Glossary of Nautical Terms

Heart of Oak

Accommodation ladder - a moveable staircase, with fixed or self-adjusting steps, which can be hoisted or lowered up and down a ship's side with a winch or tackle, and in some cases, where a turntable is fitted, swung on to the quay or berth. When not in use, it is stowed on its side usually abreast the main deck accommodation. It is fitted with portable stanchions and wooden, or rope, handrails. It is usually incorrectly referred to as "the gangway".

Aft - towards the end of a ship.

Astern - behind a ship in the fore and aft line, whether at sea or in port.

Athwartships - from one side of the ship to another - across the ship.

Ballast - sand, gravel or water carried by a ship for reasons of stability when she is without cargo. Most vessels are fitted with water tanks and pumps specially for this purpose. Before a ship enters the St. Lawrence Seaway, water ballast must be exchanged, i.e. pumped out and replaced with fresh water, to prevent the introduction of foreign plant and animal species.

Beam - the width of a vessel.

Berth - a ship's anchorage or place alongside a wharf.

Bilge - the curve of a hull where it changes from the side to the bottom.

Bilge water - water lying in the bilge or bottom of a boat or vessel.

Bill of lading - a document signed by the master, or agent, on behalf of the owner for goods received on board ship. It is also a document of title which means that the person holding the bill is the owner of the goods mentioned on it.

Bollard - a post on a ship or jetty to attach docking lines.

Bond - essentially a promise or obligation. The term is most frequently used at sea in connection with bonded goods, i.e. goods on which customs duty has not been paid. Bonded stores refers to goods, mainly tobacco and spirits, which may be sold duty free when the ship is outside territorial waters, but which must be locked under seal when in port.

Bow - the front portion of the vessel.

Bulkhead - a partition or wall in the hull of a ship.

Bulwarks - steel or wooden wall round the ship's sides, giving protection to the deck.

Bunker - a space in which fuel is stowed. The actual fuel itself is usually referred to as bunkers. Bunkering is taking fuel on board.

Cable - approximately one-tenth of a nautical mile, or 200 yards. It is also a hemp or wire rope to which an anchor is fixed.

Clearance - official permission from customs to leave port.

Companionway - an inside, covered, staircase.

Courtesy flag - national flag of a country which a ship is visiting, flown at the foremast head or on the yard arm as a mark of respect.

Davits - small cranes or apparatus for lifting, swinging out and lowering of ship's lifeboats.

Demurrage - the compensation paid to a ship owner by the charterer when their ship is delayed beyond the stipulated time for loading or discharge.

Derrick - a boom with tackle for handling cargo.

Draught or draft - the depth to which a ship sinks in water, indicated by numerical marks in feet or metres at stem and stern of vessel.

Ensign - nation flag of the port where the ship is registered; it is flown at the stern of a ship.

Fathom - one-thousandth part of a nautical mile - 6 feet.

Fore and aft - used of anything fixed longitudinally between bow and stern.

Forecastle - the raised part of a vessel which is right forward.

Foremast - the mast closest to the bow of a ship.

Free board - the vertical distance between the water line and the upper edge of the deck line.

Galley - the ship's kitchen.

Gangway - of flat board construction with wooden strips across it to prevent people slipping when walking up or down it. It is usually rigged at right angles to the side of the ship from the main or boat deck. It is fitted with portable stanchions and rope "rails".

Grain trimmer - hired to load grain on a ship.

Hatchway - opening in the deck through which cargo is loaded, or any opening giving access to space below decks. At one time hatchways were covered by hatch-boards, beams, and tarpaulins. Generally nowadays hatchways are covered by patent steel hatches.

Hold - the space below deck where the cargo is stored.

Hull - the body of a vessel.

In ballast - a ship is said to be "in ballast" when she is carrying ballast only and no cargo.

Keel - the lowest portion of the hull of a ship.

Knot - a measurement of speed, one nautical mile per hour.

Mess - the dining room, normally one for the crew and one for the officers.

Nautical mile - 6,080 feet. One minute of latitude at the equator.

Official log - a record book kept by the master in which he must, by law, enter certain particulars relating to the ship and its voyage.

