HM Bark Endeavour

Glossary of nautical terms and phrases


Towards or at the stern of a ship.

All at sea

To be confused by a situation. An expression used when a ship is out of sight of land and unable to determine its position.


In the middle of a ship between the bow and the stern.


Material placed in bottom of a ship to make it more stable and easier to control. In wooden ships it was usually stone, lead or iron.


(Also bark.) A sailing ship with three to five masts, all of them square-rigged except the after mast. The Endeavour was a bark.


The part of a ship that lies below the water.


A wooden case containing one or more pulleys; It usually has a hook with which it can be attached to an object.


The officer in charge of sails, rigging and anchors.. Pronounced 'bosun'


the front of a ship.


A large spar that projects forward from the forward end of a sailing ship; used to carry sails and support the masts.


An enclosed compartment in a ship; used as shelter or living quarters.


A vertical rotating cyclinder used for hoisting anchors, sails and other heavy weights.

Close quarters

To be in close contact with someone. This refers to two ships coming close together during a sea battle to fire their guns.


The floors on a ship usually made of wooden planks.


Towards the front or the bow of a ship.


The kitchen of a ship. On the Endeavour known as the fireheath.

Get underway

To begin a journey or a project. To get underway referred to a ship raising the sails to catch the wind and lifting its anchors.

Hand over fist

To move quickly and continuously. On ships sailors would work as teams pulling on ropes to raise sails in a coordinated action.


A large rope or cable used to tow or moor a ship or secure it at a dock.


The tiller or wheel used to control a ship's rudder.


The inside compartment of a ship where the cargo is stored.


The body of a ship.

In the same boat

To share the same bad situation. At sea everyone on board a ship have to endure the same conditions.


A triangular sail on front of a ship.


A beam of timber extending along the center of the bottom of a ship from stem to stern.


A speed unit of 1 nautical mile (6,076 feet or 1.852 kilometers) per hour.

Know the ropes

To understand how to do something properly. Sailors were expected to know all the rigging of the ship to do their work.

Let the cat out of the bag

- To unintentionally tell a secret. May refer to the unintentional breaking of a ship's rule that lead to the the cat-o'-nine-tails being taken out of its bag for punishment.


A long wooden pole on the deck or keel of a ship, that supports the spars and sails.


Roughly halfway between a ship's stem and stern.


The side of a ship that is on the left when facing the front of a ship.


All the ropes and chains used to support and work the masts and sails of a vessel.


A large wooden attached to the stern of a ship and used to steer it.

Shiver my timbers

An exclamation or oath of annoyance or surprise. This originally referred to the breaking up of the wooden hull of a ship during a storm or battle.

Shot across the bows

To give someone a warning. When pursuing an enemy ship a warning shot would be fired from a cannon in front of the ship to force it to stop.


A line or wire supporting a mast and running from its top to the sides of the boat.

square rig

A sailing-ship rig with rectangular sails set approximately at right angles. The Endeavour was square-rigged.


The side of a ship that is on the right when facing the front of a ship.


A large strong rope used to support a mast.


The back of a ship.


An upper, secondary mast on a sailing vessel, supported by a heavier, lower mast.


A machine designed to raise or lower an anchor.


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