Maritime Dictionary – Everything That Starts with the Letter “W”

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

W – Code flag; I require medical assistance. Morse code; ● ▬ ▬.

Waft – To convoy or escort, a vessel (16th century), 2 Weft.

Wager Policy – Policy of marine insurance issued to an insurer who has not declared his interest in matter insured. If he has no interest, policy is void in law. Is usually honest, and is honoured by the insurers unless suspicious features are evident.

Waggoner – Chart atlas of 17th century. Corrupted form of Wagenhaer, a Dutch cartographer.

Waggoner – Name formerly given to Ursa Major, Auriga, or Bootes.

Wails – Wales.

Waist – Upper deck between forecastle and poop, or quarter deck. In sailing ships might be between fore ends of fore and main hatches, or between fore and main masts. Amidships.

Waist Anchor – Spare bower anchor stowed at fore end of waist.

Waist Block – Sheave in midship bulwarks of a sailing vessel.

Waist Cloth – Canvas cloth covering hammock nettings in waist of a warship.

Waist Pipe – Strengthened aperture in midship bulwarks, through which mooring hawsers are led.

Waister – Inexperienced or partially incapacitated seaman who was given duties in the waist of a warship, instead of working aloft.

Waitings – The two large mesh nets of a trammel.

Waiver Clause – Inserted in a policy of marine insurance to safeguard insured and insurers when vessel appears to be a constructive total loss. It allows either party to take steps to recover, save, or preserve the property in peril without prejudicing any right regarding abandonment.

Wake – The water immediately astern of a moving vessel. It is disturbed by vessel’s motion through it and by the subsequent filling up of the cavity made.

Wake Current – That stream of water that flows to fill in the cavity left by a vessel moving through water.

Wale – A fore-and-aft (longitudinal) external structural timber in the framing of a hull.

Wale Knot – Wall knot.

Wales – The strongest strakes in hull of a wooden vessel.

‘Walk Away’ – Order to haul on a rope by taking it in hand and walking.

‘Walk Back –‘ Order to keep a fall in hand but walk back so that the purchase will overhaul by virtue of its load. To pay out more cable by reversing the windlass.

Walk Out – To let go an anchor under control of the windlass motor. See also: Safe Anchoring Techniques – How to Drop the Ship’s Anchor Properly.

Walkers Patent Log – A proprietary log with a spinning impellor towed behind vessel, connected by the spinning line to a counter display on the taff rail.

Wall Knot – Made in end of a rope by unlaying strands, and passing each strand up and through bight of next strand, working in direction of lay of rope.

Wall-Sided – Said of a vessel having perpendicular sides.

Walrus – Carnivorous sea mammal, about 10 to 12 ft. long, found in arctic regions. Name means ‘whale horse’.

Walt, Walty – Crank, cranky, lacking stability.

Wane – Decrease of Moon’s illuminated area, as viewed from Earth.

Waning – Said of Moon when she is in her third and fourth quarters, and her illuminated area is decreasing. Also applied to inferior planets when phasing.

Wanning the Bell –‘ Striking ‘eight bells’ a little before time at the end of a watch.

Wapp – Small sheave, or thimble, in end of a pendant for use as a fair leader.

Ward Robe – Space in olden ships for stowage of valuables taken out of enemy vessels. Being empty when leaving home ports, it was used as a mess room for officers of lieutenant’s rank—for whom no mess was then provided.

Ward Room – General mess room and meeting place. A ship’s room for use of the officers for leisure and dining.

Ward Rope – Early 17th-century spelling of ‘ward robe’.

Warkamoowee – Cingalese canoe with outriggers and sail. Manned by about five men.

Warm Front – A indeterminate line on which a mass of warm air meets and rises over a mass of colder air. Its approach is usually accompanied by rain. The boundary where a parcel of lower density warm air (moving towards the pole) rises over and displaces a cold air mass ahead.

Warm Sector – Mass of comparatively warm air between colder air masses.

Warp – The longitudinal threads in canvas and other textiles. 2. Hawser used when warping. Originally, was a rope smaller than a cable. 3. The line by which a boat rides to a sea anchor. 4. Mooring ropes.

Warpage – The act of warping. 2. A charge made for warping a vessel in harbour.

Warped Strop – Selvagee strop.

Warping – Moving a vessel by running out a hawser to a fixed point, securing the end at that point, and then heaving on the rope.

Warping Chock – Chock on side of dock, used when warping vessels.

Warping Hook – Brace used for twisting a yarn when ropemaking.

Warrant Officer – Naval officer whose authority derived from a warrant issued either by or on behalf of the Lord High Admiral of Great Britain and Ireland. Rank was junior to commissioned officer, but senior to all subordinate officers. This rank is now obsolete in Royal Navy.

