Starboard, Aft, What?
Before venturing out into open waters, it’s important to have a basic understanding of common boat terms associated with the positions and directions of your boat. To the uneducated ear, even the simplest of boating terms can sound like a second language. Knowing these terms will make it easier to communicate with people aboard the boat as well. We want to make sure that you have the best experience possible on your boating journey, so here’s our comprehensive boating glossary.
To force air and oxygen into livewells to keep fish or bait alive.
The rear of the boat.
Sleeping quarters beneath the aft or rear section of the boat (sometimes called a mid cabin when located beneath the helm).
The side of a boat or object away from the direction of the wind.
Above deck in the rigging.
Centre section of a boat.
A location intended or suited for anchoring.
A special paint applied to a boat’s hull to prevent marine growth.
The direction and velocity of wind as felt in a moving boat.
The direction toward or beyond the stern.
Perpendicular to a boat’s centreline
An anchor that is off the bottom.
The relationship of revolutions of a tow vehicle’s axle to that of its driveshaft or transaxle
Manoeuvring in reverse when offshore fishing while attempting to land a fish.
A support for the mast to keep it from falling forward.
To remove water with a bucket or pump.
Area on a fishing boat for preparing bait.
Compartment on a fishing boat for holding live bait
Weight added to the bottom of a boat to improve stability.
Measurement of a boat at its widest point.
To turn away from the wind.
Direction to an object.
A place to sleep aboard a boat. Also
Lowest section inside a boat’s hull where water collects.
A canvas cover over the helm or cockpit area.
Vertical post extending above the deck to secure docking lines.
A spar attached to a sail at its foot.
Forward portion of a boat.
A stainless steel U-bolt on a boat’s bow stem used to secure tow lines or trailer winch hooks.
Rubber blocks on a boat trailer into which the boat’s stem rests.
A runabout boat with open-bow seating.
A spar extending forward of the bow on a sailboat.
Emergency safety cable on a boat trailer that activates trailer brakes in the event the trailer comes detached from the tow vehicle while underway.
Distance from waterline to a boat’s highest point.
Transverse wall in a boat that usually bears weight and supplies hull support.
Long carpeted sections of a boat trailer that support the boat’s weight.
An anchored floating object that serves as a navigation aid. Also used to mark a mooring spot.
Small flag that bears a yacht club’s symbol.
Curvature of a sail.
Cylindrical navigation buoy with a flat top.
To flip a boat over.
A winch used for hauling heavy objects such as anchors.
To unfasten all lines in preparation for departure.
Elevated deck clear of obstruction used by anglers to make casts
A twin-hulled boat
Inefficient low-pressure pockets on propellers form bubbles that collapse against the blades resulting in premature wear.
centre console boat
Fishing boat with the helm station located amidships for maximum walk-through space around the perimeter of the boat.
A keel-like pivoting device
The navigable portion of a waterway.
Electronic navigation device that displays charts for use in plotting a course.
An electronic depth sounder that records bottom structure data on paper.
Paper or electronic navigation maps.
Portion of the hull where the bottom and sides intersect (can be rounded or angled).
Fiberglass strands cut and simultaneously mixed with resin by and applied to a boat mould by using a chopper gun.
Placing fish or fish parts in the water to attract gamefish.
class I hitch
Trailer hitch with a weight-carrying capacity up to 2
class II hitch
Frame-mounted trailer hitch with a weight-carrying capacity of up to 3
class III hitch
Frame-mounted trailer hitch with a weight-carrying capacity of up to 5
class IV hitch
Frame-mounted trailer hitch with a weight-carrying capacity of up to 10
clears / curtains
Attachable front and side enclosures that protect the helm area from weather.
Hardware piece on a boat or a dock to which lines are attached.
The after-most corner of a sail.
Sailing as close to the wind as possible.
A raised edge
Deck space for the crew of a boat
To tack or change heading relative to the wind.
Entryway from the deck to the belowdeck cabin area.
A bluewater fishing boat typically more than 35 feet long with a full cruising salon
Any of a variety of lightweight materials used between layers of fiberglass laminates to add strength.
The act of two propellers spinning in opposite directions on a single shaft.
Component on a boat trailer that connects to the hitchball.
Direction in which a boat is steered.
A boat with overnight accommodations.
Belowdecks accommodations in the bow area for overnighting and stowage.
Hardening process for resin-soaked fiberglass laminates.
Single-masted sailboat similar to a sloop
A keel-like device that is manually raised and lowered vertically without using a hinge.
A small crane used to hoist a boat or dinghy or other object.
