E (Echo)

In the International Code of Signals the single letter E means, ‘I am altering my course to starboard’. Echo in the phonetic alphabet, and just a single dot in the Morse code.


Not rings, but ropes. May be any rope used to lash the corner of a sail to a spar or a halyard, but shackles are normally used for that job nowadays, except for the clew earing which is used to haul the foot of the sail towards the end of the boom. When reefing, the earings draw the Cringles (which are rings) down to the boom at clew and tack.

Ease, to

To slacken a rope slightly. A sheet is eased when it is let out, Hardened when it is pulled in

Ebb, to

Both verb and noun. When the tide falls it ebbs. The event is the Ebb. One may leave harbour ‘on the ebb’, or one may ‘take the ebb to the West’, etc. The contrary term is Flood, both verb and noun again.


Electronic Bearing Line. Used in radar to measure a target’s bearing relative to the radar vessel.


A depth-measuring instrument which transmits a pulse of sound from a transducer in the ship’s bottom, receives the reflected pulse (echo) and deduces the distance to the bottom by the time taken for the return trip. Offers wonderful value to the single-hander who would find it hard to take continuous casts of the lead at those times when sounding are most needed.


European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service. See SBAS.

Electrolytic corrosion

Corrosion caused by current leaking from the boat’s own electrical system. Its results are similar to those of Galvanic corrosion.


Enhanced LORAN system claiming to be accurate to within 8m. Also offers additional pulses, which can transmit auxiliary data such as DGPS corrections


Electronic Navigational Chart. An electronic chart released by a national hydrographic office for use by shipping. ENCs differ from leisure charts in that they are regarded as an acceptable replacement for paper charts by the IMO.


A rope such as a halyard is turned end-for-end by the thrifty owner to prolong its life by avoiding concentration of wear at one portion. The same is done with anchor chains. Used sometimes as a verb, as, ‘We’ll end-for-end the jib halyard next season’.

End-for-end gybe

A method of gybing a spinnaker pole. One end is unclipped from the mast, and clipped onto the new guy, while the other is removed from the old guy and clipped onto the mast.


The flag of nationality worn by a vessel. Most countries use their national flag for their ships but British ships have a special ensign with the Union flag in the upper corner of the Hoist. Merchant ships and most private craft fly the Red ensign, but members of some clubs are privileged to fly the Blue ensign if granted a warrant to do so on application to the Admiralty. The Royal Navy flies the White ensign, and so does the Royal Yacht Squadron, a yacht club which enjoys royal patronage. The ensign is hoisted at 0800 in summer and 0900 in winter, and is lowered at sunset or 2100, whichever is earlier. The ensign is used for saluting a senior vessel.(Please see Dip, to.)

EP Estimated position

 Please see Dead Reckoning.


Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. An electronic device which sends a distress signal via satellite on the 406MHz frequency. EPIRBs are automatically triggered when they come into contact with salt water.

Epoxy resin

A resin which is stronger than the cheaper polyester. It makes an excellent glue, and is the basis of very good ‘putty’ for filling screw-holes, cracks in resinglass hulls, and so forth.


The times of year when the length of day and night are equal, about 20 March and 22 September. The weeks either side of these dates are loosely embraced by the same term, and it is around that time that some people expect to suffer ‘equinoctial gales’, though I don’t think that these expectations are supported by the statistical records. But tides are certainly higher (and lower) than average at the equinoxes.


An old-fashioned term of little practical value to the modern boat-owner, who will simply use his tide tables. The establishment of a given place is the time difference between the transit of either the full or the new moon and of High Water on the following day. Also known as High Water Full and Change.

Estimated position

This is the position of the ship as deduced from Dead reckoning. It has a much higher probability of inaccuracy than a Fix from cross-bearings or the like.


A European-based geodetic system to approximate the Earth’s shape. Many European charts use ETRS89 rather than the WGS84 system used by GPS; however, the difference is usually less than a metre.


The Dead-eye through which run the multi-part sheets of a fullybattened Chinese ‘junk’ sail.

Expanded polystyrene

A lightweight plastic material (‘man-made-cork’) which is used in blocks to provide buoyancy. Small dinghies and fun-boats are made entirely of EPS, but it lacks sufficient strength for bigger craft.


A metal band with eyes for attachment of shrouds or stays to a mast, boom or bowsprit. (See also Cranse iron and Spider band.)


An eye formed in a rope’s end by turning it back and splicing. Eye is used afloat in the same manner as ashore, for eye-bolts, eye-plates, and so forth.


A lip or ledge formed above a Scuttle or window to divert water that might otherwise drip in. (See Rigol.)


The eyes of a vessel are the extreme forward parts of the bows, immediately abaft the Stem.