Warrant Shipwright – Warrant officer of Royal Navy who was responsible for control of ship’s carpenters and other duties connected with the efficiency of ship’s structure. Now ‘Commissioned Shipwright’.

Warranted Free Of – Firm statement and guarantee that an insurer is not liable for losses in connection with risks specified. 2. Firm statement and guarantee that a specified substance or article is not adulterated or contaminated with, or by, a specified factor.

Warranty – Emphasised statement and undertaking that certain conditions exist or shall exist; or that certain things have been done or shall be done. The warranty may be specifically stated, or it may be implied by some act or statement.

Warranty of Seaworthiness – One of the ‘Implied warranties’ in marine insurance. The mere fact of applying for an insurance policy implies a warranty, by the applicant, that the ship is seaworthy in all respects.

Warship – A naval ship of a state that is built primarily for territorial security and naval warfare. Related Article: Types of Warships in a Naval Fleet.

Warwick Screw – Rigging screw with sides of shroud cut away to allow the placing of locking blocks on square ends of screws when set up; thus preventing any slacking back.

Wash – Broken water at bow of a vessel making way. 2. Disturbed water made by a propeller or paddle wheel.

Wash Bulkhead – A bulkhead normally running forward and aft, designed to reduce free surface effect. The bulkhead has holes in it to allow the flow of liquid from one side to the other in a restricted fashion.

Wash Port – Aperture, in the bulwarks of a vessel, that allows water on deck to flow outboard.

Wash Strake – Upper strake of a boat’s side planking. 2. Special lengths of wood fitted longitudinally above gunwale of a boat to give more freeboard when under sail.

Washboards – Additional planking at edge of deck to increase the virtual freeboard.

Washing Down – Said of a vessel when she is shipping water on deck and it is running off through scuppers and freeing ports.

Washington Conferences – International marine conferences held in Washington, U. S. A., between October and December, 1889. Largely concerned with regulations for preventing collision at sea.

Watch – Period of time, normally four hours, into which an nautical day is divided. The period between 16 hrs. and 20 hrs.—4 p. m. to 8 p. m.—is divided into two ‘dog’ (docked) watches, so that similar watches are not kept on consecutive days. 2. Group into which crew is divided for duty; port or starboard watch if into two watches. To keep, or stand, a watch is to be on duty for a watch. A division of shipboard time. Shift arrangements for manning at sea.

Watch and Watch – Keeping alternate watches throughout.

Watch Bell – Bell used for striking the half hours of each watch.

Watch Bill – Nominal list of men in a watch, together with their special duties and other relevant particulars.

Watch Buoy – Buoy moored in vicinity of a light-vessel to mark her position, and to give warning if she should drag her moorings.

Watch Cap – A canvas cover for a funnel when not in use. A seaman’s warm headgear.

Watch Officer – Duty officer of the watch. See Also: Want to Become an Officer? Bridge Standing Orders You Must Familiarize.

Watch Tackle – Small tackle consisting of one single block, one double block, and a rather short fall. Used for general purposes on deck. Formerly used for getting a small but strong pull on running rigging. Also called ‘Handy Billy’. ‘

Watch, There, Watch’ – Call made when using a deep-sea lead and line. Is called when the last bights of line are going out of one man’s hand, and warns next man that his bights will run out.

Watching – Said of a mark buoy when it is fully floating.

Water – To take in water for drinking or boiler purposes. To pump fresh water into a ship.  A chemical bond of hydrogen and oxygen; H2O

Water Anchor – Sea anchor. Drogue.

Water Bailiff – Name sometimes given to the Customs Officer of a port.

Water Ballast – Water carried by an unloaded vessel to increase her stability and give greater submersion to her propeller. Usually carried in double bottom, deep, and peak tanks. Related Article: Ballasting and Deballasting Operation for Beginners.

Water Breaker – Small cask used for carrying drinking water in a boat.

Water Laid – Said of rope laid up left-handed. Sometimes applied to cable-laid rope.

Water Sail – Fine weather sail that was formerly set beneath a lower studdingsail in fine weather.

Water Splice – Cut splice in which the two parts between the splices are twined round each other before tucking the second splice.

Water Spout – The phenomenon where a cloud forms a funnel shaped path down to the sea and draws up a pillar of swirling water and spray.

Waterborne – Floating. 2. Carried by water.

Waterline – That line in which the surface of the water meets the ship’s side at a specific draught. 2. Line painted round ship’s side at approximate position of her load waterline.

Waterline Length – One of the factors used to determine the speed potential of a displacement boat. The longer, the greater the speed potential. The overall length is irrelevant; overhangs fore and aft do not increase “hull speed” potential.

Waterlines – On a vessel’s profile plan, the horizontal sections drawn parallel with the waterline.

