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DICTIONARY of SEA TERMS 1841/1851

     Adapted from 'The Seaman's Friend...' by R. H. DANA Jr

Dana was the author of ‘Two Years Before the Mast’
[Boston: Thomas Groom & Co., 1851. 6th Edition, Revised and Corrected]
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SADDLES Pieces of wood hollowed out to fit on the yards to which they are nailed, having a hollow in the upper part for the boom to rest in.
SAG To sag to leeward, is to drift off bodily to leeward.
SAILS are of two kinds: square sails, which hang from yards, their foot lying across the line of the keel, as the courses, topsails, &c.; and fore-and-aft sails, which set upon gaffs, or on stays, their foot running with the line of the keel, as jib, spanker, &c.
SAIL HO! The cry used when a sail is first discovered at sea.
SAVE-ALL A small sail sometimes set under the foot of a lower studdingsail. (See WATER SAIL.)
SCANTLING A term applied to any piece of timber, with regard to its breadth and thickness, when reduced to the standard size.
SCARF To join two pieces of timber at their ends by shaving them down and placing them over-lapping.
SCHOONER A small vessel with two masts and no tops.

A fore-and-aft schooner has only fore-and-aft sails.

A topsail schooner carries a square fore topsail, and frequently, also, topgallant sail and royal. There are some schooners with three masts. They also have no tops.

A main-topsail schooner is one that carries square topsails, fore and aft.

SCORE A groove in a block or dead-eye.
SCOTCHMAN A large batten placed over the turnings-in of rigging. (See BATTEN.)
SCRAPER A small, triangular iron instrument, with a handle fitted to its centre, and used for scraping decks and masts.
SCROWL A piece of timber bolted to the knees of the head, in place of a figure-head.
SCUD To drive before a gale, with no sail, or only enough to keep the vessel ahead of the sea. Also, low, thin clouds that fly swiftly before the wind.
SCULL A short oar.

To scull, is to impel a boat by one oar at the stern.

SCUPPERS Holes cut in the water-ways for the water to run from the decks.
SCUTTLE A hole cut in a vessel's deck, as, a hatchway. Also, a hole cut in any part of a vessel.

To scuttle, is to cut or bore holes in a vessel to make her sink.

SCUTTLE-BUTT (See BUTT.)
SEAMS The intervals between planks in a vessel's deck or side.
SEIZE To fasten ropes together by turns of small stuff.
SEIZNGS The fastenings of ropes that are seized together.
SELVAGEE A skein of rope-yarns or spunyarn, marled together. Used as a neat strap.
SEND When a ship's head or stern pitches suddenly and violently into the trough of the sea.
SENNIT or SINNIT A braid, formed by plaiting rope-yarns or spunyarn together. Straw, plaited in the same way for hats, is called sennit.
SERVE To wind small stuff, as rope-yarns, spunyarn, &c., round a rope, to keep it from chafing. It is wound and hove round taut by a serving-board or mallet.
SERVICE, is the stuff so wound round.
SET To set up rigging, is to tauten it by tackles. The seizings are then put on afresh.
SHACKLES Links in a chain cable which are fitted with a movable bolt so that the chain can be separated.
SHAKES The staves of hogsheads taken apart.
SHANK The main piece in an anchor, at one end of which the stock is made fast, and at the other the arms.
SHANK-PAINTER A strong rope by which the lower part of the shank of an anchor is secured to the ship's side.
SHARP UP Said of yards when braced as near fore-and-aft as possible.
SHEATHING A casing or covering on a vessel's bottom.
SHEARS Two or more spars, raised at angles and lashed together near their upper ends, used for taking in masts.
SHEAR HULK An old vessel fitted with shears, &c., and used for taking out and putting in the masts of other vessels.
SHEAVE The wheel in a block upon which the rope works.

Sheave-hole, the place cut in a block for the ropes to reeve through.

