Sextant



Hamburg-Amerika Line
Summer 1913

Some General Nautical Terms






Abeam
At a right angle with the vessels keel. On starboard beam. On port beam.

Alleyway
A narrow passage under a bridge-deck, between cabins under deck.

Along-shore-man
Workingman, not belonging to the ship's crew, employed in loading and discharging ships.

Amidships
The middle of a vessel, with regard to her length and breadth.

Astern
The vessel was astern of us. To go astern.

Auxiliary-engines
Small machines notably fitted on board of a steamer for the purpose of replacing hand-power. As a rule they are driven by steam supplied by the main-or donkey-boilers; in some instances (when fixed on deck) they are worked by hydraulic power.

Barge
A large, usually undecked boat, employed principally in rivers, bays etc., for bringing cargo alongside a vessel or taking it from thence.

Bark
A three-masted vessel; foremast, mainmast and mizenmast; the two foremasts are square rigged as in a ship. The after or mizenmast has no yards but only a gaff-sail.

Barkentine
A three-masted vessel; foremast, mainmast and mizenmast; the foremast only is square rigged, the main and mizenmasts are only fitted with gaff-sails and gaff-topsails.

Before the mast
A seaman is said to he before the mast, when lodged in the crew's space and performing the duties of any ordinary sailor, not those of an officer.

Blue light
A mixture, which when lighted shows a bright blue flame, used on board a ship for signaling purposes.

Boatswain
An able seaman employed as a non commissioned officer to superintend the men when at work.

Brig
A two-masted vessel; foremast and mainmast, both square rigged i.e. exactly as the two foremost masts of a full-rigged ship, or a bark.

Bulkheads
Bulkheads are partitions, by which compartments, rooms etc. in a vessel are formed, or the hold of a ship divided.

Bull's eye
A thick round piece of glass inserted in a ships side etc. to let in light.

Capstans
A strong short column of wood or cast metal, fitted on an upper deck, a bridge, poop, or raised quarterdeck, revolved by hand or steam power, and employed for various purposes.

Chart
A map giving the shape of the coast and islands with the positions of the harbours, bays and light-houses etc. the depth of water in fathoms or metres as well as the kind of the bottom etc.

Charthouse
A small structure of iron, steel or wood on a bridge or weather deck of a steamer where the charts are kept, and where the master usually stays, when not on duty, while navigating in narrow waters.

Charter Party
A contract entered into respectively by the owners of a vessel and charterers.

Classification
The act of granting a class to a vessel by a classification society.

Clipper
Term given to a sharp-bottomed sailing-vessel, especially built for attaining great speed.

Coal Bunker
The place where the coal for consumption on board of a steamer is stowed.

Deadlight
Any cutter or shutter fitted to protect the glass of a cabin window, a sidelight etc. i. e. to prevent the wash of the sea breaking the glasses and entering an apartment.

Demurrage
The amount to be paid by the charterers to the owner of a ship, for each day's delay, beyond the lay-days agreed upon; as stipulated in the charter-party, or in the bill of lading.

Derrick
A spar extending in a diagonal or nearly upright position from an upper deck or from a mast (a little above the deck) near a hatchway. Cargo, by means of derrick and winches, is taken out of, or lowered into a vessels hold.

Displacement
The volume of water displaced by a vessel, a boat or any other floating body; the weight of the water so displaced equaling exactly the total weight of the object causing its displacement.

Donkey
Donkey engine. Donkey-pump. Steam-pump. Terms applied to an auxiliary engine for driving winches or in connection with a pump employed for various purposes, viz, for temporarily replacing a bilge or a feed-pump, for emptying water ballast tanks, for supplying water for cleaning purposes etc.

Ebb
The reflux and falling of the tide after high water.

Eddy-water
A whirling motion of water caused by the backward motion of a portion of stream.

Fairway
A passage in a river etc. through which a vessel sails, when arriving from sea, or leaving port towards the sea.

Fathom
Is the term given for a measure of length for ropes etc. and for measuring the depth of soundings taken; a fathom is six feet English.

Fivemast-bark
A five masted vessel: foremast, mainmast, middlemast, mizzen mast and jiggermast; the four foremost masts are square rigged, the hind-most mast carries no yards.

Flood
The influx and rising of the tide after low water.

Flush-deck
It is the term given to an upper-deck having neither erections (extending from side to side) nor a break.

Fore-and Aft-Schooner
Bermuda Schooner; Common Schooner. A two masted vessel; the lower masts are generally long and fitted with a short topmast without yards; and they carry only boom-sails and gafftop-sails.

