system of broad, flat rings around its equator.
Saucer – Iron or steel bearing, shaped like a saucer, on which vertical spindle of a capstan rests on deck below.
Save All – Strip of canvas laced to roach of a square sail to get additional wind effort. 2. Alternative name for ‘Water sail’. 3. Old canvas spread in a working area to catch paint spots or collect rubbish.
Saving of Life at Sea (SOLAS) – IMO convention that maintains standards of lifesaving at sea. See Also: SOLAS Convention of 1974: Chapters and Regulations in Summary.
Sawn Chock – A triangular bracket or knee that is sawn from a plank of timber so the grain is parallel to the outer face, thus limiting splitting.
Sawn Frames – Sawn frames are assembled from separate pieces, either half lapped or gusseted together to form the shape required for the hull. Alternatively, bent frames are bent around a former or into a hull using one or more layers of solid wood.
Saxboard – Uppermost strake of an open boat.
Scale – Numerical relationship between distance on chart and actual distance between any positions. 2. Measure, or diagram, that converts charted distance to actual distance. 3. Hard deposit that forms on inside of boilers, or on exposed ferrous metals.
Scaling – Removing scale from a surface on which it has formed. 2. Adjustment and graduation of gun sights. 3.* Cleaning the bore of a gun by firing a small powder charge.
Scampavia – Neapolitan rowing vessel, about 150 ft. long, having a 6-pounder gun forward. Had lateen main and mizen sails. Was discontinued in first half of 19th century.
Scandalize – To top yards by alternately opposite lifts, brace them on opposite tacks, loose sails in the buntlines and, in general, give the ship as untidy an appearance as possible. Was the orthodox method — especially in ships of Latin countries — of showing grief or mourning. 2. To reduce the area of a gaff sail by casting off the peak halyards.
Scanner – A rotating radar aerial. A radio receiver monitoring all transmissions over a waveband.
Scanting – Said of a wind when it draws ahead.
Scantling – Lengths of constructional timber of a standard size. Lengths of timber having a square section not more than 5 in. by 5 in. 2. Measurements of members used in construction of either wood or steel ships. 3. Transverse measurements of a piece of timber.
Scarf – Alternative form of ‘Scarph’. The use of a diagonal and overlapping meeting surface in joining constructional components.
Scarph – Joint used when uniting ends of two strakes or planks. Ends are bevelled, and shoulders may be cut, so that there is no increase of thickness at the doubling.
Scend – When a ship pitches with great force into a trough.
Schafer Method – Procedure for restoring a person apparently drowned. Expirational movements are slow and deliberate, inspirational movements being as quick as possible. This method has less initial delay than the Silvester method.
Scheat – Star β Pegasi. S. H. A. 15°; Dec. N28°; Mag. 2.6. Name is corrupted Arabic for ‘Fore Arm’.
Schedar – Star α Cassiopciae. S. H. A. 350°; Dec. N56°; Mag. 2.5.
Schermuly Pistol – Firearm that ignites and aligns a line-carrying rocket.
School – Group of fish, or whales.
School Ship – Instructional ship permanently moored in harbour.
Schooner – A fore-and-aft rigged vessel with twin masts of the same height or with the after one (the mainmast) taller.
Schottel – Propulsion and steering unit, a propeller-rudder. The horizontal propeller is driven by a vertical shaft and pivots like a rudder-blade.
Schuyt – Fore and aft rigged Dutch fishing-boat, having one or two masts.
Scirocco – Warm wind blowing from South to SE, in Mediterranean Sea, and preceding a depression moving E’ly. Name is loosely given to any warm S’ly wind in this area.
Scope – Technically, the ratio of length of anchor rode in use to the vertical distance from the bow of the vessel to the bottom of the water. Usually six to seven to one for calm weather and more scope in storm conditions.
Scorbutic – Pertaining to scurvy; giving rise to scurvy.
Score – Cut-out part, of shell of a wooden block, that receives and confines the strop.
Scoriae – Reddish-brown, or black cinders of volcanic eruption.
Scorpio (Lat. = Scorpion) – Constellation situated between R. A.’s 15 h 50 m and 17 h 50 m, and Dec. 20° to 43° S. Contains three bright stars, the principal being Antares.
Scotch Boiler – Cylindrical boiler with combustion chamber furnaces and smoke tubes fitted in water space. Can be single or double ended. Usually has three furnaces.
Scotch Mist – Combination of drizzle and thick mist.
Scotched Up – Shored up.
Scotchman – Any wood batten, hide, or metal put on rigging to take a chafe. Any wooden construction placed for protective purposes.
Scott-Still Engine – Small engine using steam generated by the gases exhausted by a diesel engine.
Scouse – A dish of ship’s biscuit, pork and mollasses. See ‘Lobscouse’.
Scoute – Manx sailing craft, formerly used in herring fishery.
Scow – Flat-bottomed, square-ended craft used for transport of cargo.
Scowing – Name sometimes used for ‘Becueing’.
Scran Bag – Bag, or compartment, in which articles of clothing, left lying about by naval ratings, are stowed. The articles are redeemed by payment of a small piece of soap. 2. Bread bag. Scrap Log. Alternative name for ‘Deck Log’.
Scraper – A flat bladed tool for removing paint or varnish; sometimes three cornered.
Screen – Canvas partition or protection. 2. Thwartship plating of an erection on upper deck. 3. Wood or metal fixture that limits arc of visibility of a navigational light.
Screen Bulkhead – Thwartship bulkhead on upper deck at forward or after end of midships accommodation.
Screw – Screw propeller. 2. Steamer having screw propulsion.
Screw Alley – See ‘Shaft Tunnel’.
Screw Aperture – Opening, in after deadwood, in which propeller revolves.
Screw Coupling – Joining piece in which a screw thread is fitted for adjusting distance or tension.
Screw Current – Moving water of the sea that flows along ship’s side into the propeller, and then is driven aft and quarterly by the propeller blades.
Screw Effect – Deviation of a steamship’s head from a prolongation of her fore and aft line when caused by transverse thrust—or paddle-wheel effect—of her propeller. Corrected by rudder.
Screw Log – Any log that indicates distance or speed by the screw effect of water acting on inclined planes of the log rotator.
Screw Post – ‘Propeller Post.’
Screw Propeller – Immersed system of inclined planes that is revolved by an engine and forces ship in a fore and aft direction. Usually called ‘propeller’ or ‘screw’.
Screw Race – Turbulent water thrown astern of ship by a revolving propeller.
Screw Rudder – Small screw propeller fitted at angle to fore and aft line of ship. Used for altering ship’s heading, particularly when stopped. Now obsolete.
Screw Stopper – Cable stopper fitted with a bottle screw for tautening.
Screw Well – Vertical trunk into which a propeller could be lifted after being slung in tackles and tail-end shaft withdrawn. Was used, with more or less success, in old warships having sail and screw propulsion.
Scroll, Scroll Head – Decorative work at stem head of a ship—as differentiated from a ‘figure’ head.
Scrowl – ‘Scroll.’
Scud – Fractonimbus cloud driven, by the wind, under cumulonimbus.
Scudding – Running before a gale with minimum canvas set.
Scull – Short oar, usually with spoon blade, rowed with one hand. 2. Small boat rowed by one man.
Sculler – Man who sculls a boat. 2. Boat propelled or impelled by sculling.
Sculling – Propelling or impelling a boat by sculling. 2. Impelling a boat by putting a scull over the stern, inclining the blade and moving it transversely.
Scupper – A pipe between the deck and the side of the hull to allow trapped water to run out overboard.
Scupper Hole – The hole in a scupper.
Scupper Hose – Short length of pipe to lead scupper water clear of ship’s side.
Scupper Leather – Piece of leather used to form a non-return valve in a scupper.
Scupper Lip – Projection on outboard end of a scupper discharge. Ensures water being thrown clear of ship’s side.
Scupper Nail – Short nail having a large flat head.
Scupper Plate – Longitudinal plate under a waterway.
Scupper Shoot – Semi-circular spout projecting outboard, to lead scupper water clear of ship’s side.
Scuppered – Slang term for frustrated, knocked out, or killed.
Scurvy – Form of anaemia caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. Marked by ulceration of mouth, debility, lassitude, haemorrhage, and other symptoms.
Scuttle – Small opening—in a deck, side of a ship, or compartment— that can be closed as required. Literally means a ‘shutter’. To purposely sink a ship.
Scuttle Butt – Covered cask, having lid in head, in which fresh water for current use was formerly carried. 2. US Navy slang for gossip or rumour. The crew’s cask of fresh drinking water. A tall story.
Scuttles – Naval term for portholes.
Scuttling – Deliberately making, or uncovering, any opening in a vessel so that sea can enter. Sometimes done to allow water to enter a stranded ship to prevent her bumping on the ground.
Scylla – One of the whirlpools (garofali) in Straits of Messina, named after a fabulous monster.
Sea – A deep stretch of water between large land masses. Waves created by local winds.
Sea – Large expanse of water forming part of an ocean, or connected with it. 2. Waves or swell. 3. The movement and direction of waves. 4. Large inland lake.
Sea Acorn – A barnacle.
Sea Anchor – Floating construction, either temporary or permanent, so shaped that it offers minimum area to the wind, and gives maximum resistance to translation through the sea. Used when it is necessary to keep a vessel head to sea and anchoring is impossible. Sea anchor is streamed by a line connecting sea anchor with ship. A drogue, as used in boats, is the simplest form.
Sea Bed – Ground at the bottom of a sea or ocean.
Sea Birds – Birds that live on, by, and from, the sea. Two chief classes are Laridae and Larinae (gulls) and Tubinares (petrels). In general, they have webbed feet, and beaks adapted for seizing fish.
Sea Boat – Ship’s boat kept ready for immediate lowering while at sea: sometimes called ‘accident boat’. 2. Applied to a ship when assessing her behaviour in a seaway.
Sea Borne – Carried by the sea. 2. Carried over the sea in a ship.
Sea Bound – Encircled by the sea.
Sea Breeze – Wind from the sea that blows across land.
Sea Brief – ‘Sea Letter.’
Sea Captain – Master of a sea-going vessel. Certificated officer competent and qualified to be master of a sea-going vessel.
Sea Chest – A sailor’s trunk. The intake between the ship’s side and its sea cock.
Sea Cock – Screw-down valve, in bottom of a ship, by which sea water can be allowed to enter a pipe system.
Sea Current (SC) – The residual current when currents caused by tides and local winds are subtracted from local current. It is the main, large-scale flow of ocean waters.
Sea Disturbance – State of sea surface as compared with its mean level. Generally expressed by a number in a scale in which 0 represents perfect smoothness, and 10 is the maximum disturbance known to seamen.
Sea Dog – Old and experienced seaman. 2. Dog fish. 3. Elizabethan privateer.
Sea Eagle – Bald-headed eagle (adopted as emblem by U. S. A.). 2. Sting-ray fish.
Sea Eggs – Echinoidiae that are usually called ‘Sea Urchins’.
Sea Fire – Phosphorescence of the sea surface.
Sea Fret – Dawn mist at sea.
Sea Gates – Pair of gates that close entrance to a dock, tidal basin, or harbour against the action of storm waves.
Sea Gauge – Former deep-sea sounding appliance in which a column of mercury was acted upon by water pressure, the mercury compressing trapped air.
Sea Going – A vessel intended for going to sea.
Sea Gull – Name that includes all birds of the gull family that fly mostly above the sea.
Sea Hog – Porpoise.
Sea Horizon – The line in which sea and sky appear to meet.
Sea Horse – Name given to walrus, hippopotamus, and hippocampus; the last being a small fish with a head resembling that of a horse.
Sea Kindliness – That characteristic of a ship by which she behaves well in heavy weather, and adapts herself to varying states of the sea.
Sea Kindly – A vessel that is steady in rough conditions. A seaman who is prone to preach against authority.
Sea Legs – Ability to walk fairly steadily when a vessel is labouring in a seaway.
Sea Letter – Custom house document carried by a neutral vessel on a foreign voyage in wartime.
Sea Level – A more or less theoretical level based on that which the sea surface would have if there were no tide, swell or wave. It thus approximates half tide level. Datum for British surveying is the mean level at Newlyn, Cornwall.
Sea Lion – Name given to a seal found in Pacific Ocean. Male is about 12 ft. long, weighs about half a ton, and has golden-brown hair.
Sea Mew – ‘Sea Gull.’
Sea Mile/Nautical Mile – Distance equivalent to length of one minute of latitude at the position concerned. Varies between, approximately, 6045 ft. at Equator and 6081 ft. at Poles. Standardised, for log purposes, as 6080 ft.
Sea Monster – Variety of imagined creatures, often used to illustrate old charts.
Sea Otter – Fur-bearing animal of Behring Straits and Kamchatka.
Sea Parrot – Seaman’s name for the puffin.
Sea Pass – Duly attested document given to a neutral vessel, during war, by a belligerent power. Exempts her from search or seizure by vessels of that power.
Sea Rate – Average gaining or losing rate of a particular chronometer while at sea.
Sea Reach – Length of a river between its discharge into the sea and its first bend inland.
Sea Reeve – official who kept watch on seaward borders of estate of a lord of the manor. He took charge of wrecks, and prevented smuggling.
Sea Room – The available manoeuvring area of a vessel.
Sea Rover – Pirate, or a pirate vessel. 2. One who travels by sea with no fixed destination.
Sea Serpent – A mythical large snake like sea creature.
Sea Shanties – Sea songs. Often, a verse chanted by a leader, with replying chorus in unison by the work gang that coordinates the group’s deck task. For instance, rhythmically hauling in an anchor cable.
Sea Smoke – Vapour rising like steam or smoke from the sea caused by very cold air blowing over it. Frost-smoke, steam-fog, warm water fog, water smoke.
Sea Suction – Underwater opening in a ship, through which sea-water is pumped for wash deck, fire, ballast, sanitary, or other uses.
Sea Thermometer – An ordinary thermometer, but with a cup round the bulb so that some water is retained when taking temperature of surface water of the sea.
Sea Trials – Tests conducted by the builders during which the owner’s representatives check if the vessel has met the specifications.
Sea Urchin – A spiny shelled marine creature.
Sea Wall – A wall that prevents encroachment by the sea.
Sea Wasp – A jellyfish with a dangerous sting; Indo-Pacific.
Sea Water Strainer – A filtering system which captures foreign materials from entering the cooling systems with fresh sea water.
Seabee – Sea-barge which uses rollers to move the barges aboard the ship; the self-propelled loaded barges are themselves loaded on board as cargo and are considerably larger than those loaded on LASH ships.
Seaboard – Coast, or land, continuous to a coast. Sometimes used as meaning ‘seaward’.
Seacock – A shut off valve through the hull for intake or discharge piping.
Seafarer – One who earns his living by service at sea.
Seafaring – Serving at sea for a livelihood.
Sea-Going – Applied to men, or craft, when differentiating between sea service and service in sheltered waters.
Seal – Warm-blooded carnivorous animal found in arctic and antarctic regions and in lower latitudes. Limbs have developed into flippers.
Sealer – Man who hunts seals. 2. Vessel used in seal hunting.
Seam – Joining of edges of canvas, or other fabric, made by stitching. 2. Longitudinal meeting of edges of planks, strakes, or plates.
Seaman – Generally, one who follows the sea as a profession. This meaning is often limited. Merchant Shipping Acts define him as any person serving in a ship, other than the Master. In the Royal Navy, is a man who works on deck.
Seamanlike – In a manner, or fashion, befitting a seaman.
Seamanship – The professional skill of a seaman. The art of working, managing, and handling a vessel, in a seaway, in a seaman-like manner.
Seamark – Erection, in shoal water, elevated above sea level to act as a beacon, navigational aid or warning.
Seaming Palm – Sailmaker’s palm used when sewing seams. Indentations in iron are smaller than those in roping palm, and it has no leather thumb guard.
Seaming Twine – Flax twine, 2-ply, used for sewing canvas. Supplied in hanks up to 1 Ib., which equals one mile of twine.
Seamount – Usually a conical undersea mountain.
Sea-Pie – Seaman’s dish made with alternate layers of pastry and meat; usually two of meat and three of pastry.
Seaplane – Includes any aircraft designed to manoeuvre on water
Seaquake – An undersea earthquake.
Search (ing) Note – See Jerque Note.
Search and Rescue (SAR) – IMO convention that maintain and promote uniform standards in Search and rescue.
Search and Rescue Region (SRR) – of defined dimensions, associated with the national rescue coordination centre.
Search and Rescue Unit (SRU) – composed of trained personnel and provided with suitable equipment.