Waterlogged – State of a vessel that has taken in so much water that she floats by the buoyancy of her fabric and her contents. Floating but full of water.

Waterplane – That horizontal section of a ship’s hull which represents her shape in the water in that particular horizontal plane.

Water-plane Area Coefficient (CWP) – The ratio of the area of the water-plane to the area of the circumscribing rectangle having a length equal to the LPP and a breadth equal to B. CWP = AW ÷ (L x B). The range of values is from about 0.70 for a fine ship to 0.90 for a full ship.

Watershed – The demarcation between river basins.

Watertight – Impervious to water. So constructed as to effectively resist water seepage to any appreciable degree under continuous exposure to driving rain or solid water.

Watertight Bulkhead – A ships structural partition capable of preventing water flow under pressure from one compartment to another.

Watertight Doors – Steel door so fitted and strengthened that it will prevent water passing when door is sealed.

Watertight Hatch – Hatch so fitted and strengthened that it will prevent water passing when hatch is closed and secured.

Watertight Integrity – The ability of a vessel to maintain its watertightness.

Watertight Sub-division – The dividing of a vessel into small compartments fitted with watertight doors and hatches so that, in case of damage, the inflow of water will be arrested and localised.

Water-tube Boiler – One in which the water is confined to numerous small tubes that pass through the heat from the furnaces. Its great advantage lies in these tubes being able to support pressures far above those possible in Scotch and other cylindrical boilers. A further advantage is that considerable less weight of water is necessary. They require very careful tending. There are numerous types, some working at extremely high pressures.

Waterways – A navigable channel. In timber vessel construction, a longitudinal covering plank that sits over the deck edge to side planking meeting and acts as a curb to direct deck flooding away to the scuppers.

Wave – A perpendicular oscillation in the surface of a liquid. An undulation, of surface of a liquid, that appears to be progressive but, actually, is not.

Wave Guide – A copper tube of rectangular section which conveys signals between a radar transmitter-receiver and scanner.

Wave Length – Distance between successive crests, or troughs, of radiant energy. Usually denned as distance travelled by the energy in one cycle. Violet light ray has a wave length of one 70, 000th of an inch; red light ray is twice this length.

Wave Velocity – See ‘Velocity of Wave’.

Waveson – Goods floating on surface of sea after a wreck. Flotsam.

Waxing – Said of Moon when she is in her first and second quarters and her illuminated area is increasing. Sometimes said of inferior planets.

Way – Movement of a vessel through the water.

‘Way Aloft’  An order to go aloft on a mast. Contraction of ‘Away aloft’.

Way Bill – A document issued by a ship or shipping company to a shipper as evidence of the contract of carriage of the shipper’s cargo.

‘Way Enough’ – Order given to a boat’s crew when going alongside under oars. Denotes that boat has sufficient way, and that oars are to be placed inside the boat.

‘Way Wiser’ – Alternative name for the Nautical Dromometer.

Waypoint (WPT)  An intermediary position within a passage plan. A geographic position along a course line, of change of course or destination, often stored in a GPS memory for ease of recall.

Waypoint Positions – A waypoint is a geographical place or mark recorded by an electronic navigation device. In the course of navigating a course the ‘next waypoint’ might be a place to turn the ship to a new course, a marked fishing spot or it could even be your destination. In passage planning, a series of waypoints would be your course with turning points or points of interest. Used in GPS navigation.

Ways – Baulks or skids along which vessels are launched after building.

Wearing – Going from one tack to the other, under sail, by putting ship’s stern through the wind. 2. ‘Wearing colours’ is flying the ship’s national ensign. Wearing a flag is flying it.

Weather – Phenomena of the atmosphere that affect mankind. These include wind, visibility, temperature, air pressure, precipitations, and electrical discharges. 2. To pass to windward of a point or object. 3. Windward, or nearer to the wind. 4.  Meteorological conditions. In the direction from which the wind comes. A vessel has weather helm if she tends to come up into the windwhen the steering is not manned. See Also: The Basics of Marine Meteorology – A Guide for Seafarers.

Weather Anchor – Anchor on the weather bow of a ship coming to anchor. 2. Anchor that lies to windward of any other anchor.

Weather Board – Windward side of a vessel. 2. Boards fitted to raise height of doorways in bad weather.

Weather Bound – Said of a vessel unable to sail, or confined to a port of anchorage, by stress of weather.

Weather Bow – That bow, of a vessel, that is on her windward side.

Weather Cloth – Canvas screen temporarily placed for protection of helmsman, or officer of watch, against wind and spray. 2. Formerly, canvas covering for an exposed hammock netting.

Weather Deck – Deck that is open to weather and sea. The decks at the sheer that are designed to be watertight.

