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10 Sailing Terms Every Person Needs to Know Before Sailing San Diego

Getting ready for your first time sailing San Diego Bay? You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the lingo! Learn about the most common sailing terms here.

Keyword(s): sailing san diego

There’s nothing quite like sailing to make you feel alive. Being out on the open water, feeling the salty spray from the ocean and the invigoratingly brisk wind on your face, as you hustle from stern to bow and back again. That’s the stuff summer memories are made of.

Approximately four million Americans enjoy this exhilarating sport each year. If you are thinking about joining their ranks and exploring the best sailing San Diego has to offer, you’d do well to start learning the lingo! Ready to find out the 10 most useful sailing terms? Read on!

Planning on Sailing San Diego Bay? The Jargon You’ll Need to Know

One of the surest signs of a landlubber (someone who is new to sailing, or unfamiliar with the sea)? The blank look on their face when someone says “Come about, we’re luffing!” — or the fact that they don’t know a mizzen mast from a mess deck.

For new sailors, understanding the common terms and phrases used aboard a boat is essential, both for taking the necessary action without needing to ask for clarification, and so you don’t look like a greenhorn. 

1. My, She Was Sailing Partner (PAR)

Have you ever seen the movie Philadelphia Story, starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart? It’s the fast-paced, funny, and romantic story of an East Coast blueblood and her relationship to several suitors, past and present.

Hepburn’s character, Tracy Lord, and her ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven, played by Grant, have a history of sailing together aboard a vessel named the True Love. On the eve of her wedding to another man, Haven gives Lord a scale model of the boat as a wedding present.

It’s one of the movie’s most memorable scenes, as Lord holds up the replica and reminisces about the fact that “she was yar” — quick, capable, easy to handle, and a pleasure to sail.

2. Aft, Stern, and Bow

The aft, or stern, of a sailboat is the back. Conversely, the front of a boat is known as the bow. Need a little help remembering these? Think of taking a bow, which involves bending forward, to recall that the bow is forward, or front.

3. Port and Starboard

The terms “right” and “left” can quickly become confusing when out on the open water. To avoid this confusion, the terms port and starboard are used. Facing the bow, the port is the lefthand side of the boat and starboard is to the right. (If you turn around to face aft, “left” and “right” will change, but “port” and “starboard” will not.)

An easy way to remember the difference between these terms is to recall that both “left” and “port” have four letters.

4. Leeward and Windward

Windward refers to the way the wind is blowing. Leeward, or lee, is the opposite, against the direction of the wind. This one’s pretty easy to grasp if you remember that -ward means “toward,” as in “homeward bound.”

5. Rudder

The rudder is part of the mechanism that accomplishes steering on a sailboat. It is a flat underwater piece that’s oriented vertically underneath the boat, not unlike a fish’s fin. The rudder is controlled by either a steering wheel or a tiller.

Smaller sailboats, under 30 feet or so, are generally controlled by a tiller. Larger ones use a wheel, just like a car. Note that while you turn the wheel in the direction you want to go, as though you were driving on land, the tiller works the opposite way. Move the tiller to the left, and the boat goes right. That can take some getting used to!

6. Keel

Located in the middle of the sailboat’s underside, the keel is a long, heavy fin. It helps balance the craft to keep it from capsizing. 

The term “keelhauling,” which nowadays means to severely or excessively punish, comes from an ancient practice of what amounted to torture. A sailor would be thrown overboard, then dragged by ropes — either along the keel from bow to stern, or across it from side to side. This resulted in serious lacerations from ships’ barnacles, head trauma, or even drowning.

7. Mast and Boom

These are the poles that support the sails and rigging. The mast is the vertical one; the boom runs horizontally. The sailboat’s forward and backward motion is achieved by adjusting the boom’s position relative to the wind.

As you might expect, the mainmast is the “main,” or tallest, the mast on a ship. Along with the boom, it supports the mainsail. That’s the large, triangular sail that springs to mind when most people think of a sailboat.

8. Tacking and Jibing

Tacking and jibing are both basic sailing maneuvers. Tacking means turning the boat’s bow so that the wind shifts from starboard to port, or vice versa. During this procedure, the boom will also shift from one side of the boat to the other.

Jibing is less common than tacking. It involves turning the stern into the wind, but for the same purpose as tacking.

9. Heeling

Heeling is when the boat leans dramatically to one side so that its deck is at an angle to the water’s surface. Heeling occurs under wind pressure, from the action of the waves, or from centrifugal force resulting from a turn.

It’s an exciting sensation, but heeling also makes a boat sail less efficiently because it drastically reduces its speed.

10. Point of Sail

Our last term refers to the direction, relative to the wind, that the boat is traveling. Going straight into the wind — not a desirable situation — the point of sail is called “in irons.” A wind that is blowing directly over the side of the boat is a “beam reach.”

As you get seriously involved in sailing, you will learn the eight commonly used points of sail.

Sail Away, Sail Away…

This list of common sailing terminology is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak! If you are interested in sailing San Diego Bay or any other body of water, you’ll want to learn all the terms and phrases you can.

Whether you grew up tacking, want to learn about all things sailing from rigging to swigging, or would rather sit back and relax as you cruise along the open seas, come aboard the Stars and Stripes USA-11. Contact us to start planning your San Diego sailing adventure today!

For any more detailed information on our Sailing San Diego Tour click here.

 

CHECK OUT A FEW OF OUR SAILING CHARTER REVIEWS BELOW

The whole experience was fun. The history at the beginning is good to help put things in perspective and just give a great overview on the boat’s and race’s background. The sailing is fun and interactive. They do a great job of getting people involved…More

Review collected in partnership with this attraction
Date of experience: January 2019
Thank lentz883

Reviewed 3 days ago

Great experience sailing in San Diego Bay. Thanks to all the Crew who were brilliant and very sociable. Well worth considering for an amazing day out.