To go sailing for a few hours on a small
Directly ahead of the bow.
Degrees of V-shape hull angle measured at the transom of planing powerboats.
A hull shape characterized by a sharp deadrise
Electronic sonar device that displays water depth.
The amount of error from displaying magnetic north in a boat’s compass caused by the boat’s own magnetic interference.
differential GPS (DGPS)
A highly accurate global positioning system (GPS) that utilises a differential radio beacon and receiver to compute and correct the error of all visible satellites sending data to a conventional GPS unit.
A small dining area usually consisting of a table and facing bench seats; it can often be converted into a berth.
A small sailboat often raced that can be sailed on and off a beach. Also a tender
An engine configuration in which the drive shaft runs in a straight driveline through the bottom of the hull.
The weight of water displaced by a hull. Also
A hull shape designed to run through water rather than on top of it in the manner of a planing hull.
A gunwale-mounted weighted line device used for deep-water trolling.
Vertical distance a boat penetrates the water.
A parachute-like sea anchor.
Weight of the boat without fuel and fresh water.
Acronym for emergency positioning indicating radio beacon. When this electronic device is activated it transmits a radio signal with user registration data and positioning information to a network of satellites that assist the emergency services in conducting an emergency rescue.
Nautical depth measurement equalling six feet (1.8m).
A cylindrical or round cushion used to protect the hull sides of a boat
To clear a buoy
Glass fibres either loose or woven
A fix-mounted chair used to help land large gamefish on bluewater fishing boats equipped with a footrest
A keel shaped like the fin of a fish that is shorter and deeper than a full-length keel.
Electronic device that uses sonar to locate and display fish on a monitor.
The position of a boat recorded in coordinates or bearings.
A pyrotechnic device used to indicate distress. Also
Type of boat or hull shape with very little or no deadrise.
Wave pattern running in the same direction as the boat.
The bottom edge of a sail.
Located at the front of a boat.
Forward part of the main deck
A petrol- or diesel-powered internal combustion engine that takes four cycles or strokes of the piston to complete its power phase.
Hitch fastened to the frame of a tow vehicle.
Vertical distance between the waterline and the top of the hull side.
Rolling or folding a sail on its boom.
A metal pole with a hooked end used to boat a fish. Also a pole or spar that holds the upper portion of a four-sided sail.
The kitchen area on a boat.
A combination of resin and pigment that comprises the smooth outside coating of a fibreglass boat.
An overlapping jib.
Another name for a petrol- or diesel-powered electric generator.
Give way to other traffic.
Acronym for global positioning system
gross axle weight rating (GAWR)
The maximum weight an axle is designed to carry.
gross combined weight rating (GCWR)
The maximum allowable weight of a fully loaded tow vehicle plus its fully loaded trailer
gross trailer weight rating (GTWR)
The maximum allowable weight of trailer and its cargo.
gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)
The maximum allowable weight of a fully equipped tow vehicle including passengers and cargo.
The upper edge of the side of a boat.
Also spelled jibe. To change the course of a boat so that the boom swings over to the opposite side.
Line used to hoist a spar or sail.
The person at a harbour in charge of anchorages
A sharp-angle at the intersection of the hull’s side and bottom.
Turning the steering wheel or tiller all the way in one direction.
A large fiberglass roof or platform over the helm area.
A deck opening.
To lift a boat from the water.
Fittings in the deck or gunwale through which the anchor rode or dock lines run.
Toilet facilities or room where they are located.
Waves coming from the direction a boat is heading.
The direction a boat is pointed.
Any sail set forward of the mast.
Forward motion of a boat in the water.
To pull on a line. Also to throw a line.
Setting the sails so the boat makes little headway
To temporarily tip or lean to one side.
Area of a boat where operational controls are located.
To lean out on the windward side of a sailboat to achieve optimal speed by offsetting heeling.
Steel framework on a tow vehicle used to hook up a trailer.
The ball-shaped component of the hitch that fits into the trailer coupler.
Storage tank for grey water.
The structural body of the boat that rests in the water.
An internal combustion engine often mounted amidships that runs a drive shaft through the hull bottom.
See stern drive.
Capable of being inflated either with air
A type of boat with air chambers into which air is pumped either manually or automatically for buoyancy
Device that changes 12V to 240V
A mounting device for an outboard motor that enables operators to vertically raise or lower the motor
A boat powered by an engine with a water-pump used to create propulsion.
Triangular sail projecting ahead of the mast.
The bottom-most portion or longitudinal centreline of a hull.
