Acts of Pardon/Acts of Grace
A letter of marque for a "reformed" pirate, thus making him a privateer

Means 'stop' in piratical lingo

Before the mast
Literally, the position of the crew whose living quarters on board were in the forecastle (the section of a ship forward of the foremast). The term is also used more generally to describe seamen as compared with officers, in phrases such as "he sailed before the mast."

Bilged on her anchor
A ship pierced by her own anchor

Binnacle List
A ship's sick-list. A binnacle was the stand on which the ship's compass was mounted. In the eighteenth century and probably before, a list was given to the officer or mate of the watch, containing the names of men unable to report for duty. The list was kept at the binnacle.

A spar used to extend the foot of a sail

The front of the ship

Rope made fast to the leech or side of a sail to pull it forward

To haul with a tackle to produce extra rightness

Spirit projecting from the bow (front) of a ship

To furl a sail by pulling it in towards the mast

Bring to
Check the movement of a ship by arranging the sails in such a way that they counteract each other and keep her stationary

Brought a spring upon her cable
A ship coming about in a different direction

Chief bosun's mate who is in charge of discipline

A boat privately selling goods or provisions to sailors on ships in harbors

A large rope

Vertical rotating cylinder used for winding up anchor and other cable

To cause a vessel to keel over on its side. Mainly to clean or repair its bottom

Chain shot
Cannon balls fastened together with chain, used to aim high into the rigging and to try and bring the masts down and thus disable the ship.

Chase guns
Cannon on the bow of a ship, forward facing

Clap in irons
To be put manacles and chains (don't we all kow and love that one... :-)

Clean Bill of Health
This widely used term has its origins in the document issued to a ship showing that the port it sailed from suffered from no epidemic or infection at the time of departure.

The raised edge around a hatch

A coxswain or cockswain was at first the swain (boy servant) in charge of the small cock or cockboat that was kept aboard for the ship's captain and which was used to row him to and from the ship. The term has been in use in England dating back to at least 1463. With the passing of time the coxswain became the helmsman of any boat, regardless of size.

A dogwatch at sea is the period between 4 and 6 p.m, the first dogwatch, or the period between 6 and 8 p.m., the second dog watch. The watches aboard ships are:

Noon to 4:00 p.m. Afternoon watch
4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. First dogwatch
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Second dogwatch
8:00 p.m. to midnight 1st night watch
Midnight to 4:00 a.m. Middle watch or mid watch
4:00 to 8:00 a.m. Morning watch
8:00 a.m. to noon Forenoon watch

The dogwatches are only two hours each so the same Sailors aren't always on duty at the same time each afternoon. Some experts say dogwatch is a corruption of dodge watch and others associate dogwatch with the fitful sleep of Sailors called dog sleep, because it is a stressful watch. But no one really knows the origin of this term, which was in use at least back to 1700.

The minimum water depth neccessary to float a ship

Large sail suspended from the mizzen gaff

Although a fathom is now a nautical unit of length equal to six feet, it was once defined by an act of Parliament as "the length of a man's arms around the object of his affections."

A ship loaded with gunpowder and explosives, set on fire and sent to drift into enemy ports.

Broad part of an anchor

To wrap or roll a sail close to the yard, stay or mast to which it belongs

Spar which holds upper the edge of a four-sided fore and aft sail

Rope or tackle for hoisting a spar holding a sail

Haul wind
To direct a ship's course as nearly as possible in the direction from which the wind is coming

Heave to
An order to stop

Heave down
To turn a vessel on its side for cleaning

A piece of sandstone used to scrub the decks. Sailors had to kneel as if in prayer when scrubbing the decks.

