MainA_Pirates_Glossary_of_Terms.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0
MerrimentMerriment.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0
NamecallingNamecalling.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0
History and PlacesHistory_and_Places.htmlHistory_and_Places.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1
Ships and Sailing Lingoshapeimage_5_link_0shapeimage_5_link_1
OrientationOrientation.htmlshapeimage_6_link_0
MeasurementMeasurement.htmlshapeimage_7_link_0
PhrasesPhrases.htmlshapeimage_8_link_0
Ships and Sailing Lingo
FinancialsFinancials.htmlshapeimage_10_link_0
WeaponryWeaponry.htmlshapeimage_11_link_0
 

ballast

    Heavy material that is placed in the hold of a ship to enhance stability


barkadeer

    A small pier or jetty vessel.


barque (also bark)

A sailing ship with from three to five masts, all of them square-rigged except the after mast, which is fore-and-aft rigged; a small vessel that is propelled by oars or sails.


beam (also arm)

    A piece of timber perpendicular to the sides of a ship which supports the deck. Also used to identify objects in relation to objects perpendicular to the ship that are visible from the port or starboard side.


bilge

    (1) The lowest part inside the ship, within the hull itself which is the first place to show signs of leakage. The bilge is often dank and musty, and considered the most filthy, dead space of a ship. (2) Nonsense, or foolish talk.


bilge water

    Water inside the bilge sometimes referred to as bilge itself.


bittacle (or bitacola and later binnacle)

    A box on the deck of a ship holding the ship’s compass.


Bonaventure mizzen

    A fourth mast found on large galleons of the Sixteenth Century.


boom

    A long spar extending from a mast to hold or extend the foot of a sail.


bow

    The front of a ship.


bowsprit

    The slanted spar at a ship's prow which is the furthest front of the ship. It is usually used as a lead connection for a smaller, navigational sail. It was from the bowsprit that Blackbeard's head was hung as a trophy.


brigantine (also brig)

    A two-masted sailing ship, square-rigged on both masts.

bring a spring upon her cableTo come around in a different direction.


bulkhead

    A partition or dividing wall within the hull of a ship.


cable

    A heavy rope or chain for mooring or anchoring a ship.


capstan

    An apparatus used for hoisting weights, consisting of a vertical spool-shaped cylinder that is rotated manually or by machine and around which a cable is wound.


clipper

    A fast moving ship.


cog

    A small warship.


cordage (see also line)

    The ropes on a ship used to control its sails.


crow’s nest

    A small platform, sometimes enclosed, near the top of a mast, where a lookout could have a better view when watching for sails or for land.


driver

    A large sail suspended from the mizzen gaff; a jib-headed spanker.


fo’cs’le (or forecastle)

  1. (1)The section of the upper deck of a ship located at the bow forward of the foremast. (2) A superstructure at the bow of a merchant ship where the crew is housed.


foremast

    A ship’s mast located nearest to the bow.


futtock

    The curved strips of wood that make up the underside of a ship.


gaff

    A spar attached to the mast and used to extend the upper edge of a fore-and-aft sail.


galleon

    A large three-masted sailing ship with a square rig and usually two or more decks, used from the 15th to the 17th century especially by Spain as a merchant ship or warship.


gally

    A low, flat vessel propelled partly, or wholly by oars.


gangplank

A board or ramp used as a removable footway between a ship and a pier.


gangway

    (1) A passage along either side of a ships upper deck. (2) A gangplank. (3) An interjection used to clear a passage through a crowded area.


gunwalls

    The sides of the top deck which act as a railing around the deck, and have openings where heavy arms or guns are positioned.


hawsehole

    A hole in a ship’s deck through which the anchor cable passes.


helm

    The steering wheel of a ship which controls the rudder.


hold

    A large area for storing cargo in the lower part of a ship.


holystone

    A piece of soft sandstone used for scouring the wooden decks of a ship.


hulk

    British prison ships that captured pirates and privateers.


hull

    The body of a ship.


Jacob’s ladder

    A rope ladder with wooden rungs used to access a ship from the side.


jib

    A triangular sail stretching from the fore-topmast head to the jib boom and in small craft to the bowsprit or the bow.


jolly boat

    A light boat carried at the stern of a larger sailing ship.


jury rig (also jury rigging or jury mast)

    A temporary or makeshift mast erected on a sea vessel with whatever materials and tools were on hand, including spare parts of smaller masts. In combat, the mainmast was often the most damaged (providing the ship didn't sink.) Without the mainmast a ship was powerless so it was imperative to build a jury rig for the ship. Sometimes the mizzenmast could be moved and used as a jury rig.


keel

    The underside of a ship which becomes covered in barnacles after sailing the seas.


killick

    A small anchor, especially one made of a stone in a wooden frame.


