Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
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Nautical Terms and Definitions

Ahoy, mateys! Seafarers have a language all their own, one with roots going far back into the past, and when sailing you have to learn them so you will know where to meet, eat, sleep, shower, etc.

Below are a few of those terms used aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster and their landlubber connotations.

Click the small image next to the definition to view a larger image.

Aboard = on or in a vessel.

Aft = toward the stern (rear of ship) .

Boatswain = ship's crewmember in charge of equipment and maintenance.

Bow = forward part of the hull or a ship or boat.

Brow = walkway to pier.

Bridge = the room or platform from which the ship is commanded.

Bulkhead = wall.

Cox = a coxboat or other small vessel kept aboard a ship,

Coxswain = the person in charge of a small boat, particularly its navigation and steering.

Deck = floor.

Fore = forward - at or toward the front of a ship.

Galley = kitchen (food prepared here).

Hatch = door.

Head = bathroom (shower, toilet, sink).

Ladder = stairs.

Line = rope.

Mess = dining room (food eaten here).

Muster = gather.

Overhead = ceiling.

Port = when facing forward, the left side of the ship.

Why do they call it port instead of left?

Porthole = circular window used on the hull of ships to admit light and air.

Rack = bed or bunk.

'Roger' = message acknowledged.

Starboard = when facing forward, the right side of the ship.

Why do they call it starboard instead of right?

Stern = rear of ship.

Swabbing the deck = mopping.

Under way = in motion.

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