Sailing for landlubbers

Cameron Dueck
Cameron Dueck |

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By Cameron Dueck

If lot you have never stepped aboard a sailing boat, in sailing jargon you're a landlubber.

This weekly column talks a lot about sailing, and maybe sometimes we use sailing terms you've never heard of before. So I'll explain some of the terms we sailors use every day to describe our home at sea.

Port and starboard, for example, are not as simple as left and right. They refer to the position of the boat, not you. Facing forward in the boat, towards the bow (front), the left side of the boat is the port side, and the right is starboard. This remains so if you turn around and face the stern (back) of the boat. Then the port side will be on your right and the starboard will be on your left.

These terms are also used to describe where the wind is. If we're on a port tack, it means the wind is coming over the port side of the boat. They each have their own colour as well - port is always marked red, and starboard is always green.

Tacking and gybing describe turning the boat to change the side on which the wind hits it. Tacking is when the bow moves through the wind, while gybing does the same with the stern.

Meanwhile a bathroom on a boat is called a head. The galley is the kitchen, where we cook our meals. The stove swings on a special frame called gimbals so that when the boat rocks, the stove remains steady. We have bunks not beds, and cabins not bedrooms. And we call the small windows portholes and hatches.

The navigation station is a big flat table with storage underneath where we keep our charts, or maps of the sea. We use this desk to write in our log book, which is the official record book of the boat describing where we have been and what the weather is like.

Lastly, there's the saloon, which is the main cabin, with a folding dining table and bench seating that also serves as sleeping bunks for Tobias and Hanns, the two crew members.

If you have any questions, e-mail them to [email protected] with postcards in the subject field and we will forward them to Cameron. You can follow his voyage in his weekly log book in Young Post and on