Basic Boating Terminology

What’s in a name? A lot if you are a boater. The language used by boaters can sometimes seem foreign. Let’s see what we can do about that. Here are some of the main terms you may need to know if you are boating:

Aft or Abaft – toward the back of boat

Stern – the back of the boat

Bow – the front of the boat

Port – the left side of the boat

Starboard – the right side of the boat

Helm – the boat’s steering mechanism

Hull – the shell/framework of a boat

Stow – to store

Come about – to turn the boat around

Fender – a foam filled bumper to keep boats from hitting other boats or the dock

Lanyard – a rope that ties something off

Following sea – when waves are going in the same direction as the boat

Head sea – when waves are going in the opposite direction of the boat

Waypoint – a location determined by navigational coordinates

Wide berth – to leave room for maneuvering between boats

There are also some funny ones…such as:

Davy Jones’ Locker, which means the bottom of the sea, and

Pipe down, which was the signal for the end of the day when lights had to be extinguished and the crew was supposed to be quiet. Sound like your third grade teacher?

And what we will leave you with is this…”Fair winds and following seas,” which is a wish for a safe journey and good fortune.

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