Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Nautical A stay extending from the head of the foremast to the bowsprit of a ship.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A stay that extends from the top of the foremast to the bow or bowsprit of a sailing ship
  • v. To stay beforehand; secure or fasten with or as with a forestay.
  • v. To stay, delay, postpone, or hinder beforehand; forestall; prevent.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A large, strong rope, reaching from the foremast head to the bowsprit, to support the mast. See Illust. under ship.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Nautical, a strong rope (now generally of wire, and double) extending forward from the head of the foremast to the knight-heads to support the mast.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an adjustable stay from the foremast to the deck or bowsprit; controls the bending of the mast

Etymologies

From fore- +‎ stay (“a stay, rope”). (Wiktionary)
From fore- +‎ stay (“to hold off, postpone, delay”). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • We had to adjust the lengths of strops from which our so-called forestay hangs several times in order to create the right bend in the mast again.

    Sail-World.com USA Latest News

  • • New watertight bulkhead glassed in to hold new inner forestay chainplate

    True Spirit

  • In fact, because I have an overcautious habit of pulling up the storm jib on the inner forestay whenever the weather forecast is bad and the wind rises above about 25 knots, I can actually claim to have left the safety of the cockpit in over 35 knots of wind only once.

    True Spirit

  • Set foresail and forestay – sail and steered south – east by south.

    South: the story of Shackleton’s last expedition 1914–1917

  • The bow is long, and curves into a lofty stem, like that of a Roman galley, finished with a beak head, to secure the forestay of the mast.

    Unbeaten Tracks in Japan

  • Burke and Sandon proceeded to tie a rope round his waist, which they afterwards fastened to the forestay; then, in a way which provoked shouts of laughter from their mates, they gave the unfortunate man a shove, and sent him rolling down like a bundle of dirty clothes on to the forecastle.

    The Survivors of the Chancellor

  • The forestay is attached to the stem fitting, an integral part of the bow construction.

    Sailing Fundamentals

  • There are four major parts of the rig that may fail: the mast, forestay, backstay, and shrouds.

    Sailing Fundamentals

  • If the foresails are labeled according to their foot length relative to the distance between the mast and forestay, then percentages are used-100 percent, 120 percent, 150 percent, etc.

    Sailing Fundamentals

  • As the sail drops to the deck, one of the crew pulls the luff of the sail down the forestay.

    Sailing Fundamentals

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