Adze: A carpenter’s tool used for shaping wood.
Aft: Toward the back of the ship.
Ahull: To allow a ship to ride without sails during a storm.
Ark Royal: British Royal Navy, Aircraft Carrier, launched in 1950.
Ballast: Mayflower II carries 133 tons of ballast consisting of cast iron and cut-up railroad track.
Battens: Horizontal strips of wood lashed to the shrouds.
Beak: The wooden structure projecting from the front of the ship. It has the appearance of a bird’s beak.
Belay: To tie off a line to a belaying pin, cleat or other secure part of the ship.
Belaying Pin: A wooden pin to which lines on the ship are tied.
Binnacle: A structure housing the compass, usually made of wood or non-magnetic metal.
Block and Tackle: A set of ropes and pulleys used on ships to help lift heavy objects.
Bosun: A contraction for "boatswain." The bosun is responsible for rigging and painting.
Bow: The forward part of the ship.
Bowsprit: The spar that extends out from the front of the ship. The spritsail hangs below the bowsprit.
Brixham: Town in Devon, in the southwest of England, where Mayflower II was built.
Bulwark: A solid wooden rail at the side of the ship.
Cat’s-paws: Ripples on the water caused by light winds on a calm day.
Caulk: To force cotton, oakum or other fibers into seams preventing water from leaking through.
Chippy: Term for ship’s carpenter.
Clew Garnet: Block and tackle used to raise the corner of a square sail.
Diesel Launch: Small wooden power boat used as a tender on Mayflower II, propelled by a diesel motor.
Distance in Nautical miles: A nautical mile equals 6,000 feet. A land mile equals 5,280 feet.
Distance per log: The distance a ship sails according to a device towed through the water.
Dry dock: A structure, dug into land at water’s edge, into which a ship is floated. The structure can be sealed and the water pumped out leaving the ship high and dry.
Even Keel: An expression meaning level and stable.
Flying fish: A type of fish common to tropical and sub-tropical waters. It appears to fly with its wing-shaped fins while leaping out of the water away from prey.
Fo’c’sle: A contraction for “forecastle”, the forward most cabin on the ship. Customarily, the common crew lives in the forecastle.
Fore Course Sail: The large, lower square sail on the foremast.
Foremast: The forward-most mast on Mayflower II.
Foretopsail yard: The upper yard on the foremast to which the foretopsail is rigged.
Forward: Toward the front of the ship.
Frank: To stamp a letter for postage.
Gangway: Planks used to walk aboard a ship while it is tied to a dock.
Gaskets: Small ropes, sometimes braided, used to tie up sails on the yards.
Half-Deck: The deck above the main deck on Mayflower II. It is approximately half the length of the ship.
Hawseholes: Openings in the bow through which the anchor line runs.
Heads: The bathroom on ships. Derived from the ancient practice by sailors of using the bow of a ship as a toilet.
Helm: The system used to steer a ship.
Helmsman: The person who steers the ship. The crew takes turns acting as helmsman.
Jacob’s ladder: A rope and wood ladder hanging over the side of a ship.
Life-lines: Ropes rigged in various places on the ship for the sailors to hold onto in rough weather.
Main Course Sail: Large lower square sail on the main mast.
Main Knighthead: A wooden post near the main mast used to belay large lines.
Mainmast: The largest mast on Mayflower II. It carries two square sails, the main course and the main topsail.
Maintop Sail: The upper sail on the main mast.
Maritime: Pertaining to the sea.
Maul hammer: Large sledgehammer.
Mine sweeper: Naval vessel, often made of wood, used to look for floating explosive devices.
Mizzenmast: The aft-most mast on Mayflower II. It carries one trianglular sail, the mizzen sail.
Oakum: Hemp yarn, soaked in tar, used for caulking.
On watch: The sailor’s day is divided into a series of four-hour segments. When he is working the sailor is said to be “on watch.”
Quarterdeck: The command deck of a ship.
Pin-rail: A wooden rail fastened to the inside of the bulwarks for belaying pins.
Pitch: Plunging forward motion of the ship in large waves.
Pitch: Distilled product made from pine resin, used for filling seams during the caulking process.
Rigging: All rope and line used to secure and control spars and sails.
Scuppers: Openings in the deck through which excess water can run out.
Sea trial: Preliminary voyage to test a newly-built vessel.
Set (sails): To open, or unfurl sails.
Shallop: A 17th-century style open boat that can be rowed and sailed. Shallops were often taken apart and carried aboard larger sailing ships.
Ship’s wheel: The device with which the helmsman steers a ship.
Skiffle: A form of music popular in England in the 1950s in which the vocal part is supported by a rhythmic accompaniment of guitars or banjos.
Spars: Wooden poles used to support the sails. The yards, masts and bowsprit are all spars.
Spritsail: The square sail that hangs down below the bowsprit on Mayflower II.
Sprit Yard: The yard that supports the spritsail.
Square Sails: Sails that are perpendicular to the centerline of the ship.
Stern: The back part of the ship.
Stowaway: A person who attempts to hide aboard a departing ship hoping for free passage.
Topmen: The sailors who climb in the rigging and work on the upper sails.
Trade winds: A wind pattern found in tropical waters that provide strong, consistent breezes.
True course: The actual course of a ship not accounting for variation and deviation.
Trawler: A type of fishing vessel that drags nets through the water.
Variation: The difference between true north and a magnetic north for a specific location.
Waist: The middle part of the main deck of the ship.
Whipstaff: A pole attached to the tiller. Used on 17th-century ships for steering.
Yacht: A vessel intended for pleasure use.
Yard: A horizontal wooden pole supported by a ship’s mast from which a sail hangs.
Reprinted with permission from the book Felix and his Mayflower II Adventures by Peter Arenstam. Available in our Museum Shops.