Weather Eye – To be watchful of the weather.

Weather Eye Open – To keep a good look out to windward.

Weather Gage, Gauge – The advantage of position due to being to windward of a vessel, or hazard.

Weather Gauge – A naval sailing vessel having the tactical advantage over another by being in a position to windward.

Weather Glass – Popular name for a barometer in which the various barometric pressures arc accompanied by words indicating the probable weather. See Also: How Does an Aneroid Barometer On Ships Work?.

Weather Gleam – Unusual gleam in horizon dead to windward. Usually foretells an abatement in wind force.

Weather Helm – A condition in which the tiller must be held toward the windward side of a sailing vessel in order to maintain course. A slight amount (3 to 7 degrees) is desirable. (See Lee helm)

Weather Lurch – A rather quick roll to windward.

Weather Map – Map or chart that shows weather conditions at a certain position, or in a certain area. It may give the conditions prevailing, or the conditions to be expected. It may be based on present information, or on past records.

Weather Notation – System of letters and figures and symbols for recording or reporting weather conditions.

Weather Quarter – That quarter of a vessel, or the sea area in its arc, that is on the windward side of the vessel.

Weather Roll – A roll to windward by a vessel.

Weather Ropes – Old name for tarred ropes.

Weather Shore – A shore that is to windward of a vessel.

Weather Side – That side which is toward the direction from which wind is blowing.

Weather Tide – A tidal current that sets to windward.

Weather Working Days – Those working days in which the loading or unloading of cargo is not held up by weather conditions.

Weather-bound – Unable to sail due to the severity of the weather.

Weathering – Passing to windward.

Weatherly – Said of a sailing vessel that points well up to the wind and makes less than average leeway. Said of a steam vessel that is comfortable in a seaway.

Weathertight – The structure or fitting will prevent the passage of water through the structure or fitting in any ordinary sea conditions.

Web – Multiple component vertical sections forming a reinforced beam or multiple athwartship sections forming a reinforced frame.

Web Frame – A specially deep transverse frame in the form of a built girder.

Wedge – V-shaped area of high barometric pressure between two depressions. Chocks used to secure shores. Fillers of wood under the stern of a boat to give the stern more lift and flattening the planing angle.

Weeding – Clearing rigging of stops, yarns, etc., that have been attached to it.

Weekly Articles – Common name for Home Trade Agreement, under which men are paid on a weekly basis.

Weekly Boats – Common name for vessels in the Home Trade, in which crew are paid on a weekly basis.

Weep – The very slow ingress of water into a space, typically between the seams of a ship’s structure.

Weeping – Said of a small leak in which water flows very slowly.

Weeping Butts – Butted joints through which water seeps slowly. Sometimes applied to similar weepings at landings of plates.

Weevil – Small beetle which, with its larvae, attacks ship’s biscuit and all grain.

Weft – The short thwartship thread in canvas, bunting, and other woven material. 2. Wheft.

Weigh – To lift. Now applied to anchor only; formerly applied to the lifting of a mast. To retrieve an anchor.

Weir – A dam that lets excess water overflow across the top.

Weir’s Azimuth Diagram – See ‘Azimuth Diagram’.

Weld – A hot melt method of fusing metals.

Weld Bead – A seam made with molten metal applied by a welding stick.

Welded Knee – Beam knee made by turning down outboard end of beam and welding it to a small plate to fit ship’s side in way of bend. Name is also given to a slabbed knee.

Welding – The uniting of two pieces of metal by fusion, or by pressure or hammering after softening by heat.

Welin Davits – Boat davits with a toothed quadrant at lower end, this quadrant engaging in a toothed rack fitted to deck. By means of a worm shaft, engaging in a collar on davit, the davit can be moved transversely inboard and outboard.

Welin-MacLachlan Davits – Boat’s davits that move outboard transversely when the boat’s gripes are released; the speed being controlled by a brake. Falls are reeled on drums, which also are controlled by brakes.

Well – Partitioned space, in bottom of a vessel, into which water runs and in which are pump suctions. 2. Compartment formerly found in some fishing boats. Water was kept in it, and fish were placed in this water when caught.

Well Deck – That part of an upper deck that is bounded, at forward and after ends, by bulkheads supporting higher decks. A lower run of open deck section typically between the forecastle and poop.

Well Found – Said of a vessel that is adequately fitted, stored, and furnished.

Wending – Going from one tack to the other under sail.

West – Cardinal point of compass, halfway between North and South, and opposite to East. The intersection of horizon and prime vertical in that direction in which heavenly bodies set.

West Australian Current – A cool Indian Ocean current.

West Country Whipping – Method of whipping end of rope by middling the twine, half-knotting it on either side alternately, and finishing off by reef knotting. See Also: Can You Knot? 10 Widely Used Knots on Merchant Ships.

