Term used of the foresail when against the wind when tacking
to help the barge to turn.
ABOUT. Across the wind as in tacking - see 'ready about'
AFT. Behind in the sense of being nearer the stern of
ANCHOR WINCH. The horizontal capstan in the bow used
for weighing anchor (also called windlass).
APRON. A vertical timber inside the stem to which the
ends of the planks are fastened.
BATTEN STUDS. The iron clips on the sides of the hatch
coamings ill which are wedged the battens securing the hatch
BACKSTAY. On a barge the topmast shrouds are sometimes
known as "standing backstays" and the topmast backstays as "topmast
BEAR AWAY. To turn the barge down wind.
BEAR UP. To turn the barge into the wind.
A knot for joining two ropes, or to attach a rope to an object.
BIGHT. Loop formed in rope.
BILGE. The space between the bottom hull planking and
the ceiling of the hold.
BITTS. Strong vertical timber members or iron bitt heads
fastened through the deck beams and used for securing ropes
BITT HEADS. The tops of the two massive timbers, the
windlass bitts, supporting the windlass.
BLOCK. A pulley with one or more sheaves (grooved rollers)
over which a rope is rove, and which can be used to change the
direction of moving ropes, or in pairs to form a tackle.
BOB. Flag mounted on the topmast truck, bearing owner's
colour scheme or other device. Sometimes termed bob-fly, or
in Kent vane-fly. It is made up both of the flag itself and
a wooden or steel frame. It is used to indicate wind direction.
BOBSTAY. The stay which supports the bowsprit against
the lift of the sails set upon it.
BOLTROPES. Ropes sewn to the perimeter of a sail to strenghten
it and prevent fraying and stretching. Usually in the case of
barge sails made from tarred hemp.
BOOMIE. Ketch-rigged barge - a barge rigged with gaff
and boom to both main and mizzen sails. (The variation' booms'l
rig' was also applied to the early cutter-rigged barges. )
While a sprittie brails up her sails, a boomie would lower hers.
This is a more suitable rig than the spritsail rig for deep-sea
BOTTLESCREW. Used to sset up (adjust) the rigging tension
BOWLINE. A knot used to form an eye in the end of a rope.
Also the rope used to hold the foresail a-back when tacking.
BOWSPRIT. A spar extending forward of the stem on which
the jib and staysail may be set. The bowsprit on a barge is
pivoted so that it may be steeved up in docks and harbours.
BRAILS. Ropes or wires used to furl/stow the spritsail
by drawing it up to the mast in a manner similar to that used
in opening a traditional theatre curtain. Hence to brail up,
to stow up sails in brails.
CEILING (SEALING). The inside planking forming the floor
of a barge's hold; at the sides the lining is carried up to
just beneath the inwale.
CHAFFCUTTER. A barge's wheel of cast iron which in appearance
resembles the style of cast-iron wheel used on agricultural
implements, including chaffcutters, hence the name.
CHAINPLATE. A metal strap with an eye at one end for
the attachment of a deadeye or other rigging, the other end
being fastened to the barge's side.
CHAMFERS. Carved decorative flutings.
CHEESE. A rope tightly coiled flat in a spiral laid on
the deck or hatch cover.
CHINE. The angle where the barge's bottom planks meet
the side planking; the edge at which the chine side plank and
under chine plank meet.
CHOCK-A-BLOCK. When two blocks of a tackle come together.
CLAW (or dog). A cast iron hook for holding the anchor
chain temporarily while adjusting the chain on the winch barrel.
CLEAT. Wood or metal with projecting arms around which
ropes are made fast or on which coiled ropes are hung.
CLEW. The back bottom corner of a sail, to which the
sheet is fitted.
CLEW-LINES. The ropes attached to the clew of the topsail,
used to reduce and stow the topsail.
CLOVE HITCH. A bend used to attach a rope to a post or
bollard. Also used to finish tying up the foresail..
COCKBILL. Of spars to stow by swinging askew. Also, to
carry the anchor across the stem. TRIPCOCK POINT is said
to take its name from the fact that ships cleared anchors acockbill
ready to let go above this point.
COTCHEL. A part freight.
COVERING BOARD. The board forming the outer edge of the
CRAB. Winch used for raising leeboards and fitted with
a barrel for attaching staysail sheets, etc.
