Definition of be in stays in US English:

be in stays

phrase

  • (of a sailing ship) be head to the wind while tacking.

    • ‘For those boats which have a tendency to be in stays, it is useful not to ease the Genova sheet until the boat turns fully to the opposite tack.’
    • ‘The breeze was fresh, the ship was in stays.’
    • ‘By making short tacks, however, the Theseus brought her guns to bear with such effect that the fort fired only an occasional gun when the ship was in stays.’
    • ‘At one stage we were in stays, in a wind shadow behind an islet.’
    • ‘A boat that's heading dead into the wind is said to be in stays or in irons.’
    • ‘The flapping of the sails while the boat was in stays awoke my companion, who sat up and, in a weak and husky voice, asked me what was the matter.’