Sailing Terms That Begin with the letter 'W' 

Wake - Turbulence behind a ship.

Wales - A number of strong and thick planks running length-wise along the ship, covering the lower part of the ship's side.

Watch - A period of time during which a part of the crew is on duty. Changes of watch are marked by strokes on the ship's bell.

Watercraft - Water transport vessels. Ships, boats, personal water craft.

Weather gage - Favorable position over another sailing vessel to with respect to the wind.

Weatherhelm - If the helm was centered, the boat would turn towards the wind (weather). Consequently, the tiller must be pulled to the windward side of the boat in order to make the boat sail in a straight line.      See leehelm.

Weather deck - Whichever deck is that exposed to the weather – usually either the main deck or, in larger vessels, the upper deck.

Weather side - The weather side of a ship is the side exposed to the wind.

Weatherly - A ship that is easily sailed and maneuvered; makes little leeway when sailing to windward.


Weigh anchor - To heave up (an anchor) preparatory to sailing.

Wells - Places in the ship's hold for the pumps.

White Horses - Waves in wind strong enough to produce foam or spray on the wave tops.

Wheelhouse - Location on a ship where the steering wheel is located, often interchanged with pilothouse and bridge.

Wide berth - To leave room between two ships moored (berthed) to allow space for maneuver.

Windage - Wind resistance of the boat.

Windbound - A condition wherein the ship is detained in one particular station by contrary winds.

Windward - In the direction that the wind is coming from.

Windlass - A winch mechanism, usually with a horizontal axis. Used where mechanical advantage greater than that obtainable by block and tackle was needed (such as raising the anchor on small ships). Modern sailboats use an electric "Windlass" to raise the anchor.

Sailing Terms That Begin with the letter 'Y' 

Yard - The horizontal spar from which a square sail is suspended.

Yardarm - The very end of a yard. Often mistaken for a "yard", which refers to the entire spar. As in to hang "from the yardarm" and the sun being "over the yardarm" (late enough to have a drink).

Yarr - Acknowledgement of an order, or agreement.

Yaw - A vessel's motion rotating about the vertical axis, so the bow yaws from side to side.