Parts of a Sailboat

Published on 11/26/2020 by Charles Gendron

Every part to a sailboat has a name, and sometimes, even a few names. Learning the parts of a sailboat will come naturally the more you sail. Knowing the parts is not required in order to learn how to sail, although it does help.

The following is a detailed diagram of a sloop, due to popularity, and a list of all sailboat parts accompanied by the diagram to go along with the part.

1. Mast – A durable vertical pole, which is one of the main structural components of a sailboat, that holds up the sails, provides stability and gives the sailboat its height.

2. Jib Head – The top area of the jib that includes a ringhole to allow connection to the jib halyard which attaches to the top of the mast.

3. Jib Leech – The back edge of the jib sail, which runs from top to bottom vertically.

4. Fore Stay – A key component of the standard rigging, located in the forward most part of the boat, holds the mast up and keeps it from falling backwards.

5. Jib Halyard – A line that runs up through the mast that connects to the jib head and hoists up the jib sail.

6. Jib Luff – The forward edge of the jib sail that slides into the luff track along the fore stay, keeping the jib securely in place.

7. Spreader – Horizontal spokes that stick out from the mast on opposite ends to “spread” or keep the shrouds stabilized.

8. Shroud – A strong metallic wire located on both the starboard and port side deck that helps keep the mast secured in place.

9. Jib Sail – The sail located forward of the boat.

10. Boom Vang – Keeps the boom from rising when the main sail is luffed which ensures proper shape of the sail.

11. Bow Hatch – A secure opening in the deck located forward (in the bow) of the boat that allows for fresh air into the cabin.

12. Jib Foot – The bottom edge of the jib sail that runs horizontally from the tack to the clew.

13. Bow Pulpit – A protruding slab on the bow of the boat that secures the anchor in place, allowing the anchor to easily move up and down safely away from the hull.

14. Deck – The top section of the sailboat, very strong and sturdy, that encloses the hull. When inside the cabin, the deck serves as a roof.

15. Bow – The most forward section of the sailboat, including the area of both the deck and hull.

16. Water Line – The point at which the paint on the bottom side of the hull ends which signifies the bottom portion of the hull that rests under the water.

17. Stanchion – A vertical spoke along the outer edge of the deck that holds up the lifelines.

18. Hull – The lower outer half of the sailboat that makes up everything except the deck.

19. Keel / Centerboard – A fin below the sailboat’s hull that provides stability, typically made out of lead, that consist of about 1/3 the total weight of the sailboat.

20. Sliding Hatch – A secured doorway, typically made out of wood, glass or fiberglass, that slides over the access area to the cabin.

21. Traveler – A pully device/system located either in the cockpit or above the cabin top that helps trim the main sail

22. Rudder – A rotatable fin below the hull in the very aft of the boat. Either a tiller or a wheel system is connected to the rudder in which steers the sailboat.

23. Stern – The back section of the sailboat, opposite of the bow.

24. Transom – The backside of the sailboat, above the waterline, that adjoins the stern and the hull. In newer model sailboats, the transom is able to fold up and down to serve as platform.

25. Tiller – A long wooden arm attached to the rudder used to steer the sailboat. (Note: Sailboats are either installed with a tiller or a wheel for steering)

26. Stern Pulpit – A metal railing, that sometimes is shaped to include a seat, in the stern (back) of the boat to provide extra safety from falling overboard.

27. Tiller Extension – A metal bar that attaches to the tiller in order to give the helmsman greater ability to steer from other positions in the cockpit.

28. Lifeline – A strong metal cable rapped in a rubber coating that runs through the stanchions along the deck’s edge to provide safety to the crew. Helps prevent man overboard.

29. Main Sheet – An adjustable line used to control the main sail’s angle of attack (to the wind).

30. Boom – A long pole like object, which holds and provides support to the main sail, that connects to the mast at a 90 degree angle.

31. Jib Sheet Winch – An instrument located on both the port and starboard side that enables the helmsman to adjust the luff of the jib by pulling on the sheet (line) that leads to the jib sail.

32. Jib Sheet Leader – A permanent ring, in which the jib sheet passes through, attached to the deck that secures the jib sheet in place.

33. Jib Sheet – A line of rope attached to the clew of the jib that runs all the way back to the cockpit into a winch.

34. Main Foot – The lower bottom edge of the main sail that connects to the boom.

35. Main Luff – The inner edge of the main sail that connects to the mast.

36. Main Sail – The sail that is rigged to the main mast and boom.

37. Batten – Cloth like material hanging off the luff of the main sail to show airflow.

38. Main Leech – The back curved edge of the main sail.

39. Main Head – The top-most section of the main sail where it connects to the main halyard.

40. Main Halyard – A sheet (line), used to hoist the main sail up and down, that runs from the cockpit, up through the main mast and connects to the head of the mainsail.

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