SHEEP-SHANK A kind of hitch or bend, used to shorten a rope temporarily.
SHEER or SHEER-STRAKE The line of plank on a vessel's side, running fore-and-aft under the gunwale. Also, a vessel's position when riding by a single anchor.
SHEET A rope used in setting a sail, to keep the clew down to its place. With square sails, the sheets run through each yard-arm. With boom sails, they haul the boom over one way and another. They keep down the inner clew of a studdingsail and the after clew of a jib. (See HOME.)
SHEET-ANCHOR A vessel's largest anchor; not carried at the bow.
SHELL The case of a block.
SHINGLE. (See BALLAST.)
SHIP A vessel with three masts, with tops and yards to each. To enter on board a vessel. To fix anything in its place.
SHIVER To shake the wind out of a sail by bracing it so that the wind strikes upon the leech.
SHOE A piece of wood used for the bill of an anchor to rest upon, to save the vessel's side. Also, for the heels of shears, &c.
SHOE-BLOCK A block with two sheaves, one above the other, the one horizontal and the other perpendicular.
SHORE A prop or stanchion, placed under a beam. To shore, to prop up.
SHROUDS A set of ropes reaching from the mast-heads to the vessel's sides, to support the masts.
SILLS Pieces of timber put in horizontally between the frames to form and secure any opening; as, for ports.
SISTER BLOCK A long piece of wood with two sheaves in it, one above the other, with a score between them for a seizing, and a groove around the block, lengthwise.
SKIDS Pieces of timber placed up and down a vessel's side, to bear any articles off clear that are hoisted in.
SKIN The part of a sail which is outside and covers the rest when it is furled. Also, familiarly, the sides of the hold; as, an article is said to be stowed next the skin.
SKYSAIL A light sail next above the royal.
SKY-SCRAPER A name given to a skysail when it is triangular.
SLABLINE A small line used to haul up the foot of a course.
SLACK The part of a rope or sail that hangs down loose.

Slack in stays, said of a vessel when she works slowly in tacking.

SLEEPERS The knees that connect the transoms to the after timbers on the ship's quarter.
SLING To set a cask, spar, gun, or other article, in ropes, so as to put on a tackle and hoist or lower it.
SLINGS The ropes used for securing the centre of a yard to the mast.

Yard-slings are now made of iron. Also a large rope fitted so as to go round any article which is to be hoisted or lowered.

SLIP To let a cable go and stand out to sea.
SLIP-ROPE A rope bent to the cable just outside the hawse-hole, and brought in on the weather quarter, for slipping.
SLOOP A small vessel with one mast.
SLOOP OF WAR A vessel of amy rig, mounting between 18 and 32 guns.
SLUE To turn anything round or over.
SMALL STUFF The term for spunyarn, marline, and the smallest kinds of rope, such as ratline-stuff, &c.
SNAKE To pass small stuff across a seizing, with marling hitches at the outer turns.
SNATCH-BLOCK A single block, with an opening in its side below the sheave, or at the bottom, to receive the bight of a rope.
SNOTTER A rope going over a yard-arm, with an eye, used to bend a tripping-line to in sending down topgallant and royal yards in vessels of war.
SNOW A kind of brig, formerly used.
SNUB To check a rope suddenly.
SNYING A term for a circular plank edgewise, to work in the bows of a vessel.
SO! An order to 'vast hauling upon anything when it has come to its right position.
SOLE A piece of timber fastened to the foot of the rudder, to make it level with the false keel.
SOUND To get the depth of water by a lead and line. The pumps are sounded by an iron sounding rod, marked with a scale of feet and inches.
SPAN A rope with both ends made fast, for a purchase to be hooked to its bight.
SPANKER The after sail of a ship or bark. It is a fore-and-aft sail, setting with a boom and gaff.
SPAR The general term for all masts, yards, booms, gaffs, &c.
SPELL The common term for a portion of time given to any work.

To spell, is to relieve another at his work.

Spell ho! An exclamation used as an order or request to be relieved at work by another.

