Cruise Basics, Part 3: What Did They Mean By That?
Now that we know who to talk to about what, it will be helpful to make some sense out of those nautical terms. Here are the meanings of a few of them.
ABEAM: At right angle to the keel . . . that is, to the length of the ship.
ABOARD: On board.
AFT: Toward the stern (the rear) of the ship.
AMIDSHIPS: Toward the middle of the ship, halfway between the front and back (bow and stern).
ASTERN: Toward the ship’s stern (rear).
BACKWASH: Water thrown backward by the propeller’s motion.
BARGE: Flat-bottom ship, which usually serves as a cargo carrier.
BEAM: The width of the ship at its widest point.
BEARING: The compass direction in which the ship is headed.
BELOW: A deck lower than the main deck.
BERTH: Two possible meanings — the bed in your cabin; or the place where the ship docks (which is ITS “bed”).
BILGE: The lowest part inside the ship’s hull.
BINNACLE: A ship’s compass.
BOW: The front or foreward end of a ship.
BRIDGE: The uppermost deck from which the captain and his officers navigate the ship.
BULKHEAD: Walls/partitions within the ship. Your cabin walls are actually bulkheads.
BUNKERS: Fuel is stored here.
COLORS: The national flag(s) flown on the ship.
COME ABOUT: Turn the ship around.
COMPANIONWAYS: The interior stairways which connect the decks.
COURSE: The ship’s direction or route.
DAVITS: Lifeboats are hooked to these steel structures which can lower them into the water if necessary.
DECK: Each level, or floor, of the ship.
DOCK: Berth or pier, where the ship is tied up. (As a verb, it can mean to sail into port.)
DRAFT: If you measure from the waterline to the ship’s keel, you can determine how deep the water must be to avoid having the ship run aground. If a ship has a “deep draft,” it can’t go into shallow ports like a ship with a “shallow draft” can.
EMBARK: To board the ship.
FAIR WIND: Wind blowing the same direction as the ship is moving.
FANTAIL: The part of the stern (rear) which hangs over the water.
FATHOM: Measurement of water depth beneath the ship. One fathom equals six feet.
FORE or FORWARD: The front of the ship.
GALLEY: Kitchen in the ship.
GANGWAY: The ramp which passengers use to board and leave the ship.
GROSS REGISTERED TON (GRT): A measurement used to determine the ship’s size. 100 cubic feet of enclosed space on the ship = a gross register ton.
HAND: A crew member.
HAWSER: A large rope used for securing or towing the ship.
HELM: The ship’s steering mechanism.
HOLD: Cargo area below the passenger decks.
KEEL: Runing fore and aft, the entire length of the bottom of the ship, this struture is the backbone to which all crosswise parts are attached.
KNOT: One nautical mile (6080.2 feet) per hour.
LEAGUE: 3.45 nautical miles deep.
MANIFEST: List of the ship’s passengers, crew, and cargo.
NAUTICAL MILE: 6080.2 feet.
PORT: Left side of ship, when facing forward (toward the bow of the ship).
PROW: The bow of the ship.
QUAY: Berth, dock, or pier.
REGISTRY: The country where the ship’s certificate of ownership is registered.
STARBOARD: The right side of a ship when facing forward (toward the bow of the ship).
STEM: Bow or prow.
WINDWARD: Toward the wind; or the side exposed to wind.
YAW: To deviate (perhaps wildly) from course.