‘Ready about!’ but ‘Stand by to Gybe!’

These are the traditional orders. ‘Ready about’ means ‘Sort yourselves out for a tack.’ ‘Stand by to gybe’ means ‘get that mainsheet hove in and keep your heads down!’

When ‘Ready about’ is called, many skippers won’t tack until the crew have responded that they’ve prepared their sheets and winches (see EOB etc. Miles).

If a skipper says, ‘Ready to gybe,’ and the hands only hear the word ‘ready’ in heavy weather, it could lead to discord and the wrong result. ‘Stand by to gybe,’ is unambiguous. It also needs no response because even on a pitch black night the person giving the order will have a pretty good idea when the sheet has been pulled in. Keep the two orders separate and there’ll never be a misunderstanding.