West Wind Drift – A cool South Pacific current.

Westerlies – Prevailing winds between 40° and 60° latitudes North and South.

Western Red Cedar – Fragrant, straight grained softwood timber that is notably soft, light and easily hand worked – durable for marine use and suitable for non-structural components.

Westing – The distance, expressed in nautical miles, that a vessel makes good in a direction due west.

Weston Purchase – Differential purchase consisting of two sprocket wheels around which is a continuous chain having one of the wheels in the bight. Fixed wheel has 18 sprockets, moving wheel has 17. One turn of fixed wheel lifts lower wheel one link, thus giving a power of 35. This purchase will not walk back.

Wet – Said of a vessel that ships seas frequently.

Wet Air – Atmospheric air when cold surfaces become damp or wet although no rain is falling. Due to condensation caused by warm, saturated air replacing cold, dry air.

Wet Bulb Thermometer – Thermometer fitted with a wick from bulb to a cistern of water so that evaporation takes place at bulb, so extracting heat. This causes a lower temperature reading. Amount by which temperature is lowered depends on rate of evaporation at bulb, which, in turn, depends on moisture content of atmosphere.

Wet Dock – In contradistinction from dry dock, is a dock in which vessels are always afloat and water level is maintained by gates that are closed before fall of tide.

Wet Exhaust – A system cooled by injecting salt water into the exhaust or a manifold water-jacket.

Wet Fog – Fog in which moisture forms rapidly and freely on exposed conducting surfaces.

Wet Spell – Name given to a period of 15 days, or more, in which the daily rainfall has been at least 0.04 inch.

Wet-bulb Temperature – The temperature of a mercury thermometer cooled by evaporation from its wet cloth covering. Comparison with a dry bulb (one not cooling) indicates the rate of evaporation, and consequently the amount of moisture in the air, the humidity.

Wetted Surface – The whole of the external surface of a vessel’s outer plating that is in contact with the water in which she is floating. The submerged surface area of a hull.

Whack – Colloquial name for the statutory allowance of provisions and water. Also known as Pound and Pint.

Whale – Marine mammal having warm blood, lungs, and bearing its young. Is the largest animal. Length up to 80 ft. Various types are Right (or Greenland), Rorqual, Sperm, Cachalot, Cape or Southern, Humpback, Baleen.

Whale back – A rounded foredeck designed to give cover to deckhands working below.

Whale Boat – Double-ended clinker-built boat formerly used in whaling. Length was usually 20-28 ft., occasionally longer.

Whale Catcher, Whale Chaser – Small ships, of steam trawler type, used for hunting whales. Fitted with harpoon gun forward. Work in conjunction with a whale factory.

Whale Factory – Large steam vessel, specially constructed and fitted in which captured whales are hauled aboard—along a special slipway at stern—and rendered into oil and meat.

Whaleback – Name given to a vessel having deck with excessive camber. Formerly applied to a poop having rounded side plating at its junction with the deck.

Whaleback Cloud – Common name for Strato-cumulus lenticularis cloud.

Whaleboat – A thirty foot rowing boat used for chasing whales.

Whaleman – Man engaged in the whaling industry.

Whaler – Vessel engaged in whale catching. 2. Person employed in whale catching. 3. Ship’s boat of whale boat type. A vessel that catches whales. A large shark; Australia.

Wharf – Erection in harbour, or on banks of inland waters, for the berthing of ships for loading and discharging of cargo, fitting, or refitting. 2.* Shore of the sea. Bank of a river. 3. To place on a wharf. 4. To protect by erecting a wharf.

Wharfage – Money paid for use of a wharf, or services of it. 2. The wharf accommodation, or facilities, at a port.

Wharfinger – One who owns or manages a wharf.

Wharram, James – Designer of self build (ply) sailing catamarans in Polynesian style and advocate of free spirited sailing lifestyle.

Wheatstone Gyroscope – Small gyroscope for demonstration purposes. Has a 4-inch wheel and attachments for suppressing freedom and for introducing precession.

Wheel – Usual name for the steering wheel by which a rudder is moved, or a steering engine actuated. In U. S. A. the name is given to a screw propeller.

Wheel Chains – Chains by which a wheel actuates a steering engine or a rudder.

Wheel House – Originally an erection around a steering wheel for the protection of helmsman. Now utilised for other purposes connected with the navigation of a vessel.

Wheel Ropes – Ropes by which a wheel actuated a rudder.

Wheft – Any flag that has had a stop passed around it halfway along the fly. It then has some special significance.

Whelps – Metal strips fixed vertically on barrel of capstan—or horizontally on warping end of winch—to increase grip of rope by making the turn a polygon instead of a circle.

