It behooves anyone considering a boat purchase to become thoroughly
familiar with the terminology associated with boating. Not only will it make you feel at
ease discussing boats, but it also serves to warn others that you are an individual to be
reckoned with. Here are somedefinitions for the nautical terms you will undoubtedly
encounter in quest for your new boat. Take time to learn them now!
- Aboard - A piece of lumber that may
be used to repair your boat. Aft - Acronym for Automatic Flotation Thing. The Coast
Guard requires that you have a personal flotation device for each member on board; these
are the ones that inflate automatically when you hit the water
(and you will) to prevent drowning.
- Adrift - A method of moving across
the water when nothing on your boat works. You normally do not have a lot of input as to
where you are actually going, but you can get there.
- Anchor - A mechanical device that is
supposed to keep the boat in one place (see dragging). These devices are sometimes used to
submerge expensive anchor lines and chain when used without proper termination at both
ends of the anchor line.
- Astern - A type of look. Your spouse
gives you astern look when you attempt to buy things for your new boat.
- Bilge - This is a storage area in
the bottom of the boat for all the things you dropped and can not find. Also a mixing area
for water, fuel and head output.
- Bilge pump - An electrical device
designed to remove the charge from your batteries. These devices only operate when the
boat is not taking on water.
- Bow - This is what you do in front
of your banker when you are asking for more money to spend on your boat. As your boat will
surely cost much more than what you initially asked for, it is imperative that you learn
how to do this quickly.
- Bridge - Something you cross to get
to the other side of a body of water when you do not have a boat available. Can also used
for removing masts of sailing vessels if the bridge is low enough.
- Capsize - They ask you this when you
go to buy a hat or baseball cap.
- Crew - This term refers to the
people working on your boat. They are usually friends or acquaintances who do not find out
about the "work" part of the ride until you are away from the dock. Crews have a
high turnover rate, they normally will never want to see you again, let alone set foot on
- Deck - This is what your spouse will
do to you after discovering how much money you have spent on the boat without first
- Dock - A medical professional, not
sure why the term shows up in a nautical dictionary.
- Dragging - A method of moving about
when the anchor is deployed (see anchor).
- GPS - An electronic device that
allows you to navigate out of sight of landmarks before the batteries expire.
- Hatch - A device similar in nature
to a mousetrap, in that it will drop down on your head or hand without warning. Also an
opening for admitting water into the boat.
- Head - It is the part of your body
that sits on top of your neck; you should not be buying a boat unless you already know
this. Also useful for storing items like hats, sunglasses and such.
- Hull - A famous hockey player
- Keel - A stopping device for your
boat. It works by contacting the bottom of the water body you are in, thus inhibiting
- Keys - These items are used for
opening locks and lockers aboard your boat, starting the engine and such. Keys can usually
be found in the water beneath your boat. Also a place in Florida.
- No Wake Zone - An area of a waterway
in which you are prohibited from waking people who may be sleeping.
- Overboard - A term describing the
final resting-place for anything expensive dropped while on board a boat.
- PDF - Acronym for Personal
Floatation Device. This is a multifunction device normally used as a cushion, packing
material or sponge. The Coast Guard requires one for each person on board to ensure they
have something soft to sit on in case standard seating is limited.
- Port - This is what you drink when
you are on the boat.
- Propeller - A metal thing that looks
like a fan and is attached to your motor. Propellers typically do not have the same number
of blades they came with. The propeller is a dual-purpose item. It both propels your boat
through the water and catches stray dock and rigging lines
before they can harm wildlife.
- Rudder - This is the device that
steers your boat. The rudder is usually the first part of your boat to come off when you
hit a rock.
- Rock - These are devices used to
remove rudders from boats. Also what your boat does just after you fill all your glasses
to the brim with port.
- Stern - The flat, back end of your
vessel, included so you have a place to paint the name of your boat. This does not apply
to Hans Christian and similar boats because they have points on both ends and you don't
want to risk sounding incompetent when trying to determine which is which.
- Through-the-hull fitting - A leak.
- Wake - This event is part of a
funeral and often confused with boating. Also what boaters participate in when they do not
practice safe boating.
Never buy version 1.0 of anything!