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The Superyacht Stewardess and Basic Seamanship.

Basic seamanship can be a little daunting for any ‘newbie’ to the yachting industry, but basic seamanship is essential to any seafaring professional…  ‘YES’ even a superyacht stewardess.

Picture this…. You’ve just landed your first job on a superyacht, your bags are on board and you are super excited to begin your journey. The yacht is leaving port in just  2 hours so you get your initial crash course in safety and a walk around by the mate, chief officer or safety officer, (depending on the size of the yacht) He then asks you to meet him on the port-side, main deck port-side amidships… what do you do?

  1.  Do you giggle like a 10-year-old… flicks your hair and say ‘what is’ that?
  2.  Walk off confidently only to find yourself terribly lost and very embarrassed when another crew member is sent to find you.
  3. Head straight off to the middle, (approximately halfway between the bow and the stern); left the side of the yacht.

Many stewardesses underestimated just how important basic seamanship is. Understanding sailing terminology is particularly important, especially when it is your home and workplace.

Nautical Terms

Below is a list that I have compiled that will help you to get your head around some of these nautical terms…


  •  Aft: The back end of the yacht, also known as the stern.
  •  Anchor ball: Round black shape hoisted up forward to show that the yacht is anchored.


  •  Bow: The front part of the yacht also known as forward.
  •  Bowline: The line running from the bow when docking
  •  Bowline: Type of knot, produces a strong loop. Very useful to learn if you safely tie of a tender.
  •  Bosun: A non-commissioned officer responsible for the deck equipment and the boss of the deckies.
  •  Beam: width of the yacht at the widest point
  •  Bilge: The space or compartment at the bottom of the hull: usually contains storage, originally space where water collects.
  •  Bridge: This is the location from which the yacht is steered, navigated and where the speed is controlled. It’s also a great place to find the Captain.


  • Cast off: To leave go.

  • Capstan: A large vertical winch used to wind in anchors or tighten lines.

  • Cleat: a fitting where lines are made fast. (Tied off).

  • Cockpit:  An opening in the deck from where the yacht is handled. (sail yacht).


  •  Deck Fittings: Those shiny items used to work and secure lines. Items include cleats, pad eyes and bits.
  •  Dead ahead: Directly in front.


  •  EPRIB – Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacon – Make sure you know where this is fitted because this will save your life in an emergency.


  • Fairlead: round opening used to put a line through to prevent it rubbing.
  •  Fire Extinguishers: You covered this in your fire fighting course for STCW95.  Here are the basics again:
  •  Foam extinguishers – Class A & B – For use on solids and liquids on fire, found regularly in the interior.
  •  Powder extinguishers – Class A,B & C –  Not usually found on-board because of collateral damage these do.
  • CO2 extinguishers – Class B – Found in the galley and near electrical  Do not use on people as it creates frost-burns
  •   First mate : (chief officer) second in command
  •  Fender: An air-filled bumper used to keep boats from banging into docks or each other.


  •  Galley: Kitchen.
  •  Gear:  Ropes, blocks, tackle… a general term for deck equipment.
  •  Gangway: Where people board and disembark the vessel… (Get on and off).


  •  Head: Toilet.
  •  Hull: Is the main construction of the vessel.


  •  Keel: The centre line of the vessel, (the backbone).
  •  Knot: The rate which you measure the speed.
  •  1 knot = 1 nautical mile = 1.15 miles = 1.852 km


  • List: angle of lean or tilt to one side  (along the length of the ship this is called pitch)
  •  (LOA). Length overall: This is the measurement of the yacht along its centre line.
  •  Lazarette: The Garage where all of the toys are kept. Located aft of the vessel.
  •  Leeward:  The side away from or sheltered from the wind. Opposite of windward.


  •  Master: Captain
  •  Muster station:  The location where the crew and guests meet in case of an emergency.


  •  Passarelle: walkway ashore at the stern of the yacht
  •  Portside: The left side of the yacht when facing forward. The easiest way to remember the red light that is allocated to indicate the port side for navigational purposes is by remembering this little verse.
  •  “No port left in the bottle…  (Portside is left and port the drink is red)’


  •   Starboard side: Is the right side of the yacht when facing forward and opposite to port-side.

Note: So you don’t get confused with this remember when referring to the port and starboard side of a vessel it is when you are facing the bow.

  •  Screw:  The propeller.
  •  Scuppers: The drains in the deck.
  •  Spring line: Used in docking to stop the boast moving forward or astern.
  •  Squall: Sudden and violent wind always with loads of rain.
  •  Stern: The rear part of the yacht


  •  Transom: the flat back panel of the yacht


  •  Windward:  – In the direction that the wind is coming from. Opposite of leeward.
  •  Winch: used to pull up anchor and tighten bowlines

So now that I have covered the basic sailing terminology, please take a minute to learn them.

It will help you move around the vessel easier, understand your muster responsibilities faster, you will seem more professional; and finally you never know one day this information may just save your life.

Thank you for reading my article on basic sailing terminology, and I would like to thank my husband for his guidance with writing it 🙂

As always… wishing you safe travels and calm seas.

Sailing Terminology

The Superyacht Stewardess and basic seamanship


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