[PnP] Ship Project - Installment #9 - Terms

Scott Adams longshot at darktech.org
Sat Sep 9 07:04:35 CEST 2006

   * Glossary and Terms

        This file details a glossary of terms used in the various texts
     and sources used in the ship supplement.  These terms can be
     inserted into your games for realism.    While these terms are
     Earth names they can be modified for culture and racial changes.
     These terms can help Sailor Player characters to learn the jargon
     of their trade.

     Note: Source for this material is a few websites plus some books
     on the subject of ships.  While the terms and spellings of some
     words is rather ancient they are accurate.  It may seem wrong
     wording or spelling but it appears as the experts have supplied it.


     Abaft: to the rear of.

     Abeam: to either side of the middle area.

     Adze: a shipwright's tool like an axe but the cutting edge set
           at right angles to the shaft.  Used for shaping and dressing

     Aft: Toward the rear.

     Aloft: in the rigging high above the deck.

     Amidships: in the central part; The middle of a vessel, either
        longitudinally or transversely.

     Anchor: A wooden, stone or metal device that , when connected to a
             vessel with a cable or chain, was used to secure the vessel
             to the bed of a waterway to prevent if from drifting.
             Anchors attach themselves to the lake bottom using flukes.

     Apron:  A cover for the protection of the vent of guns against rain
             and dirt.  In P&P terms this can be a cover to protect the
             oarsmen or deck shipboard weapons.  

     Arm (of an anchor): lateral extensions, ending in points, and
           often curved, at one end of an anchor

     Athwartships: Across the ship from side to side; perpendicular to
           the keel.


     Backstay: supporting line from the mast aft.

     Ballast: heavy material deep in the ships hold to keep ship stable
              such as iron, lead, or stone, placed low in the hold to
              lower the center of gravity and improve stability.

     Beakhead: A platform or projecting structure forward of the forecastle.

     Beam:  breadth, timber, the breadth measured at the widest part.
            A timber mounted athwartships to support decks and provide
            lateral strength; large beams were sometimes called baulks.

     Beams: horizontal timber running side to side supporting the deck.

     Belaying pin: fixed wooden pin in which lines are secured.

     Below: under the main deck.

     Bilge: the bottom of the hull, the part it would rest on if put
            aground. Generally the outer end of the floor. When used in
            the plural, especially in contemporary documents, bilges
            refers to the various cavities between the frames in the
            floor of the hold where bilge water tends to collect. Bilge
            pumps are meant to remove this water build-up.

     Bitts; 2 vertical strong timbers in fore part of ship which anchor
            cables are attached to.

     Block: pulley or system of pulleys, mounted in a case; used to
            increase the mechanical power of the rigging ropes running
            through them.  

     Boatswain: a petty officer who summons members of the crew to their
                duty station by use of a whistle.  Also in charge of the
                rigging, sails, etc.

     Bollard: post on quay in which mooring lines are secured.

     Bolt-rope: bolt along the edge of the sail to give strength there.

     Boom: spar along the foot of a sail.

     Beckets: A loop or rope with a knot on one end and eye at the other
              used for confining ropes, tackle, oars, spars etc. 

     Beetle. A large wooden mallet used to drive treenails, wedges, etc.

     Boat: An open vessel, usually small and without decks, intended for
           use in sheltered water.

     Bow: the front part of the ship, specifically, from the point where
          the sides curve inward to the stem.

     Bower: One of the principal anchors of a vessel, permanently attached
            to a cable or chain and stowed ready for immediate use.

     Bowlines: lines that run from the leech of a square sail foreward.

     Bow oarsman: the oarsman furthest forward.

     Bowsprit: A spar projecting forward from the bow.

     Braces: lines attached to the ends of the yard.

     Brail, brailing rope: a rope to haul up the bottom of the sail to
            adjust, shorten or furl it.
     brails: lines for controlling the area of a sail exposed to the wind.

     Breastwork: Balustrades along the upper decks.

     Brow: a gangway or ladder in which a man can face the shore while
           descending from a ship.

