English Nautical Glossary J


W: 1. A small flag at the bow of a ship. 2. A naval ensign flag flown from the main mast, mizzen mast, or the aft-most major mast of (especially) British sailing warships; Union Jack.

F: a sort of flag or colours, displayed from a mast erected on the outer end of a ship's bowsprit. In the British navy the jack is nothing more than a small union flag, composed of the intersection of the red and white crosses; but in merchant ships this union is bordered with a red field.


W: A short spar, at the bows of a ship, that serves as a flagpole to fly a flag (a jack)


a cathartic, used to accelerate defecation


D: any of various combinations of tackles for raising or lowering heavy yards.

B: The ropes by which the lower yards are suspended.

F: (pl.) an assemblage of tackles, by which the lower yards of a ship are hoisted up along the mast to their usual station, or lowered from thence as occasion requires; the former of which operations is called swaying, and the latter, striking.


TFD: A structure, such as a pier, that projects into a body of water to influence the current or tide or to protect a harbor or shoreline from storms or erosion.


W: A triangular staysail set forward of the foremast.

B: The foremost sail of a ship, set upon a boom which runs out upon the bowsprit.

F: the foremost sail of a ship, being a large staysail extended from the outer end of the bowsprit, prolonged by the jib boom, towards the fore topmast head. The jib is a sail of great command with any side wind, but especially when the ship is close-hauled, or has the wind upon her beam; and its effort in casting the ship, or turning her head to leeward is very powerful, and of great utility, particularly when the ship is working through a narrow channel.

jib boom

W: A spar attached to the outboard end of a bowsprit or flying jib boom with an additional stay to increase sail area.

F: a boom run out from the extremity of the bowsprit, parallel to its length, and serving to extend the bottom of the jib, and the stay of the fore topgallant mast. This boom, which is nothing more than a continuation of the bowsprit forward, to which it may be considered as a topmast, is usually attached to the bowsprit by means of two large boom irons, or by one boom iron, and a cap on the outer end of the bowsprit; or, similarly, by the cap without, and a strong lashing within, instead of a boom iron; which is generally the method of securing it in small merchant ships. It may therefore be drawn in upon the bowsprit as occasion requires, which is usually practised when the ship enters a harbour, where it might very soon be broke, or carried away, by the vessels which are moored therein, or passing by under sail.


w: Having, as a sail, its head shaped like that of a jib, namely, pyramidal or like an inverted V. All headsails and gaff topsails are jib-headed, with the exception of the English style of square-headed gaff topsail.


See gybe

jill, gill

TFD: A unit of volume or capacity in the U.S. Customary System, used in liquid measure, equal to 1/4 of a pint or four ounces (118 milliliters).


F: in navigation, a sort of diary, or daily register of the ship's course, winds, and weather; together with a general account of whatever is material to be remarked in the period of a sea voyage. In all sea journals, the day, or what is called the 24 hours, terminates at noon, because the errors of the dead reckoning are at that period generally corrected by a solar observation. The daily compact usually contains the state of the weather, the variation, increase, or diminution of the wind and the suitable shifting, reducing, or enlarging the quantity of sail extended; as also the most material incidents of the voyage, and the condition of the ship and her crew; together with the discovery of other ships or fleets, land, shoals, breakers, foundings, &c. The form of keeping journals is very different in merchant ships; but one method appears to be invariably pursued in the navy, which nevertheless is certainly capable of improvement, because no form can be properly called perfect, that leave as great a space for one day's work, the matter of which may be contained in very few lines, as for another that abounds with important incidents, so as to occupy ten times the space. If therefore there be any such thing as propriety of method on this occasion, it seems to imply, that the space containing should conform to the matter contained, which will necessarily be greater or less, according to circumstances.


Old cables and cordage. Our use of junk for trash came from this earlier meaning.

F: a name given to any remnants or pieces of old cable, which is usually cut into small portions for the purpose of making points, mats, gaskets, sennit, &c. working up junk


W: To make an improvised rigging or assembly from whatever is available.


W: A temporary mast constructed when a vessel has been dismasted, usually in heavy weather.

F: a temporary or occasional mast, erected in a ship to supply the place of one which has been carried away by tempest, battle, or the labouring of ship in a turbulent sea.