Suzann Fulbright

Glossary Architecture:

Glossary Marine:



Gaff rigged yachts

These yachts have trapezoidal mainsails fastened on three sides:  on the mast, the boom and the peak.  Normally the mast has a non coaxial spar (small mast) and the mainsail is surmounted by a gaff topsail with peaks hoisted above.  At times the gaff topsail may not be used.

Bermudan or Marconi rigged yachts

Bermudan rigging, also known as Marconi rigging for its resemblance to the primordial radio antenna, has a triangular sail fastened on two sides, mast and boom.  The mast is a single piece.

Other types of sails

Although less known it is better to acquaint oneself with other types of sails:  for example those of the Sant Troupes, a replica of Tartana who came to Imperia in 1990 with its typically Meditarranean triangular sail supported by a long spar (Latin sail).  The mainsail houari, principally a yachting sail, variant of the gaff rigging, with and almost vertical and no gaff foremast can be seen on the French yawl Maiastra.



Single masted yachts fitted with Bermudan or Gaff sails (in this case there is also a Gaff topsail) and two or more forestays to hoist the jibs:  foremast, gib, peak gib.  In highwinds the possibility [of reducing] the sail area using only the reef band and the foremast [makes] the boat more stable. (Lulworth, Lulu, Tuiga, Bona Fide, Cerida, Cintra, Jap, Lunic, Penduick, Tamara IX, Tigris, The Blue Peter, Tinka, Vistona, PenDuick, aruna)


Single masted yacht with stay in which to insert the jib:  the mainsail can be Bermudan or gaff.  (Balkis, Chin Blu III, Cholita, Cotton Blossom II, Dida IV, Pen Duik V, Sagitarius, Tintoo VI, Baghera, Coppelia, Madifra, the two 5.50 m twins Miranda III, Samsara)


Two masted yacht, the higher mainmast aft and, behind, the mizzenmast.  The two masts are not dissimilar and the rudders axle is generally abaft, the mizzenmast.  A ketch can be fitted with Bermudan or Gaff sails.  (Black Swan, Adria, Armelea, Elefteria, Pax, Aurora, Pen Duick II, Wayfaer, Alpha)


Two masted yacht fitted with either Bermudan or gaff sails rather different for dimensions.  Mainmast towards the bow, mizzenmast towards the stern, Normally the rudders axle is situated between the two.  (Artica II, Alcor Secondo, Analia, Eos I, Ella, Firebird, Colobri II, Giradilla, Mariella, Mosca, Radha, Tella Polare, Susanna II, Windigo, Pete I, Lucia A.)


The most evocative idea on has of a small ship you can run into sea, no matter it's dimensions, elegance or age. Two masted, the posterior mast is the mainmast and the anterior mast, same height or smaller, the formast. In case of a third mast the central mast becomes the mainmast and the mizzenmast becomes the abaft mast. The sails fittings can be Gaff, Bermudan or both. (Amore Mio, Lelantina, Altair, Maiette, Aschanti IV, Estensian, Freya, Gloria, Croce del Sud)

- the above information has been reprinted from Imperia Press Kit 2006


Points of Sail

Head to wind: with bow pointing in the winds direction. The yacht does not proceed and is unsteerable, the sails shiver
Close hauled: point of sailing which, thanks to the opposing forces of the sail plan and drift plan allows you to ascend towards the winds direction: minimum angle of ascention varies between [20 to 60 degrees]; hauling may be wide or close depending on the route chosen. The sails are as taught as necessary and the yacht is more or less heeled
Wind abeam: to sail with the wind coming from one side at about [90 degrees]. Sails are slightly slacker than in hauling and it's a fast point of sailing
Beam reach and broad reach: wind arrives from [100 to 170 degrees]. Sails are further slackened and the yacht almost surfs on the waves.
Full stern: wind arrives from [180 degrees], regulation of the sails is more critical than in other points of sailing. At times goosevinged sails can be hoisted, that is mainsail and jib sail on opposite sides respects the hulls waist.
Hove to: point of sailing with extremely reduced sails to better govern the yacht in bad weather
Windward: side from which the wind arrives [with respect to] the yacht
Leeward: as above, other side
Tack: side of the boat taking the wind
To tack: change tack crossing the wind's bed
To gybe: change of direction to bearing points: more delicate than tacking
Haul aft: tauten a sail (using sheets and windlasses)
To ease: to slacken a sail
To hoist: to raise a sail on a mast or on a stay (using halyards and windlasses)
To reef: reduce a sail surface when wind freshens using beamers or reefs

The Hull

Bottom/hull bottom: Part of the hull situated under the waterline
Upper works: Hull Planking between waterline and deck
Keel: Centre line of the structure of the hull: wing shaped fin on the bottom which contains the ballast
Drop keel (centreboard): mobile keel below the hull
Bow and Stern: respectively front and hind part of the hull
Free-board: Part of the hull situated between the waterline and the deck
Deck: upper plating of the hull on which the crew works and watertight covering of the accommodations. if unencumbered and in absence of a deck house it is a flush-deck
Cockpit: sunken space in the deck which generally holds the steering gear. It may be situated centrally, towards the stern or both. Provided with scuppers it automatically drains the water.
Coach roof: part of the accommodations raising above the level of the deck.
Deck corridors: alley on each side of the boat used by the crew to move towards the fore or the stern of the deck.
Deck light: opening hood providing light and ventilation below deck.
Companion hatch: opening with a closing door which gives access to below deck
Toerail: raised border along the sides of the deck
Floor, sole: set of panels forming the floor of the cockpit and the accommodations
Bulkhead: vertical partition between two compartments of the hull
Transom: vertical planking forming the after end of a hull
Partner: passageway and support of the mast through the deck
Locker: small or medium space in the fore or the stern of the boat used to store equipment
Bulwark: high plating running along the boat and protecting the deck
Stanchions and stays: metal supports with a metal handrail along the deck
Weather cloth: taurpaline cover fixed to the sides of the deck
Porthole: openings provided in the sides of the hull or the roof
Chainlocker: aft compartment in which the anchor chain is stowed
Sail locker: compartment, generally situated aft, where the sails are stored
Steering gear: mechanism controlling the rudder


Hardware: all of the metal equipment on deck
Spar: constituent element of the standing rigging, such as mast, bowsprit, boom, spinnaker pole
Bowsprit: spar extending from the bow for a foremost tack of a sail
Mast: vertical spar on which sails are set up
Mizzen mast: aft mast (ketch, yawl)
Foremast: mast nearest to t he bow
Boom: horizontal spar on which the base of the mainsail, and sometimes the jib sail is stretched out
Spinnaker pole: mobile spar fixed on the mast where the spinnaker is hoisted windward
Spreader: horizontal bar situated on the mast to keep the shrouds away from it
Shrouds: (high, low, intermediate): cables supporting a mast laterally
Backstay: cable which supports the mast towards the stern
Forestay and lower stay: cables situated at different heights to support the mast towards the bow
Halyard: metal or rope cable for hoisting sails and flags


Mainsail: principal sail of a ship: Gaff if attached on three sides (mast, boom, peak), Marconi if attached on two sides (mast boom)
Gaff topsail: sail attached to one or two peaks situated above the mainmast
Jib: triangular bow sail attached to the stay
Genoa: large jib partly covering the mainsail
Foresail: triangular sail situated abaft the jib on cutters
Top gib, top head sail: highest jib of a sloop
Spinnaker: fore sail in light materials with a large belly used when running before the wind

- the above information has been reprinted from Imperia Press Kit 2006