Search Endurance (T) – The amount of “productive” search time available at the scene also known as Available Search Hours (ASH). This figure is usually taken to be 85% of the on-scene endurance, leaving a 15% allowance for investigating sightings and navigating turns at the ends of search legs.
Search Facility Position Error (Y) – Probable error in a search craft’s position, based on its navigational capabilities.
Search Pattern – A procedure assigned to an SRU for searching a specified area. Normally an expanding square search, a sector search or a parallel track search is used.
Search Radius – The actual search radius used to plan the search and to assign search facilities. It is usually based on adjustments to the optimal search radius that are needed for operational reasons.
Searcher – Customs officer who searches a vessel for undeclared goods or stores.
Sea-Risks – Special risks, incidental to a sea voyage, that may affect persons or goods.
Sea-Room – Sufficient expanse of sea for a vessel to manoeuvre without risk of grounding, or collision with other vessels.
Seas – Waves created by local winds.
Sea-Serpent – Animal of serpentine form, and immense size, credibly reported to have been sighted at sea. No final proof of its existence has yet been established.
Sea-Service – Service rendered, as one of the crew or complement, in a sea-going ship.
Seasickness – Disorder of the nervous system brought about by ship’s movement in a seaway.
Sea-Slug/Sea-Cat/Sea-Dart – Types of ship-to-aircraft guided missiles.
Sea-Snake – Venomous snake found swimming, near land, in waters of Indian and Pacific Oceans. Is eaten by natives of Tahiti.
Seasonal Area – Part of a seasonal zone, but having a load line period that differs somewhat from the load line period of the zone.
Seasonal Correction to Mean Sea Level – Correction to be applied to mean sea level, at a place, to find the sea level in a given season.
Seasonal Zone – Area of an ocean or sea, in which different load lines are in force in different seasons.
Seat – Any part, or member, on which another part, or member rests.
Sea-Term – Word, phrase, or name particularly used by seamen.
Sea-Urchin – Sea creature having a bony casing, rather like an orange, with numerous small spikes. Starts as a free-swimming creature, the bony covering developing later.
Sea-Wall – Embankment, or masonry, erected to protect land from damage by sea action.
Seaward – Towards the sea.
Sea-Water – Water comprising the salt-water seas and oceans. Contains chlorides, sulphates, bromides, carbonates, etc. Specific gravity is about 1025—but varies between 1001 and 1031 (Suez).
Seaway – Expanse of water with definite wave motion.
Seaweed – Any large alga growing in the sea below the high water mark.
Seaworthiness – In a limited sense, is a vessel’s fitness to withstand the action of the sea, wind, and weather. In a broader, and legal, sense, it requires that the vessel must be handled and navigated competently, fully manned, adequately stored, and in all respects fit to carry the cargo loaded.
Seaworthy – Said of a vessel when in all respects fit to carry a proposed cargo, or passengers. 2. Capable of withstanding risks incidental to the sea.
Second – Sixtieth part of a minute of time. 2. Sixtieth part of a minute of arc.
Second Class Paper – Written undertakings to pay, whose financial value is open to doubt.
Second Futtock – Second portion of rib of a wooden vessel, counting from keel.
Second Hand – Person next below Skipper of a fishing-vessel, usually certificated.
Second Rate – Former classification of a warship carrying 90 to 100 guns. In U. S. N., was a vessel of 2000 to 3000 tons.
Secondary – Applied to a circle, cold front, depression, meridian, or port, to distinguish it from a primary. Often used to denote a secondary depression.
Secondary Circle – Any great circle whose plane is perpendicular to a primary circle. It follows that a secondary circle will contain the axis and poles of the primary; and that the primary will contain the axes and poles of all its secondaries.
Secondary Cold Front – Front of polar air following first cold front.
Secondary Depression – Second area of low pressure formed inside a meteorological depression. Generally moves round primary depression, and may combine with it.
Secondary Meridian – Meridian whose position has been determined absolutely or astronomically, and not by reference to a prime meridian.
Secondary Port – Port, or position, whose tidal phenomena are deduced by reference to tides at an appropriate standard port.
Secret Block – Block in which sheave is completely covered except for a small lead to swallow of block.
Sector – Arc between two radii, or two lines of bearing.
Secular – Pertaining 10, or connected with, the passing of time.
Secure – To make fast so that displacement cannot occur.
Secure – To make fast.
Secure for Sea – To close all weather/watertight hatches/doors and lash moveable items.
Securite (Safety) – A radiotelephone message prefixed by the spoken word, ‘saycur-ee-tay’, indicates that a message concerning the safety of navigation or giving important meteorological warning is about to be made.
Segmental Bar – Rolled steel having section that is semi-circular, or nearly so.
Segmental Strip – Rolled steel section with lower side a chord of a circle, the upper side being an arc appreciably less than a semicircle.
Segregation – A term used in the IMDG Code to describe the stowage separation of incompatible materials and/or chemicals.
Seiche – Short period oscillation in level of enclosed, or partly enclosed, area of water when not due to the action of tide-raising forces.
Seine – Long fishing-net, 60 fathoms or more, in the form of a bag. About 8 to 16 ft. deep. Upper end is buoyed, lower end is weighted.
Seine Boat – Craft for fishing with seine net.
Seine Fishing – Catching fish with a seine net.
Seize – To bind together two ropes, or two parts of the same rope, with small stuff tightly turned around them.
Seize – To tightly bind something.
Seizing – The turns of small stuff with which two parts of rope are seized. Principal forms are Flat, Round, and Racking seizings.
Seizing Wire – Seven wires, of galvanised iron or mild steel, with six of the wires laid up around a central wire. Used when seizing wire ropes.
Seizure – Taking of a ship by overpowering force, or by lawful authority.
Selective Availability – An error in accuracy purposely encoded in the publicly available satellite information for GPS receivers. Reduces accuracy to +/-100 metres, 95% probability level. Sometimes called ‘Dithering’
Selene – Greek word for “Moon’.
Selenography – The delineation of Moon’s face.
Selenology – Branch of astronomy dealing with Moon.
Self-bailing – A system of draining water that enters a compartment through scuppers or venturi’s.
Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) – An atmosphere-supplying respirator for which the breathing air source is designed to be carried by the user.
Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) – An atmosphere-supplying respirator for which the breathing air source is designed to be carried by the user.
Self-Mousing Hook – Hook having a spring mousing that allows easy hooking on, but prevents accidental unhooking.
Self-propelled Barge – A barge with its own engine.
Self-steering – A steering arrangement using wind vanes and gearing or sail trim to maintain a preselected relative course.
Self-Trimmer – Vessel with large hatches and clear holds that allow coal, grain and similar cargoes to be teemed into any part of a hold.
Selvagee – Rope made by spunyarn being laid in parallel lengths, and bound together with marline-hitched spunyarn passed around all parts. Has great flexibility and grip.
Selvagee Strop – Strop made by laying spunyarn in coils and binding it with marline-hitched spunyarn.
Selvedge – Normal edge of woven material, such as canvas.
Semaphore – Method, or apparatus, for signalling alphabetical letters, numbers or code signs, by visible movements and changes of position. In nautical signalling, hand flags, or apparatus having movable arms, is used.
Semi Submersible –Floating oil rig which can be ballasted down on arrival at drilling position.
Semi-Diameter – Half diameter of disc of Sun or Moon. As this is the distance of the centre from the limb it is of great importance when measuring sextant altitudes.
Semi-Diesel Engine – Internal combustion engine in which injected fuel is vaporised by a hot bulb and compression. Used for working auxiliary machinery, and for propulsion of small vessels.
Semi-diurnal – Pertaining to, or recurring at, periods of half a day, approximately.
Semi-diurnal Tides – Tides occurring twice in a lunar day.
Semi-menstrual Inequality – Tidal inequality that goes through all its variations in half a lunar month.
Sennit – Plaited yarns, strands, or ropes.
Sensible Horizon – Plane of celestial sphere that is tangent to Earth at position of an observer: is parallel to his rational horizon, and 4000 miles above it.
Sentinel – Electric apparatus in circuit of a navigation light, and causes a bell to ring if filament of lamp fuses. 2. Apparatus formerly used in surveying vessels. Specially shaped weight was towed over sea-bed by a wire from the stern. When depth varied, angle of wire increased or decreased, and caused the bell to ring.
Separation – The means, or material, by which one parcel of a ship’s cargo is separated from another.
Separation Cloths – Large cloths used for separating different parcels of bulk cargoes such as grain.
Separation Error – Error in the collimation of a sextant, or optical instrument.
Septentrional – Pertaining to the North. From the Greek for ‘Seven ploughing oxen’ (Ursa Major).
Serein – Rain falling from a cloudless sky. Very abnormal.
Series Circuit – A series circuit is one which has the components connected in a series, that is, one after the other. The example above is also a series circuit.
Serve – Part of the process of protecting a wire or rope by worm, parcelling and serving. Small tarred stuff is wound into the grooves of the lay to give the rope a smooth surface (worming). Tarred canvas is then wound around the smooth surface (parcelling). Finally a tarred seizing of thin wire or twine is tightly wound around all using a serving mallet to apply tension (serving).
Service – Serving put on a rope. 2. Duty performed. 3. Group of persons performing and sharing the same duties.
Service Life – Means the period of time that a respirator, filter or sorbent or other respiratory equipment provides adequate protection to the wearer.
Services – Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force.
Serving – Rendering service. 2. Small stuff tightly wound around a splice or rope to protect it. 3. Act of putting on a serving.
Serving Board – Flat wooden tool used for serving a rope tightly and neatly at the splices, and difficult parts.
Serving Mallet – Wooden mallet with a semi-circular groove along its cylindrically-shaped head. Used for serving long straight wires.
Set – To hoist sails. The true compass direction in which a current flows.
Set and Drift – Direction and distance that a current travels in a given time.
Set Bolt – Bolt used for forcing another bolt out of its hole.
Set Flying – A sail set attached only by its halyard, sheet and tack but not by hanks to a stay.
Set Iron – A soft iron bar used on an anvil or bending slab to shape frames.
Set Sail – To make sail. To loose sail and sheet home. 2. To sail away from a place.
Set the Watch – To name a watch and detail it for duty on deck.
Set Up – To tauten standing rigging with lanyards, tackles, or screws.
Settee Rig – Boat rig having two masts, each carrying a four-sided fore and aft sail. From the Italian Saetta — arrow.
Setting – Said of a heavenly body when it moves down to western horizon. 2. Setting a course is putting ship’s head in a desired direction.
Setting Pole – A quant. Long pole by which a craft is propelled by putting pole on bed of the waterway, and bearing on it.
Settle – To ease a halyard, or other rope used for hoisting, by a small amount. To lower a little. To sink deeper.
Settling Tank – Stokehold tank into which fuel oil is pumped and allowed to settle before being used. Oil is drawn through a filter so that solid contents, usually sand, are left behind.
Set-up – A jig or former on which to built a vessel.
Sewed – Said of a vessel when water level has fallen from the level at which she would float. Also said of the water that has receded and caused a vessel to take the ground.
Sewing – Said of water level when it is falling away from a minimum height necessary to float a particular vessel.
Sewn Boat – Boat made with a double skin of Honduras mahogany. Inside planking is at right angles to keel, and 5/32-inch thick. Outer skin goes horizontally, and is 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick. These two skins are sewed together with copper wire.
Sextant – An instrument used to measure the vertical angle of altitude of heavenly bodies and coastal features, and the horizontal angle between coastal features.
Shackle – A bowed metal fitting closed with a pin through the ends, used for ease of attachment of ropes, wires and chains. A 15 fathoms length of anchor chain, sometimes called a shot.
Shackle Bolt – Bolt having a shackle at its end.
Shackle Crow – Tool for withdrawing a bolt. Somewhat similar to a crowbar, but having a shackle at toe.
Shackle Key – T-shaped key having a square section end. Used for unscrewing flush-headed shackle pins that have a square countersunk recess in head.
Shades (of Sextant) – Coloured glasses by which excessive light is excluded.
Shadow Sector – An area partially shielded from radar transmissions by part of the ship’s structure or high intervening coastline.
Shaft – A long handle of a tool. A rod connecting the engines drive to the vessel’s propeller.
Shaft – Propeller shafting. 2. That part of an oar that lies between blade and loom.
Shaft Alley – The tail shaft covered tunnels in a motor ship.
Shaft Coupling – Flange and bolt connection of two lengths of propeller shafting.
Shaft Horsepower – The effective horsepower as measured at the engine and propeller shaft coupling.
Shaft Log – The centrally bored timber structure in which the propeller shaft is inserted and held in alignment.
Shaft Tube – See ‘Stern Tube’.
Shaft Tunnel – Enclosed space, between engine-room and stern gland, through which propeller shaft extends and in which are the shaft bearings.
Shake – Crack in timber due to faulty seasoning or drying. 2. To take hoops off a cask, barrel, etc., and reduce it to its original parts.
Shake Out a Reef – To loose a reef in a sail, adjust the sail and sheet home.
Shakedown Cruise – Voyage of a newly-commissioned warship in which frequent drills are carried out to familiarise the crew with their various stations and duties. A cruise to test equipment and machinery.
Shakes – Staves and headings of casks and barrels when dismantled and bundled together.
Shakings – Hoops, staves, and headings of a cask or barrel when dismantled. 2. Cuttings of canvas, rope, etc., that accrue after fitting or refitting work. Termed ‘arisings’ in Royal Navy.
Shall – A legal term obliging compliance, mandatory – see should and may.
Shallop – Small boat for one of two rowers. 2. Small fishing vessel with foresail, boom mainsail, and mizzen trysail. 3. A sloop. Shallow. Area where depth of water is small. A shoal. Shallow Water Constituent. Quarter diurnal effect on a tidal undulation that is retarded in its translation by shoaling of ground or constriction of its path.
Shallow Water Effect – The effect that due to the depth of water, the speed of the vessel and shape of the vessels hull causes the vessel to sink deeper in the water especially in shallow water and at high speed.
Shallow Water Tide – That tidal component which, due to shoaling or constriction, is separated from the main undulation, and arrives later.
Shamal – A north-west wind in Persian Gulf.
Shame – Lug that takes the pivot pin of a gooseneck.
Shamrock Knot – Manipulation of bight of a rope so that three loops are formed round a central ring. Also called ‘Jury Mast Knot’.
Shanghaied – Forcibly put aboard a vessel other than one’s own ship. Practically impossible nowadays, but was formerly common in certain American ports when crews deserted on arrival and bounties were paid to those providing a crew.
Shank – That part of an anchor between the ring and the arms. The main section of an anchor; the stock is attached at one end, and the crown, arms and flukes at the other.
Shank Painter – Chain by which shank of anchor is held when stowed on a billboard.
Shanty – Alternative name for ‘Chanty’.
Shaping a Course – Laying off the course a vessel is to steer. Also used as meaning the steering of the course.
Shark – Large carnivorous fish found in tropical and sub-tropical waters. Principal types are the Basking, Dogfish, Hammer-headed, Tiger and White sharks.
Shark’s Mouth – Deep and narrow indentation in canvas of an awning when in the way of a stay or other permanent rigging.
Sharkskin – Dried skin of the shark. Is rough, but free from scales. Used for smoothing wood, and for handgrips of swords.
Sharp Up – Said of yards when braced as far forward as possible.
Sharpie – Long, narrow, flat-bottomed sailing boat.
Shaula – Star λ Scorpii. S. H. A. 97°; Dec. S37°; Mag. 1.7.
Shear Hook – Barbed hook that was fitted to yard arm of fireship to hook into rigging of any enemy vessel it collided with.
Shear Legs – Lashed twin or tripod of spars used to raise or lower heavy objects/masts.
Shearing Stress/Strain – Force that is exerted so that it tends to make one part of a member slide over the other part; so exerting a scissors-like action on fastenings passing perpendicularly through both parts.
Shears – A cutting tool with two opposing blades. Two or more spars lashed together near their raised upper ends; used for hoisting or lowering heavy objects.
Sheathed – Said of a steel vessel when her underwater surface has been covered with wood to which copper sheathing has been fastened.
Sheathing – Protective covering. Particularly applied to copper placed on underwater surface of ships to prevent fouling and attacks of marine animal life. Also applied to wooden linings in holds, etc.
Sheathing Nail – Flat-headed cast nail of tin and copper alloy. Used for nailing copper sheathing on underwater surface of a wooden or sheathed vessel.
Sheave – Grooved wheel in which a rope runs and alters its direction. May be of metal or wood; lignum vitae being usual in the latter.
Sheave Hole – Aperture in which a sheave is fitted.
Sheepshank – Manipulation of a rope by which its effective length is reduced, and can be restored quickly. Rope is bighted so that three parts lie alongside and a bight is at each end; half hitch, in same rope, being passed over each bight.
