AskDefine | Define nautical

Dictionary Definition

nautical adj : relating to or involving ships or shipping or navigation or seamen; "nautical charts"; "maritime law"; "marine insurance" [syn: maritime, marine]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈnɔːtɪkl/, /"nO:tIkl/


  1. Relating to or involving ships or shipping or navigation or seamen; "nautical charts"; "maritime law"; "marine insurance".


Extensive Definition

Seamanship is the art of operating a ship or boat.
It involves a knowledge of a variety of topics and development of specialised skills including: navigation and international maritime law; weather, meteorology and forecasting; watchstanding; ship-handling and Small boat handling; operation of deck equipment, anchors and cables; ropework and line handling; communications; sailing; engines; execution of evolutions such as towing; cargo handling equipment, dangerous cargoes and cargo storage; dealing with emergencies; survival at sea and search and rescue; fire fighting.
The degree of knowledge needed within these areas is dependent upon the nature of the work and the type of vessel employed by a mariner. However, the practice of good seamanship should be the goal of all.


More than just finding a vessel's present location, safe navigation includes predicting future location, route planning and collision avoidance.


A fundamental skill of professional seamanship is being able to manoeuvre a vessel with accuracy and precision. Unlike vehicles on land, a ship afloat is subject to the movements of the air around it and the water in which it sits. Often another complicating factor is the mass of a ship that has to be accounted for when stopping and starting.
Ship-handling is about arriving and departing a berth or buoy, manoeuvring in confined channels and harbours and in proximity to other ships, whilst at all times navigating safely. A key ability for a ship-handler is an innate understanding of how the wind, tide and swell, as well as the shape of the seabed, will affect a vessel's movement, which, together with an understanding of a specific vessels performance, should allow that vessel a safe passage.
Fundamental to low speed maneuvring is an understanding of the configuration and handedness of the propeller(s). An effect known as propeller walk will kick the stern of the vessel to port or starboard depending on the configuration and the type of propeller when large variations on propeller rotation speed or changes of propeller rotation direction take place. In addition to being fully conversant with the principles of seamanship and ship-handling a good pilot will have developed his or sense of 'situational awareness' to a point well beyond that of a member of a ships crew, his reactions will appear to be instinctive,positive and at all times safe.
Most commercial vessels in excess of size limits determined by local authorities are handled by a 'Marine (or maritime) pilot. Marine pilots are seafarers with extensive seafaring experience and are usually qualified Master mariners who have been trained as expert ship-handlers. These pilots are conversant with all types of vessel and propulsion systems, as well as handling ships of all sizes in all weather and tidal conditions. They are also experts in the geographical areas they work. In most countries the pilot takes over the 'conduct' of the navigation from the ship master, this means that the master & crew should adhere to the pilots orders in respect of the safe navigation of the vessel when in a compulsory pilotage area. The master may, with good cause resume 'conduct' of the vessels navigation however this should never be done lightly. In some countries and area's (e.g. Scandinavia the Pilots role is an advisor, however to watch them in action, who would see they are likely to have the conduct of the vessel, especially on larger ships using tug boats to assist.

Progression in Seamanship

nautical in German: Seemannschaft
nautical in Modern Greek (1453-): Ναυτική τέχνη
nautical in Persian: دریانوردی
nautical in Italian: Nautica
nautical in Russian: Морская навигация

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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