Where Away? – Enquiry addressed to a look-out man, demanding precise direction of an object he has sighted and reported.

Wherry – Small but roomy boat used for carrying goods or ferrying passengers in sheltered waters. Compare ‘Norfolk Wherry’.

Whether in Berth or Not – Term used in charter party, or other document, to stipulate that lay days shall commence when ship is ready to load, or unload, irrespective of whether ship is in the appropriate berth or not.

Whip – Rope rove through a standing block for hoisting. A double whip consists of a rope rove through two single blocks with end made fast to one of them. Gives advantage of two or three, according to which block moves. 2. To pass a whipping around end of a rope.

Whip Staff – Vertical handle on end of a hand-worked tiller.

Whipping – Twine or small stuff passed round end of a rope to prevent it unlaying. 2. Passing a whipping around a rope.

Whirling Psychrometer – Wet and dry thermometers mounted in a frame hinged on a handle. Is whirled to increase evaporation at bulb of wet thermometer.

Whirlpool – Current that has a rotatory motion over a comparatively small area. Is troublesome in that it may turn ship’s head against maximum rudder at maximum speed. Its suctional effect is largely mythical.

Whirlwind – Small but very intense revolving storm, the wind circulating very rapidly around a low-pressure centre-line.

Whisker-pole – A spar for booming out a foresail when running downwind.

Whiskers – Spars projecting transversely from just forward of catheads and approximately horizontally. Purpose is to give adequate spread of guys of jib boom. Sometimes called ‘spritsail gaffs’, ‘whisker gaffs’, ‘whisker booms’, or ‘whiskers’.

Whistle – Sound-producing instrument that is required to be fitted on any powerpropelled vessel unless a siren is fitted.

Whistle Buoy – Navigational aid buoy that emits a whistling sound through mechanism actuated by wave movement.

Whistling for Wind – Based on a very old tradition that whistling at sea will cause a wind to rise.

Whistling Psalms to the Taffrail – Nautical phrase that means giving good advice that will not be taken.

White Caps – Foam on crests of waves.

White Combination Engine – Propelling engine combining a highspeed tripleexpansion engine and a Parson’s reaction turbine.

White Ensign – Ensign having a white ground with a red St. George’s cross, and Union in inner upper canton. Is the proper ensign of Her Majesty’s ships, and shore establishments under naval command, and yachts of the Royal Yacht Squadron.

White Forster Boiler – Water-tube boiler of Jarrow type, but with a larger steam drum—that allows for removal and replacement of tubes.

White Horses – Fast-running waves with white foam crests.

White Rope – Rope and cordage made of untarred hemp.

White Squadron – Former division of a fleet of warships. From 1625 to 1653 was the rear division, under a rear-admiral. After this it was the centre division under a vice-admiral. Discontinued 1864.

White Squall – Sudden squall that causes white foam, or froth, to form on surface of sea. Sometimes applied to a squall in which there is no reduction of light.

Whites – Tropical white uniform.

Whole Gale – Wind having a velocity of 48 to 55 knots.

Wholesome – Said of craft that behave well in bad weather.

Wide berth – Allowing a considerable clearance distance.

Widow’s Men – Fictitious names, up to 2 per cent of a crew, that were entered in ship’s books of H. M. ships. Their pay and victualling allowances were credited to the ‘Widows’ Fund’. Commenced 1763, abolished about 1831.

Wigzells Patent – Sounding tube for use with Kelvins sounding machine.

Wildcat – Cable holder, or sprocket wheel, of windlass. A term for a windlass gypsy.

Wildfire – Inflammable composition anciently used in naval warfare. Composed of pitch, sulphur, naphtha, etc.

Willesden Canvas – Treated canvas, green in colour, often used for tarpaulins.

Williamson Turn – Used to turn a vessel 180° and bring on to her original track. The wheel is put hard over until the heading has altered about 60°. The wheel is then put hard over in the opposite direction until the heading is approaching the reciprocal of the original course and the vessel is steaming into her wake.

Willis Altitude Azimuth Instrument – Small instrument for obtaining, mechanically, altitude and azimuth of a heavenly body from its declination and hour angle, and latitude of observer.

Willis Navigating Machine – Invented by E. J. Willis (U. S. A.) for the mechanical solution of navigational problems involving latitude, altitude, declination, hour angle. Weight 47 Ib.

Williwaws – Sudden and violent squalls met with in Straits of Magellan.

Willy Willy – Local name for a severe cyclone off coast of northwestern Australia, and in Arafura Sea. A whirlwind of high speed rotating air.

Winch – Machine consisting of a horizontal barrel revolving on an axis and operated by hand or power. Geared to give mechanical advantage. Used for lifting and lowering cargo, and for other purposes that require more power than can be supplied by crew.