Sheer – The upward sweep, from amidships to forward and aft of a vessel’s freeboard deck. Also, the amount that the forward of after end of a deck is higher than midship part when keel is horizontal. Standard sheer, in inches, is 0.2 of vessel’s length in feet+ 20 inches, for forward sheer; half this amount for after sheer.
Sheer Batten – Wooden batten used for same purpose as sheerpole.
Sheer Clamp – In timber vessel construction, an external longitudinal stringer that joins the frame heads.
Sheer Draught – ‘Sheer Plan.’
Sheer Head Lashing – Used when rigging sheer legs. Heads are crossed and end of lashing is timber hitched to one leg, above the crutch. Taut turns are then passed, working downward. Finished off with three or four trapping turns around all parts, end being clove hitched to sheer head above the crutch.
Sheer Hulk – Old vessel fitted with sheers for stepping, or removing masts of ships.
Sheer Lashing – Variation of sheer head lashing. Rope is middled and passed round cross of legs. Turns are taken upwards with one part, downward with the other. When sufficient turns, ends are brought to centre and lashed.
Sheer Leg –. Two splayed legs forming sheers.
Sheer Line – Line of main deck at its junction with ship’s side.
Sheer Mast – One leg of a pair of sheers.
Sheer Mould – Thin wood template with one edge shaped to indicate sweep of deck sheer; used for transferring sheer line to side of plating.
Sheer Off – To move away obliquely.
Sheer Plan – Drawing in which are delineated longitudinal, vertical, and horizontal sections, and transverse vertical sections, of a vessel or proposed vessel.
Sheer Rail – Lower strake of bulwark planking in a wooden vessel.
Sheer Strake – Main strake in a vessel’s side plating, being that to which main deck beams are fastened. In a boat, is the strake to which upper ends of ribs are fastened—sometimes called ‘top strake’.
Sheerpole – Iron bar lashed to lower eyes of lower rigging to preventshrouds, and deadeyes or screws, from turning.
Sheers – Splayed legs erected more or less vertically and meeting— or crossed—near top, where upper end of a purchase is attached for lilting purposes. Inclination of plane of these legs is controlled by tackles—or by a third, and longer, leg at right angles to the other pair. Used when masting ships and for other purposes requiring a high lift of a heavy weight.
Sheet – Rope or purchase by which clew of a sail is adjusted and controlled when sailing.
Sheet Anchor – A third bower anchor. Originally, was heaviest anchor in ship, and used in heavy weather. Formerly called ‘waist’ anchor, on account of its being stowed abaft fore shrouds. Rarely carried nowadays, except in H. M. ships— where it is a spare, or additional, starboard bower anchor. Sheet Bend – Simple and secure method of attaching a rope to an eye or loop. End of rope is passed through eye, over one side of it, behind the eye and then under its own standing part. Double sheet bend is made by putting a round turn below, and following, the first turn.
Sheet Cable – Cable attached to a sheet anchor.
Sheet Home – To haul on a sheet until it is taut and sail is fully extended.
Sheets – After space, in a boat, that is abaft thwarts. Sheets of sails are tended there when under sail.
Shelf – Strong timber bolted to inner sides of ribs of a wooden vessel, to form housing for deck beams. 2. Rather abrupt rising of sea-bed from deep water to shallow water.
Shelf Ice – Land ice, either afloat or on ground, that is composed of layers of snow that have become firm but have not turned to glacier ice.
Shelf Piece – Shelf that houses deck beams.
Shell – Outside plating, or strakes, of a vessel. 2. That part of a block in which a sheave revolves, and to which the hook or shackle is attached.
Shell Plating – Steel or iron plating that forms shell of a vessel.
Shellback – An old and experienced seaman. Those who were tried and successfully completed the initiation challenges before King Neptune’s crossing the line pantomime court. See crossing the line.
Shelter Deck – Deck above main deck when it is not permanently closed against wind and weather. It is thus exempted from certain tonnage dues.
Shelter Deck Type – Type of vessel having a continuous shelter deck above main deck.
Shelving – Said of sea-bed when it slopes from shoal water to deep water with comparatively small inclinations.
Sheratan – Star β Arietis. S. H. A. 332°; Dec. N21°; Mag. 2.7.
Shield Ship – Warship having movable shield around each gun until moment of firing.
Shift – Of wind, is a change in its direction. 2. To shift a vessel is to move her from one berth to another. Movement of cargo.
Shift of Butts – Arrangement of a series of butted joints so that they do not lie in a line, or approximation of a line.
Shift of Wind – A definite change in wind direction.
Shifting – Moving a vessel from one berth to another. 2. Movement of stowed cargo by movement of ship in a seaway. 3. Changing of wind’s direction. 4. Separation of blocks of a tackle when they have been hauled ‘two blocks’.
Shifting Backstay – Backstay that was let go, when tacking, and shifted to the new weather side.
Shifting Boards – Planks and boards erected in a hold to prevent a cargo from shifting. Particularly necessary with bulk grain and similar cargoes. Also used for preventing shift of solid ballast.
Shifting Centre – Former name for ‘Metacentre’.
Shifting Sands – Quicksands. Sands that are loose and fluid when wet, and cannot support weight.
Shims – Pieces of thin metal used for adjusting alignment positions or clearances in mechanical systems such as steering gear or engine to shaft alignment.
Shingle – Coarse gravel that has been partially rounded by sea action.
Ship – A sea-going vessel. 2. Vessel having a certificate of registry. Technically, a sailing vessel having three or more masts with yards crossed on all of them. In Victorian times, any vessel with yards on three masts was termed a ‘ship’ even if other masts were fore and aft rigged. To ship, is to put on or into a vessel;to put any implement or fitting into its appropriate holder.
Ship Building – The construction of ships.
Ship Canal – Canal connected with sea and of such size that seagoing vessels can safely navigate it.
Ship Chandler – Tradesman or a company that sells equipment and supplies for ships.
Ship Construction – Ship building, more especially as applied to steel ships.
Ship Fever – Typhus. In 18th century was the name given to typhus when caused by insanitary conditions in overcrowded ships.
Ship Handling – Manoeuvring of a vessel in circumstances requiring precise and skilful movements of rudder, engines, or sails.
Ship Money – General levy formerly made on all counties, boroughs, cities, towns, and ports of England for upkeep of Royal Navy. Usually made in time of war. When Charles I called for it in time of peace it aroused opposition that culminated in the Civil War.
Ship of the Line – Ship having at least two decks and an armament sufficient for her to take a place in the battle line.
Ship Shape – Tidy.
Ship Time – Time kept by a ship in a given longitude. Usually Zone time in modern ships.
Ship Worm – The mollusc, teredo navalis which attaches itself to the underwater surface of ships.
Ship’s Head Up – A radar mode in which the heading of the vessel is displayed at the top of the radar screen.
Shipbreach – Shipwreck.
Shipbreaker – One who breaks up old and unserviceable vessels.
Shipbroker – One whose business is the buying and selling of vessels. 2. One who acts as an intermediary between a shipowner and a shipper. 3. One who acts as a ship’s agent.
Shipbuilder – One whose business is the building of ships.
Shiplet – Old name for a small ship.
Shipman – Old name for a mariner of any rank or rating.
Shipmaster – A person in command of a ship. A person certified as competent to command a ship. A master mariner.
Shipmate – One who serves, or served, in the same ship as another.
Shipment – The putting of cargo into a vessel. Goods, or parcel of goods, put into a vessel for carriage.
Shipowner – One who owns a ship.
Shipper – One who puts goods into a ship for carriage. At one time the name was applied to a seaman.
Shipping Articles – Contract entered into by the Master and crew of a ship before commencement of a voyage.
Shipping Federation – Association of shipowners that watches their interests, maintains agreed standards and represents owners in conferences and discussions with representatives of ships’ personnel. Now General Council of British Shipping.
Shipping the Swab – Old Royal Navy colloquialism for promotion to rank of lieutenant. Relic of the time when lieutenants had one epaulette.
Ship-Rigged – Square rigged on all three or more masts.
Ship’s Agent – A person who transacts the business on behalf of shipowners. Also called shipping agent.
Ship’s Articles – The contract between the master and the crew concerning their employment.
Ship’s Demurrage – A charge for delaying a steamer beyond a stipulated period.
Ship’s Husband – Person formerly carried in a merchant ship to transact ship’s business and purchase stores. In earlier times, was the boatswain, and was in charge of the crew and of the fabric of the ship.
Ship’s Manifest – A statement listing the particulars of all shipments loaded for a specified voyage.
Ship’s Papers – Books and documents required to be held by a ship. Include Certificate of Registry, Articles of Agreement, official log-book, bill of health, free-board certificate, radio certificate, and documents relating to cargo.
Ship’s Stability – The ability of a vessel to return to the upright after heeling.
Ship’s Tackle – All rigging, cranes, etc., utilized on a ship to load or unload cargo.
Ship’s Time – Was traditionally counted by the half hour, starting at midnight. A half hour past twelve was marked by ringing a bell once, one o’clock, was two bells continuing until four o’clock, or eight bells. The counting then started over again, with half hour past four being one bell.
Shipshape – Arranged neatly and compactly. Frequently Shipshape and Bristol fashion.
Shipwreck – Destruction or loss of a ship at sea. To cause the loss of a ship. Name is sometimes given to wreckage.
Shipwright – Man skilled in the building and repairing of wooden ships.
Shipyard – Yard or ground, near water, in which ships are built.
Shirt in Rigging – Signal formerly made by a merchant vessel when asking for a boat to be sent to her by a warship.
Shiver – Old name for ‘Sheave’. 2. To put luff of a sail into the wind so that the wind is spilled out of it.
Shoal – Ground with its upper surface a little below surface of the water. 2. Water shoals when its depth decreases.
Shoe – A timber or metal plate attached to a structure as a protective surface. 2. Step of a mast.
Shoe an Anchor – To lash a board, or plate, to fluke of anchor to increase its grip in the ground. Sometimes put on Admiralty pattern anchor to prevent bill catching on edge of side plating when fishing the anchor.
Shoe Block – Block with two sheaves, one above the other, and the pin of one sheave athwart line of pin of the other sheave.
Shole – Flat timber, or plate, put under heel of a derrick or sheer leg to spread the thrust. See ‘Shoe’. 2. Piece of wood attached to a lower edge of rudder to protect it when ship takes the ground. 3. Old form of ‘Shoal’.
Shoot Ahead – To move ahead swiftly. To move ahead of another vessel quickly when underway.
Shoot Anchor – Sheet Anchor.
‘Shoot the Sun’ – To take Sun’s altitude with sextant or quadrant. More likely to be used by landsmen than navigators.
Shooting in Stays – Carrying a good amount of way when going from one tack to the other under sail.
Shooting Nets – Term used in Colregs for vessels setting out their fishing nets.
Shooting Stars – Meteors.
Shore – Legally, area between high and low water marks on the coast. Commonly, the land immediately inshore of the sea.
Shore – Strong prop that supports or steadies a vessel’s hull while building or in dock. Applied in line of a floor, frame, or rib. To shore is to place shores so that they steady or support.
Shore Floe – Field or floe ice that has become joined to shore, and does not rise and fall with tide.
Shore Horizon – Line made by sea surface along the shore, as viewed from ship.
Shoring – Supporting with shores. 2. All the shores used when shoring.
Short Bills – Bills of Exchange that become payable within 10 days of sighting.
Short Board – A short sailing tack or leg; a long board is a long tack.
Short Circuit – Occurs when a positive and negative electrical current intersect, bypassing the proper electrical route.
Short Delivery – Delivery of cargo when short of bill of lading amount.
Short Exchange – Rate of exchange for ‘Short Bills’.
Short Glass – Sand glass used in connection with ship log when speed exceeds five knots. Empties in 14 seconds; log indication being doubled to find speed.
Short Jaw – Said of a rope when lay of strand is appreciably more than 45° from the run of the rope.
Short Shipped – Amount of cargo not loaded because of non-arrival at ship, or because ship had no space available.
Short Splice – Joining of ends of two ropes by unlaying an end of each, marrying them and tucking each strand over and under strands in other rope.
Short Stay – Said of a vessel’s anchor, or cable, when the amount of cable out is not more than one-and-a-half times the depth of water.
Short Ton – 2,000 pounds.
Shorten – To reduce the area of sail set.
Shorten In – To decrease the amount of cable by which a vessel is riding.
Shorten Sail – To reduce effective sail area of a ship under sail by furling or reefing.
Short-Handed – Undermanned. With insufficient crew.
Short’s Ship Clinometer – Instrument for measuring angle of heel, or roll, by the movement of mercury in a tubular glass arc.
Shot – Method of measuring chain; see shackle.
Shot – Projectile that has no explosive burster and is fired from a gun. 2. In fishing: the nets that are put out at one time; also, the catch that is hauled in. 3. Two hemp cables spliced together; also, the name given to the splice. 4. USA term for 90 feet of anchor cable.
Shot Anchor – Sheet anchor.
Shot Box – Wooden box containing shot. Formerly, box in which canister and grape shot were kept alongside a gun.
Shot Garland – Framework attached to a hatchway coaming to take cannonballs.
Shot Hole Stopper – Two-hinged semi-circles of steel, on end of a threaded shaft having a crosspiece and butterfly nut. Was passed outboard through a shot hole, in semi-circular form, and then opened out and clamped to ship’s side.
Shot Plug – Conical piece of timber used for plugging shot holes.
Should – A legal term obliging the intended outcome but allowing for flexibility determined by the circumstances – see shall and may.
Shoulder – The forward outer sections of a hull.
Shoulder Block – Block having a projecting piece just above swallow of sheave. Used on masts and yards in places where block might lie too close to mast or spar, and so jam rope.
Shoulder Pipe – Reinforced oval aperture in forward bulwark plating just abaft break of forecastle. Used as a fairlead for spring, mooring rope, boat rope, etc.
Shove in your oar – Contribute to a conversation.
Shove Off Forward – Order given to bowman of a boat when he is to bear boat’s head away from the ship or structure that she is alongside.
‘Show a Leg’ – Phrase used in Royal Navy when calling hands from their hammocks. Said to be a survival from days when women were allowed to sleep aboard warships. More likely to mean, ‘Show some intention of turning out.’
Showers – Short-lived rainfall.
Shroud – Rope or wire rigging that supports a mast or bowsprit in a thwartship direction.
Shroud Bridle – Bridle used to confine running rigging to a shroud.
Shroud Hoop – Band attached to mast near head, having lugs to which upper eyes of shrouds are attached.
Shroud Knot – Knot for temporarily reuniting a shroud that has parted. Ends are unlaid, married, and a wall knot made in each three strands.
Shroud Plate – Iron plate, on side of ship or boat, to take lower ends of shrouds. 2. Iron band at head of lower-mast to take lower eyes of futtock shrouds.
Shroud Stopper – Short length of rope used for securing to a shroud above and below a part that had become stranded.
Shroud Truck –. Wooden thimble seized to a shroud to form a fairleader for a rope of running rigging.
Shroud-Laid – Said of ropes consisting of four strands laid up around a central heart.
Shuga – Slush when in Russian rivers.
Shunting – Waka canoe method of going about by reversing the bow and stern of the canoe.
Shutter – Poppet closing rowlock of a boat.
Shy – A spinnaker set with pole rigged forward for reaching.
Sibidsibiran – Small, one-masted fishing vessel of China seas. Is fitted with an outrigger.
Sick Bay – Space, in a warship, reserved for the treatment of the sick and injured.
Sick Berth – Alternative name for ‘Sick Bay’.
Side Benches – Fore and aft benches in lifeboat, lying above thwarts and tops of air tanks.
Side Boy – Boy, or ordinary seaman—in Royal Navy—whose duties are to work under quartermaster of the watch and keep the gangway clean, man the side when required, pass end of man-ropes to passengers in a boat, carry messages from officer of the watch. At sea, he is bridge messenger.
Side Error – Sextant error due to horizon glass not being perpendicular to plane of instrument. Ascertained by clamping index bar to zero and observing whether direct and reflected images are coincident. Corrected by adjustment of screw in back of mirror frame.
Side Fishes – Rounded pieces, on outside of a made mast, that give mast its circular form.
Side Girder – Longitudinal member going fore and aft parallel to centre girder. It may be continuous, in which case floors are not continuous; or it may be intercostal between continuous floors.
Side Keelsons – Two small keelsons lying on either side of main keelson to give increased longitudinal strength.
Side Ladder – Rope ladder put over ship’s side for manning or disembarking from boats.
