Cabin: an enclosed room on a deck or flat.
Cabin boy: attendant on passengers and crew. often a young man sometimes used for sexual activity
Cable: A large rope.
Cable length: A measure of length or distance. Equivalent to (UK) 1/10 nautical mile, approx. 600 feet; (USA) 120 fathoms, 720 feet (219 m); other countries use different values.
Caboose: a small ship's kitchen, or galley on deck.
Can: A type of navigational buoy often a vertical drum, but if not, always square in silhouette colored either green or black. In channel marking its use is opposite that of a "nun buoy".
Canister: a type of antipersonnel cannon load in which lead balls or other loose metallic items were enclosed in a tin or iron shell. On firing, the shell would disintegrate, releasing the smaller metal objects with a shotgun-like effect.
Canoe stern: A design for the stern of a yacht which is pointed, like a bow, rather than squared off as a transom.
Cape Horn fever: The name of the fake illness a malingerer is pretending to suffer from.
Capsize: When a ship or boat lists too far and rolls over, exposing the keel. On large vessels, this often results in the sinking of the ship.
Capstan: A large winch with a vertical axis. A full-sized human-powered capstan is a waist-high cylindrical machine, operated by a number of hands who each insert a horizontal capstan bar in holes in the capstan and walk in a circle. Used to wind in anchors or other heavy objects; and sometimes to administer flogging over.
Captain's daughter: The cat o' nine tails, which in principle is only used on board on the captain's (or a court martial's) personal orders.
Cardinal: Referring to the four main points of the compass: north, south, east and west. See also "bearing".
Careening: Tilting a ship on its side, usually when beached, to clean or repair the hull below the water line. Also known as to "heave down".
Carvel built: A method of constructing wooden hulls by fixing planks to a frame so that the planks butt up against each other. Cf. "clinker built".
1. To prepare an anchor, after raising it by lifting it with a tackle to the cat head, prior to securing (fishing) it alongside for sea. (An anchor raised to the cat head is said to be catted.)
2. The cat o' nine tails (see below).
3. A cat-rigged boat or catboat.
Catamaran: A vessel with two hulls.
Catboat: A cat-rigged vessel with a single mast mounted close to the bow, and only one sail, usually on a gaff.
Catharpin: A short rope or iron clamp used to brace in the shrouds toward the masts so as to give a freer sweep to the yards.
Cat o' nine tails: A short nine-tailed whip kept by the bosun's mate to flog sailors (and soldiers in the Army). When not in use, the cat was kept in a baize bag, hence the term "cat out of the bag". "Not enough room to swing a cat" also derives from this.
Cathead: A beam extending out from the hull used to support an anchor when raised in order to secure or 'fish' it.
Cats paws: Light variable winds on calm waters producing scattered areas of small waves.
Centreboard: A board or plate lowered through the hull of a dinghy on the centreline to resist leeway.
Chafing: Wear on line or sail caused by constant rubbing against another surface.
Chafing gear: Material applied to a line or spar to prevent or reduce chafing. See Baggywrinkle.
Chains: Small platforms built into the sides of a ship to assist in depth sounding.
Chain-shot: Cannon balls linked with chain used to damage rigging and masts.
Chain locker: A space in the forward part of the ship, typically beneath the bow in front of the foremost collision bulkhead, that contains the anchor chain when the anchor is secured for sea.
Chain-wale or channel: A broad, thick plank that projects horizontally from each of a ship's sides abreast a mast, distinguished as the fore, main, or mizzen channel accordingly, serving to extend the base for the shrouds, which supports the mast.
Charley Noble: The metal stovepipe chimney from a cook shack on the deck of a ship or from a stove in a galley .
Charthouse: A room for storing charts (maps)
Chase gun, chase piece or chaser: A cannon pointing forward or aft, often of longer range than other guns. Those on the bow (bow chaser) were used to fire upon a ship ahead, while those on the rear (stern chaser) were used to ward off pursuing vessels. Unlike guns pointing to the side, chasers could be brought to bear in a chase without slowing.
1. Wooden blocks at the side of a spar.
2. The sides of a block or gun-carriage.
1. An angle in the hull.
2. A line formed where the sides of a boat meet the bottom. Soft chine is when the two sides join at a shallow angle, and hard chine is when they join at a steep angle.
Chock: Hole or ring attached to the hull to guide a line via that point
Chock-a-block: Rigging blocks that are so tight against one another that they cannot be further tightened.
Chronometer: A timekeeper accurate enough to be used to determine longitude by means of celestial navigation.
Cigarette boat: see 'Go-fast boat'.
Civil Red Ensign: The British Naval Ensign or Flag of the British Merchant Navy, a red flag with the Union Flag in the upper left corner. Colloquially called the "red duster".
Clean bill of health: A certificate issued by a port indicating that the ship carries no infectious diseases. Also called a pratique.
