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Yachting Glossary - B

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back To force a sail out against the wind. The wind backs when it shifts in a counterclockwise direction.
back a sail To hold a sail in such a way, that the wind will fill it from the opposite to usual side. This maneuver is used to slow down the boat (as if applying brakes), or to force a boat to tack when in irons.
backing (wind) The changing of the wind direction, opposite of veering. Clockwise in the southern hemisphere, counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere.
backsplice A method of weaving the end of a rope to keep it from unraveling.
backstay A mast support that runs from the top of the mast to the stern of the yacht; it may be adjustable in order to bend the mast backward or to increase tension on the forestay.
backwind A wind that shifts in a counterclockwise direction. To loosen the trim of a mainsail so that it flaps in order to reduce heeling.
backwinded When the wind pushes on the wrong side of the sail, causing it to be pushed away from the wind. If the lines holding the sail in place are not released, the boat could become hard to control and heel excessively.
baggywrinkle  Clumps of frayed rope that protect the sails from chafing against the lines.
bail To remove water from a boat, as with a bucket or a pump.
bale  A fitting on the end of a spar, such as the boom, to which a line may be led.
ballast A weight at the bottom of the boat to help keep it stable. Ballast can be place inside the hull of the boat or externally in a keel.
ballast weight  usually metal, placed low in a boat to provide stability.
balloon jib Sail used on a reach; larger and fuller than a genoa
bar A region of shallow water usually made of sand or mud, usually running parallel to the shore. Bars are caused by wave and current action, and may not be shown on a chart
barber hauler  A line attached to the jib or jib sheet, used to adjust the angle of sheeting by pulling the sheet toward the centerline of the boat.
bare poles In a very strong wind it is possible to be propelled by the force of the wind on only the mast and the boom. To sail in such a way is called "bare poles".
bareboating:  Renting a boat with no crew, generally for vacations
barge A long vessel with a flat bottom used to carry freight on rivers. Barges are usually not powered, being pushed or towed by a tugboat instead.
barograph An instrument used to keep a record of atmospheric pressure, such as on a paper drum.
barometer An instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure, usually measured in inches of mercury or millibars. Inches of mercury are used because some barometers use the height of mercury in a sealed tube as a measuring device.
barometric pressure Atmospheric pressure as measured by a barometer.
barque, barquentine A sailing ship with three to five masts, all square-rigged except the after mast (last), which is fore-and-aft rigged.
batten A thin strip of hard material, such as wood or plastic. Battens are sewn in or placed in batten pockets on a sail to stiffen it to more preferred shape. They are also used to secure hatches.
batten down Also batten the hatches. To put away all loose objects on the ship and to close all openings, such as ports and hatches, in preparation for heavy weather. Hatches used to be secured with battens.
batten pockets Pockets in a sail where battens can be placed to stiffen the sail.
batten the hatches Also batten down. To put away all loose objects on the ship and to close all openings, such as ports and hatches, in preparation for heavy weather. Hatches used to be secured with battens.
bay An enclosed body of water with a wide mouth leading to the sea.
beachcomber A sailor who does not want to work that loafs around ports. -To salvage goods found washed up on shores.
beacon A light, or other naviga-tion aid, usually on land, to warn boats of danger or obstruction.
beam The widest part of a boat. Wooden struts running acorss the width of the boat to support the deck.
beam reach Sailing on a point of sail such that the apparent wind is coming from the beam (side) of the boat at about a 90° angle. A beam reach is usually the fastest point of sail. A beam reach is a point of sail between a broad reach and a close reach.
beam sea Waves running at right angles to the boat's course.
beam wind A wind that blows at at right angles to a boat's course.
bear away, bear off To fall off. A boat falls off the wind when it points its bow further from the eye of the wind. The opposite of heading up.
bearing The direction of an object from the observer. "The lighthouse is at a bearing of 90 degrees."
bearing A direction an object is relative to the observer (based on the compass heading).
bearing away To turn a vessel away from the wind
beat (also) beating To sail towards the wind by making a series of tacks. -Sailing close hauled.