Side Lights – The vessel’s navigation lights displayed at night and in restricted visibility when underway and making way that indicate the aspect that is being viewed. The starboard green light shows an unbroken arc from dead ahead to 112.5º on the right hand side and the port red light shows an unbroken arc from dead ahead to 112.5º on the left hand side.
Side Loader – A truck with lifting gear operating to one side for handling containers.
Side Party – Men detailed for upkeep and patching of ship’s side paintwork.
Side Scuttles – Holes situated in the sides of a ship admitting light and fresh air.
Side Skids – Vertical timbers suspended over ship’s side to keep cargo clear of side when loading or discharging.
Side Stitch – Running seam put in alongside seam of a sail to give additional strength.
Sideral Hour Angle (SHA) – the angular distance between the GHA of Aries and the GHA of a star (measured in a westward direction).
Sidereal – Pertaining to, or measured by, the fixed stars.
Sidereal Clock – Timepiece regulated to keep sidereal time. It gains 24 hours a year on a clock keeping mean solar time.
Sidereal Day – Interval between successive transits of First Point of Aries across a meridian. Is 3 minutes 55.91 seconds shorter than a mean solar day.
Sidereal Hour Angle (S. H. A.) – The westerly hour angle of a fixed star from the First Point of Aries.
Sidereal Month – Interval between two successive transits of Moon across the same star. Value is 27 days 7 hours 43.2 minutes.
Sidereal Period – Time taken by a planet to make one revolution of its orbit.
Sidereal Time – Time based on hour angle of First Point of Aries.
Sidereal Year – Time taken by Earth to go round its orbit when a fixed star is taken as a point of definition. Length is 365 days 06 hours 09 minutes 10 seconds.
Sight Test – Examination of eyesight to discover any defect in it. Includes Distance, Form, and Colour tests.
Sighting – Observing with the eye. Applied to document, means examining and signing as evidence of satisfaction as to its authenticity.
Sighting the Bottom – Drydocking, beaching, or careening a vessel and carefully examining the bottom with a view to ascertaining any damage it may have.
Sign – Formerly meant a ‘constellation’. Now means a constellation in the Zodiac and, more generally, the twelfth of the Zodiac in which a certain constellation is.
Signal – A pre-arranged act or exhibition that has a specific meaning.
Signal Halyards – Ropes by which flag signals are hoisted. Usually of plaited construction to avoid twisting.
Signal Letters – Four letters allotted to a vessel for indicating her name and port of registry by International Code. The first letter indicates nationality.
Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) – GPS indicator of satellite signal strength against background electrical noise. Higher numbers represent better reception.
Signalling – Communicating by means of sounds, signs, shapes, flags, or lights.
Signalling Lamp – Lamp constructed and fitted for signalling by Morse code. Compulsorily carried by vessels on international voyages.
Signalman – Trained man whose duty is concerned with the making and receiving of signals.
Signals – Communications made by signalling.
Signed Under Protest – Words incorporated when signing under duress and not concurring entirely with import of document signed, and after stating grounds of non-concurrence.
Significant Wave Height – The mean value of the highest one-third of wave heights measured from trough to crest recorded in a wave time history. NOTE: It is probable that one in every 1000 waves will have a height at least 1.86 times the significant wave height.
Signs of Ecliptic – ‘Signs of Zodiac.’
Signs of Zodiac – Twelve portions of Zodiac, each 30° in celestial longitude. They divide Sun’s annual path into sectors, and are named after the principal constellation that was in each sector when division was introduced. Due to precession of equinoxes, the signs move backwards from their constellations at a rate of about one ‘sign’ in 2100 years.
Silencer – A baffled chamber in an exhaust system that reduces noise emissions.
Silicon Bronze – Alloy of approximately 96% copper and 1.5% silicon.
Sill – Lower horizontal member of a port or opening. 2. Upper edge of bottom of an opening into a dock. Horizontally placed structural timbers between a vessel’s frames that form and secure hull openings. An underwater bank at the entrance to a harbour.
Silometer – Name formerly given to instruments measuring distance run by a ship, and not requiring the consideration of a time interval. Walker and Chernikeef logs are of this type; the Pitometer is not.
Silvester Method – Method for restoring the apparently drowned. Arms of rescued man are used for exciting respiratory action.
Simner’s Method – The finding of ship’s position by two successive altitudes of one heavenly body, or by more or less simultaneous altitudes of two heavenly bodies. From these altitudes are calculated the position of the intersection of the two circles of equal altitude. One of these intersections is the ship’s position. First used by Captain Thomas H. Sumner (U. S. A.) on 17th December, 1837. He published a book on the method in 1843.
Simoon – Whirlwind that generally carries sand from Arabian and African deserts. Occurs in spring and summer, usually lasting from 10 to 20 minutes.
Simpson’s Rules – Rules for finding areas of plane figures bounded by a straight line, two perpendiculars and a parabolic curve. They include Simpson’s First and Second Rules and the ‘Five-Eight’ Rule.
Simultaneous Altitudes – Altitudes of different heavenly bodies taken at the same time, approximately.
Sing Out – To call out.
Singing Propeller – Propeller that gives a more or less musical note while revolving under water. Often the first sign of trouble such as fractured blade tips.
Single Screw – A ship having only one propeller.
Single Whip – Rope rove through a standing block for hoisting purposes.
Single-Banked – Said of boats that pull one oar at each thwart. Said of an oar when pulled by one man.
Single-Day Tide – Tide going through its cycle once in a tidal day. More usually called a ‘diurnal’ tide.
Single-Deck Type – Name given to vessels having no deck below upper deck.
Single-handed – Operation of a boat with one person aboard.
Single-Plate Centre Keelson – Vertical plate going fore and aft, on top of floors and riveted to a lug and reverse bar at each floor.
Singling Up – Taking in all ropes not wanted, so that only a minimum number of ropes will require casting off when leaving a berth or buoy.
Sink – To become submerged. To move downwards. To go down to bottom of the sea. To go below the horizon.
Sinking a Strand – Procedure followed when long splicing 4- stranded rope to 3- stranded rope. After splicing three strands, fourth strand is tucked under nearest strands as most convenient for making a neat finish.
Siren – A loud alarm signal. A mermaid of ancient Greek myth that lured seaman to destruction by their irresistible signing.
Siren – Fitting that gives a powerful and penetrating sound that is caused by passage of steam, or air, through a rotating disc with numerous perforations. Can be trained horizontally so that maximum volume of sound can be emitted in any required direction. 2. Mermaid. In Greek mythology these were supposed to lure ships to destruction by resting on a rock and singing sweetly.
Sirenia – Marine mammals that feed on aquatic vegetation.
Sirius – Star α Canis Majoris. S. H. A. 259°; Dec. S17°; Mag. 1.6. Has a small companion, Sirius B. Sirius A has diameter about 1. 8 that of Sun, but candlepower is 26 times greater. Distant about nine light years; temperature 11, 200° A. Is the brightest star in the sky. Name is Greek for ‘Scorcher’.
Sirocco – A south easterly wind blowing off the North African desert. One of the eight traditional traders winds of the Mediterranean Sea. Also ‘Scirocco’.
Sisal – Fibre obtained from the agave plant of Mexico, Yucatan, and East Africa. Used for ropemaking.
Sister Block – Two sheaves, one above the other, in same shell. Shell is shaped with flat, circular ends and a short circular shaft between the two sheaves.
Sister Hooks – Twin flat sided hooks reversed to one another.
Sister Keelson – Side Keelson.
Sister Ship – Ship built to same design and dimensions as another. 2. Ship belonging to same owner as another.
Sister Ship Clause – An Institute Time Clause that refers collisions between ships of the same ownership to the judgment of an arbitrator agreed upon by insurers and owner.
Sitka Spruce – European softwood timber of low weight and straight grain prized for masts.
Sitrep – Situation reports typically given by a rescue vessel during the course of a rescue.
Six Degrees of Freedom – The six vectors of ship movement; Pitching, Rolling, Swaying, Surging, Heaving, and Yawing.
Sixern – Shetland Isles fishing boat. Double-ended, about 22 ft. long.
Sixteen Bells – Eight double strokes on ship’s bell; customarily struck at midnight when new year commences. Eight bells are for 24 hours of passing year, eight bells for 00 hours of New Year.
Sixty-fourth – Minimum legal share in a registered ship. One share constitutes part ownership: there can thus be up to 64-registered owners of a ship.
Skeg – Angular member, or knee, connecting and bracing keel and stern post of a wooden vessel. 2. Knee that supports and protects the rudder on a fin keel yacht.
Skeg Shore – Shore put under skeg of a vessel to steady her at the moment of launching.
Skerry – Reefs or rocky islets.
Skid – Thwartship beam or girder on which a boat is stowed. 2. Timber placed horizontally to facilitate the sliding of heavy weights. 3. Wooden fender placed vertically on ship’s side to keep cargo clear when loading or discharging. 4. Fitting on the inboard side of ship’s lifeboat to protect against abrasion when lowering.
Skid Beam – One of the beams supporting a light deck on which boats are stowed.
Skids – Beams laid on the decks for the stowage of heavy cargo.
Skiff – Small, lightly-built boat used in sheltered waters. May be propelled by oars or sail.
Skimming Dish – Small sailing craft having broad beam and fairly flat bottom.
Skin – Outside plating, or timbers, of a vessel. If there are two skins, it is the inner one. 2. That part of a sail that is outside when it is furled.
Skin Friction – The surface resistance of a hull passing through the water.
Skinning a Sail – Making a smooth skin, with taut canvas, when furling a sail.
Skipper – Master of a fishing vessel. Colloquial name for any Master or commanding officer.
Sky Pilot – Ship’s chaplain. Often applied to any clergyman.
Skylight – Glazed opening in deck that allows light to pass to deck below. Glazed covering is usually hinged, to allow air to pass in fine weather.
Skysail – Square sail set above royal yard.
Skyscraper – Triangular sail set above royal yard. See ‘Raffee’.
Slab Hatch Covers – Several hatch covering planks held in a steel frame that can be lifted by a derrick, thus speeding the uncovering and covering of hatches. First introduced by Captain R. E. Thomas, 1909.
Slab Ice – Slob.
Slab Lines – Vertical ropes on fore side of square sail, from head to foot. Fastened to roping at each end, and at intervals between. Used for hauling up sail when reefing.
Slab Reefing – Reefing with reef-points or ties, as opposed to roller-reefing.
Slabbed Knee – Beam knee made by removing bulb of beam and welding a triangular plate to it.
Slack – Not fastened; loose. Also, to loosen.
Slack in Stays – Slow in going from one tack to the other when under sail.
Slack Water – State of a tidal stream when there is no lateral movement of the water.
Slalom – A zigzag course laid out by marker buoys.
Slamming – The striking of the sea surface, by the forward flat bottom, when a vessel is pitching in a head sea and lifts her forepart out of the water.
Slant (of Wind) – Favourable wind for sailing a desired course. 2. A temporary breeze during a calm or period of light airs.
Slapping – Heavy wave impact under the counter of a vessel.
Slatting – The beating of a loose sail against a mast.
Slave Ship – ‘Slaver.’ Colloquially used to denote a vessel in which the crew have to work unusually hard.
Slaver – Vessel engaged in transporting slaves.
Sleepers – Knees connecting transom to after timbers of a wooden ship. 2. Thwartship timbers that rest on trestle trees to support a top.
Sleet – Precipitation of rain and snow, or snow and hail.
Slew – To turn on a pivot, and in a horizontal plane.
Slice – Wedge piece inserted between bilgeway and keel to lift a vessel ready for launching. 2. Long iron bar used for stirring up fires in furnaces of boilers, and for clearing spaces between furnace bars. 3. Lever, with chisel end, used for removing planking or copper sheathing.
Slide Valve – Mechanism that admits steam on alternate sides of piston of reciprocating engine. Operated by the engine. Two commonest are ‘Piston’ and ‘D’ types.
Sliding Baulk – Substantial flat timber put under bilges of a vessel being launched, and resting on bilgeways of launching slip. Travels with ship when launching.
Sliding Gunter – Gaff in a small boat, set so close to the mast that it slides up like a topmast.
Sliding Keel – ‘Drop Keel.’
Sliding Ways – Inclined ways on which a vessel is built, and down which she slides when launched.
Sling – A rope with its ends short-spliced together used to lift cargo.
Slings – Chains of ropes by which a yard is suspended from a mast. 2. The middle part of a yard. 3. Chains or wires by which R. N. ships’ boats are hoisted; specifically those attached to the boat.
Slip – Inclined bed of masonry, sloping towards water, on which ships are built. 2. Inclined bed, often fitted with rollers, on to which vessels can be hauled for examination of underwater body, for painting and for repairing. 3. Hinged tongue of metal, fitted with a securing link, used for holding a rope or cable that may require instant release. 4. To slip is to let go inboard end of cable or rope, and get underway.
Slip – Of propeller, is the difference between theoretical advance of ship by propeller action and the actual advance. Mainly due to propeller acting in a yielding medium. See ‘Positive Slip’, ‘Negative slip’.
Slip – Particulars of a maritime risk against which insurance is required. Made out by broker and offered to underwriters. When initialed by insurer it is treated as an acceptance of risk, and is exchanged for signed policy.
Slip Hook – Hook fitted with a hinged portion that can be slipped, so that a weight carried by it can be disengaged and allowed to fall off.
Slip Knot – Knot that is free to run along the rope around which is is made. 2. Knot made with bighted end of rope so that, by pulling on the rope, the knot falls apart.
Slip Rope – Rope whose end is passed outboard through forward fairlead, through ring of a buoy and brought inboard. When moorings are taken in, the inboard end of rope can be released to free the ship.
Slip Stopper – Chain that confines a stowed anchor to the billboard By releasing a slip, in end of chain, anchor is freed.
Slippery Hitch – Derisive name for a bend, or hitch that does not hold.
Slipstream – Current of water projected on rudder by propeller action.
Slipway – One of the inclined longitudinal timbers supporting a vessel on a building or repairing slip. Inclination varies between one in 12 to one in 24, according to size of vessel it is designed to take.
Slob – Loose and broken ice in bays, or along exposed edges of floes.
Slocum, Captain Joshua – American master, pioneering solo sailor and author of Sailing alone around the World.
Sloop – One-masted sailing vessel having fore and aft rig, bowsprit, and jib stay. Name is often given to any such vessel having a single-head sail. 2. Small vessel, mechanically-propelled and used for patrol, escort, and other duties in time of war, formerly ship-rigged.
Slop Chest – Chest, or compartment, in which is stowed sStock of merchandise aboard ships for sale to the crew.
Slop Room – Compartment in which clothing for sale to crew is stowed.
Slop Tank – Tank in an oil tanker used to receive the washings from other tanks when these are being cleaned, the contents of the slop tank later being discharged ashore. Slot Ice. Ice-carrying slots caused by erosion, and other action. Sludge. Collection, on surface of water, of ice crystals that are not welded together. Does not prevent navigation. Name is sometimes given to ‘Brash’. 2. Mud brought up by a dredger.
Slops – Clothing that is slipped on. Formerly, name was given to all clothing carried for sale to crew. May include cigarettes, tobacco and confectionery.
Slot – The air space between overlapping sails
Slug – Slugg. Seventeenth-century term for a slow-sailing vessel. Sluice. Valve, in form of a door, that moves perpendicularly to the direction of the flow it controls. Found in bilges, tanks, and flooding openings of dry docks.
Sluice – A lower bulkhead watertight door. A strainer across a stepped watercourse.
Slush – Sludge ice. 2. Fat skimmed off galley coppers when boiling meat. Formerly used for lubricating and preservative purposes. 3. Nickname for a ship’s cook.
Slush Bucket – Grease bucket. Was formerly kept in tops of sailing ships, being used for greasing masts, blocks, and running gear.
Smack – Small vessel having one mast and sloop, or cutter, rig. Formerly used in near-European trade, and, until recently, in fishing trade. Tonnage did not exceed 200 tons (about). Small (of Anchor). That part of shank immediately below the stock.
Small Bower – Name formerly given to port bower anchor—which was used for holding ship in calm weather with no strong wind.
Small Circle – Circle, of a sphere, whose plane does not pass through centre of the sphere.
Small Craft – Comprehensive term for vessels of small size. As it is used in a relative sense, no tonnage value is applicable.
Small Damage Club – Mutual indemnity society, of shipowners, that covers damage to vessels of members when amount of damage does not exceed 6% of the insured value of the vessel concerned, and is, therefore, excluded from usual policy of insurance.
Small Stuff – Yarns, marlines, and lines below one inch in circumference.
smaller vessel to sheer towards the larger.
Smart – Seamanlike.
Smelling the Ground – Said of a vessel when her keel is close to the bottom and all but touching it.