     Bulkhead: A vertical partition, either fore and aft or athwartships.

     Bulwark: a solid protecting screen at each outboard edge of the deck;
           parapet around an exposed deck.

     Bunt: main body of a sail, belly of a sail.


     Cant frames: A framing member mounted obliquely to the keel centerline
          in the ends of a vessel; canting provided better frame
          distribution and permitted more nearly rectangular cross-sections
          of the timbers along the vessel's incurving ends.

     Cap: A block used to cover the exposed ends of timbers and spars.

     Capsquare keys; A capsquare pin.

     Capstan: winch with uprigth spindle used for moving particularly
              heavy objects such as the anchor.  It is a spool-shaped
              vertical cylinder, turned by means of levers or bars.

     Careen: To deliberately list a vessel so that part of its bottom
             was exposed for caulking, cleaning, repairing, etc.

     Carlings: short timbers running fore and aft between the beams.

     Carved-built: said with ships built of planks laid flush, edge
            to edge.

     Catch: in the stroke of an oar, the instant in which a oarsman
            starts to pull.

     Cathead: projecting timber from which the bow anchor can be slung.

     Caulking: material and process of filling in gaps of ship's hull.

     Channel: A thick, horizontal plank projecting from the side of a
              vessel and used to support the shrouds and keep them
              clear of the bulwarks.

     Clew-line: A tackle connecting the clew of a sail to the upper yard
                or mast [from Ned Myers].

     Clew: lower corner of a sail or the aft most corner of a fore-and-aft

     Clinker-built: said of ships whoses hull planks overlap each other,
          ,and is fastened to, the plank immediately below it.

     Companionway: passage, with its ladder, that leads from one deck
           to another.

     Cordage: A general term for ropes and cables.

     Counter: extension of a ship's hull aft beyond the sternpost.

     Coxswain: The helmsman of a boat; a petty officer having permanent
               charge of a ship's boat and crew.

     Crutch: wood prop on which the mast rests when lowered..

     Cubit: 1 cubit = 0.490 meters.

     Cutwater: the portion of a ship's stern that cleaves the water
               as she moves.


     Davit: A curved piece of timber or iron with a roller or sheave at
            the end, projecting from the ship's bow, and used to fish
            the anchor. Also, one of a pair of cranes on the side or
            stern of a ship, fitted with tackle for suspending or
            lowering a boat.

     Deadeyes: A round, laterally flattened wooden block, pierced with
               three holes through which a lanyard is reeved, used for
               extending the shrouds.

     Deck: a horizontal level in a ship.

     Doubling: A piece of timber fitted on to the bitts. Also, the lining
               of a ship with an extra layer of planking.

     Dovetail: A tenon cut in the shape of a dove's tail to fit into a
               mortise of corresponding shape.

     Draft: the depth of water a ship draws, the vertical distance from 
            the bottom of the keel to the waterline.

     Drift bolt: A cylindrical bolt, headed on one end, that is slightly
                 larger in diameter than the hole into which it is driven.

     Dunnage: Brushwood, scrapwood, or other loose material laid in the
              hold to protect the cargo from water damage or prevent it
              from shifting, or to protect the ceiling from abrasion.


     Eye: a portal or window sometimes called a eye on a ship;  Also
          known as a captain's spyglass.  

     Eye-bolt: A bolt with a circular opening at one end.


     Fairleads: rings or eyes or loops to guide a line in a given direction.

     False keel: an addition to the main keel placed under it.  A plank,
           timber, or timbers attached to the bottom of the keel to
           protect it in the event of grounding or hauling. In North
           America from the eighteenth century onward false keels were
           called shoes.

     Fashion piece: A timber that framed the shape of the stern.

     Figure piece: A name sometimes given to the upper piece of the knee
            of the head, upon which the figurehead rested.

     Figurehead: A carved bust of a person or mythical being at the
            foremost extremity of the bow below the bowsprit.

     'Five': a oared warship with 5 files of oarsman ranging fore and
             aft on each side of a ship.