Beaufort wind scale A method of measuring the severity of the force of wind, named after Admiral Beaufort who created the system. 0 is no wind, whereas 12 would be a hurricane.
becket A loop at the end of a line.
bedding compound A material used to join two objects completely. Usually used to create a water tight or very secure joint.
before the wind Sailing with the wind from astern, in the same direction the wind is blowing,
belay To temporarily secure a line to a cleat, or as a command "disregard the last order"
belaying pin A wood pin fitted into racks, around which lines can be belayed or secured.
bell bouy A buoy with a bell that sounds when the buoy is moved by the waves.
below  Beneath the deck.
bend A type of knot used to connect a line to a spar or another line. Also the act of using such a knot.
bend on To attach a sail and prepare it for use.
bermuda rig The most common sail plan, sails are tall triangular shape.
bermuda sloop The most “classic” rig with a triangular mainsail and a jib
berth A place for a person to sleep.  A place where a ship can be secured. A safe distance from something as in "giving it a wide berth:.
bight   A bend in the shoreline.  The part of a rope used for making knots.
bilge The lowest part of the interior of the boat where water collects.
bilge board Centerboard structure to decrease sideways drift
bilge pump A pump to remove water from the bottom of the hull
bimini A cover used to shelter the cockpit from the sun.
binnacle The mount for the compass, usually located on the wheel's pedestal.
binocular A pair of small telescopes, one for each eye, used to magnify distant objects.
bitt A sturdy post mounted on the bow or stern to which anchor or mooring lines may be attached.
bitter end The end of a line. Also the end of the anchor rode attached to the boat.
block One or more wheels with grooves in them (pulleys) designed to carry a line and change the direction of its travel. A housing around the wheel allows the block to be connected to a spar, or another line. Lines used with a block are known as tackle.
block and tackle A combination of one or more blocks and the associated tackle necessary to give a mechanical advantage. Useful for lifting heavy loads.
bluewater sailing  open ocean sailing, as opposed to being in a lake or sound
board boat  A small boat, usually mono rig. May have a shallow cockpit well. Typically has almost no freeboard.
boarding ladder A ladder used to board the vessel. Boarding ladders may be designed to be useful from either the water or a dock and are usually stowed when not in use.
boarding wave A wave that breaks over the deck of the boat.
boat A small vessel used to travel on the water, powered by either wind, power or oars. Also any small vessel carried on a larger ship.
boat hook A pole with an attached hook at the end, used for either retrieving objects or fending them off.
boatswain Also bosun, bos'n, bo's'n, and bo'sun, all of which are pronounced bosun. A crew member responsible for keeping the hull, rigging and sails in repair.
bobstay  Wire Stay underneath the bowsprit; helps to counteract the upward pull exerted by the forestay.
bollard A large pillar, usually made of concrete or steel, to which a boat's mooring lines can by tied.
bolt rope The line sewn into the edge of a sail.
bone in her teeth sailing well underway such that spray is thrown out at the stem of the boat
boom A pole securing the bottom of a sail, allowing more control of the position of a sail.
boom crutch Supporting structure for the boom, stabilizes it when the boat is anchored
boom vang Any system used to hold the boom down. This is useful for maintaining proper sail shape, particularly when running or on a broad reach.
boomkin (bumpkin) Short spar extending aft from the transom. Used to anchor the backstay or the sheets from the mizzen on a yawl or ketch.
boot stripe a different color strip of paint at the waterline
boot top  A painted stripe that indicates the waterline.
bosun Also boatswain, bos'n, bo's'n, and bo'sun, all of which are pronounced bosun. A crew member responsible for keeping the hull, rigging and sails in repair.
bosun's chair A chair traditionally made from a plank and rope, used to hoist workers aloft to maintain the rigging.
bosun's locker A locker where tools for maintaining the deck, rigging and sails are kept.
bottlescrew A fitting to control the tension on the forestay
bow The front of the boat.