CRINGLE. Arope loop, normally made around a thimble,
which may be worked into the boltrope of a sail or attached
to the bolt rope. Also an eyelet used where a rope is passed
through the sail.
CROSSTREES. Lateral spreaders for the topmast shrouds
which, on the barge, are called standing backstays.
DANDY. Rig with very small mizzen abaft the steerage.
DART. To run dart is to sail dead before the wind.
DEADEYE. A circular turned block of hardwood which is
grooved around its circumference and pierced with three holes,
used in pairs to secure the shrouds to the chainplates. A lanyard
is rove through the holes in the deadeyes to create a purchase
by which the shroud is set up taut. Originally "dead men's eyes".
DOLLY WINCH. Small winch over anchor windlass used for
handling a long, light line in warping, for the mainbrails in
a stackie when the brail winch is covered by the stack, or for
the staysail tackline when no convenient cleat is available.
EASE. To take the pressure off the sails by letting out
the sheets, or by turning the barge towards the wind.
EYE. A loop formed on the end of a rope or wire by spliving,
usually round a thimble, hence 'eye splice'
EYE BOLT. A metal bolt or strap with an eye in the end,
fixed in any useful position to take any lines or tackle
FAIRLEAD. A means of diverting the run of a rope or mooring
line to the most convenient direction for working and to minimise
wear at the turn.
FAKE or FLAKE. To coil a rope down on the deck to enable
it to run back up without entangling.
FALL. The loose end of a length of rope or the hauling
end from the blocks forming a tackle.
FASHION BOARDS. Loose boards which slide in grooves to
close a companion scuttle or cabin entrance.
FAST. Secured or fixed, as a rope when made up on a cleat.
FEARNAUGHTS. Garments made of thick woollen cloth.
FENDER. A flexible barrier positioned between the side
of the barge and the quay or other vessel, when going alongside.
Often an old car tyre.
FIGURE-OF-EIGHT. A stopper knot to prevent a rope from
running out through an eye or block. Also the shape made when
making fast a rope round a cleat or the bitts.
FLOOR. A transverse structural timber to which the bottom
planking is fastened. The ends of the floor timbers are joined
to the bottom of the frames. The keelson is fastened on top
of the floors, and the hold ceiling is fastened to the top of
FLUSHING BOARD. Board inserted vertically in cabin entrance
FOOT. Bottom edge of a sail.
FOOT-BOAT. Barge's boat or dinghy.
FORE AND AFTERS. Removable wooden beams running along
the centre of the hold openings beneath the hatches, which they
FORECASTLE (fo'c'sle). The space below deck in the bow
used for storage and the mate's accommodation.
FORE HORSE. A transverse wooden or iron beam or wire
fitted forward of the mainmast around which the foresail sheet
is fastened, allowing the sheet to traverse freely.
FORESAIL. A triangular sail set on the forestay.
FORESTAY. The wire which supports the mainmast in a forward
direction, and on which the foresail is attached.
A rope used to secure a sail when stowed, particularly the topsail.
GEAR. The barge's sails and rigging.
GRIPIE. Cockney name for a barge.
GUNWALE. (gunnel). The top timber on the rail round the
outer edge of the deck.
GYBE (or JIBE). Bring the sails from one side to the
other as course is altered to bring the wind from one quarter
to the other, when the wind is astern. In strong winds a difficult
and dangerous manoeuvre with too much sail set.
HALYARDS (HALLIARDS or HAULYARDS). Ropes used to hoist
or set the sails.
HARDEN-IN. To haul in the sheet and tighten the sails.
HEAD. The top corner of a triangular sail, or the top
edge of a four-sided sail.
HEAD ROPE. The part of the bolt rope at the Head of the
mainsail and mizzen including the rope from the mast to the
sprit which supports the sail.
HEADSAILS. The collective name for the sails set before
HEADSTICK. The spar laced to the head of the topsail.
HELM. The steering, - a wheel nowadays, hence to 'TAKE
THE HELM' means to take over the steering of the barge.
HITCH. One of a number of knots by which a rope is fastened
to a post or other object, or to another rope.
HOMEWARD BOUNDER. A deep-sea expression for large herringbone
stitches used in repairing sails.