Pilot - an experienced captain, hired by the Pilotage Authority, who advises the captain of a ship on navigation within a port, canal or inland waters such as the Great Lakes.

Pilot ladder - made of rope with flat wooden rungs and occasional wooden spreaders to stop the ladder turning. It is painted white. It is hung vertically down a ship's side and is usually used for boarding ships from a boat or lighter, or leaving a ship.

Plimsoll or international convention loadlines - marks painted on the sides of a merchant ship to indicate the safe draught to which she may be loaded.
   LR - Lloyd's Register ( a classification society)
   F - fresh water
   TF - tropical fresh water
   S - summer
   T - tropical sea water
   WNA - winter north Atlantic

Port - the left-hand side of a ship looking towards the bows, shows a red light.

Pratique - the official recognition that a ship is healthy which allows it to make contact with the shore.

Quarter -  the ship's sides near the stern.

Salvage - money paid for the saving of a ship and/or cargo, or the property that has been saved.

Ship's Agent - is the firm hired by the ship's owner or charter to represent the ship in a given port. Typically the Agent makes arrangements for tugs, and berth, pilots, linesmen, port health, ship safety, customs and immigration authorities must be notified. The agent also works with the stevedores. The agent is the principle contact with the ship for the Mission to Seafarers.

Skipper - the captain or master of a ship, but usually only applicable to smaller vessels such as tugs, fishing vessels and yachts.

Starboard - the right-hand side of a ship looking towards the bows, shows a green light.

Stem - the extreme foremost part of a vessel.

Stern - the rear portion of a vessel.

Stevedores - contracted to discharge and/or load cargo for the vessel, not part of the ship's crew. The chief stevedore usually liases with the chief officer regarding the vessel's cargo plan.

Strake - a horizontal line of plating or planking on the ship's sides. A rubbing strake is a permanent band along the ship's sides to protect the plating from chafing against quays and piers.

Tally - a record made of cargo loaded or discharged.

Tonnage - there are three tonnage figures used for merchant ships:

a. Deadweight (dwt) - this is the weight in tons of the cargo, stores, fuel, etc. carried by a ship when down to her loading marks. It indicates a ship's cargo-carrying and earning capacity.

b. Gross Register (gt) - the total cubic capacity of all enclosed spaces at 100 cu. ft. to the ton. It is used for general purposes and in national maritime registers.

c. Net register (nt) - measured in the same way as gross tonnage, the net register is the capacity of enclosed space less that of the engine and boiler rooms, crew accommodation, stores, and all spaces necessary for the working of the ship. It is the cubic capacity of all earning space. It is on the tonnage figure that most harbour dues and other charges are calculated.

Trim - the way the ship "sits" in the water, i.e. on an even keel, down by the head, or down by the stern.

Turn-to - to begin work on board.

Ullage - the amount by which a container is short of being full. It is usually heard at sea in connection with tanks on ships which carry oil.

Weather deck - uppermost deck of the hull - not superstructure.

Well deck - deck space between either forecastle and bridge or bridge and poop.

Watch - a portion of time assigned for continuous duty. Usually 4 hours on then 8 hours off. Watches on ships with reduced manning can be 6 hours on 6 hours off.

Weather side - The side on which the wind blows.

Heart of Oak (Royal Canadian Navy March)

1. Come cheer up, my lads! Tis to glory we steer,
To add something new to this wonderful year,
Tis to honour we call you, as free men, not slaves,
For who are so free as the sons of the brave?


Heart of oak, our ships, jolly tars, our men,
We always are ready, steady, boys, steady,
We値l fight and we値l conquer again, and again!

2. We never see our foes but we wish them to stay,
They always see us but they wish us away,
If they run, why we値l follow we will drive them ashore
For I they won稚 fight we can do no more!



3. They say they値l invade us these terrible foes,
They値l frighten our women, our children, our beaus,
Bit ut they in their flat-bottoms should chance to come o弾r
Stout Britons they値l find to defeat them on shore!


4. Britannia triumphant, her ships rule the sea,
Our motto be justice, our watchword be free,
So come cheer up my lads, with one voice let us sing,
Our soldiers, our sailors, our statesmen, our King!


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