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Boating Terminology: 50 most used words & definitions

Boating Terminology: 50 most used words & definitions


Boating Terminology: Top 50 Most Used Words & Definitions

When it comes to boating terminology, you may have already discovered that the lingo is a whole language of its own. Whether you are new to the boating world or not, it will serve you well to learn the on-the-water jargon before embarking on an adventure, especially if you plan to travel with an experienced boater or captain. We’ve listed the top 50 most common boating terminology concerning parts of a boat and on the water references for those new to boating or boaters needing a bit of a refresher.

Top 50 Boating Terms & Parts of a Boat

  • Intracoastal Waterway– ICW: bays, rivers, and canals along the coasts that connect so vessels may travel without going into the sea.
  • Jetty– A structure, usually masonry, projecting out from the shore; a jetty may protect a harbor entrance.
  • Keel– The centerline of a boat running fore and aft; the backbone of a vessel.
  • Knot– A measure of speed equal to one nautical mile (6076 feet) per hour.
  • Lazarette– A storage space in a boat’s stern area.
  • Line– Rope and cordage used aboard a vessel.
  • LOA– Overall length of the boat
  • Midship– Approximately in the location equally distant from the bow and stem.
  • Mooring– An arrangement for securing a boat to a mooring buoy or a pier.
  • Outboard– Toward or beyond the boat’s sides. A detachable engine mounted on a boat’s stern.
  • Planing– A boat is said to be plane-ing when it is essentially moving over the top of the water rather than through the water.
  • Port– Left side of the boat when facing the bow
  • Rudder– A vertical plate or board for steering a boat.
  • Scuppers– Drain holes on deck, in the toe rail, or in bulwarks or (with drain pipes) in the deck itself.
  • Seaworthy– A boat or a boat’s gear, able to meet the usual sea conditions.
  • Starboard– The right side of a boat when looking forward.
  • Stem– The forward-most part of the bow.
  • Stern– The after part of the boat.
  • Stow– To put an item in its proper place.
  • Transom– The stem cross-section of a square sterned boat.
  • Underway– Vessel in motion
  • VHF– an onboard radio transmitter
  • Windward– Toward the direction from which the wind is coming.
  • Abaft– Toward the rear (stern) of the boat.
  • Abeam– At right angles to the keel of the boat, but not on the boat.
  • Aft– Toward the stern of the boat.
  • Amidships– In or toward the center of the boat.
  • Athwartships– At right angles to the centerline of the boatBatten Down- Secure hatches and loose objects both within the hull and on deck
  • Beam– The greatest width of the boat
  • Bildge– The interior of the hull below the floorboards.
  • Bow– The forward part of a boat.
  • Bowline– A docking line leading from the bow.
  • Bridge– The location from which a vessel is steered and its speed controlled.
  • Bulkhead– A vertical divider separating compartments.
  • Cabin– Accommodations for passengers or crew
  • Cleat– A fitting to which lines are made fast.
  • Coaming– A vertical piece around the edge of a cockpit, hatch, etc., to prevent water on the deck from running below.
  • Cockpit– An opening in the deck from which the boat is handled.
  • Dinghy– A small open boat. A dinghy is often used as a tender for larger vessels.
  • Draft– The depth of water a boat draws.
  • Fenders– inflatable rubber bumpers used to protect the boats hull
  • Float Plan– a document with predetermined boating agenda. Learn more here
  • Forward– Toward the bow of the boat.
  • Galley– The kitchen area of a boat.
  • Gunwale– The upper edge of a boat’s sides.
  • Hatch– An opening in a boat’s deck fitted with a watertight cover.
  • Head– A marine toilet. Also, the upper corner of a triangular sail.
  • Helm– The wheel or tiller controlling the rudder.
  • Hull– The main body of a boat.


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