     Floors, floor timbers: the part of a frame that fits into, or spans,
             the bottom of the hull.

     Flukes: pointed heart shaped tips at the ends of an anchor's arm,
             which was designed to dig into the bottom.

     Flying jib: A triangular sail set before the jib on the flying jib

     Fore-and-aft rig: : a rig whose sail that runs fore and aft, are
             aligned with the keel.

     Forecastle: Variously, a short, raised foredeck, the forward part
             of the upper deck between the foremast and the stem, or
             the quarters below the foredeck.

     Forelock bolt: An iron bolt with a head on one end and a narrow slot
             at the other; secured by placing a washer over its protruding
             end and driving a flat wedge, called a forelock into the slot.
             Forelock bolts were one of the most popular of shipbuilding
             fastenings, being commonly used to secure major timbers from
             Roman times until the nineteenth century.

     Forelock keeper: The wedge driven into the slot in the forelock bolt.

     Foremast: Mast closest to the front of the ship.

     Forestay: supporting line running from the mast forward.

     Foreyard: The lowest yard on the foremast.

     'Forty': 2 hulls like 'five' but 20 on each side of 2 hulls.

     Forward: toward the front.

     'Four': like 'five' but 4 files.

     Frame: A transverse timber, or line or assembly of timbers, that
            described the body shape of a vessel and to which the planking
            and ceiling were fastened. Frames were sometimes called
            timbers, or erroneously, ribs.

     Frames: the lateral timbers, that appended to the keel,  give the.
            ship its shape, as ribs do in the human torso.

     Freeboard: the distance from the waterline to the main deck.

     Furl: To roll up and bind a sail neatly upon its respective yard or

     Futtocks: part of a frame, particularly the parts that fit along the
           sides of the hull.


     Gaff: A spar used in ships to extend the heads of fore-and-aft
           sails which are not set on stays.

     Gallery: A balcony projecting from the stern or quarter of a large

     Galley: an oared vessel; the kitchen.

     Gang-board: A plank usually with cleats or steps nailed on it for
           walking upon, especially into or out of a boat.

     Gangplank: plank temporarily extended from ship to shore
           for embarking and disembarking.

     Garboards: the strakes on either side of the keel.

     Gaskets: small cords by which a sail, when furled, is kept bound.

     Grape shot: Small cast-iron balls, strongly connected together so
           as to form a charge for a cannon or other weapon..   

     Grog: A drink consisting of rum and water.

     Grummet: A ring or wreath of rope, specifically one consisting of a
           single strand laid three times round.

     Gudgeon: A metal bracket attached to the sternpost into which a
           rudder pintle was hung; the female part of a rudder hinge.

     Gunwale: the uppermost course of planking on a ship's side.


     Halyard: lines for hoistering sail.  A rope or tackle used for
              raising or lowering a sail, yard, etc.

     Hatch: A rectangular opening in a vessel's deck.

     Hatch beam: A removable beam that supported the hatch cover and
           provided lateral strength when the hatch was not in use.

     Hawse hole: A cylindrical hole in the bow through which the anchor
           cable passed.  

     Helm: the steering apparatus.

     Hold: the space below the main deck where cargo and ballast is stored.

     Horseshoe: A U-shaped iron plate fastened across the seam of the
           stem and forefoot to strengthen it.

     Hull: body of a ship.


     Inboard: within the ship.


     Jib-boom: A spar extending the length of the bowsprit.

     Jib-traveler: A circular iron hoop with a hook and shackle used to
          haul out the tack of the jib.

     Jib: A triangular stay-sail stretching from the bowsprit to the
          mast-head in small vessels.

     Jump-line: A line from the top of a mast that is used to travel
           up or down the mast or sometimes used to gain access to a
           ship alongside the ship. 

     Keel: the backbone of a ship; it runs along the lowest part of
           the hull from stern to stern. The main longitudinal timber
           of most hulls, upon which the frames, deadwoods, and ends
           of the hull were mounted; the backbone of the hull.

