Sailor Speak of the Week – Yard

The main-topgallant yard aboard the Stavros S Niarchos.

Definition

Noun

  • A thwartship spar on the mast of square-rigged vessels.

Origin

Probably earlier than the 15th century. From Anglo-Saxon, seglegerld, meaning sail yard.

Comments

The “yardarm” is generally the outer portion of the yard itself. Thankfully, people no longer have to suffer execution by being “hung from the yardarm.” The yard is what holds the sails of the ship and a crew will be required to go aloft to bend the sails. Depending on the configuration of the masts and the size of the vessel, many different yards may exist. A discussion of the many elements of the rigging is for someone who has actual knowledge of working on a square-rigged vessel (i.e. not me). Alternatively, read the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian.

References

Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum.

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