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(Quiz) The Non-Boater’s Guide To Nautical Terms

“Scuttlebutt”—know what it means?

You probably know it as “rumor” or “gossip.” But the word originated on the high seas—a scuttlebutt was a cask that held the ship’s drinking water, and it became the nautical version of the office water cooler. Sailors gossiped as they sipped, which led to today’s definition.

Knowing the origin of words like scuttlebutt may only be useful at cocktail parties, but there are a few essential boating terms you should have down pat. When everyone aboard uses proper sailing lingo, it prevents misunderstandings and enhances safety, explains Charles Fort, BoatUS Magazine’s associate editor.

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Test yourself on the definitions of these nautical terms and you’ll set sail feeling like a pro. And that’s no scuttlebutt.

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  1. Question 1 of 8
    1. Question

    PORT

    Correct

    “I remember ‘port’ means ‘left’ because they have the same number of letters.”

    Incorrect

    “I remember ‘port’ means ‘left’ because they have the same number of letters.”

  2. Question 2 of 8
    2. Question

    STARBOARD

    Correct

    “If ‘port’ means ‘left’ and ‘starboard’ means ‘right,’ is the middle ‘starport?’”

    Incorrect

    “If ‘port’ means ‘left’ and ‘starboard’ means ‘right,’ is the middle ‘starport?’”

  3. Question 3 of 8
    3. Question

    BOW

    Correct

    “You’ll first see the shore from the bow.”

    Incorrect

    “You’ll first see the shore from the bow.”

  4. Question 4 of 8
    4. Question

    STERN

    Correct

    “Wave to me from the stern as you set sail!”

    Incorrect

    “Wave to me from the stern as you set sail!”

  5. Question 5 of 8
    5. Question

    HELM

    Correct

    “Captain, if you’re not driving, who’s at the helm?!”

    Incorrect

    “Captain, if you’re not driving, who’s at the helm?!”

  6. Question 6 of 8
    6. Question

    UNDER WAY

    Correct

    “We were underwhelmed by the undercurrents, so we undertook the process of getting under way!”

    Incorrect

    “We were underwhelmed by the undercurrents, so we undertook the process of getting under way!”

  7. Question 7 of 8
    7. Question

    ASTERN

    Correct

    “You say reverse, I say astern.”

    Incorrect

    “You say reverse, I say astern.”

  8. Question 8 of 8
    8. Question

    MAYDAY

    Correct

    “I once heard a mayday call on May Day.”

    Incorrect

    “I once heard a mayday call on May Day.”

 


Say This…Not That

Nail these traditional boating terms to sound like a seasoned sailor:


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By Bari Lieberman