Smiting Line – Rope attached to a number of rope yam stops that were around a furled sail. By pulling on this line the whole of the sail was instantly released, and could be sheeted home.
Smog – A fog thickened by smoke or other atmospheric pollutants.
Smoke Fog – Off-shore fog generated, mainly, by smoke particles.
Smoke Helmet – A head covering to which fresh air is supplied through a tube and pump, for use in fighting fires.
Smoke Sail – Canvas screen placed abaft galley funnel to keep smoke soot particles from falling on quarter deck or poop.
Smoke Stack – U.S.A. name for a steamship’s funnel.
Smooth – Comparatively smooth area of sea surface in a stormy sea.
Smothering Lines – Pipes delivering fire extinguishing agent.
Smuggler – Man or vessel engaged in smuggling.
Smuggling – Importing or exporting dutiable goods without paying the appropriate Customs duties.
Snaffle – Lug that takes pivoting pin of a gooseneck.
Snake – To worm. To lay yarn or small rope in cantlines of a larger rope.
Snap Freeze – Rapid freezing of food to preserve its natural qualities.
Snap Hook – Self-mousing hook having a spring strip across mouth.
Snatch – Fairlead or thumb cleat having a spring strip across the mouth.
Snatch Block – Block having a hinged part, in line of swallow, which can be opened to allow bight of a rope to be laid on the sheave.
Snekkja – Norse longship of 50 to 60 oars, c. 900 A.D.
Snorkel/Snort – A large vertical tube extending above a submarine’s conning tower to enable fresh air to be obtained when the submarine is just submerged. 2. A short tube with a face-mask worn by a swimmer for a similar purpose.
Snorter – Alternative name for ‘Snotter’. 2. A very high wind.
Snorter – Rope strop, or metal ring, holding heel of a sprit or gaff to the mast. 2. Grommet strop used for passing over a yard arm and around tripping rope when sending a yard aloft, or on deck, so keeping mast alongside the rope. 3. Canvas strop through which bags are slung. 4. A length of rope or wire with an eye spliced in each end, used for slinging bales, etc.
Snotter – See Snorter.
Snotty – Nickname for a midshipman in Royal Navy.
Snow – Brig-rigged vessel whose main trysail, or ‘driver’, is carried by encircling rings, on a small mast immediately abaft main mast.
Snow Box – Compartment, in a refrigerating machine, having baffle plates on which the moisture in expanded cold air is converted into ice particles.
Snowberg – Tabular berg.
Snub – To stop suddenly a rope or cable that is running.
Snubber – A cable stopper.
Snubbing Line – Rope used for checking a vessel’s way when warping her into a dock or basin.
Snug Down – Reduce sail in anticipation of increased wind.
Sny – Boatbuilding term used when referring to the upward sweep of a boat’s strake before attachment to the ribs. The strake has a homed, or crescent, shape; the upward sweep from middle to ends being the sny.
Soft Iron – Iron, or ferrous alloy, that becomes magnetic when in a magnetic field but loses its magnetism when removed from the field.
Soft Laid – Said of rope or yarn that has been rather loosely laid up to gain flexibility and grip.
Soft Tack. Fresh bread.
Solan Goose – Solent Goose. Gannet. Sea bird with blue face, greyish-white bill, white plumage with some black in it. Head and neck are buff. Overall length is about three feet. Large numbers are to be seen in Firth of Forth—especially Bass Rock— and in Baltic.
Solano – Easterly rain-wind in Straits of Gibraltar and on SE coast of Spain.
Solar – Pertaining to the Sun.
Solar Constant – Deduced value of Sun’s radiation at upper boundary of Earth’s atmosphere. Is expressed as 1.94 calories per square centimetre per second.
Solar Constituent – That part of a tidal undulation that is due to the tractive effort of the Sun.
Solar Cycle – Period of 28 years, after which days of the week fall on same dates in the month.
Solar Day – Interval between successive transits of Sun (true or mean) across a particular meridian.
Solar Eclipse – Eclipse of Sun.
Solar Month – Interval in which Sun passes through a sign of the Zodiac.
Solar System – Sun, nine planets with their satellites, the asteroids, periodic comets, and meteors.
Solar Time – Time measured by hour angle of either the Mean or True Sun.
Solar Year – ‘Tropical Year.’
SOLAS – The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. 1974.
Soldier’s Wind – Wind with a direction that allows a vessel to sail out and return on one tack each way. 2. Sometimes said of a wind that allows a vessel to go from one point to another on one tack—but this is a ‘fair’ wind.
Sole – Piece attached to lower edge of a rudder to bring it to level of a false keel. 2. Bottom part of a launching cradle.
Solid Thimble – Metal block, with small circular hole, inserted in eye of a wire rope when maximum strength is required.
Solitary Wave – High and lone wave that is out of all proportion to the prevailing sea. Generally produced by a wave that has moved fast before a wind, and overtaken smaller waves under its lee. By absorbing these, its size increases rapidly.
Solstice – The two days of the year when the sun is at its maximum to the North and the South of the equator.
Solstitial Colure – Hour circle passing through solstitial points. Contains poles of Equinoctial and Ecliptic.
Solstitial Points – The two points in Ecliptic that are most remote from Equinoctial. When Sun is in either of these points his declination stands still for two or three days.
Solstitial Tides – Tides occurring about the period of the solstice. Diurnal inequalities of tropic tides may be unusually large.
Solvents – Liquids that dissolve grease or paints.
Somerville Sounding Gear – Used in surveying vessels. Weight is towed along sea-bed by a line from forward so adjusted that weight is just forward of propellers. An up and down line from weight is rove through a block with a small weight in inboard end, so keeping line taut: this line is marked so that depth can be read.
Son of a Gun – Seaman who was born aboard a warship. As this was once considered to be one of the essentials of the perfect seaman it has long been a complimentary term.
Sonar – See ‘Asdic’.
Sonic Sounder – Instrument that measures sea depths by measuring time interval between emission of an audible sound and the return of its echo from sea-bed.
Soogee Moogee/Sujee-mujee – Cleansing powder used for cleaning wood and paintwork. Various other spellings.
SOP’s – Is short for Standing Operating Procedures.
SOS – Morse symbols of 3 shorts, 3 longs, 3 shorts, made by any signalling method. The international signal, ‘I am in distress and require assistance.’
Sothis – Egyptian name for the star Sirius.
Souillagouet Method – Solution of the PZX triangle by dropping a perpendicular from λ to observer’s meridian, and so making two right-angled triangles.
Soul and Body Lashing – Spun yarn passed around open parts of oilskin clothing to exclude water and wind.
Sound – Narrow expanse of water between two land masses. 2. Sound waves of a frequency (less than 3800 per second) that can be detected by the human ear. 3. To ascertain depth of Water by measuring distance from surface to bottom. 4. Whaling term used to denote the quick descent of a whale in the sea, particularly after being harpooned.
Sound Signal – Any signal transmitted by a system of sounds.
Sounding – Sounding is the term used for measuring the depth of liquid in a tank. The depth of water.
Sounding Bottle – Small container, or bottle, lowered into the sea to bring up a sample of sea-water from a desired depth.
Sounding Machine – Apparatus for dropping a line and sinker to sea-bed, measuring the amount of line out, heaving in the sinker and indicating the actual depth of water.
Sounding Pipe – Tube leading from a deck to any place or compartment containing water or liquid. Forms a lead for a graduated rod, to which is attached a line.
Sounding Rod – Graduated rod, attached to a line, used for measuring depth of liquid in a space.
South – Point or direction opposite to North. For a heavenly body to ‘South’ is for it to come to the meridian south of observer.
South Seas – Former name for South Pacific Ocean.
South-East Trade Drifts – Surface currents set up in nearly all oceans by SE trade winds. In general, they merge into the Equatorial Current; in Indian Ocean the drift originates the current. South Equatorial Current. A term often used to denote the Equatorial Current by those who consider the North-East Trade Drift to be the North Equatorial Current.
Southerly Burster (Buster) – Wind off S and SE coasts of Australia during summer and autumn. Usually develops from a wind between North and West, which chops round and brings cold and stormy conditions.
Southern Cross – The conspicuous constellation Crux.
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) – is calculated from seasonal air pressure fluctuation differences between Tahiti and Darwin.
Southing – Distance, or difference of latitude, made good in a direction due south.
South-West Monsoon Currents – Drift currents set up in China Sea, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, off coasts of Burma and west India by South-West Monsoon.
Southwester – A wind from the South West. An oil-skin hat with broad rear brim.
Sou’wester – Oilskin headgear having projections to protect back of neck. ears, and eyes. 2. South-westerly gale.
Span – Length of rope, with eye in each end, stretched between two points of attachment.
Span Block – Block hooked or shackled into eyes of a span lying across a mast cap and around mast.
Spanish Bowline – Rather complicated manipulations of a bighted rope to form two separate and permanent loops in the bight. Rarely, if ever, used nowadays, but was formerly used in jury rigging.
Spanish Burton – Purchase made with two single blocks. Rope spliced in head of moving block, rove through standing block, then through moving block. Hook inserted in second drift between standing and moving block. Gives power of three, but only a short lift.
Spanish Fox – Made by unlaying a yarn, smoothing it down, and laying it up in the opposite direction.
Spanish Reef – A lubberly reef. Made by settling yard of a square sail, or knotting the head of a jib.
Spanish Windlass – Simple and powerful mechanism for heaving together two parts of rope. Short round bar is laid across two parts of rope and a small line is passed round the two parts. Ends of small line are passed over cross bar, and marline spikes inserted into ends by marline spike hitches. By using cross bar as fulcrum the two ropes are drawn together.
Spanker – Fore and aft sail, spread to a gaff and boom, on after side of after mast of a ship or barque. Sometimes called ‘Driver’. Name was given to after mast of a five-masted ship.
Spanker Boom – Boom on after side of after mast of a ship or barque, to which the foot of spanker was stretched.
Spanker Gaff – Spar to which head of a spanker is stretched.
Spanking – Applied to a wind, or movement of a vessel, to denote brisk and lively.
Spar – Long and rounded piece of timber. General name for any yard, gaff, or boom.
Spar Buoy – Long spar, moored more or less vertically, that acts as a navigational aid. Related Article: The IALA Buoyage Systems – Seafarer’s Aids to Navigation.
Spar Ceiling – Removable side battens fitted in a hold to keep cargo off ship’s side, and to provide for through ventilation of cargo.
Spar Deck – Originally, a deck formed by spars resting on beams. Later, name was given to vessels of somewhat light construction above main deck, and intended to carry both cargo and passengers.
Sparks – Nickname for a Radio Operator.
Speak – To communicate with another vessel, or with a shore station.
Speaking Trumpet – Trumpet-shaped instrument that preceded the megaphone at sea.
Special (ly) Flexible Steel Wire Rope – Name given to steel wire ropes having 37 wires around a fibre heart in each of six strands.
Special Surveys – Examination and inspection of registered ships at intervals of 4, 8, and 12 years from date of building. They are termed No. 1, 2, and 3 respectively—No. 3 being the most rigorous. After No. 3 survey the next is ‘2nd No. 1’, and so on.
Specific Gravity – Weight of any given volume of a substance expressed as ratio to weight of an equivalent volume of fresh water at temperature of 4° C.
Specific Heat – Amount of heat required to raise temperature of a given mass through a given range when defined as a ratio of the amount of heat required to raise heat of a similar mass of water through a similar range. Sometimes defined as the amount of heat required to raise temperature of one pound of substance from 39° to 40° F.
Specific Volume – Amount of space occupied by a unit of mass. Of steam, is the space, in cubic feet, occupied by 1 Ib. at a given pressure.
Specksynder – Chief harpooner in a whaler; formerly in charge of whale-catching operations when on whaling ground.
Spectacle Eye – Flat plate with two eyes, pivoted at davit head to form attachment for guy and jackstay.
Spectacles – Figure-of-eight clew irons put in a sail for attachment of chain sheets.
Spectioneer, Spectioner – ‘Specksynder.’
Speculum – Concave metal mirror in a reflecting telescope.
Speed – Of a ship, is her velocity through the water in a given condition. Of a piston, is the number of feet it travels in one minute. Of crank pin, is distance centre travels in one minute.
Speed Curve – A graph comparing engine revolutions per minute and knots of statute miles per hour used to determining speed without the advantage of a log or speedometer.
Speed Error – Error of indication, by a gyro compass, due to torque set up by speed of ship.
Speed Log – Instrument for measuring ships speed and distance run.
Speed Made Good – The vessels speed from one known position over the sea bed position over the sea bed to another known position over the sea bed.
Speed of Wave – Rate at which successive crests pass a fixed point. In ocean waters, speed in knots is approximately 0.8 speed of wind.
Speed Trial – The running of a vessel on a measured distance to ascertain her exact speed.
Speed/length Ratio – A formula used to compare potential speeds of displacement or semi-displacement hulls; not used for full planing hulls. Few hulls reach their theoretical speed-length ratio. Formula: Speed in knots= factor x square root of the waterline length. Factors range from 0.8 (barge) to 1.34 (sailing yacht).
Spell – Time spent on a particular duty, or when relieved from duty.
Spencer – Loose-footed trysail set abaft mast and with head extended along a gaff.
Spencer Mast – Small mast, immediately abaft a principal mast, for carrying a trysail.
Spend – To spend a mast, spar, or sail is to cause it to be carried away in bad weather.
Sperm Whale – Alternative name for ‘Cachalot’.
Sperry Gyro Compass – Electrically-driven gyroscope, revolving at about 9000 revolutions per minute, that carries corrector devices for precessing it into the meridian and maintaining it there. A ‘phantom’ follows all movements of axle relative to vessel’s fore and aft line.
Sphere – Solid figure generated by half revolution of a circle about one of its diameters.
Spherical Aberration – Deviation of light rays from a focus after passing through curved lens. Results in a coloured fringe caused by unequal refraction of lenses breaking up the light into its constituent colours.
Spherical Angle – The inclination of one great circle to another. Can be measured by intercepted arc of a great circle to which they are both secondaries, or by angle between lines tangent to the circles at their point of intersection.
Spherical Sailing – Methods of navigation that take into account the spherical shape of Earth—instead of assuming a plane surface. Term is obsolete; methods are comprised in great circle sailing.
Spherical Triangle – Area, on surface of sphere, bounded by arcs of three great circles.
Spheroid – Solid that is almost, but not quite, a sphere. Its section is an ellipse, and not a great circle.
Sphinxer – Original name of a ‘Spinnaker’.
Spica – Star α Virginis. S. H. A. 159°; Dec. S11°; Mag. 1.2. Name is Latin for ‘Ear of Corn’.
Spica’s Spanker – Four stars, in constellation Corvus, forming an irregular quadrilateral resembling a spanker; the gaff pointing to Spica.
Spider – Iron band, around a mast, to take lower end of futtock rigging.
Spider Band – Iron band, around mast, for carrying belaying pins.
Spider Hoop – Spider band.
Spidereen Frigate – Fictitious vessel. A seaman who did not wish to give the name of his ship used to say, ‘The spidereen frigate with nine decks.’
Spider’s Web – Spiders were formerly carried in surveying ships of Royal Navy as store articles. Their purpose was to produce cross ‘wires’ for theodolites. Spider’s Web Diagram, a diagram consisting of a number of concentric circles and radii used for plotting radar and tactical diagrams.
Spike Bowsprit – Single bowsprit combining duties of bowsprit and jib boom.
Spike Plank – Plank running from bulwark to bulwark before mizen mast of arctic whalers. Allowed ice master to cross quickly from side to side when navigating ice-lanes.
Spike Tackle – Purchase used by whalers to hold carcase alongside while blubber was removed.
Spikes – Pointed fastenings driven into timber.
Spile – A small tapered wooden pin.
Spile Hole – Small hole bored in cask or barrel to allow air to enter when emptying.
Spiling – Curved edge of a shaped strake when laid flat. Sny.
Spilings – Perpendicular distances from a line that joins two ends, of a spiling, to points of the spiling.
Spill – To empty the wind from a sail.
Spilling Line – Rope put on sail, in bad weather, for spilling wind out of sail when clewing up.
Spinaker, Spinnaker – Large sail put on side of mast opposite to mainsail when running. First used, 1886, in H. C. Maudslay’s ‘Sphinx’. For this reason, was called ‘Sphinxer’; later became ‘spinaker’.
Spindle – Strong and firmly supported steel shaft around which a capstan revolves; or which, when keyed to capstan, will revolve the capstan.
Spindle – Timber forming the diameter of a ‘made’ wooden mast.
Spindle Eye – ‘Flemish Eye’.
Spindrift – Finely-divided water swept from crest of waves by strong winds.
