Sailor Speak of the Week – Helm

A person at the helm of a boat. Photo by cottonbro on



  • The steering apparatus of a vessel.


Probably earlier than the 18th century. Possibly from Old Norse, hjalmvoh, meaning rudder handle.


Whatever you steer the ship with, but mostly refers ship’s wheel nowadays. Tillers are common in many boats. Some vessels with azimuth thrusters also have very unique setups featuring rotating levers.


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

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