Sailor Speak of the Week – Yaw

Definition

Verb

  • To swing off course due to difficult sea conditions or steering troubles.

Origin

Probably earlier than the 18th century. Possibly from Icelandic, jaga, meaning to go to and fro. Also possibly from Old Norse, ga, to bend from course.

Comments

Very similar to the term used in aviation for sideways aircraft movement. Essentially, the vessel is no longer moving in a straight line according to the direction it’s pointed. Strong winds and currents can cause yawing moments.

References

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

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