DICTIONARY OF TRAWLING TERMINOLOGY
• Aft The extreme end of the vessel from the bow.
• Amidships Is the area near or at the middle of the vessel.
• Backstrop A wire which has three eyes, two attached to the back of the otter board,the third holds the
Kelly’s eye which is instrumental when attaching/detaching the otter boards.
• Baskets A round container made from wicker in which fish catch was roughly calculated.
There was approximately 3 baskets to 2 kit.
A kit when measured out on the fish market was equal to 10 stone in weight.
• Becket A term used for a number of different items. The main double becket fits around the
codend and allows a large catch to be brought onboard efficiently in manageable quantities.
• Bight A loop formed in a rope or wire.
• Blocking up The action of containing the two warps in the towing block aft when shooting the gear.
• Bobbins The heavy string of steel and rubber spheres which act as the footrope and allows the
gear to stay in contact with the seabed.
• Bosun Short for Boatswain who was a watch keeper and in charge of the deck in the absence of the Mate.
• Brackets The two triangular steel fixtures on the otter boards to which the towing warps
• Braiding needles A small wooden instrument used to repair/braid net, when loaded with twine.
• Bridge The upper part of the superstructure which contains the wheelhouse.
• Bridge telegraph The mechanical communication instrument for conveying engine movement from
the wheelhouse to the engine room.
• Bunk A seaman’s bed.
• Busters A round hotcake baked by many Cooks, usually eaten with a cup of tea between mealtimes.
• Butterfly One of the components of the Dan Leno arrangement; holds the toe leg wire and the headline wire.
• Cable drum The main wire holders on the starboard and port sides of the winch for housing the warps.
• Chief Engineer The head qualified Engineer in charge of and responsible for the engines and all mechanical,
hydraulic and pumping equipment.
• Clumpers Old cut down sea boots used as ‘slippers.’
• Codend The final part of a trawl net which is made of strong double twine. It contains the fish
as the opening is tied off by use of the codline knot.
• Codline knot A slip type of knot used specifically on the codend. It closes off the open end but can be
easily released when the catch comes onboard.
• Dan Lenos A part of the iron gear that is towed ahead of the main trawl attached to the ground
cable at the top end and the toe leg and headline leg at the butterfly section.
• Deckhand A proficient and usually experienced fisherman whose role is specifically deck work especially
during fishing operations.
• Deckie learner A young apprentice type deckhand.
• Derrick A heavy duty steel arm attached to the foremast used to heave the codends outboard by means
of a block and wire commonly referred to as a ‘yo yo’ wire.
• Dippy giggle An odd physical condition often experienced by those who work on deck for long hours in extreme
conditions. Its effect makes men laugh when generally there is little to laugh at.
• Donkey The water feed provided to the fish washer from the engine room sea water pump.
• Door chain The heavy duty chain secured to the gallows which is used when disengaging the trawl doors
during the hauling and shooting operation.
• Double sheaved The heavy lift block with two rollers secured on the foremast and used with the tackle
hook to bring the bag of fish inboard.
• Duck Pond The lowest area on the deck where the working deck meets the raised after area and where the
largest scupper is situated to allow water shipped onboard to flow out.
• Fasteners Wrecks or other seabed obstructions that the trawler’s gear can be caught up on and
damaged or lost.
• Fathom A measurement of water depth equal to 6 feet.
• Fireman Assistant to the Chief or Second Engineer.
• Fishroom The below deck section of the vessel specifically designed to hold/preserve the catch.
• Fishroom man A deckhand who managed the fish room.
• Fleet A process whereby lengths of net are brought sequentially onboard by use of lifting gear.
• Floats Aluminium or plastic spheres used to float open the headline of the trawl whilst being
towed on the seabed.
• Footrope The heavy duty string of steel/rubber bobbins used to weigh the bottom of the trawl
onto the seabed.
• Force 4-5 Wind speed as stated on the Beaufort Scale where winds of between 13 and 24mph
• Fore Towards the bow.
• Foredeck The part of the working deck between the duckpond and the whaleback.
• Galley The vessel’s kitchen where all food is prepared and cooked.
• Galley boy The Cook’s assistant, the most junior rating onboard.
• Gallows The horseshoe shaped large steel structures sited close to the ships rail, both aft and forward,
through which the warps ran during hauling, shooting and towing of the gear.
• Gash Extra sleep when watch below, due to no work until hauling time.
• G Link A heavy duty G shaped link which is used to connect/disconnect the trawl warps to the otter boards.
• Gilguy A wire used through a block on the wheelhouse to fleet
the volume of net inboard which include the square, belly/baitings and lengtheners.
• Gilson hook The hook used on the end of the Gilson wire used for most heaving tasks other than the final
lift inboard of a bag of fish.
• Ground cable The sweep wires located between the otter boards and the Dan Lenos.