SPENCER A fore-and-aft sail, set with a gaff and no boom, and hoisting from a small mast called a spencer-mast, just abaft the fore and main masts.
SPILL To shake the wind out of a sail by bracing it so that the wind may strike its leech and shiver it.
SPILLING LINE A rope used for spilling a sail. Rove in bad weather.
SPINDLE An iron pin upon which the capstan moves. Also, a piece of timber forming the diameter of a made mast. Also, any long pin or bar upon which anything revolves.
SPIRKETING The planks from the water-ways to the port-sills.
SPLICE To join two ropes together by interweaving their strands.
SPOON-DRIFT Water swept from the tops of the waves by the violence of the wind in a tempest, and driven along before it, covering the surface of the sea.
SPRAY An occasional sprinkling dashed from the top of a wave by the wind, or by its striking an object.
SPRING To crack or split a mast.

To spring a leak, is to begin to leak.

To spring a luff, is to force a vessel close to the wind, in sailing.

SPRING-STAY A preventer-stay, to assist the regular one. (See STAY.)
SPRING TIDES The highest and lowest course of tides, occuring every new and full moon.
SPRIT A small boom or gaff, used with some sails in small boats.. The lower end rests in a becket or snotter by the foot of the mast, and the other end spreads and raises the outer upper corner of the sail, crossing it diagonally. A sail so rigged in a boat is called a sprit-sail.
SPRIT-SAIL-YARD A yard lashed across the bowsprit or knight-heads, and used to spread the guys of the jib and flying jib-boom. There was formerly a sail bent to it called a sprit-sail.
SPUNYARN A cord formed by twisting together two or three rope-yarns.
SPURLING LINE A line communicating between the tiller and tell-tale.
SPURS Pieces of timber fixed on the bilge-ways, their upper ends being bolted to the vessel's sides above the water. Also, curved pieces of timber, serving as half beams, to support the decks where whole beams cannot be placed.
SPUR-SHOES Large pieces of timber that come abaft the pump-well.
SQUARE Yards are squared when they are horizontal and at right angles with the keel. Squaring by the lifts makes them horizontal; and by the braces, makes them at right angles with the vessel's line. Also, the proper term for the length of yards. A vessel has square yards when her yards are unusually long. A sail is said to be very square on the head when it is long on the head.

To square a yard, in working ship, means to bring it in square by the braces.

SQUARE-SAIL A temporary sail, set at the fore-mast of a schooner or sloop when going before the wind. (See SAIL.)
STABBER A PRICKER.
STAFF A pole or mast, used to hoist flags upon.
STANCHIONS Upright posts of wood or iron, placed so as to support the beams of a vessel. Also, upright pieces of timber, placed at intervals along the sides of a vessel, to support the bulwarks and rail, and reaching down to the bends, by the side of the timbers, to which they are bolted. Also, any fixed, upright support; as to an awning, or for the man-ropes.
STAND BY! An order to be prepared.
STANDARD An inverted knee, placed above the deck instead of beneath it; as, bill-standard, &c.
STANDING The standing part of a rope is that part which is fast, in opposition to the part that is hauled upon; or the main part, in opposition to the end.

The standing part of a tackle is that part which is made fast to the blocks and between that and the next sheave, in opposition to the hauling and leading parts.

STANDING RIGGING That part of a vessel's rigging which is made fast and not hauled upon. (See RUNNING.)
STARBOARD The right side of a vessel, looking forward.
STARBOWLINES The familiar term for the men in the starboard watch.
START To start a cask, is to open it.
STAY To tack a vessel, or put her about, so that the wind, from being on one side, is brought upon the other, round the vessel's head. (See TACK, WEAR.)

To stay a mast, is to incline it forward or aft, or to one side or the other, by the stays and backstays. Thus, a mast is said to be stayed too much forward or aft, or too much to port, &c.

STAYS Large ropes, used to support masts, and leading from the head of some mast down to some other mast, or to some part of the vessel. Those which lead forward are called fore-and-aft stays; and those which lead down to the vessel's sides, backstays. (See BACKSTAYS.)

In stays, or hove in stays, the situation of a vessel when she is staying, or going about from one tack to the other.

STAYSAIL A sail which hoists upon a stay.
STEADY! An order to keep the helm as it is.
STEERAGE That part of the between-decks which is just forward of the cabin.
STEEVE A bowsprit steeves more or less, according as it is raised more or less from the horizontal.