HOOP. The wooden or metal hoops by which the topsail
is fastened to the topmast to enable it to run up or down easily
when it is raised or lowered.
HORNS. The shaped ends or the chocks to which the main
horse is bolted.
HORSE. A sand lying in mid-channel. Also a wooden or
iron beam across the deck carrying the fore sheet, or main sheet
on its traveller.
HOUNDS. Shoulders where the shrouds rest near the masthead.
HOY BARGE. Craft making regular passages with mixed cargoes.
Sometimes called goods barge or passage barge.
HUFFLER. A man employed to assist the barge's crew to
take their craft up tortuous channels to remote wharves or through
bridges, as in London, Rochester, etc.
IN STAYS/IRONS. Describes the situation when the barge
is head to wind and unable to pay off on either tack.
JACKSTAY. The iron rod bolted clear of the main mast,
to which the luff of the mainsail is shackled or laced.
JIB SAIL. A triangular sail set between the end of the
bowsprit and the head of the mainmast.
JOLLY BOAT. The ship's boat, used when the barge is moored
off, for ferrying provisions, crew, etc.
KEELSON. A baulk of timber or a steel girder fitted on
top of the floors to form the backbone of the barge; it is through-bolted
to the keel, with the ends scarphed to the deadwood at stem
and stern. Chine keelsons of more modest dimensions are fitted
inside the frames at the junction of floors and frames.
KICKING CHAIN, or KICKING STRAP. Chain rigged from rudder
to quarter. When it is pulled tight lying at anchor the rudder
is prevented from kicking on its gudgeons.
KNOT. In general use, any form of knot, bend or hitch
formed in a rope.
LACE. To attach a sail to a mast or boom by passing a
rope through eyelet holes in the sail and round the spar, as
the mizzen is attached to it's mast and boom, and the mainsail
is sometimes attached to the jackstay.
LEACH. After or back edge of a sail.
LEE. The side of the barge (or other object, land island,
etc.) away from the wind i.e. the sheltered side.
LEEBOARD. A large fan-shaped wooden board fitted at each
side of a barge and pivoted at its forward end. When the board
on the lee side is lowered it increases the effective draught
of the barge and serves to reduce the amount of leeway when
sailing close-hauled. It operates in much the same way as the
centreplate of a dinghy.
LEEBOARD IRONS. Iron bars running from a strap by the
mainmast case to the head of each leeboard, by which means the
leeboards are supported.
LEEBOARD PENDANT. A wire or chain connecting the leeboard
to a single whip purchase, the fall of which is led to a winch
on the barge's quarter. The end of the pendant is shackled about
half way down the fan of the leeboard.
LEECH. The after edge of a sail.
LEEWAY. Being blown downwind instead of making progress
into the wind.
LIGHT IRONS. Iron bars mounted in sockets by the main
shrouds which support the light boxes or screens in which are
hung the navigation lamps, port and starboard.
LIGHT SCREENS. Boards on to which the navigation lights
are hooked. They are fitted with shields to ensure that the
light can be seen only as required by marine law.
LIZARD. A short length of rope with an eye spliced into
the end to hold another rope in position, as in the case of
the mainsail's lower brails. Also known as a STIRRUP.
LOOSE-FOOTED. The lower edge of a sail when it is not
attached to a boom e.g. the mainsail as opposed to the mizzen.
The lower brails of the mainsail.
LUFF. The forward edge of a fore-and-aft sail. The process
of pointing a sailing vessel closer to the wind.
MAIN HORSE. A transverse beam of timber fitted on chocks
abaft the main hatch and shaped so that when the sail is sheeted
home amidships it will travel to either side without attention.
The mainsheet block is hooked to an iron ring or traveller which
is free to move from side to side along the horse.
MAINS. The main brails of the mainsail.
MAST CASE (or MAST BOX). Iron deck-fitting in which the
heel of the mast is mounted (the yachtsman's tabernacle).
MIDDLES. The brails below the mains and above the lowers.
MIZZEN. The small mast stepped at or near the stern of
a barge, and the sail set on the mizzen mast. It can be sprit-
MOUSING. Several turns of light line around the mouth
of a hook to prevent it unhooking accidentally.
MULIE. A barge with a sprit-rigged mainsail and a large
gaff-rigged mizzen. The mizzen mast is set forward of the wheel
and the sail sheeted to the saddle chock. Sometimes called Overland
MUZZLE. The iron band which, together with the links,
holds the sprit heel to the mast.
