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 Nautical Terminology
By MartyM

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 your boat.
  • Deck - This is what your spouse will do to you after discovering how much money you have spent on the boat without first obtaining permission.
  • 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 (Bobby).
  • Keel - A stopping device for your boat. It works by contacting the bottom of the water body you are in, thus inhibiting forward motion.
  • 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!

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