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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

Magnetic Bearing The direction of a point figuring no deviation.
Magnetic Heading The boats heading based on the magnetic compass.
Maiden Voyage The first trip of a new boat.
Main Deck The principal deck of a ship. In ships with multiple decks, the deck beneath the spar deck.
Main Sheet The line used to control the mainsail.
Main Topsail A topsail on the main mast.
Mainchains Heavy steel plates fastened to a ship's sides that anchor the rigging for the mainmast.
Mainmast The tallest mast of the ship; on a schooner, the mast furthest aft.
Mainsail The lowest square sail on the mainmast.
Make Fast To attach a line to something so that it will not move.
Manropes Ropes used in going up and down a vessel's side.
Mare Clausum A navigable body of water. such as sea, that is under the jurisdiction of one nation and closed to all others.
Mare Liberum A navigable body of water, such as sea, that is open to navigation by vessels of all nations.
Marina A place where boats can find fuel, water and other services. Marinas also contain slips where boats can stay for a period of time.
Maritime Located on or near the sea.
Marl To wind or twist a small line or rope round another.
Marline Two-stranded twine of tarred hemp.
Marlinspike A tool for opening the strands of a rope while splicing.
Marlinspike Sailor One who is adept at splicing, knotting, and working with line and canvas.
Mast A large wooden pole used to hold up the sails.
Mast Boot Or Coat A canvas or rubber sleeve or boot around the mast at the deck to keep out water.
Mast Head The top of the mast.
Mast Step The structure on which the mast rests.
Master The person in charge of a vessel. The captain.
Mate An assistant to the captain.
Mayday The internationally recognized voice radio signal for ships and people in serious trouble at sea.
Meridian A longitude line. Meridians are imaginary circles that run through both poles.
Midship Approximately in the location equally distant from the bow and stern.
Miss-stays To fail of going about from one tack to another.
Mizzen The sail of a ketch, yawl, or three masted schooner on the aft mast.
Mizzen Mast A smaller aft mast on a ketch or yawl rigged boat.
Mizzen Staysail A small sail that is sometimes placed forward of the mizzen mast.
Monkey Block A small single block strapped with a swivel. Also the blocks fastened to the yard through which buntlines are roved.
Monkey Rails Small rails mounted atop the main rail, increasing the height of the bulwarks.
Moon Sail A small sail sometimes carried in light winds, above a skysail.
Moor To attach a boat to a mooring, dock, post, anchor, etc.
Mooring An arrangement for securing a boat to a mooring buoy or a pier.
Mooring Bitt A strong pair of iron, steel or wooden posts on a ship's deck, around which ropes or cables are wound and held fast.
Mooring Buoy A buoy marking the location of a mooring. Usually attached to an anchor by a small pendant.
Mooring Line A line used to secure a boat to an anchor, dock or mooring.
Mortice A morticed block is one made out of a whole block of wood with a hole cut in it for the sheave; in distinction from a made block.
Motor Sailer A boat designed to use its motor for significant amounts of time and use the sails less often than a normal sailboat.
Moulds The patterns by which the frames of a vessel are worked out.
Multihull Any boat with more than one hull, such as a catamaran or trimaran.
Mushroom Anchor A type of anchor with a heavy, inverted mushroom-shaped head. Mushroom anchors are used to anchor in mud and other soft ground.
MV Abbreviation for motor vessel.