NOCK. Throat of the mainsail.
PAWLS. Iron "fingers" fitted on the windlass and winches,
engaging in the teeth of the barrel to ensure that the windlass
or winch cannot reverse under load.
PAY-OFF. The turn the barge away from the direction of
the wind, to leeward.
PEAK. The top back corner of a four-sided sail.
PEAKS. The uppermost brails above the mains. Upper and
lower peaks are standard, and a third set is sometimes rigged
on sails with long head-ropes.
PENDANT (or PENNANT). A short length of wire or chain
hooked on to a tackle e.g. on the leeboards.
PORT. The left side of the craft facing forward.
PUMP SOCKET. The deck-level fitting into which the bilge
pump is shipped.
PURCHASE. A device to increase applied power, either
by gears or more usually by a tackle of bloacks or pulleys.
RATLINES. Thin lines hitched to the shrouds to provide
steps for reaching the hounds.
'READY ABOUT'. The order given to prepare the crew that
a the barge is to tack.
REEF. To shorten sail by tying up the foot of the sail
to reduce wind pressure, or to give the helmsman a better view.
'RIB TICKLER' A barge's tiller.
RIDING LIGHT. The oil lamp hung from the forestay at
night when riding at anchor.
RIGGING CHOCKS. Thick blocks of wood fastened outside
the rails to take the chain plates for the shrouds.
RIGGING SCREW. See bottle screw - also used to hold wire
rope during splicing.
ROLLING VANG. Fitted port and starboard in addition to
the vangs, they are led from the sprit head to the rail near
the bows and are set up in a seaway to give further control
of the sprit.
The serrated iron ring fitted to the barrel of the anchor winch
to which the pawl is appled to prevent the chain running out
during breaks in weighing.
RUNNING BACKSTAY. The adjustable backstays of the main
mast (main runners) and the topmast.
CHOCK. A transverse beam fitted on deck at the stern, directly
over the transom and usually supporting fairleads for mooring
SAILORMAN. London River term for either a sailing barge
or a sailing bargeman.
SEALING (CEILING). The caulked floor of the hold.
SEEKERS. Craft which rely on fixing freight for merchants
instead of carrying the owner's own goods.
SERVE. Covering a rope or wire with thin line to protect
SHACKLE. A U-shaped iron with a pin used for securing
sails to stays or ropes to enable easy removal.
SHEAVE. The wheel in a block which turns as the rope
SHEER. The curve formed by the deck line.
SHEET. A rope or line attached to the clew of a sail
used to trim a sail to gain maximum effect from the wind. In
the case of a barge main sheet, this is usually of three-inch
manilla, hitched to the clew of the sail and passing through
a double block hooked to the traveller on the main horse and
two single blocks on the leech of the sail. The foresail on
the barge often has a chain sheet.
SHROUDS - standing rigging which supports the mast laterally.
SLIDE. The sliding cabin hatch.
SNUB. To check a rope or morring warp to slow down movement
by taking a turn round a cleat or bollard.
SNUG LOADED. Having all cargo below hatches without deck
SPIDER BAND. An iron band on a spar with eyes to which
rigging or fittings may be attached.
SPINNAKER. A headsail spread out on the opposite side
of the mast to the mainsail when running before the wind. The
bargeman's spinnaker is his topmast staysail tacked at the mast
case, and sheeted round the weather cross-tree.
SPEADERS, see crosstrees.
SPRING. Mooring rope led aft from the bow, or forward
from the stern to the quay or intervening adjacent vessel, to
prevent the barge moving to and fro when moored, and to finally
position the barge when mooring up. Also used to enable the
bow or stern to swing clear when leaving.
SPRITTIE. A spritsail rigged barge.
SPRIT. A large spar used to extend the peak of the spritsail.
It extends between the peak of the sail and the foot of the
mast (starboard side), to which it is held by the muzzle and
band; it is supported by the standing lift (stanliff) and the
head rope of the sail. the downward thrust of the sprit is taken
by the stanliff. Pronounced "spreet".
SPRITSAIL. A sail extended by a sprit.