     Keelson: An internal longitudinal timber or line of timbers, mounted
           atop the frames along the centerline of the keel, that provided
           additional longitudinal strength to the bottom of the hull.

     Knightsheads: The forwardmost frame timbers, which ran parallel to
           the stem, their heels being fayed to the forwardmost cant
           frames and their heads extending above deck to form bitts
           that supported the bowsprit between them.  

     Knot: nautical mile (6076.115 feet)  per hour, the standard way of
           measuring a ship's speed.


     Lanyard: A short piece of rope or line made fast to anything to
              secure, or as a handle. Used to secure the shrouds and

     Lapstrake: same as clinker-built.

     Larboard: A term synonymous with port or the side of a ship which
               is to the left hand of a person looking from the stern.

     Lazy-painter: Colloquial term for unused or untied cordage.

     Lee: away from the wind.

     Leech: the edge of a square sail that is away from the wind;
           the after edge of a fore-and-aft sail.  The perpendicular
           or sloping side of a sail.

     Leeward: toward the lee side, toward the side away from the wind;
           In or moving to the quarter towards which the wind blows.

     Lifts: lines running from the masthead to the yard.

     Lintle. The upper horizontal timber framing of a gunport, large
             square light or gallery door.

     Loom: inboard part of a oar.

     Luff: the edge of a square sail that is toward the wind;   the
           forward edge of a fore-and-aft sail.


     Main: In shipbuilding, the adjective applied to the most important
           timbers, or those having the greatest cross-sectional area.

     Mallet: A large hammer with a short handle and a cylindrical wooden
           head, sometimes looped with iron to prevent it from splitting,
           used for caulking and general shipwrightery. The heaviest
           mallets were also called beetles.

     Marina: a yacht harbor.

     Mast-partners: a pair of supporting timbers between which the mast

     Mast-step: timber in which bottom of mast is fastened to the ship.
           A mortise cut into the top of a keelson or large floor timber,
           or a mortised wooden block or assembly of blocks mounted on
           the floor timbers or keelson into which the tenoned heel of
           a mast was seated.

     Mast: A long pole or spar of timber set upright on a ship's keel to
           support the sails.

     Midship: A contraction of amidships and consequently, in a general
           sense, it refers to the middle of the ship.

     Moor: secure a ship when it is not in motion.

     Mortise: A cavity cut into a timber to receive a tenon. Large
           mortises were sometimes referred to as steps.

     Mortise-and-tenon joint: A union of planks or timbers by which a
           projecting piece (tenon) was fitted into one or more cavities
           (mortises) of corresponding size.


     Nautical mile: 6,076.115 feet in distance.


     Oakum: strands of old rope and used for caulking. Caulking material
            made from rope junk, old rope, and rope scraps; it was
            unwound, picked apart, and the fibers were rolled and soaked
            in pitch before being driven into the planking seams.

     Oar port. An opening in a vessel's side through which the looms of
            oars or sweeps passed.

     Oculus: device in the form of an eye or the like traditionally
            painted on ships


     Painter: A rope attached to the bow of a boat for making it fast
              to a ship, stake, etc.

     Parral: collar, generally of cord, that holds the yard to a mast.

     Partners: framework which supports the mast at deck level.

     Pentecontor: 50 oared ship.

     Pitch: [tar] A dark, sticky substance used in caulking seams or
              spread over the inner or outer surfaces of hulls as
              waterproofing and protection against some forms of
              marine life. Pitches were variously derived from the
              resins of certain evergreen trees; from bitumens, such
              as mineral pitches; or from distillation of coal tar,
              wood tar, etc.

     Poop. The highest and aftermost deck of a ship. The rear part of
           a ship, a deck at the rear.

     Port: the lefthand side facing forward.

     Port (noun): on oared ships an opening for working the oar

     Prow: the front part of the bow.

     Puddened [pudding]: A wreath of plaited cordage placed round the
           ring of the anchor to protect against chafing.

