boating terms

Boating Terms Every Boater Should Know

Written by Boatsetter Team
December 5, 2017

Last Updated on January 14, 2022 by Boatsetter Team

Do you know your aft from your bow? Are you casting that line from the port or starboard side? Would you know a buoy from a bow line? While some boating terms are fairly self-explanatory, there are several boating terms and phrases that every boater should know.

Boating Terms and Phrases Defined

Boating terms – The parts of the boat

Aft refers to the back of the boat. It is also called the stern.

The bow is the front of the boat. It is important to know aft and bow so that you can determine the left and right, or port and starboard, sides of the boat.

Port is the left side of the boat when facing the bow, or front, of the boat.

Starboard is the right side of the boat when facing the bow.

Line is the nautical term for rope.

Bow Line
A bow line is a line that leads from the front of the boat, the bow, to the dock. It is used to tie the boat to the dock.

A cabin is a room in the boat below the deck. An aft cabin would be a cabin located in the back of the boat.

The deck is the main floor of the boat that you stand upon.

The hull is the underbody of the boat. It is usually made out of fiberglass.

The helm is where the captain stands and steers the boat from either a wheel or a tiller.

Inboard Motor
An inboard motor is a motor that is inside of the vessel.

Outboard Motor
An outboard motor is a motor that is outside of the vessel. It is attached to the transom.

The transom is the flat part of the stern, or back, of the boat.

Boating Terminology – Out on the water

To launch means to move the boat from land to water.

Buoys are floating markers in the water that mark directions, hazards and the edges of channels. You will notice them bobbing around in the water. Don’t hit them.

Leeward refers to the opposite direction that the wind is blowing. It is also called lee.

Windward refers to the direction in which the wind is blowing. Sailboats generally move with the wind, so windward and leeward are important terms to know when sailing.

To moor means to tie the boat to a pier, dock or wharf as well as anchor it to the ground.

Float Plan
A float plan is a written list that details everything about your boat trip. Details may include name, phone number, boat make and model, marina names and locations, dates, expected return times and any other important information. This list is then left with someone on land in the event that you don’t show up when or where you are expected.

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