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Admiralty Report. An official entry typically from Naval or Government records.
Articles. A code of conduct drawn up by pirate crews usually without the captain’s participation and signed at the beginning of the cruise in which they agreed that all prizes taken on the cruise would be divided among the captain and crew in the proportions set forth in the articles.
Balinger. Small seagoing sailing vessel without a forecastle used mainly for trade or as a kind of warship.
Barge. Officers’ harbor boat, about thirty feet, equipped to be rowed or sailed.
Bark or Barge or Barque. General name given to small sailing ships. (After the 17th century, a square rigged sailing vessel with the mizzen mast “fore-and-aft” rigged.)
Brig. A two-masted sailing vessel, both masts carrying square sails.
Barbary Coast. Coast of North Africa from Atlantic Ocean to the western coast of Egypt. (Area inhabited by the Berbers).
Bilged. A ship is bilged when a hole is torn in her underwater hull and she floods after going aground.
Bloody Flux. Now known as amoebic dysentery, this was one of the most lethal diseases that could break out aboard a ship.
Booty. Something that is seized by violence.
Buccaneer. Pirates who sailed the Caribbean and the Eastern coast of North America in 17th Century. The name is derived from their practice of raiding Hispaniola and taking cattle from the Spanish plantations; they dried the meat on grills, known in French as boucan (hence the name buccaneer), and sold it to vessels that put in for provisions.
Bulwark. A solid rail along the sides of the upper deck to stop waves from washing aboard and to prevent seamen from being washed overboard.
Capstan. An upright cylinder-shaped mechanical device which can be rotated for hoisting anchors and other heavy lifting or hauling tasks. In the days of sail, the capstan, with a line wrapped around it, was rotated by men walking around it and pushing on poles inserted in slots at the top of the capstan.
Careen. To heave a ship over on its side in order to scrape the underwater hull clean. Often done on a beach by attaching tackles (a system of ropes and pulleys) to the masts and heaving them down.
Carronades. Short, lightweight carriage guns that are effective at close range and carronades could be fired more rapidly.
Carried away. A mast or other structure on a ship is said to have carried away when it has broken and fallen or been displaced from its normal position.
Cartouche. A box for cartridges.
Case-Shot. A collection of small projectiles put in cases to fire from a cannon; canister-shot.
Chalupas. Shallops or small, undecked sailing craft.
Cinque Ports. The federation was created to provide ships and defense of the coastline for the King before the creation of the Royal Navy by Henry VII in 1496.A group of five ports situated on the S.E. coast of England and having jurisdiction along the coast in order of importance: Hastings, Sandwich, Dover, Rommey and Hithe. The Cinque Ports furnished the chief part of the English Navy, in return they had many important franchises an privileges.
Clewed up. A square sail is clewed up (raised to the yard) by hoisting on clew lines which are fastened to the lower corners of the sail. This is done in order to spill the wind or to prepare for furling a sail.
Close aboard. Two ships are close aboard when they are very near to each other.
Cobb. A Spanish coin made in the New World. Other name are Piece of Eight or Reale.
Cog. Small ship of war.
Corsair. A pirate working the Barbary coast (N. Africa).
Corsair. A fast ship used for piracy.
Crosstrees. Wood or metal poles attached part way up a mast to engage and spread the shrouds.
Cubit. An ancient measure of length, approximately equal to the length of a forearm. It was typically about 18 inches or 44 cm, though there was a long cubit of about 21 inches or 52 cm.
Davits. A pair of upright cranes mounted on the side of a ship, fitted with hoisting and lowering gear to raise and lower boats.
Execution Dock. Located on the shore at Wapping, this was the place of execution for those pirates, smugglers, and mutineers condemned to die by the Admiralty Courts. It was last used in 1830.
Felucca-rigged. A small, narrow-beamed sailing vessel with lateen sails (also propelled by oars) of Mediterranean origin.
Fathom. Six feet.
Foremast. The mast furthest forward on a ship when there is more than one mast.
“Fire in the Hole.” The warning cry issued before the gunner set his match to the powder hole on a cannon to fire it.
Forecastle. A superstructure at or immediately aft of the bow.
Freeboard. The distance from the waterline to the gunwale of a boat or the main deck of a ship
Furling. Gathering sail up and lashing it to the yard.
Frigate. A “rated” ship that carried all its guns on a single upper deck.
Forestays. Fore and aft lines supporting the most forward mast.
Freshened. Said of the wind when it increases in strength. A fresh wind is one whose speed is 19 to 24 miles per hour.
Gabion. A cylinder of wickerwork filled with earth, used as a military defense.
Galley. A galley is a type of ship that is propelled mainly by rowing. The galley is characterized by its long, slender hull, shallow draft and low clearance between sea and railing. Virtually all types of galleys had sails that could be used in favorable winds, but human strength was always the primary method of propulsion.