General Average
Average which effects both the vessel and the cargo.

Hatchway
A square aperture in a ship's deck, through which cargo is laden and discharged.

Hawse-pipe
A cast iron pipe usually fitted in a hawse hole to prevent the wear by the cables.

Hawser
A rope, manila, hemp or wire, from 90 to 100 fathoms in length, somewhat less in size than a towrope, but heavier than a warp, and employed for various purposes.

High latitudes
Term given to degrees of latitude nearer to the poles than the Equator.

High water
The level of the water reached at the top of the flood tide; immediately before the ebb.

Holystone
Soft white brick of sandstone, by which with the use of loose sand and water, a vessels deck is scrubbed clean.

Hopper
Term given to a kind of barge fitted with trapdoors, employed to carry away the mud, sand etc. raised by a dredger from the bottom of a harbour, river or dock.

Hulk
The dismantled hull of an old vessel, often in a river employed as a coal-depot, from whence steamers obtain a supply of fuel.

Indicated horsepower
The work of the steam in the cylinders, without reference to the loss due to the resistance of the engine through friction etc.

Jettison
Portions of a vessel's cargo or bunkers thrown over board for the purpose of lightening, with a view of saving the ship.

Jigger-mast
The hindmost mast on a four mast ship.

Jib
The stay sails landing on the bowsprit.

Kedge-anchor
A small anchor for warping purposes.

Land breeze
A wind, which in warm climates usually blows from the land, shortly after sunset until after sunrise next day.

Lashing
A piece of rope by means of which an anchor, a spar etc. is fastened to the deck etc.

Latitude
The distance of any point of the earth's surface North or South from the Equator laid out on charts in "Degrees".

Lead
Sounding Lead. A weighty piece of lead of conical shape attached to a line, and used to ascertain the depth of water, over which a vessel is passing.

Lead Line
A thin long line, attached to a sounding lead, by means of which the depth of water is ascertained.

Leeside
The side opposite to the weather side.

Life buoy
An apparatus generally ring-shaped, consists of cork covered with canvas, thrown to a man, when accidentally in the water, to support him till further assistance can be rendered.

Light-ship
Light-vessel. A vessel of special construction, having usually one, two or three short pole-masts only, from which during the night powerful lights are exhibited, and in day-times globes or baskets are hoisted; they are moored near dangerous shoals in the open sea and at the mouths of rivers, for the purpose of warning vessels of such obstructions.

Lighter
Specially constructed craft of large size, frequently used for the purpose of lightening a vessel, when grounded. Also employed, for bringing cargo alongside, or receiving it from ships discharging in rivers, or in a harbour having no dock or quay accommodation.

Log
The apparatus by means of which the speed of a vessel is ascertained.

Low water
The lowest level of the water reached just, before the flood sets in.

Mainmast
The second mast from the stem.

Manhole
A round or oval aperture in the top of a double bottom or a water ballast tank; also in the girders of a double bottom, in a steam-boiler etc. to give access for the inspection etc. of such reservoirs.

Marlin-spike
A short iron bar pointed at one end and employed in splicing ropes, putting on seizings and for other similar work.

Mizen-mast
The third mast from the stem of a vessel.

Mooring-anchor
The second anchor employed when mooring a vessel for two anchors.

Nautical mile
The 60th part of an equatorial degree, equal to about 6080 English feet; therefore 6 nautical miles represents 7 English miles approximately.

Neap Tide
Is the term given to the lowest tides occurring at the first and last quarters of the moon, when the moon stands 90 degrees from the sun, so that the sun's flood, and the moon's ebb come together, as also the moon's flood and the sun's ebb.

Net-Tonnage
Is the capacity underdeck, available for stowing cargo only, it is exclusive of engine room, boiler space, coal bunkers, cabins, crew spaces etc.

Nominal horsepower
Does not represent the real force of an engine. The method of calculating it, was first employed by James Watt. One "Nominal" horsepower equals about 5 to 6 "Indicated" horsepower.

Oakum
Rope yarns pulled into loose hemp and employed for caulking the seams of wooden vessels.

Observation
The act of measuring the altitude of the sun, moon or star, or the angular distance between any two celestial objects, by a sextant or other fitting instrument, for the purpose of finding the latitude and longitude of a vessel's position etc.

Offing
A part of the sea at a considerable distance from the shore. A vessel is said to be in the "Offing" when discernible from the land far away at the sea.

