Boating Terminology

Other Boat Anatomy and Terminology

Different boating terminology


Abeam: To one side of the boat

Aft: Toward the back of the boat, or the stern

Beam: The widest point on the hull

Bilge: The bottom inside of the hull

Cleats: Raised, two-pronged fittings that are used to secure a line to the vessel

Deck: The surface above the bilge that the crew and passengers walk on

Draft: The distance between the bottom of the hull and the vessel’s waterline which determines the minimum water depth in which a vessel can safely navigate

Forward: direction toward the bow of the vessel

Freeboard: The distance from the waterline to the lowest point on the deck

Gunwale: The upper edge of the side of a boat (often also called the Sheer)

Hull: The hollow, lowermost portion of a vessel that floats both above and underneath the water and supports the boat

Keel: The intersection of the bottom planking along the centerline of the boat or the inside part that backs this intersection. The keel’s purpose is to prevent wind from blowing the vessel sideways off its course

Pleasure Craft: A water-based vehicle that is used exclusively for pleasure and is not used to generate profit or public service

Power-Driven Vessel: Any vessel propelled by machinery

Sidelights: Navigational running lights shone by boats at night. The port-side light is red and the starboard-side light is green

Transom: The surface that makes up the stern of the vessel

Wake: The visible track of “V-shaped” turbulence expelled behind a vessel which is caused by its forward motion

Waterline: A line on the hull that indicates the maximum height at which the water can safely be in relation to the boat. The water will be touching this line when the boat is at maximum gross load capacit