Galley. Kitchen
Galleon. A large sailing vessel of the 15th-17th centuries, used as a fighting or merchant ship. Square rigged on the foremast and mainmasts and generally lateen-rigged on one or two after masts.
Goal. Jail.
Gunwale. The upper edge of the sides of a boat.
Heel. The tilting to one side of a sailing vessel as a result of wind pressure on the sails.
Helm. The tiller or wheel used to steer a ship.
Helmsman. The seaman who mans the helm to steer a ship.
Jettison. To throw equipment, supplies, etc., overboard to lighten a ship.
Jib. A triangular sail set on the forestays.
Jury rig. A temporary, makeshift arrangement of masts and sails to bring a disabled vessel back to port.
Kedge anchor. A lightweight anchor used to move a ship by planting the anchor some distance away in the desired direction of movement and hauling on a line attached to the anchor
Ketch. A sailing vessel rigged fore and aft on two masts, the larger, forward one being the mainmast and the after one, stepped forward of the rudderpost, being the mizzen or jigger.
Declaration of Paris. Abolished Privateering in 1856 All countries signed except the USA, Spain, Mexico and Venezuela.
Fathom. The length of the outstretched arms of an average-sized man, to the tip of his longest finger. about six feet.
Hail-shot. Small shot that scatters like hail when fired from a cannon.
Hardtack. Dried bread made from flour and water baked into a moisture-free rock to prevent spoilage. hardtack had to be broken into small pieces or soaked in water before eaten.
Hoy. Small sloop-rigged coastal vessel.
Knot. a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile (1.852 km) per hour, approximately 1.151 mph. The ISO Standard symbol for the knot is kn. The same symbol is preferred by the IEEE; kt is also common.
Langrange. Case-shot loaded with pieces of iron of irregular shape, used to damage the rigging and sails of the enemy.
Lead line. A line with a lead weight on the end used to measure water depth.
Leadsman. A seaman who takes soundings by heaving a lead line and noting the depth by markers on the line.
Lanthorn. A Lantern with reflectors made of translucent sheets of horn.
Lateen-rigged. Having a lateen sail or sails.
Lateen sail. A triangular fore-and-aft sail, set on a long yard attached to a short mast near the top of the mast. The forward end of the yard is held close to the deck so that the other end is raised high above the top of the mast.
League. A measure of distance about 3 miles.
Leeward. In the direction toward which the wind is blowing.
Legal Quays. The area known as Billingsgate on the south side of the City of London was where all imported cargoes had to be delivered for inspection and assessment by Customs Officers.
Letters of Marque or Marquee. License, warrant or commission granted by a belligerent state to a private citizen to arm a private worship to capture and confiscate ships of another country.
Letter of Reprisal. Similar to Letters of Marque except they are usually issued for only one vessel, usually a particular named vessel. Usually issued to redress a complaint against the named vessel.
Log. Daily record of a vessel. The ship’s diary.
Log line. A knotted length of line with a piece of wood at the end used to measure a vessel’s speed, thrown into the water to determine how many “knots” ran out in a set period of time.
Longboat. Heavy-duty sea boat, about thirty feet equipped to be rowed or sailed.
Luffed up. Turning a sailing vessel into the wind so that fore-and-aft sails are luffing (fluttering) in the wind and the vessel loses headway.
Lugsail. A quadrilateral sail bent upon a yard that crosses the mast obliquely.
Mainmast. The principal mast of a sailing vessel. In a three-masted vessel, the middle mast is the mainmast.
Manifest. An itemized list of the ship’s cargo.
Marque or Marquee. A Warrant or Commission.
Mizzen. After mast in a vessel with three or more.
Moses’ Law. Punishment consisting of 40 stripes lacking one. A stripe was the cut left by the lash.
Mtumbi is nothing but the trunk of a tree hollowed out, is supposed to hold but one, and is propelled by a double paddle instead of oars. Nar- row, short, and pointed at the bow, it therefore differs from what is known in Germany as the “Greenland canoe.”
Muffled oars. Oars wrapped with canvas or leather in the way of the rowlocks to suppress noise when approaching an enemy.
Oakum. Hemp fiber from old ropes, treated with tar, used to caulk seams in ships.
Passed midshipman. In the early 1800s, the next highest non-commissioned rank above midshipman.
Parrel. A sliding ring, wood or metal that confines a yard or the jaws of a gaff to the mast in such a manner as that they may be easily hoisted and lowered thereon, as occasion requires.
Partridge-Shot. A kind of charge for cannon consisting of a number of missiles fired together, similar to langrange or case-shot.
Pillage. To strip ruthlessly of money or goods by open violence, to take as booty.
Pink. A vessel with a sharp, narrow stern and an overhanging stern.
