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On a ship, the term boom generally describes a spar running along the foot of a fore-and-aft sail. For larger sails like the spanker or driver of a ship, the boom may swing with the sail. The headsails, particularly the jibs, are only connected to their respective booms at the tack, and the jibbooms do not move with the sail. Such sails are said to be "loose-footed", while sails which are fast to the boom through their length are called "club-footed".

The term is also used in the plural as a means broadly to describe the sundry extra spars carried amidships and on which the ship's boats are often stored on those vessels lacking davits.

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