Nautical Terms - know these terms to speak like a seasoned cruiser.
- Anchor: a heavy metal device attached to a chain that falls to the sea floor, keeping the ship in place.
- Anchorage: not the place in Alaska, its a designated area in a harbor where ships may anchor.
- Azipod: the ship's main propulsion unit, contained within a pod, that can rotate on its azimuth, providing both propulsion and steering.
- Beam: the width of the ship.
- Berth: the parking spot for the ship at the pier.
- Bow: the front, or pointy-end of the ship.
- Bowthruster: properllers located in the bow, perpendicular to the length of the ship, used to assist in docking.
- Bridge: a windowed structure on the ship where operations, such as steering the ship are conducted.
- Bunk: your bed.
- Companionway: staircases.
- Davit: a crane, especially those used to handle lifeboats.
- Deck: the floors on a ship are known as decks.
- Draft: distance the ship is below the waterline. If the water depth is less than the ship's draft, it will run aground.
- Fathom: Unit of depth. Equal to 6ft, or 1.8 Meters.
- Flotsam: Accumulation of junk floating on the water (wreckage, debris).
- Following seas: when waves of the sea are going in the same direction of the ship.
- Galley: the kitchen.
- Gangplank: a ramp allowing access on and off the ship.
- Head: A toilet. Sgt. Toomey (Biloxi Blues) might have said; "there are no toilets on a ship, only heads".
- Head seas: when waves of the sea are going in the opposite direction (towards) the ship.
- Helm: contains the facilities to steer the ship, usually located in the bridge
- Knot: the measure of speed on a ship. 1 kt = 1.15 Mph. So 20kts is equal to 23mph.
- List: a ship that leans to one side or the other, more or less long term; as opposed to roll.
- Muster: life boat drill.
- Nautical Mile: the measure of distance on a ship. 1 nm = 1.15 statute miles. So 20nm = 23 miles on land.
- Peek-a-boo Bridge: Bridge with an elevated observation deck where passengers can observe bridge operations.
- Pier: that at which the ship docks, or berths at.
- Pitch: periodic front to back motion of the ship while it is underway.
- Promenade deck: An open deck that extends from bow to stern on both sides, usually where the lifeboats are found.
- Port: the left-side of the ship when looking forward.
- Pullman (bed): a rather uncomfortable bed that lowers from the ceiling.
- Purser: officer of the ship that handles all financial matters.
- Roll: periodic side to side motion of the ship while it is underway.
- Ship's time: the time zone aboard the ship, which may differ from the time on the local island.
- SOLAS: internal maritime safety standard (Safety Of Life At Sea). A direct result of the Titanic sinking.
- Stabilizers: winglets under the waterline in the ship's hull that reduce roll.
- Starboard: the right-side of the ship when looking forward.
- Stateroom: the room you sleep in.
- Stern: the rear of the ship.
- Sternthruster: properllers located in the stern, perpendicular to the length of the ship, used to assist in docking.
- Tender: small craft that transports passengers to and from the ship when it is anchored away from shore.
Ship's horn; what do the blasts mean?
While you are aboard ship, you will occasionally hear different patterns from the ship's horn; they are:
- One Long Blast: prepairing to leave port.
- Three Short Blasts: am going in reverse.
- Five Short Blasts: used to signal danger to craft in the path of the ship.
- Seven Short Blasts, then One Long Blast: An emergency has been declaired; don your life vest and go to your muster station.
You may hear other patterns as well, such a cruise ships of the same line greeting each other. And on a rare day, you may hear a 5 second blast repeated every two minutes. This is a foghorn pattern and is used whenever fog or low visibility conditions exist. I have heard it on cruise ships even on a hazy day, if visibility is reduced.
Depending on where you are, at sea or in port, the ship will display different flags:
- The ship always flys the flag of its registered country (Starboard side).
- The ship may also fly a corporate or other orgainzational flag.
- When in port, the ship flys the flag of the country it is in as a courtesy (Port side).
- When in port, the ship flys the "Q" quarantine (yellow) flag until it is cleared by customs.
- The "H" flag (white and red) indicates the local pilot is on board.
If the ship is at anchor, it will display a black round ball rather than a flag.