• Guiding on gear The mechanism fitted at the front of the winch which spools the warps evenly on the cable drums.
• Gutting The action of removing the innards of the fish in order to prevent them spoiling.
• Haddock Rash An irritable skin condition which causes a rash to the hands, wrists, forearms, when gutting
haddocks which have sand, grit in the gut.
• Hauling The retrieving of the fishing gear after being towed for a given period of time.
• Headline The wire reinforced top of the mouth of the trawl net which houses the spherical floats.
• Helm A common term given to the process of altering the ship’s rudder to change the direction
of the ship’s heading.
• Hopper A machine used to transfer the raw livers from the deck to the liver house aft, operated by steam.
• Jummy Lump A hurtful physical condition to a deckhands wrists caused by excessive work, in the main gutting.
• Keep A steel link sliced into the ground cable which, when stopped in the Kelly’s eye allows the
otter boards to be attached/detached.
• Kelly’s eye An item of ironware used within the components of a full set of gear, used specifically to capture
the cable keep thereby allowing the otter boards to be connected/disconnected.
• Leeside The side opposite to the weather which gave some shelter to those working on deck.
• Leggo aft A colloquial command meaning to let the warps go free from the towing block to enable hauling
of the gear to take place.
• Lengtheners A section of double net between the belly/baitings and the codend. It allows space within the trawl
if a large catch is made.
• Liver baskets The baskets used to save the livers in during the gutting of the fish.
• Liver house A section aft within which large steam operated boilers rendered the raw livers into liver oil.
In some vessels the plant was situated forward.
• Mate The ship’s deck officer junior only to the Skipper.
• Messroom The area dedicated to where the crew ate their meals and enjoyed recreation.
• Officer’s Mess The area onboard specifically for use by the Officers for eating/recreation.
• Oilskins Waterproof clothing worn by the deckhands.
Rubber, plastic suits or all-in-one frock – like garments.
• Otter boards The 11 x 5 foot steel and wood constructed doors used to provide the horizontal opening to the trawl
when being towed on the seabed. They were apparently named after one of the first steam trawlers
to use them.
• Pan of shackles A common name to describe a meat/vegetable stew.
• Paying out When the warps are running outboard during the shooting of the gear.
• Portside The side of a vessel that lies on your left hand side when facing the bow (forward).
• Pound An area of the deck closed off using boards to restrict fish movement.
• Preventor chain/Restraining chain A heavy duty chain with one end secured to the gallows with the other end being
being free to secure the otter board during hauling/shooting of the gear.
• Rigging A fixture consisting of three heavy duty wrapped wires attached to the deck at the bottom
and diverging at one point on the mast below the crosstree to form a ‘ladder’ to climb up/down.
• Scuppers Openings in the ship side plating at deck level, to allow any sea water taken onboard to run
away freely. They were also a means of getting rid of guts, debris, etc.
• Second Engineer A qualified watchkeeping engineer junior to the Chief Engineer.
• Selvedges The edges of a net section, laced together to seal and reinforce sections of the trawl.
• Sheave A roller type block through which the warps or wire can freely run through, as the ones attached
at the fore and aft gallows.
• Shooting The operational process of sending the fishing gear to the seabed.
• Skipper The Senior Officer onboard with sole responsibility for the safety and profitability of the vessel.
• Splice A process whereby a rope/wire is repaired or when an eye needs to be formed.
• Starboard The side of a vessel that lies on your right hand side when facing the bow (forward).
• Tannoy A loud hailer communication system, which links the bridge to a number of areas on the ship.
• Third Hand A uncertified proficient experienced deckhand who assumes a watch keeping role usually
overseen by the Skipper.
• Toe leg wire A wire which forms part of the ground gear connecting the footrope to the Dan Leno.
• Tow The action of trawling the fishing gear along the seabed.
• Towing block Is the fix point at the stern into which the warps are safely retained while the fishing gear
is being towed on the seabed. It allows the vessels to be manoeuvred by keeping the
warps clear from the propeller/rudder.
• Trawl The complete net part of a trawler’s fishing gear.
• Treacle duff A common dish, a pudding which can be produced as a savoury or with treacle as a sweet.
• Twine The ‘string like’ material used in the production of netting.
• Wake The disturbed path of water created by the ships propeller.
• Warps Heavy duty wire that the fishing gear was towed on.
• Watch A period of duty.
• Whipping drums The outer barrels on a winch on which most wire/rope heaving operations take place.
• Winch The main mechanical power source on deck to heavy/lift weights. It is fundamental to the hauling
and shooting of the fishing gear.
• Wing rubbers Rubber discs slotted onto wires which are attached to the main bobbins and form the footrope.
• Wireless Operator The communications officer responsible for all transmissions on behalf of the Skipper and has total
responsibility for the maintenance and repair of all electronic equipment i.e. radio, radar,