bow & beam bearings A set of bearings taken from an object with a known position, such as a landmark, to determine the ship's location. A type of running fix.
bow fitting Fitting to which the jib is attached
bowline A knot used to make a loop in a line. Easily untied, it is simple and strong. The bowline is used to tie sheets to sails.  A mooring line at the bow.
bowditch A reference book named after the original author, Nathaniel Bowditch. Updated versions contain tables and other information useful for navigation.
bower anchor Main anchor of a boat
bowman The crewmember in charge of sail changes and keeping a lookout on the bow at the start.
bowsprit A pole extending from the bow of a boat. The bowsprit is used to attach the headstay forward of the front of the boat's deck. This allows added sail area for the head sail.
brace A guy. A line used to control the movement of the object at the other end, such as a spar.
braided line A method of making lines that allows for greater strength and durability when using modern materials.
brale Partially furling sails to lessen wind resistance or partially unfurling sails to make them ready for instant use.  On a square sail this is accomplished with leech and clew lines.  See "Scandalize"
breakers Waves that have entered a shallow water, and built up on height.  By doing this they "break" at the crest producing a curled up formation.
breaking seas With sufficiently strong wind, large waves can form crests even in deep water, causing the wave tops to tumble forward over the waves.
breakwater A structure build to improve a harbor by sheltering it from waves.
breast line A line attached laterally from a boat to a dock, preventing movement away from the dock.
breast rope The mooring rope or anchor warp that is used on yachts and cruisers
bridge The room from which a ship is controlled. On a smaller boat this is usually not a room, is outside, and is known as a cockpit.
bridge deck Mostly used to describe the intermediate deck between cabin and cockpit in small to medium-sized cruisers
bridle  A short length of wire with a line attached at the midpoint. A bridle is used to distribute the load of the attached line. Often used as boom travelers and for spinnaker down hauls.
brig A two-masted square rigged vessel. On the aft mast, there is also a gaff sail.
brigands pirates.
brigantine  A two-masted vessel with foremast square rigged, and mainmast fore and aft rigged.
bright work  varnished woodwork or polished metal
bring about To reverse or change directions, to turn around.
bring to To stop the forward motion of a boat by heading directly into the wind.
Bristol fashion A term used to describe a clean and orderly ship. "Shipshape and Bristol fashion."
broach or broach to a turning or swinging of the boat that puts the beam of the boat against the waves, creating a danger of swamping or capsizing
broaching The unplanned turning of a vessel to expose its side to the oncoming waves. In heavy seas this could cause the boat to be knocked down.
broad on the beam The position of an object that lies off to one side of the vessel.
broad reach A point of sail where the boat is sailing away from the wind, but not directly downwind with the sails let out nearly all the way.
bucko  A bullying and tyrannical officer.
bulb The lead-torpedo shape on the bottom of the keel.
bulkhead An interior wall in a vessel. Sometimes bulkheads are also watertight, adding to the vessel's safety.
bullseye   A round eye through which a line is led, usually in order to change the direction of pull.
bulwark A railing around the deck of a boat to keep things from going overboard and the seas from coming aboard - the part of a ship's side that extends above the main deck to protect it against heavy weather.
bunk  Sleeping Berth
buntline hitch A type of knot used to attach a line to a shackle.
buoy A floating device used as a navigational aid by marking channels, hazards and prohibited areas.
buoyancy Force which enables anything to float. Many boats have built in buoyancy tanks in case of the hull being holed or the boats capsizing.
buoyancy aid Safety garment to keeps its wearer afloat but (in Britain) one without the qualities that permit it to be called a lifejacket.
buoyancy tanks Sealed tanks in the hull of dinghies that contain buoyancy to support the boat in case it capsizes
burdened vessel The vessel responsible for moving out of another vessels path according to the navigation rules. Also known as the give way vessel.
burgee A type of flag used to identify a boater's affiliation with a yacht club or boating organization.  Also used to indicate wind direction.
by the lee Sailing downwind with the wind blowing over the leeward side of the boat.
by the wind Sailing close-hauled. Same as "on the wind"