A sailboat similar in appearance to a yawl with a tall main mast and a shorter mizzen mast ahead of the rudder post.
A small auxiliary outboard motor.
A switch with a lanyard that automatically shuts off an engine if disconnected.
A technique that involves attaching a fishing line to a kite to present bait at a distance from the boat.
Speed measured in nautical miles per hour.
A single layer of material used in multi-layered fiberglass construction.
A list of the sequential layers of materials used in fibreglass construction.
Geographic distance north or south of the equator expressed in degrees and minutes.
Direction toward which the wind blows.
The side of an object that is sheltered from the wind.
To slip sideways downwind while moving forward.
Safety lines on deck that are grabbed to prevent falling overboard.
A continuous lean to one side due to improper weight distribution.
Compartment on a fishing boat designed to keep fish or bait alive.
Length overall; the distance between the most forward part of the boat and the most aft part.
A stowage compartment
Geographic distance east or west of the prime meridian expressed in degrees and minutes.
The leading edge of a sail.
The largest regular sail on a sailboat.
To secure a line.
The addition of marine components to automotive engines.
Vertical spar that supports sails.
A radio distress call.
Location near the centre of a boat.
A shorter mast located aft of the main mast on a yawl or ketch.
A modification of the deep-V hull shape with a deadrise of less than 20 degrees.
A hollow reinforced cavity that is the mirror-image or reverse-image of the boat and into which fibreglass
A boat with a single hull.
Permanent ground tackle fixed to a buoy that boats can tie to.
A hybrid boat that has sails and powerful engines.
A large powerboat greater than 40 feet with luxurious interior accommodations for long-range cruising.
A boat with more than one hull
A distance of 1.82km
Conical navigation buoy that is usually red.
Support device for mounting outboard engines that extends aft of the transom.
Internal combustion engine mounted at the transom that incorporates motor
The lower unit of a stern-drive motor that houses the drive gears and to which the propeller fastens.
Poles designed to spread out fishing lines and keep them from tangling while trolling.
Over the side of a boat and into the water.
personal flotation device (PFD)
A safety vest or jacket capable of keeping an individual afloat.
personal watercraft (PWC)
Small ‘jetski’ type vessel
A post driven into the ground below the waterline to support a pier
A fully enclosed helm compartment.
Theoretical distance a propeller would travel in one revolution. Also
A boat hull designed to ride on top of the water rather than plowing through it.
To plan a navigation course using a chart.
Small elevated stand on a flats boat used by a fisherman to silently pole through shallow water and scout for fish.
A type of boat with a flat deck attached to airtight flotation tubes or logs.
The left side of a boat when facing the bow.
A multi-hulled powerboat with two identical side-by-side hulls.
A powerboat with overnight accommodations
A rotating multi-blade device that propels a boat through the water.
Forward deck and railing structure at the bow of a boat.
See personal watercraft.
The after side of a boat from amidships to stern.
The practice of aiming the boat’s bow at a 45-degree angle to oncoming waves.
Living and sleeping areas of a vessel.
A sailboat designed primarily for speed and competition with a minimum of built-in creature comforts.
A fast sailboat designed with comfortable accommodations.
Electronic device using high frequency radio waves to detect objects and display their positions on a monitor.
Distance a boat can travel at cruising speed on a tank of fuel. Also
To sail across the wind.
Last warning given by a helmsman before tacking and turning the bow into the wind
Part of a hitch that receives and holds the hitch bar or shank.
A hitch with a receiver from which a hitch bar or shank can be removed.
Liquid substance used in fiberglass composite construction that
A chine that angles downward from the hull designed to direct spray out and away from the boat.
RIB (rigid inflatable boat)
An inflatable boat fitted with a rigid bottom.
A device designed for a fishing boat that bolts to the cockpit floor or is incorporated into a bench seat
Device designed to safely and securely hold fishing rods either vertically or horizontally.
A fishing boat designed to run in coastal waters constructed of a simple
A trailer outfitted with rollers instead of bunks.
Protective outer bumper that runs around the boat at the point where the top deck meets the hull.
Underwater fin mounted below the hull near the stern that controls boat steering.
A kind of small
Required navigation lights that a vessel uses at night to indicate position and status.
Lines used in the setting and trimming of sails.
Legally mandated chains that connect the trailer to the tow vehicle as a safety measure in case the coupler detaches.
A harness worn by a boater attached to the boat with a tether to reduce the chances of going overboard.
To slide or drift off course.
Arrangement of sails on a boat.
