How to Sail

Now you must be thinking “Wow, I understand what he is talking about (or not), but what are all those little things on the boat that I don’t know”. In this article I’m just going to be listing items on the boat.

-Hull-The fiberglass mass that you sit in. It is the part that is in the water (unless you turtle)

-Mast-The long, usually metal pole standing vertically in the center of the boat. The sails are connected to this.

-Boom-The metal pole attached perpendicularly to the mast. The main-sail is connected to this. It is used to help control the main-sail. It gets its name from what happens when it hits you (BOOM! That hurt).

-Fore-Stay-The metal wire extending from the top middle of the mast to the bow of the boat. It is used to support the mast while there is no jib tension.

-Side-stays (Shrouds)-The metal wires extending from the top middle of the mast to the port and starboard sides of the boat. It is for mast-stability.

-Hiking-straps-The seatbelt type things that run from the stern to the end of the centerboard trunk.

-Centerboard trunk-The mass sticking out of the center of the hull. The centerboard moves up and down in this.

-Rudder- The white fiberglass blade that can pivot side to side in the back of the boat. It helps turn the boat.

-Tiller-The wooden pole attached to the rudder.

-Tiller extension- The usually black-metal pole attached to the end of the tiller. The skipper of the boat holds it like a microphone. He/she pushes or pulls on it to help turn the boat.

-Battens-The fiberglass rods in the main-sail (usually four). It helps the sail maintain proper shape and lift, especially going upwind.

-Main-sail- The large, triangular sail behind the mast.

-Jib-The small triangular sail in front of the mast.

-Spinnaker-The beetle-shaped sail that is connected to the spinnaker pole. This sail is used by advanced sailors. It is only raised when the boat is higher (in degrees) than 90 degrees to the direction the wind is coming from.

-Spinnaker pole-The pole that connects the clue of the spinnaker to the mast.

-Jib-sheets-The lines that run from the most aft corner of the jib, through two holes (one on each side), and into cleats. The sheets help control the sail.

-Main-sheet-The line the runs from the middle of the boom, through a series of blocks, into the centerboard trunk and into the skippers hand. It is used to help control the mainsail.

-Blocks- Pulleys.

-Halyards- Lines that run from the bottom of the mast, to the top of the mast, and to the head (top) of the sails. They are used to lift the sails.

-Vang (sometimes Boom-vang) – The line running from the boom to the mast back and forth at a 45 degree angle. It is used to help control airflow over the sail.

-Outhaul- The line running from the most aft corner of the mainsail (the foot), through a block in the end of the boom, and into a cleat. It is used to help de-power the sail.

-Cunningham- The line that runs from one side of the mast, through a hole in the mainsail, and into a cleat on the other side of the mast. This line is also used to de-power the sail.

-Spinnaker bag- The bag in the bow of the boat used to store the spinnaker.

-Ballast tank plugs-Plugs sticking out of the sides of the hull (toward the inside of the boat) in the back of the boat. They keep water out of the ballast tank, but help you get water out of the tanks (if there is water in it).

-Drain plug. The plug in the back of the boat that you take out when there is water in the boat (while you’re on land!).

-Cleats- Things used to hold lines in place. There are three types of cleats on a 420. The first looks like beetle wings that move in and out. These are the cleats that the jib goes through and sometimes the main-sail. The second one looks like a canyon with grooves on the inside. These are used on the centerboard trunk, the mast, and the boom. The last looks like bull horns. These are used for the halyards. You have to know a special knot to use these though.

Those are the basic parts of the boat. There are a few things that I left out (Spin sheets, topping-lift, gye hook/cleat, etc.), but they are used in more advanced sailing. Fair winds!

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