Pinnace. A light sailing ship used in attendance on a larger ship.
Pirate. A person who robs or commits illegal violence at sea not in possession of Letters of Marque or Reprisal.
Pope Alexander IV: Split the world in two in 1494. Spain got territory West of Cape Verde Islands, Portugal got all territory East of Cape Verde Islands.
Privateer. An armed ship that is privately owned and manned, commissioned by a government to fight or harass enemy ships.
Prize Master. A prize master was a mariner qualified to serve as master and navigator of captured vessels for the purpose of bringing them back to an American port.
Provost. Responsible for discipline on board.
Quarterdeck. In sailing ships, the part of the upper deck abaft the mainmast from which the ship is commanded.
Ratlines. Rope steps on shrouds used to climb rigging.
Riding bitts. Strong deck posts at the bow used to secure anchor and mooring lines.
Rowlocks. Semi-circular cutouts in gunwale to take oars.
Rutters. Detailed instructions, before maps, listing all that was known about a place or route.
St. Fiacre. Patron Saint of Hemorrhoids.
Shallop. A small boat used for coastal navigation from the seventeenth century. Somewhat larger than a dory, the shallop was about 30 feet long and equipped with oars and a mast with one or two sails. A shallop could take over a dozen people and usually had a shallow draft of about two feet. Nevertheless, they could carry a substantial load and be armed with cannon.
Schooner. A two-masted vessel, fore-and-aft rigged on both masts.
Scrimshaw. A carving (or engraving) on whalebone, whale ivory, walrus tusk, etc., usually by American whalers. the etchings were usually darkened with lamp black or ink.
Send down. To lower yards or masts to stowed positions, usually done in preparation for heavy weather.
Sheering off. Moving away from.
Ship. In the age of sail, a three-masted vessel with square sails on each mast.
Ship-of-the-line. A ship powerful enough to take its place in the line of battle. A third rate or larger which carried guns on two or more decks.
Shrouds. Lines that support masts laterally.
Sloop. A single-masted sailing vessel with fore-and-aft sails.
Soundings. Measures the depth of the water.
Spanish Main. Area from Caribbean to Orinoco River in Eastern Venezuela.
Spanish snow. Similar to a brig.
Spar. A pole of wood, metal or lightweight materials such as carbon fibre used in the rigging of a sailing vessel to carry or support its sail. These include booms and masts, which serve both to deploy sail and resist compressive and bending forces, as well as the bowsprit and spinnaker pole.
Stays. Ropes, wires, or rods on sailing vessels that run fore-and-aft along the centerline from the masts to the hull, deck, bowsprit, or to other masts which serve to stabilize the masts.
Steerageway. The minimum speed through the water necessary for the rudder to be effective in steering the ship.
Stripe. A stripe was the cut left by the lash.
Swan-shot. Big hale-shot for large fowl like the swan.
Sweats. Smallpox or malaria.
Tack. To turn a ship by swinging the bow through the wind so as to bring wind from one side of the sails to the other. Sailing vessels must tack in order to make headway in the direction from which the wind is blowing.
Taffrail. A rail around the stern of a ship.
Tattoo. A tattoo is a design in ink or some other pigment, usually decorative or symbolic, placed permanently under the skin Tattooing is technically referred to as “micro-pigment implantation”. Tattoos are a type of body modification.
Tenths. The share the Lord Admiral would receive of the plunder captured by ships he issued Letters of Marque and Reprisal to.
Tide Waiter. An official who checked boats coming into the Thames River to ensure goods were not sold on the way to the Legal Quays for a tax-free profit.
Tiller. A wood or metal bar attached to the top of the rudder and used to turn it.
Topgallant mast. The mast above the topmast.
Topmast. The next mast above the lowest mast.
Topping lift. A line attached to the unsupported end of a boom or other spar to raise or lower it or hold it up when the sail is not raised.
Triatic stay. A line running between the head of the foremast and the head of the mainmast to which hoisting tackles can be attached.
Unmanifested. Not listed on the manifest.
Veer. To allow the anchor line to run out.
Wear. To change the direction in which the ship is headed by swinging the stern through the wind. Opposite of tack.
Weigh. To pull up the anchor.
Wherry. A light rowboat or skiff. Any of various barges, fishing vessels, etc used locally in England.
Worms. Shipworms (Teredo navalis) eat the hulls in warm water. they have two small shells, each about a third of an inch long, with toothed ridges, with which they tunnel into wood. The worm’s body is supported by the tunnel as it bores and feeds.
Yards. Wood or metal poles (spars), tapered at one or both the ends, crossing the masts of a ship horizontally or diagonally, from which sails are set.
Yawl. Smaller sea boat, about twenty-three feet, equipped to be rowed or sailed.

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