Glossary

BILGE BLOCK

One of a row of wooden blocks placed on end and similar to keel blocks, used for supporting the bilges along the port and starboard sides of a vessel’s hull on the stocks or in a graving dock. (see: KEEL BLOCK).

BOW

The front of a vessel.

BULKHEAD

A name given to any vertical partition, whether for and aft or athwartships (at right angles to the fore-and-aft line of a vessel), which separates different compartments or spaces from one another. 

COFFERDAM

A temporary enclosure built at the end of the slipways across the body of water and constructed to allow the enclosed area to be pumped out, allowing work to proceed on the stern of a vessel. The structure was removed before launching allowing the area to be flooded by the raising tide.

DAVIT (BOAT DAVIT) 

One of a pair of projecting steel girders on the sides or stern of a vessel used for suspending, lowering and hoisting a ship’s boats.

DOG SHORE

Short timbers used for holding temporarily a vessel about to be launched, while the keel blocks and shores are removed.

KEEL BLOCK 

One of a series of short timbers on which the keel of a vessel rests while it is being constructed or repaired and which affords access to work beneath. 

LAZARETTE

The space above the after-peak between decks used as a storeroom for provisions in some vessels. A small ‘tween-decks storeroom.

LIVERPOOL HOUSE

A superstructure extending from side to side and situated in large (iron or steel built) sailing vessels. It contained the accommodation for the master and the officers. The steering gear was placed on top of this house. It extended over one-sixth to two-thirds of the vessel’s length, adding largely to the structural strength and giving considerable reserve buoyancy, besides preventing decks from being swamped by boarding seas fore and aft.

LONGITUDINAL SECTION (plan)

In shipbuilding, a line which cuts the draught of a vessel lengthwise.

PERMANENT WAYS

Are constructed on the building berth and consist of a pair of ways, supported by blocks on each side of the centre line of the vessel, running its entire length in to the water. On to this the sliding ways are constructed. The weight of the vessel’s hull is transferred to the sliding ways as the keel blocks are removed immediately before launching.

POOP

A short superstructure above the afterpart of the weather deck, extending from side to side and entirely enclosed. Its main purpose is to increase the bouyancy of the afterend of the vessel. On sailing ships the poop contains accommodation for the master, officers and sometimes the crew.

STERN

The rear of a vessel.

TALLOW

Tallow was rendered beef or mutton fat. Train oil, actually oil from the sperm whale, was considered the finest lubricant available. Soft soap was added to help the animal fat and whale oil blend together. The resulting mixture, off-white in colour, was applied to the launchways; not a job for the faint hearted because in warm weather the smell was described as disgusting. In a number of photographs, following a launch, the permanent ways gave the appearance of being covered in ice.

TURTLE BACK

A term applied to a weather deck forecastle or poop (see: POOP), which is rounded over the sides of a vessel in order to shed the water rapidly in heavy weather.

WARP

A fibre or wire rope, by which a vessel is moved about when in harbour.

WARP (to)

To move a vessel from one place to another in a port, river, harbour or graving dock by means of warps fastened to buoys, anchors or a fixed object ashore such as a warping capstan.

WEATHER DECK

An uncovered deck exposed to the weather. The upper, awning, shade or shelter decks or the uppermost continuous deck, exclusive of forecastle, bridge and poop, which are also exposed to the weather.