• Setting a course is planning what course to steer, then setting out on it.
  • To begin a voyage. This term is used for mechanically-powered vessels as well as for sailing vessels. To set the sails on a vessel is to raise, open, and extend them to the wind.
  • A portable reflecting astronomical instrument for measuring angles. It is mainly used to measure the altitude of heavenly bodies at sea, but can also be used to determine horizontal angles between landmarks in order to fix a position. Developed in 1757 from Hadley's quadrant, it can measure angles up to 120 degrees, sometimes needed to measure lunar distances.
  • shackles
    A bow-shaped or U-shaped steel or iron fitting with a pin across the throat end, used as a connection between lengths of chain or to attach other fittings. Shackles used in the rigging have a threaded pin, and those used for joining lengths of anchor chain have a smooth heavy pin.
  • American or Atlantic shad are an anadromous fish traditionally caught in weirs or set nets along the Eastern Seaboard. They are the largest member of the herring family, and are often found in nets together with salmon. Damming rivers destroyed the shad fishery, as egg-bearing shad cannot jump, so do not use ladders put in for alewives and salmon. In Maine this is only a recreational fishery.

  • A member of the Millennial Church, originating in England in the middle of the 18th century and brought to the U.S. in 1774, advocating celibacy, common ownership of property, and a strict and simple way of life: so called from their practice of shaking during religious services.
  • The crew member who led the shanty and sang the verses, making up new ones as needed.
  • A percentage of ownership. In the days of the Down Easter, ships were owned in sixty-fourths.
  • Relatively few sharks are found in Maine waters, with the 3-4 foot dogfish the common species. Offshore in summer are found blue sharks in the 12 foot range. Other species are uncommon. With the passage of the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000, catching sharks for their fins for shark-fin soup in US waters has been prohibited. However, that is a serious threat to shark species in other waters.
  • A delicacy used in soup in China. Finning is the practice of catching sharks for their fins alone. In the past fishermen have cut off the fins and returned the crippled and dying shark to the water, which generally meant that it would be eaten alive by its fellows.
  • shears
    A temporary structure of two or three spars raised at an angle and lashed together at the point of intersection. With a tackle secured to this point, sheers are used to lift heavy weights on board ship where derricks are not available. Originally, the main use was for lifting in and out the lower masts of square-rigged ships.
  • sheets
    The controlling line attached to a sail.
  • shell fish
    Common name for marine invertebrates. It includes crustaceans such as lobsters, mollusks such as clams, and echinoderms such as sea urchins.
  • shingle
    Thin pieces of wood laid in overlapping rows and used to cover the outside walls or the roof of a building.
  • A vessel with three masts, all square-rigged.
  • ship's carpenter
    A petty officer, responsible to the chief officer, whose duties include the opening and battening down of hatches and cargo ports, and maintaining wooden masts, spars, and decks. A ship's carpenter can also work in a shipyard, building vessels.
  • The ship carver was a specialist in carving decorations on a ship such as figureheads, billetheads, and trail or name boards.
  • Marine painting featuring an accurate depiction of a vessel, usually commissioned by the owner or captain.
  • Clock aboard a ship that typically rings the time in bells, with eight bells every 4 hours, and one bell at a half hour after eight bells, marking the watches. Traditionally the ship's clock was reset to noon based on daily sun observations.
  • Local apparent time which is reset every day at noon based on a noon sun sight. A ship's new day traditionally began at noon.
  • Ship Smith
    A person who makes a vessel's iron work.
  • A shallow area of water.
  • shogunate
    The title used in Japan for chief military officers, from the 8th through 12th centuries, and then applied to the hereditary rulers of Japan until 1868, when the shogunate was ended and rule returned to the emperor.
  • stave
    Barrel staves bundled for export. A stave is a narrow piece of softwood about 42 inches long, used to form the sides of the finished barrel.
  • A prop or beam used for support during vessel construction.
  • Whaling method using boats that set out from shore and then processed the whales on shore. It was practiced in many areas where whales pass close to land.
  • To reduce the amount of sail, or canvas, used on a vessel.
  • A small swimming crustacean, typically caught commercially by trawling. Maine's shrimp are northern shrimp, and the Gulf of Maine is at the southern limit of their range. The fishery is a winter fishery which began in the 1930s.
  • The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is an autonomous region of Italy.
  • In the lobster fishery, the heads or funnel shaped nets that let the lobsters into the kitchen section of the trap.
  • The time derived from the motion of a star as it appears to revolve from east to west.
  • Tables that allow celestial sights to be transformed into a vessel's position using precomputed data. Data needed are the altitude of the body observed, the ship's estimated or dead reckoning position, and the time. The only calculations needed are adding and subtracting. The process is called sight reduction.
  • A lung disease caused by prolonged inhalation of silica dust.
  • The thread made by silk worms to form their cocoons. The Chinese cultivated the mulberry tree, whose leaves the silkworms ate, and nurtured the eggs of the worms. After the worms spun cocoons and changed into moths, Chinese women unwound the cocoons into fine threads several hundred yards long, dyed them, and spun them into silk fiber. The thread was woven into a light, shiny cloth. Europeans were introduced to silk as a result of Alexander the Great's military campaigns in Asia. The ancient Greeks called the Chinese the "silk people."
  • An ancient caravan route across Asia by which early European explorers traveled to China.
  • Sky sail
    On a square rigged vessel, a small square sail above the royal.