The greatest problem Captain's class students have is vocabulary.  They are familiar with the terms associated with basic boating (bow, stern, etc.).  Terms that every professional mariner knows eludes them.  To be successful in the Captain's class you must learn how to talk like a sailor.


By talking like a sailor, I am not referring to the unique language released after a few beers, or the language often miss-associated with those of us that work on vessels.  I am referring to the unique language acquired by “messing about in boats.”  Allow me to illustrate.


If you are “close aboard” that means an object is right beside your vessel.  “Buoy #1 is close aboard.”  Athwartship is the middle of a vessel.  Secure means to make fast or safe.  I secure my vessel before I go ashore.  Avast means to stop as does belay.  Rode is the line or chain used to join a vessel to her anchor (ground tackle).  Aground is not a nice place to be if you are in a boat.  Deadweight is a good thing.  Hard lay is better than a soft lay to avoid chaffing.  A fender is not a bumper and you do not need to feed a dog.  And a berth is a place to put your boat or your tired body.


Students will often ask me what they can do to prepare for class.  I encourage them to read the glossary of their textbooks or go to the internet to find Wikipedia’s “Glossary of Nautical Terms.”  This site has a host of maritime words and even “sailor-talk” that has made its way into our everyday language (i.e. “three sheets to the wind”).  Take some time and have some fun while you learn new words.


Then, put them to use.  Work them into your daily speak.  People will be impressed with your new found language.  You can speak to your boating buddies in a language unfamiliar to your spouse or significant other.  Soon it will become part of you and you too will “talk like a sailor.”  You've got the helm.