• In marine carpentry, an L-shaped groove or recess in a stem, keel or stern post into which the vessel's planking fits.

  • Stands for "radio detection and ranging." Radar was developed in World War II. Pulses of ultra-high frequency radio waves emitted by a transmitter aboard ship are reflected by solid objects and are detected upon their return to the sending location. The time it takes for the wave to return gives the objects range or distance, and the direction from which it comes gives the bearing. A visual picture of objects projecting above the surface of the sea is presented to the sending ship.
  • RDF
    An instrument used in connection with a compass by which the navigator can ascertain his bearings from fixed points ashore and locate his position by the use of radio signals. A directional antenna which can be rotated is used to detect the direction of the signal. Also called radio compass, direction finder, wireless compass, or goniometer.
  • Sir Walter Raleigh
    c.1522-1618. English soldier, courtier, writer and explorer. When his half brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert's patent, or right to plant colonies, was due to run out, Raleigh became the financial backer of the expedition in which Gilbert found Newfoundland and lost his life. After getting the patent renewed in 1584, Raleigh organized the expedition that planted a colony in Roanoke Island, then sent a second expedition there in 1587. Raleigh was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I and named Virginia for her. Elizabeth's death ruined Raleigh; he was imprisoned by James I and beheaded.
  • A ratchet refers to a toothed bar with which a pivoted bar can engage. It is used to prevent or aid motion. A ratchet windlass is a simple form of hand-worked windlass consisting of a horizontal drum pierced to hold handspikes.
  • The stem of a variety of palm tree, used to make furniture or rope. Rattan rope was used in the Far East in the first half of the nineteenth century for cables and running gear.
  • Ratlines
    Correct spelling is ratlines. Part of the ship’s rigging.
  • In ship and boat building a reconstruction is a historic ship or boat built based on the best research available. It is the proper name for virtually all the vessels today called replicas or reproductions, such as today's Plymouth and Jamestown ships. These vessels are built with very little knowledge of the original beyond perhaps dimensions and what can be found from paintings, ship building books, and perhaps marine archaoelogical data.
  • Red Jacket was a famous Maine-built clipper, built in Rockland by George Thomas and launched in 1853. She was the largest and fastest of the Maine clippers, 251 feet long and registering 2,305 tons. Designed by Bostonian Samuel Pook, Red Jacket was an extreme clipper, likely built for the passenger trade. Her figurehead was a life-size replica of the Seneca chief for whom she was named. She was expensively furnished and outfitted and accommodated a crew of 62 men, in addition to her officers and 14 passenger staterooms. On her first voyage to Liverpool, January 11-23, 1854, she set a speed record: 13 days, 1 hour, and 25 minutes, which has only been beaten a few times. This impressed Liverpool merchants so much that they purchased her in April of 1854. Red Jacket was chartered to the White Star Line for the round trip to Melbourne, Australia. She was still sailing in 1882, carrying lumber from Quebec to England, and she ended her life as a coal hulk at the Cape Verde Islands.