     Pump well: The cavity or compartment in the bottom of a hull,
           usually near amidships, where bilge water collected and
           from which it was pumped out or bailed.

     Purchase: a block and tackle.

     Purser: Person aboard ship who handled purchases from seamen for
           clothing or other needed goods.


     Quadrireme: see 'four'.

     Quarter: either side of a ship near the stern.

     Quarter rails: Rails, balustrades, or planking running along the

     Quarterdeck: the part of the main deck abaft the mast.
             Quarterdeck. The after part of the upper deck from the
             mainmast to the poop.

     Quartermaster: petty officer who attends to the helm and helps with

     Quinquereme: see 'five'.

     Quoin: A wedge or wedge-shaped block used to elevate the breech end
            of a cannon.


     Rabbet: A groove or cut made in a piece of timber in such a way
             that the edges of another piece could be fit into it to
             make a tight joint.

     Racked: To bind two ropes together with cross-turns

     Reach: to sail with the wind on the quarter or abeam.

     Rib: A small transverse member, often flexible and composed of one
             or several pieces, that stiffened the outer skin of a hull.

     Rigging: the lines fitted to masts, yards and sails.

     Ring bolts: A bolt with an eye at one end to which a ring is attached.

     Rove: A small metal washer over which nail or rivet ends are flattened
             to lock the fastening.
     Rowlock: A device usually consisting of a notch, two thole pins or
             a rounded fork, on the gunwale of a boat, forming a fulcrum
             for the oar in rowing.

     Rudder: A timber, or assembly of timbers, that could be rotated about
             an axis to control the direction of a vessel underway.

     Run: to sail with the wind aft.

     Running rigging: the lines that control the movements of sails & spars.


     Scarf: to join 2 timbers by sloping off the ends of each and
           fastening them together so they make 1 piece of uniform size.

     Scull: The means of propelling a boat by working an oar from side to
           side over the stern of a boat, reversing the blade at each

     Scupper: A hole or channel cut in a vessel's side or waterway to
           drain off deck water.

     Sea mile: 1.84 km, 1.15 miles (60 sea miles = 1 degree of latitude)

     Seizing: To fasten two ropes or parts of a rope together, or to
           attach a rope to something else by binding with yarn or
           similar material.

     Shank (of an anchor): the main shaft rleg of an anchor.

     Sheave blocks: A wheel having a groove around its circumference to
           receive a cord passing over it.

     Sheerstrake: The uppermost strake of the side planking of a vessel.

     Sheets: lines attached to the lowest corners of a sail. A rope
           attached to either of the lower corners of a square sail or
           the after lower corner of a fore-and-aft sail, and used to
           extend the sail or to alter its direction.

     Shipwright: A master craftsman skilled in the construction and repair
           of ships. In many instances, the person in charge of a ship's
           construction, including the supervision of carpenters and
           other personnel, control of expenditures and schedules, and
           acquisition of materials.

     Shroud: A pair of ropes, although sometimes occurring singly, used
           to steady a mast to the side of a hull. Connected to the head
           of the mast they form part of the standing rigging of a ship.

     Shrouds: supporting lines running from the mast to the sides of a hull.

     Side-tackle falls: The loose end of a tackle, to which the power is
           applied in hoisting.

     'six': like 'four' but 6 files of oarsman.

     Spar: A general term for masts, yards, booms, gaffs, etc.

     Splice: To join two ropes together by intertwining the strands.

     Spinaker: racing sails of immense spread so as to belly out
           before the wind

     Sprit: spar that supports a sprisail; it runs from the lower part of
           the mast to the upper after corner of the sail

     Starboard: the righthand side of a ship facing forward.

     Stay: A large rope used to support a mast, and leading from its
           head down to some other mast or spar, or to some part of the ship.

     Stem: the foremost timber of the ship, rising up from the forward
           tip of the keel.

     Stempost: A vertical or upward curving timber or assembly of
        timbers, scarfed to the keel or central plank at its lower end,
        into which the two sides of the bow were joined.

