Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Basic Parts

Here are the bare bones basics of sailboat. These apply to small sailboats all the way up to the tall ships.
Parts of the Hull
The body or fuselage of a sailboat is the hull. Hulls provide buoyancy required to carry cargo and a platform for mounting the sails.

  • Bow - The forward part of the sailboat
  • Centerboard or Keel - A structure that extends down into the water that improves stability, maneuverability and limits lateral movement in the water. Smaller vessels use a dagger or centerboard that is removable. Larger boats have a fixed keel that is often filled with ballast
  • Stern - The back or aft part of the sailboat
  • Rudder - A movable vertical plane at the stern of the sailboat that is used to steer a sailboat
  • Tiller - On smaller sailboats, the rudder is controlled manually with a lever at the stern of the boat. Larger vessels depend on mechanical steering systems
  • Transom - A flat surface at the aft end of a sailboat.

Parts of the Rigging

A sailboat's rigging takes in all the components that support the mast and sails. Rigging varies greatly between different styles of boats.

  • Mast - The main upright structural member of the sailboat that supports the sails
  • Boom - The horizontal structural member attached to the foot of the mainsail
  • Spreader - A bar that holds the shroud out away from the mast
  • Standing Rigging - Wire ropes that support the mast. They include:
    • Stay - A wire rope that runs from the top of the mast to locations fore and aft on the hull
    • Shroud - A wire rope that adds additional lateral support to the mast
  • Running Rigging - Generically all the lines used to raise, lower or control the sails
    • Halyard - A line that raises or lowers the sail
    • Sheet - A line that controls a sail

Parts of a Sail
A sail is a large piece of strong fabric that catches the wind and provides propulsion for a sailboat. Many sailboats use more than one sail.

  • Head - Topmost corner of a triangular shaped sail
  • Mainsail - Normally the largest sail providing driving force for the sailboat
  • Headsail - A sail set forward of a mast
  • Jib - A triangular shaped headsail
  • Leech - The aft or trailing edge of a sail
  • Luff - The forward edge of a sail
  • Tack - The lower corner of the forward edge of a sail
  • Clew - The lower corner of the aft edge of a sail
  • Foot - The lowest edge of a sail

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