Age of Sail Reader’s Reference

The internet is a wonderful thing, as are resources like the Aubrey/Maturin dictionary and reference text A Sea of Words, but while pushing through battle sequences in H.M.S Surprise I found myself wishing I had some sort of mini reference text. So I went off and made one on the assumption that other people might be having the same issue of not knowing what the heck was going on.

These are sized to fit inside a book like a very large bookmark. Print ’em out, stick ’em in the book, and enjoy your reading with a minimum of reference texts!




And a .pdf: ageofsailterminologysheetfixedmetric2

Important Notes

  • These are distributed under a CC BY-NC license.

    This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

  • In more concrete terms, that means you can print these out/leave them in library books/distribute to your 10th graders/etc. Just please attribute them to or Renee Reeves and make sure you’re not making a profit.
  • Please send me a note if you spot any factual errors or typos. I’ve proof-read these, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect!


Sources and Thanks

The illustration is from Wikipedia and is in the public domain.

I defined terms based on this Sailing Quick Reference Guide and (to a lesser extent), A Sea of Words by Dean King, J. Worth Estes, and John B. Hattendorf. There might be possible discrepancies I’m unaware of between historical and modern sailing (and ships like the Sophie and the ship on the diagram).

Emily Hartman, librarian extraordinaire, answered some boring questions for me about average book sizes. If you’re interested in printing these for general use, you’ll want them to come out about 4.7 x 6.7 inches.

Notes and Updates

9/21/17 – aber-flyingtiger on Tumblr brings up a good point that “larboard” is sometimes used instead of “port” in Age of Sail texts.