Spinnaker – A light and large sail used to increase sail area dramatically while running. It is poled out to maintain its set.
Spinnaker Boom – Spar that extends the foot of a spinnaker.
Spinning Jenny – Formerly, winch for making rope yarn. Now, platform, suspended from a swivel and used for uncoiling wire rope.
Spirket – Space between floor timbers of a wooden ship. 2. A large wooden peg.
Spirketing – Inside strake between waterways and the port sills of old wooden ships.
Spit – A projecting shoal.
Spitfire – Name sometimes given to a small jib used as a storm sail in a boat.
Spitfire Jib – A small storm jib of heavy canvas.
Splay Tackle – Purchase extended between heels of sheer legs, to adjust and maintain their distance apart.
Splice – Join in rope made by intertwining ends of strands. 2. To join ropes by splicing.
Splice Main Brace – To issue an extra ration of rum. The main brace, often a tapered rope, was spliced only in the most exceptional circumstances.
Splicing Hammer – Hammer with a head having a flat face at end and a tapered part at the other end.
Splicing Shackle – Formerly used for joining hemp to chain cable. Hemp cable was spliced round a solid heart thimble that was pierced to take pin of chain cable.
Spline – Piece of thin, flexible, straight-grained wood, about 6 ft. long, used for setting off curves of boats and yachts.
Split in Wood – Separation of the fibres in a piece of wood from face to face.
Split Knee – Steel beam knee made by cutting horizontally into end of beam and turning down the lower section.
Split Yarn – A historic method of lashing incorporating a weak point that is easily broken for emergency release, where the alternative of untying knots is considered too slow. For instance an anchor or lifebuoy.
Splitting Tacks – Yacht racing term for going about when ‘lee bowed’.
Spoil Ground – Underwater dumping ground.
Spoke – One of the hand-grips of a steering-wheel.
Sponson – Rubbing strake. A projection or addition to the side or bottom of the boat to stabilize or provide lift. One waterproof compartment of a multi-hulled vessel.
Sponson Beam – Strong athwartship beam that supports lower end of a paddlebox.
Sponson Rim – Timber connecting paddle-beam to side of vessel.
Spontaneous Combustion – Burning of a substance by the generation of heat consequent on a chemical change taking place inside the substance.
Spooning – Running directly before wind and sea.
Spot Rate – A charter contract rate for a particular vessel to move a single cargo between specified loading and discharge ports in the immediate future.
Spotted Gum – Australian durable and flexible timber much sought after for marine use.
Spouter – A whale when spouting.
Sprag – A bolt inserted in the spur wheel of a towing winch to prevent the winch from turning.
Spray – Water blown, or thrown, into the air in particles.
Spray Rails – Longitudinal timbers fastened to a vessel to divert and flatten spray or provide a stepped hull shape to optimise wetted surface area in planing craft.
Spreaders – Spars, or irons, put on a mast to increase the interior angle that a shroud or backstay makes with the mast. A long step in a pilot ladder that prevents twisting. See Also: There is Only One Correct Method To Rig a Pilot Ladder and It’s This!
Spreading – Distributing a fire over the firebars in a boiler furnace when the fire is lit, or after it has been banked.
Spring – Rope from after part of a vessel led outside and forward to a point of attachment outside vessel. By heaving on it ship can be moved ahead. Sometimes led to anchor cable, for casting ship’s head. 2. The opening of a seam. 3. Partial fracture in a mast or spar.
Spring a Leak – To start leaking, possibly through straining. 2. To come into the wind and set to leeward.
Spring Beam – Strong fore and aft timber connecting the outboard ends of a paddle-box.
Spring Block – Pulley block having a spring connection to ring-bolt. Formerly used for sheet blocks, and others, so that they yielded slightly to sudden gusts of wind.
Spring Line – A pivot line used in docking, undocking, or to prevent the boat from moving forward or astern while made fast to a dock.
Spring Range – Difference between heights of high and low water of a spring tide.
Spring Stays – Additional mast stays set up in warships before action.
Spring Tides – Tides occurring about New and Full Moon; rising farthest abovemean level, and falling farthest below it.
Springing – Moving a vessel ahead by means of a spring. 2. Loosening the butt of a plank in a vessel’s bottom.
Springs – Mooring lines to counter surging.
Sprit – Spar going diagonally from tack to peak of a four-sided fore and aft sail, to spread it. Lower end usually rests in a snotter.
Spritsail – Fore and aft sail spread by a sprit between tack and peak. 2. Square sail spread by gaffs on either side of bowsprit and just abaft the dolphin striker.
Spritsail Barge – Sailing barge up to 150 tons. Rigged with a spritsail. Once commonly used on River Thames and in coastal trade between Great Yarmouth and Weymouth.
Spritsail Gaff – One of the gaffs on either side of bowsprit for carrying a spritsail. Also called ‘Whisker Gaff’.
Spritsail Sheet Knot – Knot used for joining ends of a piece of rope when making a strop for a spritsail sheet block. Rope was rove through longitudinal holes in sheet block and both ends were passed through thimble in clew of spritsail, the knot being made to secure it. Seizing was then put on close to block.
Spritsail Yard – Yard, across bowsprit, for spreading guys of jib boom and flying jib boom. Sometimes carried a spritsail.
Sprockets – Recesses in rim of a wheel, or drum, around which chain is passed; being shaped so that link of chain lies snugly. more particularly applied to those on capstans and windlasses for taking links of chain cable.
Sprung – Said of a wooden mast or spar when it is strained, or partly fractured, by excessive stress.
Spry – Active and fit.
Spume – Froth of foam of the sea.
Spunkie – A Scottish water spirit.
Spunyarn – Two or more yams twisted together but not laid up; usual numbers being 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12 yams. Usually supplied in coils, or ‘pads’, of 14 or 56 Ib.
Spur – A projection. 2. Curved timber used as a bracket. 3. Timber attached to bilge of wooden vessel while building—for protective purposes. 4. Projecting piece on certain old types of anchor. 5. Spiked sole of a whaleman’s boot, used when flensing.
Spurling Pipe – Tube leading from forecastle to chainlocker and enclosing the cable. ‘Navel Pipe.’
Spurnwater – Eyebrow, or rigol, fitted above a port hole or scuttle to deflect water which may run down.
Spurting Line – Small line that, formerly, led from a tiller or wheel to a tell-tale in cabin, to indicate amount of helm being used.
Spy Glass – Short telescope, with large object glass, that preceded binoculars at sea.
Squall – High wind that arrives suddenly and ceases suddenly. May, or may not, blow in direction of the prevalent wind.
Square – That part of the shank, of old type of anchor, to which the stock and shackle were attached.
Square Knot – Interlacing and securing of two ropes crossing at right angles. An ‘S’-shaped bight is put in one rope; second rope interlaces the ‘S’ at right angles. 2. U. S. reef knot. Related Article: Can You Knot? 10 Widely Used Knots on Merchant Ships.
Square Rig – That rig in which the principal sails are bent to yards across the masts. 2. In Royal Navy, the name is colloquially given to the bluejackets’ uniform—to distinguish it from the ‘fore and aft’ rig of petty officers.
Square Sail – Four-sided sail bent to a yard; particularly one carried by schooners when running.
Square Yards – To brace the yards at right angles to fore and aft line, and to adjust lifts so that yards are horizontal.
Squat – The increase of a vessel’s draft caused by her movement through the water. In shallow water with high speed squat may amount to one metre.
Squeegee – Flat piece of wood with vertical rubber strip in lower end. Shipped on a handle and used for removing water from deck.
Squilgee – American form of ‘Squeegee’. 2. (U. S. N.) Toggle used when setting lower studdingsail. It held a strop that passed around sail and yard, and was withdrawn immediately before sheeting home.
St. Elmo’s Fire – See Elmo’s, St. fire
Stabber – Thin, tapered marline spike.
Stabilisers – Protruding hydrofoils which reduce roll by alternating lift effect phased to counter successive rolls.
Stability – That property of a ship, or body, by which it maintains a position of equilibrium, or returns to that position when a force that has displaced it ceases to act.
Stable Equilibrium – A ship which, when forcibly inclined, returns to her original upright position is in stable equilibrium.
Stack – Ship’s funnel. (U. S.).
Staff – Prefix formerly applied to officers of Royal Navy, other than executive officers, who were of rank equivalent to lieutenant-commander.
Stage – Plank, or planks, fitted with transverse bearers, slung by ropes and put over ship’s side, or in holds, for men to work on.
Stage Lashing – New, soft-laid, hemp rope used for lashing stages, and other purposes. Is pliable and grips well.
Stagger – To walk with an erratic gait. Arrangement in an alternating pattern.
Staging – Temporary plank or decking as used in a scaffold.
Stainless Steel – Non rusting alloy of iron and nickel – marine grade 316, hospitality grade 314.
Staith – Elevated structure from which coal and other cargoes can be loaded into a vessel. Name is also given to a landing-place, or loading-place.
Stakes – Former name for ‘Strakes’.
Stall – Stopping of air-flow over a sail or a vessel’s movement through the water.
Stamukha – Ice masses grounded in shoal water.
Stanchion – Vertical member, usually metal, carrying ridge rope, guard rails, or manropes. 2. Vertical members that support deck beams.
Stanchions – The vertical posts that support a handrail or guardrail.
Stand – Of tide, is the time interval between instant of high, or low, water, and the commencement of fall or rise, respectively. 2*. A sail is said to ‘stand’ when it is drawing.
Stand By – To remain in the vicinity of a vessel to render assistance necessary. 2. Cautionary order to be in readiness.
Stand In – To steer or sail towards the land.
Stand of the Tide – Prolonged period when the tidal level remains constant.
Stand Off and On – To sail, alternately, towards the land and away from it.
Stand On – The vessel that by the rules is required to maintain its course and speed.
Stand On Vessel- That vessel which has right-of-way during a meeting, crossing, or overtaking situation.
Stand Out – To sail away from a port, or the land.
Stand Up – To keep close to the wind or come closer to it.
Standard – Short name for ‘Royal Standard’. 2. That which acts as a criterion, to which others are compared or referred.
Standard Compass – Magnetic compass placed in a selected position, carefully adjusted and checked, and used as the principal compass for navigational purposes.
Standard Knee – Timber knee so placed that one arm is horizontal and the other is vertical.
Standard Nautical Mile – An invariable unit of length on which speeds and log registrations are based. Usual value, for British shipping, is 6080 ft. This is equal to length of one minute of the meridian in Lat. 54° 05′.
Standard Port – A port, or place, for which daily predictions of times and heights of tides have been calculated, so that tidal times and heights at certain other ports can be deduced from those at the standard port.
Standard Rudder – Pre-arranged angle of helm used by ships in formation when turning together, or manoeuvring.
Standard Salvage Agreemen –. Standardised form of salvage agreement recognised by Lloyds Corporation and practically all insurance and salvage corporations.
Standard Sheer – See ‘Sheer’.
Standard Time – Official and authoritative time kept in a country or place. It is usually, but not always, a complete number of hours different from Greenwich Time. Also called ‘Civil Time’.
Standards of Training and Certification of Watchkeepers Convention (STCW) – of the IMO convention that aims to maintain standards of watchkeeping at sea.
Standing – That part of a rope that is fast or closest to the main coil.
Standing Block – Block that is fixed in position, particularly that block, of a tackle, that does not move in position when the fall is hauled upon.
Standing Lug – Lugsail in which the tack is made fast near the mast. Yard projects about a quarter of its length before mast, and remains on the same side of mast on either tack.
Standing Part – That part of a line or fall which is secured.
Standing Rigging – Shrouds, stays, trusses, pendants, etc., that support masts, yards, booms, and gaffs by being fixed and immovable.
Star Chart – Projection of celestial concave to a plane surface for showing relative positions of fixed stars. Various projections are used, according to purpose of chart.
Star Globe – Small globe on which are depicted the fixed stars of lower magnitude, circles of right ascension, parallels of declination, and the Ecliptic. As these are depicted on a convex surface we have a ‘looking glass’ effect, but star indentification is much-simplified by use of the globe.
Star Knot – Ornamental knot put in end of six-stranded rope. End is unlaid to a whipping, ‘half crown’ is put in each strand—the standing part on top and in direction of lay of rope. End of each strand is passed through ‘half crown’ of next strand, then passed under its own part and brought to centre. Finished off as wall knot, or crowned.
Star Magnitudes – See ‘Magnitude of Star’.
Starboard – Direction equivalent to ‘right hand’ when facing forward. ‘Starboard,’ Order to helmsman to turn wheel to starboard—tiller to port—so that ship’s head turns to starboard. Previous to 30th June, 1931, the word signified the opposite directions.
Starboard Tack – Having the wind on the starboard side when under sail. Having starboard tacks boarded, and port sheets taut.
Starbowlines – Name familiarly given to the starboard watch.
Stargrazer – The square sail set above the course sails (lowest), lower topsail, upper topsail, topgallant, royal and skysail of an extreme clipper.
Stargrazer – The square sail set above the course sails (lowest), lower topsail, upper topsail, topgallant, royal and skysail of an extreme clipper.
Stars – Self-luminous heavenly bodies, outside solar system, whose apparent positions relative to other stars do not change. Nearest star is about 4 1/4 light years distant; Canopus is more than 150 times this distance away. About 7000 stars—down to magnitude 6—are visible to the naked eye; 2, 000, 000, 000 have been photographed or observed telescopically. Starlight in any hemisphere does not exceed 1/400 the of full moonlight.
Start – To commence to pour liquid from a cask. 2. To break an anchor out of the ground. 3. To slightly ease a tackle, fall, or sheet.
Starting Solenoid – A heavy-duty relay for opening and closing the circuit to an engine’s starter motor.
Statics – ‘Atmospherics.’
Station – One of a series of equally spaced transverse “slices” of the hull, as shown in the lines drawing of the plans. Also called a section.
Station Bill – List of ship’s company giving the stations of each individual in various drills and emergencies.
Station Keeping – Maintaining a prescribed distance and bearing from a specified ship.
Station Pointer – Instrument for determining position of observer from observations of two horizontal angles between three distant objects whose positions are charted. Consists of a graduated circle having one arm fixed and two arms movable, all radiating from centre. Invented by J. Hubbard, F. R. S., b. 1753, d. 1815.
Statute Mile – Arbitrary unit of length with value of 5280 ft. Adopted as legal unit of distance in reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Rarely considered in nautical work.
Staunch – Said of a vessel that is firm, strong, and unlikely to develop leaks.
Staunching – Putting water in a boat, cask, or wooden bucket, to close the seams by wetting the wood.
Stave – Strip of wood shaped when making a cask, tub, or bucket.
Stave In – To break or displace a stave.
Stave off – To bear off with a staff, boathook, long spar, etc.
Stay – A rope that steadies a mast in a fore and aft direction, more particularly when on fore side of mast. To ‘stay’ is: (1) to incline a mast correctly by adjustment of stays; (2)* to go about under sail.
Stay Holes – Holes, in luff of a staysail, that takes the hanks which ride along the stay.
Stay Tackle – Purchase suspended from triatic stay for working cargo, or lifting weights.
Stay Tube – One of the smoke tubes of a cylindrical marine boiler. Is of thicker metal than ordinary tubes and is held to tube plates by nuts on end of tube, instead of by expansion of end; thus giving extra support to tube plates. About one-quarter of smoke tubes are stay tubes.
Staying – ‘Tacking’.
Staysail – Sail whose luff is attached to a stay.
Staysail Schooner – A schooner that sets a staysail between the masts as opposed to a fore and aft foresail on its foremast.
‘Steady’ – Order given to helmsman when ship’s head is on a desired course, and he is required to keep vessel on that course. To maintain a course heading. Related Article: Standard Helm Orders, Meaning and Execution.
Stealer – Single plate, or strake, that is joined to two strakes of plating that have narrowed—owing to the form of the vessel.
Steam Cornet – Swallow-tailed pendant formerly flown above house flag by a vessel having steam propulsion in addition to sails. Name was sometimes given to ‘A’ flag when hoisted by a steam vessel on steaming or engine trials.
Steam Metal – Brass used in steam engines. Is alloy of copper (87%), zinc (3%), tin (7%), lead (3%).
Steam Tiller – Steam engine mounted on a tiller, and controlled by steering-wheel and its own hunting gear.
Steam Trawler – Trawl-fishing vessel propelled by steam.
Steam Trials – Tests put on boilers and engines of a vessel, particularly when new or refitted, to ascertain their effectiveness and seaworthiness.
Steam Whistle – Whistle whose sound is produced by the passage of steam. When fitted in steam vessels it must be at least 30 inches in height and five inches in diameter. Diameter of steam pipe is not less than two inches, and pipe must be lagged. Audibility must be two miles at least. See Colregs Annex III.