Date of experience: February 2019
Thank YorkshireVal
Reviewed 3 days ago

Wonderful boat. if you like sailing then do NOT miss the opportunity to go out on a a contender for boat for the America’s Cup You will not have this opportunity again. The Captain and crew are fantastic as well the owners. They are friendly,…More

Date of experience: February 2019

Thank Tom F

Our daughter was quite interested in sailing the year before she turned 10, so we thought a sailing party would be a perfect theme for her 10th birthday. We found Stars & Stripes- USA-11 online and Lynn was kind enough to help us make this…More

Date of experience: August 2018
Thank Sailing for Sailing in San Diego with us!

I chartered the Stars & Stripes USA-11 for a surprise 70th birthday celebration for my husband. We were joined by 16 friends and a great time was had by all. Lynn was so professional and friendly in addressing all my questions and concerns during the…More

Date of experience: January 2019
Thank Sandy P
Lynn H, Owner at Sail Stars & Stripes USA-11, responded to this review  Responded – weeks ago

Thanks for your comments and it was pleasure having your friends and family on board. It was also a treat for the crew to be able to pick you up at the San Diego Yacht Club.

Reviewed 4 weeks ago

This was a private sail to celebrate my husband’s 70th birthday. We were joined by 16 friends and a great time was had by all. The crew was fantastic—so friendly and focused on making sure all who wanted to were able to participate in sailing…More

Date of experience: January 2019
Thank Sandy P

I’ve been on the Stars and Stripes a few times and it’s always so fun. Bee and Lynn are both very knowledgeable and it’s really fun how they get everyone involved with helping out (only if you want to!). I would definitely recommend this for…More

Date of experience: January 2019
Thank Allienath
Lynn H, Owner at Sail Stars & Stripes USA-11, responded to this reviewResponded January 22, 2019

Great having you back again and thanks for the very thorough description of our America’s Cup experience.

The whole experience was fun. The history at the beginning is good to help put things in perspective and just give a great overview on the boat’s and race’s background. The sailing is fun and interactive. They do a great job of getting people involved…More

Review collected in partnership with this attraction 
Date of experience: January 2019
 
Thank lentz883
 
Reviewed 3 days ago

Great experience sailing in San Diego Bay. Thanks to all the Crew who were brilliant and very sociable. Well worth considering for an amazing day out.

Date of experience: February 2019
 
Thank YorkshireVal
 
Reviewed 3 days ago

Wonderful boat. if you like sailing then do NOT miss the opportunity to go out on a a contender for boat for the America’s Cup You will not have this opportunity again. The Captain and crew are fantastic as well the owners. They are friendly,…More

Date of experience: February 2019
 

 
Thank Tom F

Our daughter was quite interested in sailing the year before she turned 10, so we thought a sailing party would be a perfect theme for her 10th birthday. We found Stars & Stripes- USA-11 online and Lynn was kind enough to help us make this…More

Date of experience: August 2018
 
Thank Sailing for Sailing in San Diego with us!

I chartered the Stars & Stripes USA-11 for a surprise 70th birthday celebration for my husband. We were joined by 16 friends and a great time was had by all. Lynn was so professional and friendly in addressing all my questions and concerns during the…More

Date of experience: January 2019
 
Thank Sandy P
Lynn H, Owner at Sail Stars & Stripes USA-11, responded to this review  Responded – weeks ago

Thanks for your comments and it was pleasure having your friends and family on board. It was also a treat for the crew to be able to pick you up at the San Diego Yacht Club.

Reviewed 4 weeks ago

This was a private sail to celebrate my husband’s 70th birthday. We were joined by 16 friends and a great time was had by all. The crew was fantastic—so friendly and focused on making sure all who wanted to were able to participate in sailing…More

Date of experience: January 2019
 
Thank Sandy P

I’ve been on the Stars and Stripes a few times and it’s always so fun. Bee and Lynn are both very knowledgeable and it’s really fun how they get everyone involved with helping out (only if you want to!). I would definitely recommend this for…More

Date of experience: January 2019
 
Thank Allienath
Lynn H, Owner at Sail Stars & Stripes USA-11, responded to this reviewResponded January 22, 2019

Great having you back again and thanks for the very thorough description of our America’s Cup experience.

San Diego Bay is recognized for protection by the California Bays and Estuaries Policy. San Diego Bay is a recreational haven that attracts boaters from all over the globe. “San Diego Bay is a spectacular backdrop for many of the best activities and attractions in San Diego. The San Diego Bay is full of amazing sights, attractions, and restaurants. Did you knowSan Diego Bay is home to three unique islands, located real close to downtown San Diego? San Diego Bay is home to many large scale luxury hotels. San Diego Bay is the cultural heartbeat of San Diegos waterfront. Sailing in San Diego is a great way to experience the San Diego Bay! Sailing in San Diego is a great activity for the entire family. Sailing in San Diego is a great way to relax and take in the gorgeous scenery and salty air

e Separate Our Sailing Tour’s and Charter’s by allowing our crew to be able to participate in the sail as they are one of the crew. Please take a look at a few of the videos and make sure to to take advantage of our limited sailing charters. Click here for more San Diego Sailing Charter Videos.

Our 2 Most Popular Blog Posts to help set us apart from the rest…We are an Life Experience; not just a tourist cruise – check it our for yourself, google,read-it,echo! Make a memory from San Diego’s hidden gem of a a sailing tour,,,,,

San Diego Sailing Tours

San Diego Sailing Charters

San Diego Sailing Things to Do

 

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