A flag or a sailor; showing how sailors would refer to their ship's colours as one of the crew

Triangular sail

Keel hauling
A naval punishment on board ships said to have originated with the Dutch but adopted by other navies during the 15th and 16th centuries. A rope was rigged from yardarm to yardarm, passing under the bottom of the ship, and the unfortunate delinquent secured to it, sometimes with lead or iron weights attached to his legs. He was hoisted up to one yardarm and then dropped suddenly into the sea, hauled underneath the ship, and hoisted up to the opposite yardarm, the punishment being repeated after he had had time to recover his breath. While he was under water, a "great gun" was fired, "which is done as well to astonish him so much the more with the thunder of the shot, as to give warning until all others of the fleet to look out and be wary by his harms" (from Nathaniel Boteler, A Dialogicall Discourse, 1634).

The anchor

Any rope that ties something off

Three miles

Side away from the wind

Let go and haul
Order on tacking square-rigged ship given when the bow has just passed across the wind

The ship leans to one side

Loaded to the Gunwhales
Someone is very drunk

The ship's principal mast

Non-commissioned rank below lieutenant. Midshipmen could be very young.

A ftermost mast in a three-masted vessel

S hort length of rope used to bind anchor cable

Port (larboard) and starboard
Port and starboard are shipboard terms for left and right, respectively. Confusing those two could cause a ship wreck. In Old England, the starboard was the steering paddle or rudder, and ships were always steered from the right side on the back of the vessel. Larboard referred to the left side, the side on which the ship was loaded. So how did larboard become port? Shouted over the noise of the wind and the waves, larboard and starboard sounded too much alike. The word port means the opening in the "left" side of the ship from which cargo was unloaded. Sailors eventually started using the term to refer to that side of the ship.

Press Gang
A group of sailors who "recruit" for their ship using violence and intimidation. It was a particular threat for Civilian men in port towns in times of war.

A pirate officially sanctioned by a national power

1) part of the side of the ship nearest the stern 2) mercy shown to an opponent

No Quarter Given
Usually accompanied with the hoisting of the red flag. It mean that no mercy would be shown and all souls on board killed.

To shorten sail by rolling up the bottom section and securing it by tying short lines attached to the sail

The general name for ropes, chains, and wires which hold masts, spars and yards in place and control movement of the ship

Holes pierced in deck near bulwarks to allow surplus water to drain off

Line running from the bottom aft corner of sail by which it can be adjusted to the wind

Standing rigging stretched from the side of a ship to support the mast

Sail above the royal

A group of ten or less warships

Rig consisting of four-cornered sails hung from yards

A sail set above moonsail

Standing rigging fore and aft and supporting a mast

The back of the ship

Strike the Colours
To haul down a ship's flag as a signal of surrender. Striking the ensign was and is the universally recognized indication of surrender.

Lower, forward corner of fore and aft sail; in square-rigged ships, line controlling forward lower corner of sail; ship's coarse in relation to the wind

Ropes and blocks

Toe the line
The space between each pair of deck planks in a wooden ship was filled with a packing material called "oakum" and then sealed with a mixture of pitch and tar. The result, from afar, was a series of parallel lines a half-foot or so apart, running the length of the deck. Once a week, as a rule, usually on Sunday, a warship's crew was ordered to fall in at quarters -- that is, each group of men into which the crew was divided would line up in formation in a given area of the deck. To insure a neat alignment of each row, the Sailors were directed to stand with their toes just touching a particular seam. Another use for these seams was punitive. The youngsters in a ship, be they ship's boys or student officers, might be required to stand with their toes just touching a designated seam for a length of time as punishment for some minor infraction of discipline, such as talking or fidgeting at the wrong time. A tough captain might require the miscreant to stand there, not talking to anyone, in fair weather or foul, for hours at a time. Hopefully, he would learn it was easier and more pleasant to conduct himself in the required manner rather than suffer the punishment.

Platform at masthead of ship for sailors to stand upon

Sail above topsail

Sailor who works on the sails

Mast next above lower mast

Sail above mainsail

An incompetant sailor

Side from which the wind is blowing

To raise, as in 'weigh anchor'

Spar attached to mast to carry a sail

Nautical Glossary