Steamer – A vessel propelled by steam.
Steamer Lanes – Ocean tracks usually followed by mechanically-propelled vessels.
Steamer Tracks – ‘Steamer Lanes.’
Steaming – Heating of timber in a steam chest in order to make it pliable so it can be bent to the required shape for construction.
Steaming Covers – Canvas covers put on masts, and yards of a steam vessel when underway. They protect these from smoke and sparks from funnel. Rarely seen nowadays; formerly, quite usual.
Steaming Fog – Name sometimes given to ‘Arctic Sea Smoke’.
Steaming Light – The masthead light shown by a mechanically-propelled vessel in accordance with Rule of the International Regulations for preventing collision at sea.
Steamship – Vessel propelled by steam and capable of being navigated on the high seas.
Steeler – ‘Stealer.’
Steer – To govern the course of a vessel by controlling, directly or indirectly, the helm or rudder. To steer a course is to keep ship’s head in a given direction. A vessel is said to steer when she answers the helm. Related Article: How to Steer a Ship and Become a Better Helmsman.
Steerage – Accommodation that was, originally, in the vicinity of the rudder; later, it was forward of the main cabin. In both cases it was inferior to the cabin. Nowadays, is applied to accommodation for passengers other than cabin passengers.
Steerage Passenger – Passenger who is allotted less than 36 superficial feet of space for his, or her, exclusive use.
Steerage Way – Sufficient speed through the water for a vessel to answer her helm.
Steering Chains – Chains by which the wheel operates the rudder, directly or indirectly.
Steering Compass – Compass fitted with a lubber line, and mounted forward of wheel, or tiller, so that it can easily be seen by helmsman.
Steering Crutch – Crutch shipped near sternpost of a boat to take a steering oar.
Steering Engine – Steam, electric, or hydraulic engine that is controlled by a steering-wheel, and moves tiller and rudder in response to movements of the wheel.
Steering Gear – All connection and mechanisms between the steering-wheel and the rudder, by the working of which the vessel is steered. Related Article: Types of Ship Rudders, Their Parts and Profiles.
Steering Rules – Rules of the ‘Regulation for Preventing Collisions at Sea’.
Steering Sail – Canvas set to assist steering, rather than to aid propulsion.
Steering Wheel – Wheel, with spokes projecting beyond its outer circumference, by which the rudder is controlled directly or indirectly. Commonly called ‘the wheel’.
Steering-Oar – Oar used, over the stern, for steering a boat.
Steeve – Angle above the horizontal made by a bowsprit, cat davit, or other outboard spar. 2. Long spar having one end fitted for taking hook of a tackle, the other end being fitted for forcing items of cargo into place.
Steeving – The steeve of a bowsprit. 2. Adjusting the steeve of a bowsprit. 3. Forcing cargo into position with a steeve.
Stem – The outer bow timber of a vessel.
Stem – Vertical member rising upwards from fore end of keel, to which it is scarphed or connected. Fore ends of strakes are fastened to it.
Stem Band – Metal strip fastened to fore edge of a boat’s stem.
Stem Fender – Fender put athwart stem of a vessel to prevent damage by, or to, the stem.
Stem Head – Upper extremity of a stem.
Stem Jack – Small national flag hoisted at jackstaff at stem.
Stem Knee – Curved member connecting stem and keel.
Stem Piece – Bracket-shaped piece, on stem, for supporting a bowsprit. ‘Independent Piece.’
Stem Post – Stem bar. Foremost member of a vessel’s construction, rising vertically from fore end of keel.
Stem the Tide – See stemming.
Stemming – Maintaining position over the ground when underway in a river or tidal stream. 2. Reporting a vessel’s arrival in dock to the dock authority, or Customs.
Stemson – Internal compass timber, connecting apron and keelson, in wake of scarph of stem of a wooden vessel.
Stenhouse Slip – Strong slip, secured to framing of ship in chain locker, to hold inboard end of cable. Tumbler is shaped to pass through open link of cable and form a snug fitting for link.
Step – The fitting in which the lower end of a mast is placed. To step a mast is to upright it, and ship the heel in the step.
Stepney – For generations has been considered the parish of British seamen. It was customary, until recently, to inform rector of the parish church of all births and baptisms at sea. Births now are notified to Somerset House from official logs, when rendered.
Stereographic Projection – Representation of concave surface of a hemisphere to a plane that is a great circle of the sphere; the observer being considered as being at inferior pole of the great circle.
Stern – After end of a vessel. Originally, the word meant ‘steering part’—and was applied to tiller and rudder.
Stern Anchor – Anchor carried aft for anchoring by the stern. See Also: Safe Anchoring Techniques – How to Drop the Ship’s Anchor Properly.
Stern Board – Progress backwards.
Stern Chase – Pursuit of one vessel by another vessel astern of her.
Stern Chaser – Gun capable of firing directly astern.
Stern Fast – Mooring-rope leading, approximately, astern.
Stern Frame – Substantial member often combining rudder-post, propeller post, and their extensions. After ends of plating are secured to it. It frequently carries rudder and propeller.
Stern Gallery – The highly decorated and balconied transom of historic sailing ships.
Stern Gland – A packing which surrounds the propeller shaft as it passes through the vessel’s hull and prevents sea water from entering the vessel through the hole in the hull.
Stern Gland – A packing which surrounds the propeller shaft as it passes through the vessel’s hull and prevents sea water from entering the vessel through the hole in the hull.
Stern Knee – Extension of keelson to take heel of stern post.
Stern Light – White light shown astern by all vessels when being overtaken. Shown from sunset to sunrise.
Stern Line – A docking line leading from the stern.
Stern Port – Opening in stern of ship for gun, ventilation, admission of light, or for loading cargo.
Stern Post – Vertical member at after end of hull. In single-screw vessels it usually carries rudder and forms part of stern frame. In wooden vessels, is a vertical timber resting on after end of keel.
Stern Sheets – That space, in a boat, abaft after thwart; or between after thwart and backboard.
Stern Tube – Watertight cast-iron tube through which propeller shaft is passed for attachment of propeller.
Stern Walk – Kind of balcony that, until recent years, was fitted on the sterns of larger warships.
Sternboard – Track of a vessel when going astern. 2. To make a sternboard; to force a vessel astern under sail.
Sternmost – Farthest astern.
Stern-post – The after longitudinal timber in a vessel, morticed to the keel, that supports the transom and rudder.
Sternson – Stern knees.
Sternway – Astern motion of a vessel through the water.
Sternwheeler – Shallow draught steam vessel propelled by a wide paddle-wheel at stem. Formerly used on Nile, Mississippi, and other rivers.
Stevedore – Man who stows or unloads cargo in a hold.
Steward – Man concerned with the feeding of officers, crew, and passengers in a ship, and with the cleanliness and upkeep of living accommodation.
Stick a Cringle – To insert a thimble in a rope loop worked in a bolt-rope or awning roping.
Sticks – Nautical nickname for masts.
Stiff – Said of a vessel when she offers exceptional resistance to forces tending to list her, especially when under sail.
Stiffener – A plate fastened to a surface to make it more rigid.
Stiffening – Ballast put in a vessel to increase her stability.
Stiffening Order – Permit, by shore authorities, for a vessel to load some of next cargo before completing discharge of present cargo. It is done to maintain stability of vessel without taking in water ballast.
‘Still’ – Spoken when it is necessary to stop some previous order from being carried out. Operations are resumed at the order ‘Carry on’.
Sting Ray – Target-seeking torpedo which can be launched from the air.
Stink Pot – An earthenware container holding an inflammable and foul-smelling composition. Formerly used as a projectile in naval warfare. Was an early forerunner of gas warfare.
Stirrup – One of a series of short pendants on a yard. Lower end has a thimble through which the footrope passes. 2.* Plates, on each side after deadwood, that were through-fastened.
Stitch and Glue – Planking method using copper wire to sew sheets of plywood together.
Stock – Of anchor, is the cross-piece just below ring of anchor. Being at right angles to line of flukes it ensures fluke biting, and resists shank turning, and so releasing fluke from ground. See Also: Parts of an Anchor and Its Windlass Arrangement.
Stock Anchor – A historic anchor with a stock set perpendicular to the shank, crown and flukes. Also called the Admiralty anchor.
Stock Tackle – Purchase used for bringing stock, of a stocked anchor, vertical when stowing.
Stockholm Tar – Vegetable tar used for preservation of ropes and, sometimes, canvas from the effects of water. Extracted from pine tree (pinus sylvestris). Produced by Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Russia. An inferior type is produced in America.
Stockless Anchor – A ships anchor designed to pull up into the hawse. Also called a dreadnought.
Stocks – Erection on which a vessel is built, and which supports both ship” and cradle.
Stokehold – Compartment in which ship’s boilers are situated, and in which they are tended and fired.
Stokehole – Hatch, or scuttle, in a deck through which coal is passed to bunkers. Now called ‘bunker hatch’ and ‘bunker plate’, respectively.
Stoker – Man who feeds and attends a boiler furnace. R. N. Fireman in M. N.
Stomach Piece – Name sometimes given to ‘Apron’ or ‘Breast Hook’.
Stools – Shaped bearers on which a cylindrical boiler rests. 2. Name sometimes given to the chains, or channels, in which lower ends of backstays are set up.
Stop Valve – Any valve that can close a pipe against the passage of a fluid.
Stopper – Short length of rope, one end of which is firmly secured, used for temporarily holding a rope under tension, so allowing part not under tension to be manipulated as required.
Stopper Knot – Formerly made in end of a stopper for holding hemp cable. Now used in end of a rope stopper, or when a neat knot is desired in end of a rope. Made by forming a wall knot and passing each end through next loop before heaving taut.
Stoppering – Holding a rope under stress by means of a stopper.
Stopping – Preventing leakage by inserting suitable material in a seam or opening.
Stopping a Flag – Making a wheft of it by passing a stop around its middle depth. Preparing a flag for breaking out.
Stops – Small lengths of rope, line, sennit, yams, etc., that are used for tying; particularly for tying a sail when furled.
Stopwater – A dowel inserted through a scarf whose end grain will swell to seal water entry through the scarf.
Store Ship – Vessel employed in carrying stores for a fleet or squadron.
Storis – Large drift ice, more than two years old, that passes down the south-east coast of Greenland.
Storm – A storm force wind averages from 48 knots and up to 63 knots.
Storm – Violent disturbance of atmosphere that produces winds of Force 10 Beaufort scale (48-55 knots).
Storm Bound – Confined to an anchorage or haven through being unable to proceed because of stormy weather.
Storm Canvas – ‘Storm Sails.’
Storm Cone – See ‘Storm Signals’.
Storm Plates – General name given to hinged plates of sheet iron that can cover up a ventilation hatch, or grating, in stormy weather.
Storm Sails – Sails made of particularly heavy canvas, and of reduced dimensions, for use in heavy weather.
Storm Signals – Visual signals by means of flags, shapes, and lights that are exhibited on coasts of most maritime countries. By means of an appropriate code they give warning of approaching bad weather to vessels in the vicinity.
Storm Warning – An announced warning of winds over 48 knots.
Storm-Modifying Oil – Fish or vegetable oil carried for distribution on surface of stormy seas. Its action is purely mechanical; friction of air being greatly reduced.
Stove In – Said of a boat when one or more of the strakes has been forced in, thus causing a leak. Also applied to a cask, barrel, etc., when a stave or heading has been forced in.
Stow – To pack compactly and safely. To put an item in its proper place.
Stowage – The compact, safe, and appropriate placing of cargo in a hold. 2. Place or compartment in which goods can be stowed. 3. The act of placing cargo in a hold.
Stowage Factor – The number of cubic feet required for stowing one ton—or unit quantity—of a named commodity. It includes space necessary for appropriate dunnage and packing, and allows for unavoidable broken stowage.
Stowaway – One who conceals himself on a ship about to sail, with an intention of being taken to sea.
Strain – Permanent deformation, or weakening, caused by excessive stress.
Strain Bands – Doubling strips of canvas going vertically down the middle of a square sail to strengthen it.
Straining Screw – Type of bottle screw which has a swivel hook at one end and an eye, on threaded screw, at the other end. Used for setting up guard chains, awning ridge ropes, and other purposes.
Strait/s. A narrow stretch of water joining two larger areas.
Strake – A continuous line of plating, or planking, extending along ship’s side from forward to aft.
Strand – A number of fibre yarns, or wires, twisted together. Three or more strands twisted together form a rope. 2. The edge of the land. A beach.
Stranding – Accidentally running aground, or being forced aground, by extraordinary circumstances outside the usual course of navigation. In marine insurance, it must be of such a nature that the voyage is brought to an end.
Strange Sail – An unidentified vessel that appears above the horizon.
Strap – Plate covering a joint, in wood or metal, and securely fastened to each of the joined pieces to regain strength lost by joining.
Stratocumulus – Cloud form intermediate between stratus and cumulus. May be closely packed, or separated by more or less horizontal streaks of sky.
Stratosphere – The upper shell of atmosphere. In it there is little change of temperature with height. It is cloudless, and contains two regions of high ionisation—the Kenelly-Heaviside and Appleton layers.
Stratus – Uniform layer of cloud very much like elevated fog. Height may be anything less than a mile.
Stratus Cloud – Low uniform cloud layer.
Stray Line – That part of a hand log-line that extends between the log chip and the bunting mark at which timing commences.
Stray-current Corrosion – Corrosion that results when a direct current causes a metal in contact with an electrolyte to become the anode in respect of another metal contacting the same electrolyte.
Strays – Atmospherics.
Streak – Old form of ‘Strake’.
Stream – A course of running water, whether between banks or through the sea.
Stream a Buoy – To put an anchor buoy into the water just before letting anchor go.
Stream Anchor – An anchor whose weight is about 1/3 that of the bower anchors. Carried aft to act as stern anchor when required, or for kedging purposes.
Stream Current – Ocean current that flows in a definite direction— so differing from a ‘drift’ current—that always sets to leeward. They are the result of drift currents that have been arrested by some obstructions in their paths.
Stream the Log – To put the rotator in the water and pay out the log line. The reverse operation is to ‘Hand the Log’.
Stress – The effect of an applied force that does not cause permanent deformation.
Stretch Off the Land – Old sailing ship term for taking ‘forty winks’.
Stretcher – Small piece of timber athwart a boat propelled by oars, and against which the rower braces his feet.
Strike – To lower sail or ensign as a mark of respect. 2. To haul down an ensign as token of surrender. 3. To ‘strike soundings’ is to pick up soundings with the lead, or sounding machine. 4. To lower an upper mast.
Strike Clause – Inserted in shipping documents to relieve ship of liability for loss caused by strikes and other labour disputes.
Striker – A paint brush with a long handle.
Striker – Paint brush, usually round, with long handle that is nearly at right angles to bristles. Used for extending reach of man when painting—especially when painting ship’s side from a boat. Also called ‘man helper’.
Striker Plate – A small doubler plate located just below a sounding pipe, on which the sounding rod/bob strikes.
Striking Topsail – Salute, by a sailing vessel, that goes back to Saxon days at least. Made by letting go topsail halliards and re-hoisting. Also called ‘Veiling Topsail’.
String – Inboard side of a vessel’s topmast strake.
Stringer Plates – Plate stringers in iron and steel vessels.
Stringers – Longitudinal members that, in conjunction with frames, give girder strength to a vessel. Name is sometimes given to battens that go fore and aft along ship’s side in holds.
Strip – To completely dismantle.
Strip Planking – Uses strips fitted, glued, and fastened on edge with optional fibreglass on the outside only.
Strip to a Gantline – To send down all yards, unreeve all running rigging, send down all upper masts and leave only gantlines rove on lower masts.
Stroke – Distance an oar is pulled through the water in the action of rowing. 2. The rate at which oars are pulled. 3. Man who rows the after oar in a boat, and so sets the time and distance that oars are pulled. 4. One complete pulling of an oar. 5. Stroke of a reciprocating engine is the distance travelled by the piston when moving from one end of cylinder to the other.
Stroke Oar – See ‘Stroke’ (3). Name may be given to man or oar.
Strong Breeze – Wind blowing between 22 and 27 knots. Is Force 6 in Beaufort scale.
Strong Wind Warning – Forecasted winds averaging from 26 knots and up to 33 knots.
Strongback – Fore and aft beam over a boat when in the crutches and covered. It supports cover and gives it sufficient slope to shed any water that may fall on it.
Strop – Short length of rope with ends spliced together to make a loop; or with ends eye-spliced. Used for making a sling, or an attachment for hook, shackle, or rope.
Strop and Toggle – Method of securing when quick release may be required. A bale sling strop has a toggle in one end, this being passed through and across the other bight.
