Terminology for Yacht Crew Members

aback: the wind is on the wrong side of the sails

abaft: at the rear or back of the yacht

abeam: at a right angle of the length of the yacht

abreast: side-by-side with the yacht

aft: toward the stern of the yacht

aground: the yacht’s bottom has scraped the ground in shallow water

amidships: at the center of the yacht

anchor locker: a locker used for storing the yacht’s anchor

astern: toward the stern (behind) of the yacht

autopilot: a device that automatically steers the yacht

BST: basic safety training

backstay: rope or cable used to support the mast on a sailing yacht

ballast: weights at the bottom of the yacht used for stability

bare boat: a sailing or motor yacht for hire without crew

beam: the widest part of the yacht

bearing: the direction a vessel or object appears to be heading in relation to the observer

berth: a place where the yacht is secured

bilge: the lowest part of the yacht where water collects

bilge pump: removes water from the bilge

Bimini: covers the cockpit and protects it from the sun

bosun: on a sailing yacht, the crew member responsible for keeping the sails and all of its related rigging and equipment in repair

bow: the front of the yacht

breaking seas: large waves with crests

bulwarks: the sides of the yacht above the upper deck

cabin: rooms on yachts where passengers and crew members sleep

captain only yacht charter: a sailing or motor yacht for hire with a captain as the only crew member

cast off: to detach the mooring lines

chine: the place on the yacht where the hull and the deck intersect

cook only yacht charter: a sailing or motor yacht for hire with a cook as the only crew member

chartering: renting a sailing or motor yacht by the week; renting a yacht for the day is simply called renting

cockpit: where the helm of the ship is located

course: the direction the yacht is traveling or planning to travel

crewed: a sailing or motor yacht for hire with a complete crew

daywork: term for a temporary worker on a yacht

deck: the areas surrounding each level of the yacht where people can stand, walk, or lounge

depth sounder: instrument used to determine how deep the water is an a specific location

dinghy or tender: a small boat attached to the yacht that is used for transporting people from the yacht to shore

dock: anyplace where the yacht can tie up to and be secured

draft: the depth of the yacht

dry dock: a location where the yacht is pulled out of the water; major maintenance or repairs are usually performed at a dry dock

fore, forward: toward the front of the yacht

fore and aft: from one end of the yacht to the other

forepeak: the storage unit on a yacht that is closest to the front of the vessel

founder: a yacht that is having difficulty staying afloat

GMDSS: global maritime and distress safety system

GT: gross tonnage

galley: the yacht’s kitchen

global positioning system: like GPSs used on land, these are used to help crew members stay on course

green water: water that washes aboard the yacht in one wall of water rather than spray

harbormaster: the person at each harbor who is in charge

head: the toilets onboard a yacht

heading: the course the yacht is traveling at a specific point in time

headseas: waves coming from the front of the yacht

heeling: when the yacht shifts away from the wind

helm: the wheel or tiller of the yacht, which is used for steering

helmsman: the crew member at the helm

high tide: a point of time in a day when the ocean is at its highest at a certain location

hull: the basic body of the yacht

IMO: International Maritime Organization

ISM: International Safety Management

iron sail: what some people call an engine on a sailboat

keel: a flat surface attached to the bottom of the yacht that helps keep it stabilized in the water and against the wind

knot: the rate of speed a yacht can travel; one knot equals one nautical mile per hour

lee: the direction the wind is blowing

lee side: the part of a ship most protected from the wind

life boat or life raft: small boat required to be attached to each yacht, it is used during emergencies

lines: ropes

list: a list describes the yacht leaning to one side or the other when it is not in operation

log: tracks all the miles the yacht has traveled

logbook: where the yacht’s log is kept

low tide: a point of time in a day when the ocean is at its lowest at a certain location

MARPOL: the international convention for the prevention of pollution by ships

MCA: Maritime and Coast Guard Agency of the United Kingdom

make fast: to attach a line to an object so that it does not move

marina: seaside location where ships and boats of all kinds can find fuel, provisions, and other needed services

master: person in charge of the yacht, usually the captain

mate: the captain’s assistant

nautical mile: equal to approximately 6,067 feet

navigation: the process of plotting the course of the yacht from its current position to its destination

navigator: the person responsible for navigating the yacht

offshore: located away from land

parallel: latitude line

passage: getting from one place to another via a boat

personal flotation device: an object used to keep someone afloat in the water in case of an emergency

poop deck: the deck closest to the yacht’s stern

prevailing winds: the winds that are common at a specific location

provisioning: food and beverages for the cruise

prow: the part of the brow at the forward part of the yacht, where it leaves the waterline

rail: the yacht deck’s edges

ride out: waiting for a storm to pass through, whether you are at sea or anchored

right: to return a yacht or boat to an upright position

roll: a side-to-side motion of the yacht, usually due to high waves or rough waters

STCW: Standards of training, certification, and watchkeeping developed by the IMO

SOLAS: Safety of Life at Sea

sea anchor: an anchor used to stop a yacht while at sea, usually in inclement or rough weather

seagoing: a vessel designed to endure ocean crossings

shove off: to push a boat away from another boat or a dock

squall: sudden, intense wind storm

starboard: the right side of the yacht

stern: the aft portion of the yacht

stow: put away

swell: large waves that don’t break

toe rail: small rail that surrounds the decks

transom: the aft side of the yacht’s hull

USCG: United States Coast Guard

underway: a yacht that has begun its journey

wake: waves created by other boats in the water

weigh anchor: a command given to bring up the anchor from the ocean floor in preparation of setting sail

wheelhouse: room on a yacht where the steering takes place

yacht charter broker: an agent that arranges charters

yacht broker: an agent that sells yachts

yaw: when a yacht or boat veers off-course, usually due to rough seas

As a member of CruiseJobFinder, we want to provide you with a one-stop-shop for all things yachting. However, we know that this is a complex industry and the more resources you can turn to, the better. Click on the link below to access a list of some magazines, websites, and other sources that you can use for even more information.


Yachting Websites, Magazines, Resources