Ordinary Seaman
One, who has not been long enough at sea to get acquainted with all the work which may be expected of an able seaman; a middleman acting between seaman and a boy.

Orlop-Deck
The lowermost one in a ship having four decks.

Pack ice
Fragments of ice heaped together.

Particular average
Average, which effects only the vessel, or only the cargo.

Poop
A structure on the extreme after end of a weather deck extending from side to side of a vessel.

Port
Term given to the grooves or canals cast in the body of the ship for different purposes (ballast-port, cargo-port, Gangway-port, hawser-port, bulwark-port].

Quadruple-expansion engine
One, in which steam expands successively in four cylinders.

Quarantine-flag
A square yellow flag to show that a vessel is under quarantine, or that contagious sickness is on board.

Quarterdeck
The after portion of an upper-deck.

Quartermaster
An able seaman almost exclusively employed for steering a vessel; large steamers carry usually. a certain number say 4 to 6 men who relieve each other every hour, or two hours.

Quick sand
A loose sand into which a vessel sinks by her own weight as soon as the water retreats from her bottom.

Rail
Flat pieces of wood (about 1/3 their breadth in thickness) or iron bars of rods, joined endwise and connected to the upper edge of the bulwark plating; or fitted upon the summits of stanchions surrounding an upper deck, a bridge, poop, or forecastle-deck.

Ratline
Three stranded cord, of which the ladder like steps in lower rigging, topmast-rigging etc. are formed.

Register-Tonnage
Is that measured by the customhouse regulations and entered in the ship's register.

Rigging
Term applied to the totality of a vessel's masts, spars etc. with their standing and running ropes.

Roadsted
An anchoring place in or near the open sea; at some distance from a harbour.

Royal
The uppermost squaresail on each mast.

Schooner; Topsail-Schooner
A two masted vessel: foremast and mainmast, the foremast is fitted with yards and square sails; the main or aftermast, is rigged like the after mast in a brigantine.

Shackle
A link with a movable bolt, by means of which two lengths of chain are joined or separated.

Shaft
A bar revolving on a support by which motion or power is transmitted to other parts, or attachments.

Side-Lights
Is the term given to two lanterns exhibited by vessels while underway, viz, a green one on the starboard side and a red one on the portside.

To sound
To sound the pumps. To sound the tanks. For ascertaining how much water is in these rooms.

Stevedore
A person, who undertakes the loading and discharging of vessels, either for a lump sum, or for so much per ton, or other quantity; he engages and pays the labourers, who carry out the work under his superintendence and responsibility.

Stoke-hold
Place in the boiler room of a steamer, from whence the boilers are fired.

Strop
A piece of rope having the two ends secured to each other; mostly used for fastening pieces of cargo to the loading or discharging gear.

Supercargo
A person having the confidence of the owner or Proprietor of a vessel's cargo, of which he is entrusted with the disposal at one or more foreign ports.

Tonnage
Term applied to the cubical contents of a vessel or any of her compartments or superstructures, 1 ton being estimated at 100 cubic feet English, or the Continental equivalent of 2.8316 cubic metres.

Trade winds
Term given to those easterly winds which with few interruptions prevail in the lower latitudes of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Tramp
A derisive name applied to the common cargo steamers, not engaged in any regular trade, but said to be here to-day, gone to-morrow, hunting after freight, wherever obtainable.

True Course
The course, which a vessel has really sailed or is sailing, i.e. after correction for leeway, current, and local attraction.

Tunnel
A watertight structure from about 4 to 7 feet in height and somewhat less in breadth, according to the size of the vessel, fitted at the middle line, in which the propeller-shaft is placed. It extends from the engine-room-after bulkhead, to the stuffing box bulkhead.

Turret-Deck Steamer
A steamer, the frames and side plating of which are, immediately above the loadline, curved as the rounded gunwale of a poop, and extended in a horizontal direction nearly 1/4 of the ship's breadth.

Warping
The act of hauling or heaving a vessel by means of warps from one place to another in a dock, harbour, river etc.

Weather-side
The side against which the wind blows.

White squall
One comes quite unexpectedly, the only and sudden indication of its approach being the foam on the water marking its passage.

Windlass
An apparatus usually placed on the fore-end of an upperdeck or on the forecastle-deck, and employed for heaving up the bow-anchors.

Yards
Heavy spars fastened horizontally to the mast of sailing-vessels for sailing purpose.

Original Edited by
Barry Rinas


"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin"

William Shakespeare




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