Strop Knot – Made with looped lines or cords. Crown knot is made, followed by wall knot; loops then projecting from knot.
Structural Stress – Stress that tends to deform the whole structure.
Strum Box – Metal box having perforated circular holes in sides. Is put round end of a suction pipe to prevent entry of any material that may choke the pump. When fitted in bilges of hold spaces the perforations must not exceed 3/8 inch in diameter; total area of all perforations must be, at least, twice the sectional area of suction pipe.
Strut – Diagonal member that supports or braces another member.
Strut Bearing – The aftermost bearing for a propeller shaft found in the strut.
Stud – The strengthening piece across a link of chain cable.
Studded Links – Those links, of chain cable, that are strengthened and supported by a transverse stud across their widest part.
Studdingsail – Fine weather sails set on either side of square sails, their heads and tacks being stretched to Studdingsail booms.
Studdingsail Booms – Sliding booms projecting from yards to take studdingsails.
Studsail – Contraction of ‘Studdingsail’.
Stuff – General term for small section rope or string.
Stuffing-Box – Short sleeve of metal, at end of cylinder, through which a piston rod passes. Is made tight by fibrous material (packing) that is compressed by screwing up a retaining gland.
Stump Mast – Lower mast with no tops and with no mast above it.
Stump Topgallant Mast – Topgallant mast with no royal mast above it.
Stuns’l Halliard Bend – Made by passing two round turns around spar, passing end around standing part, under both round turns, back over last round turn and under first round turn.
Stuns’l, Stons’l – Usual pronunciation of ‘Studdingsail’.
Stylus – Alternative name for ‘gnomon’.
Submarine – Beneath the sea surface, or beneath the sea. 2. War vessel designed for travelling below surface of sea.
Submarine Cable – Telegraphic or telephonic cable laid on sea bed.
Submarine Escort – War vessel that remains in a sea area in which submarines are exercising in peacetime. Its duty is to see ‘ that passing ships keep clear of the area.
Submarine Sentry – Wooden hydroplane, or ‘kite’, formerly used for indicating when a vessel entered water with less than a specified depth. While vessel was making way—at a specified speed—the kite kept to the specified depth. If vessel went into water less than the specified depth a projection below the kite struck the ground and caused the kite to surface. Change in lead of wire usually operated an alarm bell.
Submarine Sound Signal – Navigational warning made by light vessel or other craft, that was transmitted through water instead of air; thus greatly increasing range and audibility. Two types in common use were submarine bells and oscillators, ranges being 15 and 50 miles respectively.
Submerged Log – Speed and distance log that protrudes from bottom of ship. The Chernikeef and Pitometer logs are examples.
Subrogation – The transfer of all rights and remedies of an assured party, who has suffered a loss, to a party who has indemnified him for the loss. The indemnifier then has all rights and remedies that were previously held by the assured party.
Subsolar Point – That point on Earth that is vertically beneath Sun. Sun’s geographical position.
Suction – The drawing of a fluid by formation of a vacuum that the fluid is free to occupy. Technically applied to the effect of a large vessel passing a small vessel in confined waters; which may cause the
Sue – To require more water for flotation. Word is loosely applied and is sometimes referred to the vessel, and sometimes referred to the water— ‘Vessel sues six feet’ or ‘Tide sued six feet’. In either case the vessel requires a further six feet of water to float. Often spelt ‘sew, sewed’.
Sue and Labour Clause – Included in a policy of marine insurance to authorise and encourage action for the prevention or mitigation of a marine loss, and to reimburse the expenses of those who sue and labour to these ends.
Suez Canal Tonnage – Computation of tonnage for vessels passing through Suez Canal. Approximates nett registered tonnage, but has important modifications of it. Is never less than half gross tonnage.
Sufferance Wharf – Wharf at which goods liable to duty may be discharged before duty is paid.
Suhail – Star λ Velorum. S. H. A. 223°; Dec. S43°; Mag. 2.2.
Suit of Sails – Complete set of sails, either for a mast or a vessel.
Sujee; Suji-muji (spelling various) – Soap or cleaning-powder mixed with fresh water. To wash paint with sujee.
Sullage – Toilet effluent.
Sumatras – Violent thundery squalls in the Malacca Strait, usually at night, during the S. W. Monsoon.
Summer Solstice – That point of time at which Sun reaches his highest declination and noon altitude. At this point his declination is more or less constant for an appreciable time. Occurs about June 21 in northern hemisphere, about December 21 in the southern. By convention, the former is generally accepted.
Summer Time – Advancement of mean time indications of clock by one hour (usually) during and around summer months. Dates of adoption and cessation of British Summer Time are decreed by Order in Council.
Sun – Star around which Earth, planets, and other solar system bodies revolve. Distance from Earth is 93, 005, 000 miles; weight is 1,842 x l,000, 00024 tons; diameter 864, 392 miles. Apparent diameter 31’32” to 32’36”. Horizontal Parallax 8.8″. Volume is about 330, 000 times that of Earth.
Sun Dog – Name often given to a refracted image of Sun occasionally seen about 20° to 30° away from Sun, but at same altitude.
Sun over Foreyard – Nautical equivalent to ‘Time we had a drink.’
Sun Pillar – Vertical shaft of light, above or below Sun, caused by reflection of sunlight from small snow crystals.
Sun Sights – Altitudes of Sun taken to fix ship’s position by position lines.
Sunday Letter – Letter that will represent Sundays of a year if we letter the days in a recurring sequence from A to G. The letter drops back one in each successive year, and drops back one letter on February 29.
Sunfish – Common name for the basking shark.
Sunrise – For nautical purposes is when Sun’s upper limb is in eastern horizon. Zenith distance is then 90° 50′. (Refr. 34′, S. D. 16′.)
Sunset – For nautical purposes is when Sun’s upper limb is in western horizon. Zenith distance is then 90° 50′.
Sunspot Numbers – Used for indicating amount of Sun’s disc covered by spots; 100 represents 0.2 of disc covered. In last 190 years the sunspot number has not exceeded 139.
Sunspots – Dark areas observable on Sun’s disc, and due to vortices in its incandescent envelope. Though coincident with magnetic fluctuations and meteorological phenomena they are not necessarily responsible for them.
Super – Colloquial name for a marine superintendent.
Supercargo – Man formerly carried in a ship to supervise the loading and discharge of cargo, and to transact business concerning it.
Supercell – An intense updraught and downdraught within a thunderstorm.
Supercharger – A blower for forcing air into the intake of an internal combustion engine and increase power output.
Supercooled Water – Water that is liquid at temperatures below 0°C. Small water-drops in atmosphere can remain liquid at -40°C.
Superheat – Additional heat given to steam to increase temperature without increasing volume and pressure. Allows for a certain amount of cooling without causing condensation, so giving increased efficiency.
Superheated Steam – Steam that has been given increased heat after leaving boiler, pressure remaining constant. Has greatly increased efficiency as compared with saturated steam. In marine boilers, superheat is not carried beyond 750°F.
Superheater – Arrangement of small steam pipes in exhaust gases of furnaces. Used for increasing temperature of the steam.
Superior – Word used for denoting one of two similar occurrences or positions, differentiating it from the other—which is termed the “inferior’ position or occurrence. A signal is said to be superior to another when hoisted before, either in regards time or hoist. It is said to be inferior when it is after either in time or hoist.
Superior Conjunction – Position of an inferior planet when it is in conjunction with Sun and 180° away from Earth.
Superior Planet – Planet whose orbit around Sun lies outside that of Earth.
Superior Transit – That passage across the meridian, of a circumpolar body at which it attains its greater altitude.
Supernumery – Extra person to ships compliment (passenger).
Super-Pressure Boiler – Steam boiler working at pressure exceeding 650 lb. Per square inch.
Superstructure – Loosely applied to permanent erections above upper deck. For load-line purposes, is a decked structure above the freeboard deck and extending from side to side of the vessel. Raised quarter deck is a superstructure.
Supplied Air – An atmosphere-supplying respirator for which the source of respirator (S.A.R.) or airline respirator: breathing air is not designed to be carried by the user.
Supporters – Strong knees immediately beneath catheads of wooden vessels.
Surf – Broken and tumultuous sea caused by waves breaking on a lee shore.
Surf Boat – Craft especially designed for working In surf. Is usually high at ends, broad-beamed, and steered with an oar—to which it is very responsive.
Surface Condenser – Condenser in which exhaust steam is condensed to water by coming into contact with outer surfaces of numerous small pipes through which cold sea water is pumped. The (condensed) water is then returned to the boiler.
Surface Picture (SURPIC) – A list or graphic display from a ship reporting system of information about vessels in the vicinity of a distress.
Surge – Name given to the so-called ‘tidal wave’, which is not due to tidal forces. Investigation of its behaviour is still proceeding, but it is accepted that it may arise from meteorological causes, or from seismic disturbances. It may travel hundreds of miles an hour. 2. To allow a rope to render or run out while being hauled on a drum or capstan. 3. To fail to grip a drum or capstan when heaving. 4. The swell of a drum or capstan. 5. Change of barometric pressure additional to those due to movements of depressions or anticyclones.
Survey – To examine and inspect visually. 2. Visual examination or inspection. 3. Periodical examination of a vessel, her fittings, machinery, accommodation, etc. 4. Particular, but casual, inspection of stowage, hatches, cargo, etc. 5. To ascertain the depths, nature, and contours of the sea-bed and the heights, nature, and contours of the adjacent land.
Surveyor – One who examines and surveys for the purpose of ascertaining and reporting condition, state, quantity, quality, strength, etc., relative to standard requirements.
Sverdrup – A unit of measure of oceanic current flow equal to 1 million cubic metres of water per second per square kilometre.
Swab – Seaman’s mop for drying decks. Made of old rope unlaid and seized on the bight; about four feet in length. Sometimes made smaller and seized to a wooden handle for putting highly-alkaline solutions on deck for cleansing purposes. Swabber. One who swabs a deck. Anciently, an inferior officer who was responsible for the cleanliness of the decks.
Swab Hitch – Name often given to a single sheet bend.
Swage – A soft metal collar squeezed over the ends of a loop in S.W.R. to suffice for a spliced eye.
Swageless Terminal – A reusable compression fitting (collet) tightened over the end of S.W.R. to suffice for a spliced eye.
Swallow – That opening, in a block, through which the rope is rove.
Swallow Tail – Flag or pendant having a V-shaped indentation in the fly.
Swallow the Anchor – To leave the sea and settle ashore.
Swamp – To overwhelm with water; not necessarily to sink.
Swamped – To be filled with water.
Swash – The thin sheet of water that washes up the beach with each breaking wave.
Swash Bulkhead – Plates fitted at the base of a bulkhead to reduce free surface effect caused by moving liquids.
Swash Plates – Plates fitted in tanks to reduce free surface effect caused by moving liquids
Swash, Swatch – Narrow channel, or indentation in a sandbank, or between a sandbank and the shore.
Swashway – Channel through shoals.
Swashway, Swatchway – Swash, Swatch.
Sway – To hoist an upper mast or yard.
Sway Away – Order to hoist a yard, or upper mast.
Sweat Up – To haul on a rope to hoist the last possible inch or so.
Sweep – Long oar used in barges and lighters for turning them. Only used rarely for propulsion. Formerly used in small sailing vessels. 2. To propel with sweeps. 3. To search for a sunken object by towing a bight of wire until it is brought up by the object. 3. To search an area of the sea with two or more ships working in concert. 4. The harmonious curve of a vessel’s line or plating. 5. Circular frame on which tiller moved in certain olden ships.
Sweep – Short for drag sweep.
Sweep Width (W) – In SAR a measure of the effectiveness with which a particular sensor can detect a particular object under specific environmental conditions.
Sweeping and Creeping – Searching an area of the sea-bed with a sweep wire and a grapnel.
Sweepings – Cargo, such as grain, that has escaped from its bags and has been swept up in the hold. Is delivered to consignee as ‘sweepings’.
Swell – Succession of long and unbroken waves that are not due to meteorological conditions in the vicinity. Generally due to wind at a distance from the position.
Swifter – Extra stay or backstay. 2. Foremost shroud of lower rigging. 3. Rope secured in slots at end of capstan bars, to prevent bars from coming out of poppets of capstan while heaving.
Swifting – Tautening up by passing frapping turns. So applied to ‘undergirding’. Swifting in of shrouds is done when refitting ratlines. Middle shroud is tautened and those on either side of it are slightly slackened. Ratlines are then fitted. When swifting turns are taken off, the shrouds are set up—so tautening the ratlines.
Swig – To get maximum pull on a rope by pulling on it, at right angles to its direction, after it has been hauled taut and turned up.
Swim – Overhanging portion of bow or stern below maximum load line. It increases a vessel’s flotation as she sinks deeper in the water.
Swim-Headed – Said of barges with bows, or ends, that are flat and inclined upwards and outwards from the bottom.
Swing – To move sideways at a constant distance from a point ahead such as swinging to an anchor. 2. To put ship’s head through all points of the compass to ascertain compass errors on all directions of ship’s head.
Swing Ship – To obtain compass errors (for making a deviation table) by swinging a ship’s head through several headings on transits.
Swinging Boom – Boom pivoted on ship’s side and secured at right angles to fore and aft line, and horizontal, when in harbour. Used for the securing of duty boats not immediately needed. Originally, was the lower studdingsail boom.
Swinging Circle – The range of drift in a circular direction normally due to current, tide or wind shift, when a vessel is moored to a buoy.
Swinging Ship – Putting ship’s head through all points of compass to determine compass error and, thence, deviation on different headings.
Swinging Straps – Foot straps in a sailing dinghy to allow the crew to swing out over the side of the boat.
Switchboard – Panel fitted with switches and inserted between dynamo and outside electrical circuits. Used for controlling electrical supply.
Swivel – Formerly gun mounting that allowed gun to be trained through a lateral arc. 2. A gun on a swivel mounting. 3. A pivot free to move in an immovable part.
Swivel Block – Pulley block that is pivoted in the lug or hook by which it is attached.
Swivel Piece – Small length of cable, consisting of a swivel with a studded and an open link on each side of it. Often put between outboard end of cable and anchor; also between inboard end of cable and its attachment in chain locker. 2. Swivel and link connecting the two ‘monkey faces’ of mooring swivel.
Sword – Long and fairly thin piece of wood used for beating down the crossed strands when making sword matting.
Sword Matting – Woven rope made by stretching four to eight strands and then lifting alternate strands and passing small rope, or strand, across jaw thus formed. This crossing ‘wheft’ is then beaten in with a wooden ‘sword’. Strands previously up are now put down, and wheft is again passed, this process being repeated until required length is made. It makes excellent gripes for boats.
Swordfish – Powerful and swift fish with a swordlike projection from lower jaw. Found in tropical and subtropical seas. Are inveterate enemies of whales and other cetacea. Length is from 12 to 15 ft., including sword (three feet). Young swordfish have both jaws prolonged.
Symbol – Letter, character, or device that has a special signification.
Sympathetic Damage – Loss in value of an item of cargo due to its contact with, or proximity to, other articles or cargo that affect it adversely without damaging it physically.
Synchronism – Coincidence in time. Occurring at the same instant. Particularly applied to coincidence of a vessel’s roll with the period of a wave motion acting transversely.
Syncrolift – A platform enabling a vessel to be floated over it and then raised by multiple banks of winches.
Synodic Period – Of Moon or a planet, is the interval between any two consecutive conjunctions. With inferior planets, the conjunctions must be of same type—inferior or superior.
Synodical Month – Interval between two successive conjunctions of Sun and Moon. Also called a ‘Lunation’. Value is 29 days 12 h 44.05 m mean solar time.
Synodical Revolution – ‘Synodic Period.’
Synodical Year – Equals 12 Synodical months. Length 354 days 08 h 48 m 36 s mean solar time.
Synoptic Chart – Chart in which weather conditions, at a given time, are expressed by a system of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Synoptic Surface Weather – The word “synoptic” being derived from the word synopsis, meaning a summary or outline.
Syphering – Lapping the chamfered edge of one plank, over the chamfered edge of another, so that there is a smooth surface at the lap.
Syren – ‘Siren.’
System Internationale – The metric units and their abbreviations are: length: metre m angle: radian force: newton mass: kilogram kg area: square metre couple: newton-metre time: second s volume: cubic metre pressure: newton/sq. Metre current: ampere A frequency: hertz (pascal) luminosity: candela cd (cycles/sec.) work, energy: joule speed: metre/sec. power: watt W
Syzygy – That position of Moon, or a planet, when it is in opposition or conjunction.Syzygy Tide – Afternoon tide, at a place, when Moon is in syzygy.