A boat that is at least partially propelled by capturing the force of wind in sails.
saltwater fishing boat
Any fishing boat used in the ocean or coastal waters that’s specially equipped to handle the harsh saltwater environment.
A large sailboat with two or more masts where the foremast is shorter than aft mainmast.
The ratio of anchor rode to vertical depth.
To run before the wind in bad weather.
Gravity fed drain in a boat to allow water to drain out and overboard.
To cut holes or open ports to purposely let water in to make a boat sink.
Gossip. So named after a water cask around which sailors used to gather and drink.
Through-hull fitting with a valve between the interior and the exterior of the boat.
Ability to handle rough weather. Also called sea-kindly.
A type of large boat equipped with a salon and a raised helm or bridge.
Drains water overboard automatically.
A hull shape with soft chines or a rounded bottom that enables the boat to achieve minimal planing characteristics.
Line of the deck or gunwale from bow to stern as viewed from outside the boat.
Line used to trim a sail.
Mast support rigging
A dash-panel unit affixed to the side of a boat. If only one
A fin or vertical projection below the hull that provides directional stability. Also
A boat berth between two piers or floats. Also
A single-masted sailboat in which the mast is set forward of midships.
The deck floor.
A method to locate objects and determine distance by transmitting sound waves through water and measuring the time it takes the echo to bounce back. Used in depth finders and fishfinders.
Charted water depth.
A type of bluewater fishing boat with at least two sleeping cabins and many dedicated fish-fighting features.
A docking line attached amidships to control fore and aft movement.
An order to crewmen to be ready
Maintain course and speed.
The shrouds and stays that support the mast but are not adjusted while working a boat.
The right side of the boat looking toward the bow.
A room with sleeping quarters
The most forward section of the hull.
Socket that holds the base of the mast.
A high-performance hull design with lateral notches
Aft portion of a boat.
Propulsion system composed of an inboard engine connected to a steerable drive unit extending through a cut-out in the transom.
To put an object away onboard a boat
Small linear protrusions that run longitudinally on both sides of the keel to give a planing hull lift and lateral stability.
Internal beams and braces that give a fiberglass hull structural support.
Hydraulic trailer brake system activated by the sudden inertia of a trailer pushing against the tow vehicle during a hard stop.
To fill a boat with water.
Side-to-side wandering of a trailer under tow.
A wide platform at the transom equipped with a ladder to help ease the effort of reboarding after going into the water.
The corner of a sail nearest the bottom and next to the mast. The downhaul often attaches to the tack. The reefing tack is a higher position along the mast where the sail can be reefed.
A fitting or object that goes all the way through a hull.
A bar connected to the rudder and used to steer the boat.
tiller handle outboard
Adjustable jack on the trailer tongue that raises and lowers the coupler.
The measurement of trailer weight when loaded with a boat on the hitch ball.
The hull above the waterline. Also
Maximum weight a vehicle is rated to tow.
Forward portion of a trailer where the coupler is mounted.
Device that uses a crank and cable to assist in launching and retrieving a boat.
An electronic sensing device mounted in a boat’s bilge or at the bottom of the transom to provide data for a depth sounder.
The rear section of the hull connecting the two sides.
A plastic hose and shower head located near the transom that draws from a fresh water supply.
The way a boat floats in relation to the horizon
Hydraulically adjusted horizontal plates located on the bottom of the transom that control the trim angle of a boat at speed.
A type of boat with three side-by-side hulls
To fish by towing an array of baited lines or lures behind the boat.
Direction and velocity of wind as measured on land
Tall aluminium tower used for spotting fish in the distance
A petrol- or diesel-powered internal combustion engine that takes two cycles or strokes of the piston to complete its power phase.
A boat in motion.
A type of small
A bed or berth located in the bow that has a V-shape.
Propulsion system where the drive shaft initially runs forward into a gear box and then runs aft and down through the hull. The driveline forms a V-shape with the gear box at the pivot point.
Compass variable that accounts for the difference in degrees between true north and magnetic north.
Air introduced into a spinning propeller from the water’s surface.
Very high frequency; a bandwidth designation commonly used by marine radios.
Waves created by a moving boat.
A type of offshore fishing boat with a small to mid-size cabin and a perimeter deck that allows easy passage around the entire boat.
The intersection of the hull and the surface of the water.
The coordinates of a specific location.
To raise anchor.
Rotating drum device used for hauling line or chain to raise and lower an anchor.
Sails used in normal winds.
To cruise in a motor yacht that typically ranges from 40- to 89- feet long.
To veer off course.
Small pieces of zinc that attach to metal boat and engine components to help protect them from corrosion due to electrolysis