Terminology from the Age of Sail

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Search result for any reference to: anchor
Anchor: An object designed to grip the ground, under a body of water, to hold a ship in a selected area. In the Golden Age of Sail it was usually a cast-iron shank with two arms and two flukes, and a wooden stock perpendicular to the arms. The stock often consisted of two long pieces of oak tapered toward each end, held together with iron hoops and treenails. Around the 19th century a typical anchor became of all-iron construction, including the stock.
Image of anchor

In ancient times an anchor often consisted of a large stone with one or more holes, through which a rope was fastened.
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A stone anchor could weigh as little as 20 Lbs for a small anchor or 500 Lbs or more for a large anchor. Often cut from sandstone, limestone or whatever other stone was locally available.
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Roman lead and wood anchor shown above.

Image of anchor

Anchor building tools in the Age of Sail.

Anchor's Aweigh: Expression for when the anchor is just clear of the bottom. Was also called atrip.
Anchorage: Any location where a ship savely can and is allowed to drop anchor, most often a location within or just outside a harbour.
Apeak: When an object such as an anchor or an oar is in a vertical position (straight-up). The anchor was said to be apeak when directly under the hawse. When oars where apeak, they were held straight up.
Berth: 1.Sufficient space for a ship to maneuver. 2.A space for a ship to dock or anchor. 3.Employment on a ship. 4.Another term for bunk or bed onboard a ship.
Bitter End: The inboard end of a rope or (anchor) cable, receiving its name from that end being wound around a bitt.
Boatswain: The officer who is responsible for the boats, sails, rigging, colours, anchors, and cables. Also called Bosun.
Buoy: A float of different shape and size, attached by a cable or chain to the seabed to mark navigational channels or underwater hazards such as shallow banks, rocks or reefs. A ship's buoy could be attached by rope to the anchor, to indicate the underwater location of the anchor so that the ship could stay clear of the anchor and the anchor-cable.
Cable: 1. A thick and heavy rope of considerable length, used to moor or retain a ship at anchor. 2. A naval unit of distance. The British cable was 0.1 nautical (Admiralty) miles or 608 feet (1830), the American equivalent was 120 fathoms or 0.1185 nautical miles. Still used by some navies as a distance measure of 200 meters.
Cat: The name of the purchase by which the anchor was hoisted to the cathead in preparation for stowing or letting go. 'To cat the anchor' is the process of hoisting the anchor to the cathead.
Cathead: A heavy piece of timber projecting from each side of the bow of a vessel to hold the anchors in position and clear away from the bow. Early catheads were often capped off with a carved cat or lion face.

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Creeper: A very small anchor, very much like a grapnel but without any flukes or barbs. Used for the retrieval of mooring lines, anchor cables, flotsam etc.
Crown: The lower end of an anchor-shank where the arms come together.
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Davit: A purchase for suspending or lowering heavy equipment and objects. For example: fish davits for raising the flukes of an anchor, or boat davits for lowering and raising a ship's boat.
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Fish Davit: A spar used as a purchase to hoist the flukes of the anchor to the top of the bow, without damaging the ship's hull.
Fluke: The pointed triangular blade at the end of an anchor arm, intended to grab hold of the sea-bottom. It is usually the broadest part of an anchor and was also called the palm of an anchor.
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Furniture: All moveable equipment of a ship: rigging, sails, spars, anchors, etc.
Galley: An oared fighting ship used mainly in the Mediterranean from many centuries BC until well into the 18th century. They were also used in the Baltic and by other northern European nations, just not to the same extent and duration as in the Mediterranean.

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A galley a scaloccio is rowed by groups of three, five or seven men on a bench pulling a single oar, and a galley ala sensile has a single rower per oar, possibly two or three men to a bench (a terzaruolo). The top speed of a galley under full-oar has been estimated to be 7 or 8 knots.

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Maltese galley at anchor - plate (G. Tagliagambe/Antonio Suntach) from around 1780 - 1800.

Examples of a galley
Grapnel: A small anchor with three or more fluked claws, often used for anchoring a small vessel or used as a grappling hook. Was called a fire grapnel when the claws were barbed. Also spelled grapnell.

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Hawse: Location at the bow of a ship where the hawseholes are located. A ship is also said to be riding to hawse when moored with both starboard and port bow anchors out.
Hawsehole: A hole in the bow of the ship through which the anchor cable or hawser passes.
Kedge: A light, small anchor used for warping a vessel.

image of junk
Killick: A relatively small anchor made of an elongated stone or several stones enclosed in a wooden frame. Normally a killick has two curved wooden timbers forming a cross as the base on wich this center stone rests. Pliable wooden rods rise from the base enclosing the center stone(s). These rods were then tied together just above the center stone(s). Used for anchoring small boats and fishing nets. Also called killock or kellick. Either from Irish or Scottish origins.

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Lightship: An anchored ship acting as a floating lighthouse where building a lighthouse was not possible or impractical. Lightships would display a light at the top of a mast and in case of fog would sound a fog signal.

Example of a lightship
Moor: To secure and hold a ship or boat in a specific location by means of lines, cables and/or anchors.
Roads: A save and sheltered anchorage, also called 'roadstead'.
Sail: A piece of cloth or canvas, or a combination of pieces, cut and sewn together to the desired shape and size and attached to the spars and rigging of a vessel. A sail has the single purpose of catching the wind and propelling the vessel. Sails were often repaired at sea, or at anchor in a secluded bay a thousand miles from home, and thus could be quite a patchwork of different pieces of material. Something the head-seamstress at the Royal Dockyards would have surely disapproved of.

Fore-and-aft Sails
Lateen Sails
Square Sails

Flying Jib
Royal Sail
Studding Sail
Topgallant Sail

Sail (sailcloth) making in the Age of Sail.

Sail Iron
Sail Iron - used to close and flatten seams and stitching.

Dressing Sails.

Shackle: 1.A greatly varying unit of length, most often used for measuring the length of anchor chains. Shackels were used to join lengths of anchor chain and thus could be counted when the anchor was dropped or raised. These lengths could be anywhere from 75 to 100 feet. The standard length of a shackle is 15 fathoms or 90 feet, but different deviating lengths were used through varying time-periods. Also called shot. 2.A u-shaped piece of metal, closed with a pin across the end, used for connecting and securing parts of the rigging including the aforementioned anchor chains.
Sheer: 1. The upward curve of the deck of a ship toward the bow and stern with the lowest point at or near the waist when viewed from the side.
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2. The position of a ship riding at single anchor holding her clear of the anchor.
Voyol: A looped rope used to unmoor, or hoist the anchors of a ship. Since the voyol was thinner, lighter and more pliable than an anchor cable, it was easier to wind around the capstan and more convenient to use the voyal to hoist in the larger, stiffer anchor cables. The anchor cable was seized to the voyal using thin removable lines called nippers. A voyal was also called a messenger.
Warp: 1.To move or re-position a ship by hauling on a line. Often the ship's lesser anchors were used. See also kedge
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2.The measuring and laying out of rigging in a sail loft before cutting to the desired final lengths.
Windlass: A lifting device, which in its simplest form consists of a horizontal cylindrical barrel on which a rope or anchor cable winds. A manually operated windlass was turned by rods called handspikes, and in later times by one or more cranks. In the 19th century the steam powered windlass made its appearance.

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Steam Windlass at work

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Wooden Handspike Windlass

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