Wind – Air that is perceptibly in motion. See Beaufort Scale.

Wind Bound – Confined to a port or anchorage by adversity of wind.

Wind Chute – Metal scoop that fits in a port or scuttle and projects outboard, thus deflecting air into a compartment when ship or air is moving.

Wind Current (WC) – The water current generated by wind acting upon the surface of water over a period of time.

Wind Direction – The direction from which wind comes, e.g. Southerly wind from the South.

Wind Dog – An incomplete rainbow, or part of a rainbow. Some times seen in English Channel, where it is supposed to indicate approach of a storm.

Wind Force – Velocity of wind as indicated by Beaufort Scale, in which 1 is a light air, and 12 is a hurricane; intermediate velocities having appropriate intermediate numbers.

Wind Gal –. Luminous edge of a cloud to windward, Supposed to indicate approach of a storm.

Wind Lipper – Slight disturbance of sea surface by a wind that has just arisen.

Wind Rode – Said of a vessel at anchor when the directions of her head and cable are to windward.

Wind Rose – Intersecting lines, on a weather chart, showing directions, frequencies, and strengths of wind in that locality over a certain time.

Wind Sail – Large tube of canvas with a shaped mouth that can be trimmed to the wind by lines. Used for conveying air to spaces below upper deck.

Wind Scoop – Wind chute. A device used to direct wind or air to ventilate a ship’s compartment of a.

Wind Shear – Wind with a vertical directional component.

Wind Speed – Strong wind; Wind speed of 25 knots.

Wind Taut – Said of an anchored vessel when straining at her cable and heeled by force of wind.

Wind Vane – Any streamer or device used for indicating direction of wind.

Wind Wale – Sponson rim of paddle steamer; connecting paddle beam to sides of vessel.

Windage – The vertical surface area of a vessel that is exposed to the wind and acts like a sail.

Wind-corrected Heading – The actual heading an aircraft is required to fly to make good an intended course.

Winding – Turning a vessel end for end between buoys, or alongside a wharf or pier.

Winding Tackle – Large purchase, comprising three-fold block aloft and double block in lower end. Secured at lower masthead and used for lifting heavy weights.

Windjammer – Colloquial name for a sailing vessel.

Windlass – Machine working on a horizontal axis and used for working cable. Usually has two sprocket wheels for holding cables, and warping drums at extremities of shaft. Actuated by steam or electricity. Gearing is provided so that one or both sprocket wheels can be meshed with engine shaft. Brakes are provided for holding cable holders when disconnected from shaft. Old types were hand-worked.

Windlass Bitts – Vertical timbers in which hand-worked windlasses were formerly mounted.

Windmill – Formerly carried by Scandinavian sailing vessels for actuating bilge pumps.

Wind-rode – A vessel affected by the wind when at anchor.

Windward – Towards the wind. Nearer to the wind. The direction from which the wind blows.

Windward Sailing – Sailing against wind on alternate tacks, but sailing a longer leg on that tack which is in the approximate direction of the position it is desired to reach.

Wing – That part of a hold, or ‘tween deck, that lies along the side. 2. To stow cargo in wing of hold. 3.* Occasionally applied to the sponson of a paddle steamer.

Wing and Wing – Said of a fore and aft rigged vessel when she is running with sails out on both sides.

Wing Boards – Sloping boards permanently fitted in self-trimming colliers. They are inclined at angle of repose of coal, and extend to ship’s side from underside of deck.

Wing In Ground (WIG) – machine that uses the pressurised cushion of proximity to the ground to maintain a skimming flight path.

Wing Passage – A passage below the water line of a warship used for inspection and repairs.

Wing Tank – A vessel’s extreme side tank for liquids or fuel.

Wing Transom – Thwartship timber in lower part of stern of old wooden ships. In warships, it formed sill of gun-room windows.

Wing-and-wing – When a sailing vessel is dead before the wind, with her foresail on one side and her mainsail on the other.

Winger – Small water cask stowed in wings of holds in old sailing ships.

Winging Oat – Putting cargo in wing of a hold, or towards ship’s side.

Winter Load Line – Statutory load line mark indicating depth to which vessel may be loaded in seasonal winter.

Winter Solstice – That point of time at which Sun obtains his maximum declination and minimum noon altitude, and appears to stand still in declination for an appreciable time. Occurs about December 21 in northern latitudes, June 21 in southern latitudes. By convention, the former is generally accepted.

Winter Zone – Areas of high latitudes, North and South where ships are required to load lighter in order to maintain a safe freeboard. The loadline is marked as the Winter loadline (W) or the Winter North Atlantic loadline (WNA).

Wiper – An engine room handyman.