STACKIE. A barge designed to carry hay or straw piled
up high above her hatches. Stackie barges were generally built
with little sheer and a feature was the wide deck between rail
and hatch coaming designed to accommodate a standard bale.
STANDING PART. That part of a rope that is fastened on,
as opposed to the loose end.
STANLIFF (literally, 'standing lift'). A heavy wire cable
fitted to the mainmast at the hounds to carry the weight of
the sprit at the heel. The stanliff is adjusted by taking up,
or adding to, the chain links at the lower end.
STARBOARD. The right side of the craft facing forward.
STAYFALL. A flexible wire cable rove through a pair of
large blocks, the lower one fitted to the barge's stemhead and
the upper one attached to the end of the forestay, forming a
tackle by which the mainmast is raised and lowered.
STAYFALL TACKLE. The tackle used to raise and lower the
masts and gear.
STAYSAIL. A light, undressed, triangular sail of flax
canvas or cotton, which may be set in three ways; from the bowsprit
to the topmast head over the jib, from the stem head to topmast
over the foresail, and as a spinnaker for running before the
wind. In this latter case the sail is set up and down the mast
with the tack tackle hooked to an eye at the bottom of the mast
STEM. The foremost timber member of the barge set vertically
from the keel to the rail, the head of which (STEMHEAD) carries
the forestay and other rigging.
STIRRUP. (see LIZARD)
A rope used to prevent another coming loose or unreeving.
STUMPIE/STUMPY. Barge without top mast. A tops'l barge
under way without tops'l set is spoken of as stumpy-rigged.
SWEAT. To take up the last bit of slack on a halyard
by taking a single turn round a cleat and alternately heaving
on the rope above and below the cleat while keeping the tension
on the tail. Also known as SWIGGING.
SWIMMIE. Barge with square overhung bow like that of
London lighter (known as swimhead). Occasionally called
MUFFlES (perhaps from 'hermaphrodite'). TABERNACLE.
A frame or case to support the heel of the mast or bowsprit.
TACK. The lower forward corner of a fore-and-aft sail.
To tack is to sail into the wind by proceeding at an angle to
the wind; tacking is the act of turning at the end of each leg
so sailed. Description of the point of sailing of a vessel relative
to the wind direction; a vessel on port tack has the wind on
the port side.
TACKLE. A pair of blocks through which is rove a rope
to provide an advantageous purchase for lifting, moving or securing
heavy loads, as in raising sails or trimming sails to the wind.
TAIL. The loose end of a rope which has been wound round
a winch or cleat, etc.
THROAT. (nock on the barge) the forward top corner of
a four-sided sail.
TRANSOM. Formed of lateral members fastened inside the
sternpost to which the hull and deck planks are fastened.
TRAVELLER. The iron ring which travels along the main
horse. It is fitted with an eye onto which is hooked the main
TOPMAST POLE. That part of the spar between the hounds
and the truck.
TRUCK. A circular wooden cap at the top of a barge's
topmast or mizzen mast.
'TWO BLOCKS'. Term used to describe the situation of
a tackle when the two blocks have come close together and no
further movement is possible. (also callled 'chock-a-block')
UNDER WAY. The description of a vessel which has movement
through the water, frequently written as 'under weigh'.
UNREEVE. To pull a rope from a sheave or block.
UPPERS. The brails above the mains. (See also PEAKs.)
VANG. One of a pair of wires rigged from the sprit end
to the deck, controlling the sprit (port and starboard). The
vang fall is the tackle rigged on the lower end of the vang,
whose lower blocks are mounted near each end of the main horse.
Rolling vangs are preventers led forward to complete the control
of the sprit in heavy weather, in order to keep the sprit out
to leeward. (Pronounced 'wang.')
WALE. An extra thickness of wood to protect the sides
of the hull, particularly below the rail where the side would
be damaged when alongside a quay or another vessel.
WARP. A heavy mooring rope.
WEIGH. To break out and raise the anchor from the sea
WHIPPING. The binding with twine of the cut end of a
rope to prevent the strands unravelling.
WINCH. A small horizontal geared drum, hand operated,
to assist in hauling in running gear either for temporary use
when required, or with ropes or wires permanently attached.
WINDLASS. A powerful hand-operated winch mounted in the
bow of a barge; used primarily for raising the anchor and also
for raising and lowering the mainmast.