lanyard (or laniard)

    A short rope or gasket used for fastening something or securing rigging.


lateen sail

    A triangular sail set on a long sloping yard.


line (see also cordage)

    A rope in use as part of the ship's rigging, or as a towing line. When a rope is coiled up on deck, not yet being used for anything, it is simply called a rope.


long boat

    The largest boat carried by a ship which is used to move large loads such as anchors, chains, or ropes. pirates use the boats to transport the bulk of heavier treasures.


lugger

    A two-masted sailing vessel with a lugsail rig.


lugsail

    A quadrilateral sail that lacks a boom, has the foot larger than the head, and is bent to a yard hanging obliquely on the mast.


mainmast

    The longest mast located in the middle of a ship.


main sheet

    The rope that controls the angle at which a mainsail is trimmed and set.


man-of-war (also man-o’-war)

    A vessel designed and outfitted for battle.


mast

    The upright wooden post or spar that carries a sail or sails.


mizzen

    A fore-and-aft sail set on the mizzenmast.


mizzenmast

    The largest and, perhaps, most important mast located in the mizzen; the third mast or the mast aft of a mainmast on a ship having three or more masts.


nipper

    A short length of rope used to bind an anchor cable.


parrel (also parral)

    A sliding loop of rope or chain by which a running yard or gaff is connected to, while still being able to move vertically along, the mast.


pink

    A small sailing vessel with a sharply narrowed stern and an overhanging transom.


pinnance

    A light boat propelled by sails or oars, used as a tender for merchant and war vessels; a boat for communication between ship and shore.


Plate Fleet

    Fleet of Spanish ships used to carry silver and gold to Europe.


poop deck

    The highest deck at the stern of a large ship, usually above the captains quarters.


prow (see also bow)

    The forwardmost area of the ship.


quarterdeck

    The after part of the upper deck of a ship.


rigging

    The system of ropes, chains, and tackle used to support and control the masts, sails, and yards of a sailing vessel.


rudder

    A flat piece of wood at the stern of a ship that dips into the water and is used for steering. The rudder is controlled at the helm.


schooner

    A fore-and-aft rigged sailing vessel having at least two masts, with a foremast that is usually smaller than the other masts.


scuppers

    Openings along the edges of a ship's deck that allow water on deck to drain back to the sea rather than collecting in the bilge.


scuttle

    (1) A small opening or hatch with a movable lid in the deck or hull of a ship. (2) To sink by means of a hole in a ships hull.


sheet

    A line running from the bottom aft corner of a sail by which it can be adjusted to the wind.


shrouds

    One of a set of ropes or wire cables stretched from the masthead to the sides of a vessel to support the mast.


skysail

    A small square sail above the royal in a square-rigged vessel.


sloop

    A single-masted, fore-and-aft-rigged sailing boat with a short standing bowsprit or none at all and a single headsail set from the forestay. This boat was much favored by the pirates because of its shallow draught and maneuverability.


snow

    A square-rigged vessel, differing from a brig only in that she has a trysail mast close abaft the mainmast, on which a large trysail is hoisted.


spanker (see also driver)

    The after sail of a ship or bark, being a fore-and-aft sail attached to a boom and gaff.


spyglass

    A telescope.


stern

    The rear part of a ship.


sternpost

    An upright beam at the stern bearing the rudder.


tackle

    A system of ropes and blocks for raising and lowering weights of rigging and pulleys for applying tension.


tender

    A vessel attendant on other vessels, especially one that ferries supplies between ship and shore; a small boat towed or carried by a ship.


topmast

    The mast below the topgallant mast in a square-rigged ship and highest in a fore-and-aft-rigged ship.


topsail

    A square sail set above the lowest sail on the mast of a square-rigged ship or a triangular or square sail set above the gaff of a lower sail on a fore-and-aft-rigged ship.


transom

    Any of several transverse beams affixed to the sternpost of a wooden ship and forming part of the stern.


trysail

    A small fore-and-aft sail hoisted abaft the foremast and mainmast in a storm to keep a ship's bow to the wind.


wherry

    A light, swift rowboat built for one person usually used in inland waters or harbors.


yard

    A long tapering spar slung to a mast to support and spread the head of a square sail, lugsail, or lateen.


yardarm

    (1) The main arm across the mast which holds up the sail (2) Either end of a yard of a square sail. The yardarm is a vulnerable target in combat, and is also a favorite place from which to hang prisoners or enemies. Black Bart hung his governor of Martinique from his yardarm.


yawl (or dandy)

    (1) A ships small boat crewed by rowers. (2) A two-masted fore-and-aft-rigged sailing vessel similar to the ketch but having a smaller jigger or mizzenmast projecting out behind the rudder.