Sailing Terms That Begin with the letter 'H'

Halyard or Halliard- Originally, ropes used for hoisting a spar with a sail attached; today, a line used to raise the head of any sail.


Hammock- Canvas sheets, slung from the deckhead in messdecks, in which seamen slept. "Lash up and stow" a piped command to tie up hammocks and stow them (typically) in racks inboard of the ship's side to protect crew from splinters from shot and provide a ready means of preventing flooding caused by damage.

Hand Bomber- A ship using coal-fired boilers shoveled in by hand.

Hand over fist- To climb steadily upwards, from the motion of a sailor climbing shrouds on a sailing ship (originally "hand over hand").


Handsomely- With a slow even motion, as when hauling on a line "handsomely."

Hank- A fastener attached to the luff of the headsail that attaches the headsail to the forestay. Typical designs include a bronze or plastic hook with a spring-operated gate, or a strip of cloth webbing with a snap fastener.


Harbor- A harbor or harbour, or haven, is a place where ships may shelter from the weather or are stored. Harbours can be man-made or natural.


Haul wind- To point the ship so as to be heading in the same direction as the wind, generally not the fastest point of travel on a sailing vessel.


Hawse-hole- A hole in a ship's bow for a cable or chain, such as for an anchor, to pass through.


Hawsepiper- An informal maritime industry term used to refer to a merchant ship’s officer who began his or her career as an unlicensed merchant seaman and did not attend a traditional maritime college/academy to earn the officer license.


Head- The toilet or latrine of a vessel, which for sailing ships projected from the bows.


Head of navigation- A term used to describe the farthest point above the mouth of a river that can be navigated by ships.


Headsail- Any sail flown in front of the most forward mast.


Heave- A vessel's transient up-and-down motion.


Heaving to- To stop a sailing vessel by lashing the helm in opposition to the sails. The vessel will gradually drift to leeward, the speed of the drift depending on the vessel's design.


Heave down- Turn a ship on its side (for cleaning).


Heeling- Heeling is the lean caused by the wind's force on the sails of a sailing vessel.


Helmsman- A person who steers a ship.

Hogging or hog- The distortion of the hull where the ends of the keel are lower than the center.

Hold- In earlier use, below the orlop deck, the lower part of the interior of a ship's hull, especially when considered as storage space, as for cargo. In later merchant vessels it extended up through the decks to the underside of the weather deck.


Holiday- A gap in the coverage of newly applied paint, slush, tar or other preservative.

Holystone- A chunk of sandstone used to scrub the decks. The name comes from both the kneeling position sailors adopt to scrub the deck (reminiscent of genuflection for prayer), and the stone itself (which resembled a Bible in shape and size).


Horn- A sound signal which uses electricity or compressed air to vibrate a disc diaphragm.


Horse- Attachment of sheets to deck of vessel (Main-sheet horse).


Hounds- Attachments of stays to masts.


Hull- The shell and framework of the basic flotation-oriented part of a ship.


Hydrofoil- A boat with wing-like foils mounted on struts below the hull.