  • Northern red oak is native to the eastern and midwestern United States and Canada. It is the oak most commonly found in Maine. Used in ship and boat building for keels and frames, it is not as rot-resistant as its cousin white oak.
  • Red tides are harmful algae blooms, when phytoplankton grow quickly and are visible. Some of these phytoplankton are toxic and can kill animals that eat them. Shell fish beds are especially vulnerable as shell fish feed by filtering water, which concentrates the toxins, although the shell fish themselves are not harmed. Red tides will close areas to shell fishing.
  • The amount of sail taken in by securing one set of reef-points. It is the means of shortening sail to the amount appropriate to an increase in the strength of the wind. As a verb, it means to shorten sail in a vessel by reducing the area exposed to the wind.
  • A knot consisting of two successive overhand knots, used for joining two ropes of the same size. It is commonly used for reefing sails because it allows sailors to easily spill the wind from the sails.
  • A boat race, or series of races.
  • tonnage
    The carrying capacity of a vessel, a volume measurement now expressed in tons of 100 cubic feet. Gross register tonnage is the total internal volume of a vessel; net register tonnage is that volume less the spaces that cannot carry cargo such as the engine room. These are now called gross and net tonnage.
  • To melt fat or blubber to remove impurities.
  • In the early to mid-1800s, many New England families had a clock or mirror decorated with a scene painted on the back of a glass section and showing through. The image would of course be reversed. Common images included ships, steamboats, flowers, or children playing.
  • A non-specific term for medical problems affecting the joints and connective tissue. This term is not typically used today.
  • Straight line compass course between two points on a Mercator chart. Formally a line of constant bearing that crosses all meridians at the same angle which displays as a straight line on a Mercator chart but as a spiral on a globe. This spiral line is called a loxodrome.
  • The curved or straight wooden pieces that form the frame of a vessel. On a large vessel these are pieced together with futtocks. On a small boat, ribs or frames are often one piece and can be made by steaming wood and bending it.
  • The starchy seeds of an annual cereal grass, cultivated in south East Asia and other warm climates.
  • A small two-wheeled carriage drawn by one or two men. In the 19th century China Trade, westerners were forbidden to ride in rickshaws.
  • The general term describing the characteristics of masts and sails that determine the type of sailing vessel. There are two types: square and fore-and-aft. In the 19th century sailing vessels began to take their names from their rig rather than their hull type. To rig is to equip a vessel with sails, masts and rigging, something done by a rigger.
  • The term for all ropes, wires, or chains used in ships and smaller vessels to support the masts and yards (standing rigging) and for hoisting, lowering, or trimming sails to the wind (running rigging.) Running rigging lines move through blocks and are not wormed, parceled, or served.
  • Right ascension is the celestial or astronomical equivalent of longitude. It is expressed in hours and takes its reference base from the First Point of Aries, the point where the Sun crosses the Equator in the spring, measured east.
  • Strong westerly winds between 40 and 60 degrees South latitude.
  • the Rock
    The Rock of Gibraltar is a limestone promontory in Gibraltar, lying off the southwest tip of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. It is 1,398 feet high. It is home to the remains of a Moorish castle built in A.D. 711, and a system of caves and tunnels. The Rock is a popular tourist site todsay. See also Strait of Gibraltar in the collections database.
  • Roe
    Eggs of a fish, or egg mass of crustaceans such as lobster.
  • In maritime usage, all cordage over one inch in diameter. Natural rope fibers include hemp, manila, sisal, and coir. Synthetic fibers are now more often used, as they do not absorb water. Some rope is made from wire. When a rope has a specific use it is called a line.
  • ropehouse
    A long building, usually 300-400 yards, in which ropes were made by twisting yarns into strands and strands into rope. Machinery introduced in the late 19th century produced rope in a continous process, reeling up the rope as it was spun so that ropewalks were no longer needed. Modern rope manufacture is no longer a hand process, and man-made fibers are usually used.
  • A large city in Argentina, about 190 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.
  • Famille Rose
    A design often used on Chinese export porcelain, in which flowers, people, etc. are painted inside round or oval medallion-shaped borders. It is also known as Famille Rose.
  • James Rosier

    1573-1609. Son of a Norwich clergyman, James Rosier graduated from Cambridge with a B.A. in 1592/3 and an M.A. in 1596. He became a Catholic in 1602. He was hired by Thomas Arundell, the prime backer of George Waymouth's voyage to New England in 1605 aboard the vessel Archangell, as recorder and naturalist.

    Rosier kept a written record of the trip, including plants, animals, geographic features, and Native people. This was published in London soon after the voyagers returned, under the title: "A True Relation of the most prosperous voyage made this present yeere 1605, by Captain George Waymouth, in the Discovery of the land of Virginia: Where he discovered 60 miles up a most excellent River; together with a most fertile land. Written by James Rosier, a Gentleman employed in the voyage." Rosier may also have been to New England with Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602.

    After returning to England, in 1608 he entered the English College in Rome and graduated as Father James Rosier, S.J., in 1609. Some accounts of his life indicate that Rosier the explorer was not the same person as the person who became a priest and have his dates as 1775-1635. More recent scholarship indicates that they were the same person.

  • Backstay refers to standing rigging from a mast to the deck behind the mast. Royal backstays run from the Royal sail.
  • Royals
    A small sail flown immediately above the topgallant on square-rigged vessels. Originally called "topgallant royal." Used in light winds on masts tall enough to accomodate extra canvas.
  • Used to steer a vessel. A flat piece or structure of wood or metal attached upright to the stern of a boat or ship. The rudder may be turned, causing the vessel's head to turn in the same direction.