     Stern: the rear. The after end of a vessel.

     Sternpost: A vertical or upward curving timber or assembly of
        timbers stepped into, or scarfed to, the after end of the keel
        or heel.

     Stock (of an anchor): lateral bar at one end of an anchor.

     Stock: A wooden, stone, or metal crosspiece near the top of and
        perpendicular to the shank; it was designed to cant one of the
        arms so that its fluke dug into the bottom.

     Strake. A continuous line of planks running from bow to stern.

     Stroke: one cycle of movement made in working an oar.

     Stroke oarsman: the oarsman nearest the stern.

     Strale: a line of planking extending the length of a ship.

     Strop: A ring or band of rope with its ends spliced together, used
        upon a mast, spar, etc. as a fastening or a purchase for tackle,
        especially a band of rope fastened round a block or pulley.

     Studding sail: A sail set beyond the leeches of any of the principal
        sails during a fair wind.

     Superstructre: complex of structures rising above the main deck.

     Sweep: A large oar used to propel a vessel during windless conditions. 

     Swifter: constricting girdle of rope.


     Tabernacle: housing for lower part of a retractable mast.

     Tack (verb): to sail at an angle to the wind closer than 90 degrees.

     Tack (noun): the lower corner of a sail.

     Tack-rope: line to hold down the tack of a sail.

     Tackles: The running rigging or ropes used in working the sails with
              their pulleys.

     Taffrail: Variously, the upper part of the stern or the rail on top
              of the stern.

     'Three': a oared warship with 3 files of oarsman ranging fore and
              aft on each side of a ship.

     'Ten': Like 'three' but with 10 instead of 3 files.

     Tenon: A wooden projection cut from the end of a timber or a separate
              wooden piece that was shaped to fit into a corresponding

     Thimble: A broad ring of metal, having a concave outer surface,
              around which the end of a rope is spliced, so that the
              thimble forms an eye to the rope.

     Tholepin: pin against which the oar is worked.

     Tholepins: A pin, or one of a pair of pins, set vertically in the
              gunwale to serve as the fulcrum for an oar.

     Thwart: a seat or bench for oarsman to manage their oars.  A
              transverse plank in a boat or galley; used to seat rowers,
              support masts, or provide lateral stiffness.

     Thwarts: cross planks which serve as seats for the oarsmane.

     Tiller: the lever on the head of a rudder by which it is turned;
              lever fitted to the head of the steering oar or rudder

     Top: a platform placed at the head of a mast.

     Transom: One of the athwartship members, fixed to the sternpost,
              that shaped and strengthened the stern.

     Treenail: [trunnel] A round or multi-sided piece of hardwood, driven
              through planks and timbers to connect them. Treenails were
              employed most frequently in attaching planking to frames,
              attaching knees to ceiling or beams, and in the scarfing
              of timbers. Wooden pegs used as fastenings.

     Triacontor: a 30 oared ship.

     Trierarch: commander of a trireme.

     Trireme: see 'three'


     Unsound: term for a ship that has a bad hull integrity.  

     Upper deck: The highest deck extending unbroken from bow to stern.

     Vang: line running from the peak of a sprit, gaff or lanteen
           yard to the deck.


     Wale: course of planking added on the outside of the ordinary hull
           planking. A thick strake of planking, or a belt of thick
           planking strakes, located along the side of a vessel for the
           purpose of girding and stiffening the outer hull.

     Waterline: point on the hull that the water reaches when the ship is
           floating normnally.

     Wheel: [Steering wheel] A vertical steering device, fixed to a deck
           and linked to the tiller by ropes, chains, or gear.

     Windlass: A horizontal cylinder, supported by bitts or brackets,
           used to.


     Xon: tool used by sailors to determine depth of the water, a basic
          string tied to a weight.  Mostly used in shallow waters.


     Yard: spar along the head of a sail.

     Yardarm: Either end of a yard, especially that part which is
              outside of a sheave-hole.


     Zig-zag: A typical evasion course for a ship or a search pattern.

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