For square-sail carrying ship, the masts, given their standard names in bow to stern (front to back) order, are:
- Sprit topmast: a small mast set on the end of the bowsprit (discontinued after the early 18th century); not usually counted as a mast, however, when identifying a ship as "two masted" or "three masted"
- Fore-mast: the mast nearest the bow, or the mast forward of the main-mast
- Sections: fore-mast lower—fore topmast—fore topgallant mast
- Main-mast: the tallest mast, usually located near the center of the ship
- Sections: main-mast lower—main topmast—main topgallant mast—royal mast (if fitted)
- Mizzen-mast: the aft-most mast. Typically shorter than the fore-mast.
- Sections: mizzen-mast lower—mizzen topmast—mizzen topgallant mast
Some names given to masts in ships carrying other types of rig (where the naming is less standardised) are:
- Bonaventure mizzen: the fourth mast on larger sixteenth century galleons, typically lateen-rigged and shorter than the main mizzen.
- Jigger-mast: typically, where it is the shortest, the aftmost mast on vessels with more than three masts.
- Sections: jigger-mast lower—jigger topmast—jigger topgallant mast
This photo of the full-rigged ship Balclutha
, shows the fore-mast, main-mast and mizzen-mast, as well as all the ship's standing and running rigging. The Balclutha is berthed in San Francisco
, and is open to the public.
Most types of vessels with two masts are supposed to have a main-mast and a smaller mizzen-mast, although both brigs and two-masted schooners carry a fore-mast and a main-mast instead. On a two-masted vessel with the main-mast forward and a much smaller second mast, such as a ketch, or particularly a yawl, the terms mizzen and jigger are synonymous.
Although two-masted schooners may be provided with masts of identical size, the aftmost is still referred to as the main-mast, and normally has the larger course. Schooners have been built with up to seven masts in all, with several six-masted examples.
On square-rigged vessels, each mast carries several horizontal yards from which the individual sails are rigged.
Folding mast ships use a tabernacle anchor point. Definitions include: "the partly open socket or double post on the deck, into which a mast is fixed, with a pivot near the top so that the mast can be lowered"; "large bracket attached firmly to the deck, to which the foot of the mast is fixed; it has two sides or cheeks and a bolt forming the pivot around which the mast is raised and lowered"; "substantial fitting for mounting the mast on deck, so that it can be lowered easily for trailering or for sailing under bridges", "hinged device allowing for the easy folding of a mast 90 degrees from perpendicular, as for transporting the boat on a trailer, or passing under a bridge"