The steeve is the angle it makes with the horizon. Also, a long, heavy spar, with a place to fit a block at one end, and used in stowing certain kinds of cargo, which need be driven in close.

STEM A piece of timber reaching from the forward end of the keel, to which it is scarfed, up to the bowsprit, and to which the two sides of the vessel are united.
STEMSON A piece of compass-timber, fixed on the after part of the apron inside. The lower end is scarfed into the keelson, and receives the scarf of the stem, through which it is bolted.
STEP A block of wood secured to the keel, into which the heel of the mast is placed.

To step a mast, is to put it in its step.

STERN The after end of a vessel. (See BY THE STERN.)
STERN-BOARD The motion of a vessel when going stern foremost.
STERN-FRAME The frame composed of the stern-post transom and the fashion-pieces.
STERN-POST The aftermost timber in a ship, reaching from the after end of the keel to the deck. The stem and stern-post are the two extremes of a vessel's frame.

Inner stern-post. A post on the inside, corresponding to the stern-post.

STERN-SHEETS The after part of a boat, abaft the rowers, where the passengers sit.
STIFF The quality of a vessel which enables it to carry a great deal of sail without lying over-much on her side. The opposite to crank.
STIRRUPS Ropes with thimbles at their ends, through which the foot-ropes are rove, and by which they are kept up toward the yards.
STOCK A beam of wood, or a bar of iron, secured to the upper end of the shank of an anchor, at right angles with the arms. An iron stock usually goes with a key, and unships.
STOCKS The frame upon which a vessel is built.
STOOLS Small channels for the dead-eyes of the backstays.
STOPPER A stout rope with a knot at one end, and sometimes a hook at the other, used for various purposes about decks; as, making fast a cable, so as to overhaul. (See CAT STOPPER, DECK STOPPER.)
STOPPER BOLTS Ring-bolts to which the deck stoppers are secured.
STOP. A fastening of small stuff. Also, small projections on the outside of the cheeks of a lower mast, at the upper parts of the hounds.
STRAND A number of rope-yarns twisted together. Three, four or nine strands twisted together form a rope.

A rope is stranded when one of its strands is parted or broken by chafing or by a strain.

A vessel is stranded when she is driven on shore.

STRAP A piece of rope spliced round a block to keep its parts well together. Some blocks have iron straps, in which case they are called iron bound.
STREAK or STRAKE A range of planks running fore-and-aft on a vessel's side.
STREAM The stream anchor is one used for warping, &c., and sometimes as a lighter anchor to moor by, with a hawser. It is smaller than the bowers, and larger than the kedges.

To stream a buoy, is to drop it into the water.

STRETCHERS Pieces of wood placed across a boat's bottom, inside, for the oarsmen to press their feet against, in rowing. Also, cross pieces placed between a boat's sides to keep them apart when hoisted up and griped.
STRIKE To lower a sail or colors.
STUDDINGSAILS Light sails set outside the square sails, on booms rigged out for that purpose. They are only carried with a fair wind and in moderate weather.
SUED or SEWED The conditioin of a ship when she is high and dry on shore. If the water leaves her two feet, she sues, or is sued, two feet.
SUPPORTERS The knee-timbers under the cat-heads.
SURF The breaking of the sea upon the shore.
SURGE A large, swelling wave.

To surge a rope or cable, is to slack it up suddenly where it renders round a pin, or round the windlass or capstan.

Surge ho! The notice given when a cable is to be surged.

SWAB A mop, formed of old rope, used for cleaning and drying decks.
SWEEP To drag the bottom for an anchor. Also, large oars used in small vessels to force them ahead.
SWIFT To bring two shrouds or stays close together by ropes.
SWIFTER The forward shroud to a lower-mast. Also, ropes used to confine the capstan bars to their places when shipped.
SWIG A term used by sailors for the mode of hauling off upon the bight of a rope when its lower end is fast.
SWIVEL A long link of iron, used in chain cables, made so as to turn upon an axis and keep the turns out of a chain.
SYPHERING Lapping the edges of planks over each other for a bulkhead.

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