Tall Ship Speak

An informal guide for first-time crew

A. Places - see diagram 1 below.

Boat deck
Bridge, Open Bridge
Mess, Mess-room

B. Seamanship & general terms.

Aloft up up in the rigging (as in: ‘climb up’, or ‘look up’)
Belaying pin a metal pin to which a rope is belayed, or tied up
Downhaul a rope used to pull a sail (or yard) down
Stopper a short rope used to take the strain temporarily from a larger rope
Gasket a sail tie, a rope used to wrap up a sail when the sail is not in use
Halyard a rope used to raise (pull up) a sail or a yard
Harness a safety harness, worn by all crew when going aloft
Heads toilets, WC, lavatories
Helm the ship’s steering wheel
Muster stations special places to which the crew go, in cases of emergency
Oilskins waterproof jacket and trousers
Pin (see Belaying pin)
Port the left-hand side of the ship, when looking forwards
RIB Rigid Inflatable Boat – a small, fast, boat used for rescue, etc
Starboard the right-hand side of the ship, when looking forwards

C. Square sail basics – see diagram 2 below.

Brace a rope used for controlling the angle of a yard
Bracing stations each crew-member has a job to do, when bracing all the yards
Buntline a rope used to pull up the bottom, or foot, of a square sail
Clewline a rope used to pull up the lower corner of a square sail
Sheet a rope used to pull down and control the lower corner of a sail
Yard horizontal spar or beam, to which the top of a square sail is fastened

D. Commands used when several people are pulling together on a rope.

Haul away! a command to start pulling on a rope
Heave! a command to pull together as a team
Well! a command to stop pulling, but keep hold of the rope
Ease! a command to gently slacken after pulling, but keep hold of the rope
Come up! a command to let go a rope quickly, after pulling
Belay! a command to secure, to tie up; also, to stop an action