Clean slate: At the helm, the watch keeper would record details of speed, distances, headings, etc. on a slate. At the beginning of a new watch the slate would be wiped clean.
Cleat: A stationary device used to secure a rope aboard a vessel.
Clench: A method of fixing together two pieces of wood, usually overlapping planks, by driving a nail through both planks as well as a washer-like rove. The nail is then burred or riveted over to complete the fastening.
Clew: The lower corners of square sails or the corner of a triangular sail at the end of the boom.
Clew-lines: Used to truss up the clews, the lower corners of square sails.
Clinker built: A method of constructing hulls that involves overlapping planks, and/or plates, much like Viking longships, resulting in speed and flexibility in small boat hulls. Cf. "carvel built".
Close aboard: Near a ship.
Close-hauled: Of a vessel beating as close to the wind direction as possible.
Club hauling The ship drops one of its anchors at high speed to turn abruptly. This was sometimes used as a means to get a good firing angle on a pursuing vessel. See Kedge
Coal trimmer, or Trimmer: person responsible for ensuring that a coal-fired vessel remains in 'trim' (evenly balanced) as coal is consumed on a voyage.
Coaming: The raised edge of a hatch, cockpit or skylight to help keep out water.
Cockpit: The seating area (not to be confused with Deck). The area towards the stern of a small decked vessel that houses the rudder controls.
Companionway: A raised and windowed hatchway in the ship's deck, with a ladder leading below and the hooded entrance-hatch to the main cabins.
Communication tube, speaking tube or voice tube: An air-filled tube, usually armored, allowing speech between the conning tower with the below-decks control spaces in a warship.
Compass: Navigational instrument showing the direction of the vessel in relation to the Earth's geographical poles or magnetic poles. Commonly consists of a magnet aligned with the Earth's magnetic field, but other technologies have also been developed, such as the gyrocompass.
Constant bearing, decreasing range (CBDR): Because of the implication of disaster (ships might collide) it has come to mean a problem or an obstacle which is heading your way. Often used in the sense of a warning, as in "watch out for this problem you might not see coming."
Consort: Unpowered Great Lakes vessels, usually a fully loaded schooner, barge, or steamer barge, towed by a larger steamer that would often tow more than one barge. The consort system was used in the Great Lakes from the 1860s to around 1920.
Corinthian: An amateur yachter.
Corrector: A device to correct the ship's compass, for example counteracting errors due to the magnetic effects of a steel hull.
Counter: The part of the stern above the waterline that extends beyond the rudder stock culminating in a small transom. A long counter increases the waterline length when the boat is heeled, so increasing hull speed.
Counterflood: To deliberately flood compartments on the opposite side from already flooded ones. Usually done to reduce a list.
Courses the lowest square sail on each mast— The mainsail, foresail, and the mizzen on a four masted ship (the after most mast usually sets a gaff driver or spanker instead of a square sail).
Coxswain or cockswain (/?k?ks?n/): The helmsman or crew member in command of a boat.
As the crow flies: A direct line between two points (which might cross land) which is the way crows travel rather than ships which must go around land.
Crance/Crans/Cranze iron: A fitting, mounted at the end of a bowsprit to which stays are attached.
Crazy Ivan: To turn 180 degrees or to turn around.
Cringle: A rope loop, usually at the corners of a sail, for fixing the sail to a spar. They are often reinforced with a metal eye.
Cro'jack or crossjack: a square yard used to spread the foot of a topsail where no course is set, e.g. on the foremast of a topsail schooner or above the driver on the mizzen mast of a ship rigged vessel.
Crosstrees: two horizontal struts at the upper ends of the topmasts of sailboats, used to anchor the shrouds from the topgallant mast.
Crow's nest: Specifically a masthead constructed with sides and sometimes a roof to shelter the lookouts from the weather, generally by whaling vessels, this term has become a generic term for what is properly called masthead. See masthead.
Crutches: Metal Y shaped pins to hold oars whilst rowing.
Cuddy: A small cabin in a boat.
Cunningham: A line invented by Briggs Cunningham, used to control the shape of a sail.
Cunt splice or cut splice: A join between two lines, similar to an eye-splice, where each rope end is joined to the other a short distance along, making an opening which closes under tension.
Cuntline: The "valley" between the strands of a rope or cable. Before serving a section of laid rope e.g. to protect it from chafing, it may be "wormed" by laying yarns in the cuntlines, giving that section an even cylindrical shape.
Cut and run: When wanting to make a quick escape, a ship might cut lashings to sails or cables for anchors, causing damage to the rigging, or losing an anchor, but shortening the time needed to make ready by bypassing the proper procedures.
Cut of his jib: The "cut" of a sail refers to its shape. Since this would vary between ships, it could be used both to identify a familiar vessel at a distance, and to judge the possible sailing qualities of an unknown one. Also used figuratively of people.