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Nautical Terms and Phrases

The letters of the alphabet are listed with their corresponding phonetic alphabet term. The phonetic alphabet is used when spelling terms over a radio so that the listener does not confuse one letter for another.

The terms will show up below the list of letters when you click a letter.

A - Alpha N - November
B - Bravo O - Oscar
C - Charlie P - Papa
D - Delta Q - Quebec
E - Echo R - Romeo
F - Foxtrot S - Sierra
G - Golf T - Tango
H - Hotel U - Uniform
I - India V - Victor
J - Juliet W - Whiskey
K - Kilo X - X-Ray
L - Lima Y - Yankee
M - Mike Z - Zulu




Gaff A boom or spar that supports the head of a fore-and-aft sail.
Gaff-topsail A light triangular or quadrilateral sail set over a gaff.
Gage The depth of water of a vessel. Also, her position as to another vessel, as having the weather.
Gale A storm with a wind speed between 34 and 40 knots.
Gale Force Winds Wind speeds strong enough to qualify the storm as a gale (34 to 40 knots).
Galley The kitchen area of a boat.
Gallows A frame used to support the boom.
Gammoning The lashing by which the bowsprit is secured to the cutwater.
Gang Casks Small casks, used for bring water on board in boats.
Gangway The area where people board and disembark.
Garboard Strake The range of planks next the keel, on each side.
Garland A large rope, strap or grommet, lashed to a spar when hoisting it inboard.
Garnet A purchase on the main stay, for hoisting cargo.
Gasket A sail stop.
Gasket Line Lines used to secure a furled sail to the boom or yards.
Gate Valve A valve with a faucet handle used to restrict the flow of water in a line.
Gear A general term for ropes, blocks, tackle and other equipment.
Gel Coat The outer resin surface of a fiberglass boat, usually colored.
Genoa A jib that overlaps the mainsail.
Ghosting To make headway when there is no apparent wind.
Girt The situation of a vessel when her cables are too taut.
Girtline A rope rove through a single block aloft, making a whip purchase. Commonly used to hoist rigging by, in fitting it.
Give-way Vessel A term used to describe the vessel which must yield in meeting, crossing, or overtaking situations.
Glut A piece of canvass sewed into the center of a sail near the head. It has an eyelet-hole in the middle for the bunt-jigger or becket to go through.
GMT Time measured in Greenwich Mean Time. Coordinated universal time is the new term. A time standard that is not affected by time zones or seasons.
Go Adrift To break loose from a mooring, anchor or docking.
Gooseneck The fitting which secures the boom to the mast.
Grab Rails Hand-hold fittings mounted for personal safety when moving around the boat.
Grapnel A small anchor with several claws, used to secure boats.
Grappling Irons Crooked irons, used to seize and hold fast another vessel.
Grating Open latticework of wood. Used principally to cover hatches in good weather.
Great Circle A circle drawn around the Earth such that the center of the circle is at the center of the Earth. Following such a circle plots the shortest distance between any two points on the surface of the Earth.
Green Water A solid mass of water coming aboard instead of just spray.
Greenwich Mean Time GMT for short. Coordinated universal time is the new term. A time standard that is not affected by time zones or seasons.
Gross Tonnage The overall volume of a ship's hull, including crew cabins, storerooms and machinery spaces. A ton equals 100 cubic feet. The calculation of tonnage is complex, and a major revision in tonnage calculation laws occurred in 1864. The term "old measurement" reflects measurements before this change. See also net tonnage.
Ground Swells Swells that become shorter and steeper as they approach the shore due to shallow water.
Ground Tackle A collective term for the anchor and its associated gear.
Gudgeon A socket the pintle (pin or bolt used as a pivot) of the rudder sits in.
Guess Rope A rope fastened to a vessel or wharf, and used to tow a boat by; or to haul it out to the swing-boom-end, when in port. Also known as guess warp.
Gunwale The upper edge of the sides of a boat.
Gusset A brace, usually triangular, for reinforcing a corner or angle in the framework of a structure.
Gybe To change direction before the wind onto another tack with the boom coming over by the force of the wind.
Gypsy A windlass or capstan drum.