Wire Rope – Rope made of wires, those used in ships being of iron or steel. Three main types used are flexible steel wires steel rigging wires, and iron rigging wires. Very little iron wire now used.

Wire Rope Gauge – Small instrument, with adjustable jaws, used for measuring diameter of a rope—but graduated to indicate the corresponding circumference.

Wire Rope Grip – Bull-dog grip.

Wireless Bearing – Radio bearing.

Wireless Telegraphy Acts – 1919-27-32. Lay down rules for the equipment, fitting, and use of radio equipment in sea-going ships. Radio Installations Regulations S. I. No. 3 of 1992 now apply.

Wireless Time Signals – Radio time signals.

Wiring – The rising in a boat. The fore and aft internal strip on which the thwarts rest.

Wiring Clamp – Doubling piece of wood clamped to rising of a boat to take fastening of a thwart.

Wishbone Gaff or Boom – A double gaff or boom which allows the sail to take an aeroform shape.

Withe – Ring, or boom iron, through which a secondary spar is held to a mast or principal boom.

Withies – Tree branches standing in shallows as local navigation marks.

Without Prejudice – Words used when a statement, comment, or action is not to be taken as implying agreement or disagreement, or affecting in any way a matter in dispute, or under consideration.

Wooden Walls – Name given to warships, in the days of wooden ships, in recognition of the fact that they were the outer defence of the Realm.

Woolaston Current Meter – Stationary instrument lowered into the water for measuring and indicating rate and direction of current. Has a timekeeping unit so that variations in rate and direction are shown graphically against a time scale. Measures rates up to 6 knots.

Woold/ing – Bind/ing rope tautly around a spar, particularly after fishing it.

Woolder – Strong wooden rod used for heaving rope taut when woolding.

Work – Said of parts of a ship that move through action of wind or sea. 2. To work a sight is to reduce its data to a desired value. 3. Work to windward is to ply to windward.

Work a Traverse – To reduce the various courses and distances sailed to the resultant changes in latitude and longitude.

Working Days – Those days on which it is customary to work in the given port, the length of the day being the customary number of hours. A ‘working day of 24 hours’ would be three working days in a port at which it was customary to work eight hours a day.

Working Foresail – Fore and aft foresail whose sheet rides on a horse.

Working Gear – Gear or clothing in general use. Sails used when working to windward.

Working Strain – Maximum stress a rope, member, or fitting will bear.

Working Up – Increasing in speed, force, or efficiency.

World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS 84)  the datum (Starting point) used by the GPS system which is a different datum to Australian Admiralty Charts. Positions obtained from GPS must have corrections applied before plotting them onto an Australian chart. These corrections can be obtained from the block on the chart titled ‘Satellite Derived Positions’ See also ‘AGD66’

Worm – To put yarn, or small stuff, in cantlines of a rope that is to be parcelled and served. 2. Spiral thread, on a shaft, that engages in appropriately cut teeth on a wheel or drum. Has a large ratio of purchase and rarely ‘walks back’.

Worm, Parcel and Serve – 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).

Worse Happens at Sea – An appeal to a sufferer to weigh an experienced misfortune/tragety against the alternative potential catastrophes.

Wrack – Thin, ragged, fast-moving clouds. 2. Seaweed thrown ashore by sea. 3. To destroy by wave action. 4. Old form of ‘wreck’.

Wreck – Vessel so damaged as to be unseaworthy and incapable of being navigated. Legally, includes ‘jetsam, flotsam, lagan, and derelict found in or on shores of sea or tidal water’.

Wreck Buoy – Buoy marking the position of a wrecked ship. Related Article: The IALA Buoyage Systems – Seafarer’s Aids to Navigation.

Wreck Commission – Court that investigates the causes and circumstances of a wreck. First sat in 1876.

Wreckage – Fragments of a wrecked vessel. 2. The remains of a wrecked vessel. 3. The act of wrecking. 4. Goods washed ashore from a wrecked vessel.

Wrecker – One who deliberately causes a vessel to be wrecked. 2. One who plunders a wrecked vessel. 3. One whose duty is to remove cargo from a wrecked vessel on behalf of owners.

Wriggle – Rigol. Rim over a port hole to deflect drips.

Wring – To strain and deform by excessive stress.

Wring Bolt – Bolt used, in wooden ship building, to bend a strake into position and hold it so until fastened.

Wring Staff – Wooden handspike used for setting up wring bolts.

Wrinkle – Small protruding bight in skin of a furled sail. 2. Short and pithy piece of helpful advice.

Wrought Mat – Paunch mat.

Wrung – Said of a mast or spar that has been strained or twisted. ‘

Wykeham-Martin – Jib furling gear. Rolled on luff wire.

Wythe – Alternative form of ‘withe’.



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