Lines, Lines – all Lines!

Sailors cheekily claim that there is no ‘rope’ on a boat. What regular people would describe as ‘rope’ is generically called a ‘line’, once its aboard. And each of these lines has a cryptic name. For example: A ‘halyard’ is used to raise and lower a sail. ‘Sheets’ are used to move the sails from side to side. The ‘outhaul’ pulls the main sail back along the boom. The ‘boom vang’ pulls the boom downward. The ‘jib furler’ is kind of like a halyard for the foresail (or jib). Two ‘jib sheets’ move the foresail from side to side. The ‘davit lines’ hoist and lower the dingy and store it aloft when not in use. A ‘painter’ secures the dinghy to a dock.

And guess what – on our boat, every single one of these lines is white with blue flecks!!

A picture of 11 lines - all blue and white flecked!

Now imagine things are getting kind of hairy, and Your Beloved urgently asks you to “please pass me that line.” Even if he identifies it by name, you are still going to have to mutter an incantation, grab wildly at something white with blue flecks, and hope for the best.

We are lucky that almost all our lines came with the boat, as they cost a fortune. Given they are nearly identical, I gather that the previous owner sailed solo!

Over time, we will replace our lines as they wear out. I dream of the day when everything is colour-coded. Perhaps fuchsia for the foredeck, mauve for the main, daffodil for the dinghy…

Come to think of it, what if they were also scratch and sniff??


  1. I knew the name of one line, the “painter” one! Though I have no idea why that line or any other has the name that it does. Did you get a history behind the names of any of these lines? Or were they a product of whiskey and fanciful imagination?


  2. Hi Kathleen,
    I love your Blog…your’s and Thom’s Blog entries are as much fun as they are informative. I knew about some of those “lines” because Bill and I sailed Laser’s but, of course, there were not as many